How Do We Know Where to Land?

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JC: It’s summertime and living in the Tiny House O’Steel ain’t so easy just yet. It’s looking beautiful from the outside, with its golden cedar facing and shiny metal arch, its double sliding doors and little windows. After a lot of prep work (see below) we finally got things ready for a silky smooth plywood flooring.

Next we’re talking about kitchen sinks and a cool composting toilet like this one:

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We’re also pricing out a solar panel kit like this one:

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Having a nice surface to land your feet is one thing. But not knowing where we’re really going to land is another. We still don’t have a place to call our own to take our THoS and live in it. This is the next enormous choice facing us. The biggest investment so far has yet to come.

Right now, our kind friends, Itty and Bill have allowed us to build on their land, but we don’t want to wear thin our welcome (we’d rather keep our friends!) We’ve investigated a number of lots in and around our town of Beacon, NY, wanting to stay close so we can keep our daughter in local schools, but also feeling priced out of our suddenly booming city. We’ve looked farther afield, to surrounding rural areas, at a 4 acre plot with no sewer or water or electricity (which means investing in eventually digging wells, sinking septic, and connecting power). We’ve looked closer, to a 2000 sq ft city plot that has existing hook-ups, but most likely very doubtful neighbors (and maybe unhappy city officials).

JM: As usual, Julie hits the nail on the head (without throwing the hammer at me.) When we started this project, we decided not to think too far into the future because we didn’t want to be intimidated by all the big questions we didn’t have answers for. We have used this method in the past; without it, we might not have ever achieved the more difficult things in our lives like writing books or paying for college or having a baby. We just plunged in, letting the chips fall where they may. When we’ve come to hard questions like what we’re facing now, we’ve tackled them head-on by talking about them to each other and our friends, gathering thoughts and advice, considering the steps we might take before plunging in once again to make a final decision.

Where to land has been the major question we’ve had the good fortune to be able to put off thanks to the generosity of our friends. And it’s also true that if we had decided to wait to find the ideal lot to build on, we might never have begun building at all. What we’re discovering when considering cheap vacant land in the area, is that the price you pay is proportional to the amount of risk you are willing to undertake. Whether it’s dealing with discarded oil tanks, bordering wetlands, uncertain easements, overlapping property lines on surveys that haven’t been updated since the 1950s (to name a few issues we’ve run into) a low selling price has lots of surprises! What is next for us? We’re eager to find out, too.

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One of the properties we visited in the “Handyman Special” price range.
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