Archive for the ‘New beginnings’ Category

Moving along

Friday afternoon, I stopped by the property on my way home. The work crew was gone already, but I poked around a little. While I was there, I met some of the adjoining neighbors. They have huge greenhouses on their property where they raise houseplants that they wholesale to florists and such. They were super nice and said that if we would have our clearing crew clear out some of the Brazilian peppers on their side of the property line that they would be happy to pay for it. They also said that they could help us out with acquiring new plants to fill in the areas we are pulling the invasive Brazilian peppers out of.


Then, yesterday afternoon, Andy and I went back out there to figure out where my little craft house and his tool shed will be located. We had to mark trees for removal that would be in the way of these structures. It only amounted to four large cabbage palms that needed to be taken out, and we will reuse them by replanting them towards the front of the property.

While we were there we spotted a teeny little alligator hanging out near the beginning of our driveway:



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Home site

This afternoon after work, Andy and I went to meet our builder out at the property to check out the progress of the clearing. There is quite a lot to clear, so it takes some time to do things right. With all of the environmental issues, they have to work very carefully to avoid damaging areas outside of the approved site.


We heard that the backhoe operator stopped at least four times to get down and relocate box turtles that he happened upon during clearing, and that is way cool with us. Turtles, we are sorry for disturbing your homes and will make it up to you when we are able. Seriously.


We were very happy to find that a lovely cypress tree that we had really wanted to save will not have to be removed. The site superintendent said that one of the surveyors who is an expert on trees had estimated that it is approximately 70 years old. We really wanted to keep that tree, so it was great news to find that it will not have to be removed. We are doing our best to preserve as many trees as possible. There are quite a few cabbage palms that have had to be removed, but we will be able to relocate them to another part of the property, so they will not go to waste.


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More progress

Today we went out to the property to take a look at the progress that has been made after the first two days of land clearing. It looked so very different. Even though the area back where our future house will be hasn’t been cleared yet, we could get much more of a sense of what it will be like.

It was so amazing to be able to get out there and walk around in areas we had never been able to get to because the vegetation was too thick. Most of what is being cleared is invasive Brazilian Pepper plants, which we are required to remove anyway for our wetland mitigation plan. We are working to preserve as many trees as possible.



Above is a view of the end of our future driveway. It will be a very long, windy driveway, perfect for a couple of wanna-be hermits 🙂





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Today the unthinkable happened- we actually started the first physical step of construction after nearly three and quarter years of working towards this goal. It is such a great feeling to see actual work being done; such a refreshing change.

This morning Andy and I took a break from work to go to the site so that we could be there to see the first bit of the land clearing. It seemed so surreal. We met our builder’s father, who is the site superintendent, and he is awesome, just like our builder is. I just wish we had all the money we needed to work right on through the project rather than having to stop after we run out of money and wait until we can scrape up enough to move forward again.

Oh, and the neighbors are a huge improvement over our current ones. They heard all of the commotion and gathered around to watch the land clearing.


More to come!

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I haven’t posted here in quite some time, mostly because there hasn’t been much to post. While anyone else could have gotten a building permit in a week’s time, for us it was a lengthy process spanning many months. Go figure. Anyway, the good news is that we are supposed to start clearing for house tomorrow or the next day, if all goes as planned. We finally have all of our permits in hand again, with the revised and much smaller workshop house we ended up with.

We are not home free yet, though. Our original plan to use loans from our 401Ks to fund the construction is out the window due to the terrible economy. Our 401Ks fell in value by at least 50% so there is not enough to borrow from. Also it would be a bad idea to borrow from them when they are valued so low because if the market rebounded we would not feel the benefits.

So our current plan is to get as far as we can on our savings, and then re-evaluate at that point. We are hoping that we have enough cash to complete the site work and perhaps the slab. Then we will have to stop until we can come up with enough money to get the whole thing framed, dried in, roof on, etc. because we can’t just leave it open to the elements for a long period of time. Maybe we can borrow from a relative or something, or get a signature loan. We’ll have to see when we get to that point.

Regardless, we will be thrilled to see something finally happen on the property when the clearing begins. We both want to be there to see the first bit of it since we have been working towards this goal for three and a quarter years now.

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We met with our builder yesterday evening, and the meeting went well. He thinks our plan for the alternative house is a good one and is going to investigate with the county to see if there is anything that would stop us from using a cistern for our potable water. As far as I can tell through my research, there are some houses and other structures with cisterns in this county, but none that use rainwater exclusively as their potable water source. Still, it is a common practice in other parts of the world. In the Virgin Islands, it is pretty much the only way to get water to a residence. Even in this county cisterns were common in the 1800s to the mid 1900s.

In the course of my research I found that there is agency after agency advocating water conservation and alternative water sources, some of them are the same ones we worked with to get our wetland permits, such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District. Then there is the EPA, the federal government, and even a water resources conservation team within our county pushing for water conservation. It would seem that it should be easy to gain approval for our proposed cistern water system, but then again, nothing has been easy for us. I am going to start making some calls tomorrow to find out if there is any precedent in this matter.

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I have been drawing all kinds of different possibilities for a layout of the workshop/house. I think Andy and I have figured out a good layout that we can live with.  Of course, we still have to meet with our builder to see what our options are, but at least we sort of have a plan.

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