Glossy subway tile. Big kitchen island. Walk-in shower, with bench. Fireplace. A porch that begs you to curl up with a glass of wine and watch the sunset. Your dream home.

We all think about it. Wouldn’t it be great to have that house where everything is exactly what you want? And new? No squeaky door into the garage. No weird deep kitchen cabinet where cans of stewed tomatoes go – never to be seen again. (And why did you buy those anyhow? Do you even like stewed tomatoes?) We are inundated with house porn; television shows that make it seem easy to transform your perfectly nice but blah space into something spectacular. And then you go look at a new house. It’s so pretty, (ooo – look at the pantry!), and the master bathroom – which it totally has – is big enough that you can straighten your hair while your husband is brushing his teeth and no one ends up with a trip to the burn unit.

Then you see the price tag. What! You’ve got to be kidding? How could this be so expensive? You could sell a kidney and not be able to afford the down payment. (Although, really, you have two kidneys. Do you need them both?) You can’t even look at single-family new construction in the Kearney Area for less than $250,000, and you won’t find new construction in more rural areas. That quarter of a million will buy you three bedrooms, two baths and an unfinished basement. No glossy tile. No luxurious shower. Definitely no view.

On second thought, maybe your house is fine. Maybe if you just painted the cabinets…

I am not as smart as you. You with your lovely white cabinets and free time. You who remember what it was like to spend Saturday morning in your yoga pants, folding laundry while the kids watched cartoons. I miss laundry. I miss cartoons.

I decided that I could have that house, I just need to manage the costs. Starting with the contractor. I had worked with contractors on other projects. I know how to read blueprints. With some trustworthy subcontractors and knowledgeable friends, I thought my husband and I could whip out our dream house in nine months – a year, tops.

Ha. I laugh at that younger, foolish me. That idealistic dreamer with a budget and custom home plans. She was so naïve. So silly. (Young me! Hey, you have a house, which you live in. Think about how nice that is. Reconsider your life choices!)

This is the story of how I designed and built a house. Well, how my husband and I – or, how my husband, my father-in-law, our electrician friend, our finish carpenter/crisis manager, my brothers-in-law, our subcontractors, our children – basically everyone I know – built a house. We went from this:

Our Dream Home

To this…

Our Dream Home

We are still going and should finish this building in a month or so. Definitely this summer. For sure in 2016. Probably.

Then we can start on the real house. Oh, did I mention this is only Phase One? The barn/two bedroom one-bath guest house? We’re going to do this a second time.

On purpose.

I’ll tell you all about it, and show you the pictures and videos we took at every step of the process. (Like I needed evidence of how little I actually know about construction, sheesh.) See what all of those home improvement shows cut out to fit their time-slot. Hint: it is a lot of standing around scratching heads and angry stomping as you realize you cut the very last piece of wood to the wrong length. Again. Just imagine Yakety Sax playing in the background.

Suzanne Brodine

Suzanne Brodine is an independent author and freelance writer, and a grant writer for economic and community development. After ten years in local government positions, she is slowly transitioning to make a career out of a passion for using words to create and inspire. Suzanne writes fiction under the name, Susan Amund. Her first novel is available on Amazon, and ongoing serial works may be read on her website, Suzanne is a mother of two girls and attributes her ability to go after her dreams to the support of her husband.