Whole Lotta Lot Love

Monday, 16 June 2014
Hi there. We're the MacLellans, and we're impulse buyers of the worst variety - the big-ticket purchase kind. I talk myself out of insignificant purchases every day, and once forbid Regan from buying a $100 dehydrator when he was on a health kick, but when it comes to major life-changing purchases like land and homes we jump right in! It seems so illogical when I type it out, and yet we've done it almost three times. 

The first time was our house. Back in 2008, Regan and I had been dating for two years and shared custody of Brew but didn't live together. One Friday night, we spent a quiet night in at my apartment (it's true, Mom! I didn't spend all of my 20s at bars) and were discussing how we'd like to build a house someday. Regan said we could build a new house for less than buying one if we built it ourselves, and logged on to MLS to prove his point. While we were checking out home prices in and around Charlottetown, we came across a cute little house that was listed for $45,000. Surely there must be a mistake, we thought. I mean, the house needed a ton of work and it was only 800 square feet, but still - $45k?! For a house?! Just like that our discussion about building a house someday changed to buying a house right now. Regan called the listing agent the next day and we had a showing lined up for Monday. By Wednesday, Regan had met with a mortgage specialist. It turned out the house was a foreclosure which was why it was priced to sell, but also meant we had to buy it 'as is.' The bank wasn't going to negotiate much on price and also wasn't going to do any repairs. We had Regan's carpenter father come look at it, and once we got his OK we put in an offer. We were official homeowners just three weeks after seeing the listing. 

By the time I got home from work the first day the house was in our possession, Regan had it looking like this: 

Carefully thought out plans are overrated. 

Fast forward a few years, and we are talking about building again. We spend many Sundays driving around the 20-minute radius surrounding Charlottetown looking for our dream lot. We find a lot of dream lots, but none we could afford. And then we found one that seemed too good to be true. Cue the foreshadowing. 

My dad bravely trudging through swarms of mosquitos to check out Lot #1.

Sound the trumpets!!! This lot had it all!

This lot was within our budget but seemed way underpriced for the area. We were on the horn to the real estate agent within days lining up an offer, who suggested getting a lawyer to look over the contract first. And thank goodness we did! Our lawyer discovered we wouldn't own the right of way to the lot, which was one kilometre down a dirt road from the main road. She said the dirt road wasn't built to government specs, so it would never be paved by the province, and school buses and garbage trucks wouldn't go down it. And if the current owner of the right of way ever sold it or died, we'd have a major headache on our hands. So needless to say, that put the kibosh to that plan. 

Our lot hunt continued for another year, and after our close call we restrained ourselves from diving in head first. We did get briefly excited about a few options, but ultimately decided against them. 

This lot with a distant water view made the short list, but didn't win us over in the end. 

 This lot made a pretty Instagram photo, but we decided against it because the dirt road it was on would be a muddy mess come spring and not fit to drive down with a car. 

Then one day we went to see Regan's brother's new build, and took the scenic route home. Along the way, we stumbled across our dream lot and this time we immediately knew it was it. In true MacLellan fashion, we bought it the next day. 

And now, 20 months after buying the land, we are finally ready to build on it! It's been a long time coming, people. 

These photos were taken the day we found the lot back in the fall of 2012. Our neighbours (and new friends) built their home themselves as well, so it can be done! 

Just under 1 acre is all ours! 

In case you found the last two photos underwhelming - BAM! This is our view heading down the lane to the main road.

The lot is within 20 minutes of our jobs in Charlottetown, is just down the road from Regan's brother and his family, and is about 40 minutes closer to Regan's parents and his sister and her family. Our current house is east of Charlottetown, and after living in it for five years we realized that we wanted to live west of the city to be closer to his family. My parents live in Nova Scotia and my sister and her family live in Ontario, so the new house will have the room we need for extended visitors. 

The moving trailer we rented for the next six months was delivered to the house today. In two weeks time we will be living on our new lot while we build the house! Check back for the next blog post to see what we'll be living in while we build. 

Major news alert

Monday, 2 June 2014
Big news, people, big! But before I tell you what it is, I'm going to bore you with the details of our house-selling journey. 
And no, I'm not growing a baby human in my belly.

We first put our house up for sale 17 months ago. Back then, we thought we might not even need a realtor - and by 'we' I mean Regan, he's much more optimistic than I am. Regan made a Kijiji listing and in no time at all we had lots of inquiries and a number of showings. Regan was starting to look very proud of himself. But then nothing progressed, and after a few months we signed on with a realtor. The day the official 'For Sale' sign was pounded into the ground was an exciting day. We began to plan our new house that will be built on the lot we purchased in late 2012, and were sure we'd be living in it by the end of 2013. But six months after that sign went in, and after half the Island traipsed through our home, we hadn't received a single offer despite being our realtor's busiest listing. And believe me, he tried. 

April 2013

That brings us to October 2013. We had just returned from our honeymoon when our contract with the realtor was up. We decided to take it off the market for a few months to get some badly-needed renovations done, namely the deck. 

The covered deck that wraps around the front and side was one of the things that first drew us to the house - it just seemed so darn cute back in 2008! My youthful idealism clearly clouded my vision because anyone else would have seen it for the rotting death trap it really was. I'm sure Regan saw it for what it was all along, but why take on a project that your wife actually isn't nagging you about? That man is smarter than I sometimes give him credit for. Then one morning I fell through the deck when a board disintegrated beneath my feet. Foot, actually. One leg was dangling through the deck while the other was desperately trying to reverse squat my ass out of that predicament. It was at that point I realized the deck needed a whole lot more than a coat of paint. Yes, apparently I am both blind and naive. 

Luckily for me, I married a pretty handy guy who comes from a very handy family (my father-in-law even has a construction company). The only problem is that I also married a man with a million hobbies - hobbies he enjoys more than building decks. 

Here's a sampling of how Regan would prefer to spend his time. I couldn't even find pictures of his ball team or his cross-country skis. Meanwhile, I'm probably at home eating BBQ chips. 

Finally, this past November, Regan managed to set aside two weekends in between biking and hunting seasons to demolish the old deck and build the new one. 

Regan suggested we extend the deck by the back door (the main entrance) so there'd be enough space to set up the patio table in a usable way instead of having it pushed up against the wall on the formerly narrow deck. I wasn't totally on board at first because I was hesitant to put more money into a house we wanted to sell, but he convinced me it was a good idea and I'm so glad he did. 

Hubby's impressive autoCAD skills helped me see the light. 

We saved a boatload of cash by building it ourselves with the help of Regan's super handy brother, Justin, and his always helpful cousin, Adam. I kept myself busy moving the junk pile of old deck boards from the front yard to a semi-organized pile in the backyard. It was like a never-ending game of Pick Up Sticks only with heavy boards and rusty nails. 

In the end, our only regret was not replacing the deck earlier

November 2013

We spent the next few months painting almost the entire interior and relisted in February. We listed it at the same price as the first time and our realtor was confidant we could get it sold. A month later, we got our very first offer and it was a good one. We were ecstatic. Unfortunately, our happiness was short lived. The buyer was unable to secure the financing and had to back out of the deal. womp womp

Since then, we've had a fair amount of showings but no offers. Meanwhile, most of the other houses in our area have sold, including ones we considered competition. 

And so we've made a big decision. I am excited to announce we will be taking the house off the market, renting it out and are going to be breaking ground at our lot in a few weeks! Yes, it's a little risky, and certainly not what we had hoped, but you've got to take a few chances in life and trust that they'll work out in the end. We had no trouble finding a great couple who are eager to sign a year lease and they will be moving in June 30. We want them to be really happy here so we've been busy getting projects crossed off our to-do list. 

I spent Saturday attacking the flower beds while Regan installed a new window in the spare room and put up a new clothesline. 

Is that the worst window you've ever seen, or what?! Gozo thought it should be a cat door.

I pulled practically everything out of the flower bed and divided the larger clumps. 

Then I amended the soil with seafood compost. 

Next, I played around with a new arrangement, moving the goldstrum to the back and the smaller hostas to the front. Some of the plants were mysteries to me, so we'll just have to see what happens! Regan also nailed the lattice back on, and that was an instant improvement. 

All in a day's work! I still have to put some black mulch down, maybe add a few annuals and prime and paint the soffit white. I was planning to paint the doors black, but something tells me I'm not going to get around to that in the next 30 days. 

New, longer clothesline! Can't wait to hang the first load of laundry out. I think little touches like a sturdy new clothesline and well-tended flower beds will make the tenants feel at home and entice them to stick around! The bonfire pit can't hurt, either. 

We've got a big summer ahead of us but it's sure to be a memorable one, and I'm going to document it all right here. 
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