Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Design, build and live in your own house - all at the same time

It is probably one of the most common reasons why people are not able to visualize and afford their own homes and enjoy life at the same time:

They believe you can only live somewhere when it's ALL DONE AND READY.

Morning visit on our construction site
The prince of sun and I knew that it would take years to save money to have a ready home. As our whole life is an adventure anyway we knew we would do it differently.

We decided that all we care about is:

-saving money long term: getting out of the vicious circle of wasting money through renting and using the savings for travelling and enjoying life

-independence, safety & freedom: having our own place where we feel safe, are totally free to do what and how we wish to do it, for example having our own dog without worrying about changing rent regulations

-an affordable hence small but cosy home base: to be able to travel now and then and not have high maintenance/utility bills while at home and when travelling/abroad

-cheap living costs in the town of our home base, here in Porto Seguro, Brazil

-no rush: being able to take it slow, design and build the house at our speed and wallet abilities

-have spare time and enjoy life: instead of having the life of workaholics and no-time for 6-10 years, and not taking advantage of our youth, we prefer to build slow but steady and be able to go out, travel, eat well and enjoy ourselves with friends, family or just the two of us.
My house plan

So that's what we did: First we obviously needed a piece of land. We chose a long, narrow one, flat space of 3m wide/streetfront and 20m long/between two other houses. This shows that it won't be an ordinary house, the way people normally believe houses 'should' be built - such as
"in the middle of the land, kind of equal length of walls, with windows on most sides".

Here in Brazil, it's all a bit different. Almost everyone has high walls around the house, often the outside walls are the walls of the house and in line with the outer lines of the land, windows cannot be build on the sides in case they are too close to the neighbours home so when building all those details need to be kept in mind.

I then sat down with the prince of sun and created possible house and floor plans which we mended and changed during the construction of the first rooms. Of course we needed some advice in terms of safety, but the house plan was straight forward and the few things that needed to change, created even better ideas for the final result.
 We decided to finish the house 'basics' first,
including a first bathroom and bedroom

We sat down and asked ourselves: Which rooms need to be completely finished to feel comfortable and safe and enable us to work in our home jobs: we decided this should be the bedroom and bathroom, and we would also have our living room in the bedroom for the first few months. Off we went on to construction. We decided to have the bedroom & bathroom upstairs so that future construction downstairs would avoid dirt and dust coming into our finished space, which would have been the case if we had started downstairs instead. We paid the construction workers per day or works to be finished, in our own speed, piece by piece stone on stone - wall by wall - working our way to the finishing works.

Visitors, doubled bills and
laundry room with backyard view
With the traditional moveable gas cooker and basic water facilities in our kitchen and laundry room, we were ready to move into our home. Right, some rooms still remind us of rather stoneage level, but we have our own place and can build in our own pace, which gives a certain feel of independence, safety and peace of mind.

Trying to save space, we decided that our bedroom (currently also our living room and home office) shouldn´t be too stuffed, so we put only one single bed with two matresses in it and will only get the kingsize double bed when our living room is ready and the related furniture moves downstairs.

Right, I won't say there aren't certain downsides when living in and building your home at the same time. Building the basics in a place and renting at the same time brought the strain of two houses and therefore two sets of maintenance and utility bills plus construction costs - quite heavy on our shoulders during those few finishing months. Living in a place in that more than 50 % of the rooms are in construction does have its disadvantages, such as neighbour cats coming over for a visit in the dining room or the occasional bird in the kitchen cupboard and not to forget the usual dirt and dust which are more difficult to clean in unfinished places.

Sunset view from our bedroom
But believe me it's totally doable and worth the wait 
if you have the spirit of adventure, freedom and patience =)

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