Five years ago, Andy and I were in the thick of a house hunt. We had already lost one or two houses we put offers on. One I was thankful we lost, the other I was bummed (we would have lived almost directly on a lake). Looking back I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Soon after we lost the lake house, we saw our current place. It was a hot mess of tall grass, a barn that was falling in, junk all over the yard, and a house that needed someone to give it some love. Something in our gut knew that this house was our house. Yes, that is a toilet at the top of the stairs.
One of my biggest requirements were great neighbors. I grew up with loving neighbors who were like family and helped raise us kids, I wanted the same for our family. When we were touring our house a sweet older woman with her dog stopped by. We found out most of our neighbors were part of a 5th generation beef cattle farming family. All they wanted was a nice family to buy the house who would take care of it. Due to an unfortunate circumstance, our house had been sold out of the family years prior. Unfortunately it was sold to people who didn’t upkeep it and in general weren’t the best neighbors. I wanted the house before Arlene ever stopped by, but she sealed the deal for me. We put an offer in soon after.
Over the years our neighbors have proven to be above and beyond anything we could have ever hoped for. They continue to surprise us, including last night. John was upstairs setting up staging and Steve was getting ready to place the trusses up for the roof, long before we were home from work. Instead of waiting for us, they got everything set up so once Andy got there they could be ready to go. Those are the kind of neighbors you want in life; at least when they know what their doing like ours do. When I pulled in the driveway Andy was already home, and the three of them were installing the ridge beam.
Both of the neighbors wives stopped by throughout the evening to check on progress, bring water over and take photos while everyone who drove by slowed down and had to stare. When I tell you this is a big deal around here, we mean it. It’s pretty exciting for everyone.
Slowly, bit by bit each truss was lifted into place and painstakingly secured. Every time I walked out the bigger it looked. I quickly realized just how massive this renovation was. Changing the direction of the roof made a huge difference (once the porch is added on though it will look much more evened out). It’s hard to believe that five years ago our house looked like this from the road.
Once we had it all up, and everyone had left for the night, Andy and I went upstairs and laid on the plywood where our bed would be. It was fun picturing how everything might look. We discussed where the collar ties will go (likely on top of the already super tall walls and four feet apart). We also realized we probably could have made the walls about a foot shorter and we still would have had plenty of room. Finally, we confirmed that we had to have cathedral ceilings. It would be easier to make a flat ceiling, but to me the biggest wow and design factor of this house will be the beautiful and unexpected exposed ceiling when you enter the second floor. I just can’t picture the house without it.
There are obviously more giant changes to be made, including cutting the overhang on the trusses back, adding the porch, and all of the finishes (not to mention renovating the entire original house too!).
To say I’m glad we trusted our instincts about this house, and that our neighbors would be a large part of our life here, is a huge understatement. I am beyond happy we decided to trust our guts that this wasn’t just our first house, but it was our home. Five years later Arlene still walks by every night with her dog and we often talk. She’s like a great-aunt to us. She brings us pies, keys to her house so we can stay if the renovations get to be too much, or just to chat. We attend family reunions every year with the entire family, and are included in lots of family events from weddings to Easter dinners. It turns out Arlene was just a representation of every other neighbor we have here. They have become family to us, and us to them. They are all the kindest, most honest, hard working and wonderful people and we’re truly lucky to have them.