Summer 2024 Journal Entry: A Property Update

Summer 2024 Journal Entry: A Property Update

The Lord’s Candle Yucca has bloomed, beach days have arrived and I have been putting off writing a home build update. I have been working over in my mind how share where we are at.

It’s been a roller coaster of a ride thus far. My husband and I bought two and half acres of land in the valley I grew up in back in summer of 2021. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years now. It’s tucked under the mountainside, surrounded by open space, orchards and farm fields, and is an absolute gift from God and heavenly piece of land, and as we know, something that is almost entirely impossible to come by anymore in parts of California, let alone to young folks like us. 

We had bounced around the county for years living in cheap apartments, granny flats and duplexes, and had saved enough to buy a home by 2020, which seemed like the perfect timing. But we soon realized it was one of the worst times, as folks moved out of the city and property management companies were buying houses and we weren’t able to compete or even find any available inventory. 

My father is the ultimate saver and wisely bought homes, fixed them up on the side while working as a policeman, and eventually he built two houses himself including the home I grew up in. I come from a family of contractors, so building a home wasn’t too unfamiliar to me, but it was something that I never had thought I’d have the opportunity to do. Since after the 90’s building homes in his area has mostly only been an option for developers or some single family homes for the lucky, wealthy few. 

The incredibly kind landowner had a special soft spot for the land and offered us the opportunity to purchase, become the next stewards of it and establish a home here. He could have sold it to many others for a higher price, and yet for some beautiful reason, he didn’t. 

As a kid when I wandered off from home, I would roam around the creek, the trees, the farm and land surrounding it, and remember him and this land as a young girl. It is such an unimaginable blessing to be able to take it on ourselves now and create our own life and home here. 

We were immediately aware of the challenges of buying this land to build on. Because of the unique location and terrain of the land, and recent new legislature in our county, the property came with a list of hurdles to get through which made this not your average home build project. It took us about 6 months to decide if it was a feasible opportunity for us. 

Shortly after buying it, we moved from our duplex in Ventura in with my brother to be closer to the property, to save money and hoped to live there while we built. It took us sometime to start the permit process as we needed to start saving again, and had a lot of ground work to do to get started. 

Once we started, we were made aware of several new issues with the land that we had not been uncovered yet after our months of digging to make sure this property was buildable for a home for us. Each obstacle took us aback, made us think and work long and hard if we could make it through each specific challenge. Then we’d slowly find a way through it, and then a new hurdle would present itself. In the last three years, we felt like we’ve been on a rough road of navigating these problems, finding every time that there is usually a way, it’s just how much time and money do you have to throw at it. It’s made us take it week by week, one step at a time, reassessing if and how we should continue to move forward. 

So far that is what we have done- continue to move forward, but at a snail’s pace managing a supremely unique pile of problems because of new local ordinances and rules. All of which are recent to the area in the last 5-10 years. Probably brought forward with good intentions, but have had mixed outcomes. At times it does feel unfair as I watch our county be developed in other ways and built on a scale that makes my heart sick from what it used to be like -now full of townhomes, amazon fulfillment centers, fast food chains, cookie cutter homes stacked on top of each other and shopping centers. While what we are hoping and working towards is for a simple family home on land zoned for a single family home, that did in fact have a house at one time, and is in harmony with the surrounding area and embracing and supporting our beautiful land as it is. 

Our hopes of getting started on building a couple years after purchasing was a fair estimate at the time, but a far cry from the reality of what we are seeing more clearly each step of the way. After realizing the years that lie before us in the process of getting this place permitted to build on, we found a rental of our own near the property where we felt like we could settle in for some time and not feel like our lives are in complete limbo for the indefinite future, and we are immeasurably grateful for that in the meantime. We are still currently deep in the thick of navigating multiple big hurdles with the land and getting our permits, and have given up trying to provide estimates of how long it will be until we get our building permit.

This dream and gift of an opportunity from God has brought a lot of stress, and we’ve struggled to balance the unknown of the future of it. We continue to take each wave as it comes as we continue to live our lives. My husband has grown some grey hairs in the process, and there have been many road bumps, and our life has moved on a much different timeline than expected, but so far we’ve been able to navigate it together and thankfully our marriage has grown stronger and more resilient through it thus far. 

We are doers, planners and workers by nature - not the best at laying back and trusting that God has got it. And this experience has showed us that we could do all the preparation, work and stressing possible on our end, and sometimes it still isn’t enough for a difficult project like this. 

Some folks probably think we’re crazy for doing this, but we felt such a strong push to step into this after those 6 months of deciding. We felt confident that this is perhaps what God was nudging us toward in life. Envisioning ourselves building our own home from the ground up is an incredible privilege and dream that I know few are offered. To raise and establish a family on land, upholding old fashioned values that come less naturally in a suburban or urban setting- caring for the land, providing for ourselves and living off the land still feels like a calling that we have. 

We’ve spent a lot of time wondering how do you know in life when the road blocks are signs to stop and change course, or sometimes they are just simply a part of the process and to keep pushing through the storm. Recently on a long drive (where we have some of our favorite conversations and thoughts) we were able to have a mental breakthrough and reset our mentality about the whole thing. We had a lightbulb moment about something that everyone always says, but sometimes it takes time to let it sink in for your own self and situation. We remembered that there is purpose in the process, and as we’ve seen with many of our family and friends as they go through serious struggles and hardships much tougher than ours, there’s unknown hidden goodness way far down the road from it, and we realized we are ready to trust God with that. To know and trust that each challenge is teaching us something and growing us, no matter what the outcome might be, there’s a reason for it all and we might not know it for a long long time. And that gives me renewed hope.

We are moving forward trusting God to light the way even if it is just enough light to take one step then another. Holding onto truths that give us hope. A companion to trust, work hard with and laugh through anything with. The reward of stewarding the land, all the sweat we’ve already put into it, and learning new things and finding little joys. A dream of a life we build with our own hands and can share with others. So we are moving forward knowing there are treasures to be found along the way no matter the destination. We hope it is on this land of ours, and that we can reap the fruit of the years of work towards it in years to come.

We made a playlist a while back with a bunch of songs that help keep the dream alive and moving us forward that I figured would be fun to share, so here it is.

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