Australia to Texas – The First Step

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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This is my first post of the new blog on building our Texas homestead. I’ve never done a blog before and am a little nervous but a lot excited about what we’re doing. I’ve created this blog primarily to chonicle the progress of our endeavours and share it with others so you’ll be able to see what’s going on and perhaps offer comments, ideas and suggestions on how we’re doing and what you think we should be doing.

I’m retiring from 30+ years in the IT industry and 50 years of working.  Now it’s time to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Problem is, we have little experience in some of the things required.  I’m relatively handy, have done a few remodelling projects and I read and study a lot. Mostly, I guess I’m not afraid to try anything within reason and hopefully have the good sense to know my limitations and hire help when required. We’ll see about that though.

Another complicating factor: We live in Australia where we both have worked the past 8+ years and our property is in Texas. We’ll have to manage the activities from afar with a few trips back and forth either to work on things ourselves or to work with others. Mostly,we’ll be doing things by remote control — and I mean remote. We’re 10,000 miles away and 15 time zones apart. We’ve loved it here in Australia but the compelling desire to be closer to family kindled our initial desire to return. Once we started the planning, the goals became more clear.

Our guiding principals here are to create a self-sustaining property. We don’t plan on being “off the grid” but we would like to create ways of generating power through solar and wind to power the property and perhaps create a little extra back into the grid. We also plan on having gardens sufficient to create our supply of vegetables, and have a few animals (the current thought is chickens for eggs and meat, and goats for the milk and meat). We want to keep things at a minimum since there will be a lot of construction activities over a few years’ period. 

Julie will hopefully be able to transfer within her company to a job in the area and I’ll be full-time on the building projects, gardens and homestead activities. We love the land, the area and (of course) the proximity to some of our family. The other kids and their families are in Minnesota and California, so there’s no way to be close to all of them at the same time. Julie purchased this five-acre property a few years ago with the goal of doing something “in the future.”

The future is now. Here’s what’s going on over the next few months:

We have contracted with a company to build a relatively large steel building on a portion of the property. We’ve also contracted with a firm to do the concrete slab both for the building and a large porch along the north end of the building and half way down the west side of the house. About half the building will be house and half garage and shop. Last year, we had the local electric company bring in an underground service so we have power. We’re talking with a couple of well drilling companies about the water well and should have that effort complete soon. We have a plumber providing estimates to rough in the plumbing that has to be in the slab before it is poured. A good friend from California, now in Texas, is an architect and we’ve given him our plans for the interior of the building so that he can refine those into a good plan going forward. We’ll be arriving this summer for a few weeks (along with a son from California) to enclose the front portion of the house so that the overall building will be in “lock up” status. We won’t be able to build out the interior of the house at this stage as that’s all the time and money we have available at this point.

I hope those of you reading this blog enjoy the information. We’ll be doing a lot of building over the next few weeks and months to get the first phase of the building done.  As we start getting the construction going, we’ll start adding pictures and hope that you add your comments and thoughts as we go.

Here’s to taking the first step! 

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