Homescratch Homestead, Step 1: Creating a Treasure Map


 Finding the treasure

In the summer of 2017 my husband and I started looking for a home to invest in. With a 25% increase in our local housing market over the last couple of years, the initial idea of buying a house to flip was no longer a realistic possibility. The increase in the housing market had not quite reached land values so we turned our attention to finding a piece of property where we could create a small homestead. To afford the land and build a cabin would require us to take on the full process of the build from the design to the finished product. Although new construction required a bigger undertaking than remodeling, we were ready to take on the challenge. This would be Jordan’s biggest ground-up project as a licensed contractor. 

If you have ever sifted through real estate listings, you can relate to the overwhelming amount of opportunities available. Eliminating listings for houses honed in our search. Now that we were just looking at properties, there was another level of sorting to be done—raw land or land with infrastructure. While prices of raw land is enticing, infrastructure can be incredibly expensive. Digging a well can cost up to $100/foot and there are anecdotal tales in our area of digging over 300 feet and not even striking water. That’s an expensive guess. Septic has a lot of red tape with wetlands and installing an electrical transformer costs ~$5,000 plus extra fees to hook up any extensions. Due to these factors, we refined our search parameters to exclude raw land. Another cycle of elimination. 

As we were deciphering the factors that were important for us, a close friend advised us to create a map on a piece of paper, writing “treasure” in the center and extending lines to each important value that we wanted in the property. Other non-financial priorities included being close to our community, developing our property into a bigger site that included a future woodworking shop, establishing a small hobby farm, privacy, southern exposure with lots of sunlight, good views of the mountains and a place that we could happily live in temporarily or permanently. By mapping it out, he insisted that we would be creating a living guide to direct us to our future homestead. 

The treasure map for our future homestead.

Within a month of creating the treasure map, we were signing the closing documents as the new owners of a 2.5 acre level plat, bordered by a grove of aspens.

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