Building a farmhouse: Land clearing & the foundation

My hubby doing a little lot prep after working at his real job all day.

My husband & I have lived comfortably in our small home but then we had kids & everything started shrinking: our home, our cars… our bank account! We wanted a home with more space so that we could start hosting family holidays & have friends visit without being too crowded.

We started building our farmhouse in October of 2017. It has been a very long process, years in the making. From getting the construction loan clearing the raw land, we have certainly invested quite a bit of time, effort & of course, money.

The land that we purchased is almost 6 acres. About 2 of those acres are already cleared & that is where our barns & pastures are located. We had to rent equipment & hire a machine operator (my uncle!) to clear the remaining land for the homesite. Operating heavy equipment looks like fun & seems pretty easy. I got to try it out for about 5 minutes & yes, it is fun (for the first few minutes anyway) but is it easy? Nope, not even close.

I had to try out the land clearing equipment. It is a lot harder than it looks!

After a few weeks of land clearing & some impressive bonfires, we started prepping the site. Getting the actual homesite ready for building is called site prep & it is much more involved than you would think!

One of our giant bonfires. Those are about 20-30’ trees on the pile to give you an idea of the size of the fire.

Our surveyor came out & used a transit level to determine the elevation of the site so we would know how much sand to order. You ideally want your home to sit on an elevated spot to prevent flooding problems. Moisture under your house can cause a lot of damage (rot, mold & mildew to name a few) so it is best to keep your house as high & dry as possible.

Using the transit level to measure the site.
Our boys watching the dump truck delivering sand. Note the giant bonfire behind the truck!

So we had load after load after load of sand delivered to raise the homesite. You would think sand is really cheap when you live by the ocean but it is surprisingly pricey. The kids loved the sand delivery because what kid doesn’t love giant piles of sand?!   The dump truck driver even honked the truck horn after each delivery which the kids thought was awesome.

After having lots of sand delivered & spread, we had to dig footers for the house. The building code in your county tells  you the size, number & location of footers that you need based on your blueprint. The entire perimeter of the house was dug out as well as various spots towards the middle of the footprint. Rebar was then placed in the holes as support for the concrete. At this point we had the county inspector come out to ensure everything was up to code so we could proceed with pouring concrete.

The footers around the perimeter of the house.
One of the footers in the middle of the house.

The footers passed inspection so now we got to cover them up with concrete!

Concrete getting poured in the footers.
Concrete in the footers!

Once the concrete cured (hardened) the brick mason started work on the blocks for the foundation.

The start of the cinder block foundation
The block foundation! The black things are foundation vents.

My husband wanted an extra tall crawl space (the space between the ground & bottom of the house). He has done a lot of work in crawl spaces & said it makes life much easier when you’re doing any install or repair work. It is surprising how many things get installed in the crawl space!

Building materials being delivered!

Now that the masonry work was complete we were ready to start building the floor & framing the house. Stay tuned for our next post when the house actually starts looking like a house!

Magnolia Market: visiting the Silos in Waco, Texas

The infamous Silos at Magnolia Market

Family time is very important to us. My husband & I used to travel every chance we got but having two small children makes traveling a bit more difficult… and expensive. While we love the farm & all of our animals, it is nice to take family trips & get to explore the world around us. We try to make time for a family vacation every year & last year led us to Magnolia Market, made famous by the show Fixer Upper. We were immersed in shiplap, subway tile, chippy paint & modern farmhouse decor.

A beautiful rustic outdoor sink in the Market

So how did we end up choosing Magnolia Market? I am a fan of the show & always amazed at the talent & creativity of Chip & Joanna Gaines. My husband is a contractor that does a lot of professional remodels & new construction, so he actually gets many requests to recreate the Gaines’ famous modern farmhouse style. Requests for subway tile & farmhouse sinks have dramatically increased since the show became popular.

Subway tile inside the Market

Seeing the Market actually wasn’t the main reason for our visit though. Our main purpose for flying halfway across the country was to visit my brother in law who is currently stationed at Fort Hood. But when you’re a Fixer Upper fan & only an hour away, of course you make time to see it in person!

A map of the grounds at Magnolia Market

The grounds at Magnolia Market are beautiful, clean, family-friendly, & of course impeccably designed.

There are even man-benches strategically placed for bored husbands.
Willies Jeep

Of course the place was packed but we still had a relatively easy time finding free parking & easy access bathrooms. Tip: if you drive past the Bakery (it will be on your right), then take the next right, there is a free parking lot just for Magnolia customers. You can go in a back entrance without having to cross a road, a definite plus if you are traveling with kids. Other area parking lots are charging upwards of $20 just to park! Another side note: admission to all of the Magnolia grounds is free!

Dont forget to explore all of the grounds. There is a small retail shop towards the back of the grounds called Magnolia Seed & Supply. There are also plenty of beautifully landscaped gardens throughout the property.

A small animal pen was tucked away in the gardens but there were no animals in it at the time. Maybe a future goat or chicken house?
Genuine, Joanna-approved #Shiplap! This is located in the Seed & Supply shop, towards the back of the Magnolia grounds.
Inside the Seed & Supply store.
They have a variety of shirts & souvenirs for sale in each building. Here is just a small sample.
I love this garden! So much inspiration for our own homestead.
The line to the Silos Bakery was wrapped around the block so we decided to skip the baked goods.

Giant swings & plenty of seating are available throughout the property.
There is a large area where people were having picnics & playing some activities supplied by Magnolia, such as beanbag toss. The grass is actually artificial turf!

Are you a fan of Fixer Upper? Do you have any farmhouse inspired decor in your house? We would love to hear about it!