We woke up this morning on our property, for the first time. It’s not possible to explain just how good this feels.
We bought this odd-shaped ten-acre parcel of rural Nevada sand and sagebrush a couple of years ago. Since then, we’ve been working to learn what’s involved in building a house. It turns out it is a surprisingly complex process. You may already have known that. We didn’t, never having built a house before.
This particular parcel has never been developed or had anything built on it. There’s no water, power, or other utilities. We know we will need to drill a well and put in a septic system, and we have a rough idea of what those will cost. We would like to stay off the electrical grid and have an energy-efficient home designed from the start around a robust system of solar panels and batteries, with a back-up generator.
The views from the property are grand, in every direction. So we’ll need to come up with a floor plan that takes the greatest advantage of the location. There are a few neighbors within a few thousand feet, so we’ll need to maintain our privacy and theirs.
We would also like to have a house that will minimize the risks from wildfires and earthquakes, the two most common natural disasters it is likely to face.
So there’s more to this project than just finding a drawing of a pretty house, buying a set of plans, and hiring a contractor to build it for us.
We did build a really nice-looking fence and entry gate out where the property fronts the paved county road. And we found a contractor to install a culvert and build a driveway apron. That allowed us to drive onto our land with something other than a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. Prior to that the county’s drainage ditch was a pretty big obstacle to being able to get onto the property and enjoy it.
We had walked out here several times, and driven out in our truck. But we couldn’t bring our trailer onto the lot. We couldn’t camp here. We’ve been out to watch the sunset a few times before. But we hadn’t ever spent the night here, before last night. We hadn’t seen the sunrise here, until this morning.
With no infrastructure on the parcel, there’s never been a need for a road or driveway to access it. And the ancient sagebrush that covers the land presented a real hazard of damaging the plumbing and tankage under the belly of our trailer. So just towing it out here with the truck in 4WD low range didn’t seem prudent.
We have picked out the ideal location for our house on the property. And we had marked out a meandering path for a long driveway from the county road to the homesite. It was fun to imagine driving through the gates and then along the path to our future house. We’ve actually driven it a few times, smiling and laughing the whole way.
So, finally, last week we had our contractors get started on building the driveway. The first phase was just scraping off the sagebrush in the roadway, removing some exposed rocks, and roughly leveling and smoothing the surface. Sounds simple enough, but the driveway is more than a quarter-mile long, 14 feet wide, and has two turnarounds large enough to make a circle with more than 50 feet of truck and trailer. Also, we’ll need another culvert installed to be able to get across a dry wash. And then lay down and compact many truckloads of 3/4-inch Class II roadbase.
More work, more time, more money. We’ll do all that at some point in the future. For now, we have a really nice dirt road on our property. Yesterday, at about three in the afternoon, we pulled the trailer through the gate for the very first time. By four o’clock we were sitting in our camp chairs, under an awning, enjoying the views with cold beers.
It is quiet here. We celebrated our achievement with a bottle of champagne under the awning as the sun set and a light thundershower rolled through. A pack of coyotes yipped in the distance. Mustangs grazed on the hillside.
This morning’s coffee was especially good.