Dateline: 14 February 2017 a.d.
In November of 1990, with winter coming, and a second baby on the way, we were cramming to get a much-needed addition on our 868 square foot house. I hired my business partner and our one employee to get the addition weathertight. I would take it from there myself.
Take note of all the stuff crammed under the roof of the 10' x 10' section of our original house. It was kind of like an attic. Our Dream Home was seriously short on storage space (still is).
The picture below shows our house three years after getting the addition on (1993). There was still bare plywood on the outside. Not very attractive.
I was still in the midst of my Hard Years, working at my business, trying to keep the bills paid. I lacked the time and money to put much effort into making the outside of the house look good.
Marlene thinks the picture below is from around 1995. Five years after the addition was put on, and it's still bare plywood. Our third child was born in October of 1994. Those years are a blur.
Our dog, Pilgrim, was 10 years old in the picture above. She would live two more years.
In 1998 I went through a personal low—a time of depression, inactivity and financial crisis. Nothing got done on the house. The inside was not completely finished, while the outside looked like you see in the above two pictures. It was like that for around 15 years.
My wife is the most sweet and patient person I know, but I can tell you that there were times when she was profoundly disappointed with the unfinished condition of our house. It was an embarrassment. It was shameful. That's all I'll say about that.
I think it was around 2005 that I finally had the time and the money to start making the house look better. I had been working in the NY State prison system since 2000. The job paid well. I also had vacation days, personal days, sick days—all kinds of days that I got paid for not working. That was something I never experienced as a self employed remodeling contractor.
Besides that, my Planet Whizbang mail-order business was taking off. After nearly 20 stressful years, the Hard Days were behind me. Making enough money to keep the bills paid was much less of a concern.
I put another small addition on the back of the house when I was working at the prison (you can see it below). It gave us some much-needed breathing room in the downstairs, and I finally got to the siding over that bare plywood.
The next three pictures show the house now, in February of 2017. The two sides visible from the road currently need repainting, but at least they are done!
As you can see, I still have a lot of work to do on the back of the house. These days my biggest problem is time and energy. Since around 2010 the mail-order business has provided for our financial needs like working in the building trades never did, but the business does require a lot of my time. And my physical capacity for getting things done is diminishing with every passing year.
Nevertheless, there is a period of time, in the early spring, when the weather gets nice, and the mail-order volume is seasonally low, that I have time to focus on the house. Last year, I finished a much-needed re-roofing. This year I will endeavor to finish the cedar siding.
The plan now is to get that house ready to sell. The plan is to continue to save as much money as we can. Our objective is to build a retirement home in two to three years (I will be 62 years old in three years).
A simple ranch-style home with an attached garage, will do. And a small barn for the mail-order business (our Dream Home is now part warehouse).
Another option we're seriously considering is to purchase a house in the nearby small rural village of Moravia, NY (6 miles away). That would be a big adjustment but we're trying to make wise forward-thinking decisions, and there are some definite plusses to living in a small village when you get up in years.
We love our Upland Dream Home, but it has served its purpose, and we are now ready to leave.
I don't know if we ever actually will leave. A lot of things have to fall into place for that to happen. But we are ready.
If we do leave, we will still have an Upland presence, as we own a separate section of 16 acres of land up here. There are personal and strategic reasons to hold on to rural land, and I've discussed them numerous times in my writings over the years.
We'll see what develops. Stay tuned.
This concludes my series on Building Our Upland Dream Home. If you have not yet read the whole series, CLICK HERE to go back to the beginning.