WhatIf Workshop 2019
A year in review!
The concept for this thing we are calling ‘Whatif Workshop’ has been building for quite some time. This year is the first physical steps toward this wild dream though. I want to take a moment to review how we got here, and what we accomplished this year. Maybe give you a (very short) summery of this blog.
In 2011 – after the 2008 recession and some big mistakes gone wrong – I found myself underwater in debt, over taxed on a property I hated and underemployed – yet working too many hours. I felt like things could definitely be worse but that there should be more to life then just trying to tread water perpetually. I tried having faith in my vision (which really came after a weirdly satisfying dream of living very compact). I had no idea if it was yet another mistake but I built my tiny house anyway.
In the process, maybe halfway through, I had a date with this boy named James. Our first date was electric. Not necessarily in a romantic-y/chemistry sort of way (though there aren’t any complaints there), we started talking and just fed off each other’s energy. What ideas others would have laughed at (and did!) he heard and then expanded on. What ideas he shared inspired more in me, too. We talked for HOURS that night. At some point we had too much to drink and it got embarrassing for both of us… that’s another story. It ended with him asking “What if I kissed you?”
Eight years and two kids later we continue asking each other ‘What if…’ All of our best moments in life seem to follow that simple curiosity. It’s not always easy. It’s not even always worthwhile but I think there is extreme value in being curious. This year has been all about taking physical steps toward exploring deeper curiosities, together! We plan to explore natural building techniques, technology integration, trade skills, art, philosophy, education and likely more.
What steps were taken in 2019
After out cross country road trip we targeted a couple places we may want to relocate to. We spent some months researching local laws and codes over winter with the goal of making an offer in the spring. We narrowed our search down to Moscow, ID. In May, we bought the rights to steward this lovely property. It was bare and pretty unwanted, spending over a year on the market at what we thought was a great price.
It just so happens our neighbor found the property up the hill at the same time. We both closed within 2 days of each other. You can also see from these photos, he works a bit faster than we do. James and I are nothing if not slow and methodical, though. 😀
The starting point
The property was completely bare when purchased. We didn’t design anything until we closed. There was no need to jinx anything and also no need to spend hours designing if we didn’t get the property. In the months following our May 24th closing we outlined a general ‘game plan’ including drainage field for a septic, a few potential well locations, road locations and lots of ‘background ideas’.
What we’ve accomplished
Once we got the general design pulled together we bought a tractor and started going to work. Then we quickly broke that tractor! Without having a space to fix it we were left with a couple options: paying (too much) to have someone else fix it or shifting directions and building a shop first. We opted to shift focus to the shop. So we designed one.
The greenhouse on the right will be a phase two addition down the road. I should add here that this is all being done with cash on hand so it’s a ‘slow’ process. We would also like to do as much as we can by ourselves. In order to build the barn pad we had to use some fill dirt. Instead of just pulling it from anywhere we took the opportunity to pay a little extra to have it come from where we needed to build the roads. It also worked out that we could then bring the tiny house up a full year before I intended to. Much to my amazement it made the trip!
Moving the tiny house is perhaps what I am most happy about this year. I am glad I didn’t have another year to stress about that! 🙂 Even though progress seems very slow it has actually gone much faster than I expected! We even learned how to douse for a well location, we picked one out and now we just have to test it by drilling :).
Goals for this next year
2020 is going to be a year of laying the foundation and closing the chapter on Boise. As far as our Moscow property is concerned, the goals are just to continue to lay the groundwork. We will have a series of paths connecting our various structures. These will be made by hand and over time. I plan to get a rototiller, make a form, get some cement and make some semi permanent but organic and natural looking pathways and stairs to get up and down the hillside. It will definitely be a project of love and take a lot of hand work. Along with that I plan to rearrange and plant some xeriscaping so that it can start to grow in. I also hope to plant some trees so they too can begin to grow strong. If we have some free weeks and some great ideas we have a bridge to build as well as a gathering space/fire pit.
The majority of the projecting will actually be spent getting James’s house ready to sell in Boise. I will do an in depth post on that once we dial it in a bit more. Basically, the Boise market is crazy. We want to maximize his return and build an addition onto his smaller, 2 bed 1 1/2 bath house. We’re estimating we can spend about $50,000 to add a more functional great room and a master suite and add about $125-150,000 of value to the house. Then sell it. We’ll use some of that to work on our Moscow property and reinvest the rest into a duplex or something in Moscow since that rental is currently part of our income, we’ll need to replace that. Time will tell how that works out but that’s our general idea.
Our ‘to-do’ list by season
- Research and register an LLC for our next venture. James and I are not married. We will both be putting effort and finances into Whatif Workshop and we need to make sure both of our investments are protected.
- Design at least one of our next structures (looks like maybe the treehouse and/or a hobbit house will be first).
- Design an addition to James’s existing house in preparation to sell. (Not everyone wants a tiny house…).
- Fix Daisy the tractor!
- Break ground on the addition (and hopefully finish it to list the house).
- Make some literal paths on our Moscow property.
- Transplant lots of plants.
- Put in a well.
- Put in french drain (for the tiny house).
- Permit and add a deck onto the tiny house.
- Skirt tiny house.
- Complete planter for green-wall (on tiny house).
- (potentially) put in a septic system.
- Design greenhouse on barn.
- Finish up any unfinished projects and work on the new ones that have been added…
- Sell Boise properties to fully ‘be’ in Moscow.
Our Ultimate Goals
At any point we can rejoin the workforce and live life as ‘normal people’. Instead, we like the thrill of trying to take all these weird ideas about ‘what if we do this’ and ‘what would happen if…’ and seeing if we can find a way to generate any income by trying them out. We like the idea of making something out of nothing – responsibly. We love teaching and inspiring others to do the same. It should be pretty clear by this point in our lives that our life is not about trying to accumulate anything, including money, as much as it is about exploring the journey! We will be focusing more on off grid living (along with tiny house living), home schooling, integrating technology into homesteading/living, eventually livestock and of course natural and reclaimed building techniques!
That said, there are ways you can help us do well at this game of life. Keep reading this blog (and share it with others). You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook. We post calls to action there and ask for advice. If you know someone interested in doing these sorts of things, share us with them! I sell classes to make our information more convenient.