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Trying to build a house on our land while also teaching full-time, taking on side gigs, and raising a child keeps us more than busy. What are the realities of working while you’re trying to build your homestead? How do we manage our time effectively to make sure we get the house done without damaging ourselves in the process?
UPDATE 3/2018: I first published this post when both my husband and I were working full time and trying to build our cordwood house from scratch. Since then, a LOT has changed. I quit my job to stay home with our son and we finished building our home. The tips I talk about still apply though, especially with our work balance and roles changing. Keep reading to find out how.
If you want to build a home, but don’t know if you can do it when you and your partner both have to work, how can you deal with it?
I hope I can help answer that question for you throughout this post. You see, I was going through some old posts on my blog from last year and saw this one that REALLY sounded like what I’m going through again this year.
You see, I’m a high school music teacher. My husband is a college professor. We are teachers and at the time of this writing it is August, which means that once again we are going through the massive amount of preparation that is necessary to have a good school year.
As much as I wish I could spend every waking moment out at the property working on the house, or sitting here writing to all of you dear readers, I can’t. I have other responsibilities and need to do the best job I can.
Ever since that last day of summer freedom before I had to don REAL PANTS and head to professional development I’ve been in full on teacher mode. I’ve had to switch gears from work boots and power tools to comfortable flats and teacher tools.
The problem is, now we have this house with half-finished walls that absolutely need to be finished before the first frost.
Why first frost? Because the mortar can’t set correctly if it freezes or gets close to freezing. While it happens to be 90 degrees now, any homesteader knows that THIS is when you prep for winter.
First frost in my area is around October 25. That is only 70 days away from today, which would be fine if neither of us had to work! But we do, so the clock is ticking much faster for us.
We had been hoping to be done with this already, but the walls take a LOT longer to build than we’d anticipated.
I have no illusions that any of this will take place in a timely manner. As I’ve said before, the biggest thing to know about building your own home is that IT TAKES TIME.
It especially takes time when you’re doing it paying with cash as you go. Ever since our big outlay of cash for the concrete work and framing materials in June, the bank account doesn’t look as exciting.
That said, these same jobs that take us away from the homestead project during the day are the same ones that allow us to build with cash. There’s a steady, reliable flow for now that I can plug into a spreadsheet to determine what we can do and when. But like I said, we’re teachers…this isn’t the biggest cash flow ever, but we make it work.
How Busy Working Couples Can Keep Their Homestead Build On Track
1. Know Your Calendar
If you’re working with a partner on building your own home or homestead, you need to understand exactly what is going on and when.
For the build, that includes what tasks need to be completed, what subcontractors you’re meeting and when, and so on.
For your work and family life, that includes knowing your daily schedule, extra work commitments, appointments, and other events for your family.
We have a regular monthly calendar hanging in the kitchen and have regular “calendar meetings” to make sure we know EVERYTHING that is going on.
We also make sure to put any events straight into our phone calendars and sync up as much as possible.
2. Communicate regularly and strategize together.
Some nights I’ll have pep band, or he’ll have a gig. Some nights we’re absolutely exhausted.
In these busy times, more than ever, it’s important to keep each other in the loop and hash things out together. We’re building this house as a united team and it’s important to converse like one.
Online collaboration helps when we’re apart during the day, but real conversations are what keep the ball rolling.
After our kiddo is asleep we’ll usually spend time hashing out our frustrations, deciding what tasks need to be done, figuring out who will do what. We also use that time to talk about the finances of the build.
3. Enlist some more friendly help for the house items that are on “deadlines”.
Like I said, the walls need to be finished before we start getting frosts. As averse as I have been in the past month or so to having friends come and help (I maintain that setting trusses is the scariest thing and I’d hate to put friends in dangerous situations again) I think it is an important way to get our house finished.
We are beyond blessed to have friends and family who actively want to help us build our home. Even if you’re stubbornly independent like we can be, ASK for what you need. I’d be willing to bet you have some friends, family, or neighbors who would be delighted to help you out.
Be gracious to them. Offer to feed them, provide water, and so on. Make it fun and treat them well.
My hope is that if you are someone who is looking at building a home or starting a homestead while maintaining a full-time job, that our experiences can show you some of the ups and downs.
It isn’t impossible, but it does take a lot of planning and patience. If you’re thinking of tackling a project of this scope, approach it realistically and evaluate your specific options.
Check out our homestead progress reports and find out more about our cordwood homestead project here. You should also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m always pinning lots of great ideas on Pinterest too! Thanks for reading!