View from Hansen Hilltop Haven

Building on Raw Land: The First Steps

H3 storage shed

After tens of thousands of miles and more than 130 stops across 48 states over a 2.5-year period, we finally landed back on our property north of Spokane, Washington, to begin building our dream house on 30 acres of raw land (containing no infrastructure; no water, power, septic).

With the current Covid-scare and business shutdown, we had to make a few adjustments to our plans — while hoping some common sense would return to state officials, especially given the rural county in which our land is located.

While waiting for answers from the electrician and water contractors, we moved ahead with acquiring and putting together a neat little storage shed that we will convert to a garden shed once the house and garage are completed. Thank goodness we had the two of us to put this shed together because it takes quite a bit of work, as well as quite a bit of interpreting the sometimes sketchy instructions. We also started clearing the area for the shed and for the future garage.

We are installing two reservoirs so that our water needs should always be met once the reservoirs fill — and we had hoped to have them installed the first week we were back in the state, but the concrete company that makes the reservoirs was deemed not essential… as was all residential construction. Bleh.

H3 remote power station

Happily, the power company, Avista, was more than willing to work with us to get power — and, amazingly, both the trenching company and our electrical contractor agreed to do the work… that’s the power of the power company!

Ran did some of the trenching for the remote power station and the electricians came and installed the box near where the transformer will be located. Everything looked good and the company called in the inspection. Because of the confusing times we are in, first the inspector would not come by at all, then would only come by if we had a building permit… and finally, after much back-and-forth and new edicts from the governor, the inspector did come by and the box was approved, which means the power company can now come out and run the cable.

Cascade Cable

In the meantime, the trenching company, Cascade Cable, dug a trench up our driveway and installed a sleeve that will carry the wire for the power.

The daylong process tore up our dirt driveway, but by the end of the day, they had compacted and plowed the driveway back to (or even better) the way it was before they started.

Cascade also prepped the spot for our transformer and connected a sleeve to our power station… so now we are just waiting on Avista to schedule a day to run the cable so that we have power on the site!

We had been staying at a neat little campground, Shore Acres Resort, right down the road from our property, and we could have probably stayed a bit longer — but once the trenching was done, we decided we would boondock on the property, partly assuming we would have power sooner than we did.

Trailer on the property

We packed up the trailer — and with the help of our neighbor creating a little landing spot off the driveway — we moved up to our property for good. We plan to spend the summer living in the trailer while we build the house.

We will attempt to use our Goal Zero Yeti generator and a solar panel or two for running minimal power until Avista can schedule the electric installation.

Happily, we have water, thanks to Fogle (our well company) hooking up a little controller, and Virtue Construction (our general contractor) for lending us a generator to run the well.

First projects

We also had prepared ahead of time and ordered two porta-potties — one for our use and one for the workers and contractors.

Once we got the trailer situated, we did some tree thinning and trimming of trees along the driveway. We also ordered and put together a utility cart.

We also installed a bat house and a birdhouse, as well as a bird-feeder… we want our property to be wildlife-friendly.

We also experimented with some solar lights (on posts) along the driveway. Running electric all that way is not the best idea, and supposedly these lights supply a decent amount of light — just enough to provide some assistance at key points on the driveway.

We ended our first days on our land by building a little Covid Box, which contains the policies and procedures workers must follow on the job site (per the state of Washington), as well as a bottle of 2 Loonitizer hand sanitizer that we acquired from a wonderful local distillery, 2 Loons Distillery.

Next up? Power finally arrives.

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