Custom Home : The Very Beginning

Paolo is the one who discovered our land on a whim in the Fall of 2019. He found it vaguely advertised online and decided to call the number for the land developer listed on the website. The developer explained that the land had been bought a few years ago by a family who lived in Saudi Arabia and who had been planning on building in Ottawa. They had since changed their mind and asked the developer if he could list the land as available on his website.

Paolo drove over to see the land and instantly fell in love with the area – two acres, at the back of a cul-de-sac with only three other houses on the street. Location wise, it was only minutes from the main highway and less than 8 minutes from our current house.

He called me at work to tell me about it – I only somewhat listened to what he was saying… It’s not that I wasn’t interested (I was!) but I just didn’t want to get excited about the prospect of actually being able to design and build our own home on a lot located exactly where we’d always talked about wanting to live. I knew that if I let myself be open to the idea, I would become fully invested and, inevitably, disappointed since it just didn’t seem possible. We had been living in what we thought was our forever production home for less than three years and I knew that we had some equity in the house already but nothing that would allow us to consider making any kind of substantial profit to then fund our custom home build.

So, for the first three months or so, I held off on being involved. Paolo said he wanted to explore the option himself – just to see… He had a few telephone discussions with the land developers and met with several builders. He even had a number of potential builders meet him at our current home so that they could get a sense for our taste and style – I had made it clear to him that I wouldn’t build a house with finishes that were less than what we already had.

Meanwhile, we had agreed that if it was meant to be, then it would happen – we weren’t going to force the issue. We agreed that we would not rush into things simply because the land was available – if the sellers got another offer, we would walk away and not engage in a bidding war. We were very specific about style and must-haves for our custom design – so if the builders couldn’t provide us with a quote that met those requirements within our budget, we would forget about it and enjoy our perfectly good and beautiful current home. Finally, even if the land remained available and we found a good builder that could give us what we wanted within our budget, we still had to overcome the hurdle of selling our fairly new home for a profit that would, at a minimum, fund the purchase of the land – so, if we couldn’t do that then, again, we would walk away from the project.

We went back and forth on the idea for a solid six months. By February, the land was still available (mainly because it wasn’t being actively advertised, which worked in our favour), Paolo found a reputable builder that he knew I would like (although we hadn’t committed to any one builder just yet) and the Ottawa housing market was thriving. We conditionally accepted an offer on our house, subject to us securing the land. Those negotiations took a few days (mainly because the sellers were in Saudi Arabia and the time difference meant we had to wait for responses) but, eventually, by mid-February, our house had been purchased for above our asking price and we entered into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for the land – aahhhh, this is really happening!!!

A few days after that… we found out we were expecting baby #2!

I really think everything happens for a reason. Our motto all along, in all of our life decisions, has been “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen”. Everything had to line up just to get us to the starting point of building our own custom home. Had we found out that I was pregnant even a day before we signed off on the agreements, we likely would have walked away due to bad timing but, as luck would have it, the stars lined up and we get to build our own custom home and grow our family, all in the same year (which also happens to be the year that we find ourselves in the middle of a world pandemic known as COVID-19…). No worries, just another day in the life…

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