2018 was a crazy year for us! But, before we get into that I just quickly want to thank everyone who’s been following us and supporting us through our journey.
Even though we have less than 100 subscribers, I was taken by surprise multiple times by old friends who congratulated us for we do and encouraged us to go forward.
It’s January now, we technically still have 4 months before we can officially say we’ve owned the house for one whole year, but for me, the whole journey started before that. We had so much work done this past year, to us it seems unbelievable that this all started little less than a year ago.
Last winter, between the holidays, Greti sent me a link for a freshly listed property for sale. The offer was so good, I remember we took the car and drove up here to see the property from the street before we even called up the owner. But, as soon as we saw it, we were sold!
Real estate prices in our city have been skyrocketing in the past years and neither of us wanted to sign-up for a 30-year mortgage for a small 2-bedroom apartment. Instead, we were planning to buy a cheap piece of land and planning on building a house later on. You can imagine how excited we were when we saw this house come up for sale.
It was cheap, it had plenty of land, an orchard and the best part: it already had a house where we could live. Admittedly, it was an old house and it needed a lot of work to get it to be comfortable. None the less, on January 8, we shook hands with the previous owner and signed a deal.
And that’s when everything went crazy. Although I was looking to buy a property, I was 100% not prepared for it. Our families helped us out to get the money for the downpayment. But getting a mortgage was harder than we anticipated. It took us two months of negotiations with the bank before we
During this time I remember I was so stressed out by all the meeting with the banks and the lawyers that I was close to giving up on the homestead. But every time I was close to giving up I reminded myself that nothing worth having comes easy.
We ended up making the final payment and getting the deed and the keys for the house at the end of March. Then we got to work. We were both excited to start a garden and grow our own food, but that wasn’t to be the case in 2018.
Around this time, Ragnar – our dog, showed up on our doorstep and we adopted him. Cherries were in bloom and we soon got to eat tons of them. Before we could focus on gardening we had to renovate our new-old house.
We took a leap of faith and gave our 30-day notice to our landlord. That meant we had only 30 days to make this place livable. First things first, we hooked up the water. We dug up trenches around the house for our water pipes and a huge hole for our septic tank. For hot water we used an 80L water heater for our soon-to-be bathroom and a smaller one for our kitchen.
We decided to convert an old pantry into what is now our bathroom. This was actually one of the hardest projects we tackled last year. While refinishing the walls for the bathroom we found a tree root that was growing through our wall, cracking and pushing the whole structure at the same time. After removing it we were concerned with the structural integrity of the house, so we reinforced and re-build most of that wall.
We built a shower out of tiles, installed a toilet, a small sink and a few hand-out cabinets. That root that was growing through the wall delayed the project so much we ended up showering at my mom’s house for about a week before we got the hot water working at our place.
Now that we could take hot showers, we moved on to the rest of the house. We sanded down and repainted all our windows, replastered all the walls, gave them a fresh coat of paint and started buying furniture.
We’ve been renting all our life, so the only furniture we had was a desk. For the first few nights, before we managed to buy a bed, we had to sleep on an inflatable mattress. Most of our possessions were stored in plastic bags and cardboard boxes for most of the year.
We installed laminate floors in one of the rooms and called it a living-room, although our bed was still in that room since the boxes were taking up all the space in the other room.
Before we could start working on our kitchen we had to re-do the electric for the whole house. The previous owners didn’t have a lot of electric appliances, so before we could add big consumers we had to make sure that we don’t burn the house down.
Both of us have to go to work during the week, so weekends were the only time when we could work on the kitchen. Progress was slow, but each week we checked one thing off the list. It’s hard for me to explain just how slow things move in real life. It might not seem like much, but getting the tiles in, the furniture, the appliances, plumbing, wall-tiles, everything… it takes a lot of time.
I’ve been asked so many times why I don’t document our renovations in greater detail. We simply didn’t have enough time. Setting up the camera for every little step takes times, and we had to move fast.
One by one, the pieces were falling together. After we finished working
By this time the first cold snaps were hitting our area and we were exhausted. I think the last renovation project we did was installing insulation in our attic. After that, I started focusing on getting and splitting firewood for the winter.
This winter was amazing! We got tons of snow, which meant a lot of shovelling, but also great fun with Ragnar and beautiful views around the homestead. As nights got colder we kept warm with our terracotta fire stove and electric heaters. On the 27th of December, one year after seeing this house for the first time, we’re happy to call it home.
With 4 months left before we celebrate one year since we got the keys to the property, we’re really happy with our progress and we’re excited for what’s still in store for us.
I’ll cover the plans for 2019 in another article, but know this: 2019 will be the year of gardening. We plan on building two gardens, one modelled after Ruth Stout’s method, and at the same time, I want to turn our orchard into a food forest. We also need to get a fence around the homestead and who knows what else.
I think that sums up our last year here at the Valhalla Homestead, thank you all for supporting us. I’ll do my best to create more content in 2019. My new year’s resolution includes creating more and better-quality videos, I promise I’ll do my best.
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