When city dwellers get fed up with the expense and congestion of urban life, they frequently entertain the same dream: pack it all in and move to the country.

This series of stories covers some of the major factors to consider before taking the plunge, as well as insights I gained from my own experience building a home outside of Leavenworth. 

Here, I discuss the timing of new construction, as well as the time-commitment DIY projects will take.

The process is lengthy

Expect a minimum of two years to pass from the moment you decide to build until the time you can occupy the dwelling. If you plan to do some of the work yourself, it likely will take even longer.

Building in the city is relatively simple since you can hook up to water, sewer and power. In the country, an extensive amount of time is spent answering the “Can I build here?” question. 

Before you even proceed with plans and permits, you’ll likely have to survey the land, plan a septic field, dig a well and schedule geologic testing. 


It’s also rushed

A surprise to many is that the actual building window for new construction is fairly short. You usually have about one year to finish the house after breaking ground.  

Building permits don’t stay open forever. Construction loans are even more demanding and require you to finish on time or pay penalties.

That doesn’t mean your house must be 100 perecent finished in a year. You just need an inspector to grant you “occupancy,” which means the major requirements, such as electrical and a working bathroom, are complete.


It can consume your free time

The biggest downside to doing some or much of the work yourself is the time required. Even a simple job, such as installing trim, can take several weekends.  

If the whole point of building in the country is to escape city life, do you really want to spend of every weekend and holiday working on your house?

Even if you hire professionals, you can still expect maintenance, decorating and landscaping to consume much of your free time.


Writer Jeff Layton owns Osprey Acres, a three-year building project near Leavenworth that includes his dream home and a pair of weekend rental units available via Airbnb.com or Peerspace.com.