Since I was a kid, building my own house has been a dream of mine. At the time I think it just seemed like something cool to do or maybe I aspired to be an architect. The work, stress, and time that it would eventually entail was nowhere near what I expected. Even so, it was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had and to be honest, I’d do it again tomorrow.
When Kallie and I moved to Cheyenne in 2014 it was important to us that we live downtown. There is a lot to be said about the character that can be found within the tree-lined streets here, as well as the proximity to some great local places. Being able to ride your bike home from the bar also doesn’t hurt. We love to ride our bikes to Danielmarks Brewery or Central Cafe. Now that we have a child, it’s also an amazing area to take her for walks along with our puppies. So, we found a great 1920s house that we fell in love with. It was perfect for Kallie, Bueller (our Goldendoodle), and myself. However, I knew having a family one day and another dog (Rooney) was important to us and we would eventually outgrow that house. Knowing this, I casually started looking at other options downtown. We weren’t in a rush, maybe I was.
The houses that I watched go on and off the market didn’t really match what we were looking for. They were either too small or needed too much work for the money. I began to think what if we built? Is that even possible? I shifted my search to land instead. This task was much easier said than done. There were so few vacant residential lots in Cheyenne to begin with, let alone ones that were in a good location or had an owner that was willing to part with the parcel. None of them were actually listed for sale. My first tactic was letters. I’d look up addresses through the assessor’s office and mail the owners, asking if they were interested in selling. This didn’t go so well. Frustrated, I started talking to people that may know some of the owners. This is where I lucked out. Dave Teubner, the owner of Warehouse, knew one of the property owners. He happily put us in touch for a meeting.
The owner was open to selling, which was the best response I had received so far. His main concern was that the lot was buildable. Being a triangle lot, it presented interesting design challenges and had inhibiting setback requirements. Before we entered into a purchase agreement, the owner allowed me to get these details all figured out.
By this point, we had a house selected. We worked with an amazing architecture firm out of Austin, TX called Perch. They create semi-custom modern farmhouse plans. With a design in hand, my next step was to present to the Cheyenne Board of Adjustments to see if I could make the lot work for our house. Fortunately, the board loved the plan and appreciated my desire to stay and build downtown. We were set and the lot was ours. Throughout this process, I had also been searching for a contractor. By April 2018 we were under contract to build the house with Woods Brothers Construction. Groundbreaking was set for May.
Some of the most exciting parts of the project included picking finishes. Kallie and I designed the entire interior ourselves, which presented some challenges. A number of the design styles and materials that we selected were not traditional for this area. Local suppliers were not used to working with these materials, so that caused a bit of delay, but they were more than happy to help us find what worked best in our space. It was important to us to stick to what we selected though as we wanted a finished product that was very different for Cheyenne and I think we achieved that. Some of our favorite finishes are the 5” white oak floors that run throughout the house, the super cool cement tiles from Riad Tile, and the bathrooms. I never thought that we would finish this project and love bathrooms so much.
After a few months staying with the in-laws, we were finally ready to move in. On a snowy weekend in November, we moved everything in quickly, just in time to have our first Thanksgiving in the new house the following week. We cannot be more grateful and happy with the house that we built and the place that we built it in. The development of Cheyenne is something that is extremely important to me. If you have a passion, you shouldn’t just talk about it, but rather get involved and be an active participant. I hope this project helps spawn new residential development in Cheyenne and eventually helps grow the downtown area. I think Kallie might kill me if I wanted to build a house again, but honestly, I’d do it again tomorrow. It was worth all the heartache, stress, joy, and reward.