Your Questions About The House Project, Answered ⬇️

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


Your Questions Answered

Over the past two years, my wife, Sachi, and I decided to change our lives in fundamental ways. After 20 years in Seattle, we sold our house and moved to a yurt-shaped house on Orcas Island in Washington State.

Since then, we’ve been adjusting to island life and planning a new home on the property. Today, that home is becoming a reality and represents the biggest project of our lives. We’re putting everything we have (and then some) into making this dream a reality. The house project is the central subject of my newsletter.

What sort of house is it?

It’s a single story modern house (3 br, 3 bath) with a shed roof. The house faces west and is positioned to maximize the view over the water. I created the 3D models below to represent how it will look.

Back of the House, Facing the Water
Back of the House, Facing the Water
Front of the House
Front of the House

Where is the house?

The house is on the west side of Orcas Island, which is part of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. The islands are in an inland sea called the Salish Sea, about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. It’s about as far NW you can get in the continental U.S.

west side of Orcas Island

Why Orcas Island? 

Orcas has a combination of natural beauty, useful amenities and a strong sense of community. It’s 55 square miles and has a few thousand people. We visited many times over the years and always dreamed of living on the island.

We also stumbled onto a property that was a steal and had a view that we never thought we could afford. It was the first and only house we visited on the island.

Just Before "The Yurt" was Demolished
Just Before “The Yurt” was Demolished

Do you have jobs? How do you work on the island?

Yes. We own a small company called Common Craft. We produce animated educational videos that are used by educators to teach technology and related topics. The business is an online subscription service that gives us the freedom to work from almost anywhere. It helps, of course, that Orcas has fiber optic internet connections. 

How can you do this? 

We were fortunate to buy a home in Seattle in 2003, just as the city started to grow. We remodeled it significantly in 2010 and eventually sold it as we moved to the island.

Are you building the house yourselves?

No. We are working with an architect we’ve known for years and a builder on the island. We plan to work on the house in the future, when our limited skills can be more productive. 

Where are you living during the construction?

We originally planned to live in a fifth-wheel trailer on the property during construction. A kind neighbor heard about our plans and offered a guest house over their garage. We will probably live in the guest house for over a year.

When do you expect to move into the new house?

We hope to be in the house a year from now, in the fall of 2020. I plan to keep writing about the process until it’s done.

Where is the project today?

We have finished the excavation and are pouring the concrete foundation. Soon, the framing will begin and the house will start to take real shape.

pouring the concrete foundation

Why are you writing the newsletter?

The Ready for Rain newsletter started with a goal of publishing a new story every week in 2019. This is the 41st issue and I’m sure we’ll make it to #52 (and much more). At heart, I love writing and creating media. The newsletter is how I practice and having an audience keeps me motivated and engaged. I share videos, animated gifs and lots of photos.

Lastly… I want this experience to be interactive. I want to hear your ideas and feedback. I want to answer your questions. It makes my day to know that you’re reading and thinking. All you have to do is hit reply on any newsletter to say hello.

Thanks in advance for sharing!

Photo of us at the site by Anastasia Fuller
Photo of us at the site by Anastasia Fuller

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Each week, I share media recommendations and a story from my life on a rural island off the coast of Washington State, where I'm building a custom home and learning island culture. Learn more.

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