Building the House, The Woods

Well… We’re Stumped!

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Clearing land is no joke people. Picture nine acres of forest, never inhabited by anything but squirrels, deer, birds and rabbits (Snow White’s dream property! -minus the dwarfs). Imagine tall tree after tall tree, wild grape vines, wild rose bushes, raspberry bushes and blueberry bushes. Imagine meandering little streams running through the woods on their way to join the bigger stream at the bottom of our ravine. It really is beautiful.

Read more about Buying the Land of Our Dreams… On a Budget

Remember, though, that rose bushes have thorns…. really pointy ones (and they are everywhere!!)! Those little streams make the ground soft and muddy… which means getting equipment back there is a bear! Wild grape vines wrap themselves around our tall trees making it difficult to know which way a tree we are trying to fell will land. Those tall trees also have VERY deep roots, making for stubborn stumps… lots of stumps. Something else you might not know is that our land has been logged in the past. On one hand, that’s a blessing because that means some of the trees we would have to cut down to build our home and driveway are already down but… on the other hand, it means LOTS of piles of brush, branches and giant logs in our way.

We were estimated around $10,000 to get the trees cleared to build our home… and that was with us trying to preserve as many trees as possible!

We’re on a budget. You see our problem? Enter my generous dad and very kind, very knowledgeable brother in law. My dad is generous, because he made a very surprising promise to us that he would rent the equipment to clear our land… and do it himself… but he is a man with ZERO experience in these matters. My brother in law is kind, because he volunteered to be there and help. Thank the Lord he did too… because my dad put BOTH of their lives in danger probably more times than I know about. David and I were still living down in Georgia when the two of them decided to take our project on.

5 Lessons in Land Clearing for Newbies

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It wasn’t easy. Day 1 was spent getting stuck in the Bermuda triangle of wet ditches. The skid-loader they rented got so stuck they had to return to the store and rent a back hoe to get it out! Lesson 1: WAIT UNTIL THE GROUND IS DRY. (Lesson 1a: Get tracks, not wheels on your rented equipment if there is any mud on your property AT ALL.)

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Very Stuck

The days that followed were filled with broken equipment, many trips back and forth to rent more equipment, fear, danger, injury and LOTS of progress. 🙂 Lesson 2: Plan for delays.

After having watched several YouTube Videos on how to cut down a tree my dad was convinced he was ready! I would like to say, before I tell this story, that I am so proud and impressed with my dad. He has always worked so hard for our family. He built a successful business from the ground up, against all odds, and has always been very generous to us… but he had never done anything like this before.

After having cut down several trees, at one point, dad was slicing through a tall tree when it began to fall down and pinch the chainsaw in between the stump and the rest of the tree… dad took off sprinting in the other direction… leaving the chainsaw in there STILL RUNNING!!

Later, while dad was driving the skid-loader to lift trees and place them in a pile, he started to back up a little too far… getting very close to the 20 foot drop off into a rocky ravine.

THANK YOU to my brother in law… who ran over to dad, stopped him and said “I don’t want you to EVER do that again!” You tell him!!!! 🙂 I think you might be the reason I still have a dad. Lesson 3: Have someone with you who knows what they are doing!

Quick Tip: Designate an area for debris, excess wood and brush, in a convenient location, out of sight from your home. These piles will likely take a while to work through and you don’t want to have to stare at them once you move into your newly built home. We were able to make a wood pile just down the hill, but behind some trees so we won’t be able to see the piles and piles of firewood from the house.

Once the trees were down and cleared away, out came the backhoe again to pull up the stumps… but that was a no go. The backhoe they were able to rent just didn’t have the juice to pull up those stumps.

No problem though! David and I had the power of YouTube and Pinterest! Shrugging off the nay sayers who said “you’re not doing to be able to get those stumps up yourself” we made a plan to burn them out. My best friend and her sweet husband came over to the land and spent their whole Saturday trying to help us burn out these stumps. They got muddy… very muddy.

Although we knew people who had successfully burned out stumps themselves we just couldn’t make it happen. Even after building up a fire for 6 HOURS around a stump soaked in kerosene… they caught on fire but wouldn’t stay lit. We drilled holes in the stump to let the kerosene soak in more, we used a blow torch… we tried all the tricks we found out there in web land. What we needed was a giant, construction grade backhoe… but we didn’t have one and couldn’t find one to rent. Lesson 4: Having the right equipment makes your job a lot easier.

Ultimately, with the stumps we decided to reach out to our contractor. We found out that since we don’t need our excavator to remove the stumps or bury them, the added cost of him pulling them up will be minimal. Lesson 5: Ask the professionals how they can complete your job on the cheap.

A Note From Dad: “You’ve just gotta have an adventurous soul, be willing to take risks, do things that you’ve never done before, have a courageous heart… and someone who knows how to fix all the equipment you will inevitably break.”

Is Clearing Your Own Land Worth It?

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Bottom line: If you can clear your wooded land it WON’T be cheap or easy… BUT it will likely save you thousands of dollars! All in all, the land clearing process cost between $4,000 and $5,000 dollars. That’s a potential $6,000 in savings right there (and remember, there was a lot of human error that had to be paid for too)! The whole process took them about a week plus two weekends.

Learn more about how we saved $22,000 in 6 months in our post on Little Money, Big Dreams

Click Here to Receive your Free ‘Dream Your Budget’ tool that helped us meet our savings goals!

So, even if you are a newbie to land clearing, you can still save a lot of money! If you are willing to work through the setbacks, have a trusted experienced friend along and have more time than you have money…. clearing your own land could be worth it!

Lastly, just LOOK at the difference!!!

I am forever grateful… and cannot even express my gratitude to my sweet dad who took on a project he had never tackled before all because he loves us. I am forever in debt to my brother in law, who made sure they both survived, and brought the know-how to get it done! I’m so thankful to our friends, who are even still willing to help in the big and the small things! We are so very blessed!

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