I have looked forward to documenting this building in Lake Chelan adventure for YEARS. We’ve learned some lessons in this long game approach to building a house. Today I’m going to take you down memory lane of this build journey and how we got to today! Ps. There’s a GREAT new video of the house in this post! Don’t miss it!
The idea was planted in 2015
We had been in our first house for about a year and Michael was asked to consider a hypothetical job out of Chelan, Washington in the next few years. Haha! We said of course we’d consider this vague opportunity!
We were open to big life changes to let our dreams and goals happen.
The idea was vague enough for us to start dreaming of a life over there, or even just a vacation cabin. (With what “extra money” we had at 25 and 26, I have no idea! 😂) I had actually never visited this vacation lake town before and our 2015 springtime trip was my first sight of the incredible place!
My first visit to Lake Chelan
Chelan is up over the Cascade Mountain range, about 3.5 hours from Seattle. It has a desert mountain climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. The lake is 50.5 miles long and the third deepest lake in the United States, and the 26th deepest in the world! (Source Wikipedia) And yes, the lake is COLD. But we still swim in it!
There are three towns along the lake. Chelan and Manson are side by side with a total population of around 5,000 residents. At the top of the lake, accessible only by boat or hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail, is the tiny town of Stehikin which has a population of 55 permanent residents!
After busy city and suburb living in and outside of Seattle, the small town country life captivated us and we knew we could happily live there! We had a dream of living away from the cooperate big city job life and living the slow life in the country.
Buying property in Lake Chelan
After selling our first house, we bought a second, had our first baby, received that “someday” job offer and decided to make our move to Chelan. We had visited 2 more times and scouted out properties all around the town and county. There was this one area that just felt RIGHT.
It had been listed for over 2 years and the price had dropped yet again. We knew it was time to buy it. In 2016 we became property owners!
We sold our house, bought the property, and moved (my very pregnant belly) into my parent’s garage apartment for, you know, a “couple months.” One month in I had my baby girl! One year later we finally moved to Lake Chelan when a rental down the hill from our property (totally random!) came available!
The waiting game
Once in Chelan, we really dove into designing our house, getting the pool clean (it was black!), and settling into our new community. We were so happy to be in our new location that we didn’t mind toooo much that we were still a ways out from building in Lake Chelan.
In case you’re wondering, the pool came with the property! We’re on cloud nine with that view around it on hot summer days. It eventually needs a bit of fixing up and definitely a heater to get this mama in it, but we’re very excited about it. The deep end has a diving board and is sooo deep! The thing is huge!
Moving to Germany
In January 2020–(An aside: Are we always going to look back at that month as the calm before the insane storm?! What will we recall reading this post 10 years from now? Crazytown.) Anyways, in January 2020 we had a contract job opportunity come up in Germany, where my husband did work for Airbus. I had always been open to moving to Europe for a time and here the opportunity presented itself!
Continue to be open to wild adventures and a little discomfort so your goals get clearer and nearer!
By February 1st we had sold the majority of our furniture, stored the rest, bid farewell to our favorite furball Moose, gave a cat to my parents 🤣 (they’re obsessed with him), and moved our lives to Hamburg, Germany! We were uncertain of the contract time frame, but here we are a year later still in Germany!
Breaking ground on the property
Rewind a little. In early fall 2020 we broke ground on the property from afar! This was a pretty monumental moment after waiting and dreaming for so long. Building in Lake Chelan had OFFICIALLY commenced!!!
In October 2020, we flew back for a long American holiday after being without family for so many months. My homesickness and loneliness was at a high so my loving husband made this trip happen sacrificing himself to stay in Germany working and living alone. It was hard and good! Before he flew back to Germany, we got to see the forms going in!
In December 2020, right before we returned from our US holiday, we got to witness the framing going up! Not knowing when we’d be back, I was so happy to catch a glimpse of the action. You can see all the photos of this in my Build Part 1 Post! And yes, when building in Lake Chelan you can even do it in the snow! (Though getting ground work done early is a bonus!)
The Second Story Goes Up!
We just missed seeing the second floor go up in the house in mid January 2021. Luckily our friends went up and got some great pictures and videos for us! See all the pictures in my Build Update Part 2 Post!
Roof and Windows
The house was almost all dried in by the time my husband visited for the electrical walkthrough in mid February 2021! See all the interior photos in my Build Update Part 3 Post! Here are the drone photos we haven’t shared yet! Aaah they make me so excited!
House finish date
With the plumbing and electrical all set up it’s about time for insulation then drywall! The house has a tentative finish date around August 2021. It’s March at the time of writing this and we’re crossing out the months till we can see the build again! When we’ll move back for good is still a uncertain, but knowing we’ll have a home to come back to is a comfort beyond comfort. Can I get an AMEN to more moving?!
Thanks for following along our Lake Chelan build journey! If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to answer them here, via email, or on Instagram!
xoxo Karisa*This post may contain affiliate links to products I use and love. Read more on my FAQ page.*