Hi, and welcome to the Vernacular Life Podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that could go on in our 1905 vernacular farmhouse. I’m your host, Paige and this farm house really was the start of everything.
We purchased it in 2017 and the day we closed, I put the first picture of it up on Instagram and it kind of spiraled from there and to YouTube and blogs and the Vernacular Society and this Podcast. But the farmhouse is really the heart of everything.
So today, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about how we got from being two kids just graduated from college to this farmhouse because it was not a straight road. It was not predictable. It was not smooth. And I’ve had questions before about how to find that perfect dream farmhouse. And so I want to wrap all of that up in today’s Podcast.
So buckle up, cause it’s a little bit of a bumpy ride, but it ultimately ended up in what I consider my soulmate of a house, if you can have a house, that’s a soulmate, this house is 100% mine. So let me take you back to set the scene as we are in college, this is early 2015, we’re graduating in a few months, we’re moving, we’re figuring out where we’re gonna land and we have to figure out what kind of house we’re gonna get, right?
So, I grew up on land and Brandon grew up on land. And so we knew immediately without a doubt that we needed to get back to the country. We had been living in a college city for, oh, five years, right on top of people in apartments with shared walls, with no green space with, with you know, one cat, just, this was not gonna cut it.
So I started looking and I will tell you a little bit about the search that I used because this was the search that ended up ultimately finding this house. The first thing I did was I went in and I selected the acreage. We were looking for something with 20 acres or more. That was pretty much a deal breaker. I didn’t want two acres, five acres, 10 acres.
And the interesting thing is that larger acreage properties tend to be a little bit easier to find because most people moving from, you know, suburbia or a city apartment could get a little bit overwhelmed with how much land is actually out there. So they’re usually looking for something two to five acres, you know, maybe 10, but we were looking for, you know, as much land as we could get our hands on.
Realistically, I thought we’d probably end up about 20 or 25 acres. So my first search filter and this was on Zillow because that just seemed to be the best results for me for some reason, the first search filter was 20 acres or more and then I narrowed down the year of the house, but I learned a little trick here, if you say, I want a house built between 1800 and 1930, you might kick out some potential good houses that don’t have an age listed.
So what I would usually do is put an upper bound on the age of the house, so 1930 and then leave the lower bound blank. And that would give me some, you know, new builds, some trailers, some lots for sale, you know, not anything that I would actually want, but it would catch a few listings that weren’t super well filled out. And you might be able to find some gems that way.
Of course, I also did just ignore the age altogether and strictly look based on the strictly look based on the acreage. And I can’t exactly remember because we were looking for a project, so I knew that we would have some work to do, but I might have put a minimum on the bedrooms, like three bedrooms or something like that. Didn’t really care about bathrooms didn’t really care about, you know, a basement or anything like that. We were looking for the property.
And once we found the right property, we figured we would make whatever the house is work. So I’m sitting and I distinctly remember I was sitting in one of the engineering buildings in college and we were looking for this house and we were looking and looking and looking. We didn’t really find much. And then one day I found the sweetest little farmhouse.
This thing was so cute. It was tiny, very, very tiny. It was an L shape. It was white with a red roof. And I think it sat on about 22 acres, maybe something like that, or maybe it was even less than that, maybe 15, but it sat on top of a hill out in the, you know, Kentucky Hills. So it was just beautiful countryside all the way around this cute little house with a nice little basement.
The insides were kind of weird. Like we’d have to do some stuff to make it look okay, but the upstairs bedrooms were beyond charming. One of them was literally like seven by 10 feet. It was the tiniest little bedroom with these painted wood floors and little angled ceilings. And it was just the cutest and it wasn’t that expensive. It was in our price range based on what we thought we could afford.
And from that house, we actually stumbled into our really great realtor. He was fantastic. He’s worked with us on every sale of a house we’ve done. So we go out to this house and we’re walking, walking through and we’re like, this is so great. This is so cute. How perfect we know we’ve been really good in college. We didn’t take out any loans. We didn’t have any credit cards. We really don’t have any debt.
We’re just gonna be able to get this house and gonna be so good. Well, the first issue came that we really couldn’t put an offer in until I had a stable job and had some income coming in. So all we could do was sit and cross our fingers, that that house wouldn’t sell between when I graduated and when I could actually show pay stubs.
But as it turns out about two days later, that house went pending and I sobbed, I will not even not even lie about it. I was so devastated because living in the city, I just, it’s almost intolerable to me. I can’t handle having people that close, I can’t hear it. I can’t handle hearing noises that aren’t coming from, you know, my space or anything that I signed up for. So it just, it was, it was awful.
And this this felt like the dream opportunity of a house just slipped away from us and it was just gone. So womp womp, I had my little cry. We didn’t find anything else for a while. We ended up moving out of my college apartment and into my parents’ house for a couple months, just while we find found something. And we figured it would take one or two months to find a decent house. So the next house that we found was an interesting property.
It was 20 acres, but it was split. So there were like seven on one side of a road and then 13 on another side of the road and this house was big. This was a very big house, very tall ceilings, big, beautiful rooms had been like minimally updated. Like what I would consider is renter updated. So you could live there, but there wasn’t anything particularly historic or flashy or amazing about it.
It was another L-shape and you walked right into the staircase, basically opened the door and the staircase was right there and it was open to a living room on the right and a dining room with a very pretty closet on the left. And you go through the dining room and you ended up in this kitchen and then they all connected with kind of like a mudroom ish type area.
It was actually kind of a similar layout to this house if the study was a mudroom, it was a big white house and it was kind of up off the road, so you climb these like really charming stone steps. And it had, you know, 20 acres and a barn and a big field. And the only downside of it was that it had very obviously been smoked in.
So we knew we were gonna have to rip out all the carpet, repaint all the walls, you know, seal all that smell in with Kilz and Kilz primer and all that kind of stuff. But again, we were looking for a project we were looking for something to do, so that’s not really too big of a problem. And our realtor, he was just the best because I think I found him by accident, looking at a house.
And he was kind of used to selling more, you know, very well finished homes and kind of upscale neighborhoods and people looking to be like truly suburban. And so, you know, he is out there with us and we’re tromping through weeds and grass and barns and all of this stuff. And he’s, he’s very helpful. He just kind of has this bemused look on his face.
Like, what are you two 22 year olds doing? Like, what on earth would possess you to look at this kind of house? And so we, at that time, and we had the financials to actually apply and get pre-approved and all of this stuff, but this time we ran into our first big hiccup. And that was that if you remember, we have no student loans and we have no credit cards.
So what that means is that in the debt system, like the credit score system, we don’t exist. Not even that we have like bad credit and can’t get loan it’s that we literally do not exist. And because of that, we were very, very limited in the kinds of loans that we could get. The only thing that we could get is FHA, I think, which is like a first time home buyers, something.
And those had extremely strict stipulations that you couldn’t have this, and you couldn’t have that, and you couldn’t do this, and it, they basically wanted us to buy, you know, a newish house on a quarter acre in a suburb, and anything outside of that was too risky for a first time home buyer.
And at this point, I, I had been looking for ever, I mean, I was on Zillow or any of the, you know, home sales websites every single day for, you know, multiple times searching different combinations and expanding the map and changing my price range and getting rid of all filters, and just like, I was so desperate to get to the country.
And after this, the specific thing that kicked out the second house was that it was on a cistern water. Now, cisterns are a thing that is kind of unique to this area, because most areas have wells, where you have groundwater come up and that’s just where you get your water from. The trouble with this area in Kentucky is that we have a lot of limestone, which is a sedentary rock.
So you have these layers running underground from all of this limestone. And that means that any contaminated water doesn’t just go down into the ground. It actually travels sideways under the ground and contaminates wells very rapidly. So it’s hard to keep a well clean out here if you have one as your water supply.
So what is very common out here instead, are cisterns and those are just big underground water holding tanks. A lot of times they’re concrete. The newer ones might be plastic, but they are connected to the gutters and the rain water collection system, usually on barns or on houses or other outbuildings. And as rain happens and hits that whole surface of the barn or the garage or whatever you have collecting water, it funnels it down and it fills up the cistern.
And we have at least three on this property I know of. One doesn’t work anymore. One’s out near the barn that has no gutters running into it. And then we have a pretty big one that could theoretically feed the house next to next to the kitchen if we needed it, but we’re on city water anyway. So that’s more of just a backup, but that’s what we have out here.
We have these cisterns instead of wells and this house, it’s always a little bit of an adventure when you, when you go look at these houses and figure out where everything is. So we started with a home inspection, I believe, this was a while ago, I’m pretty sure we had, we paid for a home inspection.
What he found was that the water from the house was pumped from a cistern across the street. So the cistern was out in the barn, the pump pumped it up from the cistern, underground, at least three feet, I would assume, which is below our frost line, up to the house. And then that’s where the water supply came from.
Now, if you’ve spent any amount of time in houses in the Kentucky countryside, this is not horribly unusual. Like a lot out here is just not on city water. Everybody sort of, kind of has their own thing, unless they’ve been fortunate enough to get on city water if they want to. So this isn’t really that unheard of, but the problem was that FHA loan, there was no way that the FHA loan was gonna lend on a property like that.
They, it was just gonna be too risky. And it wasn’t a safe bet, especially since we’d never had a house before. So it was just a huge problem. And that pretty much kicked that house out entirely like just full stop, we wouldn’t, we were not gonna be able to get it. So after losing out on two beautiful rural properties, you know, what I thought was my dream. I was pretty crushed. Brandon’s a little bit more level headed than I am.
So he was like, we’ll find one. It’s okay, don’t worry. But I was just devastated because I was like, I’m not gonna get to live in an old house. I’m not gonna get to have any charm or character. It’s gonna be terrible. I’m gonna be stuck in suburbia for the rest of my life. And I’m gonna die without ever living in the country with chickens. Obviously, that didn’t happen. So this one was, you know, pretty much right after we left college.
And we knew that any other house that was similar that had kind of a similar setup or anything that was kind of unusual like that, we were never gonna get it with an FHA loan. We had to change our strategy. And what we decided to do was okay, we can’t get that. So we’re gonna get a house that is mostly fine. And this house is just gonna be for two years, we’ll get an FHA loan on it. We’ll start building up our credit.
We’ll take out a couple of credit cards. We’ll see if we can get enough depth of credit and get a good deposit saved up, so that in a couple years, when we find our dream property, we can just buy it. And it’s not gonna be a problem. This story this part of the story is particularly ridiculous. So I was still determined to have something that was fun and interesting and had some charm and had some character.
So I ended up finding this little 1920. It was maybe 1920, 1924, somewhere in there. It was a little bungalow style craftsman house, brick. It was not very big, but it had the cutest split staircase. So if you walked in the front door, you were in this big living room that ran the whole width of this little bungalow and in the back right corner of that living room, you went up three steps and then turned left, and you could go the rest of the way upstairs.
But on that landing, if you just kept walking forward, you would go down three steps into the kitchen. It was the cutest thing ever, you know, great trim, beautiful windows, gorgeous floors, upstairs, it only had two bedrooms, one on basically either side of the house, but each bedroom had these closets under the eaves that were probably seven by 15.
And they had really angled ceilings, but it was so much storage. And I was really into sewing at the time, so I was like, oh my gosh, this is gonna be so perfect. You know, I’ll just make one of these, my little sewing room, it’s gonna be so cute. It was a pretty inexpensive house if I remember properly. And so we said, yep, let’s do this.
We put an offer on it, we got it under contract. I think it was a 30 day closing. So we’re doing all the stuff. We’ve cut the earnest money. You know, we’re getting all of our, our mortgage in. And we are literally the day before closing. And this is something that I would recommend to anyone buying a house simply because of what happened when we did this, we asked for a walkthrough, we just said, all right, we’re gonna buy this thing, but I want to walk through it one more time before we close tomorrow and make sure everything’s fine.
Make sure the roof hasn’t caved in or whatever. Well, this summer had been weirdly rainy, like unusually, just buckets and buckets and downpours and so much water. And on top of that, it was very hot and very humid. So we walk into this house and I can smell that it has been closed off, you know, nobody’s been living in it for the last 30 days and that’s to be expected, it was rented before. It’s still cute. It’s all fine.
So we’re walking around everything upstairs looks fine. We get into the basement. And the entire thing is covered in mold. Like there was a garage that was underneath the house, the whole ceiling, it looked like lichen like these big white blooms of mold all over this plywood drop ceiling.
And then go back. There was kind of this like utility area that had a weird toilet in the middle of it and the furnace and everything, and there were some particle board shelves back there. And we look underneath the shelves and there is mold that is literally hanging, being like stalactites. Like it was probably probably an inch long and fuzzy and gray and Brandon and I looked at each other like what in the heck happened to this house? This is not okay.
Our wonderful realtor. We gave him a lot of firsts when he was working with us. And in his, all of his time as a realtor, some 20 years, he’d never called off a closing because of mold. So what we ended end up doing was we put a hold on the closing, we got a mold expert in there just to see what’s happening. And he was like, I have literally never seen anything like this.
I’ve had a mold business for eight years and I have never seen anything this bad. He wanted to know if we wanted to test the mold to see what it was, and we were like, no, we’re, we’re not buying this house, we just, we can’t do it. So after, so we looked at that and said, we can’t buy this house.
This needs seven to $15,000 mold remediation underneath. We were just trying to buy a house that was gonna be nice enough that we could live in and not really need to fix up too much and then buy our dream house in, you know, two years. So we completely backed out of the deal and we’ll put us back to square one, and like, if I’d been feeling low after the failed farm purchases, this was just ridiculous because I was like, are you kidding?
I can’t get a farm. And now I can’t even get an old house. So I just have to like deal. And I, I was extremely grumpy. But we changed our strategy again, we said, all right, we’re not going old, were going something built in the last five years. We want something that requires no input, no roof, no water heater, no foundation, no siding, no windows, nothing.
We just want basically a house that we are gonna live in until we find the dream house. And so we got our realtor together. I found three similar ones in a day. We looked at them 1, 2, 3. We ended up offering on one and we got it. And if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t buy this house exactly. I would’ve bought like a little two bedroom something and then rented it when we moved here, but it was fine.
And so we finally got a house, three months after graduating. We finally managed to move into our suburban house. And it was, I don’t even know what to say about that particular house, because it was, it was a house. But I remember the first night we were just so desperate to be on our own, again, that we stuffed a queen size mattress in the back of my college PT cruiser.
And we drove it to that house and we slept on the floor. This house was near a train track, which would be fine, but we were actually on a curve, so when the train went by, it was so loud in the house that you couldn’t talk hardly. And I remember laying in the bedroom as the train went by thinking, what in the heck did we just do? This was a mistake.
So we lived in that house for about a year and a half. And I don’t want to say it was a mistake because buying that house did lead us here. But I underestimated the toll that living in suburbia would take on two country kids.
I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was, but we had this neighbor who would like, if he saw you even like, think about stepping outside your house, he would be over there talking to you, you know, at five in the morning when you’re scraping ice off your car, and, and one time, one time we were changing the brakes on one of, one of the cars, Brandon was changing the brakes.
I was, you know, supervising and I, I knew he was gonna come over and like within five minutes of us starting this job in the garage, just with the door open, he’s like over there trying to make conversation. And I’m pretty sure I told him that we were busy and to leave. And he never talked to me again after that.
But we lived there for a year and a half and pretty much every day for a year and a half, I was on Zillow. I was using that same search, you know, capping it at 1930, 20 acres or more, two bedrooms, three bedrooms or more. And I was just looking every single day. And while we were doing that, Brandon actually graduated college a semester after I did.
So he was finishing going to college. We had my salary and then he graduated and he ended up making the higher salary of the two of us. So what we did since we just become comfortable living on only my salary is we put his entire salary away into savings for a year, like the whole thing, we didn’t go on vacations. We didn’t pull out of it. We both had kind of like fun money that we could spend on what we wanted, but we did not really have luxuries.
We drove old cars. We ate pretty, you know, cheaply. We ate in a lot. And that was just what we did. And this put us in a position for, I believe it was May 18th, 2017. I had been checking every day and there was nothing, nothing, nothing. And I was sitting at work and out of nowhere, I got this impulse that said, Paige, I think you need to check the real estate listings right now.
And I mean, I have learned to pay attention to the voice in my head when it says something like that, so I was like, all right, it’s my lunch break, let’s check the, let’s check the listings. It was a Thursday and on Tuesday. So two days previously this house had been listed and people ask me a lot, you know, how do you know it’s the right house?
How do you know what’s the house for you? Or how do you, you know, know whether or not to take the plunge? And the only thing that I can say is that I looked at this house and I like literally every worry I had about how we were gonna make it work. And if we could live there just vanished because I looked at this house and I had this overwhelming gut reaction that, hey, this is the house you were looking for.
This is why all the other ones failed. This is why you didn’t get those other farm properties. This is why Little Craftsmen failed because you needed to be sick and tired of where you we’re living in order to pay attention enough to make sure that this house becomes yours. So, the first picture I was like, oh crap. I think this is it.
By the third picture. I knew ,I didn’t, I hadn’t even seen the inside and I was like, nope, this is it, this is the house we’re getting, I had no question in my mind. And then the one that I would say that I was 99% convinced. And then I saw a picture of the staircase and I was done. I was absolutely done.
I sent that listing to Brandon so quickly. It’s ridiculous and when he didn’t respond in 30 seconds, I called him and I said, you need to look at this house. You need to see this. And he’s like, okay, okay, okay. He opens it up and he’s like, holy crap.
And his exact words were, I would eat hot dogs for a year to live in a place like that because it was at the top of our budget, like it was, it was in retrospect, it’s an extremely good price for what we got, but the house was in bad shape, very ugly inside.
Every single room has needed to come down to the studs, new windows, new siding, new roof, you know, foundation work, so many problems, but it was on way more land than we ever thought we could possibly get and I used to share it, but it’s a pretty specific number. So you could technically find it so I’m not going to but suffice it to say it was considerably more than 20 acres.
And it had all sorts of outbuildings and a barn and a garage. And it was everything. I knew it, I was like, this is my house. And it was really strange because I didn’t even worry about how we were gonna pay for it. I didn’t even worry about how, how the closing was gonna go. I didn’t worry about if we were gonna be able to make the down payments or if somebody else was gonna come snatch it, because I was like, this is my house.
There is no other house. So it’s gonna work. And I can’t guarantee that that would happen for everybody, especially in how the market is right now is that it’s just a little bit crazy and you can lose out on properties very quickly, but I knew this was our house. And so I stopped worrying about it. So that was a Thursday and Thursday night, we got off work.
We met back at our suburban house and we jumped in the car and we immediately drove down here and where our suburban house was located, was annoyingly hard to get to, like it was a 25 minute drive just to get to the interstate. And then from the interstate, it was another, like 30 minutes down to this house.
But I remember coming around the bend, there’s a specific view of the house. And there’s sort of a dip where you can see the whole field and the house up above it. And we parked at the bottom of that dip on this one lane road. And we were just silent because we looked at it and we were like, I have never wanted anything the way that we wanted this house.
And so we pulled up closer and we looked at the front of it and we looked at the property and we looked at all of this stuff and we were like, this is it. This is the, I keep saying that. But literally that’s all we could think was this is the house. So we were, like, my heart hurt for how bad I wanted this house.
And so we, you know, left down here. We went back to our suburban house. I immediately emailed our realtor and said, we want this house, we calculated, we had the down payment. We could make the mortgage. Like we, we had everything. And the first time we tried to buy, we didn’t have a big down payment, we had no credit.
And so there was nothing we could do this time. We didn’t have as much credit. We only had about two years, but we had a full, nice beefy down payment because we’d been saving Brandon’s salary for a year. And so on Friday afternoon, I think it was about two o’clock. I took a little bit time off work. Brandon took time off work. And we came down to see it.
And we walked in the doors that are now in the kitchen. That used to be a big, like double glass door thing. We walked in there into this kitchen that was a wreck with this horrible fireplace and this carpet and these yellow cabinets. It was just awful. And as I was walking into the house, I didn’t even see what the house was.
It’s like, the only thing I can think as I was walking through, I just felt what the house was supposed to be and I’m gonna sit here and start crying because I love this house so much. I just, I felt what it was gonna be when we took up all this carpet and when we got all the paneling off the walls and when we put correct size windows into it, and when we, you know, ripped up all the sub floor when we, we gave the house the love that it needed, that was what I was seeing as I walked through the house.
And so I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t scared at all. It was everything, everything in the house felt like weirdly familiar to me. Like I’d never seen this house before but I’m like, I know this place, this is weird. So we walked through it and we walk out to the, you know, to the property. And we’re looking at how the property lays and we’re looking in the barns and we’re looking at all this stuff and we’re just like, what a gift to be able to live in a place like this.
And so we said, yeah, we want to offer on it. But of course there are always complications. The complication, this time was the amount of land because places, you know, big bank lenders and traditional mortgage lenders, they don’t want to lend on something with a ton of land. It’s just, it’s not as good of a risk.
When I called, I think it was Chase Bank. I was like, hey, what do we need to know about buying a house with land? And she’s like, well, we don’t really lend on properties where the house isn’t worth 80% of the value of the property, which basically just means you can have hardly any land with that house. So I was like, okay, that’s a problem.
But my parents live on land and they finance through a company called Rural First, which I believe is now called Farm Credit. And they specialize in lending on properties with a lot of land, either with a house or with no house. So we went and talked to them. They were like, yup, this is fine. This is totally what we lend on.
All good. But the thing that was so nerve-wracking is that their preapproval process to get us, you know, approved for a loan was basically an approval process. So we couldn’t even make an offer until they spent a week going through their entire process of verifying our bank statements and making sure that we are who we say we are and have stable employment and all of this stuff.
So in that whole week, I’m just sick to my stomach, knowing that this house is on the market, not under contract and could be stolen away from me at any point. But then again, there was a small part of me. That’s like, you know, this is your house. So just chill. It’s fine. So eventually a week after we saw the house, I got the confirmation letter and said, yes, you are pre-approved for this loan amount, you know, yada, yada, yada.
And then that Saturday, we were able to get the house under contract. And of course, as a stipulation of this particular house, because I hadn’t been waiting long enough for my soulmate house, they wanted a six week closing, which we did. They, you know, we, we had an inspector come out. We had did all of the things.
But the funny thing was is that we knew that there were all sorts of problems. We knew there were foundation problems, gutter problems, all kinds of things. And we didn’t care at all. We’re like, this is our house. We’re gonna overpay for it a little bit. We know there’s a bunch of problems.
We know the whole thing needs to be gutted, but like literally nothing that the inspector found would have deterred us. We would’ve just been like, well, all right, let’s fix it. And so finally, six weeks after finding, well, seven weeks after finding the house and six weeks after putting an offer in, we closed and it’s been the best.
There’s really no other way to describe it. I love this house. I walk out and I see the chickens and I see the fields. And I look at the work that we’ve done on this. And I talk to, you know, you on Instagram and YouTube and on the blog and an emails and everything. And it’s just like, this house has given so much to me.
And I talked to him all the time. He’s a he, he was very quiet when we came here, he didn’t have a lot to say he was kind of waiting to see what we were gonna do. And as we’ve transformed each room into what I hope is something that is respectful of what kind of house he is. He is just become more and more stately.
And he’s not the most agreeable fellow. He doesn’t like everyone, but he and I are very good friends. And so it’s a blessing to not only be able to live in this house, but be able to share this house and share what he’s taught me and just share the whole journey that has been taking him from a very sad state to a truly beautiful Kentucky farmhouse.
So if you’re looking for your own house, be patient, the road will probably not be linear. It will probably take some twists and turns and you might end up somewhere that you don’t really like for a while, but I could only go on my experience, the end result, after waiting and after saving and after living in that house for a year and a half, that was terrible is that we pretty much hit the jackpot.
And that’s why I say it’s our forever home. I don’t need to go anywhere else. I literally don’t. This is it. This is my house. He’s my friend. These are my animals. I’m, I’m familiar with the land now. I love looking at it. It’s just so peaceful and calming. And they lived happily ever after. That’s pretty much it.
So I hope you found this interesting and maybe a little bit helpful if you’re searching for your own house. Don’t give up it’s a tiring process and it feels like you’re not making any progress and you’re just behind the eight ball the entire time until you manage to find your perfec. soul mate house, so just keep at it.
Your house is out there. He or she is waiting for you. And one day you will find them. So, I hope you enjoyed this. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you next time. Bye.