So far in this series, we have have discussed why we decided to build our own home, how we got financed as self-employed owner builders, and how we were able to frame the house ourselves. So now let’s delve into the how Instagram affected our build.
After the house was framed in, the next projects we took on were not nearly as overwhelming. Daniel had vast general construction knowledge and we are both incredibly hard workers, willing to do whatever it took to bring our dream home to life. Anything we were not knowledgeable on, we turned to YouTube or friends and family who were experts in the subject area. We learned how to do anything from felling trees to wiring a three-way switch on YouTube! It is truly amazing what you can learn to do if you have common sense and the willingness to learn!
Our plan was to do as much of the work ourselves as possible. We were trying to keep our building costs as low as possible. We hoped to get the house dried in and all the basic things done to get our certificate of occupancy, then take as long as we needed to finish out each room. We had dreams of doing countless DIY projects in each room, sourcing materials off of Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, taking our time to create a home we loved on an extreme budget. In our previous home, we had built a lot of our own furniture and decor, so that was our plan for this house. It would be beautiful, but we were in no rush, nor were we willing to overextend ourselves financially. We knew if we had to put something in we didn’t love 100%, we would replace it when we could afford to down the road.
Enter Instagram, stage left. Little did we know how our lives were about to change! In February of 2018, a little more than a month before we closed on our construction loan, we were on Architectural Designs website, looking for some information on the house plan our home was based on. We noticed they had added a client album since we had last been on the site. It mentioned that the owner could be found on Instagram (@our_whitefarmhouse_) , which at this point I thought Instagram was a photo editing app. I would use it to add filters to my photos and that was it. I searched up her account, hoping to send her a message to see what their building experience had been like. The first thing I noticed on her page was that she had 20k followers. Scrolling through her feed, it was all construction pictures. Knowing we would be doing most of our build ourselves, I thought “maybe we should share our journey on here! Maybe people would be interested in watching what we are doing.” So on February 26th, 2018, Jett Set Farmhouse was launched.
As we worked tirelessly, clearing our land by hand, I started sharing our journey on Instagram and building a community. We did not have a clear goal for sharing our journey, we just thought it would be fun to share and thought maybe down the road we could use it to give me something to do from home. I was hoping to have 5,000 followers by the time our house was built. Four months later, we had 20,000 followers! Then we received a DM that would change the course of our lives forever. A company reached out wanting to know if we would be willing to let them put their doors on our home in exchange for marketing. “I’m sorry, what?” was my actual thought. It ended up being one of our largest collaborations, but more importantly, it opened our eyes and minds to social media marketing.
Before that DM, we had no idea companies worked with people on social media for marketing. We had never been that active online, we had been busy raising our babies and building our business, it was a completely foreign concept to us! However, now that we knew about it, I was all in! What other companies may be willing to work with us? Daniel and I made a deal that if I could land $100,000.00 in brand deals, he would put a pool in for me. That was motivation enough for me! I began working even harder at growing our online community and building relationships with as many brands as I possibly could. We ended up collaborating on over $500,000.00 in deals on our home! Which Daniel has yet to give me my pool, but I’m a very patient lady!
So what exactly did that mean for us? How did having all of these brand deals affect what we were doing? Did it save us SO much money and allow us to spend less than originally expected? Absolutely not! Rather than a gradual DIY home that may have taken us five years to complete, we were now expected to produce an “instagram-worthy” home in 18 months. Our companies wanted beautiful photographs they could use to promote their materials, we couldn’t show a stunning chandelier next to an unfinished fireplace! It added so much pressure to elevate our home to a level we had never intended to take it. So rather than saving us money, it actually ended up costing us more than we originally intended to spend. Which, of course, added so much financial stress and pressure to our shoulders. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Would we do it again? Knowing what we know now, absolutely! But did it make for some days we did not see how in the world we were going to finish on time? How we were going to fulfill our contracts and keep all of our brands happy? How we were possibly going to keep our business and our build afloat financially? Those were some stressful days! But we pushed through and did not give up! We put one foot in front of the other, kept our nose to the grind, and did the absolute best we could each day, even on the days our bodies and minds were tired. Even on the days we felt like throwing in the towel and saying “we are in over our heads, we can’t do this”.
I will never say building your own home is easy. Whether you are where we were in the beginning, diying and resourcefully sourcing all of your materials, carefully researching every single aspect of your build to ensure you are getting the best price possible or if you have all the money you need to build exactly what you want, it is still so much work and requires so much persistence. You will get decision fatigue from making the thousands of decisions you have to make. Many couples find the stress it adds to their marriage is unbearable. We were warned by so many that our marriage may not withstand undertaking such a large project. While building your own home is not easy, it is doable and it is worth it! The feeling of pride and gratitude you have after pouring your lives into creating a home for your family is immeasurable!
Join me for my next blog post on how to help your marriage survive a build!