First things first

When we bought our lot, it had an old uninhabitable cabin on it. It was fairly modern construction, maybe built in the 1980’s. Wood construction, T-111 siding, a few broken windows, and no utilities. It scared me with the kids being around it because it was structurally questionable at best

Sometimes there can be credits for having an existing structure on the property and incorporating it in construction, that was not the case here. This structure was unpermitted and uninhabitable. Considering how to take it down was a chore. It had huge beams at the roof, but the entire floor was rotted out. It was just set on pier blocks.

We decided one of our first major purchases would be a tractor. Haha! We lived in the suburbs, had never owned or operated a tractor before. We knew we could use it quite a bit for construction and could always sell it afterwards, so it was worth the investment. We found a kubota 4×4 with a front loader on Craigslist. They were asking $6500, we got it for $6000. How to move a tractor?? We had a friend with a rickety flat bed trailer. We towed it with my brand new SUV. When we loaded the tractor onto the flat bed, the wood cracked under the weight, but that wasn’t stopping us. We brought it home to our neighborhood over night and then out to the land. The bed of the trailer broke through when we took the tractor off, but we made it, and reinforced the trailer before returning it.

We thought the tractor would push the cabin over with a few nudges, turns out it was more stable than we thought. It took some grappling, shoving, and nudging but the beams fell. We left it sitting for about six months, then hand loaded 4 truck bed a utility trailer loads full to the dump at @$35 a dump load for untreated wood. So for @$150 and a lot if labor, we removed the entire structure.

The land had been cleared at some point in the past, but not well maintained. The trees had spread a lot of scrub oak, over hanging branches, and brush. We brought the riding mower from the house that wasn’t because it didn’t sell with the house.

One if the first things we did was trim an oak tree that hung over what we were using as the driveway. To our city surprise we ended up covered in poison oak after bear hugging the branches to carry them off. The trees had vining poison oak that I’m not sure how we missed. Would be just the first bout of many with poison oak.

It takes about two 8 hour days on a riding lawn tractor to mow 5 acres. There are a lot of fallen branches so it isn’t ideal, needs to be raked. We ended up picking up a box scraper for $300 to hook up to the tractors 3 point attachment, haven’t used it yet, but should help with clearing. Ideally we would like to get a mower attachment for the tractor as well.

With no water or power, it can be hard to do a lot. We ended up picking up a 300 gallon water tank that fits in our truck bed for $75, this would help when we needed water on site for projects until we could get power for a well pump.

One of our next major purchases was 500 feet of 4 rail vinyl ranch fencing. One of the neighbors houses that we admire has beautiful vinyl fencing at the front and we wanted to create a barrier and gate to deter people during construction. We found the fencing on Craig’s list. They had bought it for their home, but were giving it up to foreclosure and selling the never installed fencing for $2000. Sean has experience installing fencing so we loaded it up with the help of our boys and brought it to the land, $4/linear foot for this fencing was an amazing deal. The fence would be one of our first major projects, but not for another six months or so.


Author: Brandy K.

Bio: I wanted to take a chance to introduce myself, I am Brandy Kollenborn, a furniture painter from Sacramento, CA and owner and artisan behind  “Brushed By Brandy”. I'm a stay at home mom of 3 boys, Noah 11, Ashton 8, and Logan 5, married for 16 years to my favorite furniture cameraman, repairman and delivery person, Sean. I have a degree in finance and left my career with The State of CA to stay home when my youngest son was born, with no clue what my next step would be, it was a leap of faith! The first pieces I did were a bedroom set in 2016 that tenants left behind in our rental, it was beat up, but solid wood, and I had nothing to lose, it was either going to the curb or I could make something of it. I've always been on the crafty/artistic side so this was a great way to express that on huge canvases. My hobby has turned into a booming little business, most of my pieces are sold before I create them and designed alongside my customer. My style is blended, smooth, colorful statement pieces for any room. I'm proud to partner with The Dixie Belle Paint company and Prima Marketing group creating sample pieces, lives, and blogging tutorials at We are in the process of building our forever home on 5 acres for our boys, it will be my biggest custom project to date :) and I love sharing that journey on my page and in a blog as well. We are project people through and through, don't know how to sit still.  I'm so appreciative of the support, my confidence wavers all the time, I love answering questions and connecting with other creatives, this community has been so welcoming to me and I hope I can return that! I’m so grateful for this opportunity, I never imagined there would be interest in me painting furniture in my garage! 

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