Thursday, August 23, 2012


I know, I know!  I'm way past due for photo updates.   As a matter of fact, the photos I'm posting below are out of date, and much has been done since these were taken, BUT I want to keep things in order.

The plumbing and electrical crew completed the rough-in, and the excavation team has been busy outside grading the lot, moving dirt to lower areas, and trying to smooth out the steep slope on the driveway and front yard a little. They are doing a great job, and I really like the guys working on it. Here's our nice dozer guy:

We've completed the first stage of insulation (the second stage happens AFTER the top floor in drywalled) and started the drywall installation.  Insulating a new home involves a heck of a lot of other things besides just your typical roll insulation. They seal the top floor framing to the basement, they fill all the holes drilled into the wall studs and subfloors (for electric and plumbing) with firestop foam, and the do some interesting things around the overhead exterial roof areas with cardboard and insulation. We were impressed!

 We had a little hiccup at the building inspection and the inspector had to come out again, but we were approved and ready to move on.  While all this was going on inside, the siding and stone folks were finishing up the outside.

 And then they finished....and it looked fabulous.   Well at least we certainly think so.  :)

The Canuck and I are having a great time building this house. Of course, there have been a couple of frustrating moments and a couple of challenges, but nothing too tough and nothing so stressful that it's taken away from the job of the process and the thrill of building our own house.  We are loving it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More photos...

Here are just a few more shots of the inside, the HVAC trenching (we are putting in geothermal), and the rough outside work.   More coming - we are now just about finished with the rough in, roofing and siding!  WOO HOO!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Just a little update on construction. The framing is just about completed (just a couple of minor items to finish) and the same goes for the roofing.  The Electrician, plumber, and HVAC technicians have moved in and begun the rough in of utilities and today, the garage doors are being installed.  Perfect timing considering you don't want to lay copper electrical wires or install HVAC units and not be able to lock up the house.  YIKES!  After today, it'll be locked up tighter than a drum....and construction can continue.

Here are a few photos.  First the front.  You can barely tell from the photo but the shingles are on there - Owens Corning Dimensional shingle in Onyx Black, which is really a charcoal gray to medium gray shaded shingle.  LOVE THEM!   We are still building up the driveway a bit in front of the garage to eliminate the steep slope, but that's coming along nicely.

Then a side view of not only the two-decked patio/porch on the house, but the new porch we are having installed on our old barn.  We'll repaint the barn as soon as we have some extra time in the next couple of months.  :)   The piece of machinery on the right of the photo is what they brought in to dig the trenches for the geothermal system (more on that to come).

And, a view of the back.  From this direction, the house looks so bigger than I thought it would.  The size surprises me everytime I look at it.
So we're moving right along....and having a great time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

UP, UP and AWAY...

The Canuck and I spent last Friday at the lot watching the crew, with the help of a big crane, set the trusses on the house.  We sat up our chairs under a shade tree - it was hot and sunny - and watched the progress.  Our grandson, Layne, was with us, and my dad joined the fun. We bought lunch for the guys and set up chairs in the shade for them too.  It was fun to talk with them about the house and get to know a few of them a little better.  They are hard-working guys, who are helping us make our dream come true.  And we appreciate that.

As soon as we rounded the corner down the road, we saw the huge crane in the air.  They'd started early so we missed the setting of the first truss, it was so exciting to see the roof framing up, that we didn't mind.

After the hectic, crazy few months of full-time jobs, coordinating the construction as the general contractor, buying and ordering materials, etc, it was GREAT to just mosey around the lot, sit back, and just simply enjoy watching all the progress on the house. The trusses gave the frame a completed look, we can now see exactly how tall it will be, where the cathedral ceiling begins, and we can  better visualize how everything will come together with a few shingles and some siding.  Simply put, we absolutely love the house.  And seeing it all framed in just confirmed that it's going to be perfect for our family.

Here's a view from the front and back with the trusses near completion. There were still some small trusses left that the crew will set, but the crew will do that themselves.

We've also been doing a lot of buying for the house:  lighting and plumbing fixtures, tubs, and showers.  Because of some really good sales and to take advantage of the deals, we've already ordered our cabinets and purchased appliances.  It's a crazy time, and we're couldn't be having any more fun!

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Well, it's definitely time for an update. The crew has been busy framing the lower and upper floors and we are now almost ready for trusses. It's been so interesting to watch the progress day by day. There have been some lapses (a bit of rain, waiting on some materials to be delivered, or replacement materials for some bad lumber, etc.) but on most days, the guys are hard at work building the house.  I love that. 

These first pics are of the framing process. The bottom floor framing was first, of course, and it was wonderful to walk through the framed floor seeing where walls and rooms will be, contemplating the size of rooms, etc. The books all say the rooms look small when just framed, but I thought the opposite.  The rooms look big to me!   Maybe I just understand the true dimensions having measured, pondered, contemplated, and studied like-size rooms for months before finalizing the plans.  I know exactly what size they will be, so that's probably what I'm picturing in my head.  :)

Top floor framing and pouring the garage floor came next. They poured the concrete and constructed the exterior walls first and that's where we hit a stall. First a little rain, then Memorial Day weekend. At this point, we could really get a good feel for the cumulative size of the house. And it's big but not huge.  When just the bottom floor was framed, the Canuck and I walked around thinking that floor alone probably would have been big enough for just the two of us, so it was surprising and humbling and to think there would be another identical size floor above it. Yikes! What are we doing building a house this size?!?!?!  With five children, and six and counting grandchildren, and with lots of out-of-town Canadian friends and family, we'll need all that room when folks come for visits.  Size-wise, I think it's going to be just perfect for us.

One of the best things about our little building spot on the hill, we imagined, would be the view and when the top floor was framed, we got the chance to see how right we were. The first pic is a view of the front, with driveway and the road. The second is a photo through the front room window of the pond and woods.   Love!

And now move ahead to this week.  Both floors are framed, wrapped, and building has begun on the two-level back deck/porch.  They'll need to add the column on the front porch, finish the deck and we'll be ready for trusses.  And those may go up today.  My grandson and I are packing a picnic lunch and going out to the spend the day at the lot, watching the crane and truss installation.  Here's what it looked like last night.  More to come.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


And they are framing....

YIPPEE!!!  YAY!!! YAHOO!!!  We were doing a little happy dance this past week as they began framing.  Gosh that part of the work goes quickly, with some real and significantly noticeable progress each day.  In less than a week, they have the bottom floor frame, and are working on the floor joists and sub-floor today, with the intention of beginning the framing of the top floor tomorrow. Did I say yippee?!?

There have been several deliveries of building materials (and the invoices that go with them).  Here's the Canuck beside one pile.

 In the master bedroom, we've designed a bump out area that I plan to use as a reading, sitting, listening-to-the-rain, comfy spot.  I have to find the right chair and ottoman (and I'm on a mission for that this weekend), but the framers are getting it ready.

And to add a bit of a complication for the contractors, a Killdeer bird has decided to lay her eggs right in the middle of the driveway in the front of the garage. Our builders and the delivery guys are trying to work around her to save the nest, and give the eggs time to hatch (my dad has even marked the spot with a red flag so we all know where it is) but she better hurry up and crack those things.  :)   Here is she is, in all her nest-guarding glory, and in the background is the view across the road from the front of the new house.  We have peaceful, beautiful views from both sides.  Love that!

The framing part of construction is by far the most exciting thus far.  It's great to see the rooms and areas taking shape.  I'm already figuring out furniture placement!

Monday, May 21, 2012


The last post provided a bit of information about the exterior of the house, so today's post will focus on the inside and the three porches. 

As I mentioned, the interior living space is about 3,450 sq ft over the two floors. There's four bedrooms (two up and two down), a playroom (for grandkids!), an office (for me!) and three bathrooms. The upstairs great room and downstairs family room both have open floor plans to the kitchen eating area up and a bar/small kitchen area downstairs, and there is a separate dining room upstairs also. The house will sport a mud room and a utility room off the three-car garage and there will be two fireplaces, one gas FP upstairs and a wood-burning FP down.

Here are the floor plans for both levels:

I have to admit, it's still exciting for me every time I open up the plans to look at them. A lot of thought and care went into planning each floor's layout.  Every wall, closet, room, light fixture, and doorway has been contemplated, critiqued, and analyzed.  Every nook and cranny thought about, and decided upon. What this means is that we STILL will not have the perfect house.  :)  I have no doubt that as much planning and thought that went into the process, we still will likely get the house completed and wish we'd done something different--made this doorway bigger, put a can light here, added some storage there.  But that's ok, it'll be close enough to perfect for us.  And that's all that matters.

We've opted for larger than average windows, but not so big that we'll be fighting the sun all the time.  The houses faces east with the setting west sun at night in the back.  Just like the house we currently live in.  As we have learned with our current house, direct heat of the sun all day, and the setting evening sun doesn't work as well for a deck with no roof or covering. Our current deck was getting so hot on a beautifully sunny day that it was too hot to walk on or to sit out and eat on in the evenings. We've added a pergola to the current deck which has made a significant difference, but in the new house, I was adamant that the porch all be roofed.  There is a smaller porch at the front entrance of the house and a two-level deck/porch in the back.  We will be able to access the top floor porch, overlooking our woods and pond, from the main level great room area, and the downstairs deck via the family room area.  And the porches are fairly big, approximately 16 x 20.  I wanted big ol' porches we can live on, eat on, entertain on, and be incredily comfy on. 

I think the porches are going to one of my favorite parts of the house. I've already purchased a porch swing for the upstairs porch, and a small antique table to use for cozy breakfasts.  I'm envisioning many happy house with the Canuck, and with our family and friends on those porches.

So now you have a glimpse of the inside....more details to come.  Thank you for stopping by and reading about our house.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I wanted to provide a bit of information about the house itself.   We search various sources online for blueprints, especially plans that would accommodate  a walk out basement.  Knowing the lower floor would be part of the overall floor plan and not simply a "basement," we focused on houses with the main floor at about 1750-1850 sq foot.  Our current house is about 1730 on the main floor so we knew that would be about right. Especially given that it would be just the two of us living in it most of the time.  We didn't want a house that was too big, but also not too small.

Between us, we have five grown children and already have six grandchildren, with every expectation (and hope!) that number will grow.  :)   So, we wanted a house big enough to accommodate our family when we  all get together and plenty of room for other out-of-town friends and family visitors.  So, 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms seemed about right.

We found a plan that was fairly close to what we wanted, then I started fiddling with it.... tweaking, re-arranging and expanding wall, and drafting our own tailored plan. After looking over and contemplating it for months, tweaking it a bit more, reading everything I could find on floor plans, we finally came up with a plan we felt was perfect for us. We took my drawings to a draftsman who provided some additional good advice which led to a bit more tweaking, and then the final blueprints.

We ended up at around 1910 sq ft for the main floor and after removing Glen's fish room (he's keeps/breeds African Cichlids!) and a storage room downstairs, there's another 1500 sq ft downstairs.  A bigger house than what we planned, but exactly what we want.  :)

Here is the exterior.  From the road in the front, it'll look like a one-story house, but from the side and back and with the slope of the hill, you can see the lower, 2nd floor.  As you can see below, it looks much bigger from the back.  The garage extends in the front, and the two-level covered porches extend in the back (and overlook the woods and pond!).

We decided to go with vinyl siding and stone exterior.  I actually prefer vinyl siding to brick for this type of house. There were other, more expensive choices for siding, but vinyl siding works well and suits us just fine.  We'll be using a quality siding .044 thickness, in a dark gray color, with white trim and windows, and Owens Corning dimensional shingles.  (More info to come on hunting down the best deal on building materials.)

As you can tell from the side view, it's not a simple rectangular ranch, but has a garage extending forward in the front, and the two-level back deck/porch extends in the back of the house.

I love the exterior, the floor plan....well just everything about this house.   We feel very blessed and lucky to be able to build a new home, expecially one that is exactly what we want.   More to come including info on the floor plans, and details of the interior.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Well, they dug and they dug. Then after making a big ol' divot in the side our little hill, the contractors started pouring the footers and constructing the foundation/basement walls. This was exciting stuff because we could finally envision the footprint of the house--the layout of the rooms and the wonderful view we're going to have from both levels of the back porches. :)

Here's a shot of a finished footer:

And here are a couple shots of the construction of foundation and basement walls:

The spring here in Ohio has been unseasonable warm and dry. Yes, we've had some rain here and there that slowed the process a bit occasionally, but there have been plenty of days between rain to dry things out and keep progress going. There was one thing, though, that couldn't keep going one day...

Yep, a stuck truck. But have no fear, the next day they got that sucker out of there and carried on. Our constructions guys are great. They are good at what they do, they are personable and friendly, and they are reliable. They are there when they say they are going to be there. All around good guys.

Although we bid out every part of the building process--excavation, concrete flat work, basement/foundation work, framing, roofing, utilities etc.), we chose just one contractor to do all of the main jobs for this first part of construction. His bids were reasonable, his reputation was solid, and our meetings went very well. While we could have saved some money by piecing out some parts of the initial construction (i.e. the concrete flat work or the roofing), we decided it was better to go with one contractor who we had great confidence in, and who we knew would stay focused on our job. In addition, all of the construction is guaranteed by just one contractor. If there is a problem, he will cover it and we don't have to worry that one contractor would place blame on another contractor, etc. An example: suppose a window isn't level so won't close properly. The framer could say that it was the Foundation that put the wall out of square. And the Foundation contractor could respond that no, it's definitely the framer's work that caused the problem.

By having one contractor do the initial excavation, foundation, concrete, framing and roofing, there is just one person to go to should there be any problems. That was comforting and made good sense to us. While I'm all about saving money in the building of this house, that doesn't mean we'll give up quality, safety, or good warranty to do so. It's much more important to have a well-built, beautifully constructed house by a contractor we can depend on.

I've been busy building items for the house (lighting, plumbing features, accessories, etc) which I'll be sharing with you soon. But first, I need to catch you up on the building. More photos and info coming....stay tuned.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Footers, ditches, and water....oh my

Once the digging started, things moved along fairly quickly. First there was a hole, then some trenches, then a ditch, then before we knew it, they were pouring concrete footers. There's just lots of fun happening on our hill, by the pond.
My dad was only home for the first two days of building and then headed to Virginia for a vacation. He was enjoying the first day, though, and has already introduced himself to the workers. He's our "onsite manager" so will be checking on things and will serve as their contact while the Canuck and I are working. He's pleased with that role...and happy to help. Gosh I do love my dad!
Looks like fun, huh? Well it is pretty darned exciting. We're very happy with the two sub-constractors doing this work. They have been professional and are working hard on my house. I like that in them. :) While construction is going on, I've visited several lumber and home improvement stores to gather prices on items for the house, i.e., faucets, lighting, bath fixtures. As the general contractors, the experts claim we can save an additional 5-10% by comparison shopping for the constructions materials we will need (including siding, roofing, dryway and other materials), and we're taking that advice seriously. I'll be sharing more about this, and the deals we have gotten in future posts. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 golly...HAS COMMENCED!

My husband and I decided early on to be the general contractors for the building of our home. This simply means we won't be hiring a main builder/contractor to head the project but instead we will be responsible for arranging, scheduling, supervising, and controlling the entire building process ourselves. From locating the land, to bidding the process and hiring the sub-contractors, to coordinating the construction, to making all the decisions, we will be doing it ourselves.

And by “we,” in reality, I mean me. The Canuck (my hubs) is willing to assist in any way and/or to take care of our current household while I’m handling the new one, but he doesn’t have any background in building or any real interest in learning any more than the basics about contracting. He’s a smart man, that way. He dosen’t bite off more than he can chew. Except perhaps me. I think sometimes he looks at me and asks himself, “What the heck did I get myself into?” 

Trust me, I did not take on the responsibility lightly, and it's certainly not for everyone. I had some limited knowledge and experience with building and builders, and I've read everything I can get my hands on over the past 18 months about building a new home and serving as your own general contractor. That doesn't make me an expert in building, by any means, but it did make knowledgeable and confident enough to hire people who ARE experts in every phase of the building process. Then knowledgeable enough to allow them to do their work and to provide whatever assistance or materials they need to do it.

Being the general contractor is a huge responsibility, but experts, builders, other self-contractors claim that doing so can save a homeowner between 15-30% of the cost of building. Only time will tell (and confirm or refute) how well my numbers will shake out but right now, it's looking like at least a 25% savings. I'll be providing more info--including the ups, downs, pros, cons, challenges, and satisfactions--about being the general contractors as we move along.

For now, here are a couple of shots of the first day of construction…the excavation! Yee haw!! We are so excited.

Friday, April 13, 2012


We knew we would not be starting construction until the spring, so we decided to get a couple of things done and out of the way while we waited for appropriate building weather. (Although to be honest, we had such a mild winter here in SW Ohio, we could have started earlier. Who knew?!?!?!)

Because the land is in the country and not on a city water/sewer system, county building inspectors required a soil test to decide what size and type of septic system and leach field were required for the lot. (After you pay a soil test fee of course.) Test holes were to be dug in two different locations, and the holes had to measure 18-24" wide, 10' long, and 7' deep. Once finished they reminded me of grave sites, but I digress.

Soil was tested and a septic/leach system and the locations for both were approved (after we pay for a septic install permit, of course). YAY! One step closer to building and, more important, cleared to install a septic system. I appreciated clearing that hurdle. A LOT! Having lived in a house with no inside running water and experiencing the joys of using an outhouse for the first 10 years of my life, I'm probably more thankful for indoor plumbing then most folks. Been there, done that. :)

Next, we decided to go ahead and drill the well. And here is where things got a bit more complicated. The first attempt did not find enough water flow for the house. After drilling 175 feet, the well company declared it a "dry" location. Wha? Huh? Seriously? Both of our neighbors have plenty of water, and our 7-foot deep soil tests holes filled completed up with water within 12 hours of being dug, so we knew water was somewhere under there. At about $2000 a pop to try to locate it, though, we were a little apprehensive....aka stressed to the max....about the next try. Or how many tries it would take to find it.

But, alas, the next drill located water at about 103 ft, and plenty of it! 40 gallons per minute to be precise. Holy Moley! That's a lot of water, and means we likely won't be having water shortage issues. Ever. YAY!

Another step closer to building. :)