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. :)