Week 60: Levers or knobs, doors on everything, and the thing that some people can’t seem to grasp

When we first started building the house, and would tell people that we were building our own house, a surprising number of people told me that they had also built their own houses. When asked further about their experience building, it turned out what people actually meant was they had acted as general contractor on their houses, which is kind of what we are doing, but also not quite the full picture.

When we would explain to people that we were doing most of the work on our house ourselves, a surprising number of people told me that they had also done most of the work on their own houses. When asked further about their experience, it turned out what people actually meant was they had done the paint, maybe some of the tiling/floor laying, in a rare case they might have stained their own woodwork, which again are all things we have done, but is also not quite the full picture.

Now that we’re in the final phases, people who have built before assure us that things will happen quickly. For the most part, that has been true. Finish work is really satisfying in the fact that you are, as the name implies, finishing things as you go. But like the previous two situations, as more and more people stop by the house to see how things are going, and friends and family inquire as to a potential move in date, there is this slight sense that some people don’t understand what’s taking quite so long.

A Facebook friend sent me a message this week excited to see our cabinets when they went up. “They’ll be up in less then a day, just you wait!” they exclaimed…because that’s how it had gone when they had put up cabinets in their kitchen…all by themselves.

The thing about our cabinets is that they’re currently living in our house in various pieces because while we’re assembling and installing them ourselves, Josh also built them himself. We sanded them last week with my parents, and Josh finished them this week in the basement. The drawers have to be finished, then assembled, and then installed separately.

If you’ve followed the story since the beginning, or have been out to the house to help us raise walls, put beams and rafters into place, or check out the progress, you know that we’re responsible for every nail that’s gone into our home. And while I’m not trying to diminish the work that anyone else has done in their own houses, the comparisons and the “it’s now probably going to take you ‘this’ long,”s, and the “we know how you feel”s, are nice sentiments, but also incomplete in their empathy.

Because while we’re excited, yes, to be close to the end, and while it’s true, I suppose, that we’re kindred weekend warriors, we’re also just very very very tired from a project that has consumed the last year, been complicated by weather and a pandemic and sometimes just pure inexperience, and is on a scale bigger than probably anything we’ll ever do again.

Nevertheless, the end is in sight, and this week, we put doors on everything! The front door got a face lift along with house numbers on the porch post, and many of the interior doors were installed as well.

Our neighbor across the street actually came over the day after I painted the front door to tell Josh that she’s been hoping we painted the front door yellow, and now there it was!

Installing the doors also meant the end of the great door knobs vs. levers debate which many people chimed in on. Expressed pros and cons included: door knobs being more difficult for kids to figure out (this was given as both a pro and con depending on who you talked to), levers being easier to open with full hands, levers being easier for cats to figure out how to open (we don’t have a cat, but this is a reality of living with cats), and door knobs being traditional to the craftsman style.

Ultimately, this debate is really something that only matters because we’re building new and have to pick something. Currently, the house we live in has a combination of both knobs and levers and I’ve never thought more about one door being better or easier to open than another.

What the decision came down to, in the end, was looking at a bunch of sample door hardware and trying out how the knobs/lever felt when you actually turned them in your hand. I know, I know, levers you can open with your elbow, so it doesn’t matter how it feels in your hand. However, you don’t open a lever with your elbow every time, so…

We picked…

Some good old fashioned door knobs!

And I’ve become really good at installing them!

This week we’ll hopefully get final grade of the yard finished, which will be followed quickly by sprinkler installation so that we can get the yard seeded. The cabinet doors will also be finished, so we can start installing cabinet hardware.

Oh! And in one of the most practical finishes that had nothing to do with doors this week, Josh installed the first toilet on site…which should make everyone’s day a little bit more comfortable and sanitary. Good bye Kwik Trip bathroom pitstops!

Sometimes it’s the little, practical things, ya know!


Published by Kate

A former Wisconsinite, Kate now resides in southeast Minnesota with her husband where she teaches high school English and theater. She recently completed her master's degree in learning design and technology, and continues to study and advocate for arts integration in the classroom. A recipient of the RISE America grant for high school theater, Kate is working to innovate and expand theater opportunities for the students at PIHS. An avid distance runner, concert pianist, and want-to-be wine aficionado, Kate's blog "ink." is a passion project, embodying all the best parts of life: friends, food, wine, thoughtful conversation, style, and sass!

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