Josh and Kate build a house

WEEK 30 – Siding…siding…crap is it snowing?…siding…siding…dig a trench for the electrical run…siding…foam insulation…siding…crap is it snowing again?

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WEEK 29 – I’ve been asking Josh to put just one piece of siding on the house for weeks…just so I can see it…just so I can imagine what it’s going to look like and secretly to verify that I did, in fact, make the right choice out of all of those siding samples on the kitchen table.

Not that there’s anything we could have done about it now!

Week 29 was finally that week.

There have been lots of design decisions that have been made for the house thus far, and not a lot of design decisions that have been executed in the house because we’re not to that point yet. Things like hardware, cabinetry styles, tile, flooring, paint colors, etc. That’s where I feel like I’ve thrived in this process. And that is not the stuff that has generally been happening for the first 29 weeks of building. But the siding and wooden porch work…that was one of those design decisions too. So I’ve been really invested in seeing it go up and making sure that reality matched what I’d envisioned in my head while sorting through those siding samples.

I was not disappointed, and I’m really excited to be entering a stretch now where the face of the house will come along a little more each day.

That is if it stops raining. Week 30 has started with rain…

Nevertheless, a little rain will not dampen my spirits. I’m just so pleased with how the exterior is coming together!

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WEEK 28 When snow hit the forecast for the first time this week, I had the immediate reaction that it has only not been snowing for two months. How do I live in a place where it doesn’t snow only two months out of the entire year?! In truth, it hasn’t snowed since April, and there were five snow-free months between then and October. So I guess it’s not as bad as it seemed. But still…I really live in a place where in the last year we’ve had snow in more months than we haven’t had snow?? I guess I do.

What snow is not particularly good for is siding a house. And as 30 mph winds are also particularly bad for being up on a 12-foot ladder, it was a particularly dismal week as far as exterior work goes. Ever the trooper, Josh did put up a bunch of foam insulation to go under the siding, and the yard did finish getting a preliminary grating. But after a week of heavy rains foiled last week, cold weather and wind weren’t exactly the bounce-back week we were hoping for!

Fortunately, the crummy weather outside isn’t hindering the work inside, where our plumbers and HVAC crews were able to continue full steam ahead. Many of the plumbing drains throughout the house have been roughed in, including the kitchen sink and dishwasher which currently just pop right up in the middle of the floor.

Ductwork is quickly sprouting up in the walls as well, and the exterior vents and such have been planned out so that (any minute now!) when the weather cooperates we can really get rolling on that siding!

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WEEK 27 – After playing a tenuous game of “it needs to not rain for two days and then rain again” and wishing for just the right about of weather turbulence, we were rewarded with a follow-up week of a lot of rain. I guess that’s karma.

A lot of rain was not great for our next step, which was leveling and grating the yard to come up on the sides of the house where it will need to for siding. Instead, some inside work got done this week, including more work from our plumbers, the laundry drains, and the delivery of our bathtubs. This also spurred on the first insulation installation as the walls behind each tub needed to be insulated and have plastic put in.

On the very bright side, with all the windows in, doors on, and roofing done, the house stayed very dry despite all the rain. And now that the basement floor is in and the sump pump secured, the basement stays very dry as well.

Sunday sunshine brought the start of our grating adventure, to be finished early this week and then we’ll turn our attention to the siding. Unfortunately, the first snowflakes are in the forecast this coming weekend. We could use a few more weeks of sunshine to get this outside stuff wrapped up before the flakes really fly!

WEEK 26 – In my head, I keep calling this “halfway week,” though I’m not sure halfway to what!

It’s halfway through a year is what it is, though whether or not that will be our own halfway point is yet to be seen.

What did happen this week is that we hit that magical day where the threat of rain was high enough to keep our concrete guys away from their outdoor projects, but it had been dry enough to firm up the side yard so that they could back up the cement truck to the basement window. That “firm up the side yard” part was important because they had told Josh that if the truck got stuck and needed to be towed out, we’d be on the hook for the towing charge, an expense estimated at $1500. So…no rain…and no towing please and thank you! The day worked out perfect, and the basement floor is now in!

 

 

 

 

Then, because the garage floor is now finished and ready for use, Josh was able to move a bunch of tools and work stuff into that space like a jumbo workshop, made secure by the installation of the garage door this weekend! With just one exterior window to finish now that the basement is poured, and a service door on the backside of the garage to lock up, we’re almost completely contained now, and should hopefully be starting siding the end of this week!

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Also, many thanks to our neighbors-to-be up the road who stopped by on Saturday with their skid-steer and offered to level out the gravel on the driveway for us so that the ruts from the lift didn’t keep filling up with water!

WEEK 25

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 24 – Here’s a funny thing about the different stages of building a house. After being vexed by weather for a decent part of the summer, and needing plenty of sun and pleasant weather this fall to finish up the outside work, siding, etc. This week we find ourselves needing enough sunshine to dry everything from last week’s downpours, and then one slightly rainy day that’s not particularly good for outdoor work. Why? Because that’s how we get a basement floor!

Why does it work that way? Well, because our concrete guys have a full schedule of outdoor work that people are trying to get done before winter weather, and obviously can’t pour driveways when it’s raining. So last week when Wednesday and Thursday were otherwise washouts, we got a garage floor and the start of our front porch, because both are covered and can be shielded from the rain. Such is the case in our basement as well; however, we need a couple days of sunshine first to dry out the mud pit that is our side yard so they can back up the cement truck to the basement windows.

There is a chance this could actually work our Wednesday or Friday afternoon this week. Mind you, we don’t want inches of water or a driving rain, just a nice drizzly day. Too much to ask for? It’s the only time you’re going to hear me ask for precipitation! In the meantime, we’ll be trying to shore up the yard in preparation for siding, putting in one final window, and hopefully getting front, back, and garage doors!

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WEEK 23 – Given how slowly things progressed at times this summer, I got really excited about this week when all of a sudden, things started to fall in place in rapid succession.

It started last weekend, with a big push to get all those jumbo, glorious windows in. We’re close now, very close, with just the two windows over the porch remaining. Everything else? In and sealed, and we were both relieved and pumped that, when a big series of thunderstorms rolled through early in the week, the house sustained zero damage, and was, in essence, dry all the way through! That has been a long time coming!

The basement windows provide more a challenge because they had to be dug out a bit, then set with retaining block window wells for egress purposes. Enter the retaining wall master, my dad, who probably wasn’t thrilled when we suggested this would be a project we loved his help on, but was a real trooper about coming up for a few days to help use get them in. My dad has a real knack for setting retaining walls, and even Josh admitted that what he did in two days would have taken us triple time by ourselves. No windows in the basement yet until after the concrete guys come to pour the basement floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the basement floor isn’t far off now either! That’s because this week First Class plumbing came out to dig all the under-slab trenches and lay the plumbing runs in the basement. When they first started digging I was a little bit 😱 as it looked like the basement was just getting torn apart, and it brought back bad memories of the earlier flooding down there. However, I’m reassured that this all goes back in some semblance of order, and that it should, inevitably, disappear when the concrete is poured later this week. That is, provided we pass inspection Monday afternoon! Keep you fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 22 – Sing along if you know the tune!

“There’s a window….in the wall!! It’s not raining in the hall! No water at all!”

If you don’t know the tune, where were you during my middle and high school years?

This week we’re getting serious about getting the house sealed up tight, and it’s the progress we’ve been waiting for all summer! The roof is on; the porch is up; the siding is ordered; we’ve chosen (it only took me changing my mind once) retaining wall block; and a few more windows go in daily.

This week my dad is coming up for a few days to help put in the window wells for the basement windows, and we have some grating to do to make sure the water doesn’t fill them up! But we are moving forward, and could use this weather to keep cooperating! It’s sure making up for June and July.

 

WEEK 21 – This is a picture of the living room of our house.

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I’ve showed plenty of pictures like this before, so it may not seem that significant. But it is! Why you might ask? Well, because, though you might not be able to see it in the picture, it was pouring down rain when I took this shot, and what you definitely can see in this picture is that the floor is dry!! And that’s because this week, we got a roof!!

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And honestly, given the amount of water we’ve dealt with in the last three months, this is a big day that we’ve been waiting for! I stood in the house in the rain, and it was dry. This week we can start moving towards windows and that gets us one step closer to sealed from the elements. And that means things can finally dry out, and we won’t be squeegeeing out water ever week, and our subfloor can stop having to absorb/drain inches of water. It’s a big deal!

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It also means we’re one step closer to siding, meaning the saga of the siding needs to come to a present end. My husband is a saint and deserves an award for rounding up all the navy blue/dark slate siding samples in Rochester so that I could make a final decision. (Ok…maybe not all the samples available…but really, if you’re thinking you want dark blue siding, come visit us to see a whole bunch of options.) I think we’ve got it figured out…provided that Josh gets it ordered before I can change my mind!

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WEEK 20 – Josh won’t like that this is how I categorize week 20, but it’s the most accurate description of how things went! Every day during week 20 I drove to the lot, looked at the house and said: “I know you’ve been doing things, but I’m not really sure what it is…” Then he would show me the sheets he put up on the roof, and all the structural stuff inside that I really wouldn’t look for, but we obviously necessary, and it would all actually be VERY impressive.

And then we’d do the whole thing again the next day.

When you actually look at the pictures, it does look different. I’m just impatiently waiting for the next BIG step, like shingles and windows and siding. Those are all coming in the near future, but 20 weeks in, I’m wishing the near future was now!

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WEEK 19 – The saga of the siding!

Last winter, when the weather was terrible and it seemed like we’d never get started on the house, Josh and I sat down with a ‘house visualizer’ tool, and planned what we wanted the exterior of the house to look like. We came up with this image:

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which we’ve shown a lot of people. The great thing about that visualizer was that it let you pick real products. So, for example, the shingles we put on this picture are the actual shingles we ordered this week as we prepared to start roofing.

We have changed a few things about this original design, opting for a darker red cedar posts for the porch, with a darker (and less expensive, if we’re being honest) garage door that didn’t need to be custom built. We also decided the open trusses on the porch would be faced in cedar to match the posts instead of white. But otherwise, we’ve been pretty committed to this design.

So when it came time to start talking about ordering siding, we went to the picture, looked at what siding we had picked, went to the store to make sure we liked it in person, and then….decided to wait on ordering it so that we didn’t have to store it the next few weeks while roofing and getting windows in. Waiting was the right choice for managing the materials we have on site and what we need to sore. But waiting gives you time to think, and waiting gives you time to look at other things! And waiting, in this case, gave the house around the corner from our current home time to tear off all their siding and start residing in a navy blue color that I LOVE!

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Thus began my quest for this siding, which I started by trying to knock on the neighbor’s door and ask what siding they picked, while they invariably sat inside telling their dogs to stop barking and never answered my knocking. Then Josh suggested I tried to see what brand was on the boxes in their yard. This yielded the word “market,” which we eventually tracked down to the Market Square line offered by RBP. Certain that their “Indigo” color was the siding we wanted we ordered a sample…and that wasn’t it!

So the hunt continues! I currently have three siding chips, the sample I sent away for, and the entire Restoration Classic siding wheel from Menards on my kitchen table, and I’m pretty sure none of them are the color of that house…but I guess I’d compromise on a color if needed. A few more weeks before we need to order siding will give me a chance to keep hunting, so if you know of a great navy blue siding option somewhere local, let me know!!

WEEK 18 – Two for two on rain free weeks that help us get things done! This week, Josh and I decided to band together and go full speed ahead on getting all the rest of the rafters up over the house. The sooner the rafters are up, the sooner the roof can go on, the sooner we can get the house sealed so that when it does start raining again, we don’t have to worry so much about all the water in the house. This would be a very very good thing!

As I mentioned last week, the rafters over the house are much lighter and shorter, therefore far more manageable for just the two of us than the garage was. What became a bit tricker was working around all the second floor walls that finished going up this week as well. So you’d be pushing a truss along, and then need to step through a closet wall. Continue pushing the truss along, and then you’ll need to step through a bathroom wall. While it’s really cool to see the features and layout of the second floor come together, the walls, at least for this week, were less than novel!

Friends visiting on Saturday helped to put some of the first sheathing on the roof over the garage. This is necessary so that Josh can frame the rest of the dormer before the roof gets finished and shingled. Once the dormer is finished, it should be time to get a roof on the whole thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 17 – We looked back over the entire building process thus far, and I can confidently attest to Week 17 being the first week since we’ve started building that it didn’t rain a single day!! Ok…that’s not true…it did rain at night…and it did rain on Sunday. But you know what? We don’t work at night, and we decided not to work Sunday before it started raining! So really, it’s the first week that we didn’t lose a day of work to the weather and/or have to work in the pouring down rain. That makes me very happy!

With the weather cooperating, and all the roof trusses that fell down last week standing again, this week we wanted to focus on getting that garage secured in a way that those trusses would never come back down, and starting the trusses over the main part of the house.

Whereas the garage trusses were BEASTish at 40 feet long and over 350 lbs, the house trusses are surprisingly manageable. In fact, Josh and I figured that if they were just a little shorter, we probably just could have carried them up the stair and lifted them into place on ladders. Of course, they’re not “a little shorter,” so we had to start swinging the lift around again. Still, this is what it took to do a garage truss….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the house trusses we’re essentially just strapping to the basket, swinging into position, and then nailing into position. Ok…it wasn’t quite that easy, and they do have a tricky vaulted ceiling built into them that had to be lined up just so on the far wall. But it’s hard not to be in a good mood about it, when the weather was so cooperative, and the disaster of the previous week is far in the rearview mirror!

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WEEK 16 – When we started building the house, Josh and I decided that I was “allowed” to use the phrase “This is why I never wanted to build a house…” 12 times. I used one this week!

After waiting for our lift to arrive through last week and the weekend, it showed up Tuesday afternoon and we anxiously waited to get started first thing Wednesday. Then…it rained two inches on Tuesday night. Surprise, surprise. We showed up Wednesday and quickly discovered the lift was two small to navigate into position while carrying any kind of weight. The garage trusses weigh almost 400lbs a piece…so that’s some weight! Immediately the lift got stuck and had to be pulled out of the mud with the truck. Fortunately, we were able to schedule delivery for a bigger, and stationary, lift the next morning. So, progress stalled until Thursday.

After another inch of rain Wednesday night, the mud and sand around the house and in the garage was fully saturated, and upon delivery, the new lift got bogged down pretty quickly in the mud as well. Fortunately, we didn’t have to take it very far, and once it was situated, it didn’t have to go anywhere. Josh and his cousin Mike got the first couple trusses into position against the house side and made plans to set as many as possible the next day.

Though Thursday night stayed dry, the humidity and heat didn’t help anything dry out, and Friday’s heat index hit 108 degrees. Nevertheless, Josh and Mike raised most of the garage trusses over the course of the day, and ‘The Other Josh’ and I came out in the afternoon to help start putting in the 100s of nails that hold them into place. It was hot, but progress was finally being made and quickly!

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However, progress, it seems, can be fleeting. When we first started putting the trusses up, I asked how they stayed standing if something like a big wind gust occurred. Mike and Josh showed me how they got braced so that they had a little flex in the wind, but also remained attached to the frame and upright. It made good sense, especially Friday evening as I helped put in brace piece after brace piece before leaving the site.

But Saturday morning, this rolled into town…

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And with it, 60 mph sustained winds. We got two huge storm fronts in four hours, and shortly after the second one blew through, a neighbor up the road called to say the trusses were coming down.

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Admittedly, this was not my most optimistic moment in the building process. While Josh assembled some tools, bracing, and a rain coat to go and see what could be salvaged, I had a bit of a breakdown. Truth be told, building a house this summer has felt a lot like building a sand castle. It’s always soaking wet. We’re always a little worried about too much water destroying what we’ve built. And now, it was literally starting to crumble! Two steps forward, three steps back. Josh rallied the troops and set out in the rain, and I wallowed a little bit that twelve hours in the sweltering heat came undone in a morning. And then it came out, “This is why I never wanted to build a house!”

The long and short of the recovery effort is that all but one truss was retrieved damage free. The one on the inside that took the brunt of the weight when they tipped over, has a cracked support upright, but because all the metal bracing points are undamaged, we should be able to reinforce that piece with bracing on both sides, and the overall structure will not be compromised. By Saturday evening, everything was back in place, with double the support running all the way across the span of the garage.

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Next week looks to bring sunshine and cooler temps, and with it, hopefully a lot of framing that will anchor all these trusses in place permanently! The floor, sheathing, and beams that will be run through to support the dormer will all add structure and support, and about 10000 more nails should keep things from going anywhere come rain, wind, or whatever else this summer is going to throw our way.

I could do without 108 degrees again…but I’d take it if it meant no more water!

WEEK 15 Hurry up, and wait. Hurry up, and wait. Hurry up, and…

We made a big push to get the second story up over the forth, and the second floor interior walls started at the front of the house this week. However, unlike the first floor that went in all in one crack, the second floor is complicated by the fact that part of the flooring is tied into the garage rood trusses…which means we now have to raise the garage roof trusses…which way 380 lbs a piece, are 40 feet long, and need to go up 10-12 feet in the air.

SOOOOOoooo….we’re waiting for a lift, to which we will attach each truss to raise above the garage and set into position. Then the walls can be framed into the trusses and the floor overlapped from part already installed. The roof trusses for the main house will then also need to be raised into position, almost 20 feet in the air.

In the meantime, some finish up projects got the go ahead this week. The house wrap that’s been blowing around on the corners and windows got tacked down and taped. The “little trusses” got set over the kitchen nook. And we spent hours at Menards finalizing siding color, cedar posts, and the garage door. With any luck, we’ll be ready to use those materials sooner rather than later, that is, assuming this next bit with the lift goes according to plan!

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WEEK 14 – After flooding last week, anything less than 8 inches of rain was going to feel like success. So after a soggy Tuesday and Wednesday, a sunny Fourth of July followed by 4 more days of sunshine saw some notable progress being made!

We started with a 4th of July breakfast lift of the 42′ beast on the second floor that sits over the 42′ beast we raised a few weeks ago. Eight people lifting together, and some Panera Bagels get stuff done!

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Then onto the front side of the house, where Josh, “The Other Josh,” and Ryan decided to build one more wall just for good measure. And yes…that’s a massive window right in the middle of it. The windows are huge in this house, and we love it!

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Throughout the week, the wall between what will be the bonus room in the garage and the upstairs bathroom went up, and the other front wall was mostly framed. Josh and I polished off that project on Saturday afternoon, thus completing the front profile.

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This week, we’ll tackle a bunch of smaller projects in advance of the lift we’ll use to put the roof trusses up arriving next week. Some sunshine would be much appreciated!

WEEK 13 – Do you ever say something so many times in a row that it stops feeling like it means anything? That’s how it’s starting to become when I type “this week we were hampered by rain….again!”

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But not just any rain! This week saw 7 inches of rain fall in a very short amount of time, causing the Zumbro River in Pine Island to rise rapidly and a large section of the city to flood. Fortunately, our house is on a relatively high side of town and away from the river. Unfortunately, without a roof, siding, gutters, etc. etc. etc. that seven inches of water fell straight onto our open house, and drained straight into our basement which does not yet have a working sump pump. Essentially, we’ve built a giant concrete bucket, and when Josh arrived at the house on Friday morning, it was successfully holding all that water along with the mud that had washed down there and a bunch of garbage and building supplies. He dug a makeshift sump pump hole in the back corner of the basement, and we pumped water all afternoon and through the night before things were finally drained enough that on Saturday, we could go down and sort through the silt and crap!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite these setbacks, we were able to get some work accomplished. The sheathing is all up on the second floor. The staircase is finished. Josh scored the jackpot when he happened across the exact kind of lumber he needed for the second floor framing, trimmed to the exact length and stamped with the level of quality we’re required to use. (This is a trickier thing to find than we originally expected!) Thanks to some friends who stopped by for a couple of hours on Saturday, the header is over the garage door and the sheathing is up on the big exterior garage wall. And even with all the water we’ve had, it seems like structurally, the house is fine. A bit wet but fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still…if it could really stop raining…

WEEK 12 – Sometimes, big jumps in progress require a big push, and this week that came in the form of a four day visit from my parents so that Dad could help Josh get the second floor trusses into position. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before they arrived, we worked feverishly to get the rest of the first floor, exterior walls up. I tipped up walls. Our friends came to tip up walls. Josh tipped up little ones himself. It was a full on framing frenzy.

On Thursday, Dad and Josh went out to plumb and level the walls as well as frame the interior, load bearing walls needed to support the floor trusses. It rained. Go figure. And Mom and I took on the all important task of pushing water around the subfloor into a hole that would drain in the basement. This was one of two important tasks we completed over the long weekend, the other being sorting through the scrap lumber to figure out what was truly scrap and what could be used as blocking between studs.

For two days Josh and Dad moved trusses into position and hauled things up to the second floor. There are currently stacks of subfloor waiting to be put down, and the staircase which needs treads. The rest of the second floor gets flooring via the roof trusses which are engineered with the “bonus space” above the garage in place, and will also go over the kitchen and bathroom. It will take a materials lift or crane to get those pieces into position, which we hope to be ready for in early July (which is next week already!!)

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WEEK 11 – Though the look of the site is beginning to change quite a bit, it doesn’t feel like there’s a huge update this week, because the days look pretty much the same. Josh builds the wall flat on the ground. He sheets it. He wraps it. Then, it gets tipped up into place. The big, 42′ beast from last week was my far the most daunting part of the first floor framing process, and other walls have gone into place much easier.

This week, my parents arrive and the hope is to finish the first floor and hopefully go after some second floor trusses! Of course, with rain back in the forecast, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed.

 

WEEK 10 – Let’s talk about building walls!

Having laid the subfloor last week, week 10 was all about starting to frame exterior walls, the largest of which was a 42′ beast that ran the entire…east???…side of the house. Josh decided to frame it, sheet it, and wrap it all while it was laying flat on the floor, and then angle nailed it into position so that when we tipped it up there would already be some anchor points to help ensure that it didn’t slide as it was raised. Honestly, for the size of this thing, it’s hard to imagine it was going anywhere. But also, for the size of this thing, if it did start going, there would be no stopping it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original plan to stand the wall up involved an elaborate crank system that when turned would raise the wall via “pulleys” and then three giant beams that tipped down like bracing when it got high enough. The general idea was concocted in order to take most of the brute force out of lifting something up that weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds, and it was a good idea…in theory. In practicality, less so. Thus, left with a broken crank system and 42′ of wall still on the ground, we resorted to the brute strength model employed by house builders of old and called in a bunch of friends to ask for help. We quickly amassed a crowd, and up it went!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will be many more wall raisings in the week ahead. Josh and ‘the other Josh’ and Ryan have already stood up two more of the smaller walls, and I’m told they should all be easier and faster now that the big on is out of the way.

Of course…it’s also probably worth noting that we’re building a two story house, so this whole 42′ wall thing…yeah…we’re going to have to do that again!

WEEK 9 – FINALLY!!! It’s amazing what finally gets done when you have a week of weather that cooperates for a change. It’s possible that last week was the first week that we didn’t lose a day to rain and bad weather, and suddenly, things started moving right along. Also, last week was the end of the school year, meaning I could take over the Airbnb management during the day, and Josh wouldn’t have to travel back to Rochester at lunchtime, thus losing 2-3 hours of build time in the middle of the day!

The floor joists have been sitting on the lot under tarps for almost two weeks now, so it was both exciting and a relief to see some of them move into position. Since watching Josh walk back and forth on the joists like balance beams stresses me out, I was more than happy to help start laying the subfloor this week.

Fun fact: Subfloor goes in very quickly if you nail it down because you can just move along with a nail gun and fire the nails in ever 6-12 inches as required by building code. Our subfloor is not going in as quickly because Josh has decided to screw the subfloor to the joists instead of using nails. Why? Because nails are the reason that most floors squeak as the nails rub on the wood as you walk over the top. So my husband the craftsman is going to try and avoid squeaky floors by avoiding the nails!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The roof trusses also arrived this week, though with our numerous rain delays, we’re still a few weeks out from being ready to lift them into position. As to how that process is goin to go…stay tuned. They’re huge, and heavy, and there isn’t going to be any carrying them by man power alone.

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WEEK 8 – Please, for the love of everything, let it stop raining! We’ve had a whole April and now May’s worth of cool, soggy weather, and anytime it’s ready to quit is good with us!

Despite the continual showers all week, we passed our foundation inspection and were able to start to backfill this week. That’s extra good news as it should help the lot continue to drain through all this rain, and admittedly while the dirt still mounded around the foundation are completely saturated mud piles, the actual foundation itself is very well sealed, and has tolerated the water just fine.

The walls and lumber on the other hand, have largely sat tarped much of the week. So with a break in the rain late in the week, Josh was excited and ready to start getting some of the framing started! A huge shout out to “the other Josh” and Ryan for coming over on Saturday to help move all the first floor framing lumber onto the site. If/when the rain finally stops this week, we’ll be ready to put the floor joists and sheeting down on the first floor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WEEK 7 – Week 7 should be subtitled, ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to feel my arms tomorrow’ as that was the main sentiment after hauling all our own floor joists from the front of the lot to the back of the lot! I stand corrected, they’re not actually floor joists; they are floor trusses. They look like this and they weigh somewhere over a hundred pounds a piece!

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And just to complete the mental picture for you, they were delivered at 6AM on Tuesday…in a thunderstorm. So they pretty much got dropped at the front of the lot which left them hanging into the road where they obviously couldn’t stay. Thus, Josh and I hauled them by hand, one by one, to the back of the lot where they all got wrapped in plastic to avoid another good soaking in the inches of rain we were forecasted last week.

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As it happens, we’re not actually ready for any kind of trusses yet, as there was a lot left to do on the foundation. After beginning our waterproofing at the end of last week, we discovered we were putting it on way too thin, and used only one bucket (out of ten) to complete the whole thing. As a result, not only did it get a second coat, but also a third, after which we needed to adhere an additional layer of foam board, and then wrap the whole thing in plastic. The race was on all week to try and get this done before the weekend as again we were forecasted to have have inches of rain!

In the end, Sunday was a complete washout, but Friday and Saturday stayed dry enough that most of the foundation work could be finished, and the inspector should be able to come on Monday to check everything off! At that point the excavator will come back to backfill, and we will start putting up some walls and hopefully using those trusses! We need to make room on the backlot because roof trusses show up May 30th!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WEEK 6 – We officially took over the building process this week as we made the first payment on our excavation and foundation work, and they moved all the machinery, forms, trucks, etc. off the job site! This revelation is both welcome progress, and anxiety inducing singularity as we’re now the masters of our own domain. We celebrated by spending most of the weekend in the hole!

The next steps are waterproofing the foundation, a process that currently involves rolling gallons of blue, gelatinous, rubber product onto the walls and making sure every pockmark in the concrete is sealed. Fun fact: concrete can be very pockmarked, a product of air bubbles beings trapped along the forms when the walls are poured. I asked Josh what they did to try and remove the air pockets, and he described the process as “shoving a giant vibrator in the wall as deep as you can and letting it pulse for awhile, and then removing it slowly.” 😆😒 I won’t say anymore about that!

And! Lumber started to arrive on site! The first load, Josh delivered himself by strapping twenty foot long boards over the top of a truck height trailer and onto the roof of his truck. This worked…but was perhaps not his favorite method of delivery, as he promptly announced upon his return that he would pay to have future loads delivered by semi. The first of those semis arrives with the 40′ floor joists this Thursday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5 – Perhaps, one of these weeks, the weather will cooperate and we will get five days of sunshine in a row. This week, was not that week! However, despite another rainy start on Monday and Tuesday, when the rain finally cleared out Wednesday afternoon, we were ready to roll to pour our foundation…at least we thought! Our forms had been tarped through the rain, so they were ready to go, and our excavator had everything inspected. So when the cement truck showed up Wednesday, it should have been pretty standard procedure to begin pouring. And so it was…for the first three quarters of the foundation. Then, on the back corner of the house, the forms suddenly mushroomed out, the result of a pin not being fully in place, or something having shifted, and as a result, work immediately stopped.

To fix the aforementioned issue, the concrete first has set enough that when you removed the form, the rest of the concrete doesn’t come gushing out. So the walls sat for 24 hours, before the forms came off that corner, and the hammered out the concrete at the bottom, cutting out the section that had ballooned out. Then the forms were reassembled, and the concrete poured again, this time by the five gallon pail full because the crane cement truck that had piped in the walls the first time was unavailable the end of the week. The footings under the front porch also got poured in this manner because they’d been unable to finish Wednesday afternoon after the form incident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we’re not to the point yet where we can be working at the site, Josh continued to work on cabinetry this week, and also began the process of staining our interior doors. The stain, of course, has been it’s own ongoing mini saga, though now that there’s actual stain on doors, I daresay we won’t (and by we I mean I won’t) be changing my mind again. 🙂 The windows also arrived on Saturday, which are being safely stored with friends closer to the lot in Pine Island. Like the doors, it seems strange to have windows for a house that doesn’t yet exist, but I’m sure we’ll want them sooner rather than later, and we won’t want to wait for them once we need them!

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WEEK 4 – Big steps this week in both what’s happening on the homesite and the preparations we’re making away from the lot in advance of starting to be able to frame and build.

At the lot, despite another deluge on Thursday leaving everything in “the hole” soggy again, the sunshine and warm weather from last weekend kept things stable enough to be able to move forward laying the rest of the drain tile (this is pipe mind you…drain “tile” is a lie!) and forming up the foundation walls. Bad weather moved in again this weekend to stall the pouring of the foundation, and we’re hoping this little April snow temper tantrum isn’t a major setback come Monday morning and the start of a new building week!

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Away from the building site, Josh has been working feverishly to build an entire house worth of custom cabinetry, and with drawer fronts and cabinet doors coming together, it was time to get serious about picking a stain color. Consequently, we also picked up all our interior doors this week as well, which will be stained the same color as the cabinets, so the moment of truth is upon us. You know how they say if you can’t make a decision, flip a coin and you’ll know what you want the answer to be while the coin is in the air? Well, it turns out the same is true about stain color because we had actually already looked at stain colors, and picked out one we liked, and found a complimentary floor color, and built a sample cabinet door in that color. BUT when the moment of truth arrived, and the stain showed up at the house, and it was time to commit to that “look,” it suddenly had instant buyer’s remorse!

The best time to have buyer’s remorse about a stain color is while the stain is still in the bottle and not on the cabinets!! And after much discussion, it turned out that while Josh wasn’t having remorse, per se, about the cabinet stain, he did agree that our decision was likely, at least slightly, impacted by the fact that it was the first stain we found that didn’t come out completely splotchy and blotted on our maple cabinets. As I couldn’t shake my doubt about our choice, we eventually headed back to the drawing board, in the process picking up paint chips, tile samples, stone samples, and cabinet hardware, all in an effort to put together a complete look that we were excited about, and define the kind of feel we wanted the house to have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WEEK 3 – In these first few weeks, progress has felt a little bit like taking two steps forward and one back. After stalling for the six inches of snow before we could finish digging our hole, this last week we pushed to getting footings in before the anticipated rainstorm towards the end of the week, which proved to be wise as we got almost 5 inches of rain! However, now we’re stalled by water as we’ve wound up with more of a pool than a foundation. Still, it seems like the footings cured without issue, and assuming things continue to dry out (three days of sun and seventies helped this weekend!) we should be back on track to form up the foundation walls this week.

We’re also waiting to hear what’s to become of our three baby willow trees in the backyard. They’re planted on our lot, which backs out onto the city’s easement, and there seems to be a conflict with the city as to their placement. Our excavator has been attempting to mediate the situation and hopefully will come to a compromise that allows us to preserve the trees as they are a definite perk of the backyard space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 2 – Though we officially broke ground on April 2nd, we’ve been stalled in the last few days by a mid-April snow storm. Here’s hoping next week brings better weather and a progress on the foundation!

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WEEK 1 – The machinery has been moved to the lot, and the first scope of dirt has been moved! We’ve been fortunate that the frost came out of the ground as quickly as it did as we weren’t expecting to be able to start for another few weeks. The main challenge in this first stage of digging will be to access the water line which runs parallel to, and eight feet underneath, the new fiber optic cable that was recently laid. That will likely need to be dug out by hand before the rest of the foundation can be dug in earnest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House
This year, Josh and I will be building our own home…and I do mean building it on our own! The start of our journey goes back to October 2018!
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