Josh and Kate build a house

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!

Image result for floor trusses
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.

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!


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!


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!

Snowy lot

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.




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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