Josh and Kate build a house

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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