House – Part 1

For the last couple weeks I’ve been looking at buying a house, but each time I found something that looked like a decent candidate I would inevitably discover a fatal flaw that made it completely unsuitable. It’s not that I was turning my nose up because I was too good, but rather because the balance of costs vs benefits was not even close on the scales.

In today’s housing market the sellers hold all the cards, and with an unprecedented number of investors looking for houses to flip, it was most definitely not the healthiest place for a buyer with only 5% down payment to try and compete. Perfect example – I found a house that looked pretty nice, but as I dug into it I got more and more alarmed. The house had sold only 6 weeks earlier for $79,000. The new sellers wanted $189,000. The listing proclaimed all new flooring, bathrooms, and kitchen. At a rough estimate I figured the sellers had put about $35-45,000 into the place (at most), and the rest was the profit they were pursuing. $70,000+ profit in just six weeks is phenomenal, but only someone truly desperate, or really fucking idiotic, would buy a house that was two and a half times more expensive than it had been six weeks earlier.

Now, I’m not a professional home contractor, but I’ve spent some time around them, and six weeks to completely inspect, gut, fix and/or upgrade, and then install all new components is something of a stretch. It’s certainly not worth an extra $70,000 to me. And it shouldn’t be to anyone else. So realizing I didn’t have the stomach for the market I decided on a different route – buying a home in a development.

It took me a couple weeks to work up the nerve to even go visit with a builder’s representative, but fortunately my realtor was there to guide me in the process. Tim was a big help, and if you’re looking for a home in the Dayton and Cincinnati area I can’t recommend him enough. Explained the process, didn’t pressure me to buy, let me look at my own pace, and gave me honest feedback. It helped that he understood I am, by nature, detail-orientated, and that I do a LOT of research before committing to anything. That was fine by him and he was happy to leave me to it (I’m also betting that because I didn’t require him to hold my hand all the time he was content to let things progress on my timeline. After all, he gets paid regardless, and the more work I do and the faster I do it, the sooner he gets paid. I love that type of honesty).

At first it was something of a shock to hear the prices – I was only looking for a simple three bedroom, two bathroom house in the 1600 sq ft range, not a mansion. But certain requirements for the house made such costs climb, such as the need for a third garage bay, a deluxe bathroom in the master’s suite, and a prime building lot to give me sufficient space to build a pool at some point. I did reach a point (I think it was the third or fourth meeting with the builder’s rep) that I nixed the idea of a gourmet kitchen and a morning room, which reduced the price tag by a whopping $35-40,000. Also dropped was the centerline extension of the house (nearly $8,000). I kept a 2′ garage extension simply because I wanted to be able to fit my truck in the garage, and it was going to be tight as-is. The extra 2′ would make it a little easier to have a tiny amount of storage and still be able to fit vehicles. The 3rd garage bay is going to be my workshop area.

If I would change one thing about the whole process, I would’ve gone to the builder’s design center before sitting down with the rep so that I could see the cabinets, flooring, fixtures, and trim details and have them picked out before going through the options list. So I’m finally going to the design center before I finish out the details of the contract, but it means another week has slipped away. I’d like to spend my Christmas in the new house, but it’s probably going to be closer to February than December.

Enough with the typing. Here’s the house I picked out:

In case anyone was wondering, I’ve also downloaded a site plan for the Bluffs on Trebein. I selected lot 9185, which is on the corner of Standing Rock Ln and Sunset Canyon Ct.

The lot I selected is a corner lot, but it has a ton of space with the way I’m doing the layout (thanks for pointing out the different layout Susan!). Here’s something I put together in SketchUp 2017 of the lot and house and should give a good idea of what I’m working with.

In case you’re wondering what the various dotted lines represent, those are the setbacks and easements required by city, county and state zoning laws. The front of a house must be a minimum of 25′ from the street, so because I have two street-facing sides, I’m required to be 25′ back on both. Another requirement is a minimum of 15′ between houses. My house is literally 15′ from the edge of the property line, so technically my neighbor could build their house right on the line and be within building code requirements. Odds are that there’s going to be at least 7-8′ between their house and the property line, so at least it won’t feel like they’re crowding me. Finally the city ordinance requires a 10′ easement for storm drains in the back yard, and no permanent structures can be built in that area. In light of all the measurements I probably could have gotten away with the other lot I’d looked at, which would have saved me something like $6500, but I consider the additional 15′ of property to be worth it. This leaves me with an area roughly 50′ long by 45′ wide in which to eventually build a pool, shed/changing area/covered dining space/cooking area (I haven’t decided yet, and unfortunately the HOA limits a shed to 10’x12′. Not sure how a pergola is considered in terms of the HOA covenants, and unfortunately the representative of the HOA has been less than informative. All I hear is “I’ll have to ask the board,” and frankly that gets old as a response really fast, especially if I’m dropping almost $300k on a house with some definite plans to add some outdoor features.

 

July 9, 2017

I spent around 4 hours at the design center yesterday. First thing you do is sign in, tell the design consultant which house plan you’ve selected, and then you move to the central area and pick out your cabinetry. As with every choice in the house design there are generally five options from which to choose. They are: Standard, 1st Upgrade, 2nd Upgrade, 3rd Upgrade, and 4th Upgrade. Standard is included in the house package with no additional cost, however each upgrade is more expensive than the last. You can, quite easily, pick enough upgrades to increase the cost of the house by 50%. So, cabinetry. I selected the 1st Upgrade for cabinet door style, which is a flat panel door in Cafe color. I’d already priced that out in a previous session with the Sales Consultant and that was a $1500 upcharge. I have no idea what the higher level upgrades cost, and frankly have no interest in finding out. There are a number of stain and paint options available for each upgrade level, and the cabinet quality is supposed to get better and better. Unfortunately white painted cabinets cost more than stained, and at the 4th upgrade level you are probably paying two to three times the cost of hand-made custom cabinetry. I only went with the 1st upgrade level so that they’d look a little better and hopefully look just as good in a couple years when I replaced them (I’m of two minds concerning that: on the one hand, buying custom would definitely result in some nice cabinets; on the other, it’s always been something of a goal of mine to build my own cabinets). It’s very likely that I’ll drop the cabinets down to standard in order to save some additional money.

Word to the wise – when you are considering your house, think less about the aesthetic things like cabinets, flooring, fixtures, and even countertops, and instead focus on the structural elements like an extra garage, garage extension, master bath upgrade, rear extension, converting a loft space into a bedroom, adding a fireplace, or widening the house. It also makes sense to think about the future and have plumbing rough-ins done during construction.

I’ll be honest, once I close on the house my intention is to go to Lowe’s and buy all new sink and bath/shower fixtures – the cost of the 1st upgrade level of new fixtures is easily double the cost of the high-end fixtures I can buy at the store. I can swap all those fixtures out in a couple hours with a screwdriver and pliers (I’m very fortunate that I already have quite a few tools). Paint, carpeting and countertops are all much cheaper at the big box stores (even if you pay them to install it instead of doing it yourself) than it would be buying those upgrades from the builder.

Once I decided on the cabinetry we moved to the countertop. In this instance I really cheaped out and selected a laminate countertop rather than the really awesome quartz countertop I liked (I did have it mentioned as an optional upgrade). The quartz countertop was a 3rd upgrade level and I estimate a minimum of $5,000 for it over the cost of laminate. Trade magazines estimate that it costs about $65-70 a square foot for a quartz countertop and installation. Estimating there’s about 36 sq ft of countertop it would be half what the builder wants to charge to get a countertop company to source and install it. I can live without it for a couple years.

On to flooring. This is probably where we spent the vast majority of time. Every room has a flooring option, and you can actually customize them to a certain extent. In the master bath I’d already decided on a tile floor and shower, with 12″ tiles that go to the ceiling, a recessed wall niche that goes all the way around the shower, and two rows of accent tile. I’m still waiting on the price estimate for the wall niche, and the accent tiles (or Listello) are an add-on that will likely come back to bite me in the wallet. Another big budget item that I may or may not keep is the flooring for the kitchen and foyer. For those I selected the 3rd upgrade level wood flooring. It’s a nice engineered product by Bruce, and frankly it will be something that catches the eye. If the price estimate is what I suspect it might be ($5,000 for the kitchen and $2,000 for the foyer) then the kitchen is getting relegated to the standard vinyl just like the first floor hall bathroom, second floor bathroom, and the utility room. It’s not like I can’t replace it in a couple years along with the cabinets and countertops.

At a rough estimate, I figure I’ll probably pay a 100% markup for any upgrade I select, so I need to make sure that the upgrades I do select will have the most impact. The upstairs bathroom is being converted from a bathtub and shower combo to a walk-in shower with an upgraded nickel shower door (standard door looked like some cheap shower door system popular in the 70’s). I also decided to upgrade the master bathroom vanity top, while leaving the remaining bathrooms alone with standard vanity tops. The vanities for all the bathrooms will actually be the same style as the kitchen cabinets. It also appears that the 1st and 2nd floor bathrooms get wall tile, and again I went cheap and selected the standard 6″ tile in Matte Almond (notice a certain pattern).

When I started looking at carpet my mind had sort of reached the end of the line when it came to critical decisions, so I cheaped out and went with the standard carpeting called “Soft Sand”. Again, it just didn’t seem worth the premium it would cost to upgrade. So long as I can get a couple years out of it I’m fine with that.

Finally we got to the exterior, and for that I selected a brick style called Vintage Port, which is a muted red, blue and gray. Only the front of the house gets brick on the first floor, so the rest of the house will be getting Cape Cod Gray, with matching gray trim (careful about that – sometimes the trim is not the same color). There were some other colors like the blue one that I liked, but that was an upgrade and considering how much siding is on this house it would probably be $10-15,000. Considering I won’t be standing outside staring at the siding all the time I can live with it.

I’d probably spent three hours at the design center by this point, so real quickly I knocked out the shutter color and front door color. I’d already decided on a front door with sidelights known by the designation “Roman”. It was mostly rectangles of cut glass with brass inlay in somewhat random geometric patterns, but it instantly appealed to me. I selected Sommelier (a muted but deep red color) for the door, and Burgundy for the shutters. Last but not least I included an option for a rather substantial wood mantel that looked like a railroad tie. For the fireplace surround I chose a thicker rock called Ledgestone Bucktown, although the Ledgestone Pennsylvania looked nice but seemed to consist of smaller and thinner rocks.

By the time I left my feet and back were killing me and my head was pounding. Alas, I have to make another trip to the design center to finalize my choices after the contract is signed, but I’m assured it should only take between one and two hours. The good news is that once I do that, all there is to do is sit back and watch the house go up.

 

July 11, 2017

It’s no secret that I lean heavily on my friend Don for a lot of input and advice, so early in the day I started IMing him while he was still in New Mexico working on a short-term contract. While we were discussing options and I was waffling on pretty much everything I made a very interesting discovery – the gourmet kitchen in the Pinehurst II actually widens that side of the house by two feet. I’d had no idea, and it was just pure happenstance that I discovered it. I had told Don about my (stupid) idea of waiting a few months and then ripping out the cabinets and redoing the kitchen to get it the way I actually wanted and idly clicked on the gourmet kitchen option on the online layout. While Don was justly rebuking me I was only half-listening as I considered the options.

One of the big concerns I had about the gourmet kitchen was that the breakfast nook was basically demolished to make way for the extended island and elongated base cabinets. In fact, there’s only about four feet five inches between the edge of the island and the back door – definitely not enough room for a regular table. But then I had a lightbulb moment – I’ve already got a dining room, and the island is big enough to seat a platoon of Marines. On top of that, the little table I have in my current apartment is only three feet wide even with the leaves extended. Drop them down and it’s only two feet wide. And if I have the sliding door so that the fixed side is on the left nearest the island, while the active slider is on the right-hand side then the issue is moot. Excitedly I told Don about my new discovery and we each considered things.

  • Pro – I get the kitchen I really want.
  • Con – It’s really expensive.
  • Pro – No need to replace the cabinetry
  • Con – It’s really, really expensive
  • Pro – The new layout makes some really nice changes by adding a laundry room and turning the mud room into a separate area from the washer and dryer.
  • Pro – Addition of pantry cabinets and double wall oven and drop-in range
  • Con – I have to make the cuts in the cabinet to install the oven (recent decision if you decide to buy your own appliances. I can live with it).
  • Con – Did I mention that it’s expensive? $15,000 for the kitchen, and $5,000 for the 1st upgrade level of cabinets. Of all the options I selected, this is almost 1/3 the overall cost.
  • Pro – I don’t see any future modifications I’d need to make aside from aesthetic.

Knowing all this I decided to prune my options list with a heavy hand. I removed the following options:

  • Roman-style front door and sidelights – $1,300
  • Oak rail and wrought-iron spindles – $3,500
  • Tile floor in the master bathroom – $725
  • Extended wall tile in master shower to ceiling – $585
  • 1st upgrade level wall tile in master shower – $610
  • 3rd upgrade level wood flooring in kitchen – $3,040
  • 3rd upgrade level kitchen quartz countertop – $6,520

I could knock another $5,000 off the final price if I get rid of the 1st upgrade level cabinets, but in all honestly I really liked the design and stain color. Even after reducing everything but the absolutely essential elements I had to have (not wanted, but necessary for me to even consider buying), the final price came to $292,475. With a 5% down payment the total to be financed is $277,850.

Now it sounds like a lot (and make no mistake, it is), but there is an equally massive unfinished basement that has the main portion 40′ wide and 32′ long, and another section that’s 20′ wide and 25′ long, which is another 1,800 sq ft in a house that is already in excess of 2,100 sq ft.

If I were to divide the total price by the square footage the price is around $136/sq ft, which is a little above average in Ohio. Add in the additional area from the basement and the price drops to $75/sq ft. There are very few older houses I could find with that kind of floor space at that cost per square foot that aren’t 40-50 years old and come with a large number of risks and would likely require additional investment in time and money to make the house work for me. And a third car garage is very difficult to find.

While I initially wanted to stay under $263,000, I can’t say that I’m completely unsurprised that I blew past it. But, I am proud that the final product is likely to be a good value for the money.

 

July 12, 2017

Emailed Susan this morning with the changes I wanted made and she replied that she’d modify the contract on Friday when she gets back in the office. I should mention that Susan is off Wednesdays and Thursdays, so the fact that she even answered my email is very indicative of her commitment. Hell, I can’t even get my mom or sister to get back with me that quickly, so color me impressed.

Anyways, I was a bit bummed out about losing the quartz countertop, but as I was surfing the Internet I saw a tutorial for a butcher block countertop, and that reminded me that I have a bunch of woodworking tools and equipment needed for that type of project, and I’ve always wanted to build one. As I got deeper and deeper into my research I found some videos on epoxy countertops with metallic tints. Now that impressed the hell out of me. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about the countertop now that I’m aware that there are so many alternatives I hadn’t even considered.

Since I signed all my paperwork last night all I’m waiting on now is word from the lender, and Susan let me know she’s sent the Page 1 information to him a little bit ago. I also emailed the lender last night and explained that the price would actually be going down from what was submitted. I’m fairly confident I’ll get the loan approved because of a kick-ass credit score, but the monthly mortgage amount does concern me a tiny bit. Hell, two months ago I was figuring the most expensive house I could afford was in the $150,000 range, and here I am trying to buy one that’s nearly double that. Add in that it’s my very first home, and it’s no wonder my stomach has been upset the last couple days.

I don’t respond well to financial stress, and buying a home is about as stressful as it gets. Fortunately I have my financial ducks in a row, and I’ve got friends and family there to support me when I start to waver and doubt. Historically, when I begin to have second and third thoughts about a decision involving money my first reaction is to shut everything down and go no further until I’ve had time to fully examine every aspect of the deal. For me, there’s no room for emotion in a financial decision, which probably explains why I’m buying my first house at 45, and driving the same truck I bought brand new in 2005. Still, at this point, there’s nothing more for me to do but wait until Friday.

 

July 18, 2017

Mortgage lender visited me at my apartment to go over all the paperwork and have me sign. It only took an hour, and only because I went through the checklist Joe sent a couple weeks ago and emailed him PDFs of all the required documents. Damn, I love modern technology. It also helped matters that, in his words, my credit score was in the .01% of borrowers. This made it easier to extend me credit, plus it reduced the PMI amount and how much my home insurance is predicted to cost. That’s going to save me money in the long run. I freely admit that the loan amount has me freaking out a little – not only is this my first house, but it’s brand new and probably double the amount that I’d ever thought I would be purchasing. A few factors pushed me into pulling the trigger on the house, but even after carefully weighing all the factors that made it a good deal I still consider it something of a risk. If, however, everything goes as expected I’ll be well positioned for a comfortable existence. The key is going to be a careful management of finances, and once everything is said and done I’ll consider going over some of the details for those interested. For now, I’m one step closer to the dream of home ownership.

 

July 19, 2017

The last couple weeks have felt like a whirlwind of activity, especially for someone who lives a relaxed and sedate lifestyle like me. It’s been a week since I signed the initial contract and I received word a few days ago that my paperwork had been approved by the builder and everything signed off. I received a call from the design consultant on Monday arranging for my final design selections and we set an appointment for today. The drive to Blue Ash from Dayton was uneventful, although I was afraid I was going to be late when traffic on 275-E moved at a crawl from the 75-S interchange. Fortunately I arrived with plenty of time thanks to leaving work 30 minutes early.

A word of warning – the design process is going to take time if you are indecisive or trying to customize every option in the house. As I wrote back in July 9th, the initial design choices took nearly 4 hours, and I was picking pretty much all standard options. Don’t expect this huge range of assorted options and colors, and know that anything above the standard options is going to cost you a pretty penny. I intentionally chose base options because I’m a fair hand with tools, I’m not afraid to start tearing up some flooring, and I’m not unfamiliar with installing tile and wood flooring and trim. I also decided against finishing the basement because I’ve got experience in doing it when I helped design and build out the basement of my friend’s house. Frankly, anyone with a willingness to learn and the time to devote several hours on the weekend can finish a basement in a few months – you don’t actually need a nailgun and a ton of tools, but it helps.

Anyways, the second design meeting was where I finalized my initial selections. Some people might take multiple trips, but cost-effectiveness was my driving goal. I only plan on keeping the flooring for a couple years before I have it replaced, so trying to pick the best color and quality wasn’t really my concern. Besides, the markup cost can get pretty high, and there’s a bigger selection and better choices at retail stores. Take the granite countertop I was considering – Inverness wanted $6,500 for it, but I could buy it at Lowes and have it professionally installed for almost half that. The flooring was a bit more problematical, but they still wanted several hundred dollars more than the big box store. Same with the appliance package I was offered – I priced out the same options Inverness was offering and realized I could save almost $1,000 buying them myself. There is the inconvenience of having to install the double oven myself, but I was a delivery driver for Lowes and installed quite a few appliances in my day. Even having to trim the pantry cabinet in order to fit the double oven isn’t worth the $1,000 in my opinion. Others, not quite so handy, or lacking access to the tools I have, might not consider it a high price. To each their own.

Next step is to drop off the remainder of my down payment, then meet in a couple weeks with Guardian Home Technologies, who is the electrical contractor. Salesperson I’m meeting with is going to be sadly disappointed if they expect a big payday from me – if it were permissible I’d give them a couple hundred dollars to let me run my own network wiring. Hell, in a pinch my friend and I can wire the house to code, but I’ll leave that to professionals. Besides, the only thing really important to me is the networking, and my choices are going to reflect that I don’t feel like trying to lay cable into the attic, so likely I’ll have them run a couple electrical outlets and network jacks so I can plug a couple Wireless Access Points in to give me coverage throughout the house and in the backyard. The rest I can do myself, even the fancy stuff Guardian will try to sell me.

 

July 22, 2017

Had a short meeting with Susan regarding some small bits of paperwork that slipped through the cracks, namely a couple change-orders that I’d made a week earlier that were never signed during the contract signing. Also had to choose a dishwasher, which was somehow forgotten in my mad dash for the finish line. And mad dash it was – according to Susan I had smashed the record for going under contract, which had been something like two weeks and a couple days. I did it in 9 days. The key was simple – preparation.

If you’ve read any of my front page posts you’ll know that I am a fiend for organization. I told Susan (and Joe my mortgage lender, and Tim my buyer’s agent) that all I need is a checklist of the paperwork they needed or steps necessary to proceed and I’ll get it done. Inverness HQ didn’t even know how to respond, and that’s why it actually took 9 days. The day I finalized the house plan and the options I wanted I’d emailed Joe with American Financial and told him what I wanted to do. He sent me the link to the loan application, and I had it done that night. From the sounds of it, people didn’t tend to completely fill the applications out correctly. I had all my ducks in a row and the supporting paperwork in place. When Joe asked for documentation it was an avalanche of PDFs from me, rather than a slow trickle. My credit report was pristine, and put me in the top 0.1% of buyers, saving me money on the PMI and homeowner’s insurance. None of it was by accident.

Just a couple days after I signed the contract I was locked in with my design options and tentatively approved for the loan. I also got priority placement for blueprint drafting, actually making it to page 1, which is the first time that Susan has ever seen that. Next up is the meeting with Guardian Home Systems, and then less than a week later I should have my blueprints ready for review. It’s been a whirlwind of activity for me, and I can finally sit back for a moment and enjoy the satisfaction of a major milestone in my life coming one step closer to fruition.

 

Aug 9, 2017

Another short meeting, this time with Guardian Home Services, the electrical sub-contractor for Inverness Homes. Not a whole lot of information, but the rep did give me a few details for consideration. All houses come with five outlets (phone, cable and data all count as one), but there’s the option to buy five more, at about $525. Alarm system, including smoke and carbon dioxide, is free to install, but there’s a monthly maintenance cost to the tune of $45-55 a month. There’s also HDMI installation, whole house vacuum system, and smart home technology.

My needs are actually pretty simple, and what I’m leaning towards is just getting the five lines, but using them all for the annoying locations that would be difficult for me to get to after closing, like the second floor and ceiling. Plan is to put two lines in the ceiling for wireless access points in the front and back of the house. Then I’ll have a data line and cable line run in the loft area and the second floor bedroom. The extra line will run me about $100 or so, and if I upgrade the data lines from Cat 5e to Cat 6, I’m looking at $35-45 a line. Napkin math says I’d owe about $190-210 when construction starts, and I’m fine with that. I was terrified I’d be looking at a bill for several thousand dollars. Fortunately, like I’d said to the rep, running cabling on the first floor when I’ve got access to the basement is trivial. Even though the security system was tempting, the on-going costs and hassle as the price goes up every year (been there, done that with my mom’s house, and I’m not interested) just isn’t worth it in my opinion. And as for trouble in the two-legged form, that’s why I have guns and home owners insurance. And what’s true about networking is equally valid for security systems – it’s not impossible to install high quality cameras and motion sensors if you know how to follow instructions and can run some network cabling. Power over Ethernet makes things incredibly versatile and easy to install

 

Aug 12, 2017

Contacted Susan yesterday and found out that there’s one more lot in front of me for blueprint review. They were able to do two blueprints last week, so I’m hoping they’ll be able to get to me this coming week. Everything appears to be coming together, and faster than I’d expected. If the timeline Inverness provided is correct, approximately 120 days after the meeting I’ll be signing the closing paperwork, which puts us smack-dab in the middle of December. If it holds true, it’ll be the best Christmas gift I’ve gotten since my dad got me a cat on Christmas Eve when I was almost 2 years old. I’m anticipating a January closing, however, so anything sooner is just a bonus.

 

August 31, 2017

Forgot to mention that I have my blueprint review on September 1st, Friend and I went and checked out the lot the day before and found that the layout had been staked out already. My first comment was “holy crap, this is going to be a huge house!”, followed by the panicked realization that I’m going to be building a pretty damn big house. We did some rough math and figured I’d have about 25-28′ from the back of the house to the easement line (30′ from the rear property line) in which to build a pool and surrounding patio, which was pretty close to what I’d estimated would be the case. Extra 15′ of property length turns out to be a smart decision on my part. Still not sure why the easement is so large – most I’ve heard about was like 6-10′ for utilities. As it stands, I lose about 50% of my backyard in which I can’t place anything permanent (like a pool surround for an in-ground pool), however last time I checked a wooden deck isn’t a permanent structure. HOA may disagree, so I need to be cautious about making decisions prior to clearing it with the board.

I got a copy of a photo of the rear elevation of the house, and frankly it surprised the hell out of me about how high up off the ground the rear of the house is going to be. I shouldn’t be surprised, since the property is a “lookout lot”, which means bigger basement windows and a higher percentage of the basement being seen above ground, but I have to reconsider how I’m going to do my entertainment spaces. Initially I was thinking of having 3 or 4 levels of stone steps off the back patio door, but considering the door is now the better part of 8-9′ off the ground I’m going to need to consider installing a deck. That screws up my plans for having a paving stone patio area with grilling area and gazebo for watching sports outside and cooking some meat. It’s still doable, but I need to scale back my original plans to incorporate the new reality.

Looking forward to the plan review, since it officially kicks off the party.

 

September 1, 2017

The blueprint review was spectacular, and the layout and design was almost spot-on what I had anticipated. The house was exactly the width I had estimated (42′ in case anyone was wondering), however I was off on the dimensions of the garage and first bedroom, with the garage actually being deeper than I estimated and the room narrower than estimated. Frankly, I’m glad – the whole purpose in adding a third garage bay was in maximizing that space, so the more the merrier. Now I’ll finally be able to fit my truck inside a garage for the first time since I bought it 12 years ago.

Funny fact: I have never, ever washed my truck once. The only time it does get washed (currently) is when it rains. The paint is bubbling and rust is starting to show above the rear wheel wells after 12 years, so I’m not too broken up by it – considering we spent 27 months and 3 winters in Minnesota, then 9 years and a similar number of winters here in Ohio I think I’ve done alright.

The house was a little deeper than I’d estimated, coming in at 63’4″, while I’d estimated 61’4″. This would have been vexing for placing a pool, but as it turns out there’s only a 10′ easement in the back yard and not 30′ as I had previously thought. I’ve got a whole 20′ extra to work with, which is good, because I’m going to need some of it for a deck off the back of the house. I figure 10’x10′ is a decent deck size, and it still leaves me a huge amount of space to place a pool, concrete or paver patio surround, and patio with gazebo or pergola for the cooking area. Because I didn’t pay to have Inverness build a deck there’s going to be a rail covering the glass slider to render it inoperable, so that’s going to be one of the first outdoor projects I need to undertake. I’d love to build my own, and I’ve got some volunteers lined up already, so that is definitely something I can do in the spring over a couple weekends.

Finally, some good news regarding the space in the back yard – every time I encountered another hassle I became more and more convinced that buying the house was looking like a bad idea.

Of concern, however, is the HOA rules, which says that pools can be installed, but that fences have to be a certain style and are limited to 4′ in height. The style of fence (50% clear, I believe) and height do not meet Fairborn zoning codes, which state that there is to be less than 4″ of open fence spacing, and that it must be between 5′ and 6′ high. Right now this is being hotly discussed by the HOA board, but my interpretation is that since pools are permitted in the guidelines the HOA has to accede to the zoning laws. As long as I stay true to the design intent and get the board’s approval before beginning construction there shouldn’t be an issue.

The review covered a lot of ground, but basically Joe, the construction site manager, plans on breaking ground as early as next week. With no major delays closing is anticipated within 120 days of excavation starting, which should put us at about mid-January. I always anticipate a little slippage, so my estimate is the 1st of February, which works just fine (although sooner would be better).

I’ve already informed Joe that I am a firm believer in bribery, so I intend to be on-site when each stage of construction begins and handing the crews a couple boxes of donuts. I initially thought about handing out some beer, but the liability, not to mention the fact that people prefer different types of beer, was a major point against it. Also, do I really want someone building my house if there’s a possibility they might be inebriated? So donuts it is. Everyone loves donuts, and starting the day off with a burst of fried, doughy, sugary goodness is sure to brighten anyone’s day.

 

September 6, 2017

Word came to me that excavation has been scheduled to start September 18th. Going by the rough timeline of events, if everything goes perfectly I’m looking at a mid-January closing. Nothing ever goes perfectly in construction, so more likely I can close on the house and move in around the beginning of February. Not ideal, but so long as I can get out of my apartment before the 1st of the month I’ll be happy. I’d need to nail down the exact date I’ll be able to move in so I can give the requisite 30 day notice, but more than likely I’ll keep the apartment until March 1st so that in the event something does go wrong I won’t be caught with my ass cheeks flapping in the breeze with nowhere to live temporarily.

 

September 23, 2017

Turns out I was slightly wrong in when excavation was going to begin. Turns out what was said was “the week of the 18th”. The way Inverness does things Tuesday is when the site manager gets the checks for zoning permits, and then he goes to the zoning office to file the building permits the next day. Joe apparently went above and beyond, because excavation started on Wednesday late morning or early afternoon. I drove by Wednesday evening to find my lot dug out. I was beyond ecstatic. Unfortunately in discussions with Joe via email he expressed certain reservations with me bringing out donuts, not the least that my plan of dropping them off with him would take time out of his schedule, which is already packed. Sorry guys, no donuts. Last thing I want to do is bump Joe’s elbow, so I dropped the idea. Since only Joe knew what I thought about doing, there shouldn’t be any hard feelings.

Here’s one of the shots I took:

This is a shot from the southern corner of the lot facing the location where the kitchen will be. The far right edge of the picture is the edge of the garage. As I previously mentioned the lot is called a “Lookout” lot, which means the back of the house will be a lot higher above grade than either of the sides or the front. Unfortunately I couldn’t change the elevation, and in order to get as much lot as I could I had to make some sacrifices. I can live with it, and a deck overlooking the backyard and pool area could be pretty cool.

The hits didn’t stop coming, however. I wanted to get some more pictures of the lot, so imagine my surprise when I stopped by on Friday and found out the footers for the house had been poured on Thursday. Apparently there’s a part of the code that requires footers to be poured within a certain timeline to prevent the ground from airing out, otherwise the builder has to compact the soil before pouring.

Here are a couple of the pictures:

Those two little concrete pads are where the steel posts are going to sit to support the steel beam that runs from left to right. The larger pad behind them supports the center of the house structure as well as the stairs. In the second photo you can see the footer for the garage. It doesn’t look like much, but that thing runs thirty feet or so, and extends to the left about twenty-one feet. The garage is going to be massive, just like I wanted. Basement isn’t going to be insignificant either.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I’m fairly certain nothing will happen for the next week or so while we wait for the footers to finish curing and the building inspector to approve them. I’m not exactly sure what the next stage is, but it’s either the plumbing rough-in for the basement, or the pouring of the walls. Either way, I’ll be paying a visit to the job site every day from here on out. It’s not anxiousness or impatience, but rather along the lines of preventative maintenance – by checking things out I’ll be able to spot issues of concern before they become a time-consuming mess to repair. It’s not a knock on Joe, who I have absolute confidence will spot things before I do and already have a plan on fixing them. Joe is a professional, but he’s also building several houses at the same time. Additionally, he doesn’t have to live in the house. If I’m paying top dollar, I’m going to get my money’s worth. Two sets of eyes see far more than one.

 

 

Sept 27, 2017

Whew! That was a fast turnaround. I popped in today expecting to see the drain tiles connected but not much else, so I was quite surprised to see aggregate down and forms (mostly) up. And while I was taking pictures the construction supervisor pulled up to say hello. We spoke for a couple minutes and I finally got around to asking him about the next steps. There will be an inspection tomorrow of the form for correct positioning and to confirm everything meets code, and by tomorrow afternoon the concrete should be poured. The walls will need a few days to set, and then a couple more to cure (i.e. harden), and due to the way Greene County does things the dirt needs to be back-filled around the walls before approval to do plumbing rough-in is allowed to proceed.

Hopefully by the middle of next week they’ll be set to pour the basement floor, which will cure for a week or so and, once approval is given, they can start framing.

Framing has gotten interesting over the past couple decades, with more and more developers using a building style called panel wall construction. Traditionally what happened was carpenters would use blueprints to start building sections of a wall and then raising them and anchoring them in place. Rinse and repeat until the entire first floor was framed, slap on trusses or floor joists for a second floor, sheath the entire house with plywood, rigid polystyrene insulation, or OSB (orientated strand board), and then wrap the whole thing with a weather-proofing material like Tyvek to slow the movement of air from inside to outside and outside to inside, thus helping create a thermal barrier. Depending on the number of carpenters, their skill level, and the size of the house, it could take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to finish “stick framing” a house. But large-scale developers had been watching what modular home builders were doing and trying to figure out how to incorporate elements of pre-built manufacturing to reduce costs (and increase margins) and improve both accuracy and speed.

Back in 1999 when I worked at Wolohan Lumber we actually were on the cutting edge of panel wall construction and built a panel plant to crank pre-built walls out like gangbusters. There’s a community off Colonel Glenn Highway across from Wright Patterson AFB called The Properties at Wright Field. I don’t remember exactly how many houses, townhomes and garden apartments are located there (at least 600, and maybe a lot more), but every single one of them is panel wall construction. Wolohan Lumber had bought 100,000 sheets of 7/16″ OSB right before China started buying the entire yearly output of whole mills and shipping it overseas, as the company had accurately predicted that the supply was going to dry up and the cost going to skyrocket. Also, we were going to need them for the Wright Field project and we liked having everything on-hand when the ink on the contract was signed. I think we paid $2/sheet, and a year later I managed to sell about 200 sheets for $20/each to a really desperate Lowe’s manager. There are a number of other developments (20 or so) in the Dayton area built by Oberer Homes/Gold Key Realty that were also built using panel wall construction supplied by Wolohan Lumber. I would estimate the number of houses we delivered wall panels for to easily reach several thousand.

Homes are built with standard measurements. Walls are 16″ OC (on center), and are typically 84″ high. Code requires wall and roof sheathing to be 7/16″ thick, and floor sheathing to be 3/4″ T&G (tongue and groove). Load-bearing walls must have a double top plate, and any opening generally needs to have two 2x12s bracing up the top of the opening to carry any load. With a blueprint a CAD drafter sits down and creates a wall plan. Each wall has a plan broken down by section, and each section is built and stacked in a specific order, with the first sections to be used loaded on top (and subsequently the last to be finished). At the job site a forklift takes the sections off a delivery truck and sets them down close to their designated use area. I’ve literally dropped a two-story house wall panel off at a job site on a Monday morning, and by Friday afternoon the framing was done and roof trusses and roof sheathing were going on while the house was getting wrapped with weather-proofing fabric. And believe it or not, the carpenters were taking it slow.

One drawback to using panel wall construction is that it doesn’t work well for custom homes. Large developers have a limited number of house plans and options, so while the entire combination can easily run to a hundred or so pages, it’s still within reason to create certain standard sections, reducing the number of drawings the CAD drafter needs to create. With custom homes that all goes out the window. Then again, custom homes also cost a crap ton of money primarily because they are, yes, custom. For those you need a skilled crew of carpenters, whereas panel wall construction just requires one or two guys who can read drawings and 4 more guys who can put together a house like they were assembling IKEA furniture (i.e. Section C5 goes in the corner, and C6, C7, C8 and C9 are laid out in sequence and secured into place).

As a reward for reading the giant wall of text here are a couple shots from the site.

 

Oct 3, 2017

I met with the Guardian Homes Services rep and dropped off the initial part of the payment required for the selections I made regarding data and cable outlets. Rather than bother with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors I chose to not have anything like that installed, primarily because I didn’t feel like getting locked into a contract for 3-4 years, and secondly because I can build a kickass security system for less than it would cost for the monitoring. What I did go for was the base five outlet installation that comes as part of the builder’s package. I selected two data outlets and three cable outlets, all on the second floor or in areas that would be difficult for me to run cable, or (as in the case of the cable jack in the great room) because it would be beneficial from day one after moving in. I’ve got a cable jack in the upstairs bedroom, the loft area, and in the great room. I’ve got a data jack in the loft area in the ceiling for a wireless access point and another in the second bedroom on the exterior wall. The incoming data line from the street, as well as the two data lines, are all being upgraded to 10Gb Cat 6 for future-proofing.

I also stopped in to view the lot and found the forms for the basement walls have been removed. Hopefully in the next couple days the walls will get their waterproofing membrane spread on, and after that cures the excavators can move in and backfill around the basement and start grading the dirt, and that should give me a better idea of the general shape of the yard to come.

Once the backfilling is done the plumbers should come in and do the plumbing rough-in (the first of several trips), which will then be followed by an inspection. Once the work passes inspection the basement slab can be poured. I suspect, but haven’t asked, that the steel beams and metal support posts will go in before the basement slab is poured, and once the concrete sets they’ll smooth it down. After it’s had a chance to cure they’ll cut the stress relief lines to control cracking. After that it should be just a couple weeks before carpenters get started on erecting the frame of the house. My hope is to have the house sealed and weatherproofed by November. Hopefully the temperature will co-operate and stay mild for the next couple months, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s just a feeling, but I have a suspicion that this Fall and Winter might be a bit of a pain in the ass.

Here’s a couple more shots of the walls without the forms:

 

Oct 4, 2017

I’m just a tad bit stunned by how quickly things are starting to progress. Yesterday the waterproofing was sprayed on, and today a bunch of gravel was dropped off for the driveway and for backfilling the garage and around the basement walls. Joe stopped by for a word and he informed me that the waterproofing inspection is tomorrow, and once that’s approved he can start the backfill around the basement, which he anticipates having done on Friday. Unfortunately all the county inspectors are going to be at a conference Friday, so the earliest he can get the plumbing rough-in inspection done is Monday. The moment that’s done he’s planning on pouring the basement slab, and by Monday afternoon he should have the steel beams and support posts installed and ready for framing.

I knew that building could be done fast, but this feels like events are moving at warp speed – I honestly was not expecting framing to start until late October, so running three weeks ahead of my anticipated schedule is fantastic. I’m feeling like Inverness is busting their butts to do something special for me, but in truth it’s probably a matter of luck, fortuitous timing, and rigorous scheduling all complemented by a huge increase in efficiency and productivity in the twelve years since I’ve been involved in residential construction.

I’ve got a meeting with the electrical sub-contractor to go over the electrical plan and add whatever final touches I need (such as additional wall outlets). I did a rough estimate and I’m hoping to keep the price under $750. I’m looking at installing a brushed nickel floor outlet in the great room, a 110-volt outlet for the pantry closet in the kitchen, an outlet in each of the six closets in the house, three recessed shower lights, and by special request of my mom, an electrical outlet for a bidet seat in the upstairs bathroom. Apparently my aunt convinced mom that it was a must-have feature in a new home. I think it’s crazy, but the Europeans love it and who the hell am I to refuse when it’s just $40?

And after discussing things over with my mom I’ve decided to delay installing a pool for a year. It was somewhat disappointing that everyone I’ve spoken with about building the house and installing a pool were pretty much in universal agreement that it would be a smart idea to wait.

In celebration of the milestone of having the basement plumbing rough-in done I proudly present my basement, first floor and second floor drawings, created using Google Sketch Up.

 

Oct 5, 2017

Apparently I’m really bad with dates. I’d scheduled an electrical plan review for October 4th, thinking it was a Thursday, so when I showed up at the meeting I found out I’d screwed things up. Fortunately it wasn’t a time-critical meeting, and the reviewer didn’t have anything scheduled.

In preparation for this meeting my friend and I spent a good portion of the morning in Google Hangouts working out where to place the Home Wiring Enclosure for cable and internet, finally deciding on the space directly across from the electrical panel in the basement. It was initially going to be placed under the stairs as it was a centralized location, but considering the type of stuff I do I didn’t feel like taking up that space when there was a more convenient one that worked better. With the enclosure placed across from the electrical panel it’s also a lot easier for the electricians to run a conduit from the basement into the attic, and it’s my intent to put a server rack next to it.

The meeting took about 45 minutes, and I’d already added locations for additional receptacles I wanted to add – one in the great room floor, one in the oven cabinet in the kitchen, one in the exterior wall of the garage, one in the upstairs bedroom closet, one at the top of the stairs, and one in the upstairs bathroom. I added a recessed shower light in the 1st floor bathroom and another in the upstairs bathroom. I also added an additional switch in the kitchen to control the mudroom lights so I wouldn’t need to go back to the door to the garage to turn them off. I also added a switch to control the exterior lights in the garage. And finally I added a conduit from the basement to the attic. I anticipate the total cost will be around $800, but could be as high as $1000.

 

Oct 6, 2017

Stopped by the lot after work and found the heavy equipment at work grading the lot. Joe had spoken with the equipment operator earlier in the day and mentioned that I was planning on installing a pool, so special attention was taken to prep the ground in the back of the lot to get it nice and level while still allowing a slight grade to direct water towards the catch basin to the west of the lot. The hardest part of all of it was dealing with the south corner of the house – the lot drops down from the side yard to the back by several feet, and making it a gradual slope rather than a steep decline was somewhat challenging. Of course, this was just the first of several grading jobs, so the ground will get more compact and have softer slopes as construction proceeds.

Another sign of progress is seeing the steel I-beams and support posts in place. As always, I took a couple pictures to mark the ocassion:

Monday is Columbus Day, however Joe lost a day due to weather and the fact that a number of his subs are taking the day off as well, so the earliest I can expect to get the basement slab poured is on Tueday, possibly Wednesday. Unfortunate, but it is what it is. By my mental calculations I’m still two, maybe two-and-a-half weeks ahead of my own schedule. I expect slippage once the weather starts turning more Fall-like, but hopefully the framing will go up and the roof on before bad weather (especially rain) kicks in and turns the job site into a giant pile of suck. Which reminds me – I need some boots.

In other good news the other corner lot adjacent to mine has apparently been purchased. I noticed stakes in the ground today, so in about 6-8 weeks it looks like one of the two neighboring lots will be getting a house. I’m curious when someone will pull the trigger and buy the other lot – it’s either a walk-out basement lot, or a lookout lot like mine. It’s deep – 150′ just like mine, but just under 60′ wide. There’s already a house being built on the other side of it, so I imagine the maximum width house they’d be able to put on the lot would be, at most, 50-55′. I can’t help but think a 2-story house would be too much to pack in there, but since 3 of the 5 houses in the cul-de-sac are 2-story homes it’s a safe bet the next door lot might be hosting one as well.

 

Oct 13, 2017

Alas, Ohio weather sucks, and in order to pour the basement slab there needs to be a 24-hour period without precipitation. There were a few days when it looked like raid but didn’t, and a few days that started off beautifully and turned soggy real fast. Today was the best day of the week, but it still wasn’t good enough. But, next week looks like it might work. There’s rain in the forecast for Sunday, and while temperatures are supposed to be in the 60’s, the week should also be pleasantly sunny and dry. I think the construction site foreman was also holding off until he had a framing crew available, and from the looks of it one crew just finished framing a house a little ways down the street. Crossing my fingers that the pour happens Monday. Feeling really positive as well, since there was sufficient lumber to build out the rear basement wall on the job site when I drove by this evening.

Once the rear basement wall is built and the basement poured the framers can get to work installing floor joists and the first floor deck. And once the deck is down the first floor wall paneling can get put up. My hope is to have the walls erected and roof sheathing on before the end of the month. November would then be the month when the HVAC, electrical, plumbing and insulation get installed, with December and January the point where all finish carpentry, drywall, paint, flooring and touch-up gets done. I’m hoping that the stars will align and everything slots smoothly into place so that closing takes place closer to January 1st rather than February 1st, but so long as I have sufficient time to move out of my apartment I don’t care what the actual date is.

 

Oct 18, 2017

Yesterday was yet another milestone – the basement and garage slabs were poured in the morning, and hopefully by Friday the framers will be able to get started on putting up the rear wall to fully enclose the basement. I haven’t spoken with the construction supervisor, but I’m hoping that the first floor deck will go down on Monday and framing of the first floor walls begins. If I use the other nearby houses being framed as a measuring stick, it should be about two weeks to get the first floor and loft (i.e. second floor) framed, a day to lift up the trusses and nailed into place, and then two more days to nail down the roof sheeting and tar paper. Another three to four days (max) for shingles. So sometime around November 10th the house should be getting close to weather-tight.

It’s hard to not be excited about what having the basement poured represents, but at the same time I sort of feel disassociated from the whole thing. When the footings were first dug I was excited as hell, but as this process continues it’s more routine than excitement. In many ways it’s akin to buying your first brand-new car – those first couple weeks driving it you love getting in and getting hit with that new car aroma, but after a few months the novelty has worn off, and after a couple years it’s just a car. Imagine getting to watch your car being built. You get hit by that feeling every time it moves forward on the assembly line, and after awhile it’s difficult to muster the same energy and enthusiasm as that first day. It’s possible that I’m being overly critical as well – I noticed yesterday at the end of the day that there was a crack in the basement slab about five feet long. It was just a hairline fracture, but seeing it there is sort of like someone tripping you as you’re walking blithely down the sidewalk. Additionally, the third garage bay section isn’t exactly square and looks to be an inch or two out of place. It probably won’t make a difference structurally, but I’m a perfectionist and if something is supposed to be straight and true then dammit – it should be straight and true.

In this particular case the mistake is on me – I could have mentioned it to the construction supervisor and had him reassure me or whatever, but I didn’t want to jostle his elbow and piss him off, potentially annoying him enough that my house loses whatever priority it had and started getting put at the end of the list for crews. I do recall at the pre-construction meeting that Joe said that it was extremely likely that he would spot and already have on his list for repair any defects I might spot. I’m taking him at his word, so hopefully it won’t come back and bite me on the ass.

 

Oct 18, 2017 Part 2

That was fast, and completely unexpected. Arrived at the job site this afternoon to find the first floor lumber package delivered, along with the panels. It might look like chaos, but the location of the materials was carefully selected.

If you recall, I mentioned that each panel was built according to a very specific design and loaded in a particular order. Here’s a shot of a couple of the panel skids, and you’ll note that they each have a letter and number designation. I never saw the design, so I’m not sure what the letter indicates, although it might be something as simple as compass orientation, i.e E, W, N, S.

From the looks of things framing isn’t going to be in a couple days, but likely beginning on Thursday! Forget what I mentioned earlier about finding it hard to get excited – this has got me pretty damn jazzed. It’s entirely possible, although not very likely, that the house could be weather-tight before the end of the month, and for me the sooner that happens the better. I’d rather avoid having the house open and subject to periods of rain if at all possible to avoid, and the easiest way to do that is get the walls up and the roof on before the more miserable part of Fall kicks in. Also, getting the house weather-tight before things get sloppy allows the other trades to move along pretty quickly. Rain gear and bulky warm-weather clothes make every task more difficult and exhausting, further slowing things down.

I’m almost sorry I have to head to Nebraska this weekend since I’m going to miss some of the most exciting aspects of building the house, but fortunately my friend is going to stop by on Friday to take a couple progress shots.

 

Oct 21, 2017

I was wrong. Friend called to tell me no progress has been made on the house. Apparently my initial prediction of Monday being the start date for framing was the correct one (maybe – at this point it could be another week or two before they get started). Fingers are crossed that the framing gets started on Monday. I’m going to stick with my estimate of two weeks for the framing to be completed, trusses installed, and roof sheeting nailed down. That puts us as November 3rd, and allowing another week to install windows and doors and housewrap we’re up to November 10th (Columbus Day, Federal Holiday, so likely no work then either).

Weather’s been freaky even for Ohio, although current predictions are for a mild, wet winter. I’d almost prefer snow rather than rain, because that’s easy to sweep up.

 

Oct 25, 2017

Monday was a waste of time due to the weather. Apparently the rain, gusts of wind, and cool temperatures decided to follow me back from Omaha, Nebraska. I was pretty much expecting this entire week to be a loss, but to my surprise there were framers working on the rear basement wall on Tuesday.

Progress is being made rather swiftly, as 24 hours later the basement is enclosed, floor trusses are in, floor sheeting is down, and walls are going up.

Sorry about the crappy shots, but I promised the construction supervisor that I wouldn’t bug the contractors or get in their way if they were on-site working. I’ll be taking closer, more detailed pictures this weekend, and hopefully they’ll have stairs in to go down into the basement, but I suspect that won’t be done until next weekend. Progress, however, is progress. I’m not going to complain if things are moving along.

 

Oct 26, 2017

The house is freaking HUGE! I mean, I knew intellectually after I stared for hours on end at the designs that the house was rather sizable, but it’s not until the walls start going up that you begin to appreciate the sheer size of something. When I stopped in this afternoon the first floor walls were pretty much complete and the framers were working on the second floor sheeting. If I were a betting man I’d take the odds that the second floor walls get done tomorrow and trusses start getting raised into place.

I’m totally psyched at the sudden site transformation – a little over one month ago they’d just dug the foundation out, and now there’s the definite shape of a house coming together. It seemed like everything was moving at a sluggish pace, but in retrospect it’s flying along.

The only thing that makes this painful is not being able to set up a webcam and record the action. If I didn’t know for a fact that it would be stolen 30 minutes after I installed it I would totally consider it. But since I do know the webcam would walk away, I’m not going to get too bothered by it. I think instead I’ll put one up for when I have the pool installed – that could be pretty cool.

 

October 28, 2017

Eastern exposure view

Southern exposure view

Northern exposure view

View from Dining Room into Great Room

 

It’s all coming together now, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time (I hope). If the framers had gotten to work on Thursday of last week as I’d hoped, it’s entirely possible that the house would be semi-weather proof now. Good news, however, is that give it another two days max and the roof sheeting will be in place and tar paper laid down. Slap on some shingles and the interior sections are, for the most part, dry. Bad news is that, as the pictures indicated, stormy weather is coming.

I woke up this morning to watch snow flurries coming down, and if the weather service is right that will rapidly transition to rain.

I hate rain.

I spent far too many years making lumber deliveries to enjoy rain and the subsequent mud it causes on job sites. Your clothes get caked with the shit, you’re cold, wet, and tired. Just walking becomes a major task, let alone while carrying products around. And lord help you if you get sent out to pick up excess lumber – it will be buried in the mud and caked with the mess. An even more miserable combination is on a day like today when it’s raining and in the high-30s.

I don’t miss that at all.

Still, excitement is starting to peak as the shape comes into focus and the most obvious symbolism that SOMETHING IS GOING ON works its way to completion. But as thrilled as I am about the interior of the house, the one thing that dominated my attention was the garage – it’s freaking enormous. And the best part is it’s all mine. Three bays, and something like 620 sq ft of space. The last bay will be my workshop and storage area, and I’m already planning which tools I want to buy first. There will be an air compressor, along with a drill press and work benches, but I’d also like to put a table saw, planer/joiner, band saw, router table, and miter saw in the space. But before I do any of that I need to put down an epoxy coating to seal the floor against paint and stains. So much to do! Time to get back to planning.

Okay, I’ve just about reached the max size on this particular page, so I’m going to start a new page to document the next couple stages of construction.