Monday, October 29, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 23 - Flooring Nears Completion

Sometimes when you get to the end of the week, you can feel either elated at all that happened or disappointed in all that didn't happen.  This week is a mixture of both, I would say.  Jay thinks we are stalling out - I say we continue to plod on.  What I don't say is our ending date with any certainty.  We will try to be in by the end of the year.  Any sooner than that and I say it is a bonus, any later and that is just the way it is.  We WILL be done before we move it and that is the most important thing.  Though Jay is wavering on that!  :)

Monday I continued to install the flooring on the second floor.  Mr.W helped to transition out of each doorway and into the hall so I could keep on my merry way! 

While I was doing that, Jay was installing the hardware for the garage doors and Mr.W was painting casings.  He has such a slick system painting them and then drying them on a drying rack Jay made.  Painting casings goes so much faster when you spray them (even if we do use more paint).

Tuesday was a repeat of Monday.  Enough said.  Plus the rain continues to fall, making the yard a gross mucky mess.

Wednesday morning the chalk lines for the "tiles" on the basement floor were snapped.  Took Mr.W a few hours to finish it all but it was so important.  Since we put floor heat into the basement, the most efficient use of that heat is to leave the floor bare - no carpets or flooring of any kind.  That looks kinda boring though so I wanted 18" tiles cut into the floor before we stained the floor.  If I would have been there when they were snapping lines, I would have said 24" would have been fine - there are a lot of lines!  But my dear husband, who loves me so much, spent 1 1/2 days cutting those lines into the concrete to create the tile look.  He placed a 2x4 on the line, stood a 2x4 up on the one on the floor and wedged it between the wood on the floor and the ceiling joists to ensure that guide board wouldn't move.  Then he ran a circular saw with a concrete cutting blade in it along that board and cut those lines.  Over and over he moved the guide board and cut the lines.  He also cut a 7" border all around the perimeter of each of the rooms.  It took a lot of work and he was so terribly dusty when he was done but the floor looks so good.  Now we just need to stain it. 

While he was in the basement, I continued on the flooring and finished up the little girl's room, the closets in Pepe and RJ's rooms and I finished up the hall.  I tend to have little helpers or entertainers while working.  Today these ones kept me company for a while.  At times they were beating each other with the blue foam underlay but it was gentle and full of laughter.  They are some crazy kids and I love spending time with them.  They are looking forward to moving into their finished rooms just as much as we are!

Thursday and Friday I wasn't at the site working at all .  I promised my kids that I would stay home on Thursday afternoon so they could invite fellow home school friends over and what a full house we had.  8 extra kids came over so we had a super full house of fun!  While I was here with the kids, Jay continue to cut the basement floor and finished it off.   Mr.W was gone for the rest of the week so it was just Jay working and that always causes him to think things aren't getting done.  They are, I promise they are!
Friday I was gone from the site again but this time I was running around getting stuff for the house - lighting, the correct length rods for the garage doors (they sent the wrong length), cold air returns grills, etc.  That took me all afternoon so I didn't work at the house at all.

Throughout the week I also spent hours researching the differents way to stain the basement floor, which system is the best and which supplies are available to me locally.  I finally figured out what I want to use and where I can by it from.  I will be placing an order soon.  I am excited to do it - after all my research, I am confident we will make that floor beautiful.  We just need to decide on a color.  I also spent time researching how to make concrete countertops, what supplies I would need for those and where to get that stuff.  I have figured it all out and even went to see a countertop at a friend's house.  They had a professional company make theirs and it isn't perfect but it is beautiful.  It is giving me the confidence I need to know that we can make beautiful countertops, too.

Saturday we were back on site and Jason worked on landscaping.  The rains have finally stopped and the ground is drying up/freezing due to the temperatures falling at night.  That makes it ideal to move around dirt without making a big mess.  He moved more dirt in front of the house to build up the area in front of the porch and in front of the garage.  Then he moved more dirt on the driveway so we would be able to drive into the garage.  We know that the final landscaping won't happen this year but it does need to be in decent shape for winter.  While he was working outside, I was finishing up the flooring in the last bedroom and installing a couple more lights.  The lounge and office are the only rooms without flooring upstairs and that is because the office is the spray booth and the lounge has the finished painted casings in it for now.  When I look at the flooring color in relation to the paint color, I am thrilled with how well they go together.  This is especially thrilling considering I didn't have the flooring with me when I picked paint colors and I didn't have the paint colors when I picked the flooring.  I have just been going with what I love and so far that is working!  I look forward to this week and seeing the casings going on the walls and maybe even hanging some doors.

I also found an absolutely gorgeous piece of french provincial furniture (buffet & hutch) to use as storage in my craft room.  My sweet hubby approved the purchase and will pick it up later this week - I cannot wait to see it in person. 

Yet again, today I will not be at the site due to orthodontist appointments but I can always make up for it in the evenings, right?  After all, who needs sleep?  :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 22 - A Mini-Vacation and the Flooring Begins

A few weeks ago Jay and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by me working late at the house and Jay hanging out at home putting the kids to bed.  When I came home Jay had planned a romantic meal of macaroni and cheese by candlelight.  I nixed that and pulled out some lovely seasoned fish from the freezer which we quickly baked and ate that with rice instead.  Only slightly more romantic.  I really wanted to go away somewhere, just the 2 of us for a couple of days.  That wasn't happening.  Then we were told both by Mr.W and by our drywall crew that we really do need to go away.  When homeowners build a home themselves and transition from the rough construction to the finish work, it is important to get away, reconnect and re-energize for the next phase of the journey.  So early this week Jay and I left town for 2 days and it.was.wonderful!  We went back to the same place we spent our 10 year anniversary - Falcon Trails Resort.  That place holds such an attraction to me - quaint little cottages nestled amongst the rocks and trees facing the lake.  It is beautiful and peaceful with no distractions.  Jay and I canoed for hours, hiked, watched movies, relaxed in the hot tub, ate way too much food and laughed and laughed and laughed.  We left after lunch on Monday and arrived back home after lunch on Wednesday - a quick 48 hours.  I cannot wait until we can go back again. 

On Monday before we left, the blow-in insulation guys came to blow the ceiling full of insulation.  What a difference an insulated ceiling makes in the temperature of the house.  It is really comfortable in there with the temperature hovering around 16-17C.  Remember, as of yet, we still have no heat in the house.  And we have hardly used the fireplace since the insulation went in.  When the heat stays trapped inside instead of leaving out the roof, it stays warmer much longer.  Also before we left, Jason received numerous loads of large gravel to cover the driveway.  Lately we have been receiving rain so the clay driveway is a mucky mess.  The rocks certainly help.  Now if only it would stop raining so the mucky mess of the yard can dry up (and I say that completely selfishly since I know the year has been dry and the farmers welcome this moisture.  For their sake, I am truly thankful.). Plus, Mr.W put the last pieces of siding on the front of the house.  It is looking so very fantastic!  Do you see those little roof returns up by the peaked window?  He also did those and they are perfect!

Also before we left Monday, I made a phone call to the same business from which I bought our full fridge/full freezer and asked to buy our stove!!  I had found the stove last week Friday but since it is a business that specializes in scratch & dent, the stove doesn't have a door . . . yet.  Once it is all back to new condition, it will be mine.  It is an Electrolux Icon Dual Fuel 30" Range and I am super pumped to call it ours!  It retails for about $4500-$4700 but because it is a scratch and dent, I will pay about 60% less!  I call that a deal worth taking!

Thursday when we went back to the house to work, we started standing up the doors in the office.  The easiest way to paint the interior doors is to spray paint them.  The easiest way to spray paint them is to stand them up.  We nailed small pieces of wood to the tops of the doors to hold them together in a giant ongoing "W" shape.  We have left the office unpainted exactly so we can use it as the spray paint booth for the second floor.  The space is large and convenient and is working really well.  Friday Mr.W put on the first coat of paint and early on Saturday he did the second coat.  Those doors are now done!  Now to paint the 800+ linear feet of casings!  :) 

We also "installed" the garage doors!  I say "installed" because it is a rough installation with all the track and hardware still needing to go on but for now they are in place and keeping the house safe and warm.

While the guys were doing other work on Friday, I started installing the laminate flooring. 

I stayed late on Friday night and finished up 2 bedrooms and 1 hall closet.  It takes a bit of forethought to ensure all the flooring lines up in the hall but Mr.W is really good at helping us figure it out.  We snapped a line in the hall and used it as a reference point so we would know how each bedroom and closet would relate to that line.  RJ's bedroom is the room which determines the spacing just because of where her closet is in her room.  So all the flooring needs to align with the flooring in her room and the chalk line helps us to adjust all the other rooms.  It is working really well . . . so far.  The flooring we are installing is a German-made product that we bought months ago and have had here in the garage since then.  We brought it into the house last week to acclimate a bit.  It is a grey color but in each room it looks so different depending on the color of the paint in the room.  I have figured out exactly how to handle it so it doesn't break and exactly how it goes together so I will take upon myself to install all the laminate.  On Saturday I continued installing and completed about 1/2 the master bedroom and then started on all the transitions from each room/closet to the hall.   Agh.  The transition from Pepe's room to the hall is perfect as is the hall closet.  The transition from RJ's room to the hall is off by about 1/16" - that may seem tiny but with laminate flooring it is the difference between clicked together or not.  I am not sure if I need to adjust the flooring in the hall closet or in RJ's room but I am sure we will get it all figured out on Monday.  By midnight on Saturday I was done.

With all the rainy days we have been having, the installation of the Geo-thermal system and the septic system has been put on hold for a bit.  I am okay with that.  I am just glad to know we have people lined up to do both of those and they will get done.  The unknown is the part that always bothers me - I can handle the waiting if I know it will happen.

Finally today I ordered the 3 different wallpapers I want in the house.  Graham & Brown was having a 25% off sale so I made sure to order them now.  I know they will transform the areas in which I want them and I am excited to see them up on the walls.

And that wraps up the week.  With the painting (mostly) done and the flooring going in, it is really starting to feel like a house!  :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 21 - Better Late Then Never?

So, if you are keeping up with me, Week 21 ended a whole week ago and I have yet to blog about it.  Honestly, at this point, it is hard to remember what we did.  But I will try.  Paint.  I painted a lot.  I finished painting the second floor, actually (well, besides 2 small closets that I am content to leave for now).  Let me do a little calculating to figure out just how many square feet of wall space I painted - well, it is just under 10 000 sq. ft of wall space painted.  Oh, that is just one coat.  Times that by 2.  Ugh.  Actually, I quite enjoyed the time.  It was so quiet because most of the time I was by myself in the evenings.  It was rather peaceful.  And I am completely loving the colors!  That is helpful, too!  I finished up the orange in Pepe's room and added the charcoal on the lower half - oh, my.  Is his room ever going to look soooo good!  So grown up!  I promise to post photos when the electrical is brought into the house. 

The guys continued to work hard on the siding!  The west side is complete, the back is complete, the front is almost done and they are working on the garage side. 

They also worked on the curved openings for the garage doors.  I love the look it adds to that side of the house.

Since work is going to start happening in the basement, the basement stairs were built.  It is much easier to climb stairs than it is to climb a ladder.  Safer, too!

The most exciting part was the fact the kitchen cabinets were moved into the house!!  The lower cabinets were set in place in the kitchen so we can start thinking about the concrete counter tops we want to build.  It is so cool to see the cabinets in their spots, even if they are still covered with plastic.

Our flooring also arrived in North Dakota, in the border town where we intend to pick it up sometime in the next couple of weeks.  From the time I ordered it from the Georgia company to the time it arrived in ND was only 12 days!  I think that is great timing and I will certainly let you know all about the company once I actually have the flooring.

The rest of the week is a bit of a blur since I wasn't actually on site on Friday having to take AJ to another doctor's appointment followed by grocery shopping.  It ended up taking most of the day so I didn't work at all.  Saturday we spent all afternoon on site but instead of working on the house, we were cutting firewood and stacking it.  The kids were fantastic helpers, throwing the wood on daddy's truck and catching rides in the back across the yard just to throw the wood off again.  Pepe loved splitting the larger pieces with the axe and AJ really enjoyed stacking the wood neatly. 

They were such troopers, never complaining once.  And now we have a couple of nice stacks of wood.  We really aren't sure how much we will need for the winter but I guess we will find out this year.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 20 - Yucky Weather = Little Work

Um, ya.  So, we tried working this week.  We really did.  And we did accomplish some things.  I taught school during the mornings and arrived onsite early afternoon and continued painting.  This week I was able to complete the hall upstairs, the master bath and the first coat of the master closet (at which point I ran out of that color) and the first coat of the kid's bathroom.  But we had stuff up on Monday and Tuesday night so that meant shorter working days for me.  Then Wednesday came and I wanted to work long into the evening painting.  And I did.  Sort of.  I was painting the kids bathroom upstairs, a halogen lamp providing the light and a heater providing some warmth.  The time was creeping close to 11pm and I needed to get home so Jay could leave and be a chicken farmer.  And then, mid-roller stroke, it happened.  The power went out.  I was standing in a pitch black room holding a paint roller in my hand wondering what to do next.  I seriously had only about 3 feet of wall left to paint but I couldn't see my hand in front of my face, nevermind the wall.  So I carefully found the paint tray and put the roller back.  In the dark.  I carefully found the doorway without touching the freshly painted walls.  In the dark.  I carefully stumbled my way through the hall and down the stairs and tried hard not to trip over the 2 air compressors.  In the dark.  I opened the door and stumbled down the very not-level-or-landscaped path (think very unlandscaped, dangerous-in-the-daylight kinda landscape) in the only-slightly-less-dark dark.  It was raining.  It was windy.  It was cold.  No, it was COLD!  It was dark.  I found the van and turned on the lights, repositioned the van so the lights would point towards the house and turned on the brights.  Then I grabbed my cell (which was almost dead) and called hubby to let him know I was trying really hard to finish up quickly but the power was out but he didn't answer.  So I went back to the house up the dangerous path by the really-not-bright-at-all light of the cell phone.  I made my way back upstairs and somehow finished painting that wall by the light of the not-bright-at-all cell phone.  I have no idea what it looks like in the daylight because I haven't been back to see it yet.  I finished painting and gathered the supplies and went back downstairs.  I quickly tried to stoke up the fire in the fireplace and add more wood by the light of the cell phone.  I locked up the house and brought the painting supplies to the van and then went to lock up the house trailer (our source of power, the bathroom facilities, etc.).  The cell phone had died by this point so I was using the van lights.  I remembered the bathroom light had been left on and the far bedroom light had been left on so I turned those off and locked up the trailer.  I just got back in the van, buckled in and started backing away when the power came back on.  And I left lights on in the trailer.  So, I parked the van, turned it off, got out and unlocked the trailer.  While I was trying to unlock the trailer, the "screen door" literally fell apart in my hands.  The wood pulled apart and the glass section fell out.   It didn't break, thankfully, but it is certainly no longer part of the door.  I turned off the lights, locked the steel door, propped the "screen door" back in place and finally was able to go home.  It was still raining.  It was still cold.  It was yucky.  And the last 20 minutes were a series of dumb events.  Whatever.  Memories, I guess!

Since Wednesday night, I have not been back to the house.  It started snowing sometime during the night Wednesday and so Thursday afternoon I went to buy paint (hopefully the last paint I need to buy).  The power went out while I was buying paint.  It has been that kind of weather.  Heavy wet rain/snow/ice that sits on the power lines and causes big problems.  Windy and cold.  Really, really yucky.  We have no source of proper heat in the house so I am not painting in 6C temperatures.  We do use the fireplace as much as we can but the wood is now all wet.  The little heaters help somewhat but when it is so cold outside, it takes more to warm up the inside.  Next week is supposed to be better, with temperatures returning back to seasonal norms.  So, I decided to go home after buying paint on Thursday and Friday I was in the city with AJ all day for a long doctor's appointment and shopping.  No painting Friday either.  Today I will return to the house and paint just as soon as the kids are finished lunch.
Tuesday was the final day the drywall crew was at the house, finishing up the last little bit of sanding.  Once again, I cannot say how fantastic they are.  Super nice people to work with and they bought treats for the kids at the end.  We look forward to having them over for supper when the house is done.  The kids have already invited them back!  :)

Jay was a trooper and kept trying to work this week.  The beginning of the week was beautiful (though slightly windy) so they finished up the siding on the back of the house,

almost finished the west side and almost finished everything on the front above the porch. 

They also started working on the front under the porch roof.  For the back of the house, there was talk about renting scaffolding but when I got there on Monday, they were busy working with Mr.W up on the ladders and Jay and his helper were on the ground cutting the siding and handing the pieces to Mr.W.  He would stand on pieces of wood that spanned between 2 or 3 ladder jacks.  He was harnessed in to the roof clamp so it was relatively safe.  It did make things move a little slower, being up high like that on a piece of wood but they did so great. 

Jay was glad to be on the ground and Mr.W did a fantastic job finishing up the siding and the soffits and faschia.  They continued to work like that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday Mr.W was gone and Jay needed to take some time for chicken farming stuff so he was not at the house much.  He did do some prep for painting the main floor (blowing off the drywall dust from the walls, stuffing the electrical boxes with paper, stapling plastic over the windows) so that on Friday the main level of the house was primed.

Finally, a big decision was made this week.  We are going to do geothermal heating in the house and the excavating work will start next week.  That is a huge decision Jay has been agonizing over and I am so glad he made the choice.  It is not a decision that can be made lightly and I know it has been a stressful one for him to make but I am so excited about the choice.  It is expensive to put in but the benefits on our size of house should be worth it.

And to top it off, I ordered the hardwood flooring for the main floor.  Brazilian Pecan it is!  Woot, woot!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 19 - Painting and Siding!

Monday - Before I arrived on site, Jay had started shingling the porch roof with Mr.W.  After Mr. W got him going, Mr. W primed the walls of the upstairs.  It goes so much more quickly when you can spray the walls then to have to roll them.  Once the primer was dry, Mr.W sprayed the ceilings with Distant Gray by Benjamin Moore.  It is a wonderfully warm white and I love the look of it.  To be honest, I have no clue what I did this day.  I think I just kinda wandered around pretending to help but by the end of the day, I am not sure what I did.  Looking at the calendar, I realize I took both boys to an orthodontist appointment that afternoon and that is why I accomplished little at the house.  I took time to wander the mall with the boys as a sort of date with them, looking at toys, lego and other fun boy things.  I found the duvet covers for the little girl's room so I am super excited about that.  Clearance sale at Quilts, Etc. - I like that!

Tuesday - Since the ceilings were painted yesterday and all the paint was used up, I needed to go paint shopping again.  This time I bought the paint for all of the upstairs, making that big money commitment and choosing colors I really hoped I liked when they were on the walls.  I also bought more ceiling paint.  Today I took Ari on a date with me.  We bought paint, ate lunch, did a little shopping and then went back to the house.  Jay took the kids home for supper and I stayed to paint the first room!  It is pink and bright and really pretty (Benjamin Moore Pink Taffy)!  The little girls love it. 

When I got home around 9pm, Jay and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by eating rice and fish by candlelight.  We will go away for a couple of days in a few weeks to really celebrate!

Wednesday - While I spent all day painting inside, Jay was "painting" outside.  He was installing the siding with Mr.W.  It looks so fantastic with the 6" wide white trim around the windows and doors.  I love the look of the house from outside!

And, I was moving along fairly nicely inside.  Mr.W had only one suggestion to make my painting even better and I will share that with you.  When you are cutting in the paint between the ceiling and the wall, don't paint right up into the corner on the first coat (if this is a new paint job).  Since the primed walls still suck paint a little, the brush doesn't move quite as smoothly on the wall and it is harder to get a straight line.  So, stay out of the corner 2-3 mm.  On the second coat, get the brush right in the corner between the ceiling and walls and because you are painting over one coat, your brush moves smoothly and your line will be even straighter.  Works super well!  That is, of course, if you aren't using tape, which I don't.  Today I did the second coat of pink in the little girl's room, the first coat of purple in RJ's room (Benjamin Moore Bonne Nuit),

the first coat of blue in AJ's room (Benjamin Moore Seaport Blue) and I started on the orange strip in Pepe's room. 

Of all the colors, I don't like the way the orange covers.  It is the exact same Benjamin Moore paint as the rest but the coverage is horrid.  I am not sure how many coats it will take but more than 2, that is for sure.

Thursday - Mr.W was gone for the next 2 days so Jay and I just kept on working. 

He continued on the siding and I continued painting.  You see those little green things on either side of Jay?  They are called Gecko Gauge and they allow Jay to install siding all by himself.  They clip under the last piece of siding you installed and the next piece just slides in on top of them.  They hold the piece in place while you attach the siding to the houes.  Then you unclip them, move them up one piece and install another piece of siding.  They are completely adjustable so you can change how large the spacing is on your siding.  They are fantastic!!  Jay is so glad to be using them! 

I finished the second coats of the rooms I started yesterday and then spent too much time putting on a second and third coat of orange.  It still needs 1 more.  I also painted Pepe's closet with 2 coats of orange and it needs more.  I hate orange paint.  The other bedrooms are beautiful!  Then, I worked late and painted my bedroom!  Oh my goodness, I love it!  I wasn't sure about the color on the large paint chip and I wasn't sure about the color when I opened the can and I wasn't so sure when I put the first bit of paint on.  But when it dried a few moments later, it was gorgeous.  It is Benjamin Moore's Overcoat - dark grey with slightly brown under tones.  So elegant.  So romantic.  I love it!

Friday - Since the ceilings are already finished, I decided to hang 2 light fixtures in my bedroom.  After seeing them in place, it is starting to feel a little surreal.  No one dreams about the framing of their dream home.  No one imagines the concrete work or plumbing pipes, electrical wiring or heating ducts.  What you do imagine is the paint colors, the light fixtures, the trim details, the color of the siding - all that fun stuff.  And that is where we are at now.  It is very wierd to look at my room with the finished 2 coats of paint and light fixtures in place and realize this is my room.  I still cannot believe it.  It looks too pretty, too upscale, too just-like-my-dreams for it to be mine.   And yet it is.  I guess dreams can come true!  :)  I finished the paint in the bedroom and then started painting the master bath.  Once again, I wasn't so sure about the color.  I wanted a grey and this one just seemed more brown.  When I put it on the walls, I still wasn't sure.  Jay said he loved it.  I waited until Saturday and then I realized I like it, too.  It is called Benjamin Moore's Escarpement and for this paint, seeing finished rooms on-line painted in this color gave me the confidence that it would look lovely.  And it does.

Saturday -  Today the town we live in was having a town-wide garage sale so I spent the morning with the kids touring around town, hopping in and out of the van to find treasures.  Let me tell you, garage sales with kids who can buckle themselves in and unbuckle themselves is world's easier than having to do it for them.  What a fun morning!  Then in the afternoon the 2 older girls went to a birthday party, the boys spent time with dad and grandma and I took Ari on another date to pick up the duvet covers I bought for the little girls.  While there I found the bedding for RJ's room and for our room!  It will be so lovely.  And all on clearance!  I never did do any work at the house but Jay worked away on the siding.  This day didn't show as much evidence of what he did but it was lots of little things that aren't always easy to see.  It should make Monday easier, though, to have those details ready.  As for me, Monday I start in with school in full force so we will see what time I get to the site.  I am hoping to get there around 2-2:30 but we will see.  And that wraps up the first week of finishing!

PS:  No photos at the moment in this post.  I left the camera on site so I cannot download any now.  Besides, trying to take photos of the room colors is nearly impossible in only natural light or with a flash.  Since there is no electricity on site, I cannot turn on any lights.  I tried numerous times in numerous rooms to get photos and they all look terrible so you will have to wait for "painted room" pics.  But the outside photos of the siding will come later today.
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