two years and two days

After a hectic couple of weeks we’ve got this weekend off to a relaxing start so far. The sun is shining, we’re both healthy and the garden is looking amazing, especially for this time of year!

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My how time has flown!

One year ago the guys were framing this house.

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And two years and two days ago we had our first telephone conversation with the previous land owner. Things definitely looked a little different over here back then!

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We’re so grateful for all the wonderful folks who have contributed in making our dream of a healthy, beautiful home come true!

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this place is home

I am SO looking forward to our new house, but on the weekend I had a small twinge of tiny-house envy when I came across a little house on wheels that had a roof and tyvek in place. The idea of living mortgage-free, and moving wherever the wind takes me certainly has some appeal.  In fact, for many years, I thought it was the only way building my/our own house would make sense. You see, until we found this place, I bounced around from one spot to the next, calling 10 different places home in my first decade after university.

Oct 30

I see things a little differently now though. Nearly four years ago we came out here for a reconnaissance trip and we each had independent moments where we declared this place home. We were so sure, that we shared the news with family immediately, and at that point we didn’t have a job to tie us here!

This neighbourhood is such a great fit that we have lived in the same no frills, main floor suite of a poorly built house for 3 1/2 years. I haven’t been overly healthy in this space but the location and cheap rent have always won out over the other alternatives. That is, until we found the lot that we’re building on. That took a bit of sleuthing too… a few years of it really, and a stroke of luck.

Right now we’re working towards lock up on our house. Quite a few things have been done over the past few weeks but they’re not overly photogenic. The air barrier has been installed, the fascia painted and installed, concrete footings for the decks have been poured, the chimney cap has been installed, the door locks went in and there was also more interior framing.

Nov 14 - fascia installed

I recall hearing from some of our friends who had their homes built for them, that getting to the end of each construction loan draw, and especially for lock up, is stressful.  They told us things would cost more than we’d budgeted and that we might have to max out credit cards or borrow from family.  I am so thankful for all those warnings now. It turns out the stress of being involved in the build and trying to work regular jobs is stress enough.

Nov 19 - getting a roof!

Work on our black standing seam metal roof started today and if all goes well, it will be done by the end of the week. Then off to the bank we’ll go so that work on the mechanical can begin. It’s going to be so sweet when we can call this place home!

gaining a second floor

It’s been so exciting to see so much progress this week. From the outside you can now see what the shape of the house is going to look like.

Sept 20

Here’s the view from the back (gotta love the flag on the end of our ridge beam!)

Sept 20

With most of the second floor flooring installed we can better understand how the main floor spaces will feel. Understanding our desire for wood (and our budget), our architect suggested using hardwood for the floors upstairs that was of sufficient quality for us to leave it visible as the ceiling below. We really liked seeing it in other places and now we finally get to see what it’s going to be like in our home. This is how it will be in the living room:

Sept 18

We wanted the kitchen/dining area to be a bit more cozy and luckily enough the plumbing requires that the ceiling be lower in this area. We won’t really know how it will look for a while yet since we’re covering up the pipes with drywall but I can tell you that I do like the lower beam that runs across the kitchen sink area. Unfortunately it’s tough to describe in photos.

Upstairs, the ceiling and rooms are starting to be defined as well. Here’s a view through to the front of the house from the back bedroom:

Sept 20

It’s a little hard to see what the view will be like through the east dormer because the floor of our future hallway hasn’t yet been installed and the catwalk was in the way. All the same, they have been framed and look to be quite high up… surprisingly high up.

Sept 20 - stair dormers

It’s funny that for all the measuring we did before committing to our plans, we never placed the windows on the walls of our current space. Some of those windows are surprisingly high! When we saw the back kitchen window framed we were shocked at how big it was because it was so much bigger than either of us had expected. Before that I think Kevin had thought he’d lost the battle for a big window but clearly that’s not the case. Similarly the windows in the upstairs bedrooms are really tall too. I think it will help to keep those spaces from feeling small though.

On the totally opposite side of the scale we can also now see what a bear it is going to be for the poor plumber that has to tend to our hydronic floor system. That is one tight corner under the stairs!

Sept 19

climbing

Our site as it looked when I went out this evening:

Sept 17

Can you tell the difference?

It might not be entirely obvious but we’re finally climbing up towards the second floor. I could hardly contain squeals of excitement as I ascended the stairs!

Sept 17

We’ve been waiting for some time (hmm… about 11 months I guess) to see what it looks like up there and I finally got my first glimpse today.

Sept 17

From the one place where I could stand there wasn’t quite as much view of the range we have looked out towards for more than 3 years. There were a few cool surprises though. It’s a straight out view to see who’s climbing out one window and we get a sneak peak of a local landmark. Just how it will look when our views are restricted to the windows, I can’t yet tell but I’m looking forward to finding out in a few weeks!

Sept 17

Sept 17

we have walls!

This week we had a taste of October with big dumps of rain here and there. Fortunately there have been some warm periods to let things dry off and warm up too.

Despite the challenging weather, there was a crew at our site every day this week. They’ve been working full days on some big houses out of town and then putting in extra hours up here until it gets dark (which is so much earlier now). They’ve also been working on Saturdays!

Here’s where things were at on Monday:
Aug 26 - we have walls!

And by the weekend most of the exterior was sheathed and the interior shear wall was built. This house shouldn’t be falling down any time soon with all the nailing our structural engineer is requiring!

Sept 2 - staircase shearwall

I know how much it sucks to have people looking over your shoulder so I’ve been trying to limit my visits to the site when the guys are working, unless it’s to bring baking or go over details. We had stellar weather on Saturday so for the first time we worked in parallel. They did their framing thing while we went through the wood that had arrived for the floor joists.

A good number of the joists will be visible from the main floor so our job was to select the best ones for that and sand off the markings. Sure there was some nice wood, but in the lengths we needed the majority of it was yucky with huge checks or cracks, really rough milling or fuzzy blue-grey mold. Not the kind of stuff we want to put in our house at all!

Kevin’s out there now sanding the wood we can tolerate. We each have a really busy work week ahead but somehow we’re going to have to go about selecting better wood so that work on the second floor can really get started.

On a completely different note, the stellar weather and work schedules also meant that we could camp out in the house on Saturday. I think it brings our count up to 5 nights of sleeping on the site but the first time that we’ve slept in our bedroom. I was so delighted that our set up was so simple because the crew left such a clean site. I didn’t even need to sweep!

Sept 1 - camping out in our bedroom

I can’t wait until that’s where I get to sleep every night. The sun in the morning is so nice!

Week 5

This construction project moves in fits and starts. It’s an interesting thing to observe really. Yesterday, there were 6 guys on site – two digging trenches and laying pipe outside of the foundation, another dealing with us landowners, and another 3 working out the interior sewer drains. Then today everything stood still as we waited for the inspection of the drain pipes. Wouldn’t you know though, the plug couldn’t handle all the head and now we have to wait another day for the testing of the pipes before they can be covered up.

July 22 - backyard drainage

Work moved in a similar fashion last week too. We had a foundation ready to be filled but every dump truck in town was committed and it took 4 days before we could get our first load of pit run. (I was out and about that day and it was true – there were loaded dump trucks everywhere!) Our truck arrived and filling and compaction went quickly. We even got our own water hose functioning that day too!

July 22 - sewer pipe stacks

Yesterday we went to look at rock for the backyard since some of it needs to go in next week. Needless to say, we were a bit blown away at the prices. We came back to the site to get input from our digger and found that there were some suitable specimens in the pile of pit run that is currently our front yard.

We have a river feature planned for the backyard too so we spent an hour after dinner pulling out river rock for that too. Kevin’s the strong arm of this part of the operation!

July 22 - collecting river rocks

July 22 - river rock collecting

et voila!

June 22 - first form wall for our foundation

We have the start of a house!

We got home late on Friday after being out of town so first thing on Saturday I wanted to go and see what had changed over at our little lot during my absence.  (First I had to stop and nibble on the raspberries and strawberries and marvel at the size of my broccoli plants.  A lot can happen in a week!)

We were hardly around the corner when we realized the sounds of power tools were coming from our lot.  The men were out there getting an early start on the form work while the rain was away.  By the time we arrived the shortest wall (on the west) was done.

Some how I’d never imagined how much detailed cutting would be involved in building a form wall for a foundation that’s getting tied to rock.

June 22

By the end of the day they had the outside wall going all the way around except for where they needed to keep the access open.

I don’t have much patience for tedious, precision work but look at all the tie rods they lined up on the east wall!

June 22

I collected some scapes from the tiny garden in the back before Kevin snapped this photo to document just how much concrete and fill are going to be going inside of these walls.

June 22

Yes, these walls seem tall with no fill around them but we finally have a visual for where the floor will be and it is now so much easier to get a feel for where the windows are going to be and what the views will be like.

I’m looking forward to seeing the next set of walls go up and then of course the concrete pour!