Highlights of Homebuilding

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homesteadin' !!

Right now we are finishing up the flooring system for our soon-to-be beautiful home:)!! YAY, YAY and more YAY!! When the block was being laid all I could think about was "I hope this house will be big enough!" I don't mean to sound carnal, but it sure didn't look big enough for my house plan's drawings. But once we got the trusses down ( or up...I'm not quite sure which one it is) it seems bigger! And Paul says that once the walls go up it will seem ever larger! If only it could just keep growing and growing...welllll, maybe not. More to clean, so no thanks! I purposely picked an 1800 square foot house so that it would fit a growing family, but also keep us together (thanks to an open floor plan) and be easier to clean. I don't think I could live very happily in a 4000 square foot home. I wouldn't feel connected to my chillins. I'm pretty sure I would need a map just to find the laundry room and such. And all the furniture to dust and floors to mop?? Once again, no thank you! An 1800 s.f. house will suit just fine:) Now a few years down the road when we have about 6 more children (HAHAHAHA) we will finish the upstairs 800 s.f.

I won't go into detail about the floor trusses just yet...I want to wait until I have all the pictures and everything is finished. Though I will tell you that it keeps looking more and more like a house!! Obviously:) But really, I am SOOO bad at imagining what things look like. I can't come up with an original idea to save my life! That's why I love houzz.com! I don't have to blow my mind coming up with some pretty creative things...that's what that site is for:) All I need to do is incorporate it into my lifestye and tastes.

Anyways, I'm rambling. Let's get to where I want to go with this entry! Self-sufficiency! Wow, weird, I know:) But hang on...I am not going off the deep end here. I just want to mention a few things that I have waited 5 years to do in our own home...things that will probably save us money; very likely be hard work; but (most importantly) definitely bring our family together in ways that won't happen if we rely on everybody and every place else for our needs. Now, I have never done any of these things that I will be mentioning...it will take years to perfect and I may even become weary and fail sometimes, but my dream has been to supply my family with a healthy, affordable and fun way of eating, playing and living!

First of all: a garden:) Not just a flower garden, and not even just a vegetable garden; but a garden of fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains where we can last a whole year off it's produce. What a wonderful way to start becoming more self sufficient. Even just the first step of planting a few veggies or starting a mini herb garden will improve your health and give you and your kiddos something fun to do! I can't wait!

A great book that I have read over and over is called The Backyard Homesteader. It has soooo many ideas and ways to start your own garden even though you might only live on 1/4 acre! Don't be afraid of new things...try them!

Secondly (and this kind of correlates to number one), making myown bread/pasta/cereals, etc. I won't begin to tell you how much healthier this is for you and your family. Knowing exactly what is in your food and where it came from, to me anyways, is a huge relief!! Can you imagine whipping up a batch of spaghetti, knowing where every single igredient, from the pasta to the herbs, came from? See? I have already begun to tell you:) I'll stop! *smile* Can you see the money you'll be saving by not going to the grocery store for just these foods! I know with my addiction to cereal, that I'd be saving a couple hundred a month! Not really, but (yikes!) it's probably pretty close! So even for this reason only, what a great thing to do!:)

Thirdly, chickens!!! Other than the fact that I absolutely love these little creatures, what better way to save money (and be 10,000 times healthier) than to grow your own meat and eggs! This may end up being one of my most favorite things to do! Several of my friends have chickens and none of them regret it. They have fresh eggs every day, great meats and less bugs around their house. Plus those things are so stinking cute! There is really no downside to this idea at all!! Now, the only thing I am worried about is the bobcat that my hubby says lives in our woods! I would be soooo mad if it killed all our little chicks. I would prefer my man to kill the bobcat before we move in! But if he doesn't then I may have to wait on our precious chickens :( boohoo!! But this is definitely a "yes" for the future! :)

So, there are some of my ideas on becoming self sufficient:) I have more, but don't want to scare you off:) hehe. It wasn't too bad, was it? I told you! I am by NO MEANS the expert on this...I have only been researching stuff for 5 years or so...and I have TONS to learn! In fact, if you have any comments on ANY kind of self sufficient ideas, I would love to hear them! Please!! I could have gone on about getting your own milk cow (which I would LOVE to do) or even a few milk goats, but if you're interested here is a great link that was a blessing to me:

Well, have a great middle of the week everyone:) I will have more to post the end of the week. Thank you SOOOO much for reading! You make my day:)
On to build,


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Mind to Work

I feel like one of those gossipy little ladies..."I have SOOO much to tell you!"But it's true!! Now that my computer is working again I have so much to do:) These past two weeks I have been so seriously busy. We have been moving into a house that we are housesitting for a friend for the next seven months. Church has been uber busy and my 12 piano students are finally back into full swing for lessons! Between all that and building, my life has felt like one of those teacup rides at fairs...tons of turns and spins until you don't know which way you're facing. But when life gets back to "normal", it may feel kinda boring:) haha!

Okay, so we are done. Completed. Finished. The foundation anyways:) And it looks fantabulous!!! (yes, that is a "fantastic" and "fabulous" smooshed together...them by themselves just didn't do justice!) We had the best block layers in all of America come in and help us. Thank God for the Mueller Men. After they got the block brought to the land it only took them 2 1/2 days to do our foundation! And after you look at our pics you will see that that is no small feat! They used 1050 blocks with the back wall going 10 courses high! Seriously, if you fell off the back wall you could hurt yourself! Ahhhh! But I gotta say, that our view off of our back porch is gonna rock!!! It will be gorge:)!

Wednesday, August 4th our footers were dug and the concrete was poured. You have seen those pictures. Actually, here's one of the concrete and step downs ( a gradual move down the slope so they didn't have to handcut blocks to the exact size.)

We were supposed to get the blocks Friday. But Thursday, Paul got a phone call at 7:30 a.m. saying that the blocks were on the way to the land and they needed someone out there to meet them with the moolah. This may sound fantastic but in reality my poor hubby had just gotten off a twelve hour night shift and had only been sleeping for 45 minutes! But him being most amazing, he dragged himself out of bed and called the Mueller Men. They said they would meet Paul at the land and Paul and I headed out the door ( I wasn't gonna let my man drive himself on no sleep...no way!) On the way, the Mueller Men called Paul and told him that they were going to need a concrete mixer if they were going to be able to start on the foundation right away, so we went to rent one. There we go...

When we got to the land, the truck was there waiting on us. A HUGE semi truck loaded down with a trillion blocks! Actually it is 1150 blocks. And at $1.04 a block we kept a close eye on it!! Here's the picture.

So, the driver takes down this pretty amazing looking machine that evidently he was going to use to move all the block off the truck down to our lot. That thing was awesome! I did not get a picture though :(

It took about 30 minutes to unload all the block and to drop off the ladders and plates and materials we would need. We paid him and he was off. I left as soon as the block guy left and on my way back to the house it started pouring down rain! Buckets and buckets...yes, it decided to rain after two weeks of no rain on the day we start our block work! But no worries! It gave the Men a much needed break and it ended up only raining for an hour or so. They got to work as soon as it got done. And in case you were wondering, rain is okay for cement. I was kind of stressed that it would ruin the concrete work, but evidently it's good for it! Yay!

Anyhoo, the block work was started. Here are a few random pictures with explanations of the materials and such. This is pretty self explanatory.

The block was piled up where it was needed. This is going to be a mini shed underneath our home where we can store tools.


The ladders...a strengthening material for the block. (I know when I mentioned ladders earlier which ladders you were thinking of! No, these are not step ladders or extension ladders, but rather just block ladders)


I don't remember the names of these, (you know me!) but these were put about two feet apart or so all around the foundation. This is what the I Joists will be fixed to. (The I Joists are part of the flooring system, which will be next) These "things" are secured to the foundation with concrete.


The official "concrete mixers" :) Fifteen yards of concrete is a lot!


Our front porch will be here. I think eventually we will add on to our porch system, but for now, this is all we will need with our big porch being in back. You can't see it well in this picture, but there is an angle on the left side of this porch where we will be putting a wall of windows for our dining room.


Halfway through the block laying.

Photobucket Photobucket

Bro. Rob and Paul talking about how high our back wall will be. And Isaac working on our back wall.


Vents that will help ventilate underneath our home. We opted for the less expensive version where we will have to manually open and close them. Oh well. Automatic vents were not on our priority list:)


The piers in the middle where our main beam will go. Most of the weight of the house will rest right here.


The HVAC pad where the unit will sit. There is an opening right at the block work for the duct work...


This is the little "room" where we will put our tools and such. I told Paul this could be his mancave but he absolutely protested! And here I thought I was being generous!! lol


Some of the Mueller "men" :)


Bro. Rob working on the porch


Here's the back wall: 10 courses high! (about 7 feet high) Yikes, and with another 11 inches of flooring and then an eight foot wall with a second story this is gonna be one tall house!!!!!


Our leftover block, about 100 or so. We were able to get almost $200 back for it! Yay!

As you can see, those pictures were pretty self explanatory:) I like when that happens. The block has been done for a little over a week now. Today we got our flooring truss system. I am going to get pictures of the papers and the whole process. Paul is starting tomorrow with my brother, Nate, to put the floors on. Saturday, men from the church are coming to our land to put the main beam on and to help with the rest of the floor! Such a blessing.

A good thing that we got this week was builder's risk insurance. This will cover all of our uninstalled items (in case people steal or whatnot) and it will be insurance for all those who decide to work with us. I hope we never have to use it, but as insurance goes, if you don't have it then that's when you need it! We'd rather just go ahead and buy it:)

This week, my job will be to figure out our window measurements...and that brings me to a pretty neat thing real quick. In our Master Bedroom I am having a ten foot wide "bay" window. I am putting "bay" like that because it's not technically called bay. The window that we wanted would have cost us $1700!! Outrageous!!! And that's just the window unit, not the lumber and extras that would be needed to put it up!! I almost choked when we found that out. So our lumber guy did some figuring and helped us come up with an alternative that I actually think is better...we will put up three windows in the shape of a bay. The exact same size windows and everything! And it only cost (with the extra truss flooring) $800!! Talk about a deal! Yes! God is good:) But, onto my job. I have to figure out what all our window sizes will be. We are having 16 windows in our house. The larger the better for me, but I may have to tone down for Paul's sake:) He's a little concerned about money, of course! I will be thrifty, dear, don't worry!! We are planning a trip to a home salvage yard in Nashville to see if they have any windows in their warehouse and we will also be looking at other house materials. I'm excited to go! Hopefully we can get some great deals!


On to build,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Strong Foundation

It's amazing to me all the work that goes into making sure that a house's foundation is secure, settled, deep, strong. The time and strength necessary. The equipment, tools, materials. And yet, it makes sense. What's the point in building a beautiful home? buying gorgeous fixtures? choosing quality furnishings? What's the point if you don't take the time and work needed to make sure the foundation is right. It's worth nothing. (great spiritual analogy!)

Today, August 4th, I saw the first (or actually like the fifth) load of dirt being dug from our land. It was quite an experience and I'll be the first to admit that I got just a tad emotional:) Oh, come on:) I just couldn't help it! The Lord has blessed me with a fantastic husband, two beautiful kids, and now, soon, a house of our very own. A place where we can raise our family! Somewhere we will make memories and our children will grow up and talk about where they caught the minnows in the creek; or killed their first turkey; or grew their own little garden; rode bikes through wooded trails; raised a puppy; had a tree fort; a place where, Lord willing, they will always want to come back to. I have always dreamed of living in one place my whole life. To gradually make it the perfect place for us. Where I can strive to be the "virtuous woman". And my man can hunt and build and wrestle with his buddies to his heart's content:) I can't wait.
But before all that can happen, we must have a foundation. Built by the best. The stronger the foundation, the more secure our home.

Well, here's what happened today (and some things yesterday that led up to today). Some pretty amazing things and some funny things:)

As I said earlier our foundation man is a man named Rob Mueller. He brought his family down (16 kids!!) and he and five of his boys went to the land yesterday to square off exactly where our house will be. We had to situate it a little because our house is being built on a slope (we're kind of on a hill). We situated it so we wouldn't have a ten foot wall of block in the back! Anyways, they marked it off with a spray can of paint, showing where the footers will be and stuff. The boys dug, using only a pick axe and shovel, a huge rock out of our lot. (thankfully it was only one of two rocks on our land that needed to be taken out...we were kind of worried about that) Paul was quite impressed. They are the hardest working people I have ever met in my entire life. They don't complain although it got over 105 degrees today (not the heat index!) and they are just grateful to work. After they got the lot marked, Paul and Rob went errand running. They got:

Foundation chairs from Lowe's...I don't really know what they do. Maybe I'll post later what they do.

They called several concrete places and picked the best price of the three. You measure concrete for projects like this in yards. We needed 15 yards of concrete for the footer work. We got a pretty good deal. At least it was under budget:) The concrete was to be delivered today.
They stopped by Lewis Hill Sales (our Amish Lumber Supply Yard) and made a few orders that we would need for today.

That all happened yesterday. Pretty busy. But nothing compared to today!

Our footer digger (!), Mr. James Brown, came out this morning with his mini excavator and started digging our footers at 8:00 a.m. I got to our land about 8:06 with the boys. Elliot got out and immediately started digging holes with his own mini excavator (a spoon). While the footers were being dug, the Mueller men were digging out the piers for where the pillars will be going. The pillars are this:
They span the width of the house (50 feet). There are six of them that are made up of concrete blocks and on top of them lies the beam that is the main weight holder of the house. The footer blocks go along the perimeter of the house and the middle beam goes across the middle of the house. Underneath of course:). So, there's the Mueller men digging, again by hand, the six piers where the block pillars will go, where the beam will lay across! Good luck figuring that out:) If I didn't watch it happen, I would be clueless too:) Maybe I'll copy and paste a Wikepedia thing about it. They'd probably do a better job explaining that than me!
Anyways, that took from about 8 this morning to 3:30 this afternoon. They broke for lunch, which I brought for them.
Here's a couple pics!
Some of the paint line where the footers will be dug.

The mini excavator is doing its job!! Thank GOD for machines like these:)

The Mueller men in the background after they dug out these six piers by hand.

The mini excavator is still working. This was at the beginning of the day. We heard about this man from a guy at our church. He had great prices and didn't dawdle. He got the job done. We also came way under budget with him! Yay!

So after the footers were dug, the concrete truck came and Rob and his boys formed up the footers with lumber (just a temporary measure until the conrete dries, or something:) and poured the concrete and laid the rebar. Rebar is long metal strands that secure the concrete better (I think). Boy, am I a wealth of information. I tried to understand all of what Paul was saying when I asked him what all this was for, but I'm gonna have to write it down because I'm sure he thought I was a dummy when I asked him like twelve times what rebar does. But, anyways, I'll be going over there tomorrow and taking a bunch of pictures of the finished footer work. Friday the blocks come in and the work of laying them will start.

I did tell you that something funny happened today. Paul and I made a quick trip with the boys over to Lewis Hill Sales. It was humorous because the Amish had met Rob yesterday and were quite flabbergasted ( I guess shocked would be a better word) when they found out he had 16 children!! Today they couldn't stop asking us questions about him!! Maybe he is their hero. One Amish man said, "I only have 9!" Like that was a small number or something! But I do have to say that the Mueller family have the best behaved kids I have EVER seen!!! I need to ask that Mom what she does:) But, there was something else that was pretty funny. Our first construction loan check we made out was to Lewis Hill Sales...and it was for the wrong amount! So we had to void it:) hehe. Then after I wrote the second check I saw that instead of it saying "Paul" at the top it said "Raul". Yeah, they messed up our first construction loan checks! How dare!!! Just kidding:) It was pretty funny. I laughed and laughed...Paul didn't so much:) He just got worried that they wouldn't take the check, which they did! So, no worries, hon...it all worked out! He did call the bank though and let them know the horrific mistake they made:) haha

Well, that was the day today...busy and extremely productive! Praise the Lord.

With it being so hot, It would be awesome if you said a quick prayer for the men working out there in it...there are probably men all over this country and world doing the same thing. For you soldier wives, I pray hard for your men over in the Middle East being in this heat all the time. God bless them.

Well, there's the beginning of the foundation work! It should all be done within two weeks. The Lord is good and we've come under budget in 5 out of 6 things!!! Thank God!!

On to build,


Monday, August 2, 2010

My Brain is Fried!

Oh my goodness, I have done enough thinking this last week to last me a lifetime:) I am so not used to it. *smile*

With us starting the foundation there has been SOOOO much stuff to do. It's hitting home, realizing that our dream is becoming reality! The prelim stuff was fun, so I can't even begin to imagine how awesome actually building the house will be!! But before it's awesome, it's not so awesome. We've been budgeting and figuring out what we can afford to spend and how to spend what we do have. The Lord has been good and we have been able to pay for everything so far with cash. We are still going to be able to pay for digging the footers and some miscellaneous things with cash, which is a huge blessing and will be so great for when we switch from the construction loan to an actual mortgage. I finally broke down and bought Quicken to help us become more streamlined in our actual spending/saving. I am SOOO glad I did that. Before, most of our budgeting was done on paper and that was SUCH a headache!! But now, all I have to do is input our debits and deposits and it automatically budgets what we spend in what category...pretty amazing:)

Wow, looking at that last paragraph, that was sooo boring! I know you ain't reading this blog for financial advice. I mean, come on. We just took out a huge loan, why would you want advice from us? HAHA! :) Well, back to the non awesome stuff:

Back to the budget. Paul and I have been wrestling back and forth about if he needs help with the framing and if it's money worth. To be honest, with one man doing the framing (which is totally possible), it would take 2 to 3 months to roof in. Paul has this awesome friend in Florida who has promised before we even got the loan to come and help him in the framing. (Tim, you're amazing!) But literally, we don't have the tools or the manpower to finish it in less than 6 weeks. I know, you're probably thinking, "Well, that's not too long". But here's the deal:

The block will be done in the third week of this month. We are going to be letting the foundation settle for three weeks. That brings us to the middle of September before we begin the framing. And here's the kicker. Mack Brame, our Septic guy, needs to put the septic system in before the middle of October (or the ground will be too hard and he won't be able to dig). So, there. Gotta have the framing done by the beginning of Oct.

If it wasn't for that, I would have won the argument and just have Paul and Tim doing the framing. But Paul made that very good point and I lost! :) hehe. Oh well. I am kinda happy that it's gonna be done sooner (if not cheaper). But, we believe that the Lord has already supplied the money for the extra framer!

So, Paul called Tim in FL. Tim gave us the brilliant idea to ask Paul's fomer boss in FL to see if he might be able to come up for two weeks and help him frame. Besides the expertise he would bring, he would also bring all his tools (hence saving thousands of dollars of tool buying). So...Paul called Bro. Mike Mueller. You want to know what's so cool. Mike Mueller's brother, Rob, is the one doing our foundation work! Small world:) Anyways, Mike was very open to the idea and gave us a really great bid for the job. And of course, I wasn't happy enough with the one bid, so I begged Paul to call some local framers to see what their quotes were. That was pointless...they were all much higher. But one good thing came of it.

When Paul explained to one of the framers that he would be using 2x12s to frame up the floor trusses, the guy opened up the option of using TJI's instead. Now TJI stands for "Tru Joist something". I don't know what the "I" stands for. oh well. But it's basically an engineered floor truss system. It's straighter than 2x12s; it needs less concrete, block, nails and labor to install; and it has a 30 year warranty against squeaking! This was a no brainer for us. And the cost will even out considering what we don't have to use to install it. Does that make sense? Hope so. :)

"Thank you, Mr. Framer, for the excellent piece of advice." This, people, always goes to show you that it's never too late to ask for advice. Or to take advice even when it's not been asked for. There is always somebody smarter than you! lol

So, where was I? Oh, yes. getting framer quotes. My dear mother told us of an Amish lumber company in Crofton, KY (where our house is being built). So, today my hubby, kids and I decided to check it out. There was an Amish framer involved so, what the hey! We drove out into beautiful country and there against gorgeous field and woods backdrop is the company. It definitely looked out of place. :) We drove back there and there were all our soon to be Amish neighbors working so hard to make lumber. It smelled amazing!! Love the smell of newly made wood. May be my new favorite scent. Somebody make a new candle or something! Well, Paul went inside and I decided to brave staying in the van with the kiddos. Little did I know that two hours later my hubsters would still be in there! So after an hour and a half of good chillins and thirty minutes of crying chillins, we went in. And found out a big shocker: it turned out that our lumber company that we were going to be using went bankrupt!! And we didn't even know! Yikes!! So, we found our new lumber company:) The Lord knew:) As always!

After the two hours there (Paul going over our plans and specifications with the owner) we went and picked up all the food for the lunches I am going to be making the men who are doing our foundation.
Paul and I decided on a few things that hopefully I will post later (because we still have to talk to the peeps involved) and came up with the money we needed to make it happen. So, that, people, is how I have lost several million brain cells. Too much thinking. Some not so awesome stuff happening (coming up with more money; lumber company shutting down) to some pretty awesome stuff (the Lord providing ways for more money; and a new, less expensive lumber company). Why do we not even trust the Lord...He works everything out. Now, please remind me of this tomorrow and the next day and the rest of the year when there are other things that go wrong:)!!!

Tomorrow we are squaring up where we are going to be putting the house. Pray all goes well. I'll be taking pics and posting! Yay! And I'll be posting some more idea pictures...just can't help it:)

Btw, the RED SIDING WON!!!! YES! I was hoping it would:) That's what we'll be using! Thank you for voting:) Now, please vote in this next poll. Even though we won't be finishing the upstairs until a few years down the road, we still have to know where we will put which rooms and what kind of rooms to have (for plumbing and electricity sake). So, help me, please:) :) :)

On to build,