Building the House Continues

November
16
2016

 

 

It’s been a couple of weeks.  We wound up living above the garage, now dubbed the “Penthouse” for four weeks total.  Two weeks longer than we expected.  And that right there sums up the project.  Everything is going so slowly.  When the project was just about to start, John and I made a bet.  (For 25 cents.)  He said we’d be in the house by his birthday, which is early August.  I said it would be by my birthday, which is early October.  We were both wrong.  If we get in by the second week in December I’ll be surprised.  Happy, but surprised.  I’m thinking it won’t be the kind of grand holiday decorating that I would have liked, but still, I do expect we’ll finally be able to take our turn hosting Christmas dinner.

So, back to blog-time. It’s mid July.  The roof is done and they are starting on the stairs.  Before this we walked up a board on the side, so this was really an exciting day!

Little Choptank 2016 G July 110

Little Choptank 2016 G July 130

Now, here comes a bold move on our part – according to our daughter.  (And not a decision she was particularly in support of.)  The design of the outside siding called for little half-round CertainTeed shingles at the very top.  Well, at the last minute, we decided to go with……yellow!!   Shocking!  We really live on the edge.   So yeah, we went with the yellow, which we are still happy with, but it did change the look of the place.  What do you think?  Would you have stayed with white?

Little Choptank 2016 G July 125

Little Choptank 2016 G July 149

Little Choptank 2016 G July 151

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It’s different I guess, but when we’re coming in on the boat it looks pretty.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 193

Here it is at night with the cupola light on:

Little Choptank 2016 G July 215

The plans originally called for a small set of stairs outside of the great room, and no stairs outside our bedroom, but as the guys were building, we thought having the great room stairs run the whole length of the windows would look much better, and be safer too!  And then we also added stairs outside our bedroom deck.  That also looks much better.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 227

They also did the wood above the front door, where the curve is.  Things look so simple on the plans, but this curve was really a lot of work!

Little Choptank 2016 G July 226

And here is what the inside looks like at this point – this is from the great room looking towards the front door:

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This is looking into the kitchen/pantry area towards the Crab Shack.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 229

And here’s the fireplace:

Little Choptank 2016 G July 228

Ah, the fireplace.  We wound up (unbeknownst to us) buying a fireplace that was much bigger than the space that was planned for it.  We didn’t know.  And I guess no one was paying attention to say, get one that is such and such a size  rather than any old one you fall in love with.  So when it was ready to be installed, the guys had to scramble and build out the wood framing to accommodate the insert.  You can see that in the picture.  What we also didn’t realize at that time was that since this was “extra” we got charged for this extra building, but also…..it threw off the amount of space I was going to have for the great room built ins!  Now the built-in and TV is going to be more to the left than I anticipated or wanted!  We’ve dealt with it – not that it’s done even as we speak!

So we’ll move into August next time, thanks for checking in!

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Changing the Katrina Cottage

October
13
2016

Little Choptank Nov.5 to 7, 2011 078

Lots going on around here in real-time.  We are packing up the Crab Shack, the kitchen and bathroom and mudroom that is, because the builders are starting in here on Monday.  We’re going to live in John’s office, which is above the garage.  It also serves as a guest suite – it has a daybed and a bathroom of course.  So we’ll be living up there for as long as it takes them to finish up in here. (Hopefully a week to ten days.)

Plus it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and we are going to VA for a day trip to celebrate!  It’s also my cousin Irene’s birthday – so it’s a double celebration! Busy, busy, busy.

Little Choptank 2015 J October 262

The plans call for them to break through in the mudroom and add double doors into the back hallway of the “addition” a/k/a the house.  This was the requirement to make it an addition….only the one entry.  Then, they are tearing down the wall of the bathroom in the Crab Shack where the sink is now and re-configuring the bathroom (except for the shower) to make it bigger.

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 500

We’re also adding a tub – which actually was the cause of much conversation as to what tub we would get.  We were going to get one of those beautiful stand alone tubs, that was our decision for a long time.

Capture.2

Then we realized that a lot of the guests who would actually use the tub would not find it that convenient to get into and out of.  So then we went to a drop in tub.  They are also beautiful and we’d have the tile surround and have Fernando (lead builder) make wainscoting to go in the front.

Here was my vision – not the tile all the way up to the ceiling, but maybe a third of the way.  The shower and tub placement are like they will be in the Crab Shack:

 

Capture.4

 

So we went to Seaford, Delaware where the plumbing showroom was (had great Pizza there at Sal’s by the way) and gave Karen from Elegant Designs Showroom our plans to make sure everything would fit.  Well, surprise, surprise and not in a good way….we don’t have room for a drop in tub!!  So if we want to completely change the floor plans (a definite NO) then we had one choice – a slide in tub.  A plain old tub.  It’s a little fuzzy but here is a picture of the new configuration of the bathroom and closet – where our kitchen is now:

Capture

I was a little disappointed – a “little” in this case meaning “very.”  There’s no room for a tile surround or the wainscoting, although we’ll still have tile around the three sides of it.  But let me tell you, by this point in the project, even though it’s been a very good experience and we’re still happy with the workers and the work, we’re a little tired of it all.  So, we bought the tub and moved on.

The rest of the project is moving along – although slowly it seems.  Everything takes longer than you think.  Everybody says it on a building project as large as this, and it’s so true.  When the actual building started – in March – John thought they’d be done by his birthday – early August.  There’s a reason why we say he could be the president of the optimist club.  I thought they’d be done by my birthday – early October.  But now, we’ll be “thankful” if we get in the house by Thanksgiving!  We’re going to spend it at Chrissy’s in Virginia anyway.

So, next time we’ll be back to the progress as it moved along in July – putting on the metal roof.  Meanwhile, enjoy our sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 089

 

 

Progress on the House

October
3
2016

 

I just found out today that we have to move out of the Crab Shack in two weeks!  I don’t think I’m mentally ready for that, although truth be told, there isn’t going to be a whole house to pack up, just the kitchen and the mudroom. But still.  We won’t have a kitchen anymore until the house is all completed.  And we are moving into the garage – where John’s office is.  Thankfully it has a comfortable day bed and a bathroom.  And a coffee pot.  Phew!  It’ll be a little tight and a little inconvenient (little in this case meaning a lot) but we’ll be here on the property, can keep an eye on what’s going on, and of course we can still come into the Crab Shack when the workers leave to get clothes or whatever from the bedroom.  Plus my cousin Irene and her husband Gene said we could stay with them at their (new) house up in Easton if we get sick of the garage.  So we have a back up plan.

 

Goodbye cute little kitchen

Goodbye cute little Crab Shack kitchen

I know I mentioned it before, but what we are doing is adding the house to the Crab Shack as an “addition.”  We’ll have (as allowed by the town’s rules) one access from this building to that – in the mudroom.  And by doing it this way, we were able to be grandfathered in to keep the house closer to the water (setbacks have changed since we built the Crab Shack). And we won’t have to get whole house sprinklers.  Also, of course, it was a less costly project than putting in a new road and new septic and a new well. You’ve heard my story about how expensive that was going to be.

 

The new doorway into house will be right where window is now

The new doorway into house will be right where window is now

 

Before I show you what was going on next (we’re up to the end of June) I have a question I’d like your opinion on.  Our builder told John this morning (I wasn’t there then) that they are going to run the wood floor from the front door to the back the long way.  Like this:

Floor going from front to back the long way. (picture from Houzz)

Floor going from front to back the long way. (picture from Houzz)

 

Now I think if he had asked me, I would have said to lay it so it goes side to side.  Like this:

Flooring side to side

Flooring side to side (picture from Houzz)

We have a long hallway, and a big great room to the back wall of windows and doors.  It seems like you’ll see the all the lines where the boards meet and it will make it look even longer….and in this case, believe me, it’s long enough.

I’ve been reading up and mostly people say it’s a matter of opinion, although some architects and builders do recommend laying it perpendicular to the floor joists.  I’ll have to ask Rodney (our builder) how our joists are running.  What do you guys think?  Long way or side to side?

Okay, one last thing – well, two things -  before I move on…..here’s a pet peeve I want to rant about…..you go on a site to order something and specifically check the box that says, “I do NOT want to receive emails and promotional materials from you” and then you get them anyway!  Argh!  Why bother asking me if you’re not going to pay attention to my answer!!

Also, I want to order the Jill mirror from Ballard (I’m sure you’ve seen it, it’s one of their most popular pins) and a canvas picture of a boat for the back hall – the shipping is $71!!  Seventy-one dollars!  Yeah okay, the mirror might be heavy, but the canvas picture isn’t that heavy.  Seventy-one!  I still can’t get over it.

 

Okay, so back we go to the progress – at this point we didn’t have a ton of decisions to make – they really had all been made already.  Lars, the house designer, had everything written on the plans, and in this case the plans were everything!  With Thom, the builder on the Crab Shack project, we or he would just change things on the fly and it was no problem.  But I guess every builder is different, and probably, using the plans like your bible is more the norm.  We didn’t realize how nice it was NOT to have to make 99 decisions on the spur of the moment!

 

Here comes the windows!

Here comes the window!

We knew of course that these were big windows.  But you can’t really appreciate exactly how big till  you see them next to a person!  They are gigantic!

Copy of IMG_1084

Copy of IMG_1085

They got it in

They got it in

Only two more to go!

All in, safe and sound.

All in, safe and sound.

They were also building us the cupola this month.

That's a frightening height to be building from.

That’s a frightening height to be building from.

 

Little Choptank 2016 F June 221

The cupola is actually centered in the front, but of course the back didn’t frame up the same way.  Lars warned us it would be off-center in the back, but we really wanted it so we decided we were okay with it.

Front and center

Front and center

Off center cupola and the rest of the windows and doors in the great room.

Off center cupola and the rest of the windows and doors in the great room.

Here’s the great room windows from the inside:

Little Choptank 2016 F June 186

Nice, huh?

IPAD Photos Sept 30 2016 8728

A lot of progress was made in June.  I felt sorry for the guys some days, it was such a hot a humid summer!  Many days with the heat index it was over 100 degrees!  But they kept working!  Good job, guys!

Enjoy the sunset, and here’s a little guy John found in the driveway:

Maryland terp!

Maryland terp!

Little Choptank 2016 G July 207

Building the House Continues

September
22
2016

 

View from water

View from water

So this work was going on in early June, and the building was moving along nicely.  Right after the roof trusses went in, the plywood on the roof went on – very quickly.  The sooner they could get the house closed up the better.  We lost so much time in the early spring because of rain!  The house got wrapped and the plywood went on and it really started looking like a house.

Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing

The guys started weatherproofing the roof, adding this black paper which is supposed to stick.

Front paper is done

Front paper is done

It’s supposed to stick……but this kept happening…..

Wind kept blowing the roofing paper off

Wind kept blowing the roofing paper off

The guys had to go up there and fix it three separate times!!  Finally they put up boards and nailed them in.  The problem with that was now when we had a torrential rain (which we sometimes do) the water came in and there was water on the floor!  I was very worried about that.  I mean, once that paper is up, it’s not supposed to leak, right?

I asked Fernando, our main builder…he said it would be fine.  I asked our GC Rodney, and he assured me it would not leak when the real roof went on.  I made him promise – and he said if it did he’d fix  it for us. (Didn’t convince me though).  I can’t tell you how many times I asked John.  I was driving him crazy I know, but sometimes there is just an issue that bothers you and it’s hard to let it go….it just didn’t make sense that if it was leaking now with the paper on, that the water wouldn’t get in later.  I mean we have some rain down here….sideways, horizontal, upside down…you name it, we have it.

Laying down on the job

Laying down on the job

I took this picture from the “kitchen” window of the Crab Shack.  We still had the window in then, and as you know, we are attaching the new house addition to it.  As an aside, when we spoke with an architect first about joining the two buildings, she had this “breezeway” let’s call it, as an open space, maybe a couple of chairs and a table,  maybe a window seat, but really not too usable.  But Lars, the house designer we ultimately went with, made excellent use of the space, adding a bathroom, a closet for the water heater, a window seat and my laundry room here in this space.  Brilliant!

So, while the roof wrapping, house wrapping and window work was going on, the electricians were inside wiring the house.  Lars did have an electrical plan…thank goodness.  The draftspeople who drew up the plans for the original stand-alone house that was too expensive to build (read about that here) didn’t include an electrical plan because they said all the codes are different.  How different could it be, he lives one county over.  But I’m so glad Lars put them in because to figure out by yourselves where all your electrical outlets and lights go would be a nightmare!!  We had to decide some anyway, and it wasn’t particularly easy.  The electricians were a big help with it though.  Here in the previous picture, Darren was waiting for the wires that were coming through from the outside.

Now it’s mid June – the windows are just getting started…….

Master Bath where vanity will go

Master Bath where vanity will go

John's walk-in closet

John’s walk-in closet

 

Our bedroom. On the side of  the house

Our bedroom. On the side of the house.

Our bedroom - Water side

Our bedroom – Water side

 

Side view

Side view

Along with the work that’s going on (in June) it’s gardening season.  John built me a beautiful garden last year – it was our first spring as Maryland residents. (If you’d like to read about my garden, you can read about that here.)  I learned a bit, what doesn’t grow well here, what had so many bugs and worms that I don’t want to deal with them again, and what did great.  I’m still learning, I’ll change a few things next year also.

Swiss chard did great

Swiss chard did great

The arugula, spinach and kale also did great, but once it gets hot (and it really gets hot here) they seem to die off.

Finally, some zucchini

Finally, some zucchini

I had beautiful zucchini plants last year, but only got two zucchini!  When I read up on it, I found out I didn’t have enough bees to pollinate them.  So this year I started my zucchini from seeds from Burpee that said it didn’t need bees to pollinate…and I was happy they were right!

Cukes

Cukes

This was a cucumber plant I bought at the store…by Bonnie.  It was terrible!  Last year I had so many beautiful cucumbers (a Burpee plant) that I was giving them away to strangers.  (Sadly I’m not kidding.)  But this year, this “burp-less” variety had tons of flowers, but only a handful of cucumbers.  It’s off the list for next year, that’s for sure.

Cherry tomato, beets and corn

Cherry tomato, beets and corn

I decided to give a small amount of corn a try.  It’s a small garden, I didn’t want to dedicate too much room to it, so again, I bought seeds from Burpee for a variety that’s for containers.  We had it once (it was delicious) and then a racoon got in the garden and ate the rest!  Something might have happened to that racoon because he’s not around here anymore.

 

Jalapeno and poblano peppers

Jalapeno and poblano peppers

They did great last year and they’re great again this year.  Now I have to make poppers!  I mean how many jalapenos can you eat?

Eggplant

Eggplant

Eggplant don’t really love it here.  I get 2 of them per plant.  The Asian eggplant did great last year, but I found we don’t eat them that often so I didn’t grow them this year.  The white ones don’t want to grow at all.  I had two on a plant, but they turned yellow and were hard as rocks.  But we did have some yummy eggplant parm from the regular purple ones.

And so, till next week…..enjoy the sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 F June 076

 

The Framing Continues – Roof Trusses

September
14
2016

 

View from the drone

View from the drone

Here’s an awesome picture John took with the drone.  I just love these type of pictures…..it’s opened up a whole new world of photography to me…and it’s so fun!

Where old house used to be

Where old house used to be

All that hay and light green grass is where the old house was.  (You can read more about that here.) On the other side of our fence is our neighbor Noelle.  She’s selling her place….if anyone is interested.  :)

Anyway, the guys worked very quickly on the roof trusses, it was amazing!  Lars, our house designer (he wasn’t an architect and he wasn’t a draftsman) used to manage a roofing company, so he felt using trusses instead of building the roof piece by piece as you go was better for us, with all the peaks and roof lines.

Little Choptank 2016 E May 116

Little Choptank 2016 E May 121

Little Choptank 2016 E May 128

Little Choptank 2016 E May 137

And the best part was they were all done in two days!

Little Choptank 2016 E May 144

Here you can see the entrance to the property, and our metal building.

Little Choptank 2016 E May 156

 

Little Choptank 2016 E May 166

Little Choptank 2016 F June 003

roof truss.1

From the front with the “Crab Shack”…..

roof truss.2

From the back…..

roof truss.4

 

I was surprised to find out that almost 4 out of 5 new homes built in America use manufactured roof trusses to frame the roof.  It replaces the conventional rafters and ceiling joists and enables a builder to construct homes that have more complex roof and ceiling designs and do it quickly and accurately.

 

Here are some of the advantages:

Trusses can span long distances and eliminate the need for a lot of load bearing walls.

It’s less costly than stick roof framing because it can be made of shorter lengths of 2 by 4’s.

It can be designed for many different roof styles.

They are designed by engineers and will meet the roof load and building codes.

They can be erected quickly.

Well, we are finally on our way.  So many decisions have to be made in the next few weeks and months, some rather quickly.  And anybody who knows me will tell you, I do not like making snappy decisions.  I like to research, and to mull.  The definition for that is perfect – to think about deeply and at length.  Yep, I like to mull about my decisions.  Of course, since we’ve been planning on building for a lot of years now, some decisions are made.  Others have been made on the spot.  Scary!

Come back and take a look at what they are….and maybe even help!

Little Choptank 2016 E May 095

It All Starts with a Good Foundation

 

 

August
31
2016

 

The project finally begins!

The project finally begins!

Yeah, I know.  It’s been awhile.  Don’t remind me.  First nothing was going on.  Then everything.  I will try to get back on track here and update you all with the progress.  And progress there has been!

The first thing that goes on when building a house, of course, is the foundation.  I never knew what went into it, cement I figured, but I never gave it too much thought.  But seeing the progress day by day, it truly was amazing just how many man hours and how much material went into what is underneath my house, stuff you are never going to see.

First they marked the area with red paint.  Thank goodness it didn’t rain before they came back to start digging!

Strings and red paint

Strings and red paint

And it begins!

And it begins!

They start prepping the site

They start prepping the site

 

 

Believe it or not, it's very precise

Believe it or not, it’s very precise

During the few days it took to do all these trenches, it would rain. It was very slow going for a while because they would have to wait for it to dry out before any more work could be done.

Then, they accidentally cut our water line and a temporary fix was done – a hose.  Which we are still using until it’s time to start working on the well.  Believe it or not, the pressure is better now!

Hose being used for water to the Crab Shack and the electric  line is covered up for protection

Hose being used for water to the Crab Shack and the electric line is covered up for protection

 

Next rebar goes in for support.

Little Choptank 2016 C March 188

Little Choptank 2016 C March 189

Next comes the cement….

IMG_1187

What couldn’t be poured directly from the truck had to be moved with a large metal bucket.  It was very labor intensive!

IMG_1203

After all the cement was poured, again the rain delayed the process.  The workers had to clean off the cement a few days!

Little Choptank 2016 C March 260

So, it mostly dried out, and now the dirt has to be moved and the site cleaned up.

IMG_1261Little Choptank 2016 C March 271

Okay, now after the site it cleaned up, there are red lines drawn on the cement, and in come the cement blocks!

Little Choptank 2016 C March 319

Little Choptank 2016 C March 326

Little Choptank 2016 C March 334Little Choptank 2016 C March 355

They build them and level them, you would think it’s easy, but with laying the mortar just so, and leveling them off each time, it’s a tremendously labor intensive process.

Little Choptank 2016 C March 378

IMG_1351

Next they “parged” the outside area of cinder blocks.  It’s a cement plaster that makes a smooth surface.

Little Choptank 2016 C March 368

Next came piles of dirt and they rolled on a black tar-like substance….waterproofing.

Little Choptank 2016 C March 387

Little Choptank 2016 C March 390

Little Choptank 2016 C March 399

More metal is inserted to make the blocks even stronger…..

Little Choptank 2016 C March 391

And here comes the inspector….

Little Choptank 2016 C March 396

So, all was well and good, and the work continued.  So far this took about a week to ten days.  The dirt is spread…..

Little Choptank 2016 C March 417

Little Choptank 2016 C March 419

Here is an awesome picture of the entire foundation with the dirt all finished.  John took it with our drone.  You can see the area between the Crab Shack (Katrina Cottage) and the new addition. We wanted to join the two buildings and hopefully this area, which will have a bathroom and the laundry room, will look like it belongs.

The area (grey-ish dirt) to the right of the pool was where the old house was.  We bought the property knowing it had to be knocked down, although it was more expensive and a much bigger production that we thought.

Little Choptank 2016 C March 451

So at this point, we thought the foundation was finished.  But it wasn’t.  Now it needed rocks!

Little Choptank 2016 C March 487

Little Choptank 2016 C March 490

You see the concrete blocks sitting around in piles…. now it’s their turn to get cemented….

Little Choptank 2016 C March 556

And so, finally, finally the foundation is complete.  It took a month from the time the foundation started to the day we got a wood delivery – so the actual building could begin!

Little Choptank 2016 C March 557

Come back next week to see the progress.  Enjoy the rainbow ( a good omen in my opinion) and the sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 E May 024

Little Choptank 2016 C March 292

What’s Not Going On

March
4
2016

 

We were hoping that by this time our “addition” would be well on its way.  It’s not.  As a matter of fact, it’s so far not that it hasn’t even started.  In a previous post I wrote about how naive we were about the process of drawing up our own plans, and about how expensive it would be to build! (Read about it here.)  We knew, once we got back to our planning, everything would move a little slower than we wanted.  But not this slow!

Katrina Cottage

Katrina Cottage

As I wrote in that previous post, we abandoned our house plans that were years (and years)  in the making, and we decided (and believe me, I really had to come to grips with this) to ADD on to our little Katrina cottage.  (a/k/a the Crab Shack.) Most of the email I get is about the Katrina cottage.  People just seem to love it, and we do too.  However, as I’ve told everyone who has written with questions about it,  it is a little small for living in full-time.  For us, it was going to be a guest cottage, but now, since our big, beautiful stand alone house was too expensive, we decided to use the Crab Shack and weave it into our plans.  (yes, I know…..you’re aghast.)  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Things had to be done before we could even think about building anything anywhere.  First, of course, we had to get new plans drawn up.  We weren’t ready back in May to start all over talking “plans” again, so we waited a month or so.  But then, as you could imagine, we had to wait till the house “designer” was available, and that took a month and a half.  Then the process of creating this completely new structure and adding it to the Crab Shack, well, all that took another month or two.  We actually thought we’d be able to start the project in maybe November or December – the weather here in Maryland is still okay, but no.   There was still stuff to do.

We had the old house to knock down. It looked pretty nice from the outside, but the inside was completely gutted.  It was ruined by a storm and burst pipes by the previous owner and was left to rot.  We knew we’d have to take it down when we bought the property, and we waited all these years until we were ready to build because down here, if you build – where you are “taking away” land you must plant native plants to replace that land.  So if we kept the house, we would only have to make up the difference between the square footage of the old house and the new house with plantings.  In this case, it was equal, which worked out for us! (Yay, something worked out!)

 

 

The front of the old house

The front of the old house

 

The back

The back

 

Waiting for Kyle to be able to knock down the house took quite awhile.  It rained so much in the fall, and then Kyle went on vacation.  The weather was a factor, and believe it or not, so were the tides!

Knocking down the house

Knocking down the house

Little Choptank 2016 A January 099

What it used to look like driving in - way back when

What it used to look like driving in – way back when before the entrance fence and gate

And now, without the house

And now, without the house

 

Then the Bocce court had to be moved.  That’s not something you hear everyday.  But we had built a Bocce court to the side of the Crab Shack, and now, the new house was going to be added on over there.

Moving the bocce court

Moving the Bocce court

 

Little Choptank 2016 A January 096

Okay, on to the next thing.  See that green box near the Bocce area?  That’s our electric.  We have all our electric underground (which is really, really nice!) but that box is also now in the way.  So when we first bought the place, we paid to have it moved there out of our way.  And now we had to pay to have it moved again!  But then the tides came!

The electric box is surrounded

The electric box is surrounded

 

We'd never seen it this high!

We’d never seen it this high!

 

So we had to wait.  Till the electric company could come to move the box, and our electricians could come to help coordinate with the electricity from the house, and for the HVAC system to be moved from one side of the Crab Shack to the other.  Wait, wait, wait.

 

Preparing the new area for all the electric

Preparing the new area for all the electric

 

Moving the electric box

Moving the electric box

 

The area is now all clear!

The area is now all clear!

So everything is ready for the next step, the actual START of the project.  The mason has to come to stake out the building, which then has to be inspected. After that begins the excavation!  But first the ground was too wet, then it was too cold, and then too windy.  It’s always something.  Next week will begin the 4th week with nothing going on.

Hopefully next time I’ll have some progress to report.  For now, I’m researching appliances and flooring.  Get your suggestions ready.  I’ll need advice!

Adding onto the Katrina Cottage

Adding onto the Katrina Cottage

 

We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know

November
20
2015

 

First off, now that I’m “back”, I want to thank you all for hanging in there.  (Although truthfully most of the emails I got are questions about our Katrina Cottage – a/k/a The Crab Shack.)  It’s been a while, I know – but I just didn’t feel like writing.  And here’s why…..

As you may remember, we moved down to Maryland a year ago – and we were moving along nicely for a while with our house plans.  Then our draftsman got sick, and we didn’t hear from him for months (and months and months)!  It was very annoying discouraging.  When we did finally get them back, of course, there was another change or two we wanted done, and that took another few weeks.

House Plans

Finally the day came!  The plans were all done and we were going to give them out to three builders.  Two local regular builders and one modular.  Believe it or not, that process took much longer than we anticipated also!  The two local builders had to come to the property a few times to check out the road, or measure something, and the modular builder (who I dealt with only online) hardly ever wrote and didn’t even acknowledge receiving our plans for two weeks!

I’d say it took at least another month before we were able to make an appointment with each of the builders to go over their proposals.  When we met with the first builder, we went over each and every page, with them practically reading each page in its entirety.  When we got to the last page, our jaws dropped – over a million dollars!!  Yep, you read that right.  I mean, how stupid were we?  We never thought it would have been that much!

Now yes, this was the highest bid, and we knew it would be.  The other local builder was somewhat less, coming in around the $840,000 range.  (Between us friends – this was the one we secretly figured we’d be going with.)  And as expected, the modular builder’s bid was the least – however, they did not have a lot of things included in their price that would still have to be added in, like wood floors throughout, and granite counter tops – among many other things.

OLD HOUSE PLANS 1st FloorAfter waiting ALL THAT TIME I was so disheartened.  And I’m not even just talking about waiting for the plans to be finished and the bids to come in.  I had been working on these plans for years!  I scoured probably a hundred house plan books in libraries and bookstores, I bought at least 10 of them, and looked at thousands of plans online to draw up what we wanted in our dream house.  Then we had the draftsman draw them up, and we changed them many, many times making these some of the most expensive plans you’ll ever see.  If we only knew then what we know now!   I was done.  I just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to continue talking about house plans.  We told the builders the bad news, we were just going to shelf everything for a while and then see what we wanted to do.  John at first thought we’d start planning right away.  But I didn’t want to.  I didn’t have the enthusiasm for it.  It was our first full-time summer down here and I wanted to enjoy it, not only getting a break from all the house plan talk, but I also didn’t want people coming down to the property all the time checking on wetlands, and height requirements, and setbacks or anything else.

By the way, here is the best piece of advice I can give you…..if you are planning to build a house – buy plans that are already made up.  You can always find a draftsman or house designer or even an architect to change them.  But drawing up plans from scratch, and then making all the changes that will be necessary is unbelievably expensive. Trust me on this one.  And by the way, we have a full set of house plans for sale. :)

OLD HOUSE PLANS 2nd Floor

So we took a break.  And enjoyed the summer.  We fished, we went out in the kayak, we took sunset cruises, we toured around the area a little, we barbecued, we had company, and we relaxed.  It was heaven!  And then we decided to get back to business.

Come back next time to see what we’ve been up to.

 

Finally Moving Forward Again

April
16
2014

 

We will be heading to Maryland this weekend and will finally be moving forward with our plans once again.  As you know, the Metal Building took a long while, and we haven’t been down there for a couple of weeks.  Since then, however, Kyle has been fixing up the sides of the building inside as well as outside, and also fixing up the floor inside so we will be able to start bringing our stuff inside. He’s using some kind of composite made with asphalt so it will pack down and eventually become very strong like a road.  So we will bring in the boat trailers, the tractor, the ATV, the crab pots, etc. Then – next week hopefully – we will rent a truck and start moving out all the bins and boxes I’ve been packing up here.  And we have a lot!  It’ll be nice to clear out the garage up here at the house, as well as get part of my living room back.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Last week John had a business trip to Prague, so I went to VA to visit my daughter.  She wants to buy a townhouse soon, so we spent a lot of time looking at them.  I’ve said many times that DIY is for the young – and now I also think townhouses are for the young!  Those stairs!  I guess it’s good exercise but it got tiring going up and down three or four sets of stairs.  But we both love looking at houses, so we really enjoyed ourselves.  Plus, we got to enjoy ourselves eating dinner at Ozzie’s in Fairfax Corner!  Have you heard of them?  They are part of a chain, and yes, sometimes the food is fantastic and sometimes is it so-so.  But it’s a fun place, the wait staff and managers are very friendly, and we always enjoy ourselves there. Plus, they have Ozzie rolls!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

And the perfect Margaritas!

Delicious!

Delicious!

Last year they started a new spring appetizer, hickory grilled artichokes with garlic lemon aioli, and it’s been such a hit they brought it back this year.  We had it last year and loved it, so of course when we heard it was on the menu again we were very, very happy.

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

And, in case you’re wondering what I had for dinner…..  short ribs, with garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and frizzled onions.  Not a dietic dinner I admit.  But yummy!

Short ribs

Short ribs

We will try and take a boat ride also this weekend, if the weather and water cooperate.  But it will mostly be a working weekend, and then we can truly say we are moving forward again, to designing and building our dream home! Stay tuned!

Modular Construction Part 2

March
12
2014

 

We may, just may, be getting closer to getting our metal building built!  Hooray!  The “pad” is ready now, and a part of the building has been delivered.  They tried to deliver the whole thing, but the truck was too big to make the turn into our driveway and they had to take it back to the main store.  So now they have to deliver it in different loads, but hey, it’s progress!  We’ll be down there over the weekend, and we are hoping they’ll be able to start while we’re there.  We’re very optimistic people.

The "pad" for the metal building

The “pad” for the metal building

 

So, last time I talked about Modular Construction, I included an article explaining what it is, how it’s different from a “stick built” home, and the pros and cons.  You’d think I was working for a modular construction firm.  What I’m really trying to do is figure out of this is a viable alternative to building the entire house from scratch, or if we can incorporate at least “some” modular sections.

Now I’ve heard another term in addition to modular  -  panelized!  It’s similar to modular in that it is built off-site, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, it’s “a construction technique that uses advanced technology, quality materials and a controlled work environment to build floor, wall and roof systems to construct an energy-efficient home in less time.”

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

It sounds like the walls, and floors and the roof are built off-site, just like the modular homes, but instead of being trucked down in “modules” or whole components, it is trucked in “panels”. For now, it seems the most common use of these panelized firms is for the pre-building of floor and roof trusses.  Now that we realize the truck hauling the metal building couldn’t make it down our driveway, we might have to use a panelized construction firm instead of a modular one if we want to do part of our house this way!  I have yet to figure out, however, if they would be able to construct panels according to plans that I have, rather than having to use plans that they offer.  They do say they can customize the plans they offer, but we already have our plans.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

There are panelized firms, according to Design Basics LLC. that will help you through the entire building process, but many whose involvement ends with the delivery of the materials.  Other manufacturers will provide a small crew and a crane to help your general contractor.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

Our previous builder, who, as you know, moved away and left us, would be able to find all this out, as he already dealt with a modular builder and incorporated even just parts of the house the modular way if you wanted.  He was very flexible and I guess he had a good relationship with that company, so he didn’t have to buy the “whole” house.  He would, I know, find out about these panel manufacturers and let us know if this was a viable way to go.  I wish he’d move back to Maryland.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

I’ll be looking more into both these options and will report back.  In the meantime, if anyone has any experience with either the modular or panelized type of building, please let us know!  We’d love to hear anything about it from the consumer’s point of view!