Building the House Continues




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?

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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.

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Here it is at night with the cupola light on:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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And here’s the fireplace:

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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… 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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Katrina Cottage Makeover


It’s a present day blog post.  We are still living above the garage in John’s office/guest room.  I have to admit it’s not as bad living here as I first thought.  The builders knew we needed the Crab Shack  makeover done quickly because we had friends from Florida coming for four days and we wanted them to stay there. John named this endeavor “Operation Jesse.”  Meanwhile we were settled in to the little garage apartment.  (Emphasis on little.)


Well, they are not done in the Crab Shack, but it is finished enough so that our friends could be comfortable. Our “stuff” is still all around the perimeter of the rooms, but the couch and chairs and tv are usable, as is the bed and the new bathroom space.  There is still spackling to be done upstairs in the loft, and painting and electric work in the main room of the cottage, plus the big new closet has to be finished.

But, we’re moving forward at least.  I don’t have access to my computer – writing a blog on the Ipad (for me at least) – not so easy.  So, take a look around at how the Crab Shack a/k/a Katrina Cottage is evolving:


Our old kitchen

Our old kitchen


Wall is where kitchen was

Wall is where kitchen was

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 500

Old bathroom

New bathroom with tub

New bathroom with tub


Mudroom then

Mudroom then


Mudroom so far now, with doorway to new "addition"

Mudroom so far now, with doorway to new “addition”

I set up the new closet space with a cooler and coffee maker:

Mini kitchenette

Mini kitchenette


All the comforts of home, huh?  We’re thinking we’ll be in the garage another week.  Jesse and Pam are leaving Sunday, and we hope to be back in the Crab Shack ourselves by next Saturday.  I’ll let you know.

Enjoy the sunset!




Green Metal Roof

Roof going up

Roof going up

It’s July here in blog-time.  And HOT!  Very, very hot….here on the Eastern Shore it’s 98 degrees and with the heat index it’s been up to 105!  And these guys are installing our green metal roof!  To their credit, they work all day, taking their lunch in their air-conditioned cars and dousing themselves with water from the hose once in a while.  I feel badly for them, but we’re happy the work is progressing.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 001

We have a green metal roof on the Crab Shack and we’ve been very happy with it.  It’s rated for winds over 200 mph – and let’s hope we never have to test that! It’s the heavy gauge, which again, is great for us, but a little tougher to install.  To be honest, there are a couple of things about it I wish were different.  In the bedroom of the Crab Shack, when it rains it’s a little noisy.  Not so much in the living room, I guess because the ceiling is so high in there.  The other thing, in the winter when we have snow or once in a while ice on the roof, it slides down the metal when the sun warms it up and crashes to the ground.  It’s loud and would be dangerous if you were out there under it when it fell.  Now I know why they have those little stoppers on some roofs.  Makes sense.

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Little Choptank 2016 G July 025

The cupola looks nice with the roof all done.  While this was going on, we were working on the gas fireplace.  We love a real wood fireplace, and we’ve had them before.  Now that I think of it, we’ve always had a fireplace.  In Long Island we had a wood fireplace, in Pennsylvania a wood one also.  We eventually added an insert to that wood fireplace because the room was so big and the ceiling so high, and it was HOT in there, even in the coldest, snowiest winters!   Then in NJ we started with wood, but Chrissy and I would cough whenever John lit a fire.  We even raised the chimney because it was too short and we thought that was the problem. It helped a little but not enough. We finally decided to change to gas, and that’s when we found out the flue wasn’t positioned right and was actually too shallow so the smoke would seep back into the room. Converting to gas solved the problem and actually converted us to believers.  We’ll have the wood fire when we build the outdoor fire pit.  I know just where I want to put it!

Here's the spot for the gas fireplace

Here’s the spot for the gas fireplace

And our front door arrives!

Little Choptank 2016 G July 073

Little Choptank 2016 G July 076

Front door installed

Front door installed

It’s always something, isn’t it?  The plans from Lars (the house designer) called for a mahogany door – at a cost of $12,000!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need a $12,000 mahogany door.  So we went with the white.  Then, the side lights he called for were a little wider – something that would have to be custom-made.  It was supposed to be a 7 foot door and instead is 5 foot. If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t as big as it was supposed to be.  Looks pretty good I think.

A real-time update:  We are staying up in the little “apartment” above the garage while they are working in the Crab Shack, it’s a little crowded, but isn’t that bad.


I’ll be glad to get back into the Crab Shack though, even without a kitchen.  I’ll be back next week as we move along on our building process.  Meanwhile, enjoy the sunset!

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Progress on the House



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…’s a pet peeve I want to rant about… 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.


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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:

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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!

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Building the House Continues



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.



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!



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 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



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…’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

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Little Choptank 2016 E May 137

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

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

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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

The Building Begins



Delivering the Wood

Delivering the Wood

You can imagine that this was an exciting day for us.  Our house (now it’s actually called an “addition” – more on that later) was about to start.  After so many years and so many plans, and changes, and money… here it is….the day!  This guy – we named him Mr. Happy – never smiled.  We figured he hated his job…but we were ecstatic!

Three days later our builders arrived.

The Beginning

The Beginning

Little Choptank 2016 D April 127

Little Choptank 2016 D April 130

Every day there was some progress – all that took about seven days, not counting the weekend.


More wood deliveries

More wood deliveries


The plywood starts

The plywood starts


Meanwhile, John and I decided we wanted to build one of those mileage directional signs.  We had pallets around – some of them pretty beat up, but we were able to salvage a lot of pieces.  And using Pinterest as inspiration, he cut some into shapes, others just with a point, and I painted them and looked up mileage.

Little Choptank 2016 D April 090

He cemented the post down by our little beach area, I think it came out pretty good!

When the plywood was done, the next step was the walls!  I know, we’re getting a little nutty here, but this was thrilling!

Little Choptank 2016 E May 043

Little Choptank 2016 E May 046

With the framing going up, it really started looking like a house.

View from the water

View from the water


There’s the Crab Shack, cute, little Katrina Cottage.  If you’ve followed along you already know the cost of building the stand-alone house in the middle of the property wound up being too expensive. (You can read about that here) And if we wanted to do a stand-alone where this “addition” is now, we actually wouldn’t have been able to!  Rules have changed, and we would have had to build farther back from the water. There were also many more rules and regulations that would have to be met…such as sprinklers in every room.  Now sprinklers are a good idea, don’t get me wrong.  But we feel they should be the choice of the homeowner.  They are also very expensive, AND…down here, we all have wells for our water.  The well would not be able to keep up with the demand if there should be a fire!  So, some people (we’ve been told) have added huge tanks to hold water!  At great expense!  Crazy.  So, we went down to town hall to find out if it would be possible to “add-on” to the Crab Shack, and even though we all love it, we are changing it a bit inside and adding our “house” to it!  More on this in a future post.

So as the framing is getting worked on, we get this delivery….roof trusses!  The truck was gigantic, the driver was extremely adept at maneuvering, and then he just lifted the back of the cab and let them fall off!  I was shocked!  But don’t worry, they were fine.

Roof trusses

Roof trusses


He just drops them!

He just drops them!


Next post, we’ll see the trusses getting installed, and some more awesome drone pictures!  Come back and see!  Meanwhile, enjoy the white heron and a beautiful sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 012.jpg cropped

Little Choptank 2016 G July 089




It All Starts with a Good Foundation





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….


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


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!

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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.

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

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

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Little Choptank 2016 C March 390

Little Choptank 2016 C March 399

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

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And here comes the inspector….

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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!

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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

We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know



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. :)


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.


And The Tide Will Rise



We learned something new about the tides when we moved to our place in Maryland this past October.  And we learned it the hard way.  It’s called the King Tide phenomenon.  It’s the highest of high tides, and occurs when the gravitational forces of the sun, the moon and the Earth’s rotation align perfectly.

This is how it started out when John and Gene went fishing the morning of October 3, 2014.

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And a little while later:

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The tide kept creeping up all day, Gene wasn’t even sure where the road was when he left that evening.

But here’s where we went wrong, the next day we wanted to run a few chores.  We had a Mazda Tribute, a high enough vehicle we thought, so a little water wouldn’t be a problem.  But this is what it looked like the next day:

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We went out anyway, and found that even the main road was full of water:

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When we returned home we realized that our driveway had gotten considerably worse, but we decided to plow through.


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And so, here is where the Mazda died.

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Our expensive lesson was that not only was the engine flooded, it was beyond repair.  It would have cost more to fix than the car was worth, and needless to say, when the King Tide comes around again, we’ll be staying home!

Today’s update:  We just got our house plans back from the draftsman!  We are very excited and will finally be starting our journey to build our dream home!  We’ll have plenty of info on it in the near future, stay tuned!