September

It’s been awhile! I have been meaning to share the rest of the design boards, but I have not found the time! Hopefully I will get to that this month. For now, I will just share what September held for us!

As you might have read, August was a bit of a rougher month. We ran into a few rougher issues that caused many problems for us including more money spent. Thankfully, after a few meetings, we were able to get things cleared up. At least for the most part. We have a more solid direction that we are headed and should be good to go for the rest of our sub-contractors. However, I am sure there will be more headaches down the road. I’m just thankful to be somewhat removed from this one! 🙂

At the beginning of September, they began framing the house. By the end of September, the framing was almost complete! It was crazy how fast it all came together! It’s great though, because in the Midwest, the weather can be extremely unpredictable. We went from the summer heat to a glimpse of fall, to more summer heat, another glimpse of fall, even more summer heat, and now to lower fall temperatures. I’m sure the cold is running full steam towards us!

I spent the past month in meetings and online or in stores searching for items that we need. I met with our plumber, our lot developer, our electrician, and our project leader. We covered the rough-in details for our upstairs, our grinder pit, our sewage line, our light pole (HOA requirement), our mailbox (HOA requirement), an estimate for work along with a potential electric design, and concrete for our back garage door, porch, driveway, and sidewalk. As for the searching, I have been looking for flooring deals and shower tiling. I scored some deals at Kirkland’s on bar stools and bathroom mirrors. They were having a 70% off sale, which was amazing!

For October, I’m going to work on finalizing things as our plumber and electrician will begin work between November and December. I will also continue looking for flooring, tile, and now a garage door! Home Depot had a huge sale on garage doors, but we couldn’t store it. Ah! So here’s to hoping there’s another sale somewhere out there! 😉

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August

Oh, August. What an exciting month, but also very draining! It seemed as once work began on our house all the things started to go awry. We have had quite a few things come up that are not full of good news. Some of it makes sense since we are acting as general contractors yet know nothing about construction and the timeline for things. Some of it is “normal” when working in construction (which gives me hope). Some of it is just plain trying your best and things still not going well.

Here are some examples:
-In our HOA it is required that we get a certain grinder pump put in, however it does not say when it needs to be put in. Because I was so focused on the high school timeline, I contacted him 3 steps in too late. We are waiting to see what this will result in. One thing we do know is that our water line and sewage line will not meet state or city code- therefore, things will be dug up and moved.
-We communicated that our sump pump needed to have an exit through our basement, but it was not given one. We were told the reason for this was because our neighbors complained about the water run-off. We are unsure what this will cause or even how much extra it will cost us, but we have gone back and communicated that it needs to be completed.
-We found out that we needed to get our basement bath shower and tub downstairs along with our drywall for the basement because it would be too hard to get down there when the walls are closed up and everything is framed in. (Our stairs do not go straight down- we have a landing that complicates things.) We ordered what we thought was a left drain tub, but we found out the next day that it was a right drain tub. We had to take it back and get a new one resulting in extra money being spent along with the fact that we hadn’t planned on purchasing it or the drywall until later down the road.

Here are some learning tips:
-Contact everyone at once no matter how crazy it feels instead of going “in order”. Then make sure to continue reaching out especially if they don’t answer. (I have been calling AND e-mailing to cover my bases.) Take time to meet with them (which I have for almost everyone), and allow them to share all the knowledge that they have and communicate with them all the details of your home! If you’re not acting as the general contractor, do this with your general contractor. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You will feel like you’re nagging and annoying, but I am learning it is necessary!
-Make sure that you have extra money- whether in your savings or in your mind that will go to your house because unexpected things will happen. In our case, a few unexpected things will happen. Based on our experience so far, we suggest having at LEAST 10% of your budget in your savings, in the loan, or both (whatever you are using to fund the home). You will most likely need it- if not more!
-Triple check everything. Read everything. Even though we feel as though we did, it just didn’t work out this way. Somehow we ordered the wrong one after looking through our plans and clicking on the tub that said left- we’re really not sure how it happened, but it did! And again, have extra money because you don’t know where you will need it or when things pop up!

On the more exciting side of things, I finalized our exterior and it was accepted by our HOA! Yay!
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The high schoolers have been hard at work for 3 weeks now, and our house has transitioned so much! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone! The picture below are of week 1-2 since tomorrow is the end of week 3!

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We also have been receiving our appliances (that are being hosted by others since we don’t have the space – THANK YOU!)! We found some deals at Lowe’s and Home Depot- 40% off and snagged them up while we could!

I have been digging deeper into our design choices along with what each room is going to look like and what items I want to place in them. This last piece will help me when I get rid of things/prep for a garage sale this winter.

An extra fun note, while we were visiting this month, we saw a mama and her fawn in our neighborhood! It was so sweet to see and show our daughter. Thankfully, though, our dog stayed oblivious, ha!

Feel free to ask any questions at any point or even share knowledge if you have some! We will take anything we can get! Until next time!

Floor Plan

This building project comes with a unique experience. We signed up two or so years ago to be a potential family that would have their house built by our local high school’s building trades program. Two years later, we found out that we were the family for this year and we could say yes or no. Obviously we said yes, and we began the process right away! Normally they like having the person chosen a year in advance, but for one reason or another, we were called four and a half months before the school year started. So yes, it has been pedal to the metal over here!

The first two things we worked through were land searches and floor plan decisions. Today, I’m going to talk more about our floor plan! The high school provides you with three house plans to choose from that have a few differences. We picked ‘Plan A’…

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I knew I had wanted to change a few things with it from the beginning, but a lot depended on the land- where our lot was located, how the house would sit, what direction the house would be facing, and so on. Thankfully, my dad is building a house at the same time and had a program called Home Designer. On this program, you are able to create a floor plan then work on the house in 3D. It’s extremely fun and I 100% felt like Joanna Gaines. I just needed to be on a farm, talking to a client, with muffins or cookies on the table. (I was sitting on a couch with a blanket and coffee instead.) Basing my design off the plan we chose, ‘Plan A’, I created the one below…

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It was almost complete, but needed a few tweaks here and there. We met with the architect in late April. We went back and forth a few times and were able to finalize the plans (for the most part) within two to three weeks! Here is what we came up with…

First Floor Larger

From this point, I went back onto Home Designer to readjust the plans and create the exterior and interior. I will show you the interior a little later, so for now I will show you just the exterior. As I shared before, we spent time talking about what we wanted our home to feel like. Based on what we discussed, we created design boards that we felt fit the words and our inspiration. I then created a design board that had two ideas…

Extreior Design Board

One is a softer look with a farmhouse feel. The other is a warmer look with a cottage feel. We loved both for different reasons. I even created a 3D version of these two designs joined together that I thought would be our official design…

After a few more talks (seeing it in 3D along with homes that had a similar look really helped), we chose…

We chose this one ultimately because we wanted our house to feel warm and soft. We believe this design evokes that above the other. We also love having the wood accent against the warmer stone and light grey door!

There is definitely possibility of change as pieces fall together, but as for now, this is where we are at and what we are going with! We cannot wait to see it all come together!

June + July

These two months flew by so quickly it felt as though they weren’t even real! I joined the two together because there wasn’t too much going on with our property until the very end of July! However, there was a lot that went on behind the scenes through both!

My sister would always hide things in our house when she was little. Whether for extra storage or so no one would find her favorite toy. Mainly underneath her bed. The problem with this was that she would forget where she put her things. I always told myself I would never do that because I did not want to forget about whatever I put under there. I have enough trouble remembering things as it is! (Seriously. Just ask Matt!) So, I am not one to hide things underneath my bed, but if you were to look now, you would find stacks on stacks of folders, pamphlets, magazines, color swatches, and siding styles. It makes it slightly overwhelming for me, but this was my project for June and July! I had to spend time making decisions on all the ‘look’ pieces for our home. Let me explain…

THE DESIGN
In order to allow myself to create with a clear mind, I knew we needed to brain dump all of our thoughts and dreams. Obviously there are limits with our ultimate dreams, so we are creating some at a much smaller scale and holding onto others for potential future plans. We spent time discussing how we wanted our home to feel. We came up with words such as warm, inviting, restful, and a few more. We also came up with styles that we love: modern farmhouse, french country, and wooded cabin. From there, I created design boards that show the inspiration, colors, textures, and pieces I would want to include in our home that reflected the mood and style we were going for. ( I like to share with Matt what I am thinking and get his opinion, but he says he always likes what I put together- so okay then! 🙂 ) These are two of them!

Some notes…
On our exterior board, we were in a toss-up between two designs. We ended up settling on one and have tweaked it just a bit since. Our dining room board is still the same as it has not come to life quite yet! Best believe I will be looking through and learning from Joanna Gaines’ new book Home Body as soon as it releasing!

THE PLANNING
The other side of these two months was spent in communication with subcontractors and city planners. I made a list of all that we did along with the pieces that we needed in place and accomplished…
-City Building Permit (Applying + Receiving + Placing)
-City Water Connection Approval (Applying + Paying)
-Excavation + Foundation (Confirming + Work Beginning)
-Plumbing Rough-in (Confirming + Work Beginning)
-Temporary Power (Pole Placement + Inspections + Underground Connection)
-Inspections (Temporary Power + Foundation Process)
-HVAC (Heating and Air) (Calling + Meetings + Quotes)
-Electricians (Calling + Quotes)

Some notes…
My husband recently started at a new job that does not allow for him to have some wiggle room to help out as much. This means there’s been a lot of information and communicating that I don’t completely understand and I am trying not to make errors on it all! It’s been a good learning process for me, and everyone I have met with has answered all of my questions and been so helpful! I know that it will all work out in the end! In the future, I’ll just stick with making design boards and choices as much as I can. 😉

As July came to a close, the excavation process began and left us with a big hole. The only thing I could think of for this was the Gilmore Girls episode where TJ creates a big hole in Lorelai’s house and all she can say is, “Hole! Big. Hole!!”

May

In the last post, I talked briefly about the land that we chose along with our why behind it. While April held much of the project decision making and plan adjusting, May held much of the land searching.

We have spent a lot of time dreaming about our future, as most do, and home dreams were definitely on the list. One of the items was that we hoped to move by the time our fifth year of marriage rolled around. The first two years in our current home flew by and we began to talk about things we would hope for in a new home. We talked about how we would love to build on a few acres of land to be more immersed in nature. We imagined seeing deer play in our back yard and the sun peeking over the trees as it sets. Then the next two years flew by, and talk of a new home became a lot more frequent. We discussed a lot of the same things with a few changes here and there as more of our dreams have molded around the life that we want to lead along with the life we want to shape our children in. Then the call came. We said yes and the search for land began.

There was no question at the beginning. We knew exactly where we wanted to build. We frequently visited this land to allow our dog to run around. It was a combination of many lots in the shape of a U with another piece of land fitting inside of it. We loved those lots. We loved how Thea could just run in open space, the deer that we saw, and all the birds that would come swooping through. Nostalgia was coming into play. But when we sat down and looked at costs, we just couldn’t swing the extra money for the larger acreage and well/septic. We kept searching. We found a few smaller lots that had a similar feel, but ruled them out for various reasons. Then we found a new lot and went to visit it one evening. At the back of the property? Lined with trees where the sun sets. When you’re on the property? Quiet enough to hear the birds chirping. We loved it. It was our happy-medium. ( We do live closer to the city with train tracks in our backyard, so it really didn’t take much to sell us on the noise level. 😉 )

It was the day before closing when we found out that we may not be able to build on the land. It was brought to our attention that the flood plane was a little bit too high, so we wouldn’t be able to have a basement. For one, we needed a basement for the program. For two, we really wanted one for our house. I jumped into lot searching mode while Matt discussed options with our excavator. It was difficult because when we walked on the land it just felt right- it felt like home. It was stressful because we needed to get things moving so we wouldn’t delay the project any longer. Our excavator shared with us that there were options we could utilize to make the land more level along with getting two sump pumps to make it work. We closed on the land within the next week!

We still get the same feeling every time we visit. We listen to the birds chirping, see the sun just behind the trees, say hi to our neighbors, envision our berry bushes along the tree line… it’s home.

April

Hello everyone!

We are a family of four (husband, wife, daughter, and dog) building a home through our local high school trades program. We called this “The Ranch on Lot Seven” because we are building a small ranch style home on a .6 acre lot named Lot 7!

This process began in beginning to mid-April and currently, it is the end of July, so I have some catching up to do!

We live in an area with a wonderful school district that is continuously trying to progress. One of the areas is teaching with hands-on experience. I was a teacher in this particular school district while my husband was a student in it his whole life. This made it that much easier for us to be on board with building a home through the program! (That, along with the fact that they have built some great homes!) Two years ago we placed our names on the list and waited. As the last two years went by, we knew our names were getting close and we wanted to prepare ourselves. In March we started having conversations about lots and how we wanted to purchase one in preparation for the time when we would receive a call from the program. That call came the next month!

April was a overwhelming month in many ways. We had just found out that we miscarried our second child and that we were next in line for the project. Basically at the same time. It was a weird moment with it being a time of mourning a loss, but also finding joy in this new, potential opportunity. We spent a weekend at my parents house as we toyed with the idea of saying yes to this project.

With the high school program, they provide you with three different plans for your home. You can tweak and adjust them, but they overall remain the same.

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My dad, who is also working on building a home, had a program that you can build a home, turn it 3D, and design it. I sat with him as he taught me how to use the program, and I designed a rough sketch of our home based on the plans above.

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The last two weeks of April flew by as we searched for plots of land. In the past, my husband and I have talked and dreamed about the type of land and home we would want as we raise children and live life together. So we knew we were searching for a specific type of land.. something with trees, quieter, and with a decent sized yard. Knowing that prices involving building projects are higher, we had to make a compromise on land, but it was the best decision.

We love our little lot and it fits us so well with where we are in this stage of life. Also, we are so excited to take you along on this building journey over the next 9 months! Stay tuned!