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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/29/2009

It's a year later and oh how circumstances change. Firstly, we love our house - still little things to do, but life has a habit of taking over. I naively thought things would get easier after the build, as it was stressful, rewarding but stressful, but instead other things get thrown at you to deal with!

The bills are so much less compared with rental houses with less than half the square footage, we have lived in, so building with an eco-friendly mindset has paid off big time. The space is great and the girls are so happy. Sadly, the flipside is the economic climate. 

My husband's business has suffered dreadfully, selling music in this climate is a luxury (and I soooooo get it, food has to come first) but that doesn't help us. We budgeted on his average income over the last seven years which has been consistent, but now it's down by 55%. That is huge to us, so given the climate, and knowing we are not the only people in a dilemma AND having recommended our bank - I thought I better be up front and honest, as I do get quite a few emails asking how it's going.

Firstly, I cannot now recommend Peoples First Community Bank, one iota. The President's recommendations seem to have fallen on deaf ears for so many, us included. As you can tell we have put our heart and soul into this house, it is our home so I type this with a heavy heart. We saw this coming and had good savings, so we have survived for a while but with things not improving we approached the bank well ahead of time (Jan/Feb). They were interested in talking to us and we demonstrated how our income had gone down. They made us an offer of modification for one year in April ‘09, it was to reduce our interest rate from 6.25% to 6%. Oh great, that equates to approximately $100 per month. They were going to cancel the repayment portion for one year, but this still only reduced what we had to pay by a few hundred - and we could see straightaway that was not going to work, so we appealed to the City President who immediately started legal proceedings for foreclosure!


Rupert went to see our bank manager face-to-face, great guy, he looked at the figures and asked us to return the following week as he could see we were keen to fight for the house and he thought he could work with us on a better modification, especially as in April we had the big news of finally getting (after 7 years) our green cards, so no more worrying about visas, this is a huge asset and I can NOW (legally) work in the US, great! We also asked for forbearance as we could see a way out once I found employment.

Later that week the bank manager called us to cancel our appointment with him, as he had had his knuckles rapped for even talking to us! Sadly that all happened in early May shortly after we made half the payment due, thinking we'd demonstrate we could pay that which is better than nothing.

Roll forward a few months and where are we?

Firstly, I am an Air Traffic Controller by trade, that means speaking and directing aircraft from the goldfish bowl you see at airports (No, not holding two table tennis bats and directing aircraft as some people think!) :) Since I emigrated the rules have changed, and I cannot work for the FAA unless I am a citizen, which is not possible for us until April 2014, so even though the FAA rules are based on the CAA rules, I have experience and they are desperately short I cannot go back to ATC, by the time I can, I will be 44 and I don't how interested they'll be at that age as we tend to retire at 56; it is a young man's game, as they say.

SO, looking at a career change something where I can use my head, so, as you can imagine I have been applying to lots of place, such as Lockheed Martin - so I can get my teeth back into a career, sadly in possibly the worse job climate we have ever known!

Rupe has been going away a lot and is now in Washington DC to try and increase his earnings, so it has been tough to be apart, look after the kids, try and look after the house, land and apply for jobs etc...

We now pay an attorney every month instead of the mortgage, to purely allow us to stay as time is what we need so I can improve our financial situation, the bank would not consider any period of forbearance. Rupert is looking for a position too, ideally with a university college to teach - as he is qualified to do that and give us a safer and more regular income AND we might actually see him.

In the meantime, we have found out loads about the foreclosure with our bank and it is not good. In a nutshell, our bank is under a "cease-and-desist order", this means they are not allowed to lend money, a major source of revenue, and we understand the only sensible way out for them is to sell the bank so they are trying to make the books look as good as possible. We have a neighbor in a similar situation with the same bank, except it is not their primary home and not occupied; they are two months ahead of us with Peoples First having filed foreclosure.

Get this - because they have several liens from unpaid subcontractors on their property, the bank, we believe are not being as quick, as on paper it does not look as good!! However, we who have done everything right and paid everyone and have a clean sheet, never been in any trouble and on converting our loan from a construction to a permanent (Apr '08) we had $350K equity in the house, the bank now thinks it will still get $650K for our house, so apparently as we still have equity and they think they can get all their money back, they are going for us. I ask you WHO is buying a house at the moment in this range? We do not know, but there you go! So unlike many foreclosures, which last 18 months up to three years we will be lucky to get 6 months...

What seems so crazy is that we don't want to lose our house and may have to file bankruptcy, I don't want to and we have always paid all our bills, it is a pride and honor thing. But we are stuck in this crazy, crazy game, which we know we can get out of, if given the chance. Now, if I've done something wrong I take full responsibility, and ultimately we are in the wrong not paying. It is something I am ashamed of, and I don't fully blame the bank - but myself, but it is also a sign of the times, and we could in no way could have predicted this in 2006 when we started this journey...

Our marriage is good, although being tested of course - and we'll get through this, but I thought I ought to type the outcome and what is really going on out there in these trying times. Sadly, we have many friends in similar situations, in the main well-educated and the last people you'd think this would happen too. All I can say is if you are in a similar situation know you are not alone!


We have tried everything, even spoken with many sharks on the way, people calling themselves loan modification specialists all wanting money up front, yeah right! We know only to pay on an outcome. We've approached all the free ones and government-recommended groups, all to no avail. We even approached the Bank Of America (who we bank with) who said they would be able to help us if we were under their umbrella of companies such as Countrywide, but we are not. We have a small (not Freddie or Fannie Loan) bank who have decided to treat everyone (our attorney has dealt with them before) with a severe quick brush, and basically, they want our house. So much for a small familiar bank who likes dealing with people face-to-face and puts people first! What actually happens is they can turn on you much faster and refuse to deal with you, even when you have found the right department to talk to!

Bottom line: does anyone want an absolutely lovely house, safe with pre-cast walls, eco-friendly on five acres?  Well, it's worth a go! Needs an intelligent buyer though to run rings around the HOA, as they are still run by the same dodgy morons, but I think you find that element wherever you go...

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/27/2008

Views and pics from around the house, plants and landscaping.


Driveway and beautiful pink haze in the sky
Closer to the pillars
Front bed to the left of the front door
Front bed to the right of the front door
Front bed further to the right
View down the length of the land
Our palm trees silhouetted that same evening as the sun went down.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/26/2008

Finally adding the finished pics to the outside of the house. They were taken at sunset so the color looks a little more vivid. We did finish it in July, but kept meaning to take pics just after the grass had been mowed. There are still jobs to do on the interior of the house, but we're having to concentrate on the business - which is suffering big time in the present climate. So much! Really worried if we can stay in our house! Rupert is a musician and plays the electric harp, so we rely on people having disposable cash as CD's are a luxury and lots of people are struggling. There is a website called and you can see on it exactly how many bank-owned houses, foreclosures etc... are going on in your area (US). It is scary!!! So, if anyone has that person they do not know what to buy for Christmas, or just plain appreciates music, type in, CD sales are what brings in the cash, it's worth a mention. The inside of the house is my project at the moment as Rupe is recording an album with a wonderful singer, plus we have a video to record to put on YouTube to link with his website, so he is a busy boy at the moment.

I have got the accounts done and they were in on time, with the build we put in for an extension in April as that was just not going to happen. One thing to add, which is obvious but I feel must be said, and I think Cara and Jason would agree. When you move into a house built by a builder it's done! You just need to correct things that don’t stand up to any punishment (i.e. my four-year-old). Our house easily stands up to Lottie, such as better baseboards (skirting boards) etc., but there are lots of little jobs still to do and you are completely knackered at this point!!! We had a list of 50, but every time we knock off one we add three. It is exhausting!

To add to it all we are having to deal with the regime that are a few members of the ARC/HOA. They will not give us our builder's deposit of $2K back because they want us to put more plants on the sides, and immediately adjacent to the house!! We have put gravel around the house for two feet. as the overhand would limit the rain and it is easier to maintain, plus on one side it hides a French drain, which carries water away from the house when it rains. We have put so much work into our property and thought everything out and their decision is totally subjective. The wording on standards and criteria is "A fifty feet (50") area around the home constitutes the yard lawn of your home site must be landscaped and sodded with St. Augustine (grass). (We have a variation for the more eco-friendly zoysia.) All areas, which are not yard lawn, paved, or landscaped, must be left in natural vegetation or pasture." Remember this is a minimum! Further clarification says (3") perimeter landscaping is required along the front and sides of a residence.  It may also be required along the rear if it can be viewed from a roadway. Excluding the front of a residence, any side that cannot be directly viewed from the roadway and is not adjacent to another RC property will not be required to be fully landscaped. All landscaped areas must be irrigated with an underground or drip irrigation system."

Now we are an interior lot, not a corner lot; no one has yet built either side of us. They take landscaping as meaning plants, but the actually definition of landscape is to change the contours of the land, often mistakenly used in reference to plants. Now I have put in excess of 300 plants and 150 trees. What they would like us do to in plant a hedge along the sides of the property, we have Bougainvillea along the east side and have left the other side because we play soccer, and use the wall for kicking a ball against. I mean we have two kids and are not in a retirement community!! Needless to say, we have done everything we want and intended to do. The phrase this is "not going to happen over our dead bodies" comes to mind. The silly thing is we have gone way beyond the minimum required. All around the property we have planted Crape Myrtles every 25 ft., they grow to 30-35 ft. high and wide so will completely hide the house in about five years, and they are very fast growing (see pics below). Inside this we have three Maples (presently 18 ft. tall), which will hide the west wall, which is the one they hate, with the ironwork in it and also four Japanese blueberries - so almost all view will be obstructed given time. Both these trees grow easily to 40 ft+. Now we planned how it would look not only immediately but also in the years to come. Obviously although only 26 houses have been built of a potential 116, a few of the earlier occupants seem to think they can tell everyone what to do.

So as you can imagine we are pretty fed up. The trouble is that they have bullied others into doing this and therefore feel they have the right. At the end of the build you feel you have had enough, and so it is easy to give in. Well, it would be rude to tell you where they can shove it. Ultimately, I know what I have done - I can manage and I don’t need any more work for something I don’t want. Plus, we don't want to provide a hiding spot or home to snakes and creepy crawlies where the kids (and us) like to play. I mean I hate the old "sue them" mentality, but if the kids got bitten by something lurking in a hedge we did not want, but were made to install, surely that would put them in a precarious legal position?? Silly, silly over something so subjective and basically a made-up rule! Any ideas or opinions on this please type in the comments. All ideas and or support welcome.



Driveway in
Front from the north
A couple of steps back
I guess I loaded this twice
View from northeast
View from the east
Southeast view, rear of property.
Without the zoom
Southwest of the property
View from the west, the wall they don't like. I am standing in front of and between the trees!!!
East boundary Crape Myrtles every 25 ft. and Magnolias shielding the garage view
Crape Myrtles on the west boundary, in the distance the maples and further on, if you squint you see the Japanese Blueberries.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/8/2008 2:39:06 PM

I just had to blog because we got some amazing pics.  The other evening before we put in the vinyl fencing we had the most beautiful light and just had to take some pics.  The fencing is all in now, lights are up on the driveway pillars and we just have to finish the gravel on the west side of the house and on the edge of the drive.

One of the trees I planted in the bed in front of our master bathroom has flowered, it truly is stunning, it is called an "Angels Trumpet", it is really hard to get because the plant is miss-used mainly by kids as it can be (very dangerously) used to make a tea which is an hallucinogen, however not being druggies and appreciating a "pretty" (as Lynn would say) plant I really wanted one.  Wow, it is not just pretty it is absolutely stunning.

Finally my lovely sister has been in hospital for the last 10 days and is finally home with her newborn son "Finlay James Judge", born 28th June at 1119hrs weighing just 4lbs, they have both been through a lot, but everything is okay now.  Well done Becky, congratulations Steve and big cuddles to little Finlay.  If they let me I'll post a piccie in due course.  A very chuffed and proud Unkie Lisa.

More outside pics to follow when the gravel is finished, then as far as we are concerned, other than maintenance the outside is DONE!!  Or though we are considering some screening we really need wardrobe rails first!!


Familiar Friends.
View to the south (rear) of the house, in the amazing light.
View again which includes our tidied up cabbage palm tree.
To the SW of the house looking back in the amazing light, (pre-fences to hide the well, A/C and electrical/cable, gas stuff.
Our amazing Angel Trumpet tree.
Rupert showing our amazing tree.
Rupert again showing off our stunning tree.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 6/17/2008

I thought I'd update with some pics of the plants we have put in.  So far 119 of the 123 trees are in. And 206 of the 214 plants and shrubs are in.  I'll do final surround pics when the A/C/Well/Electrical box vinyl privacy fencing is installed it is due to be delivered the end of this week.  My goodness you'd think given the current economic climate getting bids would be easy, but having had bids well over the odds and lots of suppliers not reply at all, we are getting the fencing through a friend!!

We moved in and are really pleased, although unlike having a builder there are still lots of jobs to do.  We have concentrated on the outside to date as we were persuaded to put in our final inspection, although we told them at the time we needed 60 days and would fail, but they just love putting us in violation, I say they, we are actually just talking about 2 or 3 peps, who are sadly not occupied with real life enough if you ask us.

Building seems to have stopped, 3 houses have run out of money, (two by builders who have gone out of business and one who stopped being paid???)  One is in mid build but nothing new has started.

We love our property but hate the regime we seemed to have moved into.  Apparently our landscaping is not up to scratch, we have put five bougainvillea at the side of the house and don't want anything more, on the other side after 16 ft of fencing is going in with Mandeville and Bleeding Heart Vine trained up it also, we want the wall clear, we like the sides being minimalistic and then we can kick a ball around with the kids without worrying about damaging plants or lurking snakes.  However they have actually put it in writing/email they believe they own the outside of our house.  We even have landscape approval twice as we increased the number of Crepe Myrtles to 72 so they are spacing every 25ft inside out perimeter boundary. Give them a chance they will grow to 25ft wide and 30ft high and shield the whole house but we are talking about people who are into instant gratification rather than deferred gratification, meaning they have little or no vision, again our opinion.  So we feel we are nearing the end of this but I'm not holding my breath as they say.  

Lets us know what you think.  We like it and I've learned more about Florida plants than I ever thought I would, we have gone for the tropical look and lots of colour, as we were going for a Mediterranean look and found the Pamela Crawford books very helpful, but choosing zone 9 plants in the main and we found a nursery near us that specializes in exotic hardy plants, so we shall see as they say.  Hope you like the pics, more to follow in a few weeks.


Some visitors. A family of 4 Sandhill Cranes, they stand almost 5 ft tall and we see then almost every morning.
Front of Garage
Front of Garage from the side.
Front of Garage/Office from other side.
Front of M.Bathroom
Front of M.Bath from side
Front of M.Bath other side
In front of Pillars, either side of the drive.
Other Pillar.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 2/23/2008 8:41:59 AM

Yep we had our C/O inspection on 21st Feb and we passed. :)  So, so pleased and relieved, but there is still lots to do.  I had to call Metro Garage Door as they had taken two bolts out of the garage door framing and not replaced them, the inspector noticed this and asked me to call the garage door company to get this rectified, when I said of course I would.  I called them at 9am and they duly came out yesterday.  Sadly however just before they left I noticed the hammer drill had pushed the stucco off the exterior of the wall!  Nooooo.  Mike was mortified, so were we as we have a punch out list aka to do list and every time we knock another item off three more get added and we needed this like a hole in the head.  So I called the stucco company we used as they had covered up the electrical outlets outside and the electrician had to go digging for them and we needed to do something about that as well.  Could not get hold of the boss but got hold of the Drew and he offered to come out Monday (free) with a bucket of stucco and quickly patch it up.  Wow, someone is smiling on us, so we just have to paint the patches when cured (dried).  The carpet went down on Wednesday and Thursday and it truly finished the house, wow!

We have now planted 114 trees in total and have just 4 to go or 8 if I can locate 3x Royal Poinciana’s and 1x Hass Avocado tree.  Thank goodness we had the Mini excavator (Which I have thoroughly enjoyed driving) because we picked up the 19 Queen Palms this week which had come up from Miami, $60 each.  They were meant to be 7-8 ft tall, 3-4" caliper however it turns out they had run out of those so they upgraded us and we picked up the (unbeknown to us) first 6 which looked great but were very heavy and we had to use a chain and the excavator (digger) to just lift them off the trailer!!!  Rupe then went to fetch the second load of 7 palms, and called me (Luckily we had placed the palms by the holes and not buried them!)  Lisa these trees are bigger." "OK"  "No Lisa these trees are a lot bigger!"  Well there in nothing we could do but move the first trees to the house as we wanted similar size tree either side of the drive.  Well the trees were not just big, they were huge. 14-16 ft tall and over 12" caliper and we could barely lift them without the digger tipping over!!!!  So a few heart stopping moments!  On the 3rd load the trees got bigger still but not by so much.  The largest tree (now we have hired a huge trailer) had its root ball at the front of the trailer and its fronses (spelling) almost another trailer length off the other end of the trailer!!!  Rupe had tied a plank of wood at the end so it was tilted up.  Thank goodness the Cherry Lake is only 6 miles from us.  I will include pics tomorrow as it is raining cats and dogs and I have to start packing and clearing our rental house and we pack up tomorrow and the POD will be moved on Monday.  We still have hardware to put on doors and the painters for the trim were meant to come back by now to paint the missing bi-fold door (long story) but of course want to do that on Monday!!!!  Window adjusters come Monday too, so the mania continues.  I must mention Mum and Dad flew into the country Monday and although tired and lots of other things going on, worked flat out with us on Thursday and Friday getting those massive palms in.  I'm not sure we would have got it done without them.  Rupe also has taken time off work to work alongside me and has worked amazingly hard.  This has had two major benefits, we have got a lot achieved, and the company has been fab and made it so much less lonely.  So a BIG thank you to everyone who has helped along the way, it has meant more than you know.

Having done heavy work for 4 weeks straight now must add it is not easy.  Motrin (iprobrufen) has been a godsend and every evening and in the morning I can barely move, too much lactic acid build up but what can you do???   It has been a long tiring 9.5 months of build with over a year of planning beforehand.  We are SO, SO looking forward to living in our house and getting back a "normal" manic life.  Words cannot describe how much some time off is really needed by us all.

Below pics of trailer plus trees, our fireplace, Lotties late in the evening 4th Birthday.  Take Care.





Rupe and Abbie with 3 Crepe Myrtles, 3 Flane Red Maples and 3 Miss Chloe Magnolias.
Our 4 yr old on her birthday, time passes very quickly.
New pink umbrella and Abbie's arm.
Our fire (cement yet to be done)and carpet in!
Lottie & hat in the evening.
Lottie and cake.
Abbie and Lottie the diva in matching dressing gowns.
Plus Lottie wanted her own tool kit to help Mummy, bless!

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 2/17/2008 7:02:59 PM

Another busy week.  We have planted between Thursday and today (Sunday) 81 trees.  There is still so much to be done.  Numbers on house, mail box in, chalking, more trees hardware on doors, cement fireplace, paint missed bits, touch up bits where subs have bashed into walls.  The list just gets longer. 

Why so many trees, well we have to put five Oaks ( 30 gal 10ft high 2-2.5" caliper width) in as we submitted a replanting plan so we could get rid of the Lantana by the wetland and thats what St. Johns Water Managment required in order to get approval.  Three Oaks as required by our HOA (min 12ft high 2.5-3" caliper which is a 45 gal) Then we got 72 Natchez Crepe Myrtles!  Why because we are using the Company and are buying them wholesale from Cherry Lake Tree Farm, we hired a trailer and a mini excavator (Sunbelt $500 for the week or $1000 for the month) and it works out so much cheaper and prettier than putting up hundreds of feet of vinyl 3 rail fencing.  ($37 a pop for 6-7ft)  We have placed them every 25ft and due to easement acces they are 7.5 ft inside our boundary.  They are a bit sparse now being our winter but I will take a picture when they leaf and bloom and then in the autumn their leaves turn a beautiful shade of red.  Rupe liked the multiple trunks best (four to five trucks per tree) and they have proven so much easier particularly on the 900ft run to get in a straight line.  We have put in four Miss Chloe Magnolias but like them so much we will probably get another five and they provide a barrier for viewing straight into the garage, plus they are evergreen, we have three Flame Red Maples coming and 4 Japanese Blueberries. 

I must add Kris yet again stopped by for the whole afternoon and was a great helped us out big time, we never would have gt so far so fast without him, plus he made it so much more fun.  Kris if you ever read this major thank you's

Our carpet, well the one we picked ended up not being reserved :( so we had alot of running around to do last week as delivering March was not going to fly.  Suffice to say Rupe and I selected another carpet and it will be installed Wed/Thu & Fri.  Then Rupe has to work so we are now moving fingers crossed Mon 25th, but we have yet to ok this with the property managers so major sweet talking tomorrow.  We are going for our C/O (Certificate of Occupancy) on Thursday 21st  (also Lottie's 4th Birthday, bless her) so all those who have been following this please keep your fingers crossed for us.  Hope you like the pics, more to follow, we have to tidy up inside so I will take some pics this week but one is included of the granite completed and the kitchen tile.  Boy there is so much to do.


Yours truly digging holes, for the Crepe Myrtles.
Magnolias on the back of the trailer
Lots of Trees, Holes, the Girls and Me.
End of a long Saturday. Kris was a major help for us, and Susan also joined us at the end of the day
Street Urchin and Product placement.
Our kitchen tile, pic with the flash!
Our kitchen tile pic without the flash. It gives you the idea though

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 2/11/2008

Some pics of the side of the house where the window trim is finished, yes I know it looks white but it is an off white, very slightly off, called (get this and no we did not make up the name) "Divine Pleasure".  Plus we do not usually let our daughter eat this mucky, but as she was so hungry and therefore being a real pain, we picked up a Mojo chicken from Publix and shoveled it as fast as we could, on about the fifth mouthful she smiled (yes she is usually a happy soul unless she's hungry) so we could wash her hands and then after the meal scrub her in the bath. Shall I include a before and after food pic, she may kill me when she's older but here goes.


East side trim painted.
Over garage painted
Before Food
Still before food.
Food not reached source yet.
Hey Food has reached source and it only took five mouthfuls! :)

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 2/10/2008 12:33:28 PM

Okay first of all we chickened.  We have so much to do and were dreading more painting I managed to get painters in to finish the interior trim.  Meanwhile we have not been idle.  The weekend before last and the week before that, I was loading gravel into the wheelbarrow.  Rupe had dug a drain on the east side of the house as the earth was too high and lined it put in a drain with several grates to take the water away, I filled and covered it with gravel as he was preparing to g to AL.  Did several barrow loads, Rupe was ready to go he did two and then after 50 barrow loads (yes my arms were dead) and 9pm that evening filled with gravel.  Then over the weekend I dug an area out of 2 ft from the edge of the house put in pavers and filled the remainder one foot for 80ft in length with gravel, however on Sunday I had a massive amount of help.  Our neighbors who also OB'ed drove past and I thought jokingly said "you need help?", I replied "Always, but its your weekend off work!"  Smiled and though no more of it.  40 mins later Kris appears on ride-on mower with a trailer with his two kids.  That was great as it kept our 2 more than happy and occupied and Kris loaded up his trailer and then helped deposit the gravel where required.  A lot of work has got to be the understatement of the century, in fact Kris caught up with me laying pavers and it was impossible to stay ahead.  The good company was more than appreciated and I do miss Rupe at the weekends and we got a shed load done.  Kris' wife came by with drinks as the kids and painter had gone through the load we had very quickly as it was very hot.  A Big Big thank you Kris above and beyond the call of duty and it’s so great that we have such great neighbors and friends.  The HOA are still being pains in the rear, they do not like our color and although was have it signed off on we got approval they are still bitching and insinuating we did not, strangely by the very person who signed the documentation.  Luckily I kept copies of everything as they seem to have lost the original set and the copies we provided from what I understand.  Although some members clearly remember giving approval it was not documented in the minutes of Feb 2007 so that must mean we are lying.  Sadly the ethos of the few is the opposite of generating a good company spirit, and domineering the community with there thoughts, opinions and loading them on us.  I had heard ages ago one did not like the way garages were as he can see them coming through the gates!!!  However although he had possession of the plans the Oct prior to us breaking ground it did not click until the walls went up, but he still aired getting us to change them, incredible!!  Luckily for us more sober opinions dominated that one that time, which is just as well as we would have had no option but to sue.  Unbelievable!!!  So as you can imagine certain members of the HOA are not exactly encouraging good will to all men.

Enough about them though.  This week we had 86 pallets of sod delivered.  65 pallets of Zoysia and 19 bumped up to 21 of Bahia for the swale to satisfy the anally retentive on the HOA (opps said I would not mention them again).  Sadly the Bahia was great but very full so we definitely got less than 400 sqft per pallet with the swale, so I ordered some more as our neighbor wanted some so we are sharing an artic (truck/lorry), so another 5 are due for us 10 for our neighbor Karl and possibly 2 for our other neighbor David who was to have 4 on Friday but I nicked 2 (with his blessing I hasten to add)  We used Dwight Meeker at Florida Nu-Turf who was getting them from 2 hours away but them they ended coming from Lake Jem.  Really good quality stuff so pleased and we got decent rates to as I was ordering so much, $48 per pallet for Bahia and $86 per pallet for Zoysia this including the trucking and a forklift on the back to the truck to position them, as we were paying to have this included we did not hire a forklift mush to the chagrin of our installers.  Ours let us down at the last minute by (just as well admitting 3 of their workers did not have Workers Comp of exemption certificates ($16 per pallet to install), so I skipped to my second option and he reneged on his offer of $17 per pallet Kenny was his name with another Landscaping company, so I slated him to Service Magic, so I called our neighbor who kindly gave me his contact who turned out to be Enrique who supervised our pour for the slab and driveway.  I knew him already so happy punter here, plus I admire the companies who divert there energies into many areas in order to survive in these times, plus he had al the paperwork.  Now I did not expect a great price as David got $12 per pallet but when they offered $15 per pallet that is what I was going for in the first place.  Just as a side note one of the callers to bid on the install was Advantage landscapers or something, a chirpy chap who rung and offered $150 to install per pallet, when Rupe politely said thank you for calling but "NO" he got his knickers in a twist and he starting being very rude, saying this call was costing him.  I was off my call at that time and Rupe handed him to me.  I explained to him in as small words as possible that his price was so way off there really was no point negotiating, he went off on one at that point saying it cost him $30 to call us with Service Magic.  I kindly told him that he needed to be more competitive then and that was not my problem, it was so ridiculous I was getting the giggles because this little man just did not shut up and wanted to rant, so I politely told him I did not have the time and needed to hang up but as hanging up on people is rude that I was telling I was going to hang up.  A strange and bizarre situation.  ServiceMagic called me later that day and asked if I had been contacted, I had but enlightened them what had gone on.  Strangely on checking neither company came up looking the other day, so maybe they took note.  That said although I have used Service Magic for bids on occasion I think I have only used 2 companies through them, so don't use them as your only source, there are plenty more competitive people out there especially at the moment.

Finally some old pics below of the granite install, I have not taken pics inside for a while and tiling is finished, appliances in, trim painting nearly done, but I did take some of the new sod, I think we need a roller and trailer tomorrow and I must get up there as another load of washing has just finished.  Move date will be 20th Feb, as that’s when our POD is collected, so more sod on Monday and trees Mon, Tues and Wed. I must go carpet shopping too and have booked an appointment with empire.  I am wary as I have read many complaints online, but not in our area and a builder who is OBing for himself at Beauclair Ranch Club uses them and gave them a good reference.  SO we shall see.  Hope you like the sod and yes it does need to be rolled. 

Just in case you think we are taking it all in our stride and this sounds simple, not so, the last bit is definitely the hardest and there is not a muscle in my body that does not ache, Motrin has been a God send.  We have been up at 0530hrs every morning this week and not left the site until 2000hrs, the kids in bed late at 2100hrs and us around Midnight if I have not fallen asleep mid meal on the sofa.  Rupe left me on the sofa the other day thinking he would wake me in 15 mins, but he fell asleep on our bed and awoke to wake me at 3am, yes it’s that bad.  With kids washing piles up, as does long needed housework, there are definitely not enough hours in the day.



Sod either side of our drive
Zoysia sod on the west side of the house.
Sod at the back where one day there may be a pool. Notice Cabbage palm has had a haircut as have the thre oaks at the bottom of the land, love our chainsaw :)
Sod on the rear of the house
Can you see all that gravel on the left, probably not, the lines are kind of wavy, we'll call it adding character:)
Sod, pavers around the garage apron
Back up to the pillars
East side of the entry part of the drive Zoysia and Bahia.
West side of the entry part of the drive.
Bahia in the swale and Lotties head
Long view of the bahia in the swale.
This is how grubby the kids get pre (and probably post) sod for those in the UK, SOd over here is not rude it means "grass", thought I'd better mentioned that and yes we still use the word as a play on words.
Abbie getting her "Terrific Kid of the Week" award 2 weeks ago.
Old pics of the granite having gone in. Master Bathroom
Installing the granite bar over our Ikea porcelain sink
Another angle of the granite going in a month ago now.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 1/31/2008 9:29:03 PM

Well apologies about the gap but its due to sheer hard work and a lot has progressed finally : ) 

I'll start with the most recent good news, as we passed our FINAL inspections today. We had the Gas and Electric Pre- Power the week before last, but as the plumber was too busy we had to wait on them and so today we passed our Electric, Low Voltage, Plumbing and HVAC inspection.  Now the only inspection to go is our C/O (Certificate of Occupancy).  Now the downside, we also found out we could not call our C/O yesterday, as online there is not a box for Pre-power so you effectively call the Electric FINAL twice, so each time I rung Lake County and spoke with them and they told me Environmental Health Dept had put a hold on Permit so we could not get our C/O.  Errr Why??

So I rang the Environmental Health Dept, because we passed our Septic inspection back in August.  Apparently it was due to our well guys not filing a "Completion report" with that dept.  They should have done it within 30 days of drilling the well.  The only way of knowing this is if you go to the Permit front page, which we had not as we know it backwards and only request inspections and check we've passed online.  Now here is the rub we used A & B Well Drilling, they were fine except you never knew when they would be turning up and of course we are meant to be walking cheque books and have to be there with a cheque whenever they are there and even then you get suspicious looks.  We one part of the well, shortly after installation, was leaking as they said they guaranteed their work we called them out.  It was where the plastic met the metal pipe, which was no surprise as they had made that branch long and they fixed by shortening it a little and we used stakes to prop it up as we were considering then to put the well tanks in the garage.  However shortly after the same happened again, so we called them out again.  This time they tried to charge me and a plastic tube was broken.  Well they insisted this had been driven into and tried to charge me $175 or $275 bucks!!  Luckily for me I had used my last cheque on a previous person and hadn't worried as I was not due to pay anyone anything for the remainder of the day, until hey presto they show up again me meant to know they were coming by osmosis or something.  Rodney Fagan was really pissed with me, which confused me at first as to why as it should have been the other way around he also started insisted the glass tube had been damaged by someone driving into it which as I pointed out was impossible as it was surrounded by the well, 2 filtration tanks, the main tank and the plastic salt container how could anything bigger than a snake damage it but somehow leaving those items untouched???  After they left shock wore off and called his wife Laura and told her flat that any charge should have been cleared with me first and she had confirmed wit me they guaranteed there work or so why a charge for work that had only just been done, plus I had paid them on the spot every time but this was a little much.  She was great and apologized and did call me back saying Rodney should not have acted that way or tried to charge us, sadly there after was the last we spoke as she said we were to only deal with Rodney who did not take our calls, which we did not mind as I did feel he had a nasty smell under his nose when I dealt with him, obviously didn’t like dealing with a women, (pretty much got to the point of spotting them a mile off now).  Dec rolls on and we cannot contact them to come and move the tanks as verbally agreed.  All their telephone numbers have disconnected so after 2 weeks we went to Keith Ratchford who Cara and Jason used to move the wells to find out we'll urn out our filtration system if we use it for house water and irrigation so we put in a chlorine system for the irrigation only so we do not have the iron or sulfur smell from the well water.

Now we need to contact A and B Well drilling urgently, I googled them, and called so many people.  Finally a long shot I found another Fagan near where their address was on Google, who also runs a well company and as luck would have it he turns out to be their Uncle Greg, so he gave me a number, who gave me another number who gave me Rodney’s cell phone.  I left a message and another message and Rupe started calling him too.  Meanwhile Environmental Health who I'd explained my dilemma too, happened to have in the office someone who had recently used them, and they gave me the number they had which turns out to the number Uncle Greg had given me, so I called them again and got a lady called Dana, I think was Andy's wife who was in a better mood and explained our dilemma.  Finally this morning we get a result.  They were meant to call me, as Rupe had been speaking with them, so I could be at the land.  However in typical fashion show up call me to get in the gates, me having left the site 40 mins ago.  They were very pleasant on the phone to Rupe and were even going to take the report to Tavares which impressed me.  Then they call to get details such as the permit number, suddenly they are not going to Tavares and would leave it under the garage door, what!!!  They knew it was urgent but I could do the trip to Tavares, Gees thanks.  It takes 3 hours I had appointments all afternoon and I had to collect Abbie from school as Rupe was away working.  I remembered Environmental Health saying they usually faxed it so I said can you fax it then, (guess what I'm not holding my breathe so I raced up to the site had one of my meetings, raced home to fax it, turned up late to collect Abbie from school, then raced to Lowes and the stone company.  I guess what annoyed me is they caused this situation and expected me at the busiest time to drop everything.  Would we use them again, err NO!!  We know exactly who we would use next time and they are not the cheapest but them are genuinely pleasant only little more and lets face it a few dollars is worth it to be treated with respect, professionalism, and know you can call them back and they'll be fine about it.

Okay I've vented my spleen, what else the tilers finished mid Jan and they had to demo the exterior wall from John Morelli's (1st tiler) attempt.  Now it's finished I can so see why, John Morelli and Loy had got themselves into a right old mess, they had no idea what to do next and if they'd carried on the top grout line would have been missing where it meets by greater than 2 inches.  It would have looked terrible.  I will post pics later as it needs to be cleaned since the granite guy cut fine black dust has got everywhere.  Plus only so much time.

We finished the fire which we got from Canada.  It looks great, weighs 600lbs, having lifted it (in pieces I hasten to add) I can pretty much verify the weight.  Bloody hell is it heavy!  Its called thin cast stone, well then how heavy is average cast stone?  It cost $1,400 and another $400 for shipping which was so much cheaper than buying thin or any cast stone in the US as they start $2,000 and once you've paid shipping and other incidental costs you are lucky to see change out of $2,800.  Again pics to follow.  Lifting the mantel on of the first time was a struggle, I marked it up and bolted a 2 by 4, 4ft to the studs, then some construction adhesive and up it went later, got it up to waist height looked at Rupe who was also struggling so I knew it was not me wimping out, it was the bit of getting it from waist height to shoulder height, the body sort of said you did this once and you want to do it again, forget it.  I still dont know how I did it but all I kept thinking was don't drop it, its too much money.  Goodness it hurt, but we did it.

Something which has caused aching limbs too, is I got to play with my chainsaw this week.  Woman with chainsaw beware!!!  Well I had great fun doing the cabbage palm, Rupe thought it looked great but I had not finished, he started pleading with me to leave some leaves :) However he could not have been too worried as he took the kids home and left me to it and the upright leaves will lower but it looks great now and the undergrowth has gone so less worries about snakes.  The next day although it is a light, easy start, holding it high had done the arm muscles in.  But fun takes precedent as we have had precious little of that lately and we set about our Oaks trees, this time Rupe and I together, Abbie helped clear branches and thought it was really cool how quickly it chomped through all the branches, we got rid of all the branches up to about 8ft so we have 2 nice canopies and one (the first one) we went a little mad on and it is sort of scalped, but it was growing sideways and we left the main bit growing up. 

Now I can barely pick up things my arms hurt so much, and it was amusing having Ram watch us shaking his head as if we were a) kids, b) about to lose our heads with this toy which neither of us had ever used before, especially as the mound of tree now cut is massive and we were holding it over our heads getting final little branches, were we being stupid, don't worry Mum an Dad, “no”, but did we have fun “Oh yes” and it only took less than 2 hours :).  Still we have the wetland area to go now, but this weekend maybe as my arms are truly pathetic.

Whose Ram, well Rupe was on the way to Sunbelts to hire a JCB, as if you read back in the summer Colin had screwed up our final grade.  (God it sounds like we have had rotten luck, we have had two main rotters the 1st tiler and Colin irrigation and final grade, we have had the odd subs we would not use again due to attitude such as the well people and the truckers charging by the hour for bunking off at the side of the road, the wall people were plain daft over what it took tapcons to solve) but we have actually been so lucky and had so many superstars and I will list those when we are through at the end.) He went via Home Depot and bumped into someone who asked us for a reference for our framer.  He knew Ram who has a Bobcat and comes by our place to feed his cows everyday and who was reasonable, Rupe called him and met with him, as I was running around like a stupid thing and he took one look at the job we had been done and said “Well your previous guy had no-idea what he was doing did he!”  He's charging us $450 dollars to sort out, well the hire of the JCB was less than a Bobcat at $900 a week (inc delivery) so pay less and get someone else to do the work more or pay more and add another job to our ever growing list, now that was a hard one NOT!!!  Plus we may have someone to help with the Wetland, (I'll find out tomorrow) and maybe our trees :)  Oh yes we have all our appliances finally, however we are waiting a replacement gas cooktop (hob) as on installation ours turned out to be bent.  All Glass and David Miller have been great to deal with. Sears gave us such a runaround until I lost it with Marion  At Fl mall, who was great and seems to be the only person prepared and wanting to help us.

What else, well loads actually but I have a contract to type so I must go, we have sod and trees arriving next week, Cherry Lake Tree Farm (it helps having your own business at times) and we are having quite a few Natchez Crepe Myrtles as they have the red leaves before they fall and are lovely, all in white at only $37 a tree.  We also have some Red Maples, Magnolias (Miss Chloe), Japanese Blueberries, Queen Palms, trying to get a orange, grapefruit and lemon tree.  A Hass avocado tree as we don’t like the Florida avocados and California is colder than Florida, so we are going to see how it grows and finally a few Royal Poinciana’s, which they are still trying to track down.  Been fobbed off loads that it will not survive as no one else has one, however it is the same species and the Golden Rain trees which thrive in Clermont.  SO we are going to try and until someone does who knows, plus it flowers red and has been consistently voted one of the five most beautiful trees, you never know we may start a trend.  Sod we are going to use Zoysia, I have tracked it down to $86 a 400sq ft pallet delivered inc. a forklift on the truck, we have 5 trucks coming delivering 65 pallets plus 19 pallets of Bahia which untreated is $16 a pallet and $32 for bahia with no weeds.  This if for our swale which the HOA insist we do.  We have to lay it within 48hrs or it will die so I have found a company for $17 per pallet, however my neighbor did it for $12 per pallet but he is in the trade, our biggest bid was a company through ServiceMagic wanting $150 per pallet and did not believe us when we politely declined, yes he did realize we were getting the sod.!!!  Actually he was really rude, but there is one born everyday!!

Finally how are we feeling?  Very tired, weary, just want to move, however still loads to do.  We hope if we can clear the hold on the C/O to move in either the week beginning 11th -15th Feb or 18th - 22nd Feb.  But we'll see (if so) it will have taken us 9.5 months, not the fastest, if I had not had any hold-ups it would have been 25 weeks, but maybe next time, what am I saying "Next time"?!  The trouble with Ob-ing is this you are doomed to learning too much, what do I mean well every house you visit you see the good points you also see where greedy builders have cut corners to save a buck or two.  It does not matter if they are tract homes or custom home builders, they all seem to cut corners, so it will be difficult to buy a home because I am sure you are doomed to looking at where corners have been cut and a lack of consideration to things like lowing electric bills and eco-friendly living, they don't cost the earth, poly foam is the insulation of the future, as is keeping the HVAC tons down.  The trouble is a builder will cost things out for the same as we have done then reduce the quality of material to increase their profit, not to pass it on.  We are over budget but only by about 2-3% not bad really.  We were told we could never build for $91 a sf ft, so we are over but not the 20% we were told we'd be.  That said the fat lady has yet to sing and I will include that exact cost per sq ft when I have had time to collate the many receipts. Photos to come I promise, as soon as I can.  Shame we seem to have lost the Oct entry with my sisters wedding on?

Mum: Happy 60th Birthday for tomorrow

Happy New Year Everyone.





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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 12/25/2007 8:11:20 PM

Firstly, A Very Merry Christmas to All.  We have had a great Christmas day, too many presents (many last min as life has been too busy) but they were good all the same, so much turkey and wine but it was great for us to just be with the kids.     Having read the last blog it sounds like I am complaining.  Well about the tilers true, but actually having read another OB's house burnt to the ground something to do with their Poly foam, they used closed cell, I'm really glad we used open-cell now, but I guessing they may fine another cause (actually we had a little closed cell over the lanai!!)  It kind of puts things into perspective. 

We are seeing things like lights going up and we have light inside now to work by as the evenings have drawn in and it makes the house look so totally different, less shell-like and more like a home is evolving.  So please enjoy the pics below of lights, tiling and bamboo.  Dad and I (2 novices) bambooed (is that a word) the 2 rear rooms (thanks everso Dad) and Mum did a lot of hoovering and staining on the stairs and front door inside, before they left for the UK.  I did the front office in bamboo, which was very cathartic and finished last week.  I also include pics of my 2 girls, post Santa's presses and pre-opening the ones under the Christmas tree, who are growing up way too fast and have been so patient with us and this build, they deserve little medals too.  Abbie who has been really bored at times, although now has a little group of friends who she plays with and are lovely.  Charlotte who has had to put up with some really long hours at her pre-school, but loves playing with the big kids too.  Rupe who deserves a medal for going through all this even when away and listening to all the saga's and putting up with all my foibles.

Much Love, Lisa. xxxx.



Our girls.
Our girls 2.
Outside Pendant Light, nicked the idea of stopping it smack into the walls in wind from errrr the "White House". Inspiration comes from everywhere!!
Foyer and Lottie.
Light I really liked from Ikea.
Our Stairs
View from Foyer to end of the land.
Nook and another light we liked.
Kitchens Cabinets, Fridge and Wall Oven. No Granite Yet!!
Our Wardrobes' lights, thank you Ikea
Kitchen again.
Front Offce Bamboo floor.
F/Office Bamboo again.
Cutting the bambbo around the curved step.
Step with spacers to be removed.
Lookng in the front office.
Toilets are in, but banned from use presently :)
Foyer detail.
Utility Room, a washer and the girls.
Outside Fans

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 12/24/2007

To cut a long, long story very short, we will not be moving in until mid Jan. at the earliest. We hired a tiler through "Dennis Grover" who I CANNOT now recommend at all. To cut a long story short, "John Morelli" continually flouted our contract, asking for money in advance over what was agreed and nothing was ever his fault. Just one of many for instances: the pool bath door/trim was out of line and not totally square, so although the tile edge abutted it at the bottom, at the top there is quite a gap. I stupidly believed the tiler, but after he walked off the job I checked it with my level and of course having now had many bids, I understand he never shot a line before commencing.

John Morelli was disrespectful, rude, a bully, and quite frankly acts as though he is “losing it” in my humble opinion. I must say I think we met the "tiler from Hell." Again my opinion, however he actually did very little tiling and what he did finally do was way inferior to the two guys who work with him. He mixed thinset, etc. and did a lot of talking mainly on one of his guys' phones. He used "Loy" from Palmetto Tile whose work was fine, on the floor. Sadly we now know he was completely out of his depth with our master bathroom, which is not really intricate if you compared it to some really posh homes, but neither is it a rectangle! We are using Grade 3 porcelain tile, not travertine or marble or anything like granite, however it was obviously beyond their capability, although they would never admit it. So as agreed, I paid them 10% on arrival on the first day, then they wanted the second payment of 80% which was not due until completion, with the exception of the kitchen backsplash. Then, a final 10% on completion of the kitchen, which was post granite install. I was not happy paying them ahead of time, but reluctantly agreed initially to $2,000, however John Morelli went ape over that and so Rupe talked me into 70%, so I got him to sign an amendment to our contract, emphasizing no further payments to be requested until specified completion. I now know it took him 10 days to do a two-day job, (according to my new bids) and they left and came back. They finished all the floor stuff, the easy stuff, with the exception of the master bath floor and took 7 hours to grout two relatively small areas. (My dad did some of the grouting they missed the weekend after they walked, and it took him less than an hour) and two rows in the bathroom. Length was 14 ft. (for two guys, may I add). He then asked for the next 10%. I said "No" and all hell broke loose.

Dennis said he was caught in the middle and was useless. He actively encouraged me to pay him, but could not or would not rein in his sub, (he assured me at outset for any sub they had to do a good job or he would not use them again). He has offered zero help since, and not even offered to come and inspect the work on the bathroom wall which has to be ripped down and started again due to the amount of thinset used and the bad cuts and basically doing an appalling job. Dennis, whom I asked to call me back, never did. He also has not responded to my email below:

:Dear Dennis,

As I promised, I am resending the email to you I sent on the 5th Dec. This includes pics of the work still to do and the amendment John Morelli signed to the contract which he flouted within the week. 

Two things he has flagrantly lied about are me refusing to get more thinset and the acrylic glue. I was exasperated, as Lottie was sick and each time I bought thinset I thought it was enough to complete the project, but none of this I vocalized. But after John Morelli announced he was leaving the job, I was not going to leave the house open. I don’t bluff, and they said they were leaving. I was staying to ensure nothing out of hand was done, as all trust had been shattered at this point. The total outstanding tile is 220 sq ft in the bathroom if no tiles are replaced, which is impossible. And 35 sq ft of kitchen backsplash. Both these figures are under what I originally estimated. As the kitchen units are now in, I can accurately measure.

I also include a signed copy of one of the subsequent estimates, made by a sub who was kind enough to put in writing  immediately on the bid what he thought of the work on the walls to date. The floor work has been described by various tilers as "okay", "adequate", "all right”. I was pleased with it, but realize, having had mistakes pointed out by tilers who are seasoned professionals, it is not as good as I thought. The floor work has never been a problem, but they were obviously completely out of their depth with anything other than a rectangle bathroom. It is now obvious they had absolutely no intention of finishing the job. 7 hours to grout two relatively small areas, cut two tiles for the semicircles, something John had spent hours doing. (When politely asked what had they been doing from 7:45 am to 2:20 pm they said the semicircles.) But they mounted less tiles than I have fingers. That's ridiculous. He was obviously just waiting for me and my checkbook, my daughter being sick that day; keeping me off site inconvenienced that. We frankly saved ourselves from being scammed out of another $340. 

We think we had extended this guy enough trust by paying him 80%. The fact you seem to support rather than discourage your subs demanding early payment, even though it flouts the spirit of the contract, something that is actively discouraged in every other quarter of the construction industry including services such as Service Magic, does beg the question "what is your guarantee worth?” I assume you not calling me back today says it all.

Thank you, but we will not be using your business again.

Yours disappointedly,

Lisa Parker and Rupert Parker

We have not found another tiler yet. I have taken on three but on arriving, the first two increased their bids from $1,700 to $2,500, (so much for guaranteeing their bids) so they were shown the door, and the average has been about $2,500. The highest was $4,200. The third I chased the day he was meant to start. He said he decided he did not feel like doing the job. Obviously not hungry enough!! We are talking about so little square footage. Though it is not easy compared with floor work, neither is it the Sistine Chapel. Wall work should run at $2.25 to $3 per sq ft, not $12 per sq ft. I am interviewing more tilers this and next week as we had only $680 left in this part of the house and I think they were piling on the money thinking I was desperate to get in by Christmas. We pretty much knew this was going to be impossible the day John Morelli walked.

SO hopefully when January bills start arriving we will meet an honest tiler who wants an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. That person I will be happy to recommend!! It should take 3-4 days' work for someone experienced, although some have said three days, others have said as much as 14 days, (Yeah, right!). All bar one tiler have agreed the exterior wall has to be torn down and re-Durocked and started over. The only exception was to use a motif rope to hide the tile going back into the wall and I was dubious about their experience. One mentioned they have to do a good job or I can claim on their liability insurance, not so sure on that one - any advice is welcomed.

Everything else is fine. All the trades (except plumbers, due to absent tile around the master showers and bath) come back 2nd Jan. We have lights and fans up, the final appliances arrive this week, and the dishwasher on the second week in Jan. Granite is put in 28th and 29th Dec. Trim carpenter finishes his stuff this weekend. We still have to paint the trim inside and out, but have lots of time to do that, plus we must get to re-grading and sodding and planting trees outside. We need over 20 trees in order to get our C/O (Certificate of Occupancy). Not moving and not moving in by Christmas has taken the pressure off, although naturally we were disappointed not to spend Christmas in our house. Zero work on house on Christmas Day is planned.


Major lack of tile!
Really dodgy cuts! Chipped tile!
A lot of thinset used!!
A tile I made Loy pull off as it was 3/4" shorter than the bottom tile!!

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 11/27/2007

I spoke with the property manager over the phone about arranging the walk-through of the rental house we were in. We were moving this week because the landlord wanted to move his mother in. So PODS had been booked, a hotel/vacation place booked and deposit paid, and utilities called to be disconnected. I asked if 11 am was too late on Friday morning, as I understood they wanted the place by noon. Then the news drops, oh they changed their minds, it's going back on the rental market. I stand there in utter disbelief. Err, WHAT? The house is not ready, you told us not to ask for any more extensions and now they don't want to move! Can we stay then until the house is ready??? Yes. Rupe was so so so so so so mad, but then it was big big big big relief, as today we should be packing everything up and the POD was due to arrive. SO we are in the process of telling the utilities not to disconnect us, and WE DON'T HAVE TO MOVE TWICE. YAAAAAAAAAAY! Plus, we'll be far more comfortable over Christmas if the house is not done in time. Even the place we'd arranged to stay has been so kind to say we'll get our deposit back. Someone way up high is definitely keeping an eye on us. Stress level has definitely dropped.

Tile is going in at the moment, I'll take pics at the end of this week. Three tilers in all, two working and doing a great job, and one the big arrogant "I am the boss" who is never wrong (watching them and generally doing infinitely less of that thing called, what's it called, oh yes, work!) He had the nerve to proclaim they are doing more tile than agreed, until I showed him the paperwork I did for my measurements, which we went through with a fine tooth comb with him doing measurements and comparing. We agreed to a price on my taking his measurements, which were over my own, but I know I'm a novice. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt, then I evened it out by upping it to 1,900 ft and then at $1.75 a sq ft, I upped it to $3,400. On the condition if there were any small additions there would be no quibbling over price, just do it. Luckily it's all detailed in our contract. But boy, is he a whinger, then tries to make it out as if it's a joke. I am good for jokes and larking around, but question someone's integrity and allude that they are scamming you, that is no joke. He is on very thin ice at the moment. However his two workers who he talks to like sh** are really great, polite, professional, and doing a good job, so I'll try and get their names to recommend to the other central FL O-B's for the end of this project. We really like the porcelain tile we have chosen from Colonial Tile, in Clermont. All of our choices with them were available. We were sick of choosing tile in previous shops, only to be told, 'Oh that's discontinued,' or 'We can't get that in your quantities, they only have 200 sq. ft.' I negotiated a 10% discount at the outset as we were going to order so much tile through them.

Finally a big thank you to Mum and Dad who have been up doing stuff, too. Dad helped me do, and then finished, the studio bamboo floor that looks fab. One of the nice tilers who actually does bamboo floors said we'd done a really great job. Rupe and I will start the gym and possibly the office today. The stairs look great, Mum, as does the inside on the front door. Dad put mortar on the outside of one of the sliding glass doors that was missed and then painted it. The balcony rails and window rails they painted black over the horrid red primer, a big thank you, as that was not a job I relished, as it was going to be very time-consuming and fiddly, and you need endless patience. Plus Mum did our wardrobes and bonus room walls with interior paint. There are 101 other things which I am not instantly recalling, all while multiple other things are happening. Sadly, the kitchen does not arrive until 7th Dec, Rupe's birthday, although he'll be in Atlanta! This is truly a crazy, crazy time. But it so helps us that we don't have to move this week. Me still jumping up and down, up and down, up and down.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 11/12/2007

So many pics. Just adding pics of mitered glass, pics of the results of the rain, bye bye Pac Van, Lottie's first day at her new preschool, Abbie in her Vocabulary Hat Parade. Life still goes on while we build, it's just mega, mega busy. Just want to get to the end now.


Mitered glass window
Driveway under rainwater, luckily it drained quickly.
Last pic of Pac Van, luckily it dried out pre-collection.
Lottie's off to preschool
Cool Backpack which she choose. Note Uncle Monkey!!!
Abbie in her Vocabulary Hat Parade
Hat Parade photo made onto her school website. :)

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 11/11/2007

Over a month has passed since I updated, many apologies. Busy has got to be the understatement of the century. Lots of things have happened and it might be a while before I get around to updating again, so here goes:- 

Well, the first week of Oct was spent doing and finishing accounts before the 15th Oct deadline. With that achieved, we launched into painting again. Then that abruptly stopped, as en route to the site just as I arrived I got a call from Rupe, who was five mins behind me. "Lisa turn around, I've been in an accident!" "Are you and Abbie all right?" "Yes, get here though". Instinct told me don’t ask questions now just get there, as quickly as possible. The next five mins. seemed like an eternity. As I rounded the corner to come down to them, I saw a fire engine and two police cars. I thought, heck that was fast, and my heart sunk. I pulled up. A policeman walked towards me to prevent my stopping. Usually I'd have been intimidated, (let's face it they wear guns), but as he was challenging me, I literally brushed past him completely ignoring him as I had seen Abbie who just burst into tears and I guess he kind of figured I was the mother, and don’t mess with me.

Once I checked Abbie was in one piece, although terribly shaken, I found Rupe the other side of the car (yes, our newish one that we've had only two months) talking to the police. Well he got a big hug, I was so relieved. Then I went back to Abbie who was not exactly calm, bless her. I must say the police were great. It was not at all Rupe's fault. An old lady checking her mail in a communal box in her car, who lived the other side of this small road, did not look and pulled across the entire road as Rupe was going by her. She did not use her turn signal, and Rupe in order to avoid her had to drive off the road down a swale (doing less than 35 mph, as he had just turned up the road from a junction) bounced up the other side and the car bounced again sideways right and smacked the passenger door into an electrical pole. It caved into the car. Well, the dealership had the car three weeks, and have checked the undercarriage, alignment, etc. (sorry, ATC talk) and replaced the door, and we finally got it back last week. The police cited the old lady, who was dreadfully sorry bless her, and she admitted to everyone (quite a crowd grew) she was to blame, which helped us with claiming and fighting her insurance company. But needless to say, it all took over a week to sort out, then to get a rental car, then fight them for a bigger one, as a harp just doesn't fit into a Neon!!! Then threaten with going after them for loss of earnings if they did not concede. What a load of hassle! But bottom line is everyone is OK (although it really hit Rupe the next day) and metal can be fixed. Rupe still has no idea how he missed the old lady, but as she was in a saloon to our Expedition she would most likely have been killed had he hit her and as the police pointed out, if Rupe had been a motorcyclist he could have been killed which is why they had to write her up. Bottom line is we all make mistakes, we all don’t look carefully enough at times. Thank goodness my family are okay.

So after that drama we went back to painting, and chose tile. Fascia and soffits went up (for those non-O-B's, the white bit at the bottom of the roof line and the bit horizontal bit between the wall the roof sticking out. I chose non-vented, as we have used the poly foam in the roof. Plus, I prefer the look. The brackets went up (yours truly painted those too) and the inside columns turned up, minus caps and bases, so they will come this week. The stucco people who I thought I'd recommend in a heartbeat, who were really good to start with, dropped the ball big time post front door drama. I kicked up a fuss but they apologised. I told them we wanted to wait and I would call them in three weeks to get the brackets and columns in. We wanted to paint that area, paid them 90%, then on day 20, one day before I was due to call them, I did not answer the phone that morning due to being at the doctor with Lottie for a vaccine, then got a really rude message. Err hello, so I threw my toys out of my crib, got an apology, but it did leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

I have done everything I said I would do, when I said I would do it, and I have kept them informed all along. Anyway, they came out last week and I paid the final 10% to the boss who came out himself, before realising their foam company would not be returning that day with the missing caps and bases. No worries, Jon promised he'd be back to view the work that afternoon. I half paid him early in the day because I wanted him off our back and sort of knew he would not run by and guess what, I was proved right. I am sure it will get sorted, but equally, would I use these guys again? Apologies are only good if the service after them is exemplary. Well, I may get a bid from them but I probably would not use them again now and therefore I cannot presently recommend Stucco and Stone Solutions. Such a shame, as they started out really well and were great over the door saga, but it counts for nothing if good customers are not listened to. Our phone calls were not returned at one point for two weeks, and we are generally not treated well and with respect to the end.

I would also not touch their foam guys with a barge pole, but they already know that. I had to stop them this week from killing themselves they (yet again did not turn up with a long ladder, used ours at first, but it did not reach to the top the of the front of the tower. So Matie drives over the irrigation!!! I dash up as he reversed up the path to the front door. He was going to balance our ladder on top of his truck and then still would have had to stand on the highest rung of the our ladder. Of all the stupid, idiotic things! It’s a house. It’s not worth killing yourself over, for the sake of getting a ladder, which the foam boss had promised earlier that morning when I pointed out they needed a longer ladder again. So Matie not best pleased with me, (I'm beyond the point of caring) and disappeared and went and got a longer ladder. Duh!!! It just goes to prove - don't recommend anyone until the "fat lady sings"!

You'll see in the pics the foam columns on the exterior went up some time ago, and they have been back to tidy up their work since and we now have to paint them to help protect them. Plus, they have not been looked after and chucked on the ground and scrapped by the foam company, you should not have to paint foam columns unless you want a different colour. Plus, adhesive foam was smeared over our freshly painted walls, and I have had to repaint and still have to paint those areas again. Exasperating, isn't it?!!!

The balcony rails and exterior window rails turned up primed, but not painted, so we also have to do that ($60 a ln. ft). We have finished the exterior Apricot Light, but have to do the exterior window trim and doors. The interior is 80% there, and we hope to finish up tomorrow. The sprayer is now working (err, !!!!) fine. It turned out Rupe did not read the instructions, and I left it to him as I stupidly got some in my eye at the outset, which put me right off it. Apparently there is a filter in the handle, which we did not know was there. I called a friendly neighbour (and ex o-b) as I could not understand why our new sprayer was so useless, and he instantly pointed out the problem. Bless him, he even pushed Rupe around on one of the two scaffolds he lent us (they have been invaluable) while he was spraying and also lent us powerful construction lamps as we lose the light in the late afternoon. He has been a mine of information and if we hit a problem, such as an issue around our glass block window, he has given us really bright ideas to get around them. Frankly, he has put all the GC's we have met along the way (who I add, in the main think they know everything) to shame. So to Kris a big, big thank you, what a Superstar. Susan, thanks for allowing us to borrow him on what is now many occasions as he drives past our house, trying to get home : ) Plus David, thanks for you tips. We are really looking forward to being neighbours.

Lottie also started her new preschool in Oct. See Photos. Pac Van was collected 23rd Oct, and we moved inside the house with the office. We have had a lot of rain in the past month, but the temps have dipped now, making it more comfortable to paint and yes, we did it all ourselves to date with a few days of help from Mum and Dad who got back from their trip to Savannah at the beginning of Nov.

A good friend got some tickets to go to the new IKEA (which is due to open on the 14th Nov) yesterday in a "friends and family" preview. I got all our kitchen hardware there, "Lansa" usually $9 per handle for something similar elsewhere and I got them for $3.50, quite a saving as we need 76 of them! Plus it's so nice to see reasonably priced sinks. I definitely wish it had opened before we ordered our kitchen. They actually have sinks with drainboards, (sorry, a European thing!!!) and nicknacks, which we so take for granted in the UK, but are just not over in the US. Ohh, Miri the gravalax is worth a buy, with the dill sauce (they call it mustard, but it's the same thing) plus when are you coming over?

Some quick hellos to some others who I understand are following this:

Becky and Uncle Monkey, sorry not to be at your second big day in the UK, so wish we could have made it.

Derek and Velda, hope you had a great time in Vietnam.

Margaret (Ooma) looking forward to seeing you in Feb., see - I did finally get around to updating.

Julie, if you are still following this, you truly are nuts. : ) But you did marry Rob!!! Looking forward to seeing you guys next summer, we really enjoyed seeing this year.

George and Margaret, lovely to see you, hope the flight was good back home, see you in Feb, give Abbie's love to Ollie the Collie.

Basia and Alan, congrats on the birth of Sara Elizabeth on the 27th Oct, the pics were gorgeous, we are so chuffed for you three. Tommy, we know you'll be a great big bruv.

Louise, your beagle pup looks fab, thanks for the photos, both the girls have grown so much and are beautiful.

Clare, I think about you often and hope everything is going well.

Amy, never enough time but I hope the house is sorted or getting sorted, much love to everyone.

Pam and Keith, so thoroughly enjoyed your visit. It was so great to see you both, hope you enjoyed Portugal.

Nan, if you ever switch on the computer, know we love you, miss you and hope you are feeling a lot better very soon.

HJ howled with laughter with Henry playing the violin, good on him, especially at only two. Rupe wants to know if this years Christmas pressies should be earplugs??? We love Hermione's machine messages, sorry we are never home presently.

Neil and Chris, God love you, thanks for the emails Chris I do get them just zero time at the mo. Neil, hope the film is doing well.

John and Barbara, I hear you are following this. Very touched, hope you are both well.

Lynn, looking forward to getting back to our Panera Bread mornings : )

Congrats on the move, Debbie and Fran.

Congrats on the move, Vince and Penny. Many thanks for the card, stay in touch. We loved meeting you at the wedding and you’re family now. Make sure those pub pumps are working for when we next come back, and good luck with the renovating you brave, brave, souls.

Finally, all those not mentioned, it's purely that I am getting tired, and we love you all. We have to move on the 28th of Nov., and yes the house is not going to be ready. Hopefully in 2-3 weeks after the kitchen cabinets arrive, and they are not arriving until sometime in the week beginning 3rd Dec. (Happy Birthday, Becky!!!) So we will be in a hotel or something until then, so even more difficult to update. Please no one expect Crimbo cards until at least one month after Christmas at this rate. As move-in date could be (Oh, my goodness) 24th Dec!!! Doing everything I can to bring it forward. Trim (interior doors, skirting board, etc.) starts Wed 14th Nov. Tiling starts 19th Nov., then wait on the kitchen. But move as well!!! Must book that POD!! My mind is working overtime to keep up. Oops, should have done the sales tax tonight. Not enough hours in the day. Hope you like the pics.


Position 1
Pos. 1a
Pos. 2
Pos. 3
Pos. 3aa
Pos. 3a
Pos. 4
Pos. 5
Pos. 6
Columns, soffits and brackets (corbels)
Balcony rail
Balcony rail side view
Window rails
Balcony rails from inside porch
Pillars painted

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/10/2007

Here are the rest of the pics.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/10/2007

Still painting. Pics as of Monday AM, but still going, as they say. 

Front door is lovely, shame they have to un-install it and re-install it, and but of course, it's no one's fault, so even though it's not our fault we have to pay for it!! Well from my point of view if it's not right, it's not right. If the guys can't stucco without it looking terrible after spending $4,000 on a door, something is wrong.

It'd be so great to meet someone who actually took responsibility for their work and had some honour. I'd love to hear the words, "Lisa you paid us for a job; it's not working, but we'll get it right", rather than have a load of "pansies" standing around saying, "Well it's not my fault, it's his", or as we had "No one's fault". Well that flies just great when we have to foot the cost of double installation! I am NOT pleased, as when I dared bring up the money issue, "fair" would have been splitting the cost, but no one upon no one had the integrity to go there when I brought up the money issue. You see we had a meeting between with GC consultant, Rupe and I, framers, who eventually turned up 1 hr 30 mins. late, and the Stock BS area manager, regarding this installation. Now I hate bringing up the money issue - I'd love everything to be straightforward, you do a job to required standards, (nothing unobtainable,) just to make it work, you get paid; we all go home happy. But this is the side of owner-building I loathe and I wanted/needed some backup. But men will be men, and they were all milling around saying "No one's fault".

I hate being the Rottweiler, but equally this is a struggle for us/me to make this work, and we have to make this work. Well, when I looked around to see any support for what is fair and everyone obviously feeling awkward did not want to go there, "What is fair?" I got nothing but lots of little boys shrugging their shoulders, including two people who by rights should have been with me, our GC consultant and my hubby. Needless to say, Hubby is in the Dog House, and although nothing regarding the build has threatened our marriage, things like this frankly do. I've got to be honest and tell it like it is, because we were actually thinking of doing this again. I've borne the lion's share of the work, being present, contracts, finding subs, scheduling, paying people, education and I could go on. I am tired and I needed support and honestly I wanted and was more close than anyone realises to just walking off the job and just keep walking. Effectively we are now (another) at least $800 down, emotionally, a lot more than that. I've felt down before and I usually bob right back up, but this for me is the lowest to date. The whole build has stopped until this is sorted out. We should have had a draw this week that'll not happen now until next. All those balls are definitely in the air at the moment. This probably sounds melodramatic, but truly feel empty.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/9/2007

A Very Quick Rundown of this and last week.  SO much going on, and seriously NO time; so a quick roundup.

1. Colin Dyer. Well I was stupidly hoping he would end up doing a mediocre job, yet not to be. We definitely should have fired him. Dyer by name and nature, his standards are so low they are nonexistent. SO we have to do something about final grade, post painting/pre-sod. Seriously, steer well clear of this guy. He even had the nerve to threaten to lien the property as he wanted paying. Yet they had still not finished the work when he rudely asked and we were still awaiting the inspector. The contract was clear; he had to finish the work and it had to pass inspection. We also have to get someone whom I have already selected to come and finish the last zone on the irrigation. A true disaster regarding my choice of sub on this one.

2. Good news - our arched front door had arrived with Stock Building Supply, and they were going to fit it on Wednesday. Bad news - the framers and "Stock" installers have botched the installation. We know this, because when stucco turned up to inspect before coming to finish up their bit, they basically said we can do it but it will look terrible. Trying to get Stock, framers, and stucco to liaise on a Friday was a nightmare. I had to cancel the finish insulation for the door and stucco and drywall texture who want to all finish up, so this has put us back a week!!! Or $450 per week cost to us!!! Stock BS in particular are being a nightmare at the moment, they are fudging on whether they will pay the cost of calling back everyone due to THEIR mistake of ordering the wrong door, and Philip King (Area Manager) is basically playing hardship about it to find the money. Now, they don't want to pay to bring everyone back to fit the door properly. My point is we are paying to have the door fitted properly; as that has not been done, they should be coming back to do the job right. However, their attitude has been so bad this week they have absolutely lost our order for interior doors trim and stair balusters/banisters.

3. Still painting outside. HOA complained we had not got approval for the colours and the usual anally retentive people had complained. In fact, we got approval back in February, and luckily afterwards as I had no paperwork, I insisted they send approvals through. So we had the relevant paperwork, they had conveniently lost their copies. Basically a couple of  people, (which few people (we've learnt from other neighbours)) act like they own the subdivision, purely because they have lived there longer. These persons basically seem to object to the unsightliness of construction, which is so sad as they bought into an undeveloped community!! Honestly, the colour is coming out brighter than we'd anticipated, that said, the Florida sun will soon put pay to that. I'll try and add piccies taken a week ago and take some more today to post later. 

4. We should be painting our new textured drywall this week, but obviously not meant to be, with the door and all, so I must order the kitchen cabinets (yes, should have done that ages ago but time is at a premium presently or they'll hold everything up), do our business accounts, build account, pay bills, and order tile. But, as next week my sister arrives to get married out here, not much painting the following week. Oh Boy, Stress!

5.  I was also our looking for bridesmaid dresses, together with two meetings at Abbie's school. The first we requested, the second because of a change  of one of her wonderful teachers, which therefore has implications on our daughter’s class.

I can only describe how I feel this week with an analogy. Swimming with barely one nostril above the waterline.

The pics below are of the house over a week ago, we have painted a lot more. I had to start by painting the areas where the foam columns were going, as getting behind them was going to be a pain. We started by believing Home Depot and Behr Ultra Premium paint that only one coat was needed. We quickly discovered that we needed a primer, as it is a lot cheaper than applying two coats of the above. We had already completely applied one coat of clear coat to protect and weatherproof the stucco. "Que Sera", as they say, you live and learn. The colour is called (now this is a really exotic name) "Apricot Light". It maybe should be "Apricot Neon", but my parents house looked yellow neon when they did it, so give it 6 months and hopefully after the Florida sun has had it's way with it, it'll be more light and less neon. We were going for something that matched a subdivision clubhouse we saw and liked in the morning, afternoon, and evening light. Not yellowy, not pink, somewhere in between. That said, the wicked, wicked part of me wants to paint it glow in the dark neon, lime green with purple spots  just so we can completely freak out those few anally-retentive HOA members and stand back and just watch the epileptic fits. If only we were filthy rich we could have so much fun : )

The kids helped us paint on Labour Day Monday 3rd Sept, hence the piccie, plus we have seen such wonderful butterflies this week, this one liked Lottie's bike and was plain friendly and showing off. The two following pics are of Abbie as she turned eight years old yesterday. Where does the time go?

After seeing Ratatouille at the cinema, Abbie, Jonathon, Matthew and Taran had cake at Olive Garden. No parties this year due to our workload, and she was allowed a max of four due to car spaces out for the evening. Bless her, she agonised over who to invite, plus Mummy left it a bit to the last week. Poor old Lottie was being babysat, as she is still a little too young for it all, much to her protest. Abbie did have a great time though, which was the main thing.


8 pics from usual positions
Three pics of that beautiful butterfly
Abbie's B'Day AM present opening.
After seeing Ratatouille at the cinema, Abbie, Jonathon, Matthew and Taran had cake at the Olive Garden.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/27/2007

I've just got a call today from Century 21 from whom we are renting until we are ready to move in. Our lease was for 7 months and then we give two months notice as to when we are vacating. Great we thought, we'll be able to time this smoothly. NOT to be!! 

The landlord wants us out as soon after the 19th Oct as possible, his parents want to move in from Miami. "Err, pardon!", there was us thinking we can stay until the house is complete. We wanted to be in our O-B house by Christmas (and I thought that was good going) the schedule presently looks like we can just do it by the beginning of November IF (and that's a big IF) nothing delays us. The latest the landlord will let it go is 15th Nov, so we have tentatively said 8th Nov due to Rupe's schedule.

So how's that for piling on the stress!! 2nd Nov is our six-month point. Heads down bums up, as they say.

Will we do it? I'm cringing as I am typing this.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/26/2007

Below are pics of each room as they finished the sheetrock on Friday:


Foyer to Rear of House
Main Arch
Main Arch to Family Rm
Fire wall in family room to kitchen
Abbie's Room
Lottie in the corner of her room
Lottie's Room
Girls' Bathroom
Guest Room

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/25/2007

More pics of the rest of the house with walls:


Pool Bath
Fire Wall down the corridor
Gym/Another Bedroom
Master Bedroom to Master Bath
Master Bathroom
Master Bedroom
Garage looking to the Right
Garage looking to the Left
Bonus Room Front to Back
Bonus Room Back to Front

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/24/2007

Well Rupe returned home in our new used car. We decided to a take a day off on the 15th Aug to take Abbie and Lottie to Clearwater Beach before Abbie goes back to school on the 20th Aug. It was so hot and with the insulation going on it was good not to be thinking HOUSE stuff. The evening before, we'd been at some friends and I'd left a message with Colin who we'd engaged for final grade, driveway and irrigation. Now he'd left us high and dry, saying he'd finished the first two (Yeah right, NOT). It had been more work than he had anticipated, but equally it was cost-wise to us on a par with other bids and secondly he screwed up the driveway leading to the garage apron so had to fix it, as Howard Concrete pointed out!!!

He had expressed to me (condensed and over several phone calls and the nuts and bolts of it), 'it was done, he wanted more money and when could he start the irrigation'!!! Needless to say, I answered this message regarding the irrigation. “You cannot start until we had sorted the mess you have left us with!!!”

Well the following just goes to show some men do not like women telling them what to do!!! We arranged a meeting with him on Thursday 16th Aug. Now I personally was surprised he even showed up. Now Rupe was more kindly towards him, but he has not been messing with Rupe for two weeks alone. I laid it out plainly, politely, but firmly how I viewed his work to date, where were the pop-up heads of the materials we had paid him for!! Actually to his credit he listened, and was very good about it.

OK, he was going to come back and fix stuff. I was surprised and pleased and he went up in my opinion for having the sheer guts to face us. Great. That said, deep down once someone has knocked your trust it is something they have to earn back.

Move forward to the following week re: final grade, Wayne puts a swale from the middle of the garage apron; it should be coming from the end. They complain at me when I point out this is wrong. Then they do the swale where it should go and far from having a 1:4 ratio it is shallow as he**, plus it only took them a couple of hours (he wanted to charge us $1,100 for that!!!).

Anyway, last week we are driving to the land Tuesday, it's 4 pm and Colin calls us (we have not approved the final grade yet) and I had not instructed him to start the irrigation. He says we have started your irrigation, but have a question, however we are leaving now! "What!!!" Now if the final grade was not up to par and he had not finished the French drains, I was not going to use him to install the irrigation. (I had already got bids to do just the irrigation for less by $800.) That said, if he did all right we would stand by him for the irrigation, as that is the honourable thing to do. Furious, I called him back and said as we are on our way to the site anyway, do not leave, we'll be there inside 10 mins.

8 mins later we turn up and I explain what is still wrong with the final grade, humps, etc... he says that they will rake it after the irrigation. Where are the buckets at the end of the French drains and the octopus things (not the right name, but it stops the water creating channels by funneling it in different directions.). They will be done later too. So we get him to describe the plan for the irrigation. He mentioned only four heads for the front swale, "err Colin" I say, "that'll never cover 400 ft??" "What do you mean? We are just irrigating either side of the drive." "Err, no the deal was 50 ft around the house, either side of the drive and the front swale, I also told you we only owned half of it and to put the heads on top of the high ground and throw the water towards the road, thus avoiding more piping!!!" Well folks that was going to another $450.

Now I had already told him there was going to be no more money in this for him!!! I was furious. I check our contract and as I had put down 10 zones etc., but not in as per the final grade contract 50 ft around the house, etc... that'll teach me to type it at 2 am. It’s his word over mine. Now I always question me first and I have an innate feeling everything is my fault, that said I have never been more certain I told him this and I sense he da** well knows I did. The next day we meet in the Pac Van away from his workers. I checked out they were working for less than two hours yesterday due to getting a friend and neighbour to look at the gate video and was fully prepared to FIRE him. A horrible thing that I have never done before, but at the beginning of The O-B Book it did say you have to be prepared to hire and fire people, split two hours' work as I had not told him to commence, and get rid of him. Rupe felt as awkward as me, but not as passionate as he has not really been as involved.

During the meeting I firstly asked him for the irrigation plan. Again I was plain with him, Rupe was a pushover, that said I could not do it because of one reason I did not feel I had Rupe’s support and frankly our marriage is worth more than this, so I let Rupe give him one more chance. However I stressed to Colin he was not going to get one more cent out of us until all three areas were complete. Yes folks, I am now officially the bad guy and Rupe is the good guy!!! Am I happy about this? NO. Colin is now Rupe's problem and he took the day off on Thursday to be there to deal with it.

I went to collect Abbie from School and Colin had the nerve (after what I had said) to ask for some money from Rupe. Rupe told him I dealt with the money and it was unlikely. When I heard, I was not pleased. By the way, he had also that day put the Ditch Witch through three of his own french drains which he had buried, and the temporary electrical cord to the well, which he should not have buried, but did. He wired it together, but I called out Pikes who told me it was not safe and Colin and WE could get sued if anyone, even a trespasser, got hurt if we left like that. So for $100 they fixed it. It is in the contract Colin covers this, which he can find out when we pay him!!

Friday I was on my own again and Colin approached me 10 mins before I was due to leave for Abbie's school to show me the irrigation. All the heads are lopsided, which he said he will correct post inspection. He is angry we did not call the inspection for Friday, however after Rupe spoke with Wayne on Thursday he was told it would not be ready until Fri. afternoon, and as the inspectors can turn up anytime between 7:30 hrs and 17:00 hrs, it's a no-brainer. He wanted the inspection so he can get paid and he has all his workers to pay, etc., etc. Yes Colin, did you not listen to our meeting, not one penny until you have finished to my satisfaction, as per the contract.

I stupidly tried to explain exactly why. I should have walked away, he starts listing the so-called favours he has done us, and then insults me. Dumb move, as I did feel bad if he has to pay the workers, but we have paid him $6,545 already and it must be tough if he is scrabbling after some of the $2,000 we owe him on completion. Colin insulting me made any sympathy vanish and I was now late for Abbie. Furious, I walk away, saying this is business and I am sticking to our contract. I have rechecked the contract and he is not getting one red cent until he is complete because my gut feeling is even if he gets half of it we'll never see him again and be left high and dry (again).

A true description of the roller coaster of emotions of this house building lark, miserable, I want him off the land and to never see this guy again, I have had it with him and although we should be painting the exterior (the rains are back with a vengeance). I dread turning up at the land with him present, but I dread leaving it in case he does anything untoward. I should have fired him. Listen to your inner feelings. Obviously I did not do a good enough job convincing Rupe. Colin will have another go on Monday, as no inspector is turning up until Tuesday and we need the "Final Finished Elevation" (FFE). I did not know this until I tried to book the inspection and the surveyor will be out Monday to perform this, so the inspection will have to be Tuesday. I turned up on site yesterday (Saturday). I could have told him this, but he has not kept us informed and frankly I wanted nothing to do with him. Rupe can break the news Monday/Tuesday, anyway the inspection does not mean money, COMPLETION does. What can I say, we'll never use Colin Dyer and Florida Boys again; life is just too short. The job may be good at the end, but the hassle factor will never be worth even a good job. I will rate his work when we are finished with him.

Now it sounds all bad; it is not. Watching the insulation and drywall go up, it is enormously satisfying, but bad eggs do have a tendency of casting the smell over everything. I know I will be happy down to the core again when this guy has gone. I already have a great back-up who has been checking his work and will do the extra zone for the swale. 

Below are pics of us at the beach and zebra colours on the wall. We are trying to match a particular colour we liked on another building. Jason and Cara did testers and we are so glad I read this and have done this, as the initial matches came out very dark, so we have only wasted the cost of the quart cans rather than gallons and gallons of paint.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/20/2007

This is a quick blog to thank Richard and Dione for the Integrity Gasket. I did not want to bury this in with everything else. It was easy to put on, and we ended up having enough to do what we wanted to do and still have about 70 linear feet left. You foxed the drywallers as well, although they were not fazed. We'll be interested to hear the difference in various walls when we are done.

Thank you again and much love,


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/19/2007

Below are pics of the foam insulation, which was done 14th through 16th Aug by Xtreme Foam using Sealite. It is truly amazing stuff. They spray the foam at 140 degrees (F) wearing plastic suits and masks (that make them look like aliens, according to Abbie). I mention this because the heat this week has been phenomenal!! Within three seconds it expands so fast, it's like watching a sped-up film of a plant growing!! The end result looks like it has snowed upside down.

Anyway we had the Rough Insulation Inspection on Friday 17th and passed, but although being present, did not see the inspector, which was a shame as I had several questions to ask, like when do I call for the final insulation inspection??? Can anyone answer this one for me? We also missed him on the septic inspection a few weeks ago, although waiting for him all day and finding out on getting home he had passed us. Nothing signed off in the doc box though!! Who knew?

The green strips are what's known as an Integrity gasket, it can be used on floor systems and wall studs. Wood already has less transference of sound over steel, but this reduces it further. A friend of ours had his samples left over, and kindly asked if we would like to use it. I have installed it on Rupe's future studio, the wall between the kitchen and Abbie's room to cut down on closing slams of kitchen cabinets and the master bedroom/living room wall. 900 linear feet and several hours later is the result. I did this last weekend, hence the absence of an update (this typed on the 26th, but was last week's activity) as the drywall was meant to be starting on Monday!!!


Foam in Roof
Foam on Garage office wall
Foam on Stair Garage Wall
Bonus Room and Main Roof
Bonus Room and Closet
Bonus Room Roof
Integrity Gasket (IG) on Kitchen/Abbie's Room Wall
IG on Master Bedroom Wall

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/15/2007

Well I said I'd post a pic of Howard the car, Hilda the car is below. What difference other than size?


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/13/2007

My little girl follows this, and was mortified I had accidentally left a pic of her off, as she waved to me from the car while I taking piccies for her Daddy of the driveway. Abbie loves the idea that while Daddy is away he can see pictures of what she's been doing. So sorry Sweetheart, and your piccie is below. My little one is hilarious at the moment because she's telling everyone she's a builder, just like her Mum.

We had a vicious storm last night and the house we are renting has an awning which blew off! Lottie now says "Mummy, this house is broken when are we going to move into our real house." Bless! Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/12/2007

Well a slower week, in some ways because I dropped the ball build-wise as car/van hunting became the priority since Rupe was stuck in Alabama. The drywallers were supposed to call me on Friday the 3rd; I chased them down on Tuesday 7th Aug (I should have called them Monday). They could not fit me in for the walk-through until Thursday 9th (so much for two days notice to start). We are using Residential Drywall (RD), who does about a third of the drywall in Florida and their guarantee sounds good. Their bid was about $20.5K back in October; the other bids I got recently were less, at about $19K. I knew drywall had come down, and supposedly RD passes the savings on to their customer. So I gave them a call a few weeks ago, and boy had drywall had come down - the bid is now at just under $13K. They are going to do travertine or Corian windowsills, too. As their travertine comes in only tan as I found out this week, it could clash horrendously with the terracotta tiles, so I am seeing samples on Monday 13th. Now that is some savings thank goodness, as we were running over budget and the fiasco with “Florida Boys” and “Colin Dyer” of Clermont regarding the final grade has not helped. It feels like certain subs see the “Ranch Club” and instantly think you have a bottomless pit of money. The fact we bought 4.5 years ago when there were no roads and have only just been able to afford to do this does not equate.

I have contacted Randy regarding correcting the mess Colin has left us with. I may get a Bobcat later this week to cut down Randy’s costs. We have paid Colin 55% for materials (which are sitting at the house) for irrigation, but I am seriously not happy with him and he has not finished off with the French drains as at the end of a major one there is supposed to be a bucket with gravel where the runoff is huge, so another job of his for us to finish. There are humps everywhere for the so-called “final grade”. His work is appalling. He used to work for our septic company and I just heard (directly from the horse’s mouth) that they fired him for laziness. I wish we’d known that ahead of time. We may have a meeting with him next week, but unless he corrects the “work” already done he is fired. (A first for us, so far.) We don’t want to be left with a mess for the irrigation too, and all the trust I had has been blown apart!!! I know we have overpaid for the materials, but better that than paying and then paying again for the same work!!!


Below are piccies of the finished stucco work and driveway as Rupe wanted to see it.


Lastly, why have I called this Howard and Hilda? Firstly the Brits may recall who I am talking about, but I know I will have foxed our American friends. During the 80’s in the UK, there was a well-known sitcom called “Ever Decreasing Circles”. It starred Richard Briars who many US friends will have heard of. It was about a very small-minded, anally retentive, perfectionist (Briars) and his young pretty wife (no one could understand what she was doing with him), no children, and he was the head of the “Neighbourhood Watch” and other various committees. He was like a puffed-up peacock full of his own self-importance, but the viewer saw him for what he was, a man with little power and a sad figure all in all, yes he was the butt of all the jokes from the viewers’ point of view. I only mention this as it so reminds me of certain people on our HOA!!! Anyway his neighbours were called Howard and Hilda. They were polite, meek and slightly dippy (not very intelligent) and they loved to wear matching sweaters. They believed every word that came out of his mouth, although even they could tell when he was not being particularly nice!!!


Now Rupe and I hope to be polite, but other than that we could not be more diverse, both confident, particularly Rupe. Although we are together, we have very distinct individual personalities. If we go out and look at each other and see we are wearing the same colours, one of us will change. Well we found Rupert a used car big enough to take the harp and he will drive it home Monday. It’s a Ford Expedition and as the norm with used cars you (honestly) don’t pick them for the colour! The price, condition and low mileage come first. So yes we have ended up with exactly same colours (silver) to my Ford Explorer. SO when we have visitors to our new house and they see twin cars parked up, just mine is smaller, please know despite all efforts to the contrary, after 12 years together we appear to becoming like Howard and Hilda, isn’t it sad!!! J


Looking out our front door.
Looking up inside the tower.
Front of tower
Side of tower
Lottie on a bridge!
Abbie finally getting to cycle on the new driveway.
Driveway for Rupe
Uneven pillars, one lower than the other.
More driveway
Garage Apron
Garage Apron from Outside
More Garage Apron
Apron to Pillars

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/11/2007

Well the stucco was actually finished on Monday. I have it written into my contract no sub can work on Sunday plus the hours of work, as per the Deeds and Restrictions. Unfortunately, although asking me three times if they could finish off on Sunday and me saying absolutely not, they tried to sneak in. 10 a.m.-ish I got a call from Head-Winger Tom H. and there apparently had been complaints. So I rocked up to the land, tooting my car horn and kicked them off site. I was angry as the subs darn well knew it was out of order and we need more hassle from Tom H. and his HOA like a hole in the head. I dealt with the boss on the phone and he is writing a letter of apology.

I spoke to our nearest neighbour to apologise, and he just laughed his head off. He had not even noticed it, but sure enough Tom H. had come round to garner support to complain. (Have these people no life? Obviously!). Honestly it feels like we have never left the school playground and certain members involved would be that lonely, sad kid in the corner no one would speak to because they were so petty. At least when you leave school you pick and choose like-minded friends and get on with life, then you move into a subdivision with an HOA, and oh my goodness the school playground comes screaming back. Anyway a couple of people were present when Tom was rabble-rousing and Tom was the only one bothered; shock, horror!! So I guess those complaining would be him and his wife!!! Now I can understand work on a Sunday is irritating, but we have only had to do it once before and we emailed the HOA president prior to that, so let's get some perspective. You know when you buy into a largely undeveloped subdivision build work is going to take place, yes if next door every Sunday a bit of a pain.

Apparently a jackhammer was going, which was interesting as they were actually putting stucco mud on the wall, which was very quiet when I arrived and if they used any kind of hammer it would crack the mud that had gone off anyway!!! But there you go! Is my exasperation showing!!! SO please note I have finally bought myself that chainsaw this week, (yes I'm probably the only Mum who came home having shopped for new school shoes, supplies, uniforms, and don’t forget the chainsaw!!!) What day should I go for it with my chainsaw? Errrr, Sunday? I mean I’m not a sub and it is landscaping work, not “construction”, am I being petty? Err yes, but who said revenge was not sweet? The HOA Meeting on Monday is sure going to be lively.


Below are some pics of the finished stucco. I am pleased with the standard of work, however we did not exactly end up with what I wanted, but I have learned for the next house. We have raised banding; I wanted semicircle banding, which they will do on the motif on the tower, so the little columns look like they are holding something up. To achieve this they should have used foam banding!! Such a shame, as it will bug me and the other bids were for what I wanted, no wonder they came in under, but it is too late now. It is still better than flat stucco with scoring to delineate the bands. This one I’ll put down to "you live and learn"!! We used Stucco and Stone Solutions, which I would consider again, but that said it was a close thing, as I really liked another company too and so next time I might try them.

The chainsaw I bought was the No. 1 in Consumer Reports (like Which in the UK) as I remember Jason ended buying three due to being unhappy with the first two. It’s an Easy2Start Stihl, and was the same price and less than some in Home Depot. Because you have to buy it from a dealer, they threw in a second chain and the service was great. They started it and got it working ready to use, and gave me a quick practical lesson. It has a hand guard so it starts without the chain moving and if it kicks back the chain stops, a great safety feature. I’ll let you know how it goes next weekend.

Other things that happened this week are the mitered glass people “Legacy Glass” fitted the missing glass on Wednesday as the previously one exploded. The drywall people did the garage/interior wall on Saturday, so Xtreme Foam can commence the polyurethane insulation foam on Monday through Wednesday. Insulation inspection on Thursday, then two weeks of drywall. Hopefully our framers will come back to finish a door they missed and correct a couple of minor errors pre-drywall, so calls to be made on Monday.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/5/2007

Attached are photos of:

1. The wire mesh that goes on around the windows to create raised banding. The alternative is to score around the windows and just paint it a different colour, however we like the banding being raised and it’s not that much extra. We have also had High Rib put on the porch ceiling and this then has the mud attached instead of drywall.

2. Bonus room and garage with faux banding and the top of the balcony area has dropped down at the front. The reason for this was the corbels/brackets, once the soffits were in place, would not fit. Of course Rupe is away, so I called Misty who by chance had a nail gun and came right over that afternoon. I had run to CBS for three 2x4's 12' long cut down to 10' 4" treated with Corozal (waterproofing). I had every intention of doing this as I did not want to lose the feature, but needed someone to hold up the wood while I nailed. As the stucco people did not get back to me with the alternative of using foam and the cost, it was left until late afternoon!!! Anyway I got to the site and they had not taken down the wire mesh, so I had to push for that. Then Javier took the wood that Misty and I held up by stakes and proceeded to bang in the nails as we needed 3" nails (Misty's gun only took 1.5" nails. I felt like a right girly as I was happy to do it, but there was no point arguing as although I did try and protest that we just needed him to take down the wire, let's just say there was a more than slight language barrier. So thank you Misty, above and beyond the call of duty; and thanks to Javier.

3 and 4. The tower and its details, as the stucco bands cannot nail into the aluminum as it would void the 30-yr. roofing warranty. They had do something else, but I think it works.

5 and 6. The master bath windows yet to be finished and the girls’ windows together with their bathroom glass block window. As the windows have a lot of white vinyl in them, we have got 4" bands for the side windows and 5" bands on the glass block. This was meant to be 3" and 4", but Marcos decided 4" all round was okay and told me once done. I called Jon and they were very keen on the customer getting what the customer wants (yes, a refreshing change) and I had specifically requested that at the outset, so they were going to change them all until I said leave them, just change the glass block to make it bigger and that should save on the work :).

7, 8, and 9. Porch ceiling, balcony ceiling and balcony handrail where Misty, Javier and I put the wood.

10 and 11. Quoins on front rectangle pillars and the view from the nook with the sun almost gone.

12, 13, and 14. Strange holes that I am hoping and assuming Colin left as they are bucket sized, however I must fill them in, as if a truck or car goes over these it'll cause massive problems!!!


Finally got a call from Rupe today, he was stressed. He was late to work after a run to the bank, and bang, the van engine made a loud noise from which he concluded the engine was not exactly fine, that and it stopping was the nail in the coffin. Now we bought this Dodge Ram Van back in 2002, and as Rupe does a lot of mileage we knew we'd just run it until this happened, but it's such a shame it could not happen in three months' time and preferably when he is not 10 hours drive away. Sure enough, a new engine is required and the vehicle is not worth it. Bad news was we had just fitted it out with brand new Michelin tires from Costco; good news is we were just about to fix the A/C, so at least we did not waste that money too.

So Rupe is stuck. The considerate garage guy where Rupe was towed has lent him a van for a few days, so I am desperately searching for either a van or an Expedition to replace our dead van. We need something big (sadly, that means it'll guzzle gas) for the harp (which is taller than me), so major looking around in AL and here. If here I will drive up and get him, if there, no such problem. But he is now rescheduling work up there until he is mobile, which means not coming home, which is the biggest bummer as although we are used to him going away, after three days of independence we go from missing him to missing him big time. Plus I have almost decided to hire a Bobcat and finish the final grade and Rupe wanted a go too. Now he will not be here. So we shall see. Yep, we needed this like a hole in the head now while all our savings are tied up in the house!! But Que Sera!! Guess this was not the best week then.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/4/2007

As Rupe is away, so I am updating quicker than usual so he can see what is happening to the house. Rupe, I know you rarely read what I put, but if you do this time, you’ll see a comments area below, how about making one?


Anyway family talk over. Below are piccies of the usual 5+ positions with stucco on. More to come as there are various tales.



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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/2/2007

Tuesday.  Well Abbie and I arrived on Tuesday, the septic was due to be covered up, Colin from Florida Boys' Landscape Contractors, Clermont were due to finish up on the grade work, and form boards to be placed as Colin had done the driveway. Stucco people were working, but no one else was there, so I called the septic people; they were coming by about noon and would be done by 2 pm.  Howard Concrete were coming by at noon, too.  

The stucco people and I agreed when the sand was delivered it would go near the well as the 50 ft around the house needed to be left so it did not hold up Colin. Left a message with Colin to say that Howard Concrete were going to be there at noon as were the septic people. The delivery of stucco sand happened while Abbie and I were away doing errands and getting some lunch. Of course while we were away they dump the sand and concrete bags in front of the house right where the driveway was going to go!!!. Dismay! 

I rung the stucco bosses as on my return just after noon the septic was already done and the form boards had not only started but were two-thirds done. The stucco sand was in the way, and no Colin. A little pleased Colin was not there, as I did not want to put upon him to remove a whole heap of sand that was not negotiated. But the foreman for Howard Concrete was not happy with the grade of the driveway; it was obviously way too high. Two hours later the stucco people turn up with a Bobcat and move the sand. The concrete bag pallets will be moved at 7:30 the next am. Finally got hold of Colin, I knew he was having his vehicle seen to in the am, but he did say he wanted to be there to backfill when the form boards were going in!!! On my fourth call I got hold of him, no he was not coming today, not too pleased as I can deal with anything if kept informed, but the "no notice" hacked me off. So I had to cancel the pour for Wednesday and the form boards would have to be finished on Wednesday. Colin could not turn up until 10 am, so I arranged for Enrique to be there for then. 

Wednesday. Great, I actually got to spend a morning with my girls. At 9:10 am I get a call from Colin, 'where is everyone?' "What!" I said, thinking we were waiting three hours for you yesterday; you decide to turn up early, and we are meant to know by what, osmosis??? I say nothing, but "I'll be there," but I was hoping to take Lottie to daycare first, scratch that, and we trog up to the land. I call Enrique at 10:10 am, and he turns up at 10:45 am. That said, after waiting the previous day, who can blame him. He explains to Colin the grade of the driveway is wrong.It all gets sorted out with Colin having to cut down 8-12 inches. This creates a lot of dirt. At 3:30 pm that afternoon, Colin comes to me, 'to finish off we need more fill around the back, tomorrow.'  Inside I panic as I can arrange fill, but at 3:30 pm for the next day is asking a lot. However, I do it. The final grade apparently is almost done, 'can I have my cheque?' My first mistake, because I am slammed I pay him, I should have checked first, and Colin asks for more money, $1,100 in order to cut a small swale (aka ditch for runoff of the water around the drive and apron. 'Err no, we have paid you for final grade, there is no more money and we are over budget, plus the contract says within 50 ft around the property; the apron stops at 43 ft.' It may be over and above the contract, but equally the request was for 90% of the cost of the final grade cost, which is a lot. We have three contracts and got a deal because we were using him for the driveway and final grade, French drains and irrigation. Not happy, I rung Rupe who is in Alabama and he talks to Colin and basically says it’s a big ask at the 11th hour, and why for just a swale, did he underestimate? No, he got it right, it’s a big swale 176 ft by 8 ft. So I call Randy in, we meet at 19:30 hrs, he said he would charge me $400-$500 for that job, but is so busy he could not do it until next week and he points out everything Colin missed, humps over the septic to the rear of the property, earth which he dug out that he will now not move around the back. We knew Randy was good, but his work is so much better and we never had any grade problems with him. 

Thursday. I saw Colin today, and although he tries to convince me that I don’t know what I am doing and that we now need a “finish grade,” I do my best not to lose it with him, especially as he has to still do the irrigation, but tell him quite clearly on showing him around for the bid I told him “we are going to FINAL grade earlier due to water problems.” Final means FINAL, and I am not going to give him any more money and ask him to finish up what he said he would and then we would just have to deal with it. He obviously thinks there is more money and angles for a finish grade bid; he must be ruddy kidding me. He tells me that is not how I it is done, so I fill him in with ruddy convention. Me doing this at all flies in the face of ruddy convention, the phrase 'you can’t do this', or 'this is the way it's done' just does not wash. I have learnt it is all common sense, wall people do not talk to truss people who do not talk to framing people who do not talk to stucco people and so it goes. Few are capable of thinking outside the box. If I had listened to everyone I would not even be doing this. Let's just face it, you know when someone is giving you a load of BS. OK, rant over, can you tell Rupe is away?? Plus I was so tired last night I met with Randy on site at 7:30 pm and got home about 9 something pm and then got the poor kids fed, bathed and to bed by 10:30, very late for them. Then sat down, the next thing I know I wake up on the sofa, my alarm in my bedroom going off and it's 6:45 hrs, and I am meant t be on site at 7 am. So dash like a silly thing and get up the kids and tear up to the land to see a lot of the driveway done. Pics below.

The fill turns up late but what do you expect when it is ordered at the last minute.  I take Lottie to daycare at about 9am and return 10am and no Colin.  He met the first truck and left, I must have missed him by 10 mins. I meet the second truck and Chuck knows what to do.  I ring Rupe again as I am absolutely sick of it, basically Colin has left us with a mess, the trucks may have been late and he needed to get the bobcat back to United, however I simply do not care.  He told us he had his own equipment and then needs to hire and get it back, that is not my problem, the weather sets in today still he has a job to complete and if it is not suitable weather he should be coming back.  He has put back the pour and now looks like he is happy to leave the humps everywhere.  Damn right he is not getting anymore money I want the job done to our satisfaction as per contract, however I have already learnt enforcing it is almost impossible.  He has taken up a lot of my time and mental energy this week and frankly I can do without babysitting people. 

Luckily Howard Concrete have done us a stirling job so far again.  The rain today truly reminded me of the UK and not being able to go outside etc…, do I miss constant rain and drizzle errrr Nope!!  On turning up today the concrete guys asked, as they could see brightness to the east that they were hoping it was going to clear, what did I think!  Rupe would have laughed if he was there, well I have not seen the radar on the news, but we are covered with nimbostratus and although we can see light over to the east the cloud cover is barely moving and the little movement is from the south to the north so we have a min of 2 hours maybe more of this and I am worried about you pouring in the rain.  I call Mark Howard and he says Enrique is one of his best men but I know that already as he did the pad and sure enough they stop the pour and Kris was on his way with plastic to cover the concrete already poured.  See pics below.  I guessing they were not expecting a qualified opinion on asking my thoughts on the weather the look on their faces was definitely worth it, as Meteorological Observer is a qualification I have on the ATC licence J

Finally I return to the land at 600pm ish to measure a potential problem with the corbels/ brackets over the balcony and to my surprise Howard concrete have returned to remove the plastic and use the skimming machine (not the technical name).  I am so impressed with there dedication to getting the job right and I leave before them, yet they will be back at 6am tomorrow. I do feel bad about that as usually I like to last off the site.

Lastly the stucco mud was due to go on Thursday but with the rain it has been put off to tomorrow weather dependent of course.

 Pics are: Formboards at night, dismal day from the car, wet day waiting for last truck and then further deliveries are defered until tomorrow, A quick pic of the plastic half removed later that evening. Five positions with stucco lath on.





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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/30/2007

I am posting these pictures to show the process of stucco. The piccies below are of the wire mesh going on. There is a paper underneath, a bit like tarpaper would be the best description, and already we have noticed the difference inside. It rains and does not come in the office and utility room!!! This goes on over all the areas that are wooden, such as the bonus room and tower. They have also been installing High Rib to act as a ceiling in the southern wraparound porch. High Rib again is a wire mesh that you can see through, but undulates more to help the stucco stick to it.

We are using Stucco and Stone Solutions, and Jon and Drew have been very thorough and given me lots of options. Sadly although not unexpectedly, we are now getting the rain we expected a lot earlier in the wet season. This is stopping people's work mid-afternoon and onwards, but can’t be helped. Hurricane season technically starts 1st Aug. That said, I am not complaining after seeing all the flooding that is going on in the UK presently. Below are the usual position pics. Two Rupe took of a menacing storm, which if I remember rightly actually bypassed us. We passed our septic inspection on Monday and it was covered up on Tuesday, but you can see the area it takes up on the west side of the house.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/30/2007

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday have been busy too. Howard Concrete did the knee wall (Thursday) and Colin has been out doing the French drains, final grade, and driveway. Now that all that earth has been scraped away, the front of the house looks taller and no more flooding into the garage. We miss Randy, but Colin is great and we’ve got a good guy who has packaged the above all together and is doing  the irrigation, plus done it all in what amounts to two days. He also has Bobcats and the septic system can take them with the Caterpillars to grade over the septic but not plant (JCB) machines.

Hope you like the pictures, probably the last pre-stucco ones, and notice the French doors with grills/grids, which look so much better on the front of the house. Lottie actually has to step down out the garage now!! But she misses her mounds to play on. I was going to take her to the park, but it rained cats and dogs. However, she understood; she is not partial to the lightning (Abbie was with Rupe today) so I took some lovely shots of Lottie in her car seat, before she grows out of it.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/29/2007

The septic system was started on Monday, crikey it’s big, and goodness how fast those Bobcats go. We are using Littiken Plumbing for the septic and although they did not get back to me at the bid stage, they did come on site and ask to do the bid and were mortified when I informed them we had already approached them and they had not got back to us. Anyway I am glad we did, as one company told me to budget $10K and it should be about $6K with Littiken dependent on good soil tests. All other bids were $15K plus pre-Environmental doing the calc when I applied for the permit. Anyway Littiken came in at $4,650 and we have two tanks, a 1,050 gallon and a 750 gallon which costs the same as a 1,500 gallon. So I heard all the pros and cons for this. Anyway they changed the bid to a 1,200 and a 300, and when I pointed this out, they said I could have it either way. Instinct lead me to thinking,  okay bigger is better, so I choose what I had originally been bid. They have been great and the inspection will happen on Monday and hopefully it’ll all be done by Tuesday J

The mitered glass was supposed to go in on Friday. As on Thursday the younger guys could not make it work and did not have enough material to correct the corners of the previous framing, which they said was botched. Bearing in mind this had passed inspection, at least we know their standards are high.

However, after picking up Lottie from Daycare and entering Publix on Friday I got a call.


“Is that Lisa?”


“Hi, Randall here,  slight problem.”


The glass exploded.”

“Bloody Hell.” Silence. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, don’t worry. Just excuse all the blood on the floor!”

“What, are you really all right? There is a First Aid Kit in the Pac Van. I can be there in 10 mins.”

“No, I have left already, we’ll be back at the end of next week to complete the installation.”

“Err, okay.”

(Also thinking, please don’t sue, please don’t sue, how we could have avoided this? I don’t know, and I cannot be there 24/7 in case they need a hand.) Well Rupe went straight to the site after work and as this call happened after I had spoken to him, had no idea what was to greet him. I whizzed around Publix (Like Tesco’s for those in the UK) as we were completely out of milk for the kids.

Then I raced to the site. Got a call from Rupe:



“Something’s happened to our mitered glass.”

“I know, I spoke with the installer, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

I turn up at 8 pm-ish and poor old Rupe after a long day at work is clearing up all the glass.

The kids were banned from the house as it had gone as far as the master bedroom and keeping shoes on Lottie is a near impossibility. However, I was really, really nervous about the four huge holes into our septic tank and the girls outside playing!! However, we got it done.

Last but not least, Friday was a big day for Lottie who won the Potty Prize at Daycare for finally being shot of nappies (diapers) and being in big girls knickers (panties). She won a Snow White outfit and although very tired, the next morning (with all the late nights lately) had to wear them the next day.  Rellies, enjoy...


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/28/2007

We are definitely in the countryside, as two experiences have happened lately that must not go unrecorded.

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday the girls and I were up at the property.  We went to leave and I started to drive off and then stopped to close up the pool bath door. I came out through the rear sliding glass doors (SGD’s) and stood on the side rail about to sit in the drivers seat, the girls were both safely strapped in the back. Then I noticed movement. Out of the rear SGD came a three- to four-foot olive green snake, no patterns. It went smoothly down the bank, and into the grass around the well a distance of approx 50 ft. and right in front of the car!!! I stood transfixed. Abbie did not see it and I was not going to point it out or she’ll never go in the house again. We’d all been in there for ages and not noticed anything. Goodness knows what it was, but I am guessing non-venomous; that said, even they bite!!! What got me was the girth, approx. four inches!!!

The second experience was last Wednesday. I arrived early at 7 am and unloaded the car. Then as the framers had not turned up (I did not know they were not going to at this stage) I thought I’d go into the house and take some pictures while it was quiet. As I walked through the open stacking SGD’s, there was a flutter and down swooped a large barn owl.He flew past me and hit Abbie’s window and flew back past me as close as five feet from me and through the main arch and out through the hole for the front door. He looked right at me for what must have been three seconds, but if felt like forever on his second flypast. I was not in the least bit scared, just transfixed, quiet, amazed and in awe at this beautiful creature that graced me with such a magnificent display. It really made my day and Rupe was sooooo jealous. I hope he comes back sometime before the place will be lockable.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/27/2007

As much as there are never enough hours in the day, this week has been the same but it has gone on what feels like forever. Wednesday definitely felt like Friday!!

Firstly, the GOOD news. We had a total of EIGHT inspections this week:  One by the bank and before that, seven from the county. Wednesday was Strapping/Door Bucks, Electric, Plumbing and Low Voltage (Pre-wiring for the alarm). We passed on the provisos that certain things were corrected.  They were. Friday brought the Gas Piping, HVAC (A/C) and FRAMING. We passed all those too, although it was a near thing. The inspector was concerned some trusses were not sitting on the pre-cast wall and framing. Luckily I had a ladder available and climbed up there and yes, it was not sitting on the framing of the sliding glass door which is good as it runs to the mitered glass area and according to the details it is not allowed to put weight downwards on that, but it was snuggly fitted to the pre-cast wall. Thank goodness I had a ladder available.

It was a near thing - the inspection should have taken place on Wednesday, but due to doors and the framers not pitching up on Wednesday and last Friday, it put us right back, and the stress was on as we needed the next draw-down to pay people.

I am pleased with the framers' quality of work and the guys on the job were great. See below for a piccie of two who stuck with us throughout, Jay and Bob. However it could have been finished earlier had more people been sent, as well as having a continuous site boss, plus communication should have been a lot better. That was in no way the guys' fault, just the bosses. Pity, as we were promised the world and it did not come off and I don’t think Todd the Supervisor liked us at the end. That said, on punch-out he missed lots and we kept the quality control going by talking to everyone. I found another botch by Quick Walls though, as the window bucks needed to be flush with the outside of the property. They put them flush with the inside. I honestly had not noticed until the stucco people asked for various things to fill the inch gap and rung the window people and although the window people and Quick Walls liaised, the error was still made, so we will get charged for the extra time on that by the framers. However we are pleased with the job they have done.


Stock Building Supply (BS)

What can I say, a comedy of errors. The replacement door finally got ordered on 26th July!!! Regarding our meeting on Monday, well I chased Mr. King as having heard nothing by 12:30 I was concerned we were on the back burner. He did eventually turn up at the same time as a massive thunderstorm, (see piccie) where we vacated the Pac Van for the first time, as sitting in a tin box during all that lightning was probably not a wise thing to do. I explained about the hassle and the dismay at the lack of customer service since Shawn left. He understood, but when I started going on about the costs ($50 per week interest, extra storage, extra rent etc.)I really felt like he was about to walk away and leave us high and dry. So the compromise was they would return on Wednesday with Dunnidge Doors (dummy) and then I will have to call back the stucco, framing, insulation, drywall and painting. He kept telling us that this was a great move as it would protect our doors. Yeah right, I really want all that hassle of calling people back and you guys were meant to be replacing them anyway once installed, and looking after the oak doors, but as they say there was no point going there.

Well they turned up Wednesday and installed the dummy (rectangle) doors and the glass for the French doors. Scratch that, they replaced the sidelights and put glass in one door and the other had not been brought. So I called again and told them a) Where is the glass for the 2nd door??? b) the dummy doors are 1.5 inches off the floor, just the right height for snakes!! Please come back with the missing glass and something to put on the bottom of the doors to stop snakes and the rain coming in!!

So back they come on Friday just before the inspectors are due with no glass. 'Is it not here?' they say. “Errr, nope” I say. They waited four hours while someone else brings it from Stock BS!!! Luckily the inspector turned up just as they had finished installing it. They found an old one knocking around the warehouse, and boy does it look like it. Mr. King frankly had run out of excuses for them and they have spent an extra $300 getting our correct door air freighted to me so the wait time will be 3- 6 weeks so expect at least 6 at a guess. They thought that would forgo calling everyone back, but it does NOT and there will still be costs calling  people back which they are debating on whether they will pay.

The schedule is so tight, stucco next week, then insulation the following week and then drywall the week after. At the three-week point this will all be done, and so will the painting the outside I hope. Anyway enough for this post. Hope you like the piccies of the staked-out driveway, the arches and bath framed out. Yes Becky the bath was not staying  in our dining room, mind you that would make a talking point at dinner parties. We also had some more fill delivered for grading and the driveway which will hopefully be poured this coming week. Rupe had not seen this process before, and therefore took piccies. This was on Wednesday and every man and his dog had turned up (except the framers) so Rupe took one of the fill being dumped and our carpark.

As they Say, to be continued…


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/21/2007

Anguish, Anger, Disappointment and Letdown, and Finally feeling so incredibly low.


It sounds like we are always complaining, as multiple little things and now a big thing have gone wrong, but actually loads has gone well too and we have been pretty lucky, but it's hard to drum up the good as it is purely what people should have been doing anyway. Hopefully at the end of this I will be able to sit and type those whom I think are excellent, good, okay, and those to forget.


But let me start at the beginning. With the amount of work that goes into building a house, and me never doing things by half measures, I know I have put my heart and soul into this project. With other things such as time with the girls and my hubby, having a life, housework, sanity, bookkeeping for Rupe’s business and a 101 other things too, time is a precious commodity. Being up at 6 am, meetings on site and home, and the kids in bed late, supper, then more contracts, faxes, etc. it is all-consuming and I must say I am very weary. The way I logically balance it out, is to get through it as quickly as possible, so life can return to some normality as quickly as possible. Things were running a little behind but having interviewed stucco, insulation, and final grade work and septic this week, we were rolling along nicely. In fact Thursday I was so excited. It may not surprise you - this brings a roller coaster of emotions. Sadly this week I know I have experienced both ends of that spectrum. I have learned to loathe FRIDAYS as no one is contactable, and no one calls you back. People seem to start work wanting a full day's pay, but knock off early and start slacking off at 10 am and take longer lunches and leave immediately after lunch. Maybe it's just Central Florida, but the work ethic leaves a lot to be desired generally, but especially on a Friday.


We were hoping to go for our Door Buck and Strapping (hurricane straps) inspection on Monday 23rd Jul. This could have been done earlier, but the framers did not get the tapcons done on the front garage wall (Quick Walls buried the straps in the concrete before it set, and laid them down so they are stuck and useless!!) and we were told the framers would do that on returning after the trades. The inspector told us as the front door was not in they would do that with the framing inspection and we could still go for the strapping and door bucks one.. So the framers came back on Thursday to do the remaining 5% of the work after the trades (plumbers, HVAC, electricians and low voltage). This week our house looks like spaghetti junction, I’ll take photos this afternoon. The HVAC (A/C Mum) was finished last week, plumbers returned on Friday to finish off (but did not) and the electricians should have finished Friday, but shot off without letting me know and you TRY getting ahold of anyone on a Friday!!! They have finished Monday (bearing in mind I was told last Wednesday), but they needed to be back Thursday when a wall stud was being moved because it was in the wrong place and that affected them, then they still had to work on Friday. (Moral of the story: take all trades' timelines and add a min. of five days!!! And bear in mind everything, according to the trades, takes 2-3 days (NOT!!))


Anyway the schedule was if the first inspection happened on Monday. The window people were coming back Tuesday to cover the screws with nail flanges, the gas people (we are now using for piping) were due in Tuesday, and I know it takes half a day, and then our BIG Six-Way Inspection on Wednesday (Framing/HVAC/Plumbing/Electrical/Low Voltage and Gas Piping). From this point the final graders would be in so the stucco could take place; this will stop the leaking in a heavy tropical downpour, through the bonus room walls where it meets the roofline. Then we drywall the garage interior wall so insulation and its inspection can happen, then drywall the rest of the house ---Yaaaay. The insulation inspection would have taken place on 1st Aug and this is also our HALFWAY point in the build according to our present schedule!!! Not bad for three months' work. 2nd May- 31st Jul.


Friday I got to the site and the electricians were there again, plumbers turned up, where the h*** were the framers who were meant to be finishing up??? But it gets worse. I had been battling Stock Building Supply for the last two weeks. We have ordered a really lovely front door, through Stock BS from EWD Doors (Miami). It is our single most expensive item and the centerpiece of our front elevation and adds real curb appeal. I knew it had a 6-8 week lead time and so asked for it to be ordered end of April. But I must go back to the beginning. I first met with Stock BS and Buck back in Sept ‘06. He seemed like a nice guy, but by Dec I was totally frustrated with him as it took that long to get some of the quotes back from him and I was always chasing him. Even then I had not got them all. Frankly he had all but lost my business until I got a call from Shawn, younger guy, efficient, proactive, got me better prices and a great person to deal with. So back with Stock BS who were competitive. I was purely dealing with Shawn, which suited me but when it came to crunch time Buck also turned up. I may be wrong, but I bet commission is involved and he wants it. I asked for the door to be ordered end of April; we had our loan and I knew it was imperative. I offered to mail a cheque, but NO, they wanted to meet and they did not have the details at our first meeting and when the second meeting took place on 8th May I gave them a cheque (our credit account had not been approved at this point) and it cleared on 11th May. I now know they did not order it until 14th May, so two weeks after when I wanted it ordered!!!


6 weeks pass and I call. Nothing; it’ll take another 2.5 weeks and so just beyond the 8-week point (from 14th May) but we can live with that. So Stock BS install the other exterior doors minus the glass in the bonus room French Doors which they will do on returning with the front doors. At the 8.5 week point I get a call from Buck. (Sadly, Shawn left shortly after May 8th and so did the decent service as well, such a shame!!). “Lisa, it's stuck in Customs in Miami”, “Really!” Basically it’ll be here Fri. or Mon. So I call Buck on the Fri, 'No it’ll be next Fri or Mon.' On ME calling Fri 13TH “Did you receive it yet???' 'No it’ll be Tuesday 17th.' (I then throw my toys out of my cot a wee bit). On ME ringing (Notice ME ringing them all the time, NOT them keeping me apprised!!!) Tuesday 17th at 3 pm the truck has not come in yet, and, but we will be out the next day to install, “No my framers come back Thursday and as there is no notice to arrange them to work around you,  you can work around them!!! Thursday, please. 'We need it framed out before installation.' 'No you don’t, as we have had this conversation with your installer.' The framers and installer were arguing and I stepped in and TOLD them to be at the installation at the same time and work together!!! Basically with Arch doors they need to be hung and the framers frame around them. Then the Stock BS would put in temp doors and come back to hang the oak ones at the end of build so they don’t get damaged. Then Buck said on Tuesday, 'Err, we are not putting in dummy doors.” Me, 'What!' 'We don’t do that.' 'Yes you bloody well do, YOU told me about that in Sept and I have discussed it with Shawn and you periodically! I remember thinking, what a great service, as those doors are bloody expensive and I am paying you guys to hang them because you DO that.' Silence. 'Well, I don’t remember that and we don’t do that”. 'Buck I bloody well DO remember it and YOU told me that at outset, Sept. in fact, and I was impressed, the lady who looked up the cost was present and I am sure she’ll remember. You will NOT do this to me at the 11th hour. Frankly YOU ordered this door two weeks after I wanted it ordered, this was all avoidable and NOW this is the service you want to give me! Outrageous and I have paid you ahead of time for those doors.' 'Well, if we do the dummy doors it’ll be another $100.' Typical Buck, as we now know if in doubt bung up the price. I went with Stock BS with Shawn because it at least felt like he was trying to give us some service and help us keep costs down, not so with Buck.

SO I called back and spoke with Philip King, Head of Sales and told him exactly what I thought about the lack of service and Buck. He turns out to be easy to talk to and pleasant, and reading between the lines not overly surprised at my opinion of Buck; he misses Shawn too! My issue was with Buck and the lack of service, the dummy doors, denial (“Not me, or my fault” attitude) and the sudden cost. Shawn would have had this all sorted or come bouncing back.


I spoke with Mr. King on Wednesday and Thursday and it turns out the doors did not come in Tuesday and they were now due Thursday and they would get them to me Friday. Well I spoke to Mr. King again at the end of Thursday. Indeed the doors had come in very late and to be honest Friday was pushing it, at least he was being honest with me and it may be Monday, but he would confirm in the morning to call him at 9 am.


Firstly the framers did not turn up, (maybe they knew the door would not arrive, but being kept apprised of what they were doing ahead of time would have been nice.)Then at 9 am I called Mr. King. Buck had left me a message on my home phone Thursday evening to say in a voice that was very stark, defiant and full of attitude, 'There is no way we can install your doors Friday and it’s now $200 for the dummy doors, $100 apiece, not that we have any in stock!' Obviously a coward, as I have told him numerous times to call my cell!! I saw RED on hearing this message.


I called Mr. King on Friday morning from outside Home Depot. I had ordered one shower unit too few and did not want to hold up the plumbers (all this hassle contributes to the little details getting missed, entirely my fault though.). I told him exactly what I thought of Buck’s message and quite frankly if they wanted to keep my business I did NOT want to deal with Buck and wanted another salesperson to deal with someone who was actually proactive. He listened, but I guess in hindsight I knew something else was on his mind. He reassured me from now on I would be dealing with him only. Then he said 'Lisa, please don’t hate me but I have some bad news for you.' “Err, what, and please just give it to me straight.' 'The wrong door has been ordered.” What!!! Silence... 'How the h*** did that happen, what’s wrong with it?' 'They have ordered a rectangle one and not your arched one.' 'You have got to be kidding me.' 'No'.  Lots and lots of swear words running through my head and the implications start to sink in.


The next stages are stucco, insulation, drywall. None of these can be done until that door is in. They have to stucco up to the door, it needs to be insulated, foam squirted in the gaps between the framing forming the arch over the door (that hole is presently just a rectangle). This cannot be framed without that door, drywall cannot go in until the stucco is done to stop the leaking of rain from the bonus room walls, (the first lath seals this), drywall cannot be done until the insulation is finished as the house needs to be sealed, so the drywall does not get damaged. The implications just go on and on. The cost of waiting another 10 weeks at greater than $50 a day (interest) plus staying in a rental longer by 10 weeks, means being in by Xmas is a distant dream. One man's error has huge consequences for us. So Mr. King is coming out to the site on Monday after his 8 am meeting (so I guess that will be beyond Noon then; apologies, getting sarcastic now) to discuss it with us and hopefully arrive at quick solution, at, what I sincerely hope will be THEIR cost.

So as from yesterday our schedule has been shot to death. We can still do septic and grading but equally this was meant to go on while everything else was going on, so this truly holds everything up. I am not going to accept the rectangle doors, as the whole house has been designed making this a centerpiece and I can only hope Mr. King is going to make this right. Sadly, being a Friday we have all weekend to brood and can do absolutely nothing about it. Firstly, I think I was quite rightly angry, then this is not happening and now really, really low and I seriously do not like Buck now. This is something he could have double-checked and he d*** well knew we were going with an arched door, luckily I have the paper trail and in every communication by fax and even the cheque I wrote them states EWD * 386 Arched Oak Door!!!


There is a place to put comments below. If anyone has any good ideas please put them below as we are fresh out of ideas at this point. In fact sarcastic comments are all welcome.

SO my advice about using Stock BS (Now Bull S__t) is do not get landed with Buck, ask for someone else. You'll get better prices and a better service.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/15/2007

I can't believe it, but it is exactly ONE year today I started this journal on 15th July 2006. We approached and gave the go-ahead to our designer on 30th June 2006 and I thought we were finally on our way!!! However we have come a long way since 2nd May 2007 when we broke ground. SO I attach a pic of the day we started to clear the land and do the pad and then what's there today, as you can't exactly visually record the day we said "Here's the floorplan, please do the plans". Hoping we don't make it to our second anniversary and not have moved in, but who knows what’s ahead.

This week the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, for you Brits) finished and the electricians are almost there too, I had to ditch the gas people and am having a few meetings this Mon. and Tues. to replace them ASAP. The framers should be coming back this week to frame the baths and finish up the cosmetic stuff and do a punch list (correct any errors). Our front door that supposedly had a 6-8 week lead time through Stock Building Supply has apparently been stuck in Customs in Miami, we are at the 10-week point now, although had they ordered it when I asked them to, it would be the 12-week point!!! It’s due to arrive Tuesday I was told after throwing my toys out of my cot on Friday 13th, as it feels like I am they only one chasing it. If we do not get it this week it will hold up the whole project, inspection-wise. 

Pest piping and low voltage (pre-wire security system) due in this week too. I find out Monday when the mitered glass will go in. Hopefully I can get the new gas people to pipe this week, then hopefully our six-way inspection by early next week. Fingers crossed. I am not expecting everything to pass, as that would be just too much to hope for; there is a lot to inspect. After that it's insulation, (takes three working days), which according to my schedule is our halfway point and the not-quite three-month point. Now I chuckle when I say that because I do not expect it to go as easily as we have had it so far. “The devil is in the details,” as they say and there are now a thousand separate “little” things to deal with rather than large plodding big things with obviously strides and huge leaps in progress. But I guess a wee part of me still hopes J. Our contractor friend will be back from vacation, so will be by to check all is in order.

I had a wee panic this week with the bank. We requested an inspection on Wednesday asking for Fri. or Mon., and I would confirm on Thurs. I asked for Mon. so they could take into account the roof and the fireplace. Well, they turned up 7 am (before us) on Fri. and of course the roof has not been taken into consideration, so slightly annoyed. When they told me the amount on Mon., I knew it was short but not by how much until I worked it out. It turns out none of the framing was taken into consideration by my counts, nor the fireplace, and only 50% of the windows. We were minus one small window at this point, an 18x24 one and the mitered window, however all 32 windows and SGD’s were in and most of the exterior doors, (they too were not taken into consideration) SO we are now $30K short. I can ask for another inspection at OUR cost of $75, but it irks me as had they done as I had asked or even looked what is there (as requested) we would be fine. So on the next inspection, I’ll be there very early to ensure that everything I ask to be taken into consideration IS. On top of that, they let me know Monday of the amount we were due and that the lien waivers they had previously asked for on companies who had properly asked for the NoC (Notice of Commencement) (to give us due notice they can file a lien if we do not pay - standard practice. This turns out to be rarely followed as we have had only three to date, CBS, Stock and Brevard Truss and two of those we have credit accounts with and I have had to pay early to get the lien waiver. In the case of Stock, I had not even got the bill yet and they had not finished installing them and the front door has yet to arrive!!!) As I told the bank, we should not be paying them until they have finished the work!!)

Anyway I ran past Howard Concrete to pay them >$40K for the slab and walls (they pay Quick Walls who have finally got round to invoicing them). On getting home that evening I put the girls to bed and then listened to the answer machine. Heart failure - a message from the bank, 10 mins after they got off the phone from my cell they rung our home and said we would not be getting the money after all, without the lien waivers. WHAT!!! Now I had arranged this anyway, but did not chase the companies after speaking with the bank that morning, as they were not needed until the next inspection. Not so. Now I had just given away a massive cheque after being told the money would be in our account that afternoon (why would I not believe it after they took the time to call me and let me know!!!) Very angry and worse, it's 9pm, and what can you do, so I called the bank and left and message on their cell, very very annoyed. Then I wrote emails to the two outstanding companies and they faxed me and emailed me the lien waivers respectively first thing the next morning, one at 06:54 hrs and the other at 07:30 hrs before the bank opened and I raced it to the bank that morning.

What killed me was it was by the skin of our teeth, but the money did go in on Tues thank goodness, as the cheques for >$40K all cleared Tuesday too, which I found surprising as I had only handed them over at 4 pm on Monday. Wow, that was fast. So now even if it’s on my way home as it was on Monday I will go home, check the Net and then to believe the bank!!! Crazy situation.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/12/2007

I drove in this morning (11th) and saw for the first time our shingled roof. Had to stop and take some piccies. Not many big leaps to take and see the difference now, but I was so chuffed this morning.

At the end of a long day I took one pic of Abbie on her bike, little one was in a grumble grunt and did not want me taking her photo. Oh well maybe next week, as she's in daycare tomorrow and Friday. However Lottie did find Abbie's old raincoat and wanted it on this morning, yes we are in the 90's in Lake County too. Luckily the novelty wore off fast once in the heat/humidity.

On the 10th my friend Lynn and her boys Matthew and Jonathon came by for pizzas and to see us, as it has definitely been a while. Abbie was stoked.  Stupidly I forgot to pick up the camera as when they last they saw the land the trucks were tipping the fill dirt in May. It seems ages ago, but in reality we broke ground with Randy on 2nd May, the walls went up on the 4th June and so 9 weeks into it I think we have come a long way. Just hope it continues like that.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/11/2007

Just the usual positions showing our new roof. : ) Lots has happened, trying to catch up.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/9/2007

Roof starts, plumbers last day, they need to come back when the last three valves arrive. 

Pictures below of the end of the day positions.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/7/2007

Firstly the direct vent fireplace and the chimney for it.

Then we have two bathtubs, the second being the master bath whirlpool, thank you Costco.

Thirdly there is a strange HVAC (heating ventilating and air conditioning) spider lurking above.

Fourthly some exceedingly interesting and riveting pics of the laundry room plumbing, hotly following by a mesmerising kitchen sink area.

Finally Rupe was there, so made me get into a shot as I am usually behind the camera; this is under a beautiful big oak by our pond, which has dried up with the extreme drought in Lake County.

Lastly our little girl who I miss terribly because she is almost full-time in daycare with all this going on. She had a chocolate lolly after supper on the 9th and managed to get it from ear to ear. I hope the rellies enjoy seeing the kids growing up, as we plough through this process.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/5/2007

Some piccies of us pretending to be like normal people whose whole life is not consumed with building!! We actually went out!! Saw the fireworks, played on the swings and slide and waited for them to start.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/4/2007

3rd to 4th July.

Yesterday we returned our "Smart Shower" Panel showers. Thank goodness Costco has an excellent returns policy, which probably works against us in some ways as we buy three times as much, knowing we can return it and rarely do because we like most things they do.

Why did we return them? On getting the information and consulting our plumbers, it turns out they get through 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) of water, (now here’s the rub) it does not sound too bad until I let you know that is per orifice, and they have 10 orifices, one is a handle shower so on full pelt they are really using just 9. That is still 22.5 gallons per minute and we have two of those showers in the master bath. So if both used at the same time (which is the whole idea of a double shower) that is 45 gallons per minute. Not exactly environmentally friendly. To run one we would have had to double up on Rinnai tankless water heaters (those babies cost $1,000 each on eBay, or $1,500 through a plumber or gas installer!!!) So sadly they went back.


We will be installing a brushed nickel shower head that we bought ages ago and hung onto (thank goodness), as our Costco has stopped carrying them. So I ordered two more shower kits at Costco online (See Danze below, (on consulting Home Depot to order it without the  tub spout, it would be a lot more expensive and their equivalent on the shelf was already $100 more expensive than Costco) to combine with the showerheads. I have included pics of the faucets/taps we bought ages ago from Costco also when they were on offer at $29.99.

We also picked up our bathtub, a Kohler Villager as we like the sloping area for the back to relax in, a link for a pic is:-


Home Depot (HD) was the source for the Kohler; online (including HD online) they were between $350 and $450. But in store I had seen them for $289!!! We knew it was heavy; I had read somewhere 150 lbs, but yesterday it was inordinately heavy and I found out why today - the specs say 316 lbs. Our (great) HVAC guy gave us a hand and it made it as far as the family room, hopefully the plumbers can get it into the family bathroom!

Finally on arriving on site yesterday the heavens had opened and to our dismay, because we have a rim of fill dirt all around the foundation and no gutters (or shingles for that matter) the water was pouring off the roof and creating a moat, which was just pouring into the garage and all the wood in there was sitting in a swimming pool. Rupe and the HVAC guy were digging channels as it was going down the AC chases and was about 5” deep and rising. Major digging will have to happen on final grade to get the driveway lower than the garage and tilting away from our garage. The rain stopped and Rupe started using the sand/clay to create a dam to stop more water coming in. But we still had a pool of 2-3”. Who knows if we can still return the excess lumber now??? So we may have to hire that Bobcat earlier than thought!

The electrician also connected up our Pac Van on Monday, so we have AC and a small refrigerator. That’ll certainly make life easier for the next four months. Sorry, no pics of us as drowned rats as I left the camera at home.

HVAC finished all the ducting yesterday and will be working on the A/C electrics for the ERV Thursday. Because we have double furring for the “standard” electrical sockets to fit and we will be using Fi-Foil (R-4.1) on the exterior walls Arnold has managed to get us down to one five-Ton AC unit. The air pocket acts as insulation. We are going with a Goodman unit. Although Trane is considered the best, they are practically the only company who has not upgraded their equipment this year. Our model came out in April, and produces a greater amount of BTU’s so we can get away with a solo unit. Our total count came out as needing 5 1/8 tons but the worse thing you can do in a tight house is over-AC it, as you then get humidity problems.

Arnold underestimated our walls, but explained everything and it was our decision to go for one unit and a ductless mini-split system for the bonus room OR stay with one unit. Bearing in mind Arnold has just owner-built his own house (ICF) and it needed a 3-ton unit and he has yet to use greater than 1.5 tons (his house is lovely) he knows what he is talking about and is presently educating Orange County Inspectors!! The system will also equalize the pressure differential between the exterior and interior pressure, which occurs whenever you switch on a bathroom extractor fan or range hood. If not addressed on a tight house (and block houses for that matter) the only way air can fight to get in is around the windows, and if it's raining you then get water intrusion, not ideal.


We need to roll on the roof shingles as I am worried about the felt under the heavy rains. Hopefully next week.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/2/2007

Well it's Monday morning and I must say I cannot believe how tired I am. It's not been a particularly busy weekend, but I guess everything is just catching up with me. There is so much to do at times it does get overwhelming. The girls on the whole are being great, but it would have been so much easier had all this been going on over a school term. Individually they are great, but when you are on your own you can forgo lunch and stuff, with little ones there is always something to stop you doing what you should be doing. We are going to try and take a few days off over the coming weeks to take them out for the day, to the beach, cinema maybe even Sea World as Abbie has the annual pass.

Rupe is at the land because the Pac Van needed opening so electricity can be connected; apparently HVAC has yet to turn up, so I'll chase them next. It feels because the 4th of July has landed mid-week some firms are closed Monday through Wednesday, while others are closed  Wednesday through Friday making a go-slow week. The house has come along amazingly in four weeks since the walls went up, but the major changes have all happened now, so with the exception of the roof shingles, stucco and exterior paint and finally landscaping not a lot will happen outside. So I will take inside snapshots mainly from now on.

I attached some pictures of the finished inside framing. The framers  will come back after the trades to finish up the main arch doors, archways and punch list (corrections, omissions and things forgotten). Hopefully the last window will turn up soon along with the arch doors.

Hope you like.


Rupe and Abbie awaiting food by the bar in the kitchen. I see taking up residence has started a little earlier than expected!!
Looking from the foyer though the arch (to be finished) towards the kitchen and family room.
Looking from the kitchen arch to the foyer.
Looking from the master bedroom to the master bathroom, Rupe and Abbie standing in the shower area.
Closer picture of Rupe and Abbie in the shower area.

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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 7/1/2007

The framing of the tower is complete. It looks weird because the Tyvek was not cut on the middle small arch, yes it is bugging me, so I may sneak up there and correct that before the framers return!!!

The exterior doors were installed this week with the exception of the front door. The bonus-room doors turned up without glass (as they were not ready in time) and the sidelites turned up with the wrong glass, but Stock BS were great and are ordering the correct glass with grills and will replace the sidelites (glass only) at the same time, all hopefully when the front doors arrive, which will hopefully be by the end of week after 4th July. We shall see!!

The other doors installed were the pool storage, pool bathroom (with integral mini-blind) and the garage door. We are going to put a special lock on the garage door that opens using either a key or fingerprint, called the Kwikset SmartScan, so hopefully the kids (as well as Rupe and I) will never be locked out. Well that is the theory.

Below are also pictures from the usual positions...

Rupe and Abbie sitting on our balcony, and lastly Heritage Propane dropped by on his new Harley, (yes they are doing all right at the moment,) brand-spanking new with only 90 miles on the clock, so of course you've got to have a go!!!


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 6/26/2007

One house with glass block windows in. Exterior doors with the exception of the arched front door go in tomorrow (Wed 27th June). Hopefully last window to arrive soon. Only wish we could put in the garage doors; then we could lock up!!! So roll on stucco (err, August, methinks)...

Hope you all like.


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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 6/25/2007

Robert did a great job with the glass block, and quickly too. Such a shame the shower block has to still be done!! I took the photos yesterday (Monday 25th June) as Sunday it was raining cats and dogs in the afternoon.

The framers turned up (plus a team) and are setting to on the trusses and internal framing. I am about to go up to the land as Rupe reports it is coming on really quickly and we want to set to on the plugging before it all dies!! No way can I see they will be out before Wed/Thurs, but we shall see. Three weeks is still good and other than communication needs to improve, and a pinch of salt needs to be taken with all promises,  I have no complaints with the framers and at the moment would definitely use them again.

Unfortunately a dodgy tummy and a definite preference for home conveniences over the onsite toilet have got me posting and staying at home, for the moment!!!

I have included some pics of the girls and internal framing as it was yesterday. It looks like a mass of wood at the moment.

We selected our roof shingles yesterday and have lots of samples at home!!! We are leaning towards the Certainteed 30-year Landmark fungus-resistant Resawn Shake at the moment, as to us the red looks naff in our opinion unless it is tile and it is a lighter option for the colours we want. Remember we want the Mediterranean look. I will follow this with the positions pictures with the glass block, and just for you Dad, we were at the visitors centre yesterday to ask them something and saw this vintage car and thought you would appreciate the photos. You don’t see many “horseless carriages” in this neck of the woods!!!



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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 6/24/2007

Below are photos of the stairs now that the wall has come down, and some long shots of the rear front to back and then back to front of the house since the windows were installed. Then some pics of the bonus room and the huge gap (possible storage - post C/O) between the trusses!!! That's if we have any energy left over.

Let me know what you think?



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Posted to LittleLakeCorner by Lisa in Groveland, FL on 6/23/2007

Well that fireplace was not such a good deal, mentioned last Sunday. The cost of installation took it to greater than $4,600, well over our budget. SO we have gone for a Vermont Casting Extreme View Direct Vent 36XDU. With red brick, and plain except pewter band around it; and will source the mantelpiece from elsewhere!! It will cost in the area of $2,000 for fire and installation, the cost of the mantelpiece should be less than $2,000 easily!!! So a big saving.

We could have got a B-vent stove for less than $1500 but Rupe hated it, so no worries.

If you are interested the link is above.

I will be popping up today to take more pictures as I left the camera behind yesterday for the house with completed glass block windows. J

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