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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 11/15/2007

It’s been a busy last few days. When George & Linda were here on Friday, they gave me a list of plants; and it took two trips with the truck to get everything. On Tuesday, we had our final inspection on the low voltage and the electrical. We passed both inspections and were very pleased. Additionally, the shed passed its final inspections. More sod was delivered and laid. Their forklift got stuck and we tried to pull it out but our rope snapped, then a county truck stopped and he had chains. His toy, I mean truck, was bigger and pulled the forklift out of the mud. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007. We got our CO!

What a great birthday present. We are currently moving things in from the motorhome and setting up house. Lots of shopping to do, but someone has to do it. Thursday, we went out and finally got our grill for the patio and did more shopping! We had our water-softener system installed and the water is so clear! Friday, Art has been working on hanging towel bars and reducing his to-do list. Saturday, we had the garage-door openers installed and more shopping. Sunday, we traveled to Naples to see our friends, Larry & Janet, and picked up our new John Deere lawn mower.  Now, Art is in heaven with another new toy.

Until next time...

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 11/6/2007

Sunday, we cleaned the house and put everything in order. Art placed one of our patio sets in the dinette area and it actually looks good in there.

Monday, Chris, our painter, was here painting doors and trim. Art hung all of our blinds in the windows. Also, Del-Air was here replacing a part and doing checks; the heat works. I had to exchange one piece of molding trim for the hardwood floors. The trim was about four shades lighter than the rest of the trim. When I visited the store and selected the correct color, I was told they could not exchange the piece, because we had opened it. In other words, we had removed the cellophane wrapping. Additionally, we had cut about one inch off, so the store refused the exchange because it is their store policy. I asked to speak to the manager in my nicest voice, while wearing my receptionist smile. He reiterated the store policy, so I asked in my nicest voice, but a little louder, “You mean to tell me, that after I spent over $2,000 for hardwood floors, you do not want to help me with this one piece.” He then replied with “would you drive a new car off the lot with a flat tire?” That response required an Ellen “look!” I advised him that if I did, I would expect the dealership to immediately take care of it. He pulled my receipt and noticed how much I actually did spend, which was close to $2,800, he then said he would exchange it for me this time. I will not buy any more hardwood floors from that store!

Tuesday, we had several crews here doing their jobs. Jim, the inside trim, the cabinet guys, the painter and an electrician were all here at one time.

Wednesday, the Lovelace Gas guys installed our tank and we have hot water in the house. Art is working on the low-voltage wiring in the house and moving our RV pedestal. 

Thursday, we order some trees in order to get our CO. In our area of Orange County, we have to have 6 trees, and they do not count palm trees as a required tree. Not only do we have to have 6 trees, they have to be a minimum of two inches around. We ordered two Red Maples, two Crepe Myrtles, ten small date palms, five Bird of Paradises, and five medium date palms. The nursery we ordered these from will also plant them for a small fee. The painter was here and the new electrician is finishing up some work. The new electrician is not a happy camper with the mistakes he is correcting.

Friday, the same crew that was here on Thursday was here today.  George and Linda stopped by midday to do measurements for our plants. The three of us went to Lowe's and Home Depot to get an idea of what other plants we would need. During the evening we went shopping for bed mattresses at Sam’s Club. Our purchases included a queen box springs, queen mattress, two mattress covers, two set of pillows, king box springs, and king mattress. We were standing in line along with two helpers from Sam’s with our purchases, and Art left to get the truck. After Art left and I was paying for the purchase, a third helper came to help and asked “what kind of car are you driving?” I didn’t miss a beat and said, “Volkswagen beetle.” The expression on his face was priceless! Then, one of the other guys said we were driving a truck.

Saturday, Martha and Rolando arrived with the plants we had ordered. We only had him plant the four trees. The palms we kept in their pots. Art did not like the Bird of Paradise, so we did not get them.  


It is really starting to look like a home.

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 11/1/2007

This started out with a busy Sunday. Art worked with the electrician on some final problems. I worked in the motorhome getting ready for a road trip. What a gorgeous fall day in Florida. The temperature dropped down to 79, and it was a great day to do catch-up work.

Monday, the yard is finally graded and looks great! The sod guys were here laying sod in certain areas to stop erosion. We hit the road around 7 pm and headed for North Carolina.

Tuesday, was a travel day and the motorhome ran fine after sitting still for four months.

Wednesday, we traveled by truck to Virginia. Our oldest daughter was getting promoted to lieutenant on the police department.

Thursday, attended the promotion ceremony and headed back to North Carolina.

Friday, we hit the road to go furniture shopping. What a day, and deals to be made. We went back to the campground and met some friends, and then we went out to dinner. Acted like a bunch of silly kids.

Saturday, we traveled 45 miles to the rally site. The next few will be busy with motorhome rally things.

Tuesday, we heard from Chris, our painter. The hardwood floors are almost completed and he has been working on the sills. He will get in touch with Jim, the inside trim, to finish his work.

Friday, we finished all the furniture shopping and would highly recommend the North Carolina experience. The rally was great! The food, entertainment and sharing time with friends was also great! We started our trip back home, what a great sound, back home.  Everything ran pretty smoothly on the first day except a little leak in our ceiling before we even left the parking lot. Nothing that we can’t fix.

Saturday, we only had 136 miles left before we arrive to our home and by our calculation, we should arrive home around 1:30 in the afternoon. After we were on the road for a little while, Art noticed the driving of the coach wasn’t feeling right. We pulled into a Flying J in St. Augustine to check the coach. Art noticed our rear left tire was low, so he filled it with air. He did not feel very comfortable with this tire, so we unhooked the truck for me to follow him. After about 50 miles, I noticed a piece of rubber fly past me. I called Art on the cell and told him to pull over, and before he could pull over, he lost the tire. We not only lost the outside tire, but it tore the rear inside tire as well. That means we will have to buy two new tires and have them mounted on the side of Interstate 95. After $730 later and a few hours of waiting, we were back on the road and landed at home around 6:30 in the evening.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 10/23/2007

Week ending October 15th


We began this week by trying to sleep until 8 a.m., and we almost accomplished that task. Sunday left us to cleaning the inside of the house; I mean really cleaning. The carpets should be laid this coming week.


Monday, we had two crews here today, the pavers and the carpet guys. Our carpet was installed in the bedrooms and it does look nice. We are having pavers for our driveway, sidewalk, and small patio beside the lanai, sidewalk from the lanai to the driveway, and from the back of the garage to the front of the detached garage. These guys worked on the back side area and got most of it finished. After things were winding down, Art started to install our towel bars in the master bathroom. I did buy the blinds that we would need in the bedroom, and the curtain rod for the dining room.

Tuesday, before 8 a.m. the painter and plumber arrived! The pavers and screen folks arrived after 9 a.m. Everyone is off in their own area and working steady at their jobs. However, I must take a few minutes and discuss one of the screen workers, and I use that term loosely. She is dressed for work, but I have not seen her do any work, only sitting down. Maybe I should take her a Nora Roberts book for her to read, because she definitely is not working. I must have put her to shame seeing that I was working, helping Art put up our columns, because then she started to work a little.

Wednesday, what a busy place we had today. The crew finished our screen around the lanai area; our closet guy finished his work by installing the rods in each closet; and the concrete guys were working all day on the apron to our driveway, another finished job. The pavers’ crews worked all day and are 75% done. All that is left for them to do is to finish the sidewalk, concrete around the edges, and sand the top. After several calls to OUC over the past few days, our meter was installed today and we have pre-power! Art called Del-Air to start the air conditioner. They were out by late afternoon to do their work, and we have AC in the house! When we went to the Home Show, we received a 10% off coupon at Floor Décor in Orlando. That happens to be the place where we have been looking for our hardwood floors. After I made my selection and was arranging for pickup, the team leader asked me to fill out this form for future pickup, explaining that I would not be able to get this all in my truck. He never asked me what type of truck I was driving; he just assumed I was driving a girlie truck. After he walked away, the clerk asked me when would I be picking up the floor, and my reply was “now.” She then asked what date to put on the form, and I replied “today’s date.” I then asked her to take a look at my Dodge Ram truck, she replied “the red one,” and I said “yes.” Her response was that I would have no problem. We unloaded all the wood supplies, well, Art unloaded the supplies and I did what he asked me to do. Our wood is inside our nice cool house and acclimating to our home’s temperature. I was told by Dick, one of my brother-in-laws, we have to do this for 48 hours before the wood floors are installed. They are scheduled to be installed on Monday.

Thursday, our pavers are finished, and worth every penny we spent. The company was a nice group and left our property the way they found it. 

Friday, now that we have our pavers down, we can not drive on it for 7 days. Normally, that would not be a problem, except next week we are going to North Carolina to shop for furniture. We have a drainage ditch directly in front of where we parked the motorhome, so we could not drive straight, or so I thought. Art had a “men’s brain session” with the guys at Tropical Plumbing and they came up with a plan, and all I was told was to have the motorhome ready to be moved. At 7 a.m., I heard a dump truck; looked out the window to see he was dumping dirt in the ditch, and right behind  him was a second truck ready to follow the same plan. Since Tropical has been doing all of the grading, the plan was to dump the first two loads in the ditch and the other two in the yard. Shawn from Tropical was here at 7:15 and went to work moving and packing dirt. So by 8:30 a.m., we were ready to roll. We had parked the motorhome on wood, which helped with traction for Art’s running start. All that was going through my mind was our motorhome sinking in this freshly packed dirt and that’s probably the reason I wasn’t told of the plan. Shawn and I watched for traffic, and once Art started rolling, he didn’t stop until the motorhome was completely on the street. Shawn spent the rest of the day moving the dirt from the ditch and spreading the other two loads. We hired a handyman who was willing to work for $10 an hour to shovel dirt into places that Shawn couldn’t get to.  

OUC didn’t waste any time mailing our first bill to us. They turn on our pre-power on Wednesday and read the temporary meter. We received our first bill on Friday!


Until next time!

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 10/8/2007

We started the week off by going to the home show. We talked to a lot of folks about different things and received tons of information.


Monday, started with the painter, gas guys and the new electrician.  Harry stopped by to give us a bid for the wire racks in our closet and he wanted $1,502 to do everything. We talked about it and decided to wait for the second guy. Ray, the second guy, stopped by and gave us a bid of $500 to do the same work. Ray will be installing our closet racks on Wednesday.

Tuesday, Chris, the painter was here bright and early with instructions not to wake us. The pavers guy stopped by for us to sign a contract. I cleaned the rest of the windows to get them ready for the 3M window shield.

Wednesday, our gutters were installed; Chris finished painting the inside of all the closets and the shed. Shawn was also here finishing the final grade. Art was not feeling well today, so that left me IN CHARGE! By noon, he was outside digging a trench. I asked the workers if Art passed out to let me know, so I could throw him a pillow. 

Thursday, our guys were here hanging our gutters, Chris was painting the garage and some flower pots, and the 3M film guys were also here installing our window film. Our pavers were delivered today, along with their mix for our driveway. Our front yard is waiting for the action to begin. 

Friday, OUC sent out a contracting company to pull the electrical wire to the box. After they complete their side of the work, they call OUC and then the meter is installed by OUC. As soon as the guy walked to the box, he informed Art that it would not pass inspection. Apparently, our electrician pulled the ground wire through the wrong hole. He should have pulled it through the hole next to it. I was at Home Depot doing my morning errands and received a call from Art giving me the news. He was not a happy camper. When I returned home, I could tell that all the other contractors were staying far away from the hornet's nest! Art repaired the ground wire and the guys returned late in the afternoon do their thing. OUC should be out on Monday to install the meter and then we can have pre-power. This also means we can put our hardwood floors down!

            Our wire-rack closets were installed today, and they look great. Chris finished painting my pantry and I love it!

Saturday, the pavers guys are here, and our concrete texturing guys are here. The plus side is that they all showed up after 9 a.m. This is good for us.

             While we were traveling, I had a crap, I mean craft box, which contained ALL of my craft projects. Since, I am being honest, it contained most of my bear and sewing projects. My beading projects and supplies are in an undisclosed area inside the motorhome. Anyway, I had the pleasure of sorting this box into smaller boxes, so we can store them temporarily in the detached garage. The shelves are installed in my crap, I mean craft, closet in the house. I am so excited over the amount of shelves and room that I am going to have. Art outdid himself in my crap, I mean craft, area. 


The urinal – that’s right ladies, we have a urinal in our master bathroom. After I had adjusted to the idea of having one, I chose one that wasn’t so commercial looking. Then our plumber contacted us and asked if it was OK to change the type of urinal. I said, and I quote “As long as it is similar to the one we have chosen.” The only thing that is similar is the fact that it is a urinal. But, it seems that it’s only me that is having a problem with the looks of this thing. The plus side is that the toilet seat will always be in the correct position! I have attached a picture of the urinal that I chose and the one that is installed, so you can see for yourself! 


Other pictures are the master bath shower.


Now, I will close out this week on another note, grandkids. As any grandparent will tell you “our grandchildren are our reward for not killing our kids when they were growing up.” Grandkids are so special, and think that we, grandparents, can do no wrong. Just the other day, we get a call from one of our grandsons, age five, and he needed to talk to his grandpa. It appeared that he overfed the fish and his dad told him that the fish would die because he overfed it. So, he wanted grandpa to come over to his house and fix the fish before he died. The grandson had a plan, grandpa was to get the fish out of the tank, press on the fish’s stomach and blow into the fish’s mouth! 


Now that everyone has had a laugh, until next week!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 10/3/2007

Sunday, we both worked in the house. I vacuumed floors, cleaned cabinets and vacuumed the inside of all the cabinets. Art cut the grass around the motorhome, used the leaf blower on the garage floor and got it ready for the paint guy. We also had a visitor today; I looked at our security monitor and saw something walking up our driveway, like he owned the place. I looked outside to see that our visitor was an armadillo.  


Monday started out a little slow, but by midday it was as busy as usual. The plumbers are here finishing up their work. There is a little snag with the fixtures for the half bath, but I’m sure that will be resolved. Our low-voltage guy is here finishing up his work, we hope.  (Actually, he has to return on Wednesday to finish.) The electrician’s crew did not have the correct parts for the floor outlet and it is required before we can get pre-power. I should explain that when we first started with this electrician, he listed his company name on the contract, then when we saw the electrical permit, it was under another company’s name. We asked him about this and he informed us that he subcontracts for this company. Art asked to meet with the license holder of the other company and we did so. 

We voided the original contract and reissued a contract under the license holder's name with the understanding that the original electrician would still do all the work. The original electrician has caused all our problems. The original electrician has not showed up the last two weekends, but has sent his weekend crew to do the work. This crew works only on the weekends for the original electrician. Anyway, the original electrician was supposed to come out on Monday to complete the work so we can get pre-power. He did not show up!

Tuesday, the original electrician did not show up today, and he did not call either. We called the company’s owner and decided to hire another electrician to finish the work. We wrote the original electrician a letter to this effect.

Our yard was graded today and it looks great. We passed our gas and plumbing inspections.

Wednesday, we woke up to a very busy place. The stucco guys were working on the shed, soffit guys were here, and the new electrician arrived. Our drywall guy was back repairing all holes and mistakes made by others. We received a bid for a tinted 3M window film for all the windows in the house. This type of film will help with the sun from fading furniture and wood floors. Sounds good to me! The film prevents people from seeing in, blocks UV rays, and makes the window hurricane and break resistant. The soffit guys started their work and it looks good.

Thursday, the new electrician finished the rest of his work, and we are waiting for the pre-power inspection. Shawn was out bright and early doing more grading. The soffit guys were here to continue their work and Chris, the painter, was also here setting up for Friday. We had another company come by to give us a bid for the window shield. The first guy called us, so we informed him of the lower price. Later in the evening he called and lowered his price. We agreed to his lower price.

Friday, the painter painted the inside of the garage and that was about it for today; except for the pre-power inspection, and we passed that. This inspector is the same one who will be doing our final electrical inspection, so he gave us a list of about 12 items that needed to be corrected before the final.

This is the first weekend in a long time where we are the only ones working. We did have two little helpers who actually did help.

I must take a few minutes to talk about Florida’s Love Bugs. If you have never had the pleasure of being in Florida during Love Bug season, you don’t know what you are missing! They are only around twice a year and last for only four weeks each time. It is four miserable weeks! The reason they are called Love Bugs is because the two bugs are attached together. When they are done, they die. This aggravating four weeks does have an effect on the workers. Some put a fan on the bugs, just to blow them away so they can work.


Now, I also must take a few minutes to brag about our oldest granddaughter. She called us to read a speech that she had written, and I almost started to cry. She sounded so grown up! I can’t believe she is 12 years old and in the 7th grade. She read the excellent speech to us. The phrases she used, how she outlined her qualities in an easy-to-understand way, how she made several valid points, and the way she read it was awesome! Most of all, she is our granddaughter and we are very proud of her!


Until next time.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 9/24/2007

Soon we will be finished.


After thinking about this landscaping stuff, we decided to call in a motorhome friend. This couple loves to take cruises, and we met them when they asked us to babysit their tomato plants. So, whenever we were in the same campground, we would watch their plants for them while they took off. Over time, we learned that our friend loves playing with plants and designing. But, since he retired and started to travel, he no longer has a yard to play in. After we talked to him, I don’t know who is more excited, him or us. He can’t wait to come by next week to take a look and see what he wants to do. Locally, there is an “able body” place to hire help for jobs, so we will be stopping there for some able bodies who can dig.


Monday, our tile person, plumbing folks, and paint guy were here doing their thing. Everything seems to be coming together. Part of the bathroom fixtures were installed today, all the tile floors have been laid, and the outside painting is almost finished. This last painter is great! During the afternoon, Art knocked on the door and said “your plant man is here.” I’m thinking to myself “what plant man?” but went outside to see what he was referring to. There stood a little man with a trailer full of plants. Now I told myself, “don’t look too excited.” He had over 50 small palms and wanted $10 each for them and also said he would plant them. I started to fire questions at him, and those who know me know that I talk very fast when I’m on a roll, and my southern accent comes out even more. This little Mexican man held his hands up and said “I call my wife,” I kept on asking questions and he said hurriedly, “I call my wife, her English is better.” So he handed me his phone and I talked to his wife and got all my questions answered and prices on several different plants. Their prices were very reasonable and the planting was cheap. Our last granite countertop was installed today. All the countertops look great, especially with the fixtures that we picked out.

Tuesday, the tile person grouted all the tile floors and walls, and is all finished. The painter finished working on the outside, and has moved to the inside to correct mistakes made by the other painter. We now have bath fixtures in both full baths, sinks in the garage and laundry room, fixtures in the kitchen and wet bar. We only have the half bath left and then the towel bars. During the afternoon, our pavers’ guy dropped by to take measurements and scheduled an installation date.  It is going to take 50 pallets of pavers, which is three semi-trucks. I spent the morning pricing TV’s; there a lot to choose from, but I think Costco has the best prices.

Wednesdaywhat a rainy day. It’s a good thing that everyone can work inside. The painter’s here and Art worked on some of his projects. I ran errands and did a little shopping. One of Art’s projects was to cut out a square of drywall in the half bath so our plumber can move the pipes over. When he did the initial plumbing, before the walls went up, Art explained that it was not in the correct location and needed to be moved over 3 – 6 inches. The plumber said “not to worry,” because he leaves room and can move it at the finals. Now, we are told he cannot move it over, because we have a pedestal sink. By the way, our sinks were chosen a long time ago and have not changed. Now that Art has cut a square out of the wall, the plumber can re-pipe it.

Thursday, I started the day with a visit to Home Depot. That place seems to have moved to the forefront of my shopping experience these days. We decided to install tile around the fireplace, and the tile person was here today to take care of it. Additionally, the inside trim guy, Lovelace Gas, and the painter were here. Apparently, none of our subcontractors care for the color we chose for our outside doors. The painter painted the back doors, and was shaking his head when I arrived back to the lot. Well, it does appear to be a deep dark RED! It is suppose to be garnet; I will wait for it to dry, and see what it really looks like.

Friday, the paint is drying and I think the door paint is going to give a color pop to the front. We are going to have the painter paint three pots for the front porch in the same color, which will enhance the color. Lovelace Gas finished with all the gas installation except for the tank itself. My dryer is hooked up and ready to go, the stove looks great, and the fireplace has logs in it. We also had a gas connection run to the outside, so we can connect a grill to it. The tile around the fireplace is absolutely gorgeous, or at least I think so. We bought three TV’s yesterday at the military base and they did beat Costco’s prices, so Art is busy installing them on the wall. The county inspector came out to inspect our well, she was very businesslike. She seems to think our  detached garage is too close to the well, so we had to write a letter explaining that we would not be using any chemicals in that area on the land.

Saturday, the electrician’s team was here finishing up. Well, they tried to finish, but I know that your cover plates and switches should match. The plate is an ivory color and the switch is almond. We all decided to leave it as is for the time being, so we can get pre-power this week. George and Linda dropped by to check out the place. We went to Mass, then dinner, and had a long talk about plants and the layout. When we returned home, every light was on in the house! Since we have temporary power, which is different than pre-power, they were able to test everything by running a power line from the temporary pole. Even my light pole by the front driveway was lit up. This coming week we are hoping to grade, put the pavers in, finish the plumbing, paint the inside of the garage, stucco the shed, I mean shop, and get pre-power.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 9/19/2007

Another week down.


Sunday, Art went to work using some of his new tools. We did not want the wire-rack system for our pantry, so he made shelves instead.  Now, all we have to do is have them painted.

Monday, the dumpster folks came out and made the switch, tile folks were here working on the floors, the inside trim man was here working on some tasks, and the drywall guy was here getting his money. Deliveries were made for the shed, I mean shop. The framers stopped by to look at our progress. 

Tuesday, tile guys were here still working, and trusses were delivered for the shed, I mean shop. We went shopping for locks and knobs; that was interesting. We have been in Home Depot so much that the paint clerk can recognize us. Also, now when we need something from a high shelf, Art just pushes the ladder over and gets it, while the clerk watches. We heard from our granite company, and the countertops should be ready for installation on Thursday. Del-Air failed their final inspection, that doesn't surprise me; something to do with tape. We are still waiting on our electrician; haven't heard when he will arrive. I think his phone call is overdue.

Wednesday, the framers were here promptly at 7 in the morning to start on the shed, I mean shop. Who am I kidding, it's a detached garage!   

Thursday, our granite countertops were delivered and installed. We are really pleased with the guest bathroom and kitchen, but I don't think Art is crazy about my selection for the master bath. Now for the downside. While loading the wet-bar countertop, it fell and broke into pieces. They will have to remake it, and will be back next week for installation. We had to have a talk with our painter. It seems that this job was more than he could handle. He agreed that he was in over his head, so we will get another painter and move forward. The intercom was installed today, it sounds great!

Friday, the stucco guys finally showed up to clean up their mess and get the rest of their equipment. The detached garage was dried in and passed inspection; we are ready for shingles, which were delivered today. Our new painter started off with a bang, and we will see how it goes. Our appliances were delivered today, and they look great. We also had our first bid on a sprinkler system, and the bid was $1,500. Since this was our first bid, we really don't know if the bid is high or not; we shall see. We also received somewhat of a bid for our "Plain Jane" plan for landscaping, at least that is what the guy called it. He gave us a per-pot estimation and told us approximately how many we would need. I think I will go and buy my own plants and hire some kid to dig a few holes to plant them. Samples of his prices were $475 for a dwarf palm, which they have at Lowe's for $99. So, that means he charges a lot to plant them. He also informed me that Hibiscus plants are very expensive. I must also explain, I had digital pictures from Lowe's and Home Depot of plants that I liked with prices right on the photo. Now, I know since building this house, I have acquired a few gray hairs but that doesn't mean the brain has stopped working!

Saturday, our new painter is here for day two, and he brought along his wife. Now, I know the job will be done right! Our electrical team showed up to do their work and before I could turn around, Art was at the door with a panic-stricken face, "I need you now!" I took the lead, just for a minute, and instructed the men where all the light fixtures went, pointed out a few corrections they would have to make. One of the workers said that he did the small bathroom; I explained that the light fixture needs to be in the center of the medicine cabinet. He was very nice, polite and said he would take care of it. While I was out running an errand, the same guy installed another bath fixture in the guest bathroom. While I was looking at it, he stood there with an anxious expression on his face to see if I would like it. I put on my best reception smile (Hazel, you know the one), and then politely told him that I loved it, but didn't know how I was to open the medicine cabinet. The medicine cabinet was already in place, and the globe light blocked the door. I think I will need to check a few more rooms. Everything ran smoothly today; maybe that is because the one person that gives us a big pain was not here and he sent his team. They were great to work with.


See you where the sun is shining.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 9/10/2007

Soon, we will take a break!


I need to take a few minutes to play catch-up. The mesh that you see in a picture that I posted two weeks ago is on our lanai ceiling. When you have stucco, this mesh is attached to any wood area, so the stucco will adhere. Actually, this metal mesh comes in small strips, so it can be attached in small places that require stucco. It is also used for the framing the windows to make the decorative area.  


Now, I must go on to our paint color selections. We chose Deep Garnet, Blue Veil, Boudoir, Water Chestnut, Apricot, Indian Painting and Pick Suede. You will have to guess what color is where or stop by for a visit.


Patio furniture, this is round 1. We have been shopping for patio furniture over the last few days. Everyone seems to have a sale this Labor Day weekend. We stopped at Home Depot and everything is 50% off. We walked around and I pointed out several sets to Art that were very reasonable, to get his opinion. He didn't like any of the selections, so I asked "what type would you like?" His reply was, "a table and four chairs." Yes, he did get a look, because each set that I showed him had a table and four chairs! After a few seconds of silence, I asked Art "what style would you like?" He replied with, "I'm not sure." Okay, deep breaths, I then asked "wicker, iron, plastic?" He replied with, "I'm not sure." I realized my statements are getting shorter with this discussion. To say the least, we will try this exercise on another day. Lowe's gave us a day for round 2. After showing Art several selections, all with four chairs and a table, I finally have some idea of what he has in mind, although he nixed all of them. I know that I showed him one set just like he described at Home Depot, but thought twice about saying so. 


While building this house, Art has purchased several tools that are "required", his words. "In order to do the job correctly, you must have the proper tools", also his words. I will have to remember that phrase when I go to purchase my embroidering machine. He has purchased a rotary hammer, reciprocating saw, sander, miter saw and some other tools that I don't know anything about. 


Monday, our painter was back and went to work. While we were looking at the paint job, Art notice that there was not an electric outlet for our microwave. Since our electrician did not make a schematic for the electrical outlets, we did not know if there was one or if it was covered up by drywall. After a few moments of panic, I had a bright idea of looking at the pictures that I have been taking. Yes, there is an outlet for the microwave, but the drywall folks covered it, then did not cut it out. So I have a picture for the electrician to find the outlet, one more thing for him to complain about.

Tuesday, Today started at 7:02 in the morning with an arrival of a concrete truck, and at 7:10 the workers showed up to start on the slab for the shed, I mean shop. At 7:30, the cabinet guys showed up to start installing my cabinets. Then at 8:00, our tile man showed up to start laying tile. What a busy place this was. Art cut the microwave outlet out so we could get that out of the way. Most of the cabinets were installed today and they look great. How can you tell that a person is really tired? When that person falls asleep while on hold to the power company.

Wednesday, the stucco, tile, cabinet and paint crew were here today bright and early. Busy as little bees doing their own tasks. Mid-morning, the granite folks arrived to do their template for our countertops. Our electrician advised us that he would not be here this week, but sometime next week. That doesn't surprise us.

Thursday, the stucco guys finally finished all their work and removed all their toys from our lot. Lovelace Gas installed our tankless hot water heater, Rinker delivered blocks for the shed, I mean shop, and Trusswood stopped by for money. We had a very busy parking lot, considering they were all here at the same time. I thought about putting on a parking vest and directing traffic.

Friday, the block workers were here bright and early to begin their work. They started early and were finished by noon, short day for the guys. Folks stopped by all day with deliveries; discussing their time frame; and making bids for some final projects.


Until next time.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 9/2/2007

Everything happens for a reason.


Monday, the beginning of a new week, starts slow. Last week, our stucco guys were here almost every day working on the house. Every morning, it appeared to me that the four guys were praying over their cement mixer. They would stand in a circle around the mixer with a pleading look in their eyes, hoping the mixer would start. Not to fear, one of the workers was standing by with a hammer. To my surprise, if the mixer didn’t start, he beat the “mess” out of it until it started. Today, nothing helped the mixer and it had to be laid to rest for the day.

Our inside trim man is doing a fantastic job and pays attention to details.

Tuesday, remember everything happens for a reason. Our painter, Mitch of Mitchell painting, was scheduled to begin the painting today. We noticed his truck out front, and then he left without a word to us. Mitch called to advise us, because we put chair railing up in the dinning room, he could not do our job. In his words, he was not making any money off this project; painting around a chair railing was too much work! Art said “OK, you need to stop by, so we can void your contract.” Mitch asked why he needed to do that. Art replied, "So I won’t sue you for breech of contract." Mitch said “I will be over there in five minutes.” I just don’t get it, during our discussions with Mitch, he asked if we would change our ceiling and trim color to a color he already had to save him some money and we agreed. He also asked for us to change our grade of paint for the ceiling to a step-down to save him some money, and we agreed to do that as well. He must not need the work. So, we called Robbie, the other painter and asked him to stop by to finalize a contract. His bid was for $4,000 and we would provide the paint. We got everything signed, and off we went for paint shopping. At Home Depot, Glidden had a rebate that ends on August 29th. We purchased all the paint so we could get the rebate. Actually, we only spent $1,300 for all of our paint and we will receive a rebate from Glidden for $375. Going with Robbie seems like a smart move already!


Another, “I just don’t get it,” is with our irrigation selection. We contacted Heather and made an appointment for her to come out and talk. She seemed very knowledgeable over the phone, but never showed up for her appointment. We have called her on several occasions, leave a message each time, but she does not return our call. Now, we have never met this young lady, but obviously, she is so busy, she doesn’t need any more work. However, phone etiquette should be at the top of her to do list.

Wednesday, our new painter was here bright and early to prep his work. Also, after a short prayer meeting around the mixer, the stucco guys went to work. It tickles me to see this session every morning and yes, there is always one of the workers with a hammer in his hand, just in case.

Art got the permit for his shed, I mean shop.

Thursday, all the workers were back from Wednesday to continue with their work. Work began on the shed, I mean shop, today. Footers were dug and they sprayed for termites.

Vanities and medicine cabinets were delivered today. We ordered these medicine cabinets awhile back, so we would know the correct size for the opening to be framed. The cabinet for the half bath has been discontinued and the replacement has a smaller opening. Art solved the problem with extra wood to make a smaller opening. Steve, the drywall man, said he would touch up that area on his final. Then we will have to repaint the area.

Friday, the painter primed all the ceilings and started on the walls.  The stucco guys finished the front of the house. We passed the density test and the first inspections of the shed, I mean shop.

Saturday, the painter showed up bright and early and is busy as a bee. Our cabinets and tile were delivered and our garage is full. Art is busy scheduling finals to begin next week with air and electrical. I will have to stay close at hand to referee with the electrical guy and Art. I shouldn’t have to do this, but the electrician is our biggest problem. He wants to argue about everything and thinks he is our boss! 


Catch you later.

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 8/29/2007

Another busy week!


We have finished with all of our light shopping! As we were leaving Lowe's, the salesperson asked us if we were building a new house.  After we said yes, her reply was "You two are still speaking!", and she then went on to explain that she has seen ladies leaving the store in tears after trying to select items for a new house. After reflecting on her statement, I suppose that every person should know where the lines are drawn before they begin a project, such as building a house. As I have said before, we made a promise to each other, and so far, we only came close once, well maybe twice, of breaking that promise - "no arguing over selections for the house." Now, we have had several discussions on items, but no tears, just a few "looks." Just the other day, I was explaining to Art, that I think we need a nice wreath to hang on the high side of the vaulted wall. Actually, I said that we need four wreaths, so we can change them for each season. When he said that he agreed, I almost passed out until he followed it in a low voice "at least, it will get cleaned four times a year!" Now, he did a get a look for that statement!


Monday, we had two teams of workers here. The drywall folks were here adding mud, so they can sand on Tuesday and texture on Wednesday.  Our stucco folks arrived bright and early to begin their work. Art has been working on his shed, I mean shop, plans. He is getting all the necessary documents together in order to get a permit, so we can start on that project.

Tuesday, we had another busy day at the house. Drywall folks were here sanding to get ready for the texture on Wednesday. Stucco guys were also here finishing their prep work.

Wednesday, Mitch, our painter, stopped by to talk about paint color. He will return on Thursday to do some paint samples on our walls. Jerry, our tile person, stopped by to talk about extra designs in the floor and made suggestions on what to do. Steve, the drywall guy, also stopped by and wanted to know what Art did before he retired; did he run a cleaning service. I got a chuckle at that remark.

Thursday, we got stucco today. Those guys worked in the sun and heat all day, and will be back on Friday to continue. Jim Hill, our inside trim man, arrived today to start his work. If you can imagine someone who is more particular than Art, this is your man. He has been busy all day installing trim and inside doors. We have lots of doors, and that means I will have to go shopping again. Finally, the correct front door arrived, and Matt was here to install it. 

Friday, is it the weekend yet? Mitch, our painter, stopped by and painted samples for us. Then I threw him and Art a curve, when I asked about a coral color. I told them what colors that I would like, and they can hammer out the details. Jerry, our tile person, and his crew were here to install the tile in the master bathroom. Stucco guys were still working, and the inside trim guy was busy as a beaver. I went shopping for wood and carpet samples. Chad stopped by to see how his sod was doing, since it was brown when he delivered it. However, we have been watering the sod, and it has turned green. It finally rained!

Saturday, this should be a day to sleep in. What was I thinking? The stucco and inside trim folks arrived to do more work. Both crews should be finished on Monday.


Until next week.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 8/20/2007

When I was growing up, my mother gave me some motherly advice, which I know all mothers have passed down to their daughters, “Choose your battles.”  This applies to just about everything. There are some things about our house that I could have gotten upset over, for instance, our front door. It has been delivered four different times and still, it’s not the correct door. I can’t wait to see it, since I do not know what it looks like! Art chose a secure door, which means not a lot of glass. He did select a glass side panel but not larger than 6 inches, so no one can get their hand to our locks. But, I know in the long run it wasn’t worth a discussion. However, the paint is another subject.  


Monday, the inspector came out to inspect the insulation and all went well.  This should be our last inspections before we start the final inspections. 

Tuesday, our grandson was concerned with our ventless fireplace.  He noticed that we do not have a chimney, so how is Santa going to visit?  Thus, Grandpa and the grandson made a cardboard chimney for the fireplace.  Everyone is happy now.

Wednesday, Drywall was delivered at 7 a.m. in the morning.   The team arrived at 8 a.m. and worked all day until 7 p.m.  You can actually see rooms, and closets.  Our house is coming together. Robbie, our first painter arrived to give an estimate.  His price was $4,000 plus the cost of materials, which would run the total to $5,700.  Art asked about changing colors and he said that included in his price is a three color change.   Art asked about accent walls in two of the rooms, and Robbie said, no problem, and no extra charge.   

I missed all the house action today because I had grandma duty.  My highlight of the day was when I bravely took two boys, ages 2 & 5, to a flooring warehouse.  I had both by the hand, walked to the wood section, lost my head and let go of the 2 year old’s  hand to get my wood sample out.  Talk about moving like lighting, he was gone, but not far.   My voice had him stopping just for a second to turn around and smile at me before he ducked between the tile displays.  Now he is standing between the two rows of tiles which are against a metal frame that is holding displays. This is big enough for a small one to run and the adult cannot get to him.

Finally, he stops, I can barley reach him and the older brother yells “Run for your life, Conrad, run!”  To say the least, he did as his older brother told him to do - he ran.  I stopped and gave a stern look to the older brother, and then very ladylike, got on my hands and knees to crawl in to get the 2 year old, who now is sitting down, waiting!   Do not take 2 small boys floor shopping, I know that I broke every Grandparent rule by doing this.

Thursday, we graded the backyard and we are waiting for more sod.  We also thought that the drywall folks would be here to do their work, but no one showed up.  Mitchell painting came out to give us a bid.   He charges for each additional color, and if we use satin for everything, there is an additional charge.  He has a price list so you can figure your own price, it came to $6,750.

Friday, drywall workers showed up to start mudding.  Sod was delivered and the boys worked on the “back 40,” as we call it.  Now, we pray for rain.  For the time being, we will water the lawn.  Stucco materials were also delivered for that project to begin on Monday.  Mitch called from Mitchell painting and asked about the job; we informed him that we had a lower bid.  He said he could go down to $6,500; we informed him that the bid was still lower than that.  He then said, he would go down to $6,000.  We were referred to Mitch by two different folks but merely copied Robbie’s number from the side of his truck - what to do.  The price is close enough, so we think we will go with Mitch, it will save frustration on our part, and we won’t have to pick up all that paint.


There you have it until next time.

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 8/12/2007

Who am I kidding!

Monday, the HVAC inspector came out and we failed for the first time.  Remember, the company sent out a non-English speaking person, we had a very difficult time dealing with him. We called Del-Air to advise them of what happened. We were told not to worry; they would send a person out first thing on Tuesday, and they would call for another inspection.  No one from Del-Air showed up to do any corrections, and the inspector showed up. To say the least, he was not very pleased with Del-Air. Art called Del-Air to inform them what happened; someone was out to our site that afternoon. The inspector came back on Wednesday and we passed.

Tuesday, since Art has decided to build a "shed," we had dirt brought in. Now, when you think of a shed, you probably think along the lines of 8x10. Not at the Brighton's! Our shed is 23x25; I'm trying to imagine where my pool is going. I went outside to make sure there would still be room for the pool! I should have known that his "workshop" would be large. What happened to the "shed"? The low-voltage guys were here to finish their work and we passed that inspection. The bank inspector came out to see how we are doing. Now we have our second draw. In addition to the dirt folks and inspectors, we are still trying to get bids on a few items. One was for spray-foam insulation; this is in addition to our regular insulation. We were given a price that we thought was on the high side, then we agreed to pay cash and the price dropped $400.

Wednesday greeted us with a search for our trash can. It was on the edge of our property line and an animal print in the dirt indicates it was not a raccoon! This is the second time that we have seen these paw prints; we are thinking a bobcat. More contractors making bids; a few electrical corrections and more dirt were delivered. Our youngest daughter who lives in Florida is going back to full-time employment. She will be teaching fifth-grade history. She has a lot of paperwork, and must attend pre-class orientation, which means we have the two boys! The oldest one is five and likes to "work." We have a great shot of him working! One of the highlights of our day was at 6:30 p.m., when we walked outside and could see the bright ball of fire lifting off into the blue sky! I am referring to the shuttle launch (see picture.)

Thursday, both insulation folks were here. We had foam blown in the block wall and the radiant barrier (see picture) attached to the ceilings. 

Friday, the insulation guy was back out to continue his work. After the radiant barrier, insulation is placed in the ceiling (see picture.) We had grading done with some of the dirt and decided to lay sod in places that would not be in the way of building. The pallets were delivered and they would be installed on Saturday. The top sod on the pallets looks a little brown.

Saturday, the guys were out bright and early to lay our sod - hay! I am sure everything will work itself out.

Let's catch up on a few past topics:

Stucco Bids - these bids had a vast range of prices. Art must have been wearing his sign! Work must be slow around here, because we even had contractors just stopping by and asking if they could give us a bid. After sorting through all the comments, what they can do, what they can't do, and then the price, we finally made a selection.

Drywall bids - Another wide range of prices for the same job! One drywall company was a referred by a friend, and after all the bids were in, we decided to go with him. Drywall starts next week!

Paint - what a topic! Art seems to think that white should be our color in all the rooms. We have had some discussions about that, and I will share two of them. Our youngest daughter met us for Mass and then dinner. During dinner we stared to discuss paint in the half bath. She was sitting in front of us and started to talk about faux painting one wall of the bathroom. I could not see Art's facial expression, but the way she kept on talking about what we could do, it must have been priceless. I could feel him cringe when she went into high gear about a glazing technique.

The next conversation was when we were in the car going to Mass. I was able to get one sentence out about what color I would like, before I was stopped with the famous "it's not in our budget." He explains that the painter buys paint in five-gallon containers and switching the colors will cost us more money. So, I asked "How come when I want something, it's over budget, but when you want something, it's okay to go over budget?" A long pause and he said "you are right," I don't know what else was said, because I was trying to get my calendar out to write down the date. The conclusion is that when we talk to the painter, we will see the difference in cost for changing colors, so, if all else fails, I know some "girls" who can paint. Let's see, I can have a sewing - painting - margarita party! Sounds like a plan to me!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 8/7/2007

Sunday morning, we had a soffit and aluminum guy giving us a bid. After he left, Art came into the house and asked me if he had stupid written on his forehead. I looked at the bid and knew why he asked the question. It was only $2,000 more than the last bid we received.

Monday, the plumbers were back out digging, subcontractors stopped by to make a bid on the lanai's screen and soffits.

Tuesday, the plumbers delivered our tub and set it in place. Our low-voltage guy started bright and early. Tim, inside trim, stopped by to discuss a custom bookcase.  Lovelace Gas started their work and dropped off our fireplace insert; what a busy place this was today. I was left to handle the granite final selections. Our bidders were Stone Spirit and Granite Masters. Stone Spirit could not go below $7,000 and Granite Masters were at $6,800. I went to Granite Masters to finalize our selections and contract. The kitchen selection is a Tropic Brown; this granite is brown and some gold running through it.  Danielle and I hit the remnants section for the bathrooms, we found Cashmere Gold for the guest bath, Giallo Napoleon for the master and  New Venetian Gold for the wet bar. I saved $500 using remnants! It's a good thing, because our convection microwave in the motorhome died and the new one was right under $500. What a day!

Wednesday, the plumbers stopped by to check their pressure testing and as they were leaving, the electrician pulled in. Soon after, our low-voltage team showed up to finish their work. A knock at the door, and it was UPS freight delivery. As I am dealing with him, another drywall contractor showed up to give us a bid, and the Orange County inspector arrived! As anyone will tell you, the inspector comes first, and then everyone else can take a number. We played tag team. I talked with the inspector and drywall guy, Art talked with the delivery guy. Then Art took over with the inspector and I dealt with the drywall guy. Another drywall contractor stopped by for a bid, and Joe from 84 Lumber delivered the rest of the windows and the correct door.


I probably need to explain the delivery, since the guys on site got a chuckle about it. Two weeks ago, we (Art and I together) ordered a New Orleans sofa and ottoman to go in our sitting room.  It was a great price from Costco and the information said 6-8 weeks before delivery, not two weeks! So, now we have a couch in a box (with an ottoman) in our unfinished house. No more buying "stuff" for the house until it's finished; so I have been told.


Thursday, our electricians, windows installer, framers, roofer and low-voltage guys were all here. They were working bright and early before the rain came. Did I mention rain! Everyone who was working outside got soaked, but they got their work finished.

Friday, garage door was installed, French doors were installed, and we passed two more inspections.

Saturday, Del-Air was here to correct some of their work before the inspection on Monday. In addition to Del-Air, the electrician was here with his crew! This should have been a sleep-in day!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 7/29/2007

Last week, I forgot to mention my craft area dilemma. All along, we had planned for my craft area to be in the utility room. There is a five-ft. area where a table and storage would fit nicely. While planning cabinets for this area, I was informed that it's a laundry room first, and then a crap area; he meant craft, I'm sure. While he was ranting, I did not say anything, but ladies, I did give him the look! So, I asked Art, where would he like my craft area to be? Art was quick on his feet to come up with another solution. Since we have so many closets, and I do mean a lot of closet, he suggested turning one of the bigger closets into my craft area. The closet is big enough for a long table, shelves and storage. When we have guest staying with us, they will still have room to hang their stuff. Art even "gave" me the hall closet for extra craft storage. I have already decided to use that extra closet for my bear supplies and fur.

Now when it comes to "work-related" things, like a shop bench, we seem to have all the room we need. Art was busy all weekend building a work bench for the garage. This bench is the entire length of our garage! Actually, he is really excited about having an area to work on stuff instead of a picnic table!


On Monday, our framers finished their work and we passed that inspection. Then another inspection on the dry-in on the roof and we passed. The shingles were delivered and they are sitting on our roof waiting.

 Tuesday, the roofers began to work and the HVAC person came to start his work. The HVAC person is by himself, but he does not speak any English, so it has been very hard to communicate with him. 

Wednesday, we called the HVAC company for some help and they asked us, "Do you speak any Spanish?" This little communication snag will work itself out. However, when I offered him something to drink, I learned he can say "No, thank you" very clearly. There are a lot of subcontractors stopping by to make bids on items. At one time, we had at least four different guys out here working on their bids for other projects.  

Thursday, Tropical Plumbing started their rough-in work, HVAC person is still working, and 84 Lumber delivered our windows and doors. Let me back up, they attempted to deliver the doors, but they were the wrong ones. Lovelace Gas was also here inspecting our house. What a busy place this is! In the middle of all this, Art had a doctor's appointment, which leaves me in charge! This is me singing, 'I'm in charge, I'm in charge, I'm in charge!" That was the fastest doctor's appointment in history! Art was amused when I told him that I was asking questions from the plumbing guys. It is just like carrying your car to a mechanic, that's right ladies; I received a nice answer with lots of explanation and an award-winning smile to go with it.

Friday, the plumbers came back, and Matt, our window guy showed up. Actually, he will be installing our windows and outside doors.


We have been waiting on bids for our drywall and stucco. The first drywall guy is charging $49 per board; he said we would need 281 boards and his total price is $13,769 for drywall. The second guy, Steve, said we need 219 boards and his charge per board is $31, the cost would $6,789. With that price difference, we could go ahead and put our pool in! Moving on, the third guy has not given us the bid yet. The stucco bids are coming as well. The first gave us a price of $5,000. Ramon was our second bidder, he actually took us by two of his other homes in the area that he had done, but he has not given us his bid yet. More to follow on this subject.


Another group of bids that we have been waiting for is the insulation. The first bid was from Gale Insulation and their bid was $5,015. However, they use blown-in insulation. The second bid was $5,070; he uses batts with an R-30 in the ceiling and R-13 for the walls. We would prefer the batts instead of the blown type. Both prices also include a radiant barrier in the attic. 


We have a friend that is a licensed interior designer. She is also certifiable, and yes, I mean certifiable. After all, she and another friend called us at 12:45 a.m. to talk about house plans! What were they drinking? Anyway, when we did talk, at a reasonable time of the day, she did come up with sound advice. Choose colors from the floor up; also, when selecting items that are permanent, it's best to stay with neutral colors. A good example of this is selecting granite for countertops. You may like Tropical Green or Midnight Blue, but how long would you like looking at a green or blue countertop! These items can not be changed on a whim; something to think about. This leads me to our selection of granite. We have chosen two fabricators, and went to their wholesaler for granite selections. We chose the same colors at both locations, so we can compare pebbles to pebbles. A lesson we have learned about granite selections for smaller areas, like the bathroom, is to look at remnants. You can really get great deals from these selections. In our search, we have learned that all remnants, regardless of their grade, can be sold at the same price as a grade A slab or lower.


Next week, we will be discussing paint. I do not have to tell our children what color their dad wants to paint the inside of our house. He has chosen antique white for every room with white trim. I will let you know the outcome of this topic.


Below is a sample of one of the weekly updates that Art sends to our subcontractors.

"Hi, Everyone:


This coming week we will be doing a little of the old; a little of the new; and a whole lot of juggling.


What's new? I will start on low-voltage Monday, and Garry and Billy Lovelace will arrive to rough in the gas lines.


What's old? The tub set and shower pan will finish the plumbing rough-in.  


What to juggle? Delair must return to do one last roof penetration (for the stove); this will allow the roofers to return and finish the roof. I would like the framer to return so the platform can be extended for the air handler. But he cannot return until the windows are in, since he has to frame the window tops. But we want to limit his return to one visit. That means this chain of projects starts with the windows.


The window installer can't get all the windows and doors installed; because we were short a set of windows, which are now on special order. Most of the doors will be here by Monday or Tuesday.


Did I mention the electrician is arriving on Wednesday? And trenching begins on Thursday (I hope).


So we are playing catch-up, but that does not stop us from forging ahead.


I am looking forward to a really great week!!




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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 7/22/2007

We decided on our appliances for the kitchen. Our decision was Whirlpool Gold in silver with black handles. Then one of us said he wanted silver handles on everything, which is an increase in price and the overall selections. That's okay with me; it was just a small increase, and they do look better. I thought the selection process was over and we would be on our way; then someone walked by the KitchenAid appliances. Now these appliances are about $1,000 more than our Whirlpool Gold selections. However, this is what Art would like to have and they are nice. Actually, they do have a lot of upgrades that our first selections did not have. This was an excellent choice on Art's part. Thank goodness Lowe's doesn't carry the Wolf brand, or we would be up a creek!


The cabinet bids are in, and the installer has already come by to measure the space for the cabinets. You know, sometimes, I wonder about that person who keeps changing "our" minds. We had decided on Hickory wood with a light stain to go in all the rooms that require cabinets. After much discussion, someone wants to change the color in the master bathroom to a darker stain. We took our tile selections with us and Art is right, they do look better. We added glass in the center doors over the wet bar. I did want glass in all three cabinets which would have run $1,000 more, but someone said, this is not in our budget! Is this the same person that was with me when we selected the appliances? That's OK, I am happy with glass in the center, because, I am really excited over the spice-rack feature. The spice rack is on a hinge inside the cabinet and it swings out. You can have spices on both side of the rack and there is still room in the back for taller items. Sometimes, the littlest things can make you happy!


Last weekend, we marked where all the wall hangings would go. e.g., wall mirror, towel bars, etc. Our framers placed a brace in between the studs, and I took pictures of where each brace is located. When it comes time to hang, we will hit wood each time, unless one of us changes our minds!  


Another chore out of the way is the selection of plumbing fixtures. A contact we have works for a major plumbing-distribution company, and he has contacts with some of the major plumbing manufacturers. We got a FANTASTIC price on all of our fixtures, and it's everything that we wanted!


Our trusses were delivered on Monday and everyone was steady at work. Tuesday, the big crane arrived; everyone was in their position, and up went the trusses. Our two youngest grandsons spent the night so they could watch the big crane at work (see picture). By 11 o'clock, all the trusses were in place. Now for the plywood, another group came in to put it up.


The guys who worked on setting the plywood in place on the roof worked from dawn to dusk. One of the many hats I am wearing is refreshment coordinator. For the most part, it's just cold water. I took two bottles of cold water to the end of the house and asked if the roofer wanted them. One guy walked to the edge of the roof waiting for me to toss the water bottles up. What he didn't know is that I am used to throwing things up in the air. Whenever Art is working on top of the motorhome, I would have to toss parts, wrenches or whatever at him, I mean up to him. So, a few bottles of water should be a breeze, except the sun was in my eyes. I was thinking to myself, what happens if I hit this guy in the nose and he falls off my roof. Here we go; both bottles went up without a problem!


Friday came with another inspection and we passed. Jim, our inside trim person, stopped by while the inspector was here. They had a chat over our house plans and the inspector was pointing at things and talking. Our roofer stopped by; we ordered shingles and everything that goes with them. He is waiting for his turn to do his thing. 


It seems that Art can stop looking for his lawnmower, a friend of our read last week's blog and gave us a call. He has a new riding lawnmower/tractor that he doesn't use and would be glad to sell it to us! Of course we said yes. He also has an edger, what a deal!


Until next week!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 7/16/2007

Building a house yourself reminds me of coaching a baseball game. The players (subcontractors) know what positions they should be playing. Now, it's up to us, the coach, to let the players know when they are up to bat. We have had their batting order (when they should be doing their job) in place for some time, and we have advised each player, well in advance, of when they will be up to bat. It seems that one of our players (our truss person) must have been playing at the cooler when we set the lineup! Last week, we even had a coach and player meeting (we paid the final balance and discussed delivery), and we were told that he would take his turn at bat right on time, Monday, July 9th. On Monday, our trusses were not delivered as agreed, instead we were told that they would be delivered on Monday, July 16th.


So no matter how hard you pay attention to details, including notifying everyone of where they are in the lineup; the coach will watch a player strike out!


Our framer wanted the trusses up before he worked on the inside of the house. This would allow them to work in the shade. When the trusses did not show up; he said not to worry; he would do the inside work until the trusses arrived, then he would put them up. The framers have worked steady this week at framing the inside. We can actually tell where the rooms are!


We did a few other shopping errands. Back in May, we had picked out our cabinets and decided on the company to install them. Upon receiving the contract, we were shocked to see that he wanted 90% of the cost of the cabinets paid when we signed the contract. Not when they are delivered, or when he ordered them; but when we sign the contract. By now, you should know that wasn't going to happen! Back we went to cabinet shopping and who to go with. We had received several introduction letters from companies in the past few weeks and one was for cabinets. We went to their showroom and picked out another set of cabinets. Actually, this process was a breeze; after all, this was our fourth visit to a cabinet company. Now, we will wait for their bids.


Another shopping experience was choosing lighting. After the tile process, I decided to go by myself, take pictures; and then give Art the three selections that I chose. This went well, until he got online and saw a dining room chandelier that cost six times more than the one I selected. I used one of his phrases "It's not in our budget!" Plus the chandelier was not us! Back to my original selections, and all is right with the world.


Art did a few shopping errands on his own this week. He got a new big ladder and a wheelbarrow. He is also talking about buying a lawnmower, but once in a while the word tractor comes out. I will have to pay close attention to the lawnmower buying. There is so much shopping that we have to do. Not only selections for building the house, but everything inside, like furniture and such. Being the trouper that I am, shopping is what I will do.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 7/8/2007

Since we poured the slab last week, we wanted it to set before they did the block. First thing on Tuesday, the crew arrived and began to work on the block (see picture). We called and had a roll-off dumpster delivered at a reasonable price. The block was finished on Tuesday and ready for inspection. Wednesday was an off day for the 4th of July. On Thursday, the inspector came out and signed off on our permit; all went well. Then before Art could take a sip of his coffee, the bank inspector came by. We were able to receive our 1st draw. Friday, the boys were back to pour the lintels, and in the afternoon, lumber was delivered for next week.


One of the things we did this week was to pick out our tile and wood for the floors. The tile selection was an interesting process. I picked out what I wanted, and he said it's not in our budget! So, I picked out my next selection and he didn't like my selection! When we decided to build the house ourselves, we promised each other no arguing over the selection of items or on the house building itself. The tile selection was getting REAL CLOSE to breaking that promise! On the third round of selection, we had a winner and the rest went as smooth as glass. The wood selection was no problem, first selection and all were happy.


We also moved our "construction office" (read: motorhome) to the site. When Chad laid our sod, we had some extra sod left over, so we had him place it around one side and in front of our "office." By the way, Chad was a referral from Jason, another owner-builder. We had already borrowed a trailer from Larry and Janet, so we put that in place on our lot. We did notice the numbers on the side of the trailer and decided they needed something? But what could it be? A very small adjustment for fun! (See the after picture)


Home Depot had their fans on sale this week, so we got all the fans that we would need and one spare. Thank goodness for our trailer (shed), we had a place to store them. Another purchase this week was a home security system from Costco. This system has four cameras and a monitor screen. Art decided to use it during the building and work out any bugs that it might have. He placed the screen on our dash and temporarily mounted the cameras on the construction office. We have two cameras in the front and two in the back, all at different angles. This is really cool, because we can see everything that is going on and I can find Art when I need him. The system also has a sensor that sounds when some movement is in its line. At first, the sensor was too sensitive, so when a car passed by in front of our house on Oberly, the system would make a beeping noise. Some adjustments were needed or one of us was going to go crazy! Now that we have all the bugs worked out, it turned out to be a great purchase. When the inspector pulled in our driveway Thursday, the sensor started to beep and Art went outside to meet him. 


Since we have our "office" in place, we decided to have the paper delivered. After 9 years of going to buy a paper, we are now having it delivered!


We hope that everyone had a Great 4th of July and took a few minutes to say "Thanks" to all those that gave unselfishly to our freedom.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 7/3/2007

This week on Monday we passed the plumbing underground inspection. Then on Tuesday, we set batter boards, leveled slab grade, and dug footing. Wednesday, we passed a footer and slab inspection. Thursday, we poured slab (see pictures), drilled well, did final grading on drainfield. 


During this week our younger brother and his family from Michigan visited. During the winter, he is a high school teacher and a wrestling coach. During the summer he has a concrete business. On Thursday, they came out to see how it's done in Florida. What every subcontractor wants is TWO Brightons looking over their shoulder! (See Picture)


During the slab pouring, the state inspectors paid us a visit. They were checking for Workmen's Compensation insurance. After they talked to the foreman, Art talked to them and showed where we had a copy of the proper insurance in our records. They were happy and left our site.


Friday, removed form boards, cleaned lot, laid sod on drain fields and blocks were delivered.


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 6/23/2007

Since we have our building permit in hand, we are really building again!


The first thing on the agenda was to mark the trees that "one of us" wanted to keep. The tree decision was accomplished with much discussion and a firm final decision. Next, we brought in dirt to bring our finished floor above the crown of the road. After 105 loads (at $125 a load), I think we have enough dirt. The grandkids had a blast riding their "Grave Digger" and "Jeep" on the hill!


We wanted temporary electrical service and wanted it buried, we started the next project. This became a big headache! Or maybe I should say backache! A conduit has to be buried at least three feet underground and then set in place. Then a red electrical tape has to be placed 18 inches above the conduit and all this has to be inspected by the OUCH before they can place their pole. A trench had to be dug, that was done. But the electrician was delayed getting to lot, and the walls of the trench in five spots had started to cave in. The electrician said "No problem" and said he would be back first thing the next morning with shovels to dig those spots out. NOTE: I would think that since he knew we were doing digging, he would have brought shovels with him in the first place!

The next morning we arrived to a trench that was filled with water, about three feet deep. The electrician with helpers did show up with shovels but of course, could not dig because of the water. We went to Home Depot to rent a trash pump. Worked all day on Saturday pumping the trench. What fun! Sunday arrived and just what every father on Father's Day wants to do - work in the muck. The electrician and his crew arrived and got everything in place - finally. Orange County came out and inspected everything then placed a bright shining green label on our breaker box. OUCH was out on Friday to put our pole in place and to run the cables in the pipe.

The batter boards have been placed; plumbing pipes are in, septic tank is in the ground, the drainage field is completed and we are ready to pour the slab. This project is moving right along.

A little grading was done, and somehow, those trees that were marked? Well two of them are missing! Actually, if I had not showed up, I think all the trees would be gone!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 6/13/2007

The WINNER is!


In this elimination round, we have in the red corner -- The Brightons. In the black corner, we have -- Orange County (OC) permitting. Both are qualified opponents and ready to compete. OC came out with a sucker punch regarding our septic tank permit, then a hard left with hanger qualifications on the front beams. The Brightons staggered a little, but they were not down. They picked up the septic permit and the information about the beams, turned them in and bounced up for a punch of their own! The Brightons win! That’s right, we got our building permit in 8 working days!

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 6/3/2007

We picked up the final plans for the house. We closed on the construction loan and stopped by OUC to pay them their money for our pole and temporary service.


We triple-checked the papers we need for permitting.

  • Building Permit Application
  • Homeowner Affidavit
  • Notice of Commencement Recorded
  • Two sets of construction plans, signed and sealed.
  • Septic Tank Permit number
  • Flood Determination letter (not in flood zone)
  • Two copies of site plans
  • Two copies Ranger Drainage Grading Approval with permit
  • Two set of completed Form 600A-04 Florida Energy Efficiency Code
  • Two copies of mechanical duct layout
  • Two copies of door assemblies installation details with product approval
  • Two copies of window assemblies installation details with product approval
  • Two copies of garage door installation with details approved
  • Two sets of signed and sealed truss engineering
  • One set of floor plans and one site plan for property appraiser's office



Some of the things that Orange County requires are questionable to me, for example a nailing schedule. So what happens if you nail one too many nails! Does the inspector actually count the number of nails you have? Anyway, we actually dropped the application and all forms off. Now the 28-day wait. We have been told they will take the full 28 days to get back to you. What to do during the waiting period?


Road Trip!


We decided to use this time to go to Virginia with a stop in South Carolina. As you can tell, it's not a very long road trip, but it's good to get away. We will drive the motorhome to Virginia and park at our oldest daughter's house. Visit two of our grandkids and pick up a new toy. If you are building a house, you need a truck. Then we will take our grandson back to Florida with us. We will have all three of our grandsons in Florida to help. That last statement is still in question. The ages of our grandsons are 7, 5, and 2! The three love to follow and "help" their grandpa.


Now, let's talk about the truck. When we first started discussing a new truck, I thought this was a good idea. Of course, I was thinking a small truck and he had other ideas. During our discussions, I told him not to load me up on all the little details. That might have been a mistake when you see the little truck that he got!


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 5/25/2007

What have we been doing lately?

Insurance - contacted several insurance companies and went with Public Eyerly Insurance. Our cost is $1,378 for Builders Risk.


Fire Department – Information the insurance company needed concerned the location of fire hydrants and the fire station. The fire department was extremely helpful with their information. The fire station is 8.2 miles from our lot and a new station is being built in Wedgefield. When it’s completed, it will be 1.1 miles from our lot. They also told us what fire units will be sent out in case of a fire. They even called Linda, our insurance agent, to see what information she needed in a letter from the fire department.


OUC - We wanted temporary electricity at our site for two reasons; for our motorhome and for our subcontractors. Contacted OUC and talked to Chris in the engineering department. He met us at our lot and talked about all the charges and placement of the pole. OUC encourages homeowners to have their portion of the electric run underground. The homeowner is responsible for digging a trench and placing a conduit. OUC will then pull all necessary wires at no extra cost. We had to place a junction box 90 feet from their main pole. The junction box is where we will get our “juice.” Everyone has to pay $1,000, for new service charge and $375 for temporary service, plus the monthly bill.


Ranger Drainage District - Took all necessary papers from the surveyor, filled their paperwork out, and paid them their money. We have been approved for them to place our culvert in.


Paid deposits to the truss folks, housing authority, septic engineer, health department for the permit for the septic tank and paid a fee to record a notice of commencement.

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 5/16/2007

Lot Closing and Construction Loan


            A few chores before we close on the lot. A survey is required, so we used Ace Surveying on Highway 520 and we dealt with Tom, at a cost of $575. Also, we sent the contract and $1,000 to America First Title Company. Our contact was Mary Conte and they were really good to work with. The bank, Peoples First, a Florida-based company, did their thing. So everything went very smoothly.


            Getting a construction loan for an owner-builder is not the same as getting a loan for a general contractor. We took all of our necessary documents to the bank, Peoples First; they reviewed them, and said they would need more information. We had to write a resume that covered both of us and our “Talents,” for those that really know us - who do they think they were dealing with! There is no way that we can put all of our talents on one page! Being the troupers that we are, we gave it our best shot. They also requested a cost breakdown for all phases of building and any forms that we would be using. We used a work procedure with a line by line phase. Then inserted the information on a spreadsheet and listed each phase of building with two – three contacts for each phase. Luck prevailed again; we were referred to the owners of Tropical Plumbing. They helped us with many contacts for each of our phases.

            Talked to Jeff (owner-builder) and he also gave us several subcontractors that he used. We started getting bids from the subcontractors so we could have a ballpark figure to give the bank. We gave the bank both forms and the final cost breakdown. We are also using Jason and Cara’s (another owner-builder) forms for subcontractor interviews (why reinvent the wheel). We gave the bank all the new information and they were very happy.


            While we are dealing with the “money side,” we are also preparing to go to permitting. We have been told this is where the fun begins!

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 5/15/2007

Lot Pictures


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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 5/14/2007

The Plan


Now that we have our lot, we should take a few minutes to talk about our house plans. For the last 8 years, we have been traveling the United States in our motorhome. About two years ago, we started talking about what we would like in our house when we decide to slow down. We wanted an open space design, a nice size kitchen and believe it or not, we wanted a fireplace. We drew our house ideas on a piece of paper. Someone referred us to Wayne Corp. and we talked to Bob Tucker. He has turned our piece of paper into house plans! He has an engineer who works with him, so we will have all the seals that Orange County requires.


The total under area square footage is 2,371 and under roof is 3,539 square feet. The kitchen is galley style and is 18x9; the dinette is 15x10. Our family room is 13x21 and we have a North Pole room. Actually it’s a sitting room that is attached to a bedroom for all of our friends and family from the north to have their own space.


For all of our RV friends, we will have extra hookups, so you can visit!

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Posted to WeAreBuildingAgain by Ellen in Orlando, FL on 5/12/2007

We have been kissed!

There's a story that goes like this. An ugly man was standing on a street corner, asking each pretty girl that walked by for a kiss. One by one they would say no, slap his face and walk away. Finally, on the 100th pretty girl he asked, she stopped and gave him a kiss!
That was our thought about buying land. Someone would say yes!
Round 1:
Our starting bid for each lot was $80,000 regardless of what size, etc. We started out with our first choice and made our offer. He was asking $119,000. NO, and counter with $100,000. Actually, he said "Not a penny below $100,000". We moved on to the second choice; NO, and they did not counter. Off to the third choice, NO, and he countered with $110,000. The fourth choice threw us a curve, NO, and he wanted to sell both lots at the same time. What had he been drinking! The fifth choice, NO, and he was holding for $110,000. Keep waiting! Now the fifth choice was asking $108,000. We made our offer and he countered with $107,000. Just a side note, all of these lots has been on the market for over a year.
Round 2:
We decided to offer $90K for the larger ones and $85K for the smaller ones. Back to our first choice and offered $90,000. He immediately countered with $95,000. Remember, he would not take a penny below $100,000. We decided to wait a few days and think about the price. This was our first choice and the biggest lot, 265x300, no wetlands. We then offered $92,500. HE SAID YES! We were to close in the next few days.
PUT ON THE BRAKES! The man backed out before he signed the contract! They felt sick about losing so much money. He had paid $150,000 for this lot two years ago.
We went to the last lot and made an offer of $87,700. This was a larger lot and high and dry. They countered with $100,000. We recounter with $90,000. We gave them the weekend and did not hear anything. In the meantime, we found a lot for sale by owner. He wanted $110,000, and had cleared the lot. He told us up front that he wanted to sell the lot and he would come down on his price. We signed a contract for $90,000. BOTH parties signed everything! This time we should really close around May 15.
We are building in Florida!

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