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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 9/29/2009

It's been a long time since my last post on this blog (although I did keep my other blog a little more up to date). We've actually been living in the house for about three months. We moved in almost exactly 9 months after we broke ground.  

The total time involved in the project was probably a little more than two-and-a-half years.The first eighteen months were for education and planning. And this site was by far the best educational (and motivational) resource available. The building process took nine months, just as we planned to it to take. 

Budget was a challenge. Our last house was a 100-year-old Victorian, and we loved it. One of our goals in building this house was to build a place that would last at least as long. So we chose good materials. Not top of the line, but not builder grade either. During the process, every time we had to make a choice--we chose the more expensive option. We also failed to budget for a couple of fairly-expensive labor items: a finish carpenter to help with the stairs, and a mason. We finished the project about 5% over budget on the house. Next time around, we'll be sure to budget for someone else to do absolutely everything, and then let the work we do ourselves bring the project in below budget. It will certainly help with the stress level. 

Building during the middle of the mortgage crisis was interesting. The bank was extremely cautious, not paying for any tasks until they were 100% complete.  They also changed the rules on us midstream. We were supposed to be able to convert from an ARM loan to a fixed loan for free after the construction process was over. But because of changes from Fannie Mae, they required a reappraisal. And if the second appraisal came in lower than the first, we would have to do a full refinance.  Luckily the second appraisal came in 3% higher than the original plan appraisal. 

Managing the project was the easy part. I estimate that the management and expediting tasks for which builders charged between $40K and $60K, took me about two to three hours per week. The real time-eater was the work we did ourselves. 

All in all, it was a great experience. We love the house, we love the neighborhood, and we had fun throughout the process. We'll definitely do it again.  


The front--with a lawn
Our kitchen
The dining room
Family room
And another
Master bedroom
Master bath

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 5/18/2009

As always, more details at We're in the last six weeks now, hoping to move in on June 27th. Still no occupancy permit. Although the inspector seemed pretty lenient on the insulation inspection, it looks like he'll be a bit more thorough than I had hoped. So we'll have to be "pretty much done" before we call for the final inspection.

The cabinets are installed (except for a few fixes), countertops are in, plumbing is done - we have working bathrooms now! I've been working on finish carpentry for the last couple of months, and I'm probably about 70% done. Hired a mason to do the stone on the front of the house, and that's just about finished. The last of the light fixtures come in tomorrow and should be installed by the end of the week. Driveway and patio were poured last week. Shower doors were ordered and should be installed in the next week or so.

I'll be working on caulking and painting the exterior trim over the weekend, and still working hard at nailing up trim. The landscaper starts by building a retaining wall around our big window well next week (is a window well that takes 250 sq. ft. of stone really a window well?). I still have to figure out what we'll use to cover the foundation insulation. Once that is done, I think I'll be ready for the final inspection. 

The last few weeks will be a race to get the door hardware installed, trim varnished, and floors finished before the carpet goes in.


Kitchen with countertops
Custom stairs - with site-milled trim
Fireplace with columns
Dining room with trim installed
Driveway is poured
The front of the house with stone
The stonework
The patio
Swirl texture on the concrete

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 3/28/2009

This time it's been almost two months since my last post. I do a little bit better maintaining my other blog. If you're interested, take a look at The project has been progressing, slowly but surely. Since that last post, I finished laying the hardwood floor (cumaru), sanded it, and put a couple coats of finish on to protect it. My tile guys are almost done with the tile--shower floor in the master bath, and then the only thing left will be the tub deck--which they can't install until the plumber sets the tub. Cabinets were delivered this week, and the cabinetmaker is almost done installing them. We tiled the fireplace surround and hearth, and have begun staining windows. The roofers installed gutters (and repaired a few shingles that blew off the roof in a windstorm). The electrician installed outlets, switches, and lights. 

I did hit a snag in the budget/schedule. I didn't think about the cost of finishing the stairs when I prepared the budget and plan. It turns out that to get the stairs finished like we want, materials would cost about $11K. So I decided to mill all the stair trim myself. That cost me 10 days and about $1K in lumber. I also hired a finish carpenter to do the stair work. And he's doing a fantastic job. He also brought his son in to help hang interior doors. But now I'm two weeks behind on the trim. I'm taking vacation for the next two weeks, so hopefully I'll make some progress. And I might even be able to do some cleanup--the place is looking pretty messy now. I have three major tasks ahead of me: the rest of the finish carpentry, masonry on the exterior, and exterior painting. We may break down and hire a mason.

In terms of the to do list, it's getting shorter. The granite guys come on Monday to measure for countertops. They should be ready to install next Monday (or maybe even sooner). After that comes the finish plumbing, finish tile, and finish electrical. Appliances get delivered on Tuesday. Lighting has been ordered (except for the ceiling fans, which are discontinued). We're trying to find a good replacement. The only major purchases left are the driveway & landscaping, shower doors, door hardware, carpet, audio/video equipment, storm doors, and garage-door openers (I hope). Oh yeah, we also have to get the driveway and patio poured and the landscaping done. 

Our lease on the current rental house is up in June. And it looks like we'll be able to move in by then. Actually, I may be ready for an occupancy permit by the end of April (although the end of May is more likely). That's about it for now. 


Family-room floor
A closeup of the flooring
Tile in the guest bath
The fireplace. Just need a mantle.
Kitchen cabinets
More kitchen cabinets
Laundry-room cabinets
Stair trim

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 2/8/2009

It's been a month since my last entry. Since then, we've made a lot of progress. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical are roughed-in. We finished structured wiring. Insulation is done, drywall is done, with two coats of paint sprayed throughout the house. Siding is installed, so the house is looking much more finished than it is from the outside. The furnace was turned on to warm things up enough so that the sills could be foamed, and it's been on since then. It took several days to warm the basement up above 50 degrees. But it's nice and toasty now. I'm working on milling the trim. So far, I've finished planing and ripping baseboards, casings, and crown. I still have to send a bunch through the molder to cut profiles for base caps, crowns, and base shoes. Baseboards and casings will also need to be sanded before I install them. Hardwood floors were delivered on Friday--I'll install them myself starting in the next day or two after they've had time to acclimate to the temperature of the house. My brother-in-law will be doing the tile work and installing doors. He started on Thursday. Realized we needed the water turned on if we wanted to set the tile... we had a number of weather delays, but all in all, things have proceeded on schedule.


Spraying Insulation
Garage drywall
Upstairs hallway
Sound insulation for interior walls
View from the front door - after painting
Family room after painting
The first floor from the family room
The south side
The front of the house

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 1/8/2009

The workshop is starting to look like a workshop. And the garage is starting to look like a garage--doors and all. I hope to get a lot of use out of that machine that resembles an aircraft carrier in the middle of the picture... it will be great to actually have enough room to walk around the machine without running into things. My brother-in-law Bill installed the garage doors earlier this week. They are 9'x8' carriage-style steel doors by Haas Garage Doors. They have applied trim that makes them stand out a bit more than the garden-variety door. They feel pretty solid. And they do a pretty good job of keeping the snow (and wind) out of the garage.

The building inspector came yesterday to do electrical and structural inspections. We passed all the mechanicals: plumbing, HVAC, and electrical. He wants to see some additional blocking in the basement to carry point loads. Once that's done, we'll have passed the structural inspection too. The picture of the kitchen wall below -- every stud bay is filled with either plumbing, electrical wiring, structured wiring, or HVAC supplies or returns (or a combination of all of these).

People often complain that each trade wants to work alone. Nobody wants to start working until the previous trade is done. I've had plumbers, HVAC guys, rough carpenters, and electricians in the house at the same time. Multiple times. They've been working together very well. The inspector did mention that he didn't want insulation to start until the siding was installed. He'd be okay with us doing the insulation while the siding is going up, but he wants the house to be weathertight before he'll inspect the insulation. And with snow expected tomorrow and a cold snap (below-zero temperatures), it may delay things by a week. We still have a fair amount of work to do before starting the insulation. We finished running the video, audio control, Ethernet, and speaker wires. I still have to finish some video matrix wiring, some audio-source wiring, security, and vacuum-outlet wiring. The goal is to have all the wiring done by end of day Sunday, so that insulation can start on Monday.


Garage doors
The workshop--with machines!
My son Danny, running wires
The kitchen wall
Central-vac outlet

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 12/26/2008

It's been three weeks since my last update. We've been busy with my daughter Linda's graduation from UW-Milwaukee, my dad's stint in the hospital (he'll be alright), about 8 snowstorms leading to one of the most snowy Decembers we've ever had, and Christmas preparations. In those three weeks, work on the house has progressed a little slower than I'd like, mainly because of the weather. The framers are still working on another job (the weather delayed them by at least a week) so the siding hasn't started yet. HVAC and electrical were both delayed by multiple snow and cold days. So what's been done?

Most importantly, I have a working workshop now. The framers finished furring out the walls, the electrician is done with the rough wiring, I have lights, and even a working Modine furnace dedicated to the shop. My son Danny and I stopped by the house tonight, and the furnace has raised the temperature of the workshop to 45 degrees (where we had it set), and it takes about five minutes to raise the temperature by a degree. We still have to put some more insulation in the walls (more than the R-5 that's already installed on the outside foundation walls) and seal up the stairwell before I turn the heat up much higher. Since the workshop is ready, I had 2,500 board feet of Wisconsin black cherry delivered. I got a good deal from a local sawmill, who delivered it last weekend after straight-line ripping one edge and planing each board down to 15/16". The quality was better and the price was cheaper than I got when doing my kitchen in the last house seven years ago. I was worried about getting it unloaded from the truck, but Danny and I, with help from my nephews Jake and Joe, worked with the sawmill owner. It only took the five of us about an hour and a half to get it off the truck, down the stairs, and stacked in the workshop.

The plumber is finished with the rough plumbing, and we passed the plumbing inspection. The HVAC guys have taken quite a bit longer, but they're done now as well, and I think we passed the HVAC inspection. I chose a York furnace, manufactured by Johnson Controls which is based here in Wisconsin. It's a modulating furnace, which means that both the blower and the gas flame are variable. It can start out at low speed and low flame when demand is low, and increase both as needed when demand increases. They set it up as a zoned system, with one zone for each floor. Most importantly, it's extremely efficient--supposedly the most efficient furnace on the market today. Since geothermal was too expensive to consider, I figured we should concentrate on getting an efficient furnace instead. We'll see how it impacts the gas bills. I have to give the HVAC guys some credit. They did a good job keeping the ductwork in the joist bays.

Since we're finishing the basement eventually, I want as much ceiling height as possible down there. So the theater and rec room will have 8'-7" ceilings--with no need to work around the ductwork. In the bedroom, the ceiling drops to 7'-10" to accommodate the furnace plenum. The basement is all framed now, and the ceiling will look great. The framers were able to follow the plans pretty closely. We'll have a rec room (with room for a pool table), a theater room, a bedroom/exercise room, and a full bathroom. I figured that as long as the framers were around, I should take advantage and get them to frame in the basement. They did a much better job than I could have, much quicker.

The electricians did get started late last week, as soon as the plumbing and ductwork were far enough along. They've still got about a week of work left to do, but I'll be able to get started on structured wiring tomorrow. Even though we lost a week due to weather, I put a week of slack in around the holidays. So as soon as the electrician is done and we pass the electrical and framing inspections, the insulators can start. I'm hoping for insulation to start the week of Jan 5th. We hit the 90-day point on Dec 23rd. When I look back at the original schedule, it isn't too bad. We can still hit our projected move-in date of the first week of May.


The heater (and lights) in the workshop
Finish lumber delivered
A York furnace, Broan HRV
97.7% efficiency
Ductwork stuffed well in the joist
Water heater
Laundry room
Roof on a rare, warm December day
Basement is framed.

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 12/6/2008

Windows were delivered on Monday, and installed on Tuesday. We no longer have gaping holes where the windows should be. You'll notice that the snow is back in the picture. We had about eight inches last weekend, and another three or four inches in the middle of the week, and another three or four inches today. I shoveled about 90 gallons of snow out of the second floor just in time for the plumber to come in with a diesel-powered heater. The roofers came out on Wednesday to finish the flashing. It took them about half the day, but we're all roofed now.

The plumber and HVAC guys also showed up and got right to work. I was worried that they'd have trouble finding good routes for drain lines and duct work. But it looks like we'll need very few modifications. I'll have to fatten up some walls in bathrooms and the laundry room and possibly drop a ceiling in a closet, but that's about it. The plumber is just about finished roughing in the fixtures. He set up the laundry room supply and drain, while the HVAC guy installed a pan that will give us more clearance for connecting the dryer vent. Steel doors were delivered on Thursday. Hopefully, the framers will be back on Monday or Tuesday to install the doors, a couple of basement windows, and frame the basement.

Met with the cabinetmaker today to finalize cabinet plans. It will still be about a month or six weeks before he'll get started. We want him to measure after the drywall goes up. The plumber and HVAC guys should finish mid-week, and the electrician will start right when they're done. I have to get the roofer back to install flashings around plumbing and HVAC roof penetrations. The electrician expects to take two weeks. So he should be finished just before Christmas.


Windows installed on the south side
And the east side
Guest bathroom
Laundry room
Windows in the family room

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 12/1/2008

Despite the long weekend, we made some progress. The roofers finished the roofing on Saturday. They just have a little bit of flashing to finish up and they're done. It only took them three days. And again, my timing was off. The roof was up on Saturday, but windows don't go in until Tuesday. So of course we got about 8" of snow on Sunday. I spent the day trying to put plastic up. And it held, at least while I was there. When I came back this morning, the wind had torn the plastic off the biggest windows. So I had about an inch of snow covering the floors--both first and second floors. I waited a bit too long to order the garage doors. I got them ordered on Saturday, but they won't be ready until next Wednesday. The windows were delivered today, and it looks like they only missed one window: a basement window, which will be delivered on Thursday. I ordered other steel doors (service entrance to the garage, the workshop stair door, door between the garage and the laundry room, and the door between the basement and the workshop) about two weeks ago, and they'll be here either tomorrow or Wednesday. We'll be pretty close to closed in tomorrow, but it looks like it will be another week and half before everything is protected from the weather. The plumber stopped by today, only to turn around. With the wind, frigid temperature, and snow in the house I don't blame him. He'll come back on Wednesday--after the windows are in and I have a chance to shovel some of the snow out of the house. On the bright side, the fireplace did get installed today. So we met our first mechanical milestone. Just a single picture this time. I don't think I've shown one with the house from this angle. It does show the roof almost completed. And look at how well the roof matches the roof of the neighbor's houses. Yes, every house in the neighborhood has the same color roof. Let's hear it for the suburbs!


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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/25/2008

I'll call the framing done now. So the house is now officially 31'-2" tall. I guess I have to find another way to measure progress now.  We got a couple inches of snow yesterday. My timing was off a bit. The snow came yesterday. The roofers don't come until tomorrow. 
Luckily, it wasn't very windy when the snow fell, so we didn't get much snow inside the house. But it did start to melt today, so we have a bunch of water in the house now. Looks like I'll have to fire up a propane heater to dry it out.
HVAC, rough plumbing, and fireplace all start next Monday. Windows are also delivered next Monday, and the framers will be back to install them next Tuesday--the same day that our next snowstorm is predicted. 


Almost done now
The last piece of sheathing for the walls.
Finishing the roof sheathing
It snowed in front
And in back

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/23/2008

More detail at The framers have been working on the roof, soffits, and fascia for the last few days. I spoke with one of the carpenters earlier this week, and he complained that they usually get soffits and fascia done in a day--but it will take more than three on our house. He said, "Most houses have either gables or hips. This one has both. Everywhere." When working with on the design with Kerry, I mentioned that I didn't want any "pork chop" eaves. We could have gone with a simple craftsman-style open eave. But that didn't seem right.

So the solution he came up with was to "return" each side of the gable all the way to the other side of the gable. So in keeping with the shingle style we were influenced by, this house will have strong horizontal lines. I'm sure it was a hassle to design, but it's apparently even a bigger hassle to construct. I have to give the carpenters credit: I think it looks great! But I'll have to be sure the roofer flashes everything correctly, or we'll have all kinds of leaks. They also got the third gable up on the front of the house, so it's getting closer to looking like the renderings. The framers worked Saturday, and it looks like they'll be able to finish up with one more day of work. Roofers should get here on Tuesday. Windows are delivered and mechanicals start a week from Monday.


Northeast corner. Just about finished with framing.
The last gable is up.

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/18/2008

They made a lot of progress in the last couple days. Five out of six gables are up. 95% of the trusses are up. And they even started sheathing. So it looks like they'll be done with rough framing by the end of the week. That's good, because next week both Thanksgiving and deer hunting season begin. Hopefully, I'll still be able to get shingles installed on the roof. Windows come the week after. I was hoping the plumber and HVAC guys could start on Monday. No problem with the HVAC, but the plumber said he wants the roof on first. We'll see if I can talk him into it anyway. Regardless, next week is a short week, so it isn't a big deal if he starts the next week. Here's a bunch of pictures:


Trusses delivered. That's our roof sitting there.
The wheels on the crane are off the ground.
The first gable goes up
Finishing up a girder truss
Truss in the air
Placing the south gable
The house from a distance
Placing a truss
The first gable
Northwest corner
Front of the house
Southwest corner
Southeast corner

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/15/2008

The framers pretty much finished the second-floor walls, added soffits on the first floor in the kitchen and laundry room. They also lowered the ceiling in the front hallway. So they're essentially finished until the trusses--which were delayed by another day--are delivered on Monday. This weekend, I'll start caulking. I'll be filling every gap I can find in the framing, making sure that I eliminate every air gap that I can even before the insulation goes in.

We'll also try to figure out how we're going to store the interior doors. We got a good price on flat-panel cherry doors made by the Wausau Door Company here in Wisconsin. We'll use five-panel doors that are similar to those on our old house. We ordered them from Home Depot, hoping it would take them a while longer to get them to us. They arrived on Wednesday--two weeks ahead of schedule. We could store them in the workshop, but it's still pretty wet down there--the slabs above and below are still drying out. So we'll have to find a conditioned storage unit to store them in for a month or two. I'll be glad when the house is fully enclosed with a roof, windows, exterior doors, etc. But that's still a few weeks off...

It's been raining pretty consistently: every day for the last week. When I checked things with a moisture meter last weekend, the walls were pretty good--about 10% to 12% moisture content. The subfloors? Not so good. They soak up water like a sponge, so they are at 25% and up. The ideal here in the winter is 7%. If things are much wetter than that, I'll risk cracks in the drywall and cupped floors. So it looks like I'll have to get the heat turned on as soon as I can just to start drying things out before the insulation goes in. Next week will hopefully be much better in terms of weather. Not much rain expected, just a little bit of snow early in the week. By this time next week, the roof should be framed. Roofers should be able to start late next week or early the week after, along with the mechanicals. The power company was out to mark for the gas line and to install the electric meter today. I had hoped they'd start digging yesterday. But with my luck, they'll arrive at the same time as the trusses or the crane early next week. More entries at


The back of the house
Exterior walls going up
The front of the house
The garage
Interior walls are up.
Workshop stairs. No more climbing through the window...

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/8/2008 8:06:19 AM

Got a lot done this week--more details available at The house is now 12 feet, 4 inches high! The first floor is all framed. The framers even got a good start on the second floor: the second floor joists are in, and so is the second floor subfloor. They even got a start on the second floor walls. The porch was poured in time to miss the freeze that we're getting right now.

But there were also some unavoidable delays. The roof trusses, which I had hoped would be ready Tuesday, won't be delivered until Friday. That moves everything out by about a week. The windows won't be delivered until December 1st. But I did order the thin stone veneer for the front of the house to get delivered next week, so I'll be able to get a head start on that. I'll be setting the stone myself, so I'll finally be able to do something concrete (no pun intended).

We've had some weather delays, but not too bad yet. Just a day or two. The biggest delay is the roof trusses. Tim, the framer, waited until after we had garage walls up to verify the truss measurements. It was necessary because the foundation walls in the basement were poured out of square. He wanted to be sure that he could correct that error without having to increase the size of the trusses. He could. Luckily, I spec'd energy heels on the trusses, and I have 2x6 walls, so we have some room to play. They'll just have to shim the siding when they install it so it lines up with the foundation below.

The second delay was around the windows. I called in a change to Pella to increase the size of the basement windows and to upgrade the doors to use decorative glass. The sales rep told me I called the change in just in time. But then somebody from Pella called me and told me I missed the deadline and they were going to charge me a 50% restocking fee for the door (about $1000). It also delayed the whole window order by 10 days. I'm fighting the extra charge. But I'm not worried about the delay--it will allow me time to get the roof on before the windows are delivered. Since the windows are a "finish" item, it will be much better if I don't get them wet.


A view of the rear of the house
Hoisting the main beam for the second floor
Another rainbow. This time from the second floor
The northeast corner. The first floor is boxed in all around now.
The basement got a bit wet this week
We have a front porch

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/3/2008

Some more visible progress. If you're interested, you can get a play by play rerun on my blog at Most of the first-floor exterior walls are constructed, sheathed, wrapped, and erected. Ran into a problem on the garage -- walls are a couple inches out of square. Shouldn't be a big deal to resolve by just adjusting the position of one of the walls, but it might need an adjustment in the trusses. Hopefully, they haven't constructed the trusses for the garage yet, or we risk a delay.

Electrical meter box was installed, as were the 320-amp service panels. I also got the "ready for service" requests taken care of today. Had to re-route the gas line to avoid a tree.

Tomorrow, we hopefully get the porch slab poured, and make more progress on the first floor walls.


View from our dining room window
Raising a wall
This sure makes it easier...
East wall
The electric meter box is in!
West wall
They're supposed to be waving from the front door...

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 11/1/2008

We made quite a bit of visible progress this week. The garage slab was poured on Thursday, and framing continued. They got the first floor capped, several first-floor walls built, and even raised a couple. The electrician also came to install the electric meter and circuit-breaker panels.

Next week, I send in the "ready for service" cards to schedule gas and electric hookups, and the framers continue.



First-floor joists
First floor is capped!
Starting to build the walls...
Pouring the garage slab
Lots of activity
Garage slab is done!
The basement has a ceiling now.

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 10/29/2008

The weather hasn't been cooperating. Rain on Friday prevented us from pouring slabs (and turned my garage into a big rubber-lined bathtub). Wind on Sunday blew insulation panels all over the place. Cold on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday prevented us from pouring the garage slab.

But so far this week, we've gotten the basement and workshop slabs poured, and framing has started! As of yesterday, our house was a whole inch and a half high (the thickness of the mud sill).

Today they got the first-floor rim joist and most of the joists laid. Tomorrow they'll sheathe the first floor and start on first-floor walls.

Here are some pictures:


Just about done with the floor
It's been poured
And control joints are saw cut
The framing has started!

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 10/25/2008

Almost made it through the week on schedule. We did get a rubber membrane placed on our Spancrete panels, underground plumbing, adjustment of columns, prep for the slabs, and our first lumber delivery completed. A rain delay on Friday put us back by a day, but we should pour slabs on Monday, and start framing on Tuesday. I'll also be submitting for my first draw on the construction loan early next week (as soon as I get an invoice from the foundation guys). If you'd like, you can read a blow-by-blow account at


Rubber membrane and insulation on Spancrete panels
The basement is ready for a slab
So is the workshop
And our first load of lumber has been delivered

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 10/18/2008

We're making progress, but it's slower than I like. Last week it was installation of sewer and water laterals, and backfilling. This week, it was setting steel and placing Spancrete panels on the garage walls. If you'd like, you can read a blow by blow at

So now I have a Spancrete floor on the garage, with a workshop underneath it, and steel beams ready for framing. Next week, it will be underground plumbing, pouring slabs before it freezes, and lumber delivery. And finally, the week after that, framing begins.


The backfilled foundation
A big window well
Some forced labor (from Zeke, my two-year-old)
Cranes at work
Swinging steel
Spancrete in the sky
Placing the Spancrete
The smart way to haul
Beams are set
The workshop

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 10/4/2008

Even more details at

We've had a busy couple of weeks. Got the silt fence put in, topsoil scraped, excavated, footings and foundation walls poured, drainage membrane installed, foundation insulation installed, and initial backfill completed.

If only the remaining walls would go up as quickly! We get to wait for a week for the concrete to cure before we can start framing. Looks like next week will be a light week. We'll backfill on Thursday, set steel and get a lumber delivery on Friday. Framing will start a week from Monday, and our Spancrete panels for the garage floor will go in the week after. Framers tell me they'll finish the rough work in three weeks. They're actually getting busier now, but they assure me that they'll get it done as scheduled. At this point, it looks like I can shave about two months off the schedule. We'll see how quickly the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical get done.

I've been concentrating this week on finalizing contracts with the framer, plumber, HVAC guy, and electrician. Next week, I'll be working on contracts for drywall and insulation. One of the subs told me that he hasn't signed a contract in five years, but he had no problem signing one with me. 

Things have slowed down here quite a bit, so the subs are willing to negotiate. There is also not a lot of waiting time involved. I'm scheduling things well in advance, and keep in touch with each sub to make sure they're aware of when they need to start. So far, I've only had to deal with the excavator, surveyor, and foundation crews, but I'm now about a week ahead of schedule.

The credit crunch appears to be hitting some of the suppliers. The steel guys wanted payment up front - I bought instead through the foundation guy. Window vendor and lumberyard are checking credit pretty carefully. Even the foundation guy wanted a "personal" guarantee of payment. Maybe things will loosen up now that Congress passed the "rescue" bill.

Here are some pictures of highlights for the last couple of weeks:


The empty lot
Topsoil cleared
Excavation done
Footings done
Our basement at the end of the rainbow
Forms done
Getting ready to pour walls
Finishing the foundation
Foundation wall
Basement (southeast corner)
Basement (workshop)
Backfilling with gravel

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Posted to threegables by Jeff in Hartland, WI on 9/23/2008

Hi Everybody:

I've gotten a lot out of this site, so I thought I'd create a journal to show progress and give a bit back. I have a more detailed blog if you're interested at

We've been in the planning phase for a couple years now. We purchased a lot about 18 months ago, hired a designer, sold our old house (an old Victorian), and are just getting started now in September, 2009. We closed on our loan about 10 days ago, and with any luck, we'll start digging this Friday. 

The house is kind of a modern Craftsman style, with four bedrooms upstairs and one bedroom down, about 3,400 sq. ft. I've attached some renderings and floor plans. One of my favorite features is the Spancrete floor in the garage that will let us put a basement under the garage. That will be used as my workshop once we move in, and will probably be used to mill trimwork while the house is being built.

I'll have pretty frequent updates to my blog (URL is above), but I'll try to update this site pretty regularly too.



A rendering of the front of the house.
A rendering of the rear of the house.
The first floor plan
The second floor plan
The basement floor plan

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