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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/2/2014

For many reasons I will be blogging our second O-B project at:

I think we are four to six months from groundbreaking, but I'll try to fit in as many hours in planning, selecting subs, and sourcing materials until that point. Have made good progress this week. :-)

I will get back here to provide updates as often as possible, but for a full log (if anyone cared) see the address above.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/25/2012

This site seems somewhat slower than a few years back when we first built. Regardless, it is a good repository for all things owner-built. For many reasons, we are looking to build again. We currently have a lot in escrow and should close by the end of the year. It is only three miles from where we currently live, but in a better neighborhood. Our neighborhood isn't bad by any means, but it lacks children for our kids to play with.

Audra is already 90% done with the new plan and I am working on finishing up our current home (recently finished exterior accent paint) so we can list and sell in the spring.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 4/17/2010

Less than a week back home after being gone for 6.5 months. I am working on the basement now, because we have a friend who needs a place to stay. Sometimes I wonder why I built this house in three phases instead of one, but we didn't need the space when we moved in. We do now.

I am working on finishing up the rough-ins and drywall stocking on Monday and hanging on Tuesday.

Pics to come.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/29/2009

Like many O-B's I have a punchlist a mile long. I have a lot to do to finish things up even though we have lived in our home since late last March. Right about the time we broke ground I began looking for other employment as my job in land development appeared to be coming to an end. Once we were in the rough-in stage my job was ended and I had no prospects in sight. Then the heavens intervened, and a position opened up which not only allowed me to pay my bills but had the flexibility to allow me to spend as much time on site as I had before. Fast forward 10 months to five months after occupancy, and I am about to change jobs again. I had applied for a position that takes months if not years to get into. It also requires extensive training. The short version is that I report for training on September 23rd and will be gone until April 9th of next year.

I will be gone for more time that I have been in our home. I hate to consider it, but it is here. I have been working frantically to finish our bonus space so that someone could rent it out while we are gone. We are also trying to rent out our main house to family members. I would rather not turn my house over, but money is tight and maintaining a mortgage payment and renting a place across the country will put us in the red each month. Renting out the bonus space and our main quarters will cut the bleeding but not stop it. I hate to look at the amount we will have to pull out of savings each month to cover this temporary but lengthy situation. I hope I saved enough DSDE dollars during the building process. Taking $500 a month for 6 months from savings to cover this situation is like having to earn $30,000 or more to save the same amount, right Mark? (see: DSDE video )

I have basically three weeks left, not much time to get everything done. I don't mean everything on the punch list, but everything that has to be done before turning the place over to someone else. Oh, did I mention that Audra is due today? We have an appointment for induction at 2:30 for our third child! So if I thought we were busy trying to get the final, I was way wrong. Life is hectic and I was lucky to get more than 6 hours of sleep maybe twice this week.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/9/2009

My sweet and patient wife was kind enough to post the following on our family's blog:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Justin Deserves Some Recognition

While we were building our house, we were very aware of how many people around us were struggling. We have been so blessed in the past few years as we rode the real-estate boom with a house in Chandler and some land in Show Low and were able to save a reserve to allow us to buy some land in Chandler to build a house. It was a risky deal as we had to buy a larger piece and bank on the plan to split it and sell it before we ran out of money making the payments for the whole thing. Luckily for us, we got a buyer within three months, and originally we split the lot into two 1.25-acre pieces, but the buyer wanted slightly more land, so we re-surveyed and had the .25 shaved off of ours to give him 1.5 acres. He paid us enough more for the extra .25-acre that we were able to add an unfinished basement to our plans! It was really a miracle for us, because less than a week after we closed the deal his wife changed her mind and decided she didn't want to live there. They tried to sell the lot for over a year, but then with the real estate bust, the value dropped and dropped until they let the bank take it.

So during this time a lot of people we knew were upside down on their mortgages, losing their homes and/or their jobs (Justin actually lost his during construction, but luckily Ellsworth Publishing had a full-time opening at exactly the same time) and here we were building our dream home. We felt so blessed, but at the same time didn't want to make anyone feel bad, so we always hesitated talking about the size of the house and haven't really invited many of our friends over since it has been "done" because we didn't want to appear to be show-offs. It's crazy because our income does not substantiate being able to build this kind of house; it was just funny money from the real-estate boom, and ALL of it was going into our dream home.

I've been thinking about it for a few weeks, however, and thinking about how much sweat, blood, time, anxiety, and sacrifice Justin had put into this house since we broke ground in June of '08. He was our general contractor and did as much of the work himself that he could possibly do. He woke up early to come to the construction site before work, then often returned right after work for another several hours or long into the night. Justin easily put in 14-hour days, oftentimes more, working at his regular job and at this house. He deserves some recognition because it IS a beautiful home, and I couldn't be happier. Not to mention it wouldn't have been possible without him because it would have cost us FAR MORE money to have paid someone else to manage the job and we couldn't have had the house we have if it hadn't been for Justin. We came in $35K under budget even after we took extra out at the end to finish the bonus space above the garage (turning it into a 2bed/1bath guest apt.). With the great mortgage rates, our payment really isn't that much more than our previous 1,600 sq. ft. house in Maricopa! I couldn't get our floorplan to post, but if you are curious how it all flows together here is a link:

Justin really accomplished something great; probably the hardest project of his life, and he shouldn't feel guilty showing it off! Thanks, Babe!

Front of the house. Our front yard is not finished, not graded. That's another project for another time. The stucco had color in it, so we didn't have to paint it, but we do have plans to eventually paint the trim a different color.

Back patio. We accidentally set our house WAY too high so we extended the patio and put steps in to make up the difference. The steps are great to sit on in the cooler months!

The family room off of the kitchen. Our TV doesn't fit in the niche, so it's on the floor until we upgrade to a flat screen like the rest of the world. This sectional was our first retail furniture purchase over $100 since we've been married. We've always bought our furniture used or at auction, but I had very specific plans for the sectional I wanted in this room. The longest piece is over 17 ft. long. Thanks for a good deal from Joe at Kerby Furniture!

My favorite room of the house! This kitchen is awesome, and just as awesome is the deal it all was! I had gotten about 8 bids on cabinets from local and out-of-state companies. The cheapest bid for just the kitchen was $14,000. This was for basic cabinets with particle board framing. We decided to go with a company on the Internet for some RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets with solid-wood construction (frames made from plywood instead of particle board). These cabinets were actually from their "value" (aka cheap) line and with shipping we only paid $10,000 for the entire house cabinets (bathrooms included). Of course we spent over 40 hours putting them all together ourselves, but we saved a ton of money. We also got our kitchen appliances (Jenn-Air Floating Glass oven, fridge, dishwasher & microwave) from a gal off of Craigslist. They were brand new, and we were able to get them for $3,000 when retail would have been about $6,000. The Travertine for the floors we got from a marble and tile auction at a great price, and the kitchen table/chairs I got for $125 at a model-home furniture sale (it still had the tags attached, and you'll die when you see the kind of money the silly home builder paid for it - granted, it originally came with four chairs, and the bench and the home builder only sold it with two chairs and the bench. Either way, I like the table, but seriously, it is NOT worth that much!

The computer center right off of the kitchen, so nobody is isolated, and mom can work on it without having to be in a different room from all the action. The chairs around the island are from a company called Suspend-It. My kids will eat here until they are 12 yrs. old, cleaning underneath them is a breeze! The granite in the kitchen was also from the discount section at Arizona Tile. I think we only paid $700 for three huge slabs to do the entire kitchen. (Of course then you pay the installers, so it did cost more than that to finish).

The best thing about this front door is what a deal it was. We had decided that we had to downsize our door, because the extra-large doors were just WAY too expensive. The plans called for a 4'x9' door but those were about $2,000. We had priced out smaller doors (3.5'x8') and even those were going to be $1,200. Well, we found this 4'x8' door on for $800 prior to framing, and just had the framers make it work!

Kids bathroom, decor from IKEA. Faucets/sinks/knobs from Our master bathroom isn't actually fully finished yet, so that's another picture for another day.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 7/30/2009

It took us five times of flood-irrigating before we got the major bugs worked out (e.g. gopher-hole berm breaches, flooding septic systems, flooding the neighbors, etc.) but it works well now. I just need to change out the ports so it is easier to close the eyes when the ditch is finished.

I realize we haven't posted completed pictures of the house - mainly because it isn't totally completed.

I have been busy finishing the bonus space for relatives who need a place to stay, so I have put off less-important tasks (master-bath tub, front-yard grading, etc.).

We love our house though. Sure there are things we might change if we could go back, but given the restrictions of the lot and what we wanted in our home, it is as good as we could make it. If I would have known how great it feels to live in "our home", I may have been less discouraged during those long nights working on the house. But I bet that it was because of those trials that we feel such satisfaction in our home.


Monsoon dust could be rolling in.
We put in some trees in front, but the grass and weeds aren't our doing. I still have to grade the front yard. The backyard grass looks great!

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 5/21/2009

After a long time on the tractor (Thanks, Phil, so much) and paying a more experienced operator to laser-level the lot, we planted seed and took our first bit of irrigation. It went well, except for a low spot in the front that gave Phil a pasture full of free water.

Today, I saw tiny hints of green in the yard!!! The grass is coming.

I still haven't made a punch list, but things are getting done slowly but surely.

My next big projects are to finish the grass areas/grading in the front, fix the irrigation ditch, add another irrigation port, work on master tub, install electrical in bonus space etc...


Sprinklers first, after seeds were sown.
View (and the next photos) from our back patio. We have big plans for this hay storage area, but that is a project for another day.
I was so happy when the water started flooding in. Our lot is higher than the others in the neighborhood, so I worried it wouldn't even take water. It did. I may not be able to flood it 12 inches deep, but I wouldn't need that much water anyway.
It was a nice evening, with some decent looking clouds. This view is looking east so no setting sun.
Our fruit trees soaked up the water.
And this completes the panorama.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 5/4/2009 6:39:02 PM

Some how I thought things would slow down now that we moved in. But it seems that the rush became the yard. We want to get grass and trees in before the scotching heat. Progress is slow because we had a lot of dirt to move around (see next paragraph) but we are getting oh so close.

Last fall I took about 13 loads of free dirt. Great deal except I didn't need any dirt. I thought I would use it to create berms for the yard but I had plenty in the yard to do that. I have been moving dirt for a few weeks now. My neighbor and cousin-in-law has been kind enough to let me use his tractor so it is going fast. He'll start his home within a few weeks.

The saga of the master tub is hardly done. I fixed one leak, identified another and the faucet stinks. I hate to replace the faucet but the mixer opening is super small restricting the flow for the tub. We spent $200 for a roman faucet with a spray attachment. I installed it before the tub was in. Now thinking about taking it out, having tile holes in the wrong location, buying a new faucet, unhooking the old faucet and trying to hook the new one up while the tub is installed will not be fun. But the tub takes an hour to fill up even after I brought 2 1/2" lines and "T'ed" them together right at the valve. I took the mixer apart and the opening has to be 1/4" or less. This is my guess as to why it is so slow. We'll buy one without a wand and check the opening in the faucet.

We had some electrical issues when we moved. All of the lights in the kitchen, outlets in the family room and other lights and outlets didn't work. Turns out there was a loose neutral and a few other items. The electrician fixed it all in less than an hour.

Loan: We weren't planning on taking the last draw at all because we didn't need it. We thought we could take some cash out with the permanent loan re-fi. Turns out if you get cash out now they penalize you via points, cash out, or higher rates. So we bit the bullet, paid the lesser fee, $250, and extended our construction loan and got the cash out there. Hopefully we'll get the permanent loan closed this week or next.

I had to "finish" the tub for the appraisals. See picture below. I also cut out the window seat and Audra painted it for us.

Stapley Garage Doors has really taken care of us. They replaced the swing arm twice because contractors slammed the door up, bending the part. We got our garage door openers. Now I just have to clean up the garage. Yesterday I did realize that even though the garage isn't cleaned all the way, Audra can fit her car in because the garage is so big! She'll have a good 8 feet to play with in front of or behind her car. Now her car is shorter than a sedan but it's still cool. We talked about lowering the ceiling in the garage or making it smaller to save money. Thankfully our designer talked us out of this. Once I get it cleaned out it will be a nice large garage. Oh, and I put in 3 eight-foot shop lights in the garage. At night it lights up like a baseball diamond. With the white paint, it glows. The glass door and windows in the garage doors let in plenty of natural light. I am very happy with that.


Pendants working. - Thanks Paul
T-stats installed, HVAC is working. It took about 3 weeks to get the HVAC working. Luckily the weather was nice.
I "finished" the tub for the appraisal.
Window seat

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 4/16/2009 5:18:55 PM

We live in our new home. Unfortunately I have been traveling for work and have been gone more than I have been home. I have yet to make the punchlist but I know I need to. I have taken care of many things such as getting all electrical systems working, hot water and HVAC are now working. We have tested out the master tub but there is one more leak and the faucet must be a low-volume type because it takes an hour to fill it up. We'll replace it before we finish the tub surround.

I also have pictures that I will post soon but I have to run now.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/25/2009 9:02:43 AM

We got the water meter box and meter lowered yesterday morning and an hour or two later we passed the inspection. By the afternoon the power company had the paperwork. Now we'll follow up with them every day until we have power turned on. Once that happens we'll need the solar water heater and the HVAC guys to come out and connect those systems.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/24/2009 8:56:10 AM

Well I thought the final was it and we could move in. Our building inspector told us that they send the paperwork over to the power company so that they can come set up the permanent meter. He left out the fact that we have to get a water meter final prior to that. Two days went by and we called SRP and they hadn't received anything. I called the City and they explained to me that the water meter needs to be finaled and that we have to call and order it. It must make too much sense for the City to follow up on that.

We had a water meter inspector and then a supervisor come out yesterday. I had put the elevation of the water meter too high because I was setting it in relation to my lot and I should have set it in relation to the street. I called some helpers to take care of it, and my Dad is running point as I am not there right now.

Hopefully they can take care of it today, re-inspect tomorrow, and send paperwork to the power company tomorrow. We moved 80% of our stuff in already and we'll finish the rest after the water meter issue is resolved.

Pictures to come soon.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/18/2009 10:30:26 AM

I asked for a courtesy inspection a few weeks back, I had our first final yesterday and had 10 items to correct. Thanks to Teofilo and my dad we got it all done, though I didn't finish until 6:30 this morning; but I did get five hours of sleep.

Today the kind inspector came back out and was satisfied enough with my dad promising to relabel the AC disconnects on the electrical panel. Thankfully my dad could be out there as I am sitting in the airport right now.


We still have to get the power company to turn on power and then have the solar water heater and HVAC units checked out and turned on. We'll move, then have to do a million other things; but at least we'll be in our own space and bid a fond adieu to Audra's parents house that has kept us well for the past 18 months.

I am pretty upbeat right now!!!!!! Huge day, HUGE day.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/13/2009

I seem to only complain about subs on this blog. This entry will both sustain that claim and refute it.

I had quite a rant about the plumbers. The owner of the company came out to meet me as did the installer. They took great care to fully understand the situation before we spoke and the discussion was frank if not courteous. I harbor no ill will, in fact I will contact them again in the future for my PV system. It came down to a few communication problems, some on my end, some on theirs. I now know that they did all that they could and more to help me out given the circumstances.

The painters . . . This was one thing that I wanted to do myself. I opted to let professionals handle it. I ended up with one professional and one not so professional. I had one painter do all the prime coat and the ceilings. Audra wanted me to get bids on the final wall coat so I had the painter I had been using give me a price and another guy. The other guy (Anthony with S & A Repaint Specialists) came in $150 cheaper, I called his references, which checked out and went with him. He doesn't have near the pride in his work as the first guy (Luis). First off he sprayed at night when it is hard to see anything - I know from experience. Then he poorly taped the wall at the ceiling leaving a bad line. He didn't take the doors off the hinges but taped up the hardware leaving paint on the hardware in places. It was pretty much a job that I could have done poorly. He came back to touch things up but he only touched up the areas we marked. He wouldn't go through and look at everything. After we had him come back and touch up we continued to find spots of poor workmanship. He didn't mix all the gallon buckets together (Home Depot only had the gallon size of the base) leaving variations in the paint. He only painted the walls once leaving many places where the sheen didn't match or the wall was still visible below. We had some drywall repairs and rather than call Anthony back we decided to call Luis and pay him even though Anthony offered (today in Home Depot where I ran into him in fact) to touch it up for free. Luis is a craftsman and will walk the job looking for imperfections. He will spend time looking for areas to improve. Anthony didn't do that despite the glowing recommendations.

Kelly and I installed the glass frameless shower door yesterday and Monday we'll get the three windows reglazed. Then Tuesday will be the final inspection. I hope we pass or at least have a very short list because I leave town on Wednesday through Friday.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 3/2/2009

Last night I had a nice long post with a lot of pictures but the web page took too long to load it all up, and I forgot I was waiting on the uploads - I clicked on another blog I was following and wham-o, no post.

We are at least a week away from a final inspection. The inspector came out last week for a courtesy inspection and I made a list of things I need to work on. I have to order tempered glass for a few windows (dang it) and the shower door. They will hopefully be in Friday or Monday and I should be able to have everything else ready by then.

Here is a brief version of the problems we have had with the solar water guys: When I was roughing everything in I called a few companies to get instructions on how to run the lines up to the roof. After drywall in the garage (but not in the upstairs unfinished bonus space where the lines run to the roof) the solar company sent a guy out to check on things. He looked at the garage and up on the roof and he didn't see anything amiss. Then when it comes time to install, the guy who came out didn't even know what type of system he was installing, and was a subcontractor to the design/sales company I bought from. The installer cuts huge holes in the house, sloppily runs new lines without putting plates back on, adds two more penetrations in the roof, and leaves the original penetrations wide open. I am supposed to pay for the extra work because the sales guy didn't communicate to the installer. That's not cool at all.

Now that I am worked up - I'll just post the photos . . .


Moving in some things . . . ooops, second time posting this picture
Driveway mud, almost halfway there
Plumbers shouldn't be allowed to have reciprocating saws - they cut everything up but never fix any of their damage.
Collector line - they didn't even crimp the ring, it spins freely.
Huge holes in studs. Why they couldn't run it in the holes is beyond me - it is flexible pipe. Note they didn't put any plates on after they were done.
The solar plumbers broke at least three tiles and tried to caulk them back together - nice.
Useless penetrations that the guy didn't bother to check before the roofing was finished.
Roof pics
Roof pics
Roof pics
Roof pics
Another pic of the plumber's handiwork
Everyone that comes by loves the floor. It's hard to get photos that do it justice.
Travertine Floor
Cool tile
My favorite tile, note the chipped edge base.
Iron handrail for stairs
Shower tile - again, photos hardly do it justice.
Shower seat fabbed from the counter remnants.
We have four shelves that are a Travertine Oreo - two tiles stuck together, rounded, bullnosed and installed - they look great, Thanks Kelly
Beastly tub, finally set

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/22/2009 8:24:06 PM

We had a pretty good weekend. I got the front door pulls in, the front door stop in, the master tub cleaned and tile on the top set, the shower was finished, the pantry shelving is nearly finished, the spring hinges have been adjusted for self closing doors into the garage, the kids' closets are partially assembled . . .

Mario came by to fix up the drywall spots. We only had four spots that we had to cut out but we have many more spots where the texture doesn't look all that great. Needless to say, we have many spaces to go back and touch up now.

The guy we found to do our granite ended up stiffing us. His name is Conn West Aycock, his Arizona ID (Driver's license?) is B14456684. His phone number is 602-760-6280 and his email address is I would avoid this guy. I called some references and they didn't have anything bad to say about him. He did a decent job with the granite. He was pushy about money and we had to tell him that since we bought the granite, we weren't going to give him money up front. He didn't like that too much. The last day we saw him he had everything finished but drilling two holes in the computer center top for cords and he had to bring a piece to finish the back corner of the kitchen counter. We basically had two triangular holes in the counter and he was to return last Monday to finish. He pressured me for money and I wrote him a check for $2,000 holding back $450 for him to come back and finished. "That is not $450 worth of work I have left," he said. "Yes", I said, "but I want you to come back." "I am going to come back. You are a part of a wholesale group (I don't know where he got this from) and I want a good reference. I am coming back on Monday." Reluctantly I wrote the check for the remaining $450. I had a bad feeling about it after I did it.

Needless to say he never answered messages, calls or emails. He never came. Luckily for us the holes in the counter are under the appliance garage in the corner. Had it been in the open we would be in a tight spot because we don't even have the scrap pieces from our slab to fill the void. I was pretty angry for a while and thought about ways to get even. I eventually let it go. Audra did call the reference that he provided letting him know that West screwed us. Hopefully he won't refer him anymore. In a market like this, it is amazing that he wouldn't come back to finish. It would have taken him an hour or two and he would have had a very happy reference. Instead I am posting his information on my blog warning others to be wary of this guy. With so many granite guys around looking for work I would recommend finding someone else.

Solar water heater and driveway pad are going in tomorrow. Tuesday or Wednesday I'll make the call for the final inspection.


Closet organizer, carpet and bi-fold pulls. Guess which two I did.
Drywall repair at pot filler.
Why the cabinet guy used white caulking is beyond me.
Conn (Artist) West Aycock's unfinished business
West should have drilled two holes here as he promised.
Front door drywall repair - they didn't do it the first time. We couldn't figure out how to trim it and Kelly our tile guy explained that they bullnose the drywall into a little channel in the jamb. Again he provided insightful information.
We started moving a few things in. As Audra packs them up - I bring them over.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/19/2009 9:08:23 PM

We got the driveway graded today. He also buried the sewer lines and the septic tank. He did hit the two way cleanout but they'll take care of that tomorrow. The lot looks good, well better.

A good friend, Jesse, helped out tonight. Things are coming along and Tuesday looks to be the day for the final inspection (the first one anyway). I am waiting on the solar water heater to be installed and the driveway to be poured.

We had a bit of excitement when the neighbors called with concerns about water shedding into their yard, the fence being compromised and washing out etc. We came up with a solution that will work. There is 3 feet or less between the end of the driveway and the fence. The driveway slopes 2.5 inches on the back from the garage to the fenceline and the front line slopes 5 inches from the garage. Thus, the water will shed toward the front corner of the driveway and from there I'll have a larger space to contain and help channel it towards the front of our lot. I'll also add a decodrain along the driveway by the fence so any water that gets past our sloping will hit the drain and shed to the front as well. And water that gets past the slope and the drain will hit a berm with 2-4" rip rap on it. If that doesn't keep the water on our lot, a retaining wall will be needed. Since we have a few good storms a year it likely won't get much use.


Front of house
Front of house again
Setting forms
North boundary, close to property line.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/15/2009 7:08:46 PM

I woke up at 4:00 a.m., not really by choice, but I decided to get up anyway at 4:45 and start getting ready.

My tile guy had some "helpers" helping with a water and electrical line to the back of the property. The two of them got it done in about the time that I could have done it myself but since time is a scarce resource, I let it slide. If I could only clone myself or double the hours in my day. . .

With the trenching and lines put in, I can get the driveway poured and move forward with that.

The plumber who, thankfully, didn't work on our project for too long, left his mark. The kitchen sink pipe is too high. We have a deep sink and with the disposal it is about 3-4 inches too high. It is too high for code, even - I am surprised it passed the rough-in. Unfortunately, since it was run across the wall because it is over the basement concrete wall, it is not possible to simply lower the "T". One option is to find a disposal with a higher outlet pipe or find a special fitting - like a long sweep 90 with a side inlet. I found one online, but whether or not anyone nearby carries it is another story.

The countertops are in and look good. We had found our countertops for $150 per blank. Well, they were all Baltic Brown but unbeknownst to us, from three different quarries. We ended up using the two that matched in the master bath, another three were used in the kids bathroom, laundry and the "control center" area. And we have 6 blanks that are too pink and ugly to use. We would need 7 blanks for our kitchen, would have a lot of seams and we didn't like the color anyway; so we went shopping. I like stone with movement or character and Audra and I both wanted something dark. Audra found it with the granite guy, I went to see it then we both returned with the granite guy and they pulled two of the full slabs out. It is B-grade material, so instead of $30-50 a foot it was $5.50. The reason for the B grade is because it has a natural fissure in the stone that has been filled and colored. You can see it in the pictures below, but unless you know what it is it's not that big of deal. The stone also has a lot of colors and with the "movement" it looks like a different vein in the stone. The net net was a $2,300 more in countertops and fabbing but it will look great.

We are grateful that the travertine - a much larger and more costly buy from the auction - was all the same, or at least very similar. If that had been messed up as well, we would have been out some serious cash.

It looks like our tile guy will trade some work for four of the slabs, as he has a job coming up where the colors will work perfectly in a client's house.

The cooktop is in, as is the dishwasher, but it is not hooked up pending the disposal connection. I connected four sink water supplies yesterday and have two more to do.  We also have most of the shelving up in the pantry.

The shower base tile is in and our tile guy is using the countertop remnants to fab the seats in the shower. It will look pretty cool once all completed.


Window well ladder
Window well open
Window well closed
Basement entry rail
Basement entry rail
window crosses
Iron fabricator
Peach blossoms
Granite "fabricator" - there is a whole story here . . .
"Fissure" or "flaw" is the black line running from the right towards the white/yellow/black can.
Kitchen sink
Cooktop hole - no picture of that yet - it is installed, I promise
Computer center
Water and electrical trench to the back. We had to trench under the driveway, but since we rented the trencher we went all the way to the back to make the most of it.
Power and water for the animal stalls

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/12/2009 10:09:39 PM

I sure wish I had one. My inspector says that he wants the house move-in ready whatever that means. Next week I'll call it in regardless.

Last week I was gone all week on business. This week I was gone for one night. I have two weeks home to get that little piece of paper and move in. I hope and pray it happens.

I spend the better part of Monday evening and night working on the microwave. I underestimated the weight of that black box but after putting it in, holding it, and taking it out four times, I became intimately aware why the instructions said that is a two-person job. Regardless it is in and vented up. If I had power, I would cook popcorn.


Don't worry - I taped the ductwork together behind the cabinet but I couldn't help taping up the enormous hole I made in the cabinet.
Next up, the oven! It may take a while but that thing is going in.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/31/2009 5:19:39 PM

This week wasn't as productive as I may have liked . . .  I guess they are all like that now.

Notable events of the week: County septic approval, City DWV waste line to sewer approval, septic locations recorded, septic tank and pit locations recorded, HVAC compressors set, trim electric nearing completion, HVAC registers in place, recessed cans trimmed (save two), pendant lights hung over island, located stair light, smoke detector, and two can lights buried by sheet rock, garage doors installed, painting nearing completion, hard-surface flooring done, tile base started, more hardware installed in kitchen cabs, waste wood and Palo Verde burned; and that's pretty much it.


Living room ceiling
Pendant lights
Island lighting

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/28/2009 12:14:41 PM

It was a singular experience for me. I had seen him in interviews on DVD, I have listened to his book and workshops on MP3, I have even watched his video blog. For the year and a half proceeding our groundbreaking, Mark Smith's book, website, and videos were an Owner-Building Oracle (OBO :-) for me. I felt very prepared and ready for the challenge of building our home. I have questioned that decision many times since then but that is another post altogether.

Yesterday we hosted Mark and Elaine Smith at our 90% complete home. To actually have someone listen with interest to hear stories about the front door, a particular travertine tile, or the kitchen island probably won't happen again unless another O-B comes by (and I gladly welcome anyone). When I give a house tour to family or friends, they will likely expect a quick five-minute tour, but they miss the hours spent, the blood, sweat, and tears that often goes into little things like the door from the master bedroom to the master bath. Where else can I talk about these things to a live person?

It was a great day for me and even though we have quite a bit of work to do, I can stop and for a moment, enjoy what has been accomplished since we purchased that property in May of 2006.

Mark and Elaine are very nice people, very pleasant and fun to talk with. The kind of folks you immediately feel comfortable around. People with a wealth of knowledge about owner-building, but never overbearing. They are welcome in our home any time.


Mark and Elaine Smith with Justin and Audra Owens. Had I been thinking we should have had Terry from Oracle, who shot the photograph, stand so that the house was in the background. Nonetheless the King of O-B'ing, Mr. DSDE himself, did make it to our (soon to be) home.
Back Patio Hose bib with valve for future water fountain.
South septic line - this must be an O-B website because who else would post pictures of this?
Getting warm while burning scrap lumber on our first night I stayed past midnight.
Cliffy T landing the pole vault jump over the fire
Jason pretending to be thinking about jumping over the fire

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/24/2009 8:30:29 PM

The yard is cleaned! I only helped a little bit, but all of the trash has been collected, the excess lumber stacked and two piles are ready to burn. In Arizona we don't need a burn permit if it is to keep warm, so I am hoping for a late night with cold temperatures when I really need to warm up next to a roaring bonfire.

I also hung all of the trim rings for the 4" cans. The compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs we got stick out below the drywall, so I think they are going to be replaced. Our electrician doesn't use fluorescents anywhere but the bathroom because he doesn't like the light. Once we power everything up, we'll try them out in other (less noticeable locations) and see how they look. They may not cast the best light, but they are good energy savers.

I also hung 75% of the exterior lights and the garage lights. I need to get a new screw that was stripped for one of the backyard halogen lights, and we need to get two fixtures for the entryway.

With any luck we'll have the electrical finished, the counters in, the plumbing finished, and the HVAC finished by next Saturday. It's a lot to do, and I'll need plenty of help but it is possible, and I'll be out of town the next week so I need to be working. . .


The front of the house by the setting sun.
Northwest corner
One of four coach lights on the north side of the house. The driveway will be on this side.
Cool sky, cool house
Halogens on back of house. It should light up the yard very well. I have one more to add to these, providing a total of 1,500 watts.
Garage coach lights
One of the Craigslist lights - he bought it at a storage unit auction and parted out the individual units. I picked up four from him.
Angles are cool

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/23/2009 8:33:31 AM

I will take the liberty to complain about a few Chandler employees that I have dealt with on this project. I grew up in this town so I don't do this with a newcomer mentality.

Inspectors: I bet I have had at least a half dozen inspectors on the job. Only one really knows what is going on with my project, because we have quite a bit of unfinished or bonus space. For instance the drywall inspections came with a partial completion because we weren't "ready" in our unfinished space. I am anxious about what they will say when we want our final/Certificate of Occupancy.

Trash: I haven't had to pay to dump trash, because when we got our water set up I asked for trash service as well. I have used our trash and recycle cans on a fairly regular basis. I mainly asked for trash service so I can take my bill to the dump when I make runs in my dad's dump trailer. I have dumped maybe six times so far. The dump is less than a mile away, so it is very convenient.

I was less than cordial the last time I went to the dump and because of that the City has taken my trash cans and will likely not let me dump at the dump anymore. I went in with a trailer full or stucco debris, plastic and other odds and ends trash. I had accidentally grabbed my father-in-law's trash bill and I handed it to the guy. After he went in to double check it I realized that it wasn't my bill and my driver's license didn't match his name on the bill. As I was in my dad's truck I grabbed his trash bill - at least our last names matched. The dutiful city employee asked, "Is this trash coming from this location?" I was fairly upset at this point and responded, "Yeah, sure".

Looking back, this was my fault as I didn't grab my bill but I took it out on the city employee. He said my name wasn't on my dad's account. Great! I had no option but to go find my bill. Boy was I frustrated. Luckily Audra had just gone by the mailbox and had a new bill. I took that back and gave it to a different guy. As the first guy saw I was back he came back to review everything. He didn't say anything but was very curious. They always ask if the trash is coming from my home. I always say "yes" because it is true. I might add "we are getting new stucco" or "I am working on a project" both of which are true. The guy let me through.

I dumped the trash, and on my way out I noticed the guy at the dump location was looking through my trash.

A few days later I couldn't find my black trash can. What the heck? Audra called the city and they had taken our trash can because the house wasn't finished yet. Well the trash truck driver didn't report it, because he has been picking up our trash since we were framing. Someone from the City came back in a separate visit from the normal trash pickup and took our trash can. My guess is that this first city employee had nothing else to do but to stick it to me for being less than polite when he wouldn't give me any tolerance in dumping my trash.

That really ticks me off. I paid the City $22K for permits and fees, and they are being petty about some trash and some dump fees? I realize that the dump guy doesn't know this but give a man a little authority . . .

Well if I can last until we get our C of O and get our trash cans back, I'll pile all of the trash in the trailer and wait until I can take it back for free. Unless my dad needs the trailer, all of our trash will be going to the city landfill and I won't be paying for it. This is stubborn, but it is the principle of the thing.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/20/2009 9:45:41 PM

I ask my painter ' it worth buying Behr Premium paint at Home Depot?' Prices have come down and it now costs $105 per 5-gallon bucket, where it used to be about $125. So it is a little more reasonable, but is it worth the extra $13 over Glidden or $50 or so over the lesser brands?

My painter says Glidden is good paint and Behr probably isn't worth the extra money. So I was going to buy Glidden when I went to Home Depot. When I get to the paint area there were about 20 people in orange aprons standing around looking at a presentation by the Behr guys. I found one of my friends (James) from the Pro Desk there and it turned out that there was a meeting with the regional and store managers from the area watching a Behr demonstration. I went over to the paint color samples and one of the Behr reps comes over and tries to sell me on their paint. I felt bad saying I had Behr colors but I wanted Glidden because it was less expensive.

I found out that I just missed a $20 rebate per 5-gallon sale over the 3-day weekend. That would have put the Behr Premium lower than the Glidden Evermore. Well I was going to go with Glidden, but a higher-up Behr rep came over and talked with me. He made a call to "see what he could do". He was able to secure me the rebates even though the sale was over. Then Home Depot doesn't stock the medium and deep base needed for my paint in 5-gallon buckets. So they had to mix 20 individual gallons of paint. I also bought 10 more gallons for the ceiling and trim. The Behr rep walked with me up to the Pro Desk where I asked for the 5-gallon price on the single gallons. Leslie took care of me, and John, the Behr rep, took a copy of my receipt, my name, address and phone number, and said he would take care of the rebate and cut a check out to me.

He also came back and threw in two free fancy Behr hats. He did take care of me and was a nice guy.

The septic guys came back out to finish after I told them that the bank won't pay until I get a certificate from the county.

I haven't been there this afternoon but the wall should be painted and the trim will be finished tomorrow.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/19/2009 10:33:51 PM

I posted  pictures of the kitchen island some time ago. The first iteration was too big. It was the right size for the island but I forgot to account for the overhang so it was 1.5" to big all the way around. It has been a while, and I always was stuck doing something else but I finished it today. I also hung the bi-fold doors in the closet and trimmed them, fixed the bad door and the trim guy fixed the casing. I finished the counter support for the computer center, and trimmed the remaining doors in the closet. Another 12-hour day, but I feel like I got a bit accomplished working all by myself.

The painters started caulking all the trim today and should finish on Wednesday. This was something I wanted to do myself, but I am at that point I think we all get to where I just want it to be done and contractors are much more affordable now.

The septic tank is in and one of the pits have been dug. The septic company usually leaves it at this point until paid. The bank only pays once the certificate is received from the county. Since the last draw is already gone, I submitted for the next draw tonight. The sequence that the bank wants me to follow is not quite the way I have it organized; so even though we are out of draw 5, draw 6 should hold us over until possibly the end and we still have 2 draws to go. I have the roof finished (draw 7), tile nearly complete (draw 8), and the painting will be finished Wednesday (draw 7).

I think that is it for now.


Septic pit, the sides caved in some about 8-10 feet down. Just like when we dug the basement. It looks like abc with more sand. It should be plenty porous.
Filling the pit
Modified roofing at entry
Solar panel location for water heater
Septic tank
2,500 gallons?! That will hold a lot of poo.
The island!
Island and Kelly the tile guy
It'll look way cooler when the wainscoting is on.
Computer station

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/18/2009

It was a fairly productive week. The tile phase is nearing completion as is the trim carpentry. The septic tank and one of the seepage pits are in. Painting will hopefully start tomorrow.

I have some feelings about trim carpenters. Actually this is about a lot of trades but I am currently dealing with trim carpentry so it applies here too. During the run-up in real estate prices, Arizona saw explosive growth in home value. This led to excessive profits at first for homebuilders, and in turn for subcontractors. Subcontractors saw they were in demand and that the value of what they produced was going up so they wanted their piece of the pie. I can't blame them at all for this. Good subcontractors were hard to find and so if demand is high, raise prices so that the equilibrium will hit the demand and a subcontractor can make more money - no problem there.

The problem is now that there is little to no demand, many still want the high wages for their work. I have stayed mostly away from these subcontractors, figuring they'll figure out that they are pricing way too high or they'll go out of business. The "best" price for hanging interior doors was $100-$120 per door. The guy that I was going to assist (but couldn't make it) still wanted $30 and that didn't include casing.

I have never really hung a door before. My dad told me to make sure the reveals match up and that the door doesn't swing by itself. On our home I installed one exterior door, one exterior French door, then all but one of the of the interior doors. That one interior door is where I have the problem. Last night we were working feverishly to finish for the painters tomorrow. I had a trim guy helping me; I caved because progress was slow by myself or with an inexperienced helper, and we finished all the wood baseboard and trimmed all but the main door inside the house. I still had one door to hang in the garage, two to trim and baseboards to do there. As I was satisfied that the painters could paint the main house - I wasn't too worried about the garage because it was already painted minus the doors and trim I was just adding - I double checked to make sure each door had trim and the baseboards were where they needed to be.

It was during the last minute review that I noticed it. A door that was so poorly hung that I could see the top of the door from the outside of the door. It hung below the door stop. It was a door that I had hung once, cased on side and then taken out to rehang as it sat too high in relation to the floor. I wondered how I could have missed it. It was too late to do anything about it and I had already been at it 12 hours yesterday - so I was spent.

I showed it to the trim guy helping me and he said I would have to take off the trim he put on and rehang the door. Then on the way home and afterward I was still bothered by it. Then I started thinking. Friday night he and one other guy and I fixed the door adjacent to that. After we rehung it, I decided that I should make effective use of the labor so I put the trim guy and my friend to hang the last door. I can't recall if he said he could hang doors. I am pretty sure he did. But this is the door I am talking about. This is the door that looks horrible. This is the door that he hung poorly then trimmed around it. How could he not see the huge gap on the top of the door?

Saturday I put him and my friend Matt, to work on the doors again. I went to Home Depot and they were still struggling to put the in the same door. I told the trim guy to go put in trim and Matt was telling me he really didn't know what he was doing. I confronted him later on about his door-hanging abilities and he said he had hung small doors before by himself but these doors were real heavy (of course this is all in Spanish and while I speak well there may have been some loss in translation). Yes, they are heavy, but that is why my strong, young and able friend Matt was helping him.

Add to this the fact that I never really liked this guy because he was always asking for more money, for me to buy lunch and things like that. Everyone else that I have worked with have been pleasant and very gracious for work when most don't have work and many are leaving town. This guy said he was waiting at convenience stores for day labor because he hadn't worked in weeks since I last employed him to put in the cement board. I am trying do the guy a favor, even trying to set him up with additional work with my in-laws and he did this.

I couldn't sleep for a while last night because of the anger and being upset about this whole situation. I am going to call him about it and I am thinking about making him fix the trim after I hang the door or canceling the work I set up for him at my in-laws.

I guess I should have known that if I don't like someone, don't have a good feeling, or don't like the way they work, I shouldn't do business with them. Small lesson to learn and it will only cost me an hour or an hour and a half.

In the midst of this 12-hour day and the headaches of dealing with this guy and realizing that I wasn't going to get nearly as much done as I wanted to because of his inability to state what he can and can't do, I received a call from Mark Smith the King of the owner-building world. It is flattering that he wants to tour our home and take some pictures of it. It is amazing to think that a little over a year ago I was watching Mark interview other O-B's on the videos that I ordered and now I may be on one myself. That's pretty cool and exciting.

This project is composed of so many little steps when I step back and look at the enormity of it - I am impressed. I stood for a moment yesterday admiring the stucco and the details of our second story. I am dwarfed by that side of the house and stood in awe at what has been accomplished. I am a blessed man.

***Evening update. I talked to the trim guy and we agreed that he will come out and fix the trim after I correct the door. I won't use him again on the house but at least he'll fix the trim.

*** 1/23/09 Update: I should have checked the door that they were installing while I was at Home Depot thoroughly. Once I arrived back I sent the trim guy to go work on trim and I made sure the reveals all matched on the door they were installing. What I failed to check was to see if it was plumb. Of course it wasn't and I didn't realize until the tile guy told me that it was quite a bit out and swings open. This door goes from the master bedroom into the master bath. It likely won't be used too much other than when I am getting ready in the morning and Audra is still sleeping or when she is up later getting ready for bed and I am asleep. So rather than tear it out (I am probably going to regret this later) I left it in because it was trimmed and caulked ready for the painter. I can either find a spring hinge to help it stay closed or pull the pins and rough them up so it is harder to swing open. But the fact remains that this door will likely be open much more often than closed.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/10/2009 10:41:00 PM

I took some pictures of the stucco. It looks really good. There are only two things I'll bring up with the contractor. One there are a few of the weep holes on the windows that are covered up, and two, the basement door wasn't wrapped and stuccoed on the interior.

Today I was going to have a guy help install the doors (half day) then I was going to case them. His wife was in the hospital all night and I ended up trying to wrestle 8-foot solid-core doors alone. It didn't work. I called all my helpers and finally found someone who could help. I installed a shorter 6'8" door before he got there. Then we installed the rest of the doors we had available (still waiting on Home Depot for the reorders). We installed a French closet door that proved to be a bit tricky. I have to read up on it and find out how to make everything match. We have one more French door we put in the unfinished basement - we'll get to that . . . someday. So we are waiting on three from Home Depot and I have to build down an 8' opening to a 6'8" opening for a door that goes from the garage to the bonus stairs.

One good thing about Home Depot is that you don't have to have the receipt to return stuff. I always buy more than I need then I have a pile of stuff in my truck that needs to go back. When I go and have time to do returns I simple go and they swipe my card and they can find all the items that were purchased on that card and return them. I am sure it would be good for me to verify everything, but somehow it isn't getting done.

HD did finally come pick up the rest of the wood. It has been onsite for four months or so. I kept (ate) about a bunk's worth of twisted, muddy and otherwise unusable lumber. I will have plenty of firewood.

We were verifying references from our painter, and he had just painted our old house and our neighbor's house where we lived four years ago. Small world I guess.

I think that's the latest for now - million things to do and more getting added each day. I am putting so much off until later because we just want to do what is necessary and will make life easier to move in.


South side
Bedroom #3 - front elevation
Whole house
Front arch window
Front door
There are so many cool detail shots of this house!
More to come! (very soon)
Near the front entry
"Chair rail" pop out - it will be painted, someday. We went with the synthetic top coat because it doesn't crack as easily and it is colored. Which means I don't have to paint it right now!
Window well
The stairwell is still my favorite place to take pictures
Stucco up close
Blue sky
This is where I am going to ask why they didn't wrap into the door. They put the black paper on it but didn't lath or stucco it.
Eave corner detail
Back patio

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/8/2009 10:14:48 PM

Stucco should be finished up today and the roof tomorrow.

An update on the cabinets: the guys are great on the initial order but the subsequent order for the extra trim we need isn't getting the same attention. I guess the higher dollar amount warrant greater service. We ended up needed a few trip pieces and a false door front to make the area around the wall oven less plain.

Today was crazy we had three subs working (tile, roofing, stucco) and three subs coming by for bids and the bank inspector within an hour this morning. The bank inspector saw that the stucco wasn't quite complete but will try to "exchange for work" with the cabinets and tile that aren't until the next draw. Hopefully, they will process the draw.

The island that I spent most of the day Saturday building is too big for the granite blanks - I'll have to move it around a little bit.

Home Depot messed up the doors (much like the windows). 25% of the doors are wrong. One I can swap out and make work and 3 others I had to re-order. Luckily they will not charge me extra as they shouldn't because it was there problem. I would suggest if anyone goes with HD make sure that the millwork guys do the orders for windows and doors. The Pro Desk Manager actually did the order for me and we had about 25% of the windows and 25% of the doors that had to be reordered.

Because of that we won't be painting this weekend and we'll be pushed back a week. I was going to have the doors and trim installed but since I have a week to wait for the remainder of the doors I'll go ahead and install the doors, casing and base this weekend and install the last three doors as soon as I get them.

We went to Building Materials Outlet to get our casing and trim. They had pine boards for less that MDF at Home Depot. The selection isn't as big but the prices were great.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 1/3/2009 10:06:04 PM

I wasn't going to post again so soon but today our cabinets were hung. So we still need a few toe kicks, crown, and scribe moulding, not to mention relocating the microwave exhaust vent and figuring out how to but a cabinet front corner right next to a toilet cleanout - but the cabinets look great.

It was a busy Saturday. The stucco guys were out making a few changes to the window pop-out headers. I asked them to add a drip edge so the rain (when there is no wind) will not run back against the window creating more to clean each time it rains. As we had a lot of rain recently all the junk from the roof and stucco ran over the windows and we have a lot to clean up - glad it happened now rather than later.

The tile guys were back at work - as the references said he is slow but a perfectionist. The living room is completely laid - they just need to grout. They also started finding tiles with more character and color. The tiles in the crate they are working on has a dark vein in it. I like it! It has character and spunk!

The cabinet guys finished all they could with the materials we had. Audra did a great job with the deal she got on the cabinets. The crown detail looks great. The hardware will make it look even cooler once it is all on.

We did pick up pizza for everyone (except the stucco guy, he finished and went to another job). We got a lot of work done on a Saturday.

I spent my time securing the suspended seating for the island and building the walls to conceal the suspended seats and trash cans. It looks rough now but wait for the finished product - it'll be worth it.


We spent a lot of time at the house this weekend. Our children like to borrow our tools for their "projects". This is how the cordless drill was returned to me on New Year's Day.
They look great
Even the computer center (right) has stacked cabinets. They look expensive! (They're not).
Crown detail
Kitchen sink window
Kids bath
Travertine - I'm loving it
His master bath cabs
Her master bath cabs
Island - it'll look better once it is finished - just wait

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 12/31/2008

New Year's Eve found me finishing the last of the cabinets. I have the three pantry cabinets left to assemble tomorrow and paint behind where the cabinets will be installed.

I find myself more interested in doing the work and less interested in writing about what I am doing . . . like many other O-B journalers.

The tile that we picked up at an auction is very high quality according to Kelly our tile guy. We got it for about half of what it normally goes for. Kelly is an awesome tile setter. I am very glad I left laying tile to the pros. I have done ceramic but never travertine and never 1/8" grout lines. It is looking real good.

We went to HD to get SKUs for a bunch of items we lack so we can send it to the Bid Room. I have been buying things when I need it for a while now and I wanted to see if they could save us any money. I faxed the info over this afternoon and hope to hear back from them Friday.

Our budget numbers are looking real good. I can't see where I would even need to use the rest of the money on the draws but from our budget we don't look like we are that far under. I won't make any predictions but we will definitely come under our budget which included a 10% contingency fee.


This was a cold morning - hey it's Arizona - it doesn't freeze all that often here.
Travertine flooring - we found Kelly, our tile guy, off of Craigslist, called his references and he is performing just as the references said he would. We couldn't be happier.
Audra and I put every screw in the backer board. I had help with the wood subfloor because we were assembling cabinets.
Happy New Year's Eve! I know we should be cleaner, but assembling 44 cabinets leaves a lot of cardboard and packing material around. We'll recycle what we can and pitch the rest. It is a bit of work to assemble the cabinets, but by doing it this way we saved at least $6,000 but likely it was more.
Luis has become a good friend. Here he is painting the ceiling.
One crate down, five to go.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 12/28/2008 8:17:00 PM

Audra and I finished off screwing in the cement board for the tile areas. We also started assembling the cabinets. We had a bit of a scramble trying to locate a trailer to get the tile tomorrow but we got it and tiling should start on Tuesday. Stucco will be back at it tomorrow and should finish up this week.

We are sore but got a lot done this weekend. Hopefully by next week the cabinets will be in, the stucco complete and the leaks resolved.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 12/26/2008 9:55:05 PM

I was gone for the first week of the month for work, then most of the second week and weekend was spent on a cruise with my in-laws. For a video adventure from that check out:

The sheetrock is finished and primed.

Today I got the trailer out of the mud and to the dump, stepped on a nail getting the trailer out, went to Urgent Care for a tetanus shot, started working on the subfloor with three helpers, talked with several parties about leaks and went to Home Depot four times.

There are leaks in the house, and it is weird as to the source of the water. Somehow the water is coming at the bottom plate both upstairs and down. Water isn't visible running down the walls, it just comes out at the bottom plate in four places upstairs and 5-6 locations on the main floor and nothing in the basement. I got up in the attic to look for wet spots but couldn't see anything. I spoke with the stucco guy who will be fixing a window that leaks and the "header" pop-outs above the windows to prevent the water from running down the windows.

I called the roofer and left a message. Being the day after Christmas some people are actually taking time off.

The ceiling will be painted tomorrow and we hope to get most if not all of the base cabinets assembled tomorrow so the flooring can start Tuesday.

Progress is evident though the leaks and other setbacks are aggravating. I think Audra wants to move in as soon as the cabinets get in, but we'll wait.


Kids bathwater-resistant drywall
Drywall taping
Coffered or stepped ceilings
Waiting for the bubbles . . .
One of the attic accesses
Laundry room stucco ext.
Entry looking from living room
One of many leaks - this is the worst
Leak at bottom plate
It was a miracle I got the dump trailer out of here
Look closely at the nearest board, you may see the nail that punctured my heel.
Cement board down for tile areas - almost finished

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 12/3/2008 6:27:03 PM

I had a close call yesterday – too close. There were a few last minute changes to the master bath.  I was adding a step into the master bath to make it easier to step into, and changing the shower pan to a cement shower base before the rockers made it to the area. It was 6:00 a.m. on the morning of the last day to get it done. I needed to finish the step and start on the cement base then go to work and return in the night to finish up.

I had been woken up by the prettiest alarm one could ask for and after I put my sweet girl back to bed at 4:30 I decided I couldn’t sleep any longer and headed to the house. Working with a shop light I finished the step framing and started to cut the step tread out of the ¾” plywood I had left over from the tub deck. I laid it on the ground and set my saw to cut about 5/8” so I wouldn’t cut the concrete. After cutting the wood I noticed that the 1/8” or so was a little stronger than I thought and it wouldn’t break easy. I changed the Skilsaw to the full 2.5” (or so) depth and leaned the plywood against my body (warning alarms should have gone off here). I started to cut and of course I was looking at the line I was cutting not necessarily the backside where the blade was coming through-right next to my body. I kept cutting and soon I felt a sensation on my leg. I stopped cutting immediately and moved the wood. The saw had sawn through my pants and undergarments right on my inner thigh and didn’t even scratch my skin. I am no doctor, but I think the femoral artery is around there somewhere.

I turned off the radio, knelt down and thanked God for preserving my leg possibly even my life as I was there alone and it wasn’t until 30 minutes or so later when the rockers arrived. I should have been on guard from the previous day when I nicked my gloves with the same saw. Needless to say I was very grateful that the only things I lost were a pair of old pants and underwear.

Respect for power tools and gratitude were foremost on my mind yesterday.

The rockers will finish hanging and screwing today, inspection tomorrow! Sheetrocking has been the coolest phase since we started. It is so cool to see the rooms now with the wallboard on. It is exciting!


The bath step. A lesson learned.
My good brother Trent, helping with the garage insulation.
Foam insulation at kitchen
I got this heavy beast in with the help of Matt. It took a little phone line support from Jess but I got it all fixed up.
Entertainment Center
Fiberglass insulation between master bed and shower to help with sound.
My door - again.
Spraying the foam insulation
We had most of the garage foam-insulated where it met the living space. Since foam was expensive to insulate the garage, I purchased fiberglass batts to finish off the garage insulation. It was nearly all done, so I thought 'why not insulate the whole thing'?
Family room entertainment center
Computer center
hall arches
bed 3 closet and pot shelf
Living room niche
living room coffers
Master coffered ceiling

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/25/2008 9:53:17 PM

I took 191 pictures. It took a while to get them all labeled but hopefully if I ever need it it will be worth it.

We passed our framing inspection and have only one day left on insulation. Monday - Bring on the Rockers!

Oh yeah, I have a dozen things to do before the rockers but we are moving forward.


garage sub panel
bonus waste line
corner niche wiring
electrical panel wiring entrance
fireplace and gas line
tub access
low voltage wire command center
electrical and water superhighway
flex lines
kitchen wiring
kitchen sink waste and vent line
kitchen and bathroom plumbing wall
bath 2 tub

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/16/2008 1:50:43 PM

I got the gas bonds in, the attic access moved, and finished the low-voltage wiring. 3rd round for rough tomorrow and possibly starting insulation as well.


Basement fire stopping around tub
Control center - router and hub location
Gas bond - I did that
Gophers have been killing our trees. We lost one peach tree already. This little guy has been burrowing near our Chinese Pistache for quite some time. I saw a fresh hole and got out my trap. I don't necessarily like killing animals but these guys are destroying our plants! Good to know that the traps work.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/13/2008 4:33:32 PM

We don't have gas in our neighborhood.  I am hoping (betting) that solar will become less expensive in the future and I can expand from a solar water heater to a full house solar system. Thus, I didn't spend the money to run propane throughout all the house. The only things using propane are two fire places. Since we live in Arizona and the fireplaces are more for form than function I thought it would just be easiest to set a propane tank outside the wall near each fire place. Since each fire place is on different ends of the house and about 80 feet apart I thought it would be a lot to run lines across the house.

Well today I find out that we have to bond each of the gas lines with a #1 wire that costs over $2 per foot. This will likely add $500 to our cost! We tried to talk them into much less expensive ground rods but no one would get back to us on it. If we don't get any response by tomorrow afternoon we'll buy the wire and I'll put it in myself.

The rough inspection punch list went from 22 to 4 items. After a little work (read: all day) Saturday we should be ready for inspection on Monday and insulation on Tuesday.

I found a great experienced guy to help out as I am out of town again. He has a lot of experience and got our framer to fix several things that we would likely notice once we drywall.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/7/2008 10:43:09 PM

And no pictures.

I finished up the last of the to-do water supply. We stuffed fiberglass insulation in the holes in the walls for "fire" protection. We cleaned up some. Jeld-Wen came out to fix to of the windows that had problems. Apparently they were small problems and I waited three weeks for them to spend five minutes onsite - oh well - they are fixed.

I also am nearly done with the low-voltage runs.

Today we had our rough inspection. Because of uncontrollable circumstances, I was unable to be there or have anyone at the job site. The normal inspector was out and a new guy left 22 items to correct. Some were simple. Some will require explanation. I left a message with that inspector and hope to take care of the questions on Monday.

When I loaded the waste lines with water to test yesterday we found a small leak in the upstairs toilet. I purchased the parts trying to get it fixed early this morning - but after I "fixed" it, leaked a water poured out.

The plumbers were busy to fix it today and I had to replace my phone. Oh yeah, my phone slipped from my hand while I was doing fireblocking last night and split in two. The keypad half had the speaker phone so I couldn't see who I was talking to but I could receive calls and dial on speaker phone.

I took tonight off, and we took the kids to the drive-in. Adaira, our two-year-old was a bit much to handle, but our sweet four-year-old son was pretty good. I have until the end of March to finish. While I don't want to live with the in-laws any longer than I have to (going on 16 months now) it's not worth a breakdown to finish a day or two (or even a month) earlier. I know time is money and the interest clock and all that . . . but I don't have a mortgage payment, and haven't had one for the past 16 months. I am paying interest on the loan funds, but since I am not paying rent or another mortgage, I am not paying double. Does that make sense? It's how I justify not working until the early hours like my dad did several decades ago. I need to sleep to function properly - plus my work gets sloppy when I am tired.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 11/2/2008 7:02:33 AM

I had the most stress-free week! The funeral was Monday, and that afternoon I left town until Saturday. I haven't been to the house in almost a week. Not much got done but I feel rejuvenated and ready to begin work again. While I was gone I slept better and didn't think about the house 24/7. The break was nice.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/23/2008 12:16:37 PM

I didn't get a picture of this, but I should have.

I asked the stucco guys, in Spanish, to please leave the scaffolding under the remaining windows that I needed to get in. When I arrived there was one level of scaffolding set up but no planks were on. I added the second level of scaffolding and braced it off the best I could and added planks to walk on. Then because the second "story" was pretty wobbly, I tied some 2,500 lb mule tape around the scaffolding and nailed it to the wall in three spots.

It probably wouldn't have passed OSHA, but then OSHA wasn't going to be checking me at dusk. By the time I stepped out onto the scaffolding to put the windows in it was pitch black and the wind was blowing. I stepped out and was 20 feet above the ground. The lights were shining from inside but nothing on the outside. It was just dark and breezy. It a surreal experience. I did say a prayer prior to climbing out into the darkness and we got the three windows in. We only have one more to install.

Today when the stucco boss man came out he looked at the scaffolding and said, "I know my guys didn't do that". I laughed and said I did it so I could get the windows in so I wouldn't hold them back. He said I was a brave man and thanked me for keeping ahead of them.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/22/2008 10:10:49 PM

First a note about the most loyal reader to my construction blog. My grandmother Rhoana Hamblin (Elder) aka Grandma Rena passed away early this morning. She suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. She followed my posts religiously. I am sure the visits to this blog will suffer because she checked it every day. But much more than blog visits I will surely miss my Grandma. No one loved me more, no one thought more of me. She told me I could do anything and I believed her. I haven't personally known a greater example of faith, patience, kindness and love as my grandma. Today with dozens of things to do on the house I felt as if the wind had been taken from my sails. I was dead in the water with no energy or motivation to go on, for now. I am not in deep despair; I just want to pause for a moment to remember the great woman that she was. The house will be built, it will be great and I know my grandma will be proud of me, her favorite grandson.

Short story on the long drama of the water piping - I was going to run it all myself but time was getting short. Then a plumber told me that the inspector wouldn't allow it. I call the inspector and make sure he was cool with the Viega/Vanguard PEX Manabloc system. He said he wanted to see the approvals on it and that it needed to be installed by a certified installer. Can I install it myself? To which he responds, "Are you certified?". Me, " . . .".

I called Viega and found a local rep and a local installer. I also found that parts are hard to come by. I did get a guy to be my "certified party" and he sent out 6 guys last Saturday and we installed all but a few lines and two Manablocs, with a return line. They did a lot of work and we even switched out the main line coming into the house from 1" to 1 1/2" to make sure we had adequate pressure. It's a big line, but they said we ought to be safe than sorry. I hesitated, but it was the second plumber to tell me to go with a bigger line. The first time I didn't listen. Then I relented because we may have as many as five full and one half bath in the home when all the space is finished.

I found a dead coyote right in the driveway on Monday. I don't know how it died right there. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something. A simple call to animal control and it was gone. We don't live in the "sticks", but we have seen many rabbits - maybe that's why the coyote was patrolling the neighborhood.

Lath started this week.

I got three more windows in tonight working under halogen lights - it beats the lantern my dad used to build his house!

I wanted to get everything ready for the framing and rough-in inspection on Friday but I don't think that will happen. I will be gone next week (after the funeral) and I hope I can line things up enough so the work can continue.

I need to look into low-voltage stuff now . . .


My guard dog! "Don't you go dying on me . . ."
Loaded roof and lath
Main floor Manabloc, soft water loop, water heater loop
Backside of main floor Manabloc
Backside of water lines
Basement Manabloc
Lath going up
Yeah, I built (am building) that - my positive affirmation for when there are a million things to do and I don't want to do anything.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/11/2008 2:36:08 PM

Months back, maybe last year, I took out several of the Palo Verde trees. After the excavator dug up two of the roots they are still growing. I don't get that tree, it must have deep roots or something.

We finished the telephone conduit today. The neighbor irrigated and flooded the street. So there was plenty of water to help settle the trench. Luckily we had dirt piled between the water and the trench so it stayed dry. We connected the conduits, then dug a channel to bring the water in and threw the dirt back in. Free water!

We also installed two more windows, cleaned up the whole house, brought the fireplaces out, and cleaned up the concrete debris near the sump pump and sewage ejector location.


Palo Verdes don't die
Water main with "T" for hose bibs - ran outside for more pressure.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/9/2008 1:12:27 PM

Stress is a little high nowadays. First, for nearly everyone the economy and job are concerns we all share. Working in construction I have worried for a year about my employment. Had I known things were going to get this bad, I would have downsized the house or held off for a little while.

I have been looking for a job since June and now I was blessed enough to find new employment. While the schedule won't be as flexible as my current employment, a job is a job at this point.

Added to this are the plumbers who didn't like the Viega Manabloc system or their pipe. They said that if I put this water system in, I'll waste time and money because the inspector will make us tear it all out.

I called the inspector, he said I could use it if I provided the code inspections and certifications and had a certified person install it. I asked, "Can't I as an owner-builder install my own system?" "Are you certified?" was his response. Yikes. I called Viega, they gave me a local rep's name and number. I spoke with him, and he is supposed to get me someone who can hopefully come out and inspect the system and give me his approval after I install it.

I also had to pick out the shower trims because when I went to buy a valve, they said they aren't interchangeable and I needed to decide on the trim, then buy the valve. Well, Audra handles the trim and finish stuff, but since I needed to buy the valve I spent an hour in the showroom looking at overpriced shower kits. Then I spent another hour in the parts department getting the parts. A long afternoon to end a long day.

I took the evening off only spending 15 minutes looking up Viega and comments on Manabloc on this website then I played two hours of racquetball. This morning nothing was going on, so I headed into my old job to tie up some loose ends. For my sanity I am not pushing to be done in 6 months. I may take 9 months (a year since loan closing) now that I have a new job. I'll try to do all that I can but I may end up subbing more out.

We did pick up our granite slabs at an auction for $150 a slab and some nice filled and honed travertine for $2.45. While I have laid tile before, I will definitely let someone else lay the travertine.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/3/2008 11:14:44 PM

I am on my fourth plumber. The third jumped on it and worked hard for a few days; then was hit or miss after that. I paid him 90% and after going over the drain/vents I found out that he was 60-70% done. I have left him a few messages discussing my feelings and how he was dishonest. I also let him know that I had a few of his tools not to mention his plumbing parts all over the house.

The fourth plumbers were a referral from the second plumber who did a good job. After four plumbers on the drain/waste alone, I plan on running the PEX manifolds myself. They came in this week and look cool. I went with to Viega Manabloc manifolds. Today I brought the main line into the house and will tap onto the copper with 1" of flex and run to the manifold. The plumbers were out today and so were the framers finishing off a few things. I have a 1 1/2" PVC main line that I reduced to a 1" PVC then went into a T with 2 3/4" coming off to run my hose bibs straight from their own line without running them through the house (a tip from a general I spoke with). When I glued it together, it looked like a sword and I ran around pretending to fence with the other guys.

I transitioned to copper underground then came up put in a valve, a T for a hose bib then 90'ed into the house. It took me all day between a run to Home Depot and the plumbing supply shop for the plumbers, discussions with the framers, calls, receiving the tub and wall surrounds etc. It was my first weekday at the lot. It was a good day. While I would like to be there every day like I was today, I would prefer to have a job and some assurance I can make the mortgage payments.

After looking at the electrical, and knowing that I have to finish plumbing and electrical by the end of the month to avoid interest penalties on a 6 month same as cash arrangement, I am seriously considering having someone else do the electrical. I have been getting bids, all of which are over the $10,000 I allotted in the budget because I was going to do it myself. The lowest is about $15,000 and the highest is about $22,000. I have one more coming in.

Audra is actively seeking bids on the cabinets and countertops.

I met with some guys to put in a solar water heater, but they have been flakes and not doing anything after I have called several times. I called a different company yesterday and hopefully we can get something done up there. I need to dry in the roof already - don't you people get it? Jeesh.

It's late, so I'll sign off for now. Pics to come soon . . .

Going to a natural stone and building material auction tomorrow!

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 9/27/2008 7:16:15 PM

This week I got to the point like many of us do where I was too busy working to write about it.

Last Saturday I learned the Home Depot had very confusing window nomenclature that made it difficult to know where each window went without measuring each and checking for the window performance numbers. (We upped the low-E on windows that faced east, west or south). Then they messed up 5 windows out of 31 and they are horrible on following up, so I have to stay after them.

I had a bid from a friend who owns a window company and he quoted me $2,400 to install the windows. I found a really nice and hardworking guy on Craigslist who offered to help me out and show me how to install the windows. This guy made $120,000 last year doing window replacements for Home Depot and Lowe's. We worked for about 5 hours (including two at Home Depot sorting the windows and transporting them to the lot) and he showed me the tricks of the trade. We installed 8 windows. I paid him $200.

Today I hired a friend and we worked for 5.5 hours and got in 10 windows and I paid him $66. We still have 11 more to install if Home Depot will ever get the right windows for us.

I bought our French door from a guy off of Craigslist. He and his brother worked up a sweat loading this heavy thing into my truck then he called me back to offer me 122 sf of tumbled travertine for free! That's a good deal! I picked it up and it will look great in our bathroom.

We bought a jetted, lighted, air bubble tub on Craigslist but it has some leaks. I fixed to of the air lines and still the pump line has leaks. Hopefully I can get someone else to mess with it and set it in because I don't even want to deal with it anymore.

I found a guy on Craigslist (notice a pattern?) who could do plumbing for us. He helped me get my electrical panel up (we should have our temporary power next week) and passed inspection. I paid him for that. Then he put in all of the remaining drain lines. I paid him for that (maybe it was $100 or $200 more than I should have paid him). All he lacks are the vents. I want them through the roof so we can get the roof dried in. Then this week, he was under the weather and his truck broke down. The worst thing is that he promised he would come then wouldn't show and it wasn't until later that he told me what was going on. Today he showed up and he started talking about the how he had made an electrical list. I told him that he had to finish the plumbing first and that I was going to have a contractor do the electrical (or I'll do it myself). I told him that I was OK with him getting sick and understood that his truck broke down but it was unacceptable that he didn't communicate this with me. I said he can finish up the plumbing then we can see what happens. I went back to installing windows and he left and never came back - he left his level that he let me use for the windows. Then I called him and it went to voice mail (big surprise). If he doesn't have it done Monday I'll call the guy that helped me with the underground and pay him a few bucks to tell me how I need to run the vents and help me get a part list and I'll finish it myself.

My PEX materials should be in on Wednesday. I decided on two Viega (VanGuard) Manabloc systems, and I'll be doing that myself and with family and friends.

I was planning on running the HVAC myself and with a contractor friend who mostly services units and hasn't run a lot of residential lines. He had a guy get me a materials list and we have had the HVAC supplies onsite since Monday. I had a guy off Craigslist and he told me he did a dual system (four tons each) with a lot of returns for $1,800. I had a friend who goes to church with a lot of guys in construction and they don't have a lot of work. I met with one who was an HVAC contractor. I walked him through our job, which has three systems (10.5 tons) with a 5-ton system that is split between the main floor and the basement. I think he is doing me a favor and sent me a proposal for $1,800 for all of it, including cans, registers, returns, ductwork, exhaust fans, hanging the air handlers, etc. Basically he will install all of the materials for everything. Sure, the DSDE equivalent is $18,000 but hey, they will knock it out in two days vs. me doing it in two weeks. I'll focus on the PEX lines (and now the plumbing vents) and let them handle the HVAC. My HVAC friend was surprised about the deal and said it was a no-brainer. With a bid from a contractor over $20,000 for the three systems, I should be about half and the bulk of that will be materials.


Plumbing from the bonus space
Bath #2
Patio windows
Laundry box
Beam too close to stairs! We have to shorten the floor trusses and move it so we can pass inspection and more importantly so I don't hit my head coming down the stairs.
My sweet wife gave our fruit trees a good deep watering.
Leaky tub parts
Stucco corner example. I will have 6 stucco bids. I already think I know who will I will choose, but I promised three others that I would let them bid.
Large family room picture window. Yes - this baby was heavy and we already had a bird smack into it as evidenced by a smudge and feathers on the window.
Praying mantis blending into the color of the 2x6. I didn't know they can do that!
Our free tumbled noce pattern travertine
I had them fur out the basement walls to put in the electrical on our plans - less for me to do later.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 9/13/2008 8:36:56 AM

Well almost, I have a few blocks to get in and four alternate hold-downs but he signed the sheet!

What else?

Plumbing waste lines start on Monday.

We had a framing issue on the stairs going into the basement. Audra spotted the problem Thursday afternoon. The glue-laminated beam holding the floor up above the stairs is real close to the head space above the stairs. Per the code there needs to be 6'8" clearance. We are just shy of that at about 6' 7.5" when the tread and drywall are installed. It wouldn't be a big deal if I wasn't 6'3" and at times I run down the stairs and lean forward. I have to watch myself at my in-laws so I don't hit their ceiling above the stairs and I didn't want the same problem in my house.

We checked the plans and there are inconsistencies on how the stairs lay out and the scale of the plans. I called the designer and met with him and the framer onsite. The framer says the plans are worthless and don't match from one sheet to the next. The designer says that he put 6' 8" of headroom in, and it should work fine. The framer says there is no detail to show the stairs and that a 10" tread (on the stringer) is common. The designer says he designed it with a 9" tread (on the stringer) which is common. Etc. After the meeting we had a few more phone calls about the issue.

At the meeting the designer agreed to split the cost of the fix, or make it right. The framer told me that I shouldn't pay any of the fix. After speaking with both sides again I asked the framer why he didn't check for clearance once the stringers were in. Granted the plans are vague, but they can only get us so far and some decisions will need to be made in the field. A framer should check certain things as he is going along.

The end result is that it will likely cost about $200 to fix and the framer and designer will share that cost. I told them both that I shouldn't have to bear any of the burden because I wasn't consulted, I didn't have anything to do with it and Audra was the one to point it out.

Later last night I started to see that we will be soon having a cash flow problem. The draws don't happen exactly how the subs and materialmen need their cash. Not to mention that the basement and framing were way over budget. I hope to recoup that cost some, but since we have been buying some items for future stages we are low on available funds. Ah the O-B life. 3.5 months to go and counting!

P.S. I kid myself with the 3.5 month thing. A) it's a big assumption to think that we'll finish on time - not that I am not working towards that, but there is a lot to do yet and B) with unfinished bonus space, punch lists, landscaping, etc. once we get the C of O the hectic pace may calm some, but the job will be a good 2-5 years from complete!


Bonus space
Electrical trench - my handiwork
Living room coffered ceiling
Electrical SES set - we'll get a temporary power device next week.
An Arizona monsoon dust storm
An Arizona monsoon dust storm
Dust Storm
Dust Storm
Front elevation - there are still a few changes yet.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 9/8/2008

I finished trenching for the electrical conduits. I found two water services and a telephone line that weren't marked by utility locators. Luckily, the only casualty to the backhoe was the telephone line that was repaired the same day by the phone company.

I should have the electrical panel up today and inspection tomorrow. Hopefully then I can request the temporary power device.

Framing should be finished this week then on to the trades and self-work!


I like corners
Rear of house, one wrong window
. . . I'm thinking this big wall with now windows may look a little funny . . . oh well
Trusses above bonus
Finished eave
The supervisors
Driving down street view
Why the service wasn't marked I will never know.
Cut phone line
A beautiful sunrise from the family room
Too bad I don't have a rocker sitting next to this window in a finished house
Luckily this storm passed us by.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 9/3/2008

Finally the roof trusses have been set. There were a few hangups, one missing trusses, two extra, and some they couldn't make but didn't tell me until I asked where they were; but a call to the structural engineer took care of that for me.

I found an ad on craigslist. It seems there was a couple down on their luck and wanted to buy a HD gift card then sell it for cash. They could carry the balance on their HD consumer credit card for 12 months with no interest. So we met at HD, they bought a $600 gift card and I gave them $480. A quick way to save some money but I felt somewhat guilty. Then they said that some people offered them 50%-75% of face value. They also thanked me for helping them out.

While I question the money principles of selling money for 80% of the value I wasn't about to get involved or try to tell them how to manage their finances.

It seems like a great deal. I guess they could have done a sleight of hand and given me a different card - in fact I better check tomorrow when I go to HD.

UPDATE: I checked the card at HD there is $600 on it. No scam - no problems.


They got all of the big trusses up in about three hours.
Girder trusses with jack trusses already attached
Second-story roof
Hookers and studs - oh my!
Back of the house
I think I took 60+ pictures during the three hours they were setting the trusses. It is the last big thing to watch. From here on out progress will visually appear much slower.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/29/2008 11:46:09 AM

This is the 9th wettest monsoon on record and it is wetter than any monsoon since the early 1980's. Great time to build a house, eh? We got over an inch last night with wind gusts over 80 MPH and between 10,000 and 15,000 lightning strikes. Normally I would stay up and enjoy the show, but last night I went to bed because I knew less than 10 miles away our site was getting pummeled.

Thankfully the house is standing, the trusses are still in the street, and the J-John was upright. There was a lot more rain on the ground though - in fact my trenching will have to be canceled for this weekend and I'll need to get a trash pump to pump the water out of the trenches.

Yesterday I picked up our door hardware from a local contractor who got stuck with a lot of door knobs and levers. I got them at or below their cost, I purchased hardware for the whole house (including the doors that will eventually go in the unfinished spaces) for about $300-400 less than budget. He had posted an ad on Craigslist. Originally we wanted the egg-shaped oil-rubbed bronze (ORB) knobs but they only had round knobs and levers in ORB. We went with the levers.

I also am not going to put in a temporary power pole but a temporary power device that will go into our permanent panel. I will get a refund from the power company from the fees I paid for the temporary power pole, and I hope to have the trench pumped out and install the rest of the conduit next week.

In summary: we will lose over a week of work because of the rain, but the house is still standing, our interest for the loan is only $.50 per day at this point, and we got rain. In Arizona we can't complain about receiving rain (I try not to at least).


Storm brewing
Trusses in street
One neighbor got stuck in the mud logged trench (sorry Amy), one neighbor pulled her out with his tractor (thanks Sam) and one neighbor loaned cones and a sign to close the road (thanks Larry) We have great neighbors!
Steel Plate buried in water
Street flooding
Flooded electric trench
Water standing on floor - I made nail holes to let it drain
Flooded basement entrance - didn't rise into the basement but it will continue to flood until sump pump is installed.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/25/2008 9:05:33 PM

Where to begin . . .
I had an underground contractor out on Saturday to help finish the electrical line. I had my father-in-law's tractor out there and I figured he could work it - an operator is an operator right? Well not quite. He couldn't get the hang of it so I ended up operating the backhoe. He helped me with some tricks to make it go quicker and cleaner. I feel much more capable of doing the septic line now.

I got two sizes of the telephone conduit, so we didn't get that all done but the conduit is in the street and backfilled. Today we get another downpouring of rain that helped settle the trench, and I'll need to go back and add some more dirt to smooth the road out. I have an inspection with the power company tomorrow. One thing that is a pain is that the telephone company wants 36" radius turns (90s). However, no one supplies such turns in 1 1/4 or 1 1/2-inch conduit. The other thing is that the telephone company doesn't inspect the line, they just pull it. Would the shorter radius turns make that much of a difference, since they won't know anyway unless they can't pull their line? Maybe I'll call them and ask where I can get the long radius turns.

Audra noticed one thing with the framing that is not right and I went over that with the framers today. I still need to check openings for squareness and spot-check dimensions.

I sent pictures of two windows (square and arch) that I want put together in one. I wanted to tell the framer how to frame it, but if they can't put the windows together then we'll have to have a 2x4 across it. Talking with HD today I'll just go ahead and have them frame it as if we can get the windows installed together and if not I'll tell HD that the windows are wrong.

That's the latest for now. More is going on, of course, but to give a full and compete report would require more time and effort. : - )


Second story on, water puddles, and one J-John down
To my dismay, this house is reportedly visible from the main street and we don't even have the roof on yet. We need some mature trees to cover the oversight on the finished floor elevation
Floor trusses delivered
Floor trusses up
Bonus space
My buddy, my hat
View from bonus space
Covered electrical trench. It is a quiet street. I don't think we had a car go by until 8:00 and we started before 6:00.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/20/2008 4:30:22 PM

Doing business the normal way would be to hire a general to build a home.

More difficult would be to act as a general and to hire your own subs to do the work and supply the materials.

More difficult yet would be to find labor and materials and get them to the same place at the same time.

We had a bunk of 189 2x6 studs (116 5/8") go missing. Where did they go? I don't know. The night the lumber was dropped it was late and once I saw that HD had sent lumber I asked not to be sent I was furious and went home and sent a nasty fax (see previous post). I wish I would have stayed and checked all of the lumber because somehow we are missing a bunk.

The site is locked so two possibilities exist: 1) it was never delivered or 2) it was taken by a sub who had the combo. Since I didn't check the lumber thoroughly or am I at the site 24/7 I can't say which. The chain and lock are intact and since it would take several trucks or a forklift/loader and a flatbed to take the lumber offsite I am guessing that it never arrived.

(fast forwarding past lots of drama)

The framer needed the studs because he was out. HD took one of their rental trucks and picked up the lumber. When they got to the site, the framer cussed them out and said they wouldn't help them unload. The framer calls and tells me that the HD guys were jerks and they had their own work to do rather than help HD unload lumber. I asked them if they would help because we needed to get the lumber there and I thought they could help - otherwise we could have waited a day for the forklift and large truck. The framer agrees to unload the lumber. I call HD to call the driver to return to the site. The framer calls his boss and says he won't touch a stick on the truck. HD returns to the store! What a mess. 

To add the the hilarity (it's funny now, but yesterday I wasn't having such a good time) is that because the framers didn't help they didn't have the lumber they needed and ran out of work. They went to another site today (which I think was the intent all along).

The bunk should be sitting there now and I will double check it tonight. I will also change the combo on the lock as I worry about past subs or people who know the combo coming and taking things.

My designer called EIFS on some of the exterior trim around the windows and eaves. I am opting for foam and stucco as it is a much cheaper option. I went by a foam place today and called a roofer to get my fourth bid.

Temporary/permanent power (same line) will be put in this weekend.

Ahh, the O-B world. I can say I am glad I am building my own house. Some days that's all I can say but it is true nonetheless. A good night sleep and I was ready to go today.


Front entrance
Master Bath pop-out
Living room and pantry
This window needs to come down per egress codes
Admiring from afar
North sheer wall
My "workshop" corner of the garage.
Living room looking to patio
That's a big post! A column would have looked better - maybe next time . . .
My excitement about the stair landing being finished. Only concrete left is the driveway Not the most flattering angle I admit, but my tripod or photographer were not handy.
Family room triple windows looking to patio
Uneven sheer
Master windows and dog door. OK, it's a fireplace.

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Posted to OwensNewHome by Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/20/2008 4:28:06 PM

Doing business the normal way would be to hire a general to build a home.

More difficult would be to act as a general and to hire your own subs to do the work and supply the materials.

More difficult yet would be to find labor and materials and get them to the same place at the same time.

We had a bunk of 189 2x6 studs (116 5/8") go missing. Where did they go? I don't know. The night the lumber was dropped it was late and once I saw that HD had send lumber I asked not to be sent I was furious and went home and sent a nasty fax (see previous post). I wish I would have stayed and checked all of the lumber because somehow we are missing a bunk.

The site is locked so two possibilities exist: 1) it was never delivered or 2) it was taken by a sub who had the combo. Since I didn't check the lumber thoroughly or am I at the site 24/7 I can't say which. The chain and lock are in tact and since it would take several trucks or a forklift/loader and a flatbed to take the lumber offsite I am guessing that it never arrived.

(fast forwarding past lots of drama)

The framer needed the studs because he was out. HD took one of their rental trucks and picked up the lumber. When they got to the site the framer cussed them out and said they wouldn't help them unload. The framer calls and tells me that the HD guys were jerks and they had their own work to do rather than help HD unload lumber. I asked them if they would help because we needed to get the lumber there and I thought they could help - otherwise we could have waited a day for the fork lift and large truck. The framer agrees to unload the lumber. I call HD to call the driver to return to the site. The framer calls his boss and says he won't touch a stick on the truck. HD returns to the store! What a mess. 

To add the the hilarity (it's funny now but yesterday I wasn't having such a good time) is that because the framers didn't help they didn't have the lumber they needed and ran out of work. They went to another site today (which I think was the intent all along).

The bunk should be sitting there now and I will double check it tonight. I will also change the combo on the lock as I worry about past subs or people who know the combo coming and taking things.

My designer called EIFS on some of the exterior trim around the windows and eves. I am opting for foam and stucco as it is a much cheaper option. I went by a foam place today and called a roofer to get my 4th bid.

Temporary/permanent power (same line) will be put in this weekend.

Ahh the OB world. I can say I am glad I am building my own house. Some days that's all I can say but it is true nonetheless. A good night sleep and I was ready to go today.


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