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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 5/21/2010

Well, I did not keep my promise to maintain a detailed blog - as many had stated, time becomes a premium and it's the first thing to go (the blog).

We wrapped up in the house in Aug, 2009 - moved in and I instantly had the itch to do another teardown somewhere else in Naperville. So between getting settled in to the new house between Aug and Dec, 2009 - I worked on finishing up all the odds/ends of the build (crown molding, mud-room lockers, paint, etc).

In Feb 2010 - we went to market north of $700,000 and went under contract in April. I am taking less than I ideally wanted, but teardown lots have come down in cost so much, it's still a money-making endeavor - given the next lot I plan on building was once listed at $350,000 and am under contract on it for $180,000. It's basically an unlivable house sandwiched between two completed teardowns. Lot is all of a 1/4 acre (52 x 132) - but that's a bit bigger than the one I just built.

Attached is PDF of the sales brochure for the one I was blogging about that we sold. I will try to get around to adding some more pics. I will try to keep a better blog on the next one.

It will be very interesting to see how this goes the second time around - as now I know all my subs, I know what to look for, etc. I really think I can save quite a bit of time we wasted on other steps in build 1 - however, I know it's always easy to say that now.


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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 6/1/2009 10:01:56 PM

Been awhile, but any few shreds of time are spent moonlighting at the house - painting is in full effect right now - and I am about sick of it... but it is soooo much easier to paint in a new construction house versus completed (no worries about drips, no taping, etc). Having painted with a couple brands, my ratings...

1 - Sherwin Williams Superpaint - this is want my drywall guys used, so used some on the main walls... give it an A-... goes on like butter and if you're good at applying - is truly one-coat... it's pricey... $45 a gallon... however, got it at 30% off (9 gallons).

2 - Behr Premium Plus ULTRA - I really liked this deep sage color they had, and this was supposed to be their new super premium line... runs $32 a gallon... boy, does this stuff stink!! No way it goes on in one coat - it has a primer built in, which seems to make it "slippery". It redeemed itself a bit after the second coat... as it does look good, but not a very good DIY choice for most. D-

3 - Pittsburgh Paint - Used this on my former basement finish job... really solid brand... probably my favorite - goes on nicely and lap marks are avoided pretty easily. Runs $28 per gallon at Menards - but was on rebate... I would actually use all Pittsburgh Paint next time over the Sherwin Williams... I don't think SW is twice as good as the price would indicate... in fact, PP may be better. Give it an A.

4 - Dutch Boy - for a cheapy brand (sub $20 a gallon) - I liked it. They had a deep blue (Hurricane Cliff) that we liked for Connor's room... figured I wasn't going to spend big bucks on kids' room paint. We got their washable paint... went on nicely, albeit it seems a wee bit watery. B+.

5 - Valspar Signature - this is Lowe's premium line - real solid as well... they had an Eddie Bauer "Craftsman" collection of colors, and the green was a home run for one of the rooms. Stuff goes on real nice and looks good. At $28... good value.

As far as rollers - I will never roll with anything other the Purdy rollers - they are pricey... $12 for three... but they do not shed at ALL and coverage is great. Bought a $195 power sprayer/roller. Tried spraying, but I was not good at it... I put on too thick and I striped the walls quite a bit (did not overlap properly). So I used the roller setting... really slick... a pain to clean up... but probably allows you to paint three times faster. Graco Magnum Project Painter 5 (

Besides painting... concrete guys finalllllllllllllllllllly made it out to pour the garage floor and porch - important, as we can't finish siding/stone work until the porch was poured, and I need to store some items (interior doors, cabinets) in the garage shortly.

We also have lights now, electricians were out to hook up almost everything... so it's nice to have more than one outlet now and not have to lug extension cords and portable lights everywhere.

My time to shift into overtime on the house is coming up quick, with trim work and flooring... many long days and nights lie ahead.

Custom staircase was delivered to the house in pieces today... they will start putting it together tomorrow.

Lights and paint (and yes, there is paint missing where cabinets will go).

Stair parts....
Wainscoting will go beneath the green part...

More paint.

There will be stone up the wall by the fireplace and crown molding (hence, no paint)

Concrete forms up for the porch...

Concrete truck getting too close to the house for my comfort..

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 5/7/2009 10:18:53 PM

Quick update given we are in one of those "rapid changes" phase.

I am absolutely giddy over the way the look of the house is shaping up... the cedar shake siding went up today on the gables, and boy, does it add some great contrast. The siding firm recommended using real cedar for the shakes versus fiber cement (as the siding is). I was leery at first, thinking it was going to look off... but they were right. Not only was it muccccch cheaper, the cedar has a different "grain", "texture" to it that adds some depth.

Roofers are set to finish up the porch roof tomorrow, and the siding guys should finish as much as they can. They plan to come back to complete the job once the stonework is done on the bottom 3-4 feet of the house.

The beadboard porch ceiling went up today... the drywallers also got started. I thought the drywall would make the house feel smaller, but it's actually the opposite.

Thankfully, the drywallers were a day behind, which let me get a problem solved that I figured I would have to live with for 30 years if this ends up being the house we stay in. Each volume-control knob in rooms needs four speaker wires run to it. This one, in the master bath, had only three. Which meant I goofed up somewhere when running wire. With the insulation blown in, I noticed it too late to change. Or so I thought. Drywallers being behind meant I got an extra two hours to go up into the attic, balance across the studs, and dig into three feet of insulation looking for a needle in the haystack (the wire I didn't drop down from the attic). Lo and behold, with my iPhone in hand as a flashlight, I was able to feel out the wire, drill the hole and drop it into the wall.

I also added sound control insulation between some rooms to cut down on noise...

A lot of drywall mud stocked by the drywall firm... having done a basement... thank goodness I won't be doing this.

Giant 4x12 sheets of drywall are stocked in the house...

Drywall progressing... and actually beginning to look like a house...

Bead board porch ceiling - once again, trying to add in some of the tried and true historical touches... a very small cost item with a big impact... it will be stained darker to match the door.

Cedar shakes look very good...

Wider shot.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 5/3/2009 8:46:29 PM

Some great progress since the last update. Siding is finally going up and wow, do we like it. We (or at least I) was always concerned we were taking a bit of a risk going with a more "old school" arts and craftsy style (dark windows, light window trim, darker siding) but it looks real good.

Been fighting the rain/t-storms the past week - so hopefully we make up some time this week (lost 4 days, the last 7).

Drywall starts on Wednesday, so have been making sure anything we want "in" the walls is done (things like any speaker holes, cutouts for alcoves, cutouts for soap/bottle ledges in showers, etc). Am also going to throw in some insulation in the interior walls separating the master bath from the bathroom, bedroom three from the second bath and some of the laundry room walls. At $25 for 100 sq ft... it's a no-brainer. There was nothing I hated worse in our old townhouse - being able to hear the shower/hairdryer plain as day, even when the door was closed.

Pretty sure we are going with a Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) floor - it will be one of the only areas not true to the arts/crafts style - but adds a nice contemporary feel. Had looked at rift and quartered white oak - but doing that on the staircase gets pretty pricey - plus we would need to stain it to get it darker, and that is somewhat of a crap shoot. With the Jatoba - its dark enough right away.

We are going with stile and rail type doors - meaning they have square sticking - or in other words - no molded sections. All lines are straight and clean.
Very much like these, but  two-panel - not three, as the pic shows.

The molding/trim work will also be very arts and crafts - much more squared off and straight lines. Our rental house (built in 1920's) has the basic design we are going to do (s4s molding with a back band around it).

The small areas of copper roofing are on... I am not at all a fan of the way it looks now... it should patina to a deeper maroon color within a couple months...

I am knocking out some of the insulation in the shower areas to create ledges (for soap, bottles, shavers, etc.) Basically, these will be tiled, so there should be a 3-4 inch ledge for stuff once all is done.

The siding is going up... a prefinished custom job from a local supplier.

I love the look - exactly what we were hoping for... can't wait to see the front, where some additional details will come into play... the gables (peaks) will be staggered shakes, bottom four feet will be stone.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 4/22/2009 9:01:26 PM

Off topic for a second - we walked downtown last weekend and noticed the old Sharper Image building being gutted and I had no idea what was going in there (I usually keep up to date on comings and goings - so was rather miffed). Well, after some googling - it appears the transformation of Naperville into a mini downtown Chicago continues - as apparently, one of those spiffy, shiny, flagship Apple Stores is going in across from Lou Malnati's. It will be interesting to see how busy the store becomes. I remember when I got my iPhone at Oak Brook - and had to wait for 45 minutes amongst 150-200 people jammed in that store on a Tues afternoon - and the guy said that was a slow day.

Anyway - the house IS progressing. I was able to juggle the schedule last week and was able to get the insualtors in and out in 3-4 days. Which means we picked up a week or two of time. Those guys were amazing - clean, quick and high quality. We went with wet spray cellulose. Its amazing how dense that stuff is and how it fills every little nook and cranny. The stuff is so dense, that just standing in the house now, with no siding or drywall, there is complete silence.

Tomorrow - siding/shakes/soffit/exterior trim are delivered and will start going up. The roof will also be finsished up. Siding guy thinks my job could be 2-3 weeks given its detail. Hoping to start drywalling within 10 days.

However, the realization is setting in that I likely will have to try and extend the lease 1 month - as I just don't think this can all be done in a little over 2 months - its possible, but who knows. So hopefully it will not be a problem to extend it out - we will see.

All the orange tape areas are where they covered outlets (makes sense - otherwise - they would have been buried and invisible).

Connor it his future backyard - manufacturing those smiles.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 4/9/2009 9:45:03 PM


Time seems to be at a premium lately - hence both blogs have been left hanging. We had inspections the other week and we certainly hit some foul balls. Out of the five we had, we passed only one - the gas piping. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC and framing all got denied.

Plumbing was mostly some small issues - they had them fixed in a couple of hours and have since passed.

Electrician had placed all the first floor switches at 52" off finished floor - turns out Naperville is ADA compliant - and first floor must be 48". So that meant they all needed to be lowered. They also needed to raise the lower outlets - but that was accomplished by using an offset mud ring. They had also measured some of the spacing between outlets incorrectly (apparently, when measuring from a four-panel door, you measure from the panel that opens - not the fixed panels - so that threw a couple things out of whack. They needed to add a couple here and there. Anddddd... they also needed to run wire in all the boxes for the inspection to determine the "box fill". So they had a couple days of work... but have since passed.

HVAC got dinged on a 25+ foot dryer vent run... they had about 28'... they have modified... we have yet to get it reinspected as it needs to be done along with framing.

Framing got dinged 15-20+ ways. Many I, I think are overkill, but it is what it is. Many are small and are corrected... but we actually had to call the architect out to the site to sign off on something. We are awaiting reinspection.

And we have had a small issue arise with insulation meeting code... but I think the issue may be for naught - as the architect told me today the issue should not apply to our house... we shall see.

Other than inspections - things have slowed a bit... as siding is on order, but is about 10 days out yet... so we really can't do much (insulation, drywall) until the siding is on, as there are still spots where water seeps in due to siding not being on. And since we are going with blown-in cellulose - it can't get wet and it needs a couple days to settle once installed without any banging (i.e. siding work)... so we are going to have to try to wiggle both in somehow at the same time.

Timing is starting to concern me a bit... as our rental runs until end of June. I originally thought that would be more than enough... now it's getting tight.

Budget took a few hits - as cabinets ran a few thousand over and the siding/fascia/soffit was a few thousand over as well. On the siding - I realized that an aluminum soffit would have looked bad on a house with fiber cement siding and Miratec trimwork - thus we had to upgrade to a cedar soffit - it will all be custom colored to match the Miratec trimwork - what you see on most teardown houses. So my little cushion is disappearing as well. Good news is 90% of the big ticket items have been booked... so the amount left to be decided yet is small.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 3/16/2009 9:38:40 PM

Well, we had success with the basement pour last Friday. Concrete crew was in and out in less than three fourths of a day - and the best part is we did not have to pay $1,900 for a pumper. They were able to cut a 2x2 hole in the floor between the joists and pour it in from there (thank God). When they were done, they put the floor back and it looks good to go.

My planning ahead and having the framer scheduled for today worked out well - as they framed out the basement stairs, got the kitchen island kneewall up and finished some odds/ends. They should finish up by tomorrow. Have the electrician back tomorrow to wrap up his part (which may bleed into Wednesday), HVAC guys set the furnace in the basement today as well.

This was the first day in which I actually took the entire day off and worked the entire day 7 am to 7pm (pretty good, considering we started this thing in Nov and so far have been able to survive by stopping by at 7am and nights/weekends). My plan for today was to be on site when the framer was wrapping up and at the same time start all the wiring I planned to do. I made very good progress on my DIY tasks - got all the RG6 Coax run, majority of the Cat5e run and got all the in-ceiling speaker mounts up. Much easier than I thought, and glad I am doing it myself - as was able to modify stuff as I did it. My initial idea was to "home run" to the basement (i.e., run all wire from EACH room back to a central hub in the basement - this central hub simply houses EVERYTHING in one location - meaning you somewhat future-proof yourself by having a separate run to each room versus the old fashioned daisy chain method). However, the one finished room in the attic for the furnace worked out much better. Given our open floor plan - was difficult to get stuff to the basement - was much easier to drop down from above. Basically each room will have RG6, Cat5e and phone - some will have in-ceiling speakers. One of the big advantages of having Cat5 in each room is some of the technology that is spawning from it - like running an HD signal and having your PC/DVR distribute a movie via Cat5e to rooms in your house. For example, I could pipe a a movie into Connor's room and maybe pipe the same DirecTV signal that is playing in the great room into the den or master bedroom. Most of this stuff is overkill - but when the walls are open and Cat5 and RG6 are pennies for a foot - it's a no-brainer to at least set it up.

Anyway - we are hoping to be calling in for rough inspection by early next week... I am meeting with the siding crew this week, in hoped to get them lined up to start ASAP once we pass inspection... after siding - it's blow-in insulation and drywall - and then pretty much the final stretch of the interior finishing (floor, cabinets, etc) - which will take some time.

Framers putting the island kneewall together...

Its a lot of wiring ... and a little hot working up on the attic level...

Starting to get the wiring "cleaned up"...

Another view of the island... keep in mind - cabinets will sit in front of this - doubling its size.

In-ceiling speakers in the master...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 3/13/2009 11:17:46 AM

We are at the part of the build now where it is like an intricate string of dominoes - each part of the build is like a domino and you really can't knock down the ones ahead of you until you knock down the current one. The domino currently standing firm in our way is the pouring of the basement floor. Without the basement floor poured - we have pretty much knocked down as many dominoes as we can. All the plumbing, HVAC and electrical is roughed in - and framing is 98% done - but they too need the basement poured to do their last 2%.

So this week has been a scheduling maze to get everything lined up for an attempt at the basement pour on Friday. We had the rough-in for a future basement bathroom installed, had it inspected, got a temporary furnace hung from the basement ceiling to make sure any frost buried below the inches of stone fill is thawed and a spent a night cleaning all the crap that someone had accumulated in the basement from all the crews coming out. And I also remembered last minute today that I should probably have the 12-ft dumpster removed from the driveway, so the concrete truck can back in (boy, that one almost got me).

So tomorrow morning, the concrete guys are coming out to see if all is well for the pour. The more interesting part is going to be seeing how they plan on getting the concrete down to the basement, seeing the house is now framed in completely. If they can't get their basic equipment close enough - then its a $1,900 hit to the budget to pay for a pumper. I am hoping that can be avoided at all costs... even if it means taking up a section of the floor and joists - replacing that will only be a few bucks, not $1,900. All of this is due to the challenges presented by a city lot... as there is no way they they can get to the sides or back of the house with a concrete truck.

So, hopefully by this time tomorrow - concrete is down in the basement - and we can move on to the next stage - as I already have the framer lined up to come in on Monday (I have learned it's better to have folks lined up tight or even overlapping than have gaps - this way no time is lost).

Mechanical is coming along...

The supersized fireplace is in place...

The 300-lb cast iron tub is in place in the kids bathroom (no, I didn't carry it up two floors - the plumbers did, thank God). The pocket door frame separates the toilet and shower area from the dual sinks.

5,000 ft of RG6 Coax, Cat5e and in-wall speaker wire that I get to run in the house one of these nights. Also not in the pic - all the in-ceiling speaker brackets. Idea is (because it is so cheap to do it now when walls are open) is to run two coax and two cat5e to every room and also have a couple 3.5mm outlets/jacks to plug an iPod into the main stereo system at several points in the house. I just could not justify the money and didn't see us using all the features of some of these high-end whole-house audio systems. With the cheap setup I am doing, each room will have a volume knob that controls ceiling speakers - which are all home-run wired back to the main receiver in the great room (thus, DirecTV, iPod, FM, CD, BluRay) can be heard in any room. Realistically, will likely use it most in kitchen, front porch, back yard and den.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 3/1/2009 7:15:43 PM

Been a bit since the last update - have been less motivated to post, as we have reached the point where the daily visual changes no longer occur. All the action is now occurring in the guts of the house - plumbing, HVAC, electrical, so those great visual leaps and bounds don't happen anymore, as this is the part where it slows down a bit.

Have been able to keep the plumbing, HVAC and electric within tight timing - in fact maybe too tight. Plumber started last Tuesday and HVAC came in on Friday. Electrician is itching to get in tomorrow (Monday) but will have to delay him a few days - as there is simply too much going on in the house right now for him - and plumber and HVAC get "priority" over location of piping/etc... electrician gets the space that's left over. I am learning my massively open floor plan has created some challenges for the plumber/HVAC - but nothing they have not been able to figure out.

Last Thursday we got about three inches of rain/T-storms in a matter of four hours... given that the lot has not been final graded, all the rain got funneled into the sides of the foundation and the sump pump was running non stop. Basically, the water that was pumped out was circling around back to the window wells, via all the little rivers created by the electric service underground install. I simply went out back and dug a couple of holes to divert the water, and within two hours, sump had turned off. I was surprised when I heard the sump running non stop... since when this lot got 10 inches of rain in two days back in Sept, there were no water issues. Plus, the excavator had commented how dry it was digging nearly 10 feet down - never hit a drop of moisture. So my hunch is once the lot is graded, this won't be an issue again.

Also, the other day, I had stopped by the site and happened to run into a Verizon tech at the site. Apparently Nicor Gas had called them to flag their utilities on site. It was perfect timing as we always had what I called the "hatch from Lost" in the front yard - basically a 4 ft by 2 ft utility vault in the ground that was going to be an eyesore and cause issues with the final grading and driveway. I don't know if it was my lucky day or just got a nice service tech... but mentioned to him the situation with the driveway and final grade. I was hoping at best to get them just to agree to bring it up to the level of final grade and put in a new cover - as the current one was cracked and likely 20 yrs old. Well, after discussing the options and him making a few calls... he more than surprised me when he called me about two hours later and said they will not only take care of it... they will just bury the wires and fill in the hole - meaning no hatch and no eyesore. Better yet, it is all on Verizon's dime. From the way the tech was talking - I think Verizon was more concerned with someone/something falling into the hatch and blowing out service to the north side of Naperville... burying it, I guess, solved that concern.

A functioning casement window above the garage...

The master bedroom cieling has plenty of room...

The nearly 5x6 walk-in shower... (keep in mind - we ditched the whirlpool tub and put the $$ in a massive shower).
For virtually no extra cost, the framers are putting two-foot "tray" ceilings in the other three bedrooms... and they are fabulous... not the small tray you see in some tract housing, these are some deep trays... amazing what an experienced framer can do. Make the rooms feel much larger.

One of the awning windows functioning... this one in bathroom #2.

An inside look at the breakfast room door and awning windows...

Left side of great room... cutout is for fireplace...

Back wall of great room... middle area is for the TV...

Another shot of the door that ate up 20% of the entire window budget...

The shots of the plumbing aren't exactly sexy... but it's progress...

No more telecommunications hatch in the ground...

HVAC pictures aren't as sexy as windows either...

The 8-ft Craftsman front door...

Connor would have fun in this mess...

A look down the hallway into the two-story foyer...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 2/16/2009 4:22:54 PM

Things continue to clip along at a very strong pace - weather has been conducive to getting the house dried in, as windows and roof (shingles) are going in/on as I type.

Windows are beautiful - in fact, I would put them up against any thing I have seen on any house in Naperville, Downers, Wheaton, etc... I cannot believe how awesome they turned out - the gamble on going with a "different" style paid off and I really think it will add a "richness" to the house that cost little more than the standard run-of-the-mill grill pattern and window.

I see my first very minor error in planning. Given the framer (correctly) raised the porch roof from what the architect had laid out - it means I probably could have gone with an 8-ft front French door as well, versus the 6'10" - it would have better matched than the 8-foot front door. However, I noticed the house going up five doors down (from which we stole the French door on the front porch idea) have the same thing - 8-foot front door and shorter French doors. Inside, it will not be apparent - as the front door is in a small two-story area and the French door is in a 9 ft high room. And even outside, I don't think it will even be visible.

Also, we were concerned on the shingles we had picked out - yes, you even sweat the small stuff like shingles - as there are three houses that are close in color to what ours will be over in Downers Grove - 1 has a darker black/gray roof - two have a darker brown - each really impacts the overall look of the house, as hard as it is to believe. We had a made a few late trips to Lowe's and Menards to see larger samples, so we rolled the dice on the darker brown - driftwood, they call it - and it appears this roll of the dice worked out. The windows frames are dark (chestnut bronze is the color) but when installed on the house - they skew more brown than black - so all is well.

We also have concern about this little rounded arch we have over the front-door porch entry - but most on site have assured me it will turn out close to what we desire - so we will have to wait and see. Right now it does not appear close at all, but am having a hard time visualizing it 50% completed - as there is a joist running the perimeter which is simply hard to picture not being there.

Am trying to shrink my DIY list down a bit - so am rebidding and getting additional thoughts on some other areas. The framing crew - which is top notch - also does interior work - so am thinking if I can strike a deal - I may have his crew trim out the house - versus DIY'ing it as I had planned. I've done it enough to do it well - but realize I need to keep my list reasonable - as it already includes hardwood floors, tiling, interior stone work, eventual painting (will do most once we are moved in), light fixtures, network/audio/video wiring, etc. I have already scratched off exterior masonry (it is easy to do cultured stone on the outside, and certainly is with the small amount we have), but it is not too much more to sub this out and get it off my list - so exterior is certainly off my list - and we will see about the small interior parts.

Have also been ping-ponging the idea of roughing in a central vac system - everything I read and people I talk to say to do it now, when the walls are open. It appears - from my research - you can rough it in for about $500... and then just buy the unit later... however, doing it once the walls are drywalled gets very expensive (and much harder). The thing that got me interested was those toe-kick dustpans - they are the ones that are mounted in the baseboard or under cabinets. Given we have a lot of hardwood and tile, basically you just sweep everything up, take your toe and hit the button, it opens up and sucks the dirt/crumbs away. So we shall see...

Finally, we had been waiting for the invoice from our excavator from back in Nov... as I thought we might be able to come in under budget given we had a connection to a free dirt bump. Well, turns out we came in 25% under! Or $4,000 in total... so a very nice result and certainly will provide a needed cushion in the budget. And is money I would have NEVER have seen if I was not running this pony myself.

I am still hopeful lumber may come in under yet, as may the flatwork and masonry.

Roofer up high continuing work...

The windows arrive, on a full size semi, no less... dude got it backed in first try...

Luckily, I just happened to be there when they came... had to lend a hand to get this one off the truck... five people in all to move this beast... it's basically the size of a real small bedroom laid flat - 10x8.

The much smaller front unit...

The basic look of the windows...

Door unit in and looking good.

I think the profile is slick... as they are casements... not double hungs, as they appear. Get the more Craftsman look of a double hung with the clean lines, airflow and improved seal of a casement.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 2/7/2009 8:07:29 PM

Walking in the house today, it is pretty amazing to think that what started out as a off-the-wall idea to buy a teardown lot and a floorplan sketched on scratch paper is real. The more amazing part is there are really no "oddities" in the house - everything flows properly and feels how it was envisioned to feel. My biggest fear was always that the house would have all sorts of problem spots and not feel like a professionally designed house - and then I would have to live down all the comments as I am the one who drew it. But it is actually quite the opposite - it really is cool!! Now I am sure some may not find the design "traditional" enough - with 10-foot ceilings, a kitchen island our kitchen designer said "is the biggest he has ever seen", contemporary Craftsman styling, no real "formal" rooms, and no master bath tub - instead, a massive walk-in shower.

Anyway, only got three days of framing in this week... Tuesday and Wednesday were just too cold... and by today it was darn near 60. We are still on pace to get windows started this coming Wednesday, and possibly get the shingles going as well. Weather looks good, with another near-60 day coming on Tuesday and temps otherwise in the 40's... hopefully by week's end this puppy can be "dried in".

My bigger concern of the moment is what is still in the basement. Given the brutal January weather, there is still a good deal of ice and snow down there, and it is now covered by two floors of a framed house. So even though it was almost 60 today, in the basement it feels about 30... as the warm air can't get down there easily to melt the ice. I am hoping with the warmth of the next 4-5 days - it wipes it out, but we shall see. I may have to get creative and stick some space heaters down there or something... as it needs to melt and dry out to get that basement floor poured.

Some of the final outlines are going up. The area above the garage - which will be the master closet, is framed. The only exterior feature still missing is the front porch area...

Just five months ago - this is what it looked like... crazy!

The great room area... pic does not do it justice... as those two windows on the back wall are giants... as those are 10-foot ceilings in that room. The cutout by the Tyvek house wrap is where the fireplace will be. Stone will go from floor to ceiling.

Looking into the kitchen...

This is the layout for the kitchen... and yes, that island is large and in charge... it will contain the sink, dishwasher, special "dish" drawers (dishes will be in lower pull-out drawers, not in high cabinets), microwave, a seating area on the opposite side and just altogether, likely the central gathering area in the house...

Now, the pics below are 90% accurate and don't look that great - but give an idea of the layout. The column that comes into the island will not be that large - and I plan to do some sort of "Craftsman taper" to it to make it mimic the ones on the front of the house... the color of the cabinets in the mockups below is just general... in reality, the wall cabinets will be what Kraftmaid calls "Canvas w/Cocoa Glaze" - and if we have the nerve to see it through - the island will be a very dark cherry color - they call it Peppercorn. It is quite possible we have spent nearly as much time planning this kitchen as laying out the house - well, probably not, but it seems like it. And if anyone ever needs a good kitchen designer, I would recommend mine to anyone...

The color scheme will be very very close to this - light wall cabinets, dark island. We like it, just get nervous going with two diff. color schemes. If we chicken out... the island will simply be the same color as the wall cabinets.

Another look into the great room... den and powder room are on other side...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 2/2/2009 9:14:14 PM

I am still amazed at how in a matter of 10 working days, a crew of five can be at the point where they have begun to frame the roof. I now have hopes that we are getting back on pace and actually making up a bit of time.

Somehow, some way, after what has been one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record, we have had two weeks of calm but cold weather and no days have been missed due to weather. Long-range forecast points to upper 40's this weekend... so might actually lose some days to rain if it holds true.

We are "juiced up" as I saw the framers had tapped into the panel today... so we have power again.

Other than that, working on getting the roofer in line, followed by all the "guts" = plumber, electrician and HVAC.

I will be out at the site tomorrow morning to talk to the head guy - get his best estimate on roof completion - also need to go over some other items - I noticed the master shower was framed out with a full wall - it should be a half wall... also need to see about the way they have one transom window framed out that may be too close to the roof line.

Bridget had the idea to have me actually be in a few pictures... so here I am... joy!

Bridget was not a fan of using my makeshift ladder to get up to the second floor...

The framers constructed this catwalk to aid in framing... crazy, considering this is already on the second floor - so in essence the ladder is positioned nearly four floors high... needless to say, I won't be going up there to take any pictures...

View from the back...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 1/29/2009 8:26:01 PM

Things are progressing, visually, too fast to keep up. Virtually, 75% of the second floor exterior walls were framed up by the time I came back out tonight.

Yesterday, had the first call in the morning from the framer requesting that I come asap and make a decision on something. Turns out, the architect muffed on a step-up on the second floor... it's much too difficult to describe here - as it was hard to visualize when I was looking right at it - but basically, where the architect had something - in reality - it simply could not be there.

So at 8:30 am - I was crawling up a ladder in dress shoes and tie to talk over something with the framer and make a decision within five minutes, so progress could resume. Luckily, I have some sort of ability to visualize how something will look when its finished - so stared at the spot for a couple minutes - got the framers' opinion on it - and we made a decision.

In short - the spot on the second floor where the 9ft/10ft ceiling transitions below on the first floor was about 18 inches off where the architect had it. Thus, the stair in the second floor could not be flush with the hall - its needed to come out 12 inches. In the matter of five minutes, we also figured it would "look" better if we at the same time bumped another wall out further and chopped back the size of the double doors leading to the master bedroom.

So, those reading this blog who are considering building - it pays off to buy the best framer your money can buy... the crew I have been using has already done the following to save from major gaffs:

1 - Discovered, early on, that architect notated a wall plate height wrong (at 9 ft vs. 10 ft) - would have caused days of delays and $$ had he not seen it.

2 - Noticed the concrete crew missed a small footer in the basement - apparently, it is not that big of a deal - he put in extra support and the concrete guys will put the footer in when they pour the basement.

3 - Rejected several large "dirty" and moldy" looking joists - told me he would not put them in his own house - so he's not going to put them in mine. I am guessing many crews would have just put it up to avoid the hassle of waiting for another delivery.

Roof pieces are to be delivered to the site on Monday - so hopefully by the end of next week, we are scheduling the roof/shingle guys and prepping for window delivery.

Naperville was also out and installed the underground electric service - it is not energized yet - but appears their underground work is completed. Nicor Gas is the last utility to be hooked up.

Hopefully any snow holds off - as was out at the site last night and swept/shoveled out the inch that was lying on the first floor - probably the only time in my life I will say I had to go shovel my house.

Lots of progress... by the time I got back to the site at 5 pm, most upper walls were up - front porch is still missing, as is area above garage.

It feels pretty cool to be on the second floor with no walls up - the new house dwarfs its 70-yr-old neighbors.

Looking down into great room - it will not be two story (not a fan of two-story rooms - something cold and uninviting about them) - it will simply have 10-foot ceilings - you can see how the roof will slope up by the missing Tyvek on the left-hand side... that's where the roof will be.

The master bedroom area - I was not there - but apparently they built that large wall on the ground and pushed it up into place!!

Getting ready to put up the foyer wall... where the guy is standing on the "bridge" - that will be the foyer - two-story from the ground up. Where the bald guy is, is bedroom four - otherwise know as grandma/grandpas room - when you have a year to play with the design - I was able to somewhat seclude the guest room from the two kids' rooms.

The master bedroom...

This is the area that caused the problems - its the two kids' rooms - they are raised up because below this area is 10 ft - below all other areas is 9 ft - I originally wanted the step to get to this area to be recessed into the area - but know it has to jut out 12 inches.

Trees that once seemed fairly away from the house are now very close. You can see where I had to trim this tree off already. It's not on my lot - so I really only have "air rights" to take out what is over my space - however, it is large, old - probably 80 years - and not sure if it will survive long term with the shock the foundation dig put on it...

Up goes another wall...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 1/27/2009 8:28:26 AM

Framers were off on Friday - a delay in getting the shipment to the site. Not too big of a deal.

They are still working at a very good clip - the entire first floor is pretty much done - today they started on the joists/LVLs for the second floor... having something above your head certainly gives it more sense of space.

This week's weather looks pretty good - if you call below avg. good - cold, but no snow except for a few passing flurries - temps in the low 20's. Hopefully, substantial progress is made - as hopefully, in two weeks or so, the roof will be on and we won't have to fret the weather anymore.

Lots of lumber - ceiling starting to go on first floor...

The back of the house - sans the second floor...

Steel is set in the garage to support the rooms above it..

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 1/21/2009 8:10:02 PM

What a difference a week makes... dry weather and decent temps. In the matter of three days, the crew has hammered away and basically has 3/4 of the first floor walls up.

I have been making sure to go on site every morning to ensure things are going to be framed out how we want them. So far we are batting 9 out of 10... there was a small error with the height at which they roughed out a couple of the windows in the great room... but I think it is a fairly quick fix; will find out tomorrow morning when I go to the site.

You can really start to get a sense of the space by walking the floor now... that rear patio door is going to be ginormous - as are the 10-foot ceilings. I am glad we scaled back on some of the window sizes a bit... as some of the rough openings are large, even after scaling back... but I think the light it lets in will be awesome.

All in all, this framing crew cost a bit more...but boy, so far, they are worth the price... I have no worries with what they are doing... things look just as desired.

Hopefully more progress tomorrow!

The back wall of the house by the breakfast room contains very little "lumber" - that hole is all patio door. Nearly 10 ft wide and just over 8 ft high!! Plus, there will be two skinny windows (as seen in the angled bumpout) flanking the door. And, there will also be nearly 9 ft of a high-placed awning window on the right... (if you go into a lot of homes on these narrow city lots... these narrow windows, placed high are used heavily... they let in a ton of light, still crank outward, yet, you don't have to see into your neighbor's house or stare at their brick/vinyl/cedar siding). The key is to let a ton of light in through the back of the house.

A view through the front of the house...t he hole in the front is the other patio door that leads to the front porch... the holes in the floor are where the staircase will go...

Just 72 hours ago there was no steel in the basement, no first floor deck, and no first-floor walls. At this rate - the shell of the house may be completed by mid next week (knock on wood). Missing from this picture is the garage framing (to the left) and the porch framing, to the right.

The staircase will be open - the part leading to the basement (the smaller hole) will have no door... railing will be placed along the perimeter leading down. At the last minute, we also placed a narrow awning window in the basement landing (can see at the left edge of photo)... will let in more light in that area... make it feel less like you're going down to a basement.

This is the only "mess up" so far - the headers on those two awning windows should nearly touch the top of the wall... hopefully, tomorrow, they can adjust. You can notice the height difference in the ceiling here. The left of the picture, the wall is shorter... that is the den, where it is a 9-foot ceiling. The great room is 10 ft. The white "hole" in the middle is where the fireplace will reside.

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 1/19/2009 9:41:21 PM

New updates to external blog...


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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 1/4/2009 9:43:55 PM

Progress continues on the teardown in Naperville, IL.

Hope to start framing shortly...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 11/22/2008 7:37:08 AM

Amazing how quick the initial stages progress... excavation and footers completed.


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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 11/14/2008 8:59:11 PM

House in Naperville, IL comes down... finally!!!

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 9/9/2008 8:54:16 AM

External blog updated at following web address...

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 8/21/2008 2:49:34 PM

I am not typing much in here, as I am keeping an external blog... another update has been posted there.  Below are the basic elevation and floorplans.


Front Elevation
First Floor
Second Floor

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 7/28/2008 9:24:58 PM

Updated entry at:

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Posted to Naperville-Webster-St by Patrick in Naperville, IL on 2/12/2008 10:27:37 AM

Custom home construction in the northern section of downtown Naperville -- utilizing UBuildIt to aid in the process.

External blog:

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