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Posted to Keener-Road by Jennifer in Elizabethtown, PA on 3/11/2009

Well... it's March and it seems like it's going sooo slow, though everyone who visits comments on how fast it's going... guess they are not waiting to move in like I am! Harry, my better half, says that we will be starting to paint bedrooms this weekend. Now that is very exciting. We have been spackling, drywalling fools! Pictures are attached (I hope.)

I also added our Excel spreadsheet, it has four worksheets on it that get increasingly more detailed. I just kept playing with it 'til I found something that worked for me, the final worksheet did... the worksheet, labeled "room-to-room" is what I presented to our lender, and it really won him over that I knew exactly what everything would cost... basically what I did was price EVERYTHING (well, almost) on Home Depot's website. I could have built a Home Depot home with that budget, then the name of the game was to get better quality, cheaper... as a result, except for things like drywall tape and the fan/light combo for the bathrooms, I have bought everything elsewhere... I have found amazing bargains.

This home will be very high quality and as you can see, we are basically building a 1,600 sq. ft. ranch (with only a crawl space - that's the downer) for $75K. Not too shabby. I have made a small career out of bargain shopping! I could write a book about all the deals I found. DO NOT underestimate eBay. I bought lights/fans/closet organizers... oh - too much to write on eBay always doing my homework to make sure that even with shipping and handling it was saving me money. I literally spent at least four hours every day from October to February shopping for deals... two very good ones: I bought a $12,000 kitchen for $1,800 from a photo studio that puts sets together to shoot kitchens for magazines! I had a friend on the inside for that one, but it was unexpected. Also bought $4/sq. ft. ceramic tile for $.71/sq. ft. at, of all places, Carpet Mart, back in their bargain racks... I have learned to be diligent. I went over budget for lights (they were worth it) and where I priced pine doors for my lender, I bought Knotty Alder. But I could do this, since I keep saving so much everywhere else...


Husband and brother-in-law spackling...
Friend, Krista scraping the drywall after the first coat.
Drywall is finally over the wall that that was part of the existing structure... I did this wall MYSELF! GIRL POWER!!
Me balancing dangerously on ladders fastening the drywall... this is what NOT to do.

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Posted to Keener-Road by Jennifer in Elizabethtown, PA on 2/20/2009

Well, here we are again, it's nearing the end of February and I haven't written since July...

On 8/5/08 we went to settlement on our dream 27 acres in Lancaster County, PA. We dealt briefly with squatters (it's true), and then moved in with my brother-in-law, who lives just minutes from the property. That way we're close. By 9/5/08 we were able to start demolition on a 70-ft. trailer that was already there. That was done within three weeks (by us) and our footers/block started on Oct. 6th. Beside the fact that the cement-truck guy poured too much cement in one spot, and we had to wade in to spread it around in the footer, there was nothing really exciting about the footers...

Framing went SO fast that for us first-timers, we thought we'd be all done and moved in the next few weeks... NOT! Anyway! Fast forward to today, 2/20 and we have the drywall 90% done. We're exhausted, working full-time, raising two kids - and I go to college full-time. It's trying... oh, well!



Footers, and first day of stone. The good looking guy is my hubby.
A little framing makes a difference... good picture to see how it's attaching to the existing garage.
View from hallway into what will be the dining room; plastic is covering entrance way to living room, which is in existing structure.
Start of the chimney in living room (this part was here, we are gutting and re-drywalling, etc.)
Ceiling drywalled - the insulators came in the next day to blow the insulation in, and do the exterior walls. Maybe we won't freeze our butts off now!

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Posted to Keener-Road by Jennifer in Elizabethtown, PA on 7/8/2008

Great News!!

Harry called the septic guy for Lancaster County and explained what we were wanting to do. The gentleman told Harry that as long as we're just taking away the trailer and adding no more than three bedrooms, that we have the green light... that was it! No inspection! I am very happy about that.

We're waiting on the GC who will be doing the following, to come back with a bid: excavating, block, concrete, electric, installing windows and doors (that we'll purchase) roofing, siding, and insulation. I will be double-checking that bid with two others.

We're in charge of plumbing, flooring, windows/doors (purchase), drywall, trim, and cabinetry/appliances, etc.

Still very nervous and waiting for someone to tell us that we can't do this. We are remodeling 496 sf, and building 1,003 new - total cost/sq. ft. equals out to about $50... avg. cost in Lancaster County for new construction is $153/sf. I am not sure how to figure the cost for the remodeling part.

I'm attaching our floor plan. We've made a few changes to this -- but I don't have them uploaded yet. Also - ignore the diagonal lines... I do not know why they printed out!


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Posted to Keener-Road by Jennifer in Elizabethtown, PA on 7/4/2008

As of this very moment -- Harry and I are one month from settlement on 26 acres in the middle of what he terms, "white-tail paradise." It is happening way too fast! We were simply in the middle of "looking" when Harry spotted this property FSBO. That was three weeks ago, and three days ago we rec'd the agreement of sale back... signed. We were supposed to stay here in our townhouse; the same one we've lived in for 9 years, as we built equity into the land and eventually built; BUT the appraisal came in so nicely that we are building right away.

Instead of having 50% budget for land and 50% budget for the house, we just spent 90% on the land and only have 10% left for the house. I went from a 3,000+ sf dream house to a starter rancher that will be 1,493 sf. That's OK, because the land is what we're truly ecstatic over. And that little rancher is going to be to die for!! Now, how to build this house in budget and on time?

In our favor: the property has an OLD trailer on it that we will haul away, but, the seller had added an addition less than 10 years ago that consisted of a kitchen, laundry, bath and what will be our daughters' bedrooms... we are gutting that and adding less than 1,000 sq. ft. Our framing costs and plumbing will be lower than we were initially expecting.

I am so thankful (and so is Harry) that I've been researching this for over a year now. Unfortunately, I don't have 1,000 hours of planning in. I think I am only 1/5 of the way to those hours. If I had never read that one piece of advice I may have went for it. But I honestly don't have enough time into the planning. Just enough to be dangerous! We have decided to hire a GC for excavating/footers/framing. He's a long-time friend and we feel we can trust him. We will sub out the rest and that will fall to me. I am waiting on his bid, and even though he is a friend, I will double check, particularly his "block-guy's" bid. I don't know him, and I am sure the GC isn't going to get more than one estimate if this is "his guy."

I can't sleep. I can't work. I haven't cleaned our house since this started. I CAN still eat... unfortunately! :) I'm fairly certain I have exhausted friend and family on this subject matter. Cool thing: due to this process, the GC that will start this off for us said that he had never seen plans as complete as mine. The floor plans and individual room detail (plus 3D pics that I'll post when I can.) That was awesome.

The well/septic/utilities are already there on site due to the trailer. Harry has already started the process with the township to be sure septic will be OK (we feel good that it will be, as it was built "oversized" and sometime in the early 90's - also Harry called local septic guy who knew the place and the system and he felt strongly it will be okay. We have to wait until Tuesday for the main septic guy to be talked to.)

Well, I'm not a very exciting writer at this late hour. I was just reviewing The Owner-Builder Book and wanted to journal this process somewhere... Also, encouragement and/or advice is more than appreciated if anyone feels the urge...

I'll be baaacckk... JEN

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