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5th Month of Construction

Job Diary - Fifth Month of Construction


I am at a stalemate with my framer. He hasn't cashed the check we sent him, which would involve a release of lien. His lawyer wrote us a letter claiming that we were somehow at fault for his three weeks of delay on the job. I had a friend who is a lawyer and also an owner-builder write him a letter outlining our position and responding to the issues his lawyer raised in his letter.

The doors are now mostly in on the inside. My uncle has done superb work in there. His joints are so flush around the door frames that they don't even look like they need any caulk. The MDF moldings we are using are so straight they are really nice and uniform. It helps that we had such a good job of sheetrock in the house. Other than a couple of the arches that needed touching up, the sheetrocking was very good.

The MDF moldings we got from a company in Ogden called Specialized Trim. We got 6" base moldings, for example, that are 3/4" thick for 79 cents a linear foot. It's beautiful stuff. My uncle is doing the labor on the finish carpentry for under $1,500 which is pretty darned good for a 2,000 square foot job. He doesn't have to do cabinets, because the cabinet supplier will install their own, also for a very competitive price.

With the doors a fair amount of shelving that's in already, we'll start to spackle the nail holes in a couple of days. We decided to do our own painting because we are getting behind on our budget. The spackling is going to be pretty easy I think. My painting consultant friend showed us a product for spackling the holes called One Touch or something, by Dap, I think, that you just fill in the hole and don't even have to sand. He also recommended a caulking gun that when you relax your grip, it stops pushing out caulk so you don't waste any caulk. My neighbor who is a contractor has a high powered sprayer he offered for our use, so we are confident about saving money on painting. I'm looking at paints with very high acrylic content that we can get at about $11 a gallon which will give us a very nice job.


The dirt pile on the south side of the lot has been bothering me, with nothing to keep it from sliding onto the neighbor's land. We slope pretty dramatically from lot to lot on this street. I have about 165 feet that need some retaining, with levels probably going to about 5 feet high. My dirt guy was in between jobs, and agreed to do it for $2,800 with a really attractive natural stone wall. Since even a block wall priced out at $4,000, I decided to bite the bullet and have him do it. He started moving right away.


While I was shopping in Salt Lake with Jessica today, one of my friends came in and spackled all the nail holes in the trim carpentry that my uncle has done, about half of the house. It was nice, but not exactly what I wanted, because I was going to use a new kind of spackling that needs no sanding. I called him and told him about the new spackle after we got home, and he said he intended to come back and sand anyway. I'm concerned about the MDF trim pieces, because I don't want them to look "roughed" by sandpaper.


I was hoping to put down my own hardwood floors but I think I'll steer away from that. My friend Bob Brockbank can put them in for me for a price of $2.75 total, which is fantastic. I'm getting too busy to do something like that which is a very good deal without my help. The sanding and finishing will take the floor cost to $3.75. I'm having to help out more at home with Jessica very sick right now. It's even more important to find deals like this that I don't have to do personally.

The sequence on our finish work is going to be to finish up the base, case and moldings, then put down hardwood floor, then do the painting, and then hang the cabinets. Since we are putting down unfinished floor, we can protect it and do our painting without too much worry, since we'll sand it and finish it after.


My friend came back and sanded in the morning and in the afternoon I had three guys doing caulking, the friend, my brother-in-law Johnny, and my father-in-law. They are actually pretty good and the lines are coming out smooth. I can't believe how well fitted the trim work in the house is. My uncle is possibly the most meticulous craftsman we've had working on the place.

While we were caulking, my framer came in and walked around a little nervously. I knew this was "showdown time" and I asked my friend to join us. We talked for about a half hour and got all our grievances out on the table, and then we settled the amount owed. He said he planned to file a lien on Monday morning, but we addressed both of our concerns, and I compromised on the amount to pay him. He accepted the settlement and agreed to come out and do a few annoying things that were in need of attention. That's a load off my mind.


My father-in-law has continued to help throughout the week to get the caulking and spackling finished off. He recently retired and is very good at all the handyman skills. He even helped me get my truck started the other day by installing a new starter. With Jessica sick, it has been a great help to have her Mom and Dad around.

Today we finally caught up completely to the finish carpenter. There are thousands of nail holes in the house, but all the holes and seams are ready for priming. I had to let go of another task, though, and let somebody else spray paint the house. It's obvious to me that the painting is more time consuming and needs a steadier hand than I can do. This guy is a family friend, and we'll get a good deal and a good job, I'm sure.


End of this week or start of next we'll have concrete. Another guy who is a friend/neighbor will come and do the driveway and the walks. That will help to keep things clean in the house. There's nothing worse than rainy weather when you're building and the mud mess that gets tracked in.

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