Job Diary - Seventh Month of Construction
I didn't think there would be a seventh month. I feel good about it, though, because we have gone the extra mile to make everything as beautiful and long lasting as possible within our budget. We are pretty surprised by the high quality we managed to get for our cabinets, hardwood, paint, tile, woodwork, appliances, and carpet. Even things like our fence and rock wall were worth the extra time and money. The brick job is outstanding and the overall effect makes us think that going past six months is no big deal.
One thing about the brick that worried me was that it looks more orange than the sample we decided on last year. The salesman told us that you take a risk of color variation with brick because the clay is quarried from different sections of the quarry at different times. Jessica says it looks good enough.
The paint job in the house is going to be three tone, a terrific bargain for the money, except for two bedrooms, the powder room, and the utility room. The painter thinks he'll be finished next Tuesday or Wednesday. The three tone is a flat white ceiling, darker walls, and glossy white woodwork.
Right now, the cabinets are scheduled for next Thursday. The carpet people said they could either come on Monday the 30th, or on Monday, May 7th. We won't be ready on the first date, but almost, so I had to go to the second choice. I believe that after that we can occupy the house.
The cabinets, by the way came from a referral from my lumber salesman. He was a very resourceful guy who gave us lots of suggestions because he knows the industry, and because he is owner-building right now, too.
They insulated the attic of the house today. This leaves the basement to insulate, which we'll do last. I can't believe that we'll have an R-factor of 20 in the walls, and of 40 in the ceilings. We went and looked at a pretty nice model home a few weeks ago, and they said R of 11 in the walls and 20 in the ceiling. This house is extremely tight, and the sun warms it up great even though it's cold outside. With the rising energy costs in the country, we are going to be glad we did this.
I'm debating whether to do my own finish plumbing. My plumber wants quite a bit for it, and we are down to considering each additional cost carefully. I talked with the plumber's assistant working on my friend Hugh's house across the street to see if he wanted to moonlight it. Then he mentioned in his class at the junior college that he might do a job across the street from where he was working now, and the teacher was my plumber. So my plumber asks him if he is working at Hugh's house, and he says, Yes, how did you know?'
The next thing is that his boss gets a call from my plumber, and then the boss pays me a visit and says he's sorry, but I can't talk to his people any more. I can't believe the brotherhood in that business.
Another story about plumbing was that I went down to price my plumbing parts at the distributor, and the salesman was very helpful and let me buy under my friend's name who has had an account for years. When I left, he told me not to talk to plumbers about buying direct because he is a wholesaler and makes his money selling to them. "But they'll understand if you need to explain that you got the church friend' discount."
On the electrical, my friend John the electrician is coming back next Wednesday to check my work and show me what to do to finish up. The day after that he leaves for spring break from college, so time will be short. One of the things we know we have to do is that we missed a line into the laundry room.
It rained today, and my basement flooded and I didn't find out about it until very late, because I decided to go into work. The stucco guy evidently removed my flood control countermeasures that I put in because the big stone lined window well is wide open back there. There was some water on some of the doors we had in the basement for painting. I hope no permanent damage.
I believe that rain gutters will solve this problem, and they go in next Tuesday.
I have to build those temporary stairs from the master bedroom and kitchen to the backyard, and I found on Hometime.com a nice tutorial on building stairs. They explain the formula for calculating rise and run and how to cut your stringers. I am planning to go in with a friend on Wednesday and get it done. I am planning to anchor pieces of redwood permanently to the side of the house and attach the stairs to them. They will be built with screws so they can be taken apart easily, and our permanent deck will attach to the same redwood later.
No damage to the doors, I got it cleaned up.
Yesterday the rain gutters went on, looks great. The whole roof, soffit and fascia and gutter are very nice and give us the look we wanted.
The electrician came and could only stay a while so I had to postpone the stairs until Saturday and do all the outlets and switches I could today. I am going to use John's younger brother Jase for a day, maybe Saturday to do some of this finish electrical. He is the guy they use for that on their crew and is very fast.
I am frustrated about the cabinet guys. I needed that in today and tomorrow because the countertop people are coming Monday. But they didn't show, and didn't return my calls. I have repeatedly confirmed these two days with them for installation.
The painting is finished and it's stunning, but quite a bit darker than I thought the walls would be. I had Jessica come out and look it over. The painter said that it would be a little lighter when it fully dried. Jessica liked it and said that with the light wood floors and all the windows, it will look right.
We hope the cabinet guys are here tomorrow. It is possible to get them in in one day, I guess. We're going to have granite tile countertop in the kitchen, travertine tile counter in the master bath, and a basic counter in the kids bath. No tile there because of the problems we'd have cleaning toothpaste and other spills from the grout. Those are the plans if the cabinets are in!
What's left as we come to our next to last weekend is grout in kids bath, finish electrical and finish plumbing, refinish the floor for a final, countertops, temporary stairs, carpet goes in a week from Monday. They will insulate the basement last. What am I forgetting?
The cabinet people were supposed to come Thursday, they came Friday and were here all day today (Saturday). They work very fast and do beautiful work. Jessica came out with Emma and we watched cabinet progress through the day while I started building two sets of back stairs with a friend and finished the bath tile with Johnny. We were surprised by a couple of things. The cabinets don't reach all the way down the kitchen wall to the breakfast nook like I thought, though they come close. The island is a little smaller than Jessica thought. But the depth of cherry stain and the gorgeous finish honestly surprised us in a good way.
We tore off some paper from the hardwood floor and studied the look of the cabinets against the floor and wall colors. We were both happy with it.
My friend's wife worked along quietly today finishing out electrical outlets and smoke detector boxes. We got a lot done. Emma was a little restless, thought she wanted to play in the back yard, but didn't really take to it until her cousins came over, and they played in the backyard dirt for an hour, until she was well worn out.
Rich brought over several loads of dirt and used it to shore up the fence line because the vinyl fence was sagging a little there. The dirt dropped off too steeply to give it a good base, but it should be all right now.
It's all a balancing act at this point. The cabinets are a nightmare, I've got to say. They are beautiful, but we want to get into this house, and we can't get the cabinets finished. They told me that they would be out there today for sure, but they didn't show. There are trims, changes, box sizes to correct, crown molding to install, lights to put in the hutches. The kids bathroom vanity isn't right and it's sitting in the neighboring bedroom on it's side waiting for changes.
Meanwhile, I've been reminding the countertop guys repeatedly that I would need them tomorrow, but we're not at all ready for them, so I have to postpone them. I'm also looking for a single piece unit of marbleglass or something to cover the kids bath vanity that's indestructible. If I don't find it, we'll have the guys do tile there. Monday they're supposed to install carpet. It's been delivered and is sitting in the garage.
I put halogen bulbs 50 watt long life in all of the can lights today.. They cost me $4 apiece and put out 530 lumens.
I finally wore down my plumber by trying to get things finished and telling him that I've basically run out of money. He is busy building his own house, so he came up with the idea of sending out his apprentice to do the finish plumbing at only $20 an hour. The apprentice can work in the evenings, and use the company truck. I'm free to buy my own fixtures at whatever savings I can.
Probably this weekend we'll tear out the paper they used to protect the wood floor during painting. Then I'll put down strips of paper for people to walk on. The hardwood guys (who are also doing tile and carpet) are going to provide us with one more finish coat of sealer on the wood. We'll probably do that next week.
My friend at the plumbing supply house found the sink Jessica wanted. He started calling their stores around the state, nobody had it, and then he located one back east and got it for me for $210 plus $30 shipping. We needed it for the countertop guys so they could see what kind of opening it would require on the island. The sink has one big bowl for washing and another smaller bowl for disposal and rinsing. The higher quality brushed stainless sinks like this have sharper angles at the corner of the bowls. The cheaper ones are simply rounded.
Electricians John and his brother Jase were supposed to stop in tonight to fix two lights that we found don't work. Only problem is, the remodel they were working on had a fire, and all the work has to be redone. I'm telling you, it's "so close and yet so far away".
I'm having trouble scheduling the shower glass people. I wonder if you have to absolutely have that installed to pass final inspection. We are doing really temporary stairs off the back to satisfy inspection requirements. I'll probably use scrap plywood for the landings.
I heard an ad on the radio today for an "owner-builder service" where they hold your hand while you build and take equity out of your project for the service. They supposedly "interview" a couple of their customers for this radio ad, but I suspect it's actors doing the talking. Anyway, one lady says, "It was so easy." That's got to be false advertising. Then they ask her "Did we help you much?" and she says, "Oh, yes!" "How?" "My concrete guy wouldn't show up and you gave them a call for me and they came right out." Lady, if that's the only problem you have...
Not only did the cabinet guy not show up today, holding everything else up, but he won't return my phone calls. Everybody has caller ID now. I find people won't return calls when they know they are supposed to be doing something.
It was pretty easy to get good prices, I found out at another plumbing supply company I went to. Standard Plumbing. They just entered my account as "Lehi Plumber" in the system, because that's where we are building. Overall, it looks like I'm going to spend $1,000 for faucets and brass (all Moen Monticellos), $300 for water heaters, $500 for sinks, $300 for toilets (three of them). My garbage disposal about $100. Plus labor. I have $2,400 left in that category.
Appliances were supposed to come today, maybe tomorrow. All these delays. Interest is costing me $50 a day now.
We have samples of the tile we chose for our countertop and backsplash in the kitchen. It's granite, and the backsplash is called "Absolute black". The countertop is "Sapphire brown." The price on the tile work is $18 a square foot.
We chose the undercabinet lights for the kitchen. John Bankhead recommended fluorescent units as the best thing for work lights or task lights. He put them in a $3 million house he worked on. We are getting 24 inch units, the longest that can fit under. They aren't decorative like halogens, but you can't see them, and they give good cool light for $30 apiece.
I walked out on the front porch today and took a long look at the view straight ahead. You can see our county's biggest mountain, Timpanogos clear as day. Since there's a street running that way, our view can never be blocked. I just wanted a reminder of what I'm doing this all for.
Speaking of that, it would have been smart to put blocking in the eaves of the house over the front porch for a swing that Emma could enjoy in the future, if we ever get in the place.
Still no word from the cabinet guys.
We love our new appliances, brushed stainless and black colors. A very good deal at R.C. Willey's.
Some friends and relatives came over today and did a super job of cleaning the windows. They peeled off all the construction labels and used razor blades to take off anything sticky and any dots of spackle or paint. Then they cleaned with windex and a squeegee.
We just want to be in this house.
Again we were supposed to have electricians here tonight to do some things that I can't figure out on my own. Maybe tomorrow night, they said.
Countertop guys came out this morning to look things over. There is a misunderstanding. We were supposed to put plywood on top of the places where they are going to tile. Another delay. I called my uncle, and he came right over and got it all done today.
Carpet guys were supposed to come today, but will be here tomorrow.
One of the things about owner-building that I have discovered is that you feel rich in the beginning and poor at the end.
Carpet guys came and laid all the carpet that was stored in the garage, but ran out. They will be back next Monday to finish.
The electricians came today, but just for a short time. I took off work all day to get the can lights all finished. John and Jase climbed in the attic to fix a couple of problem lights.
Yesterday they fixed the cabinets, put in the crown molding and all the missing parts. Kids bath vanity is in. We are completely ready for countertops. Now, of course, we can't get the countertop guys back out. The plumber came yesterday, but he can't put in any sinks without countertop, and it's going to need to be completely tiled and grouted first.
Any hitch at the end can completely delay you. Right now we've got electrical problems in the master bath and still need the electricians. They finished up their remodel rework, but now John is sick. Today I went ahead and put in the fluorescents in the laundry room, the bathroom lights and fans, and the ceiling fans.
Our house faces east. We like it because of the good view, but I think it might be the best for a house to face south.
I am putting blank covers over electrical boxes I haven't done yet like light fixtures in closets, so we can move in.
I was cutting stringers to put in the temporary porches and stairs with my friend today when I stopped and said, "Why am I doing this? I could pay someone $100 to do these stairs." They took all day, and will take some more days to finish. I don't care about them at all. We will rip them out shortly after we occupy and put in a permanent deck.
There are so many details. To tell you the truth, I am so sick and tired of trying to finish this house that I could just scream.
Cabinets have been a particular problem. They are notorious for delaying people. All cabinets. In our case they delayed us two and a half weeks. I wanted to be in long ago. I have given up setting goals. By the way, I have probably lost 20 pounds and an awful lot of sleep doing this.