Deck Railing Built

August 12, 2010

I was able to spend the last few days that I had off building the deck railings. They turned out great! Now I just have to find some time to waterproof it before winter. Other then that we are still working on unpacking everything. My question is, where did we get all this junk?

Moving Day!

August 8, 2010

WOW what a day. We spent most of the day loading up the moving truck. We made one trip and was able to get most of the big items moved and unloaded. All that is left in the apartment is a bunch of small items, it should only take a few trips in my truck.

Once we get everything out of the apartment we have the chore of cleaning and repainting it. Also good news, when we showed up at the house today, Comcast was there hooking up our cable! We can watch tv tonight!!

Adair Open House

August 7, 2010

Adair had their open house today. As an incentive for allowing them to show off the house, they cleaned it from top to bottom for us. I think it was a good deal because boy was it dirty and dusty!

Both of us had to work so we couldn’t make it out there while the open house was going on, however It sounds like they had several people show up. Hopefully those that did stop by liked all of the aspects of our house and I hope that we helped Adair make a sale or two. Tomorrow is the big moving day! We both took it off from work and I will be picking up the moving truck early tomorrow morning. We are thinking that we should be able to fit all the big stuff in the truck and make one trip. Well off to bed, tomorrow is going to be a big day!

Few people at the open house.

We got the Certificate of Occupancy in the mail today! Its official, we hold it in our hand, the house is DONE! Now we can submit it to the IRS so we can get the $8000 tax credit!

Justin and I spent the weekend finishing up the deck by putting the cedar lumber on the top. It turned out to be a lot of work, however it was much easier then the damn retaining wall. I think it turned out perfect. We only need to add the railings and stain it but that can wait until we are all moved in.

Yesterday I called for the final inspection since we got all of the missing items taken care of. The inspector (Jim) showed up right at 8AM, he checked on the few items he noted last week. Everything looked good to him. He signed us off and congratulated us and said it turned out great.

I will take a moment here to say; everyone at the City of Albany Building Department was awesome to work with. They were incredibly helpful and responded quickly to any question I had. I think I emailed them about 30 times during the course of this project with simple questions about the requirements for the deck, retaining wall, driveway and our low voltage wiring. Each reply was friendly and contained all the information I needed. Thank you Jim Alexander, Ray McGinty and Randy Peppers, you looked over every detail of this job and made sure nothing was missed.

 

Deck is done!

The sign we needed to put on the water main.

Driveway Done

August 2, 2010

Two days ago Mid Valley Gravel came back and spent the day cleaning up the driveway so it could be paved. They laid several more truck loads of gravel and really compacted it down. The surface was so smooth when they were done.

Here is another example of the great work Mid Valley Gravel did. They installed cast iron covers over the sewer clean outs and also added extra gravel to the parking area next to the garage because they thought it would look better that way. They went out of their way and did more then expected to assure that the final product would look good.

Today Holderman Paving laid the asphalt for our driveway. It took them less then a day and it turned out wonderful, it’s nice and shiny and black! It adds a finished touch to front of the house.

Driveway Done!

Driveway looking towards the garage.

This morning I was out at the house finishing up some clean up and getting ready for the building inspection next week. We still have to put the top on the deck and pave the driveway before we can have the final inspection. To my surprise, the building inspector, Jim Alexander, showed up shortly after I got there. Apparently Adair called for the final inspection early so they can fix anything that was not up to par before the open house they had planed.

The inspector did a quick walk through and listed off the few items that we had to finish.

What we have left:

  • Pave driveway
  • Finish deck
  • Build a step going from the garage to the house because the garage floor is more then 8 inches from the inside floor.
  • Build a landing outside of the garage man door so you don’t step in the mud.
  • Get a placard that says the house has a fire sprinkler system installed and post it on the main water turn off valve.

Trim Done

July 26, 2010

Over the last several days the finish contractor has been here installing the white craftsman trim. We think that the white trim really added a finished look to the rooms and really made the darker painted rooms pop.

The finish carpenter did amazing work, he took great care in making sure all the cuts lined up and to cover over every nail hole or seam with filler. The finished work looks fabulous.

Columns at the entry way.

Dining room trim

Deck Frame Built

July 24, 2010

Now that the retaining wall is filled in with dirt, its time to build the back deck. Justin and I spent the last two days digging the holes and pouring the cement for the deck footings as well as building the frame for the deck.

We learned that since we are building the deck at the same time as the house we have to build it and have it approved by the building inspector. This means we have to build it to the same standards as the house is built to, which in turn means we have to have the footings inspected and then have the framing inspected before we could put the top on it. We thought this was a little ridiculous because when the deck is done it will only be about 10 inches above the ground. Oh well, its securely anchored to the house and has 4 ft deep footings under each post. It’s not going anywhere!

One good thing I learned from the building inspector, deck railings are required if the deck is more then a certain distance from top to ground below. Since our deck is built on top of the retaining will that we filled in with dirt, they measure from the top of the deck to the top of the dirt inside the wall, not the actual ground around the wall. This means that our deck is only 10 inches above “grade” so we technically we don’t need a railing to pass inspection. We are going to build one but we don’t need to have it done to get our occupancy permit.

Back deck all framed.

Back deck all framed.

The electrician and the plumber were here today and finished the wiring and installed all the plumbing fixtures. We now have lights we can use in every room! This would have been nice when we were painting. Using only a portable halogen light was kind of a pain!

Countertop Installed

July 21, 2010

The counter top company was here today and installed the granite in the kitchen and the Livingstone in the bathrooms. We stopped by this evening to take a look at the progress and to take a few pictures. The granite looks amazing. The light colored granite made the darker colored kitchen look not so dark.

Kitchen granite installed.

Front Porch Built

July 20, 2010

Tonight Justin and I tried our hand at building a small front porch. I wanted to try this before we started on the back deck. All in all it turned out well. It’s well secured to the foundation, and very stable. The only problem we had was the colored wood sealer left brush strokes. I think when we do the back deck we wont be using the colored sealer and stick with a clear wood protector.

Front porch done but not water proofed

Front porch waterproofed

Flooring Installed

July 15, 2010

The last few days have been pretty exciting. Mid Valley Gravel finished the sewer line and made plans to come back in a week or so to get the driveway ready for the asphalt. We can now check off the sewer from the owner to do list. All that is left is the driveway and the landing. We are going to do a simple porch on the front and a 15ft X 20ft cedar deck on the back. We built the retaining wall so that once we filled in behind it the deck can be built on top. Warren is going to come out in a few days and help move the dirt around that Mid Valley Gravel gave us and also grade the yard area.

Lastly, the flooring folks were here today and started laying carpet and the hard wood. It’s finally all coming together! The great news is the flooring looks great with the cabinets and the paint color!

Still left on the to do list; build the front porch, install counter tops, finish the electrical and plumbing, build the back deck, and install the trim. We are shooting to be done by the end of the month so Adair can have an open house and then we can move in during the first part of August.

Hardwood flooring in the kitchen.

Sewer Excavation

July 12, 2010

So at 7am this morning I got a call from the Forman that is handling our sewer job. He said sorry for the short notice but we want to start at 8am today. I of course said sure go ahead! We are extremely relieved that this project is going to be done in a few days and for $1,000 less then we originally planed!

After seeing thie work they did today, we are very impressed with Mid Valley Gravel. I recommend them for any sort of excavation work big or small. They were friendly, went above and beyond what was expected. They even gave us about 15 dump truck loads of dirt from a near by jobsite for free. Now we don’t have to pay for fill dirt to fill in behind the retaining wall!

Digging up the road to get to the sewer main line. It was about 15 foot down there.

More and more digging to get to the sewer main.

Sewer main tapped and road repaved. Man they were quick!

Cabinets Installed

July 11, 2010

After the cabinets were delivered the other day the installer came in yesterday and started installing them. It only took him two days to get them all hung. They look amazing if I do say so!

One of our main concerns was the combination of the dark paint, dark flooring and dark cabinets. After seeing the cabinets up against the paint our concerns about the kitchen being to dark is considerably less. Now we just have to wait until the floor and lighting are installed before we say for sure that the dark color was a good idea.

One thing I have not talked about on here was the drama we have been going through in regards to our sewer line installation. I guess now would be a good time to go into that.

Starting when Warren (excavator) was planning this job (December 2009), he said that the sewer line was something that he could not do because he works on his own and to construct the tap on the sewer main would require flaggers, and shoring due to the facts that they would have to dig 15 ft down in the middle of a busy road to get to the city main line. Warren did however know a guy that he had worked with in the past that could do the work. Warren set up a meeting with us and the guy he knew from a company called HPS Construction out of Cornelius. We agreed on the work and the price and that was that. The price was the same as originally quoted as by the original excavator.

That brings us to now. The house is nearing completion and the only two major owner to do’s are the driveway and the sewer line. The sewer line has to be done before the driveway can be paved.

Here is where the drama begins; about 10 days ago I got a voicemail from HPS Construction. I was instantly relieved that this task would soon be done. However that was not the case. As I listened to the voicemail the guy simply said, “I am no longer able to do your job, Sorry”. I almost passed out! Here we are, about a month a way from being completed, and the one big project that was left is now not going to be done. I was furious, not necessarily because he said he couldnt do the job but more because he has known about this project since December 2009 and just 4 weeks away from it being done, he out of the blue, says he cant do the work. It would have been much better if he would have told us a few months ago that it would not work out. Now I am stuck trying to find a new excavator in the next week or risk having everything Significantly delayed. Thank you HPS Construction for my near heart attack.

I immediately called Warren to seek his advice. He suggested I start calling local companies and see what they can do. I grabbed the phone book and called everyone listed in excavation. Out of the 15 or so companies listed, 2 said they could do the work. Over the last few days I met with them at the site, one emailed me a quote that was double what the original quote was. When I saw that I think I had a mini heart attack. The original quote was for $12,000 and the new bid was for $21,000. We had the $12,000 in the owner to do budget but where in the world am I going to find $10,000! The other company never called me back.

Thinking this cant be my only option, I took a shot in the dark and called Mid valley Gravel (the company that brought close 100 truck loads of gravel for the driveway and house site) thinking they would know who the excavators are in town. I told them my dilemma and asked if they knew of any other companies around that could do that work. The very nice guy I talked to said, he does but their company is able and wiling to do it. I met him at the house the next day and he did a few measurements and said he would get back to me in a day.

Sure enough, he called me the next morning. The first thing he said was “I am sorry this is a little more then I expected”. I asked him for the quote thinking it can’t be worst then $21,000. He gave me the price of $11,000. I was kind of thrown that the price was less then the original quote. The first thing I said was “When can you do it”. He said it was a small job that they can fit in between another job just up the street from mine but he couldn’t give me a date other then they would give me 24 hours notice when they would start. Now we have our fingers crossed that they can start soon!

So if anyone is looking for excavation work around the mid valley. Mid Valley Gravel is the place to go and stay far far away from HPS Construction!

Kitchen cabinets installed

Fixture Delivery

July 9, 2010

During the last two days Adair delivered all the parts for the interior of the house. It was very cool to see all the parts filling the downstairs and garage. We took a trip out and looked at the cabinets and floor color with painted rooms. To our relief it appears that all the colors look great with each other. Starting Saturday the finish carpenter should start installing the cabinets. This project is finally showing signs of coming to an end!

Fixture delivery! Lots of cool stuff. Everything to finish inside the house

Fully Painted

July 6, 2010

After several days the interior is now painted! Aside from a few little areas where we need to touch up it’s done! The room that gave us the most trouble was the bonus room. Our idea was to paint the room a bright fun color, we chose a bright red. When we started spraying it on, it didn’t cover at all. The white primer showed thought and it looked horrible! After 4 coats of paint it still didn’t cover. We came to the conclusion that it was the paint, for this and two of the other rooms we went with Olympic paint which was the cheaper brand compared to the Valspar that we used in all the rest of the rooms. We bought two more gallons of Behr paint and gave that a shot, this time we rolled it on. This new paint went on so much better, after two more coats it looked almost perfect but there were still a few spots that were light. After one more gallon we got it all covered and it looked great. All in all, it took us about 7 days of painting

Painting, Not so good

June 29, 2010

We checked the paint we put on last night and it didn’t look very good. The sprayer didn’t put a very even coat on and the primer was starting to show through. After several tests we found out that the problem was we didn’t thin the paint enough. After getting the paint to the right viscosity the paint went on smooth and coated very well. This made us very happy, we continued painting through the evening. We ended up getting most of the downstairs done, going to touch up and move upstairs in the next few days.

First Coat Of Color

June 28, 2010

After not being able to see the sprayed on primer we were hoping that spraying the color would work. Tonight we tried our hand at the downstairs painting. The brown went on and we could actually see it covering. We finished the family room and decided to call it a night and see how well it looks in the day light. It was very hard to see even while using the halogen lights we had so we figured we should wait till day light to see how well it worked before painting the whole thing.

Primer Coat

June 26, 2010

We attempted to spray our primer coat today and we learned that we are not able to see the sprayed on white primer on top of the white drywall. Plan B is to roll the primer and spray the color. We stayed out at the house till about 1 AM priming and priming and priming. We got most of the downstairs done. Tomorrow we will start the upstairs and then move to color!

Sheetrock Done

June 24, 2010

Today they finished the sheetrock. Now we get to start painting. I know this wont be as big of project as the retaining wall, or at least I hope. The plan is to spray the primer and color and we are thinking it shouldn’t take more then a week. Luckily the sheet rock crew left all the paper on the floor and most of the windows taped so there won’t be much prep work we will need to do. The best part is there is no trim or cabinets, flooring or appliances to paint around or over. Fingers crossed for an easy process.

Interior Paint

June 20, 2010

We spent the last few days testing and looking over paint samples for the interior. As of tonight we now have 50 gallons of paint and primer sitting in the garage just waiting to be applied to the walls. To make painting simpler we chose one main color (light brown) for the downstairs and up the stairs and the upstairs hallway. We picked a peach color for the master suite and a light yellow for the downstairs utility room and bathroom, the upstairs bathroom and the middle bedroom. We are using a blue gray and a light green for the other two bedrooms and for the bonus room we picked a bright red so that the room will be bright and fun. I placed a photo of the colors below.

Paint colors. Click to enlarge

Wow, our great wall is done! This was the biggest project either of us have ever taken on. The work required to haul all the blocks around was near backbreaking, the sun didn’t help much, both of us have our share of sun burns but now we can say it is DONE! The only thing left we have to do is grade the area around it and fill in behind the wall with dirt. That will be done in a few weeks, for now its break time till we have to paint the interior.

Back of the retaining wall. It was a lot of work

Sheetrock Installed

June 11, 2010

Yesterday they started installing the sheetrock. The crew on site made it look easy; they had it done in about 2 days. The tape and texture guys will be here next to finish it off. They are thinking it will be done by the 24th so we can paint shortly after that. It was very neat to be able to see each room now and how big they will be. I tell you, after each major step the house looks and feels completely different.

Blocks Set

June 9, 2010

Today was our first day of laying the cinder blocks for our wall. It was definitely a challenge and a lot of hard work moving the blocks from the driveway to the wall. We were able to get about 1/10th of the wall done today but we think we might have figured out all the tricks behind masonry work. The next several days will be long and tedious. Fingers crossed that there wont be any major problems.

Re Paint

June 8, 2010

After talking with the painting company, it turns out that it’s normal for them to paint the corner trim the same as the body color. They said that it would have to be a special request to have them paint it the trim color. They did say they would come out and fix it so we were happy with it. Low and behold we showed up at the house today to do some work and they were out there re-painting the trim. It took them half the day but now the house looks great. Much better than before. You be the judge, take a look at the before and after photos below.

Exterior painted before they fixed the trim

Exterior painted after they fixed the trim

Cement Poured

June 7, 2010

Now that the weather is finally nice(r) we were able to order 3 yards of cement today. It took us about 2 hours to pour and work the cement. Hauling the cement from the truck to the forms was a lot of work. We are both sun burnt and very tired however its now drying, so we should be able to start the block portion of the wall in the next few days. I hope this won’t be as hard of work as I am thinking it will be. We will see.

Retaining wall footings

Exterior Painting

June 6, 2010

Today we came back from our mini vacation to find that Fitzpatrick Painting got the exterior of the house painted! The colors are a little different than we wanted but we also noticed that the painters painted the corner trim and the trim boards between the lap siding and the shakes the same as the body color. The made the house look kind of odd. We will be calling the painters next week to see why they did it the way they did. I posted a picture of the front as of now. Also while we were gone the insulation contractors were there and fully insulated the house. We opted to have them put in extra insulation between the first and second floors as well as around the utility room and master bedroom to cut down on noise. Now they can start the sheetrock soon and make the rooms look more defined.

Retaining Wall Forms

June 1, 2010

Now that the excavation is done we spent the last 3 days building the forms so we can pour the concrete footings for the block wall to sit on. This turned out to be a bigger project then we thought. It took a lot of work to get the forms level and square. By the end I think we did a pretty good job. I attached a photo of the frames. Pretty good work for a couple of beginners. Now we have to wait for the weather to become dry so we can have some cement delivered. Till then we are taking a short vacation on the coast for the weekend. Till next week

Retaining wall forms

Finally the fire sprinklers have been installed! It took the plumber about a day and a half to install the system and a half day to test and have it inspected. We will now have the safest house in the area! I am happy that the sprinkler heads are small and concealed by a small metal cover that will be installed after the house is done! Next on the agenda is the insulation. That should be installed in the next few days.

Yesterday we rented a mini excavator to start moving the dirt that was slopped next to the house away so we can build a retaining wall. The excavator was definitely a challenge to drive. Justin was much better at operating it than I was. After two days of work we got all the dirt moved out of the way so we can start building the retaining wall now.

 

After running the fans for a week Gary came back and took a second reading and all the studs were dry enough for the house to be insulated. We are only waiting on the plumber to install our required fire sprinklers. Hopefully that will happen soon. During the dry out time we also installed about 2000 feet of Cat 6 internet cabling and also surround sound speaker wiring in the family room.

Time To Dry Off!

May 8, 2010

Now that the siding and all the framing is completed, its time for the inside of the house to dry out so that we won’t have a mold problem when they put the sheetrock in. We rented two very large fans to help circulate the area in an effort to speed up the drying process. Lucky, when Gary from Adair checked the moisture content of the interior studs they were pretty close to the proper range. I guess it didn’t rain much before they put the roof on.

Siding

May 7, 2010

After 5 days of work the siding is all installed. You can see in the pictures below the two different styles of siding. I cant wait for it to get painted so we can see how our color choice looks full scale. I guess the first step is to pick out the colors though.

Now that the siding, windows and roof are installed the house is pretty water proof (other then the big holes where the doors are going to be). We pretty much lucked out with the fact that it didn’t rain much during the framing process so hopefully the time it takes the house to dry out enough for insulation to be installed will be minimal. If the weather holds out this weekend we are planning on installing Ethernet cabling in the rooms as well as taking a load of debris to the recycling center.

Siding almost done, Just a few small sections left.

Electrical

May 5, 2010

In one day the electricians from Interstate Electric came in and installed all the electrical wiring, TV and phone cabling as well as the vent ducting. They made quick work of what appears to be a pretty complex wiring scheme. We did learn something after looking at all the wiring, in the Oregon electrical code you are only required to put one outlet in the garage space. I was assuming there would be at least a few, oh well.

As of today NW Exteriors has about half of the siding done. We are really liking the way everything is coming together so fast. Today we also mulled over exterior paint colors. We have an idea of what we envision, we want a sage green for the main base color, a dark brown for the shake and a light cream color for the trim. Now the hard part is figuring out what shades of those colors we really like. We have noticed that the paint colors you can see on Sherman Williams web page look totally different when you get a sample of them. This will be a hard decision, good thing Justin is good at picking colors that work well together.

Wiring done.

HVAC

May 3, 2010

As the siding crew was working on the exterior the HVAC guys were installing our heater and duct work on the inside. The ductwork was pretty standard, large pipe running up to the attic and then branching out from there to each of the rooms, it did look like an octopus though. One clever thing they did do was hang the furnace from the ceiling. This gives us more space in the garage because its up and out of the way. Tomorrow the electricians will be here to install the wiring and more work on the siding is planned.

Upstairs ductwork

Furnace hung from ceiling.

The crew from NW Exterior showed up today to start installing the siding. The signature series of our plan came with two types of siding, lap over most of it but the tops of the side walls and the two front dormers are covered in shakes. For the Lap they used pre primed LP SmartSide lap siding and for the shake they used HardieShingle. Both of the products are engineered, the HardieShingle is a fiber cement based material and the SmartSide is a wood fiber basted material.

We were anxious to see what the two types of siding looked like next to each other in real life as we had only seen it on pictures for the plan. Once they had one of the sides up we knew that it would look really good. Now we just need to pick out our paint colors and get the painters scheduled.

After the first day of siding work.

Cleaning Day

May 2, 2010

Yesterday we bought our first power tool. A nice big shop vac! Today we did our first Owner to Do task and cleaned the inside of the house. Now that the framing was done we could remove all the damp sawdust that is all over the place. It took us about 3 hours to sweep and vacuum every nook and cranny in the place. We started by picking up all the large splinters of wood and trash then did a good sweeping to remove the nails as the vacuum didn’t pick them up very well. We then vacuumed every inch in that house. By the end we had 3 large garbage bags full of sawdust! We did notice that the sawdust did a great job of holding moisture, everyplace there was a pile the floor was damp under it. Hopefully by removing all of that it will help the place dry out a bit faster. Next weekend we are going to try and tackle the large pile of construction debris out front.

Plumbing

April 29, 2010

Today the plumber was onsite to install the rough plumbing. Basically they installed and connected all the pipes, they just didn’t connect any fixtures yet. Because of the size of our driveway the City of Albany is having us put in Fire sprinklers, luckily the plumber that is doing the house also does fire sprinklers so he is going to install them once the electrical and HVAC is in. It took him one day to run all the pipes for the house, minus the sprinklers. Just like when they did the under floor plumbing, they used the new PEX pipe so it takes less time and labor to install.

The wood shavings and saw dust is starting to pile up on the inside, I am going to stop by home depot today and buy a shop vac so we can do our first site cleaning this weekend. This is the first big “tool” I will get to buy! 🙂 Next on the agenda is the Electrical, HVAC and Siding.

Plumbing installed

Roofing and Gutters

April 29, 2010

Once the windows were installed and the house wrapped the next item was the gutters and roof installation. It took them just a part of a day to install the gutters and down spouts. They are even connected to the rain drains. If it rains now we will be able to see how well our infiltrator rain drain system works. However, lets wait until the roof and siding are on before we ask for rain.

As of today we now have a roof! The roof materials were delivered two days ago and over the last two days the shingles were installed. I really like the look of the three tab shingles they used. It really added texture to the roof area. Now I cant wait to see it with the siding on. Hopefully soon!

Gutters installed and shingles delivered.

IKO shingles.

I drove out to the house tonight to take a gander and we are now one more step down towards being water tight. Today they installed the windows and wrapped the house in vapor barrier. Both Justin and I have now decided we like the way the windows look. We didn’t know how we would feel about them as they had a white grid between the panes. After seeing them in place they do look really good. Next week they should be finishing up the framing and starting on the roof and gutters.

One of the two stacks of windows that were delivered.

Windows installed and house wrapped in Vapor Barrier

Color Update

April 22, 2010

Thanks to Hether at the Aurora office, I now have a picture of the cabinet to go with the rest of the color samples! Here are the color choices so far. We will be picking out exterior paint within a week or two.

Cabinet Color

Will be in the kitchen and bathrooms. Cabinets

Granite Color

Kitchen countertops. Granite

 

Livingstone Color

Bathroom countertops Livingstone

Hardwood Hickory Flooring

Will be in the kitchen and front entry Wood Floor

Vinyl Flooring

Will be in the bathrooms and utility room Linoleum

Roof Trusses Installed

April 19, 2010

Today the roof trusses were delivered and installed. I stopped by about 8 AM to see if I could catch a picture of the truck lifting the trusses up to the top of the house. It was my lucky day, when I got there they had the crane set up and were getting ready to lift the bath tubs/showers and place them on the second floor. It must be easier and faster to have the crane lift them rather than trying to carry them up the stairs and maneuver them around the walls. Once they were in place they moved on to the roof trusses.

The crane operator made quick work of lifting the trusses, he placed them in a pile on the top of the house and it was up to the framing crew to place and secure them. It only took him about an hour to get them all on the top of the house. After taking a few photos I took off until later tonight.

We went back to the property this evening to see how much they got done. The framing crew got all the trusses installed and the roof sheathing installed in one day. We are now one step closer to having a weather tight house! Justin and I both agree, after walking around the upstairs that it feels much like a barn with the trusses all installed but not covered up on the inside. I have included a few photos here but be sure to check out the photos tab for more of them.

Next steps should be installing the siding, roof and to finish framing some of the smaller items remaining in the house.

Till next time

Lifting the bath tubs into place.

Lifting the roof trusses into place

Future attic

Second Floor Framed

April 15, 2010

As of today the second floor is mostly framed up. It took them two days to complete this level. I am still shocked at how fast they have been working. It’s nice to be able to see the actual rooms now. This is the first time we have been able to see this model in person; we have been going off of the blue prints alone. It’s kind of cool to see the upstairs with no ceiling yet, we have our fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain before they put the roof trusses up.

Two things we noticed when we walked around upstairs; the bonus room is HUGE and the master closet is ginormous. We have been talking about using the bonus room for a pool table and recreation room; it will be the perfect size for that.

I have included a few photos of the progress so far, but make sure to check out the photo tab for more of them.

Till next time.

Front of the house

This is the master bedroom and then the bouns room on the other side of the wall in the middle.

This is the smallest of the bedrooms. We will be using this as an office.

First Floor Framed

April 13, 2010

Today I stopped by the site and to my astonishment the first floor was pretty much framed and the exterior walls were covered. After I got over the amazement that they completed all this work in just one day, I noticed that the first floor looked significantly bigger with the walls up. From the point where we marked out the house’s footprint on the bare land up until the when the foundation was done it appeared that the house would be very small. Everyone did tell us that it was just the perception, and that it would look and feel much bigger once the walls are put up. I can now say they were exactly right! The first floor is huge! I can’t wait to see what it looks like with the second floor built.

As you can see in the pictures below as well additional ones on the photo tab, they had to brace the walls until they put build the second floor. Even with the braces filling the rooms we are very happy with the size of the lower floor rooms. The kitchen and family rooms will be perfect for entertaining.

Also today they delivered a second load of lumber, I assume for the second floor. We will find out later this week.

I did notice one very minor element that I saw in the new Aurora model home that I wish our home included. The Model had a sink in the utility room where ours doesn’t. I never really thought about it until now but it would be nice to have utility sink close to the garage. I think it will be an easy addition once the house it all done to add a stand alone utility sink in the utility room if we decide we really want one.

I would venture to guess that they will start the second floor tomorrow.

Till then…

First floor framed, Garage and second load of lumber.

Our kitchen. I like the little walk in pantry on the right.

Family room. I like the two small windows on the back wall.

Colors Update

April 12, 2010

Just a quick post to show the different colors we have chosen for the countertops and flooring. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the cabinet color we chose but they will be a dark-ish cherry color. I might have to try and get someone at Adair to send me a quick photo of the cabinet color so I can put it on here with these samples. Actually we chose the same color cabinets and granite that they put in the new Aurora model home. It was nice to see it full size last time we were up there.

 

Granite Color

Kitchen countertops Granite

Livingstone Color

Bathroom countertops Livingstone

Hardwood Hickory Flooring

Will be in the kitchen and front entry Wood Floor

Vinyl Flooring

Will be in the bathrooms and utility room Linoleum

Under Floor Plumbing

April 8, 2010

I stopped by again on my way home to find that the plumbing had been installed inside the foundation. The plumber made quick work of the installation. Now days they use a product called PEX pipe rather then traditional PVC or copper. It appears to be much faster and simpler to install.

“PEX (or crosslinked polyethylene) is part of a water supply piping system that has several advantages over metal pipe (copper, iron, lead) or rigid plastic pipe (PVC, CPVC, ABS) systems. It is flexible, resistant to scale and chlorine, doesn’t corrode or develop pinholes, is faster to install than metal or rigid plastic, and has fewer connections and fittings. ” http://www.pexinfo.com

More wood for framing along with 3 tubs and/or tub surrounds had been delivered. They look so funny just sitting out there on the lawn waiting to be installed.

Can’t wait to see what has been completed tomorrow!

Underfloor plumbing installed. The little risers sticking up are kind of funny.

Close up of the PEX pipe. The white is cold, Red is hot and Black is the sewer.

1 Tub, 1 Shower and 1 Shower/Tub.

I stopped by the property on the way home from work and found that the floor joists had been installed inside the foundation. Building had finally really started! Next up is plumbing and then floor deck and framing.

It ended up being a long night. We had found out through a little research that cinder block walls needed a concrete foundation with rebar. The price of concrete isn’t so bad it is just a matter of having to build forms and have concrete poured. It could be quite an undertaking. We are going to pour the front door pad and sidewalk at the same time as concrete is cheaper the more you buy so it works out somewhat.

Andy and I got into an in-depth discussion about the stair landing for the deck in the backyard.. I was just under the assumption that the retaining wall would be built at the magical 203.5′(Base flood) elevation and the stairs would land nicely at that elevation so that the flood insurance people would be happy. I didn’t think there needed to be a whole lot of measuring as the concrete footing for the retaining wall would all be at one elevation and we would just build the forms on the elevation of the current lawn. However, the front of the property is a higher elevation in the back and if the difference was too much different we really couldn’t pour that much concrete. So we need to know exactly how high the back yard is to determine how to do the retaining wall. So complicated!

Floor Joists installed. Looking from the front door into the living/dining room area.

Floor joists installed. Looking from the front of the garage.

Retaining Wall Idea

April 4, 2010

Andy and I were sitting on the couch, talking about the house, as that happens a lot lately. We were trying to think of ideas for the retaining wall. I have never been very fond of the stackable cement retaining wall blocks that they put in around apartments, the ones where they make the edges of all rough (I’m assuming they think this makes it look more natural-I think they are nuts). I think they just look cheap and boring. They however, are not very cheap at all, priced around $1.82 a block. The completed wall would be about 150 liner feet and about 3ft height, if you figure how many bricks that would be it comes to around $2500, it’s quite a bit of money to spend on something that you are just “settling” for.

I had a thought, what about cinder blocks with a faux-stone face (I now know it’s called stone veneer but I like my name better). Andy looked up the price and cinder blocks are 95 cents each. Plus they are larger than the other blocks so you need a lot less. Trying to describe the stone veneer to Andy took a while however but once he understood he loved the idea. We did the math and for an equivalent size wall the price of the cinder blocks is only $376. Add the stone veneer to the exposed 2 feet above ground ($1500) for a total of $1800. The best of both worlds- cheaper and what we want.

We found the stone veneer in a weekly advertisement at Jerry’s in Eugene and we figured it would be at Home Depot too if it were there. Considering it was Easter we didn’t have a whole lot of options. We went to Home Depot and they didn’t have anything close to what we wanted. So we drove to Eugene to go to Jerry’s. They had it on display and it looked great. It made me so happy that a thought of mine was actually going to work and even better it was win-win all around!

 

This is the stone veneer that I was talking about. Its about an inch thick and you simply affix it to the flat side of the cement blocks.

Hoping for a not so blustery situation outside as the previous days had held, Andy and I drove out to the property with graph paper in hand. The idea was to go out with tape measure and paper and make decisions about retaining walls around the house, deck size and landscaping elements (placement of outdoor kitchen, hot tub, garden, shed, pond). 

It turned out to be a sideways rain sorta day and unbelievably windy for Western Oregon (I grew up in Eastern Oregon where there is real wind, not the occasional light breeze that makes the summer days so nice here). That made it pretty hard to sketch as we were measuring so we had to remember all the measurements in our heads until we could sketch it out in the truck. You couldn’t even stand outside of the truck and sketch as the wind was blowing the rain inside the truck.

We decided quite a few things. We tried to make as much of a solid decision as is possible realizing nothing is set in stone with this stuff. To proceed we need a plan though. Here is the landscaping plan (as firm as possible):

1) Retaining wall around foundation is a necessity. The backfill around the house rises approximately 4-5 feet above the yard and extends 10-15 feet out into the yard. It just looks ridiculous so the wall is necessary.

2) Deck on the back of the house will be 20′ by 14′. Anything bigger would pretty much overwhelm the backyard where the outdoor kitchen is planned.

3) Decided placement of eventual outdoor kitchen, hot tub, shed and garden. These are planned for next year or later though the garden can probably be plotted out this fall and planted next spring.

4) Drainage solution: there is an obvious low spot where water pools the most on the property. We could try to fight it, but there are no storm drains on the road so nowhere to really send the water. The plan is to raise the other low(er) points of the yard and channel the water to the lowest point. At the lowest point we will put in rain garden or dry well (I think they are sort of the same thing). We will fill it with gravel and top it with some nice river rock with a Japanese theme (some iris, evergreens, and a dedicated koi pond adjacent to the dry well). That way the excess water can be an active design element and even in the summer when dried up it will look good.

Thats the plan, so far at least.

After the torrential rain the last two days I was amazed to see that the rain drain installation, foundation backfill and garage gravel fill had been completed. The rain had subsided enough that I could get out of my car and take some pictures on my way home from work.

The driveway immediately leading up to the garage was steeper than I had imagined somehow along with the backfill around the foundation being steeper/wider than I had expected. Might have to do the retaining wall around the house instead. We will have to see.

I climbed up on the foundation as it was the only area not muddy that wouldn’t ruin my shoes so I could take a look. All in all, the property wasn’t that badly flooded, especially compared to the neighbors next door who had their entire lawn flooded with chocolate milk looking water. After the really bad rain for days, if this was as flooded as we get it’s not that big of a deal. The rain drains terminating in an Infiltrator system (no idea if that’s how its spelled) are going to pretty much be a joke (and an expensive one at that). The water table is too high for them to fulfill their purpose. Gotta love arbitrary codes.

Standing on the foundation (my perch about 6-8 feet off the ground) I could see what kind of a view I would have from the kitchen window. Even the first floor is really high up. I can’t imagine what the view will be like from the second floor. Should be pretty cool. Very cool. Next step is the actual home building stuff (framing, etc).

Backfill on the east side of the house. Its a little steeper then we had imagined but we will fix it later.

Lots of dirt on the front of the house. We still need a little more to make it look good.

Backfill Time

March 30, 2010

I showed up at the site about 8 AM. The building inspector was going to show up sometime this morning to inspect the rain drain system so we can cover them up and back fill around the house.

While waiting for the inspector, Warren ordered 5 more loads of rock. We needed one more for the inside of the garage, 3 more for the area under the front steps and the area in front of the garage and 1 to fix the ruts in the driveway from the cement trucks.

I couldn’t stay long today because of my other job; by the time I left the inspector still wasn’t there. Hopefully he will show up soon so Warren can finish up everything. Justin will check by after he gets off tonight to see the progress.

Till later…

Raindrain Construction

March 29, 2010

Ironic how today we installed the rain drain system and just last night we had a very wet storm move across our area that dumped a lot of water. When I got to the site there was standing water everywhere, up to 8 inches at some points. I wasn’t sure how Warren was going to be able to dig the trench to install the rain water chambers called the Infiltrator system with so much standing water.

Warren’s first task was to install the pipe that the gutters flow into around the foundation, the pipe is then run down off the rock pad and out to the drainage field and into the infiltrators. The pipe didn’t take him long to install, once that was done we took some time trying to decide where to bury the Infiltrator chambers. The infiltrator systems work by having a series of plastic chambers that are open on the bottom that you bury underground, the rain water then fills those chambers and slowly drains into the ground. The goal is to bury the chambers higher then the underground water table so that when they fill up the water has a place to go. Our major problem is we have a high water table under ground. We dug a test hole and found the water table about 16 inches down. We decided that the chambers are going to have to be buried below the water table so I am not really sure how productive they will be. We will see when it rains after the house is built.

The building inspector is scheduled to come tomorrow and inspect the rain drain system and then everything can be backfilled tomorrow.

Raindrain pipe along the foundation on the back of the house

Another look at the drain pipe.

Infiltrator chambers in the ground.

Adair Visit

March 27, 2010

Andy and I went up to Aurora today to pick out new vinyl and hardwood flooring. The flooring we had picked had been discontinued. It turned out to be a good thing though as we now had a lot more hardwood floor choices.

We arrived to see Adair’s newly built model home. When we went inside we noticed that they had picked out almost exactly the same colors for cabinets and granite as we had along with the white craftsman trim. This was very helpful to see in person to know that we really had made a good choice!

We picked out new vinyl without any problems. The wood flooring was a little more challenging however. The wood floor that they had put in the model fit, but I just didn’t know if I was 100% sold on it. We took the wood samples out and spent a good half hour in the model home putting it next to the cabinets, in different light, by the front door… everywhere we could think of. We ended up going with a slightly darker wood then in the model. I know it will look great though!

Foundation Completed

March 25, 2010

Today we decided to go check out the finished foundation. It’s pretty neat how it’s looking more like a house after each step in the construction process. Being able to see the foundation walls up, we can better picture how the house is going to look. I don’t think our concerns about the rooms being too small will actually be a problem. The house looks so much bigger now that we have the foundation to compare the size to.

According to Tom, the lumber is still scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday April 6th so they can start framing soon. We have Warren scheduled to come out next week to do the rain drains and back fill around the foundation. While he is there he is also going to finish the garage area and re-grade the road. If Warren gets his work done before the end of the week Tom might be able to re schedule the lumber and have it delivered a bit sooner. I have attached a few photos of the foundation to this post but check the photos tab for more.

Till next week. . .

Finished foundation from the front of the house

Footings for the cripple walls that hold up the floor joists.

Justin doing his own inspection.

Concrete Pour Day

March 24, 2010

Today was the date that the concrete trucks were coming to pour the foundation. I headed to the site about 9:30 AM to see the concrete trucks as well as the big pumper truck and grab a few photos. As I was pulling up the pumper truck was just getting ready to leave. Paul and his team had the foundation poured by 9 AM! I am truly amazed at how fast he worked. Much to my surprise his plan was even to pull the forms off today, apparently concrete will be hard enough after a few hours so they can strip the forms off and move to the next job.

I will stop by tomorrow to take a few photos of the new foundation.

Till Tomorrow. . .

I showed up at the site at about 8 AM to meet the building inspector just in case he had any questions about what we were planning on doing in regards to the flood zone issue. The inspector showed up right on time and after a quick once over he gave it a thumbs up. So that means we are still on track for being able to pour the concrete on Wednesday. I did snap a few photos of the forms in place. It’s hard to tell they are the forms because they are the same color as concrete but you can start to see it looking like a house!

Till Wednesday. . .

Foundation Forms Go Up

March 20, 2010

With it being Saturday I thought it would be a great day to sleep in, I was wrong. I got a call from Paul, the foundation contractor, saying that they were at the site working and they needed some paper work I had. I was shocked that they were working on a Saturday; I had assumed that the construction of the home was a Monday thru Friday type of gig. At about 10 AM we headed out to the site to drop off the paper work he needed. When we got there we noticed that Paul had the footing forms set up and was getting ready to set the stem wall forms. I was impressed, not only was it Paul that was there, he had several of his children hard at work.

Due to the house being two stories, they had to build and pour two extra-thick weight bearing pads inside the foundation. In order to construct those bearing pads they had to dig a hole about 10 inches deep by 2 feet wide in the SUPER hard rock that we compacted like crazy. I feel sorry for the folks that had to dig those holes. Paul indicated that he is hoping to have the forms done and inspected on Monday and then pour the concrete on Wednesday.

Fingers crossed for good weather!

Till then . . .

 

Foundation forms.

Foundation forms.

Foundation Date Set

March 18, 2010

Just a quick update.Word from Tom is the foundation will be started on Monday (22th) or Tuesday (23th) and will be done by Friday (26th). The framing lumber is scheduled to be delivered on Monday April 5th! That leaves March 29th thru April 4th for Warren to come back and back fill around the foundation and install the rain drains. 

I met with Tom and Ben today at the site to go over the “lot ready” form. They said everything looked good and we can move forward with the construction process. Ben and Tom did state that the gravel pad was a great idea and it might even spoil Paul (Foundation foreman) a little bit. Warren did a great job that’s for sure!

 

Ben did break some bad news to us today though, apparently the line of vinyl and wood flooring we had picked out are no longer available so we have to pick out a new type. Even though this was a change, this was not bad news to us; we are excited to have more options available for the flooring. The original 3 options that we had when we ordered the house were not really our favorites.

As Tom and Ben were leaving they posted the Adair sign at the street, now everyone will know it’s an Adair home, I hope it gets them some more business. The tentative plan is the foundation will be started next Monday (22nd). It’s great to see progress being made!

Till next week…

We Have The Power!

March 10, 2010

Pacific Power had approved the conduit Warren had buried in the trench in February but still had a lot left to do. They had to put a pole up next to the driveway, run wire from the pole through the conduit to the transformer and hook the transformer up. They reserved one day to do all of this on (3/9) even though they knew it would take more than one day. Don’t ask me how that logic works.

The power company came out as scheduled on 3/9 and put the power pole in along with stringing the cable through the buried conduit. They did not however hook up the wiring to the power pole or put the transformer in. We were told if they didn’t get it done that they would have to reschedule another day to do the rest. This was very disappointing (plus the gouges they left in our driveway and off the driveway where they appeared to have spun out didn’t make me happy) as we thought we would have to reschedule and who knows how long that would take.

Andy called them earlier today and they thought they might be able to get out there and finish it without having to reschedule. So tonight I decided to go ahead and give it a try in case they were able to finish the rest. I had been at a friend’s house and it was already 10 PM and very dark out but it wasn’t raining. I stumbled around in the dark with my cell phone to light up the ground. For some reason I didn’t think to get the flashlight that was in my car. As I approached the lot (having successfully navigated in the dark) I could hear the hum of power. I shined my cell phone in the direction where the fiberglass vault (fancy word for the box in the ground the transformer sits on) was and sure enough there was a transformer! I looked at the temporary power meter and it was in place and flashing, we have power! Everything is in place to begin home construction now!

Our brand new power pole!

Nice shiny transformer. Seems to be in the spirit of St. Patricks day. Can't wait for the house to start being built!

Dig Out Completed

March 8, 2010

The last two days have been a little stressful. After Warren got the gravel laid and compacted to the specifications that the soils engineered gave us we realized there was a problem with the elevations that the surveyor gave us. The surveyor’s figures had us adding dirt or rock inside the foundation once it was poured. I didn’t think this would be a problem but after talking to Warren about it we came to the conclusion that it would not be feasible to backfill inside the foundation walls; both with the way the foundation is designed as well as the inability to get dirt or rock into the area inside the foundation were the problems. 

Warren’s new idea was to add more rock and build about a 2foot tall pad of gravel and then build a standard size foundation on top of that. This was thought to be a great idea because in the cost of the house was additional money set aside for the extra concrete needed to build the tall foundation walls. Warren estimated the amount of gravel needed would cost about the same as the extra concrete. We decided that we would go with that plan and use the extra money set aside for concrete for the gravel.

Starting on the 4th, Warren ordered gravel and had the quarry keep delivering it until he told them to stop. At the end of the day he had about 30 loads delivered and compacted. This is the time we realized that the rock was compacting more then he expected. It was obvious that we would need more rock as the height of the pad was only about 3/4ths the height we needed.

Warren came back today (the 8th) to finish the pad and make sure everything is ready so that the power company can start to install the power tomorrow. I was not able to be there while Warren worked but when I checked in with him at the end of the day, he had finished the pad and re graded the road so vehicles could make it down it without issue. The final tally was 44 dump truck loads of gravel went into the making of the gravel pad. If you figure in the amount of rock we used for the road the grand total was about 70 loads of gravel or about 1000 tons of rock! Too bad I didn’t invest in a rock quarry before this project.

The good news is the only thing left to finish is the power connection, once that is done the “lot ready” form can be turned in and construction can begin! Hopefully Pacific Power will be able to get everything connected tomorrow. All they have to do is install a power pole, install a transformer, run the wire and then hook up our temporary power. The person at Pacific Power told me today that they will get the pole installed for sure and if they have time they will take care of the rest. However if they don’t get it all done tomorrow they have to re schedule the remaining work and that could be up to two weeks out. I hope that they can get it handled tomorrow so there won’t be any more delays.

Till tomorrow…

Dig Out

March 3, 2010

Once the driveway was finished the next big task was the dig out for the foundation. Since our site is in the flood zone we have to have the finished floor at a certain height to satisfy FEMA requirements. As soon as we started the process with Adair we had been consulting with a surveyor as to the required elevations. The plan was to scrape the vegetation off and build a 4 foot tall foundation to get the finished floor the correct height. However we have learned that plans can change rather quickly. When we picked up our building permits several months ago the city of Albany required that we have a soils engineer inspect the house site before any of the foundation is poured to make sure it will be stable enough to support the foundation. Last Wednesday the soils engineer ran a quick test on our soil and determined that to make it sable enough to support the load of the house we would need to dig down about 8 inches and fill the area with about 8 inches of compacted rock rather then just scrapping the grass off like we had originally planned.

Today Warren started to dig the area out to the recommendations of the engineer. After seeing the area dug out it looked a lot bigger then we had pictured in our minds. Since we have never seen this house in person we have been going off what it looked like on paper. We even staked out the rooms on the bare lot but it looked very small without any walls.

Warren spent about half of the day digging out the area and the rest of the day laying and compact the gravel pad. He didn’t have enough time to get all the gravel laid so he will finish it tomorrow.

Till tomorrow

Warren starting to dig out the house site.

House site all dug out

Several loads of gravel, almost enought to fill the 8 inches we dug down.

Driveway Completed

March 2, 2010

The plan for today was to finish the driveway, install the temporary power pole and finish the power transformer area. I got to the site about 9 AM; Warren was already working on grading the remaining gravel that was dumped last night. He had a few more truck loads on the way this morning to go on top of the rock we laid last night to fill in the tire ruts left behind by the dump trucks.

You see, when you install a gravel driveway on wet ground, the gravel is not as stable as it could be if it was constructed on dry ground. What happens is as the heavy trucks drive over the gravel their tires push the gravel out from under then, forming ruts. This is called pumping, its kind of like little waves form under the truck as it drives. To fix the problem you have to keep adding gravel to fill in the ruts. As the soil under the road dries out it will stop pumping and form a hard stable surface.

Once we got the new gravel all spread out and compacted the road looked very nice. I knew that wouldn’t last very long, as soon as anything heavy drives over it the smooth surface will become pretty bumpy again, but it looks nice now, that’s all that matters, right? Our next task for the day was to finish laying the conduit for the cable TV and phone and install the temporary power pole. As Warren was working on the conduit I started to dig the post hole for the power pole. I forgot how hard digging post holes is. When we build a fence we are renting an auger. As soon as I got the power pole in the ground Warren ran the wires from it to the transformer, but we couldn’t fill in the trench until tomorrow after the electrical inspector approves our handy work.

Sadly it was that time for me again, I had to leave and head to my other job however Warren continued to work for a few more hours on the utilities conduit so we could bury it all tomorrow.

Til then…

Today we started building the driveway. After all the trenches were filled in last week the next step was to install the all weather rough driveway. I was thinking about this all weekend, wondering was this really going to happen today?

As I was driving to the site this morning, I turned off of Highway 20 onto North Albany RD right behind a Mid Valley Gravel truck. I thought to myself, I wonder if that truck is for me? I approached the driveway but the dump truck kept going, I figured it wasn’t mine. I went around and parked my truck, walked to the site and found Warren hard at work scraping the grass off of where the driveway is going to be. He said that he ordered gravel and the trucks were on their way. Just as he said that, the one I was following turned around up the street and stopped in front of our place. Warren directed him to dump the load in the bike lane and he will put it where he wants it with his Track Hoe. I guess I should note that there is about a 3 foot drop so we have to build that up before any of the dump trucks can drive down there. After the truck left, Warren pushed the pile of gravel off of the road and into the ditch area. That one truck load was enough to full the ditch and create a nice slopped approach off the roadway.

After about 15 minuets another dump truck showed up and he was able to pull down the driveway about 5 feet and dump his truck there. Once that truck left Warren spread the pile out and he showed me how to use his heavy plate compactor. He said that I could compact the gravel while he continues to prepare the rest of the area for the incoming deliveries. The compactor was pretty easy to use, however, I did get it stuck in the mud twice and Warren had to pull it out for me. The plan for the rest of the day was to have gravel delivered, Warren would spread it and I would compact it. This went on for about 6 hours until I had to leave to get to my other job. When I left at 2 PM we had completed about 100 ft of the 300 ft driveway and had received 8 dump trucks full of rock with 9 more scheduled. I checked in with Warren later in the evening and it turns out he had to order more rock than he had originally planned.

The grand total was 21 truck loads today (that’s about 300 tons of rock). The plan for tomorrow is to finish the remaining driveway. I have included a few pictures of the progress today but be sure to check the photo page for additional photos not posted here.

Till tomorrow, Goodnight.

The first load of gravel.

Spreading the gravel out at the start of the driveway.

Driveway about half way done

During the last two days Warren finished installing the power conduit. Comcast came out and installed the conduit for the TV Cable and Qwest brought out all the wire and the pedestal for us to install the phone lines. Warren spent most of today filling in the trench and getting ready to build the driveway on Monday if the weather continues to stay nice. I am glad its finally the weekend, time to spend some time relaxing.Till Monday.

Excavation Finally Begins!

February 24, 2010

As soon as we closed on our loan we were in contact with our chosen excavator, Warren Ewing from Warren Ewing Excavation and Demolition. He suggested that we have the City of Albany install the water first and then he will plan his portion of the work after that occurs. Once the water was installed we called Warren back but due to Christmas and New Years holidays we set a time to meet at the lot again in mid January to finalize what work needs to be done.

The few days before we met with Warren we experienced very heavy rains. Luckily the day he showed up was dry but due to the rain the night before the ground was very saturated. Warren gave us the bad news to us that we would need to wait for a few weeks of dry weather before he could start. Justin and I were not pleased by the news but after some more though we realized that it wouldnt be so bad.

The rains continued through the end of January and then miraculously we had a bout of nice spring like weather. Justin and I checked on the property and we noticed that it was pretty dry. I called Warren that day and he scheduled time to start our project the 24th of February!

On the morning of the 24th, I met Warren at about 8 AM at the site. When I got there he had already unloaded his excavator and was moving his others tools in. We quickly signed the paper work and he started in on the work.

Warren moved his excavator to the start of the driveway and prepared to dig the trench for the power, water, cable and phone. The trench was going to be about 4 feet deep by 3 feet wide and 300 feet long. Warren made quick work of the digging and made it look easy. Once he got down about 3 feet water from the water table started to come up and fill the trench. It turned out that this was not as bad as you might think; you just have to pump it out before you put the pipe in. After a few hours he was about half way done digging. This is where the thought really set in that soon construction will start on our house. It was a great feeling! Warren continued to work hard and spent the rest of the day completing the trench and also digging out the area where the power transformer was going to go. He was planning on installing the power conduit on tomorrow (the 25th) so Pacific Power can inspect his work that day and then he could fill that portion of the trench in.

Till tomorrow…

The special "Breaking Ground" Shot. The very start of the utilities trench.

The utilities trench starting to fill with water.

Rain Delays!

February 10, 2010

We realized in early December that no excavation/site preparation was going to occur before January. But still, we figured there was no danger of losing the tax credit. Then there was more waiting. Eventually we had a meeting with the excavating team and found out that we really couldn’t start until it was either drier or we used the neighbor’s property to receive deliveries in as it was higher and drier. If we waited, we lost the tax credit if we didn’t wait we risked having to re-do the driveway if it got ruined with the moisture. We decided to wait and lose the tax credit. This was a big disappointment as we would be let down twice (the credit was renewed for longer and we still weren’t going to get it). At least it gave us a chance to save more money, the only upside.

Irrigation System In A Box

January 4, 2010

This might be jumping the gun just a tad but Justin found a great deal on drip irrigation kits on Amazon. Needless to say we bought 9 of them. They were a good deal that we couldn’t pass up. Now we just have to store them somewhere until we have a lawn and plants that need to be watered.

We Have Water!

December 21, 2009

It has been the coldest winter I have experienced in the Willamette Valley. Just when we would hear that they were going to install the water meters, a cold snap would hit and the city would be tied up repairing water mains that were breaking. That combined with two different holidays to plan around. Lots up expectations and ultimately disappointments. Lots of drives by in the near-dark on the way home from work looking for markings and ultimately a little box that says water meter on it. As of today we now have a water meter! I am also pleasantly pleased at the City of Albany, without asking them, they decided to install two water meters, one for each of our lots.

This is our water meter. Its looks kind of dirty, I wonder if I can wash it off? This is a 3/4 inch meter, if it turns out we don't have enough water pressure we will have to have the City put a bigger one in. We are going to hope that doesn't happen

Here are the two meter boxes, one has a meter in it the other is just the water main capped off.

Waiting For Water!

December 18, 2009

After we got our building permits issued, a work order was sent to the City of Albany’s Public Works department so they can install the water meter. The estimated time frame for that to happen was about 10 business days. 10 days went by but no water meter. This was the first step of the construction process that had to be done before any other work could be started. We waited patiently for another week but still no water service was installed. I finally called the City and they said it “shouldn’t be to much longer” but wouldn’t tell me an exact date. From this point forward we were driving by each day, sometimes several times during the day just to see if by chance the city was there doing the work. Sadly it was a disappointment each time.

On the Cold morning of December 18th I drove by and much to my surprise there was the City of Albany hard at work installing our water service! I quickly parked and tromped across the frozen ground to take a few pictures of the progress.

When I heard that the City will have to dig down to the water main to install our service, I assumed that they would use some sort of backhoe. Instead they use a vacuum truck. It has a high pressure water wand that they blast the ground with and it breaks up the soil or gravel. They then use a high powered vacuum to suck the debris out of the hole. This apparently is more efficient and poses less risk of busting a pipe by mistake.

A public Works person cleaning up the mess left behind by the vacuum truck. By using the high pressure water wand it blows debris all over the area.

Here at the supplies that were needed. They ran Copper pipe to the meter boxes. I would have thought they would be using PVC.

This is the vacuum attachment that they used to suck the debris out of the hole.

They only had to dig about a 2 ft wide trench to run the lines. It didn't tear up the road to much.

The water line was about 5 feet deep under the road. The worker had to climb in to get to the pipe.

Building Permits

November 20, 2009

Quite a few illusions were shattered here. When the papers were signed and the transaction closed we figured it would just be get the permits and start building. Never would things be delayed past the July 1st Homebuyer Tax Credit deadline. This didn’t even come close to happening.

Adair was very helpful throughout the permit process; they even compiled and filled out all the paper work we would turn into the City of Albany. We took the packet of paper work down to the city and thats where we found out there isn’t a standard step-by-step process to the permits. Why there isn’t I’m not really sure. Probably because most consumers don’t build their own house and the people in the industry know how to deal with local government. Luckily the City of Albany has been fairly helpful through the whole process.

Placing The Home Order

August 24, 2009

Ordering the home was more of a struggle about picking out details of the house rather than the paperwork. The paperwork was pretty straightforward-they even read it to us out loud.

The only real struggle was cabinets, countertops and trim. The other stuff was easy (roof color? Carpet choice? Linoleum style in the bathrooms?). Andy had always said I would pick out the design details as I have a better eye for it. That always makes me chuckle as I don’t really know what I’m doing with interior design. Maybe it’s the red wall in the apartment that Andy never believed would work. That being said Andy and I had always sort of planned on dark granite and dark cabinets and we went in with that intent.

We picked out cabinet style and color rather easily. Right away we knew we wanted solid wood. Adair’s variety of cabinet styles/colors isn’t very big-that’s how they keep prices down. We definitely knew exactly which ones we didn’t like and were able to narrow it down to two each time. The struggle came down to the granite color. The black granite just didn’t look right so we went with one that would pop, a beige/gold color. I know its going to look great.

The other struggle was trim. We had picked out a wood grain trim that at the time seemed alright. Then we toured an open house with Craftsman trim and saw how just that difference in trim could make a huge difference. It gave each room such a clean and classy touch. But.. It cost more. I was certain that this is what would be best. Andy on the other hand wasn’t as convinced it was worth the money. But I couldn’t get the trim out of my head and we changed the order. This was at the point where we got the appraisal back and found out we would have to give up some elements of the house (the third garage, craftsman trim or granite) or some combination of them. We did the math and the only way that worked was to give up the third garage. Sorry Andy.

Then just like that we ordered a house. It may be in 1000 pieces some where but hey its still a house!