Friday, March 30, 2012

The House: 35 Weeks

This week we've begun tossing around dates for the big Open House. Some days our building manager thinks we can finish quickly, and then he says otherwise. It's kind of annoying, actually. I think he's trying to motivate us to stay busy and work hard, but it's just toying with our emotions. Oh well. What has this build been if not emotional?

Cody and I didn't spend a lot of time working in our own home this week (we were in other houses, painting and working on laminate floors), but the subcontractors have sure been busy! On Monday they put in the vinyl floors, which go in the bathrooms and laundry area. I did snap this picture of a remnant piece just so you can see our color a little better.

On Tuesday, they did the final grading in the yard! They did leave a small little trench around the foundation of the house, because it still needs to be beautified with some grinding and finishing concrete.

And then on Thursday, we got cabinets! Wahoo! Sorry this is the best photo we've got. When it gets dark and there's only the construction lights on in the house, and we're using our phones for cameras, the quality is a little compromised. I promise I'll take more photos with our nice camera later, but we don't usually like to take out such nice equipment to the house for fear of loss or breakage.

It's been over 9 months since we made the decisions on what our home would look like, and even then we only had small samples or pictures to choose from. I admit I've been a little nervous on how it would all turn out, but so far I'm loving everything! I think it will flow well and look really nice. I guess my taste hasn't changed much.

Now, what has been going on all around the neighborhood?
House 1: Laminate floor started and almost finished (we actually didn't train, for once, at this house. We learned how to do laminate flooring over at house 5, and this house was the third to start their floors, so that's why they're not done yet.), window wells fixed and re-backfilled. We had to just buy new window wells for this project. It was a very dirty job.
House 2: Window wells fixed. Final grading started.
House 3: Laminate floors started and almost finished. Great big rock "retaining wall" built, because the lot is about two feet lower in elevation than the next door neighbors, and sloping up the side just wouldn't work.
House 4: Driveway in. Laminate floor started and finished.
House 5: Siding started. Laminate floor started and finished.
House 6 (ours!): Vinyl floors and cabinets in, final grading almost all done.
House 7: laminate floors started, final grading almost done.
House 8: Vinyl floors and cabinets in, siding finished, front walk way placed.
House 9: finished caulk and trim, primed and painted.

Just some words on the laminate floor--I'll of course go into detail when it is our turn--they go in the entry ways, dining room, and kitchen. A while back, we were given a copy of our floorplan and told to draw where the laminate would go (we had certain restrictions so we couldn't put it everywhere, but we did have a bit of control). The laminate, by the way, is faux-wood and laid in planks. The vinyl is put down in sheets. We get three types of flooring in the house: vinyl, laminate, and carpet. The only one we actually install is the laminate.

So there you have it! 35 weeks. The closer we get to finishing, the more surreal it feels. In just a few more weeks, we will be able to live in our new home. Wow!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The House: 34 Weeks

Our house is all painted! It's certainly been a ... smelly... week. :) On Saturday we started with the primer. Using the sprayer certainly speeds up the whole process, but Cody still used a brush on the rosettes to keep them very smooth. On Sunday we brought the kids over after church to let them see the progress. Lee wanted to help paint a bit. :)

The sandable primer+sprayer combination has a tendency to leave little rough spots (think fine sandpaper type rough) on the walls, so on Monday I put in a few non-required hours sanding the walls and shelves. We have non-textured smooth walls, so we really wanted to make sure none of that rough stuff was on there. Cody's dad loaned us this sanding head for a paint roller handle, so I did the whole house. I hate the sound of sandpaper, though, so I wore ear protectors.

After all the sanding and a bit more caulking/putty in places that got missed, we were ready to paint on Tuesday evening. Cody's dad--who has been asking for months when paint would start--came up to help us, and we also had a couple other guys from our group (homeowners of house 7, 5 and 4) help for a while. One would spray and the rest of us had rollers, rolling the walls and getting a nice little stipple texture going. We rolled the ceiling in both directions as well. By the end of the evening whoever was holding the sprayer is completely white, and the backrollers aren't in much better shape. We, obviously, wear face masks. Unfortunately, glasses are not an option because they'd get covered in paint in no time. So we just try to be careful. I told Dad S. that all this painting was making him go prematurely grey, and he said "Thanks for that! It means I still have hair!"

The first coat was finished Tuesday evening--and that's the extra thick coat. The second "final" coat went on Wednesday, and then we did some touch-ups on Thursday. There will be even more touch-ups later on after the final trim is put in. All told, I think it turned out beautifully! Of course it is all white, because that's part of our budget and build rules. I hope to repaint over the next few years and put in some color and visual interest, but for now, white will do very nicely.

Thursday evening we cleaned up the sprayer, loaded out the ladder and rollers and extra paint, and were done with our house's paint. Also on Thursday: our driveway approach was placed. Wahoo! our driveway is done! They also put up the forms for the front walkway and should hopefully place it today, but since I won't be able to check on that until at least tomorrow, I'll put up a picture later. That is, of course, *if* it happens. :)

Now... the neighborhood.
House 1: Waaay back to week 1 when we put on the window wells, apparently we put them up too high. Why it wasn't caught then, I don't know--I actually think they decided to change the final grade or the fill dirt or something after it was done... but anyway, we need to lower those window wells. So this week the foundation was re-excavated around the windows so we can hop in and lower them.
House 2: Same thing as house 1 with the window wells (house 1 and 2 are the same floorplan, so they had the same problem). Also: siding done, cabinets installed and vinyl floors in (bathrooms and mudroom).
House 3: Driveway, front walk, and siding all done.
House 4: Cabinets installed and vinyl floors done.
House 5: Cabinets installed and vinyl floors done.
House 6 (ours!): painting done, driveway approach placed.
House 7: Siding finished and forms up for driveway. Vinyl floors in, cabinets installed.
House 8: Paint all done, siding on.
House 9: spackle, sanding, caulk done. There are a few missing pieces of baseboard that somehow got forgotten, but then they'll be ready for paint.

Since we'll be painting the last house next week and that only needs about 2-3 people, the majority of the team will be ready to move on to new stuff, like laminate floors and plaster on the foundation. It's always fun to learn new things!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

The kids have been busy for weeks getting ready for Saint Patrick's day. We read a story about some kids who wanted to catch a Leprechaun, and decided that would be a pretty good joke. So we designed, built, and then set up several leprechaun traps--including boxes that would fall, a little ladder up a bucket, a peanut butter jar, and even some balloons that would lift the leprechaun to the ceiling where he would call for help.

Well, I'm afraid we didn't catch a Leprechaun. How could we? Leprechauns are the Masters of Mischief, and after he snuck out of all our traps, that silly little guy definitely did some mischief all over our house! He painted moustaches on all the kids:
And green toenails on all the adults (even Grandpa and Daddy Cody):

The house was pretty messy and mixed up when we woke up. The real fruit was replaced with fake, and Lee almost convinced me to bite into an apple before he caved and told me what he'd already figured out. The Leprechaun did leave some gold and a little toy for the kids, and an encouraging note to keep up the mayhem. Then we got dressed in green...
And made a yummy breakfast of rainbow pancakes complete with gold honey butter, and a delicious omelet.
I made Leprechaun sandwiches for lunch (with shredded carrot beards, cucumber hats, and raisin faces... but alas, I forgot to take a picture) and we will have corned beef and cabbage for dinner. It has been so much fun, and the kids have loved it all. Happy Saint Patrick's day, everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The House: 33 Weeks

We have a sign in the pod where we clock in every day that reads "You can't burn out if you've never been on fire." I feel like these last few weeks we've really been on fire! This week's big project: Caulk... oh so much caulk. I like to think of caulking as showing every tiny corner of the house some love. It's such a small thing, but it makes such a big difference! Caulk gets pumped into every little crack and crevice, and really makes everything nice and seamless. We have about seven or eight caulk guns in our tool sheds, so this week we pooled our efforts and put a large caulking team together and concentrated on just one house at a time. We finished all of house 7 on Tuesday and a little of Wednesday, then moved up to our house on Wednesday evening.

Anyway... here's some tips for caulking. The big trick is to caulk everywhere. We put caulk around edges of trim and baseboard, the seams of door jams, and the edges of shelves. Everyone has his or her own rhythm, but for me, I like to slowly pipe in about a 3' section, then smooth it with my finger, and then one more smoothing with a damp rag. Once it is all smooth and I've wiped off the caulk so there are no ripples or dents, then I rinse out my rag and start again. Cody likes to use two rags--one for goopy places and another for a seamless edge, and he wears latex gloves. I've found I really like caulking. I do well at these jobs where you just kind of pour over every detail and focus hard. Some people hate caulking because it is tedious and you can't go very fast. But love it or hate it, here's the result:
Our shelf for the entryway, getting ready ready for paint (and notice the caulked baseboard behind it):

More people were behind the corner of the master closet. It's a caulking party! This was about 9:00 on Thursday night.
We are extremely close to finishing this phase of caulk at our house, so the big group will probably go over to house 8 on Saturday and Cody will just finish up prepping for paint.

And how's everyone else doing, you might ask?:
House 1: Countertops on
House 2: Prepped for paint (including vacuuming and taping off windows), primer applied. Siding almost all done.
House 3: cabinets, countertops, and garage door in. Did I say they had their driveway poured? I can't remember. Well, at any rate, it's in. Siding delivered.
House 4: cabinets installed
House 5: Driveway poured
House 6 (ours!): caulking mostly done
House 7: sanding, spackle, caulking, and paint prep done. Primer on.
House 8: spackling and sanding and preliminary clean up done, ready for caulk.
House 9: closet shelves done, baseboard and trim almost done. Garage door in.

All 9 houses now have a garage door, and all the closet shelves are done. We anticipate we have about one more big week of paint and caulk, and then we'll probably start floors. We're then scheduled approximately 2 solid weeks of laminate floors, and then a few more weeks of other jobs. We're shooting for a mid-to-late April move-in. And considering most of us can't remember what it was like to do something other than build houses every night, that seems like just a heartbeat away!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Katie Bubble!

Today Katie is 1 year old. We had a great day, including:

Going to church...
Opening presents one tiny piece at a time...
And enjoying a fun and very blue Cookie Monster Cake with family.See how clever I am, making extra marshmallow "eyeballs" in advance for all the kids? bwahaha...

Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The House: 32 Weeks

March is here, and it came in like a lion! We've been bouncing between nasty storms and gorgeous blue skies. We keep building no matter the weather, but a few things that you'll soon read about had to wait for the storms to clear.

Some really fabulous stuff happened in our neighborhood this week. At our house, we finished sanding the front lips of our shelves. Nobody else in our team is building these lips, and so we wanted to do the majority of it during non-required hours. I went in while Lee was in Kindergarten and worked, then when I got back I wrote on my Facebook status: "I sanded my lips." What else am I going to think about while running a noisy sander for an hour and a half? I had to come up with some goofy phrase. Anyway, they're nice and smooth now. After that, we are slowly working on setting pokey nails and then covering all the nail holes with spackle. Once the spackle dries (only takes a couple of hours), then we can sand them smooth, but we aren't quite to that point yet. Oh, and by the way, notice the buckets of paint that were delivered that Anna decided was a good little chair during our Friday night Pizza party? (pictured above)

Meanwhile, on the outside of the house we had... wait for it... SIDING!

They worked hard for a day and a half, and then ran out. I'm a little baffled how they can do this for a living, and have put up siding on several of our same floorplan, and still didn't order the right amount of siding... ? Anyway, what is up looks great and I am thrilled with how the blue siding and the white trim and the grey rock is playing together. It is even better than I could have hoped for.

Ah, so pretty. Now, the neighborhood:
House 1: Driveway approach concrete poured. Painting finished. Vinyl floors in bathroom and mudroom put in. Cabinets delivered and installed. Yes, all that! AMAZING!
House 2: Caulking, spackle, sanding, done. Ready for paint.
House 3: Painting finished, full driveway poured.
House 4: Caulking, spackle, sanding done. Primer almost all done. Garage door on.
House 5: Caulking, spackle, and sanding all done. Primer done, first coat of paint started.
House 6 (ours!): shelves sanded, spackle started, siding started.
House 7: Spackle and sanding started. Siding on hold until more can be delivered. When we went out there for our Pizza party tonight, I saw the homeowners of house 1 out building. Now, obviously, there isn't a lot that they can do in their own house right now, so I was surprised to see them. I said hi, and found out that they were sneaking into House 7 because tomorrow is that homeowner's birthday, and as a surprise they put a balloon on the door and spent the evening sanding, vacuuming, and spackling. What a great birthday present! Ok, House 1 owners, you officially win the awesome neighbor prize. My plan of chocolate chip cookies pales in comparison.
House 8: Not much interior change--waiting for spackle and whatnot. Back porch in.
House 9: Trim, shelves, and baseboard started. Cody spent most of his week there helping them, since he's the official master at trim. Driveway and back porch placed.

That's right folks, we have recommenced concrete work! I am so excited to see what happens over these next few days. Every moment something is going on. The houses are wrapping up very quickly, and we're hoping for maybe a month, month and a half more of building. Onward and upward!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Momma's away...

Yesterday Cody let me go out and build while he watched the kids. That's a pretty rare occurrence, so I took it. Today I got the camera out to get some pictures of the house, and noticed something--well, a lot of things, I should say. 110 new kid pictures, taken by some budding young photographers. Would you care for a looksee?
Oh, and my very favorite:
I'm glad that Daddy Cody loves playing with the kids, and that they love him right back; and that the kids at least were entertained last night.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The House: 31 Weeks

To kind of mix things up, I thought I'd talk more about what life is like while building a house.

Cody and I usually go out together every Tuesday and most Thursdays, thanks to my mom babysitting for us. *This week, mom had surgery on Wednesday, so I didn't go out obviously. My mom is a-MAZ-ing!* All the rest of the days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) Cody goes out by himself. I try to bring lunch out to Cody on Saturday, mostly so I can make sure he eats a good meal during the long 12 hour workday. When I have the energy or the time, I also like bringing out treats for my group. I've made cookies and brownies and soup and bread and all kinds of goodies, but my most famous treats were either the hamburgers, the biscuits and gravy breakfast, or maybe the cinnamon rolls. All were a huge hit. I really enjoy taking out a little goodie to remind my neighbors that we care. :)

Cody and I always drive our black Honda Civic to the build site. Cody thinks it is a pickup. What good is building all night alongside your hubby if you can't flirt a little bit? I may or may not have gotten a leettle bit excited with the vacuum while cleaning the window sills and baseboard...
I love bringing out dinner on the nights we work together. We used to bring out sandwiches or stop by the store to buy something, but since we discovered we could take out a microwave, I've been getting more inventive. Of course, it's normally a Tupperware container full of leftovers, but we've also made microwave popcorn, warmed up chicken nuggets, etc. This week was my most exciting (and delicious) adventure yet: fresh salmon, which I prepped at home with butter and lemon, and pine nut couscous, also prepped at home. Just boil the water for the couscous, and then the salmon cooked for about 4 minutes. YUM! I served it along with some oranges, and some shelf stable chocolate milk that we stuck down in the snow for a few hours to get cold. Mostly, though, we work, and we try to work hard. We of course love a little chit-chat time, but it's always with work. Here's my he-man now, lifting some mighty heavy shelving. I told him, "Wait, I can help you with that!" but he was still too quick for me.
This week we got spend the whole time doing finish work at our house. Aah, so much fun to be in our own, warm home! It really is starting to feel like a home too. We put in closet shelving, baseboard, stair runners and window sills. (woops, I forgot to take a picture of the window sills... hm, I'll have to get that later.) We chose to put a 1 1/2" lip on the edge of all our shelves to add stability and a really nice finished look, and we are really happy with the result. Here's the kitchen pantry, all done! (See our little microwave set up right there by the air compressor?)

Here's the linen closet in the kids' bathroom. Remember when we widened it by 3"? I'm so glad we did that. :) This one was kind of an "aha" moment for me. Ever since choosing our floorplan, there's been a few things I've been really worried about storing. #1, we have no coat closet. #2, we have no mud room. So where can I keep things like my vacuum, coats, cleaning supplies, etc? Then it hit me--I have a linen closet in each bathroom! I decided to convert the linen closet in the kids' bathroom into the cleaning closet. So I left a large empty space at the bottom, tall enough (I know--I measured) for our broom, mop, and vacuum. There was still enough space above for cleaning supplies and extra soap/shampoo. And where will I keep my linens, you might ask? Well, that bathroom already has extra storage in a cabinet that will be installed above the countertop. I love brilliant moments like that.And, to solve the lack of coat closet, we asked our building manager if we could build a shelf and bench. We got the approval to build it now, but install it after the open house. Hooray! We can use the materials available now, and then it will just hang out in our basement until after we move in. We started the bench. It's not quite done--we ran out of the trim I want to use around the top--but I'd say it's looking mighty fine. It has 2 spots with boot trays on them for shoes, and I'll make a little pad for the top. The shelf is also being built, but isn't quite as far along as the bench is. You'll just have to wait until next week for that picture.
Here's some more closet love. Master bedroom, before it was all done. It is done now.

Lee's closet:
Anna and Katie's closet:The rods will be installed after we paint. And here's the Master bathroom linen closet:So that's our house. How about the others? You may notice... we started painting this week!
House 1: Caulk, Spackle, sanding, and extensive cleaning all done. Primer applied. Gutters on.
House 2: Caulk, spackle, sanding, and cleaning going on.
House 3: Caulk fixed and done, spackle and sanding done, cleaning done, primer done.
House 4: spackle and sanding started.
House 5: spackle and sanding started, caulk started.
House 6 (ours!): shelving done, baseboard on all carpeted areas done, bench built, window sills and stair runners done. Just need another delivery of some trim to finish off a few places and we'll be ready to spackle and sand!
House 7: Inside, not much has changed--just waiting to spackle and caulk. But outside, most of the siding has been put on. They got held up by a big wind and snow storm.
House 8: Trim, baseboard and shelves done; window sills and stair runners and all that jazz done. Ready for spackle and caulk.
House 9: Interior doors installed and closets being designed.

Wow, this post is getting LONG! It's been a busy week. Nearly everyone has come out during non-required work hours and we are all very excited about what is going on. It's so invigorating to get so much done and to be getting close to the end. Mostly, it's just a lot of fun to work on our own house and see our dreams come true!