Saturday, April 28, 2012

The House: Saturday of Sod

Our last Saturday building deserves its own post, right?

Today has been wildly emotional for me.  I can't believe we're almost done with this build!  The things we've learned, the friendships we've forged, the work we've done... the neighborhood we've built....

Eric and Anna enjoying a little lunch break on the new front yard
Anyway.  Before I get too sentimental, we did sod today.  5 of the 9 houses now have their front yards done, including ours.  The rest don't have sprinkler systems ready, but the sod there will go in just as soon as we possibly can.

Cody and the crew, enjoying some lunch
Our whole team was asked to scour the earth for volunteers, and we were fortunate enough to get my brother in law Eric to come out for several hours--we are so grateful!  Also, my across-the-street neighbor who has been keeping tabs on us throughout the build babysat for a few hours so I could help as well.  There were quite a few people, and I just had to take this final opportunity to bring everyone lunch, hang out, work, and play together.  I made sloppy joes and potato salad and a bunch of trimmings.  But I should back up as well--we just hauled!  The sod went in so quickly, I am dumbfounded.  By eight in the morning they had the first 2 houses done.  Two more and park strips were done by eleven-thirty.  By two, all five houses were done and we were dismissed to our own houses to work for the remainder of the day.  Some extra sod had been delivered, as is pretty normal, so we took ours and laid it in our side yards.  We turned on our sprinklers for the first time, made sure they were adjusted correctly, turned on their timer system for 30 minutes 2 times a day to keep the new sod good and soggy, and then worked on window wells and helping other people around.

 One last look at the beautiful, amazing work of the day.  It gives me chills, then brings me to tears, then more tears and chills in reverse order, and mostly just excitement.  It's been nine months of building, and a year since we first applied.  Our lives have been rebuilt here.  This is our home.  *justoneweekjustoneweekjustoneweek...*

No TV week

Lee's school had a challenge for all the kids this last week--No TV or video games.  We decided to make it a family goal, to be rewarded with a "family date" if we succeeded.

It was a fun week, but I'll admit that without my nightly stress-relief of silly shows, I was grumpier than normal.  Of course, maybe that is contributed to the end of the build?  Or not going out to build and having some social interaction?  Who knows.  But for the most part, it was lots of fun.

We read more books than normal, and we do usually read lots of books.  I started reading Roald Dahl's "The BFG" out loud to the kids and they are loving it.  Lee really grabbed hold of No TV week and turned it into his personal quest.  I nearly caved during Alisa's bridal shower when we needed to entertain six kids for two hours, but just as I was asking the kids what movie they would like to watch, Lee said firmly--"No mom, it's No TV week!" and I was so proud of him and ashamed of myself at the same time... ah, the classic "mom" feeling. :)

Annalisa had a slightly harder time though.  She kept trying to pull the wool over her daddy's eyes--something we jokingly tease him about anyway.  One day while I was out cleaning the house and the girls were home with Cody and Lee was at kindergarten, Anna batted her green eyes at Cody and said, "Daddy, can I watch some Curious George?" and Cody said, "But it's No TV week, Anna!"  To which she sweetly and firmly replied, "But it just is YES TV week, daddy!"

But despite our silly challenges and grumpiness, we made it!  Friday night, we went out to dinner and then stopped at the nursery to buy our shrubs and trees (though they didn't have the bigtooth maples I have my heart set on, so we didn't end up getting any trees yet) and then went to our new house to play hide and seek.  It was a very fun evening that ended very late, but was worth it. 

I challenge you all to try a no TV week sometime soon!  Now, I will go watch GMA. ;)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The House: 39 Weeks

(And Yes, I have noticed how amazingly ironic it is that this build will end at 40 weeks.)

What a FUN week this has been for me!  What a STRESSFUL week it has been as well!  As everything is getting tied up at the house, we are working tirelessly to finish what we need to there, but also keep our lives somewhat in order.  Some days it is a struggle just to put on clothing and put food in our own mouths.  Thank goodness for all the help we've received--my Grandma and Grandpa brought over two delicious meals, my mom helped me clean the new house on Wednesday, and the kids have been so patient and understanding and sweet this week.

I guess I'll get on to the meat of this post: our house!  I think the vast majority of the work is done.  At this point, we're ready for sod and cleaning, and that's about it.  We may find a thing here or there that needs to be fixed or finished, but at this point, not much is coming to mind. 

Saturday:  Cody, my dad, and both of Cody's parents were out there for a good portion of the day (Cody all day, the volunteers some solid hours).  They put all the doors back on the hinges and put on the doorknobs.  Some of the closet doors had to be adjusted so they wouldn't rub against each other, and it's a surprisingly easy fix: just remove the hinge across from the rubbing portion, and chisel off a small section of the door right where the hinge attaches, then put the hinge back on.  Super easy!  Now they hang so nicely, it is beautiful.  After the doors, they also put up all the blinds--aaaah, so lovely. 

Sunday we stopped by after church for a few hours for a family picnic lunch, and Cody showed me how he put up the blinds and we added the top trim that came with the blinds.

Monday I went out to clean, but after I left the electrician came back and put in all our switches and plugs!  Tuesday morning the lighting guy came in and did the light fixtures, so when Cody went out on Tuesday night to build, it was like a whole new house.  He put in the light bulbs, switch covers, and finished the closet rods.

Wednesday my mom and I cleaned while Lee was in Kindergarten, and then my dad and Cody went out in the evening.  The water pressure had been tested and the water was ON!  Cody called me and told me he'd used our toilet for the first time.  I'll admit there's been a few times when someone has used the toilet that's brought me to tears (usually the kids while they are potty training), but this was certainly the first time my husband using the toilet has brought me to tears. :)  That night, Dad helped clean out the window wells and fill them with rocks, and Cody started prepping yards for sod by raking and raking and raking. 

Thursday I went back to the house in the afternoon and did touch-ups on the baseboards and trim.  After the carpet went in, some of the baseboard had been pushed back a bit from the install and a few nails were poking out.  I set them, puttied them, caulked a few lines, and then repainted with indoor paint.  While I was there, the first of our inspectors came by to clear the house for moving in.  I asked him if I needed to clear out, but he said no, so I stuck around and painted while he and our project manager were walking through testing lights, fans, faucets, etc.  Right as he was walking out the door, I heard him say to our manager: "Well, this one's great!"  As soon as I heard the door click and knew they were out of earshot, I ran around yelling and cheering.  We passed!  That night Cody continued raking rocks, put in our toilet paper holders and towel rods, and generally just kept working.

Around the neighborhood, everyone is doing similar things.  Again, we haven't been inside the other houses all week, but we did get together to rake rocks.  I know House 1, 7, 6(ours!), and 2 will be getting sod first, so we all have working sprinklers and we have prepped the dirt.  Several houses had inspections this week along with us too.  Some are still getting light fixtures, some have water on, but I'm really not sure who, so I will skip the house-by-house this week.  But I'm certain everyone has been working as hard as we are!

In just ONE WEEK, this beautiful new home will be all ours.  *squeak!*

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The House: Week 38

The final countdown continues!  Just 2 more weeks now.  A while back our project manager hinted that if we got everything completed early, we could have a few days off.  Ha!  That's not going to happen.  There is a lot that needs to be done.  I'm trying to go out and work while Lee's in Kindergarten, and even then it sometimes feel like we hardly make a dent in the end.  I suppose it's because the work we are doing now isn't really visible, big things like putting on roofs or interior doors.  Instead, it's cleaning (oh so much cleaning!), putting up slide latches on the attic access, and painting door frames.

Which, incidentally, is exactly what we did this week.  Saturday there was rain on the forecast, so we were all scared to go start the outside work, for fear of having the plaster or paint wash away.  As it happened, it never rained, but we still had plenty to do inside.  Cody cleaned out the basement, we opened our appliances--yessss! appliances!--and vacuumed the upstairs again to get ready for carpet.  We also finished the vapor barrier over the insulation in the basement, moved a bunch of stuff up into the attic for storage (like extra shingles) and guess how brilliant my husband is?  He took the extra leftover insulation and put it up there too so we could start insulating the ceiling in the garage!  I never would have thought of that. 

Tuesday was decent weather, even though it had rained earlier that day, so we got right on the painting and foundation plaster.  And thank goodness--we finished the plaster that night.  I had high hopes we'd finish the painting super quick, but after starting on one door frame and realizing it would need 2-3 coats, my hopes were dashed.  It is definitely a bigger project than I anticipated.  Of course, what hasn't been a bigger project than I anticipated?  The places we are painting are: the door frames and trim on all exterior doors, which are the back double french doors, the garage "interior" (leads to the house) garage exterior (to outside), and the front door.  We have some outdoor paint that we used, but it is much thinner than the interior paint.  We didn't get the painting done until Thursday, and I'm not sure where the other houses are at.

Which leads me to my next point--On Wednesday we were given a punch list and sent to our own homes to complete it.  From now to the end, with the exception of sod, we are "on our own."  We just work at our own houses, finishing our last few tasks.  Of course that doesn't stop Cody from sneaking over and helping someone else for a few minutes, but that's just Cody for you. :)

My mom helped me on Thursday while Lee was in school vacuum and clean.  Yes, you heard me right--vacuum our new CARPET!!!  Anna came with us, since it was just going to be cleaning, and she loved running around in bare feet.

We've been waiting for this a very, very long time.

Also going on outside, whenever the weather permits, is the sprinkler system in the front yard. We're all nervous they won't have these systems done in time.  We are planning on doing sod before the open house, and it's taken them 2 weeks to do 4 houses.  yikes!  *cross your fingers for good weather, or at least good enough to dig trenches in*

Around the neighborhood, I know of a few basic things that got done, but like I said earlier, we're now just in our own houses until the end, so I'm not sure where everyone is at on their punch list.  So I'll just put up what I know.
House 1: yard raked and ready for sod.
House 2: sprinkler system in, carpet in.
House 3: carpet in
House 4: Baby born!  Congratulations!  Foundation plaster done.  And...?  Their paint, carpet, electrical, was all done a few weeks ago, so I'm guessing they were just cleaning before baby came.
House 5: light fixtures in, plaster done.
House 6 (ours!): cleaning, carpet, painting done.
House 7: carpet in
House 8: carpet in, plaster in.
House 9: plaster done, last one still waiting for carpet (which should be there this weekend or Monday at the latest)
All 9 houses: working on cleaning, painting, and finishing touches.

And just a reminder--you're all invited to our open house in 2 weeks!  If you need information on where it is located or what times, please contact me with a comment or an email or phone call.  I've been waiting to get the email invitation, but they haven't published one yet.  Oh well.  It's happening, and that's all that matters. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The House: Mad rush to the end (Or Read: I might be out of it for a while)

We have two and a half weeks until the end of the build, and our life is absolutely NUTS right now!  There is a lot to do to finish up the house, but there's so much more going on right now.  Like I mentioned in last week's post, we just moved Lee to his new school, and he is adjusting very well.  His new teacher is wonderful, and his new school is much smaller more relaxed than his former one, which is great for Lee's unique learning needs.  I'm really proud of him and how well he's been doing with this big, scary change.  Like always, I've been more nervous than he has!

Cody's sister Alisa just got engaged, and we are SO excited for her and Casey!  I'm honored and thrilled to be one of her "sister-maids" and am having a blast planning bridal showers and going dress shopping and stuff like that. 

Of course, along with finishing the house means we'll be moving in, so we're also moving wards, and starting to clean, pack, and organize our belongings.  Couple all this with trying to spend some quality time with our kids, going to work every day, and still being a part of extended family activities... ultimately, this blog may be a bit neglected over the next few weeks.  I'm taking pictures a lot, so I'll try to catch up later.  Of course, blogging is a good stress-relief for me, so if I need a break this is where I'll come.  So, anyway--if you see a post, yay!  If you don't see a post, know we're okay, just busy. 

Oh, and if you live nearby and would like to come out and paint or clean houses or babysit for a few hours, I wouldn't say no! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The House: Week 37

It has been another crazy busy week, but this time notably marked by the feeling that things are coming to a close.  We haven't been nearly as concerned about hours as we have about simply getting jobs done.  It's pretty cool.  We are so close!

Saturday was bright, sunny, and warm, so we worked outside almost the entire time (though the girls were inside caulking).  Cody kept grinding foundations, but took "breaks" by doing some insulation in the basements.  Actually, it's not really much of a break.  The sheets are much larger than the 16" wide rolls used in regular framing, and we put in big honkin' concrete nails to hold it up.  After the insulation goes up, we cover it with a plastic moisture/vapor barrier, again with more concrete nails.
  Meanwhile, another team of guys went outside and applied the finishing concrete to the smooth foundations.  It was very similar to doing the scratch coat before the stone: mix it up in the concrete mixer, then smear it on and smooth it out with a texturing tool.  In a few hours it was done, and they moved on to another house.  It's amazing how much just that little bit dresses up the house and makes it look so complete!
 On Monday, Lee started kindergarten at his new school by our new house.  He was a little bit nervous but has really done well with it this whole week, and I'm so proud of him!  The new routine includes me taking him to school, then building while he is in Kindergarten, and then going home together.  It saves on gas, and helps us get a few extra hours in and a bit more done.  And, it affords us awesome pictures like this one, which was going on as I left on Monday afternoon:
 Yep, that's right: they FINALLY came back, after an entire month, and finished our siding!  You'll just have to read on to see the final product.

So Tuesday was more grinding, foundation plaster, caulking, and painting.  Painting of exterior doors, that is.  We took all the doors off the hinges (front door, door to garage from house, and door to garage from outside) and took them over to house 3 where the sprayer was set up.  It takes a few coats of paint which have to dry a bit in between, but really it didn't take too long to get them done.  The longest part was that there's simply not room to do more than about 8 doors at a time in the garage, and 9 houses times three doors means 27 doors, and about 3 batches of spraying--so it ended up taking 2 nights to get them all done.  Then we took them back and returned them to their hinges.  Tuesday was another beautiful day so we didn't have to cover the entry ways while the doors were off.  After the doors were put back on the houses, we got our door knobs!  They came with 4 keys: three of which we get to have right now, the other one stays with our project manager so that he always has access to the houses until after the open house.
Wednesday night there was rain on the forecast, so Cody worked really hard and finished the last house grinding the foundation before the rain hit in earnest at about 5:30.  Hooray!  Once it was too poor of weather to work outside anymore, everyone went inside, finished the last of the baseboards in house 9, and that last bit of caulking.  Then it was time to clean the insides of the houses.

Thursday afternoon, Cody went out to build and I took the girls to pick up Lee, and guess what we found? 

 It's Christmas morning!!!  Uh, I mean, we got our finish plumbing done!!!  It feels exactly the same, at least for Cody and I.  Lee ran in and said, "We've got a POTTY!"  Then he tried to flush it, and said, "Dad, it's broken!  It doesn't sound right."  The water isn't on yet, but they did hook everything up so all we have to do is turn on the house water, and *hopefully* it will work correctly.  Cody cleaned all that night and worked more on insulation, finishing another 3 basements.  The rest of the team was doing similar things: cleaning, insulation, putting on the exterior door knobs, and even the house numbers came in (though Cody didn't put ours up yet--he thought I'd like to help... how sweet!) and getting ready for carpet to be installed, which will probably be here early next week for the houses that don't have it yet.
Now, here it is. *heart*

Where's the rest of the team?
House 1: carpet in, foundation done, basement insulated, sprinkler system started.
House 2: caulk and spackle finished, foundation done.
House 3: caulk and spackle mostly finished (a few baseboards need to be fixed first), foundation all done.
House 4: caulk and spackle done, foundation grinding done, basement insulation done.
House 5: foundation grinding done, carpet done. AND--They had a new baby! :D
House 6(ours!): finishing plumbing done, foundation all done, basement insulation done.
House 7: foundation all done, sprinkling system started, basement insulated, caulking and spackle done.
House 8: foundation grinding done, basement insulated, caulking and spackle done.
House 9: siding almost completed, foundation grinding done, basement insulated, baseboard completed.
All 9 houses: exterior doors painted (except for the back porch door, which has to be done with a paintbrush and can't be done in the rain) and caulked, door knobs on exterior doors installed, vacuumed out and ready for carpet and the end cleaning has begun.

Whew. 3 weeks left... oh my...

Friday, April 6, 2012

The House: 36 Weeks

It has been another very busy week, but now that we know when our open house is, I can officially say we're one week closer to moving in!  Until now, it has felt like this distant goal that would never come.  But now, there's no stopping until the finish line.  It is the sprint to the end!

There were some amazing and really fun things happening this week besides the meeting where we found out our move-in date.  First of all, on Saturday we did our laminate floor.  Almost all of it was completed that day, except for about 3 pieces right by the front door.  We ran out of laminate that close!  :P Our project manager ordered another couple of boxes the minute he realized we would run out, but they didn't arrive until Wednesday, so that is when we finished the floor.  On Thursday we put in the edge trim that separates the laminate from the carpet and the bullnose at the top of the stairs.  It is dirty and dusty from our feet and construction materials, but it is beautiful.  I love it!
Here's a few more pictures of our completed cabinets.  This is the kid's bathroom.  The cabinet in the corner will be moved back a few inches.  It comes perilously close to the outlet and the light fixture, so hopefully moving it back will fix those problems.  If not, we'll take the cabinet out after we move in and put it somewhere else in the house, then fill that area with open shelving.  The countertop will extend all the way back underneath that cabinet to the wall.  

Here's the master bathroom.  The first picture was taken on Thursday, right before we did the baseboard.  On Friday afternoon (read on to see why we were out there) we got another thing that makes it feel like Christmas: countertops! 
 And of course, the kitchen with the cabinets and floor in, first on Thursday afternoon and then Friday afternoon with baseboard and countertops.
On Thursday, after the rest of the floor was finished, we put in the baseboard over the new laminate and vinyl flooring.  When we painted the house, we laid out several strips of baseboard and painted them as well.  Now, we've used them and finished all the baseboard in the house.  We caulked over the edges, and today (Friday) we snuck in during some non-required hours and puttied the nail holes and then painted over them and the caulk with a little sponge brush.  The baseboard and trim at our house is D.O.N.E.!!!

(Here I am puttying nail holes)

And, the finished product of the floor plus the edges and baseboard (whoops, I didn't go quite far enough over to see the stairs bullnose.  sorry!):
Meanwhile, He-Man-Cody was outside grinding the foundations of the house with a concrete grinder.  When they put in the foundations, they of course use forms which I've talked about before.  These forms, however, leave large lines and bumps and ridges in the concrete.  So Cody is grinding them all smooth and then we will apply a plaster finish coat and make it all pretty.  Everyone agrees that this grinding is one of the least pleasant jobs of the build, and Cody and the homeowner of House 9 are our heroes for taking it on and not complaining. Actually, Cody just got the best laugh of his life: he has been super sore all day because of the grinding, and decided to call the other guy who was helping him yesterday.  Cody said, "Hi, how are you feeling?"  and was immediately replied: "I feel terrible... I can't move my neck, my wife can't figure out what's wrong with me..." Cody laughed and laughed because he's feeling exactly the same way.  :)

Now the house-by-house-play-by-play (But before I begin, there has been a lot of small jobs going on like taping off exterior doors for paint and sanding spackle and caulking trim, so it has been a busy week, even if I don't write down all these little steps at each house.):

House 1: Laminate floors finished, baseboard finished including caulk and spackle, foundation mostly smooth, sinks and toilets installed.  Final grading done.
House 2: Laminate floor done, baseboard done but not caulked yet, countertops, sinks in.  Final grade done.  Foundation grinding done.
House 3:  Final grade done, sinks installed, laminate floor done, baseboard done.  Funny note on House 3 this week--The owners got to go on a vacation to and have been sending out volunteers in their place.  For a few weeks our project manager has been warning us that we'll soon be painting exterior doors and we'll take them all off their hinges and move them to one garage and paint them all at once.  Nobody has been wanting to volunteer their garage for this messy job, even though we'll do whatever the boss asks... but guess who wasn't here to defend themselves on Thursday, and now has a garage all taped off to paint in?  ;D (really, their house is a good one for painting at because they have a very large garage and it's in a central location to all 9 houses.)
House 4: Carpet installed, light fixtures installed, siding on, laminate floor done, baseboard done and caulked.  Final grading done.
House 5: baseboard all in, caulked, and spackled.  Countertop in. Siding finished.  *Note, final grade not done.  This is the only house that it didn't get done at, because they're across the street from the other houses. 
House 6 (ours!): Laminate floor done, baseboard done, countertops started, foundation grinding done, siding finally delivered but not installed yet.
House 7: Laminate floor done, baseboard done but not caulked, foundation grinding done.
House 8: Laminate floor done, baseboard done.  Final Grading done.
House 9: Painting finished, vinyl floors and cabinets installed, laminate floors mostly done until we ran out of pieces just before the end, baseboard mostly in (except for where the laminate isn't done yet).   Final Grading done.

So... in case you're keeping tabs and aren't exactly sure where we're sitting: all 9 houses have vinyl floors and cabinets.  Some have countertops and some don't.  All the laminate is done except for a few pieces that had to be ordered.  Baseboard is pretty much all in, even though it's not all caulked yet.  All the grading is done except for house 5 and the park strips between the road and sidewalk.  Oh, and also yesterday we met with the sprinkler guys to get the sprinkling systems going in the front yard.  I suppose I should expand on this: there's been some craziness with the yards.  Originally we were told we could do what we wanted with it, as long as it was done within 45 days of moving in.  A few weeks ago we were given a bombshell saying we had to adhere to new watersense guidelines that included having 40% or less of our lot as grass--pretty much meaning a ten foot strip of grass around our property and the rest rock or concrete.  Ugh... we were NOT happy.  But we fought hard against that and got the guidelines re-done.  We don't mind being water conscious, but the restrictions really did not make sense.  Now, we're getting even more new information.  The office big-wigs want to make our open house extra special (not sure why...?) and are offering us some free sod (some, not all...enough to defer the cost and make it close to the price of hydroseed) for our front yards if we will put it in before the big day.  So, we all agreed and now will be putting in trees and sod and sprinkling systems and front yard fences before the open house so that the yards will be all gorgeous when we show them off.  I asked if we could not do the yards and move in sooner and was told no, so we might as well finish the yards before we move in and have that 45 day restriction removed, so there is less to worry about when we live there.  Phew!

Just 4 weeks remaining!!!

The Lego House

Yesterday after our horrible ordeal chasing Lee, I decided the rest of the day should be spent playing inside.  My parents have a huge tub of Legos leftover from the days of my youth, and several years ago my dad built this amazing Lego table to play on.  Needless to say, it's a favorite playspot for my kids now.  So yesterday, we built our house! 

Of course I had to make a few minor modifications to the floorplan, like taking out closets, but all the major elements are there.  We had a good time, and that's the most important part.