Friday, December 29, 2006

Trusses delivered today

We had no trouble with the trusses being delivered today. Here is a shot of one set of trusses being unloaded. The ceiling height in the center of the house is 10' with the porches and some rooms at 9', hence the "stairstep" in the trusses at the ends.

You can clearly see the attic truss feature in this photo - the truss opening is about 5.5' high by 10' wide and runs almost the length of the house. In the garage, the truss opening is of similar size, maybe *slightly* shorter and wider. We are having plywood placed throughout the attic trusses for future storage use and ease of access in case of any necessary repairs, etc.

Our builder hopes to get all the trusses up and braced over the next 2 weeks or so, then he's on vacation for a week (planned before he started on our house), then it's attacking the roof sheeting (if the weather allows). Looks like the forecast is for clear skies next week, so we're keeping our fingers crossed on getting the trusses erected pretty quickly. You can see some of them lying on the walls in this picture.

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rain, rain, go away....

We got a bit of rain yesterday and this morning. We are expecting trusses to be delivered on Friday 12/29. Looks like clear weather after this last bit of rain goes away (at least through 1/4). Hopefully thigs will dry out enough for the truss guys to get the access they need to deliver the trusses.

Forecast is calling for sunny, breezy conditions today and tomorrow, so that will help.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ready for roof trusses

You can see that the front (above) and rear (below) porches have posts and beams installed for the roof trusses (both porches are covered).

The original truss company repriced the trusses and their new price is about 5% lower than their original quote. The other truss company actually came in more expensive, so that issue is settled. Trusses have been ordered and should arrive Wednesday 12/27. I thought they wouldn't be here until the new year, so this is good news!

They are not working tomorrow or Friday - doctor's appointment for the builder and his helper went home sick today - so they will just come back after Christmas. He still has some minor framing work to finish up next Tuesday (finish framing in the windows, etc.).

I am on vacation next week (at least most of it), so hopefully the weather holds and I will be able to get some good photos/video of the trusses being put up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Basic framing complete

OK, basic house framing is complete. This is the front of the house, with the computer room/den (9-ft ceiling) on the left of the front porch, with the family room and living room to the left of the front door (with a photostitch seam running through it, grrr) and the dining room and master bedroom to the right (all 10-ft ceilings). Master bath is to the right of the front porch (9-ft ceiling).

The front of the house is perfectly symmetrical about the front door. The six large openings will each house two single-hung windows side-by-side.

Here is a shot of the man-room (err, garage). We will have an 18-ft and 10-ft door, both 8-ft tall. The extra space to the right of the doors is the testosterone corner (err, workshop area). The openings you see through the larger garage door are going to be a door to the back yard (left of the sawhorses), a large slider window, and a double door to the back yard.

He's got another 1-2 weeks worth of misc. stuff I guess (securing the framing, adding all the top sills, putting in the columns and headers in the porch areas, etc.). Sounds like we should find out more tomorrow about the trusses. He's thinking that with the holidays coming up, we'll shoot for trusses after the first of the year.

Made the first payment to the builder today (draw #1) from our loan (well, we wrote the check, he'll pick it up tomorrow). Money was wired to our account today from the lender and it's already gone. Easy come, easy go....

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Framing about half done

Here is our son standing in what will be his bedroom (photo on Saturday 12-9-06).

This is the framing work they finished on Monday. It was a little wet today to do much, so he was going to check on the trusses today. Have to see if he found out anything.

In this picture, you are looking southwest over the driveway apron, through the garage (as yet unframed), and into the house. Most of the house has 10-ft ceilings, except as noted. To the very left is the master bath (9-ft ceiling) and the master closet. Just over the left sawhorse is the laundry room. The half bath and pantry are over the right sawhorse. Then comes the kitchen and an open breakfast nook. Finally, to the right lies the guest room, second bathroom, and our son's room (all 9-ft ceilings). The rest of the rooms are along the front of the house and are not really framed in yet.

Here is the view out the kitchen window (looking west). Sunsets look better when it isn't cloudy/raining....

Well, it's a good thing that we poured all the concrete early, as the recent (and still upcoming) rain has made it a bit muddy out there. You can pull up the driveway and walk right onto the driveway apron and not get your feet muddy.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Walls are going up

The builder started framing and as of today has our son's bedroom and the adjacent bathroom framed. The guest bedroom is partially framed. You can see that many other walls are about ready to be tilted up as well - pretty quick work for just 2 guys.

He is going to be out tomorrow trying to get the final inspections/finishing touches done on the house he completed before ours. Hopefully all goes well and he can put that one to rest. Framing should be pretty much completed next week unless weather interferes.

We are checking on getting the roof truss costs reduced by having the company who did the truss calculations recheck their prices and also by checking with another company who is a little more affordable. Our builder used the other company for his last house and was very pleased with the product, so we'll just see what happens.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

We did it

We signed the loan papers today, putting us in the "poorhouse" for the next 30 years. Paid a few points (not out of pocket, wrapped into the loan) and will be saving about 10% per month which will "repay" the points in less than 4 years.

On the bright side, the well is being put in so at least we'll have water. One of the well drillers is a high-school friend of my sister's, so it was neat seeing him after almost 20 years. Here's a shot of the drill rig.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Loan approved

Got the call today that our loan is approved - we should be signing papers on Tuesday if all goes as planned!

Now we're broke for the rest of our lives!

Oh, yeah, and there is a lot of lumber piled up out there. 2x4's and 2x6's mostly (we have 2x6 exterior walls), along with some headers and a glulam beam or two for good measure.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Porches done, driveway apron tomorrow

I spoke with our builder this morning and he's planning on the following schedule right now:

Today: Prepping for one more concrete pour tomorrow (driveway apron), maybe start framing the walls.
Tomorrow: Placing concrete for driveway apron and more framing. Well driller starts on domestic water well, I think.

He doubts he will have any walls "tilted up" by the weekend (putting framing together on the ground first), but all the concrete except for sidewalks should be done by tomorrow. He said the weather is holding up great for concrete so he wanted to get the apron done to help keep mud from getting tracked everywhere once the rains hit and they are working on plumbing, electrical, etc. The apron is going to be the same length as the garage (43 feet) and extend out 20 feet in width. That will put the apron right at the edge of the aggregate driveway we have right now.

He will probably be tilting up at least some of the walls next week by the sound of it.

He figures he's got about 135+/- yards of concrete placed after tomorrow's pour. That will increase significantly once the sidewalks are added in the spring.

I took a closer look at the house slab today and saw only 2 cracks in the entire slab. Both were approximately hairline in nature and occurred in re-entrant corners, very common locations for these to occur. Given the size of the slab and lack of control joints (not put into residential floor slabs), I was impressed!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Floor slab is complete - porches next

Well, the concrete was placed last Monday (Nov 20th) and the results look great. Nice cool weather and humidity were good curing conditions and with the fibermesh reinforcement, I didn't see one crack out there today, just some slight surface "crazing".

Edit - sorry for the somewhat "jerky" picture - the photo stitch software seems to have a bit of a problem with the photos used for some reason.

It looks like they are now preparing to place the concrete for the front and rear covered porches/patios (necessary to do now because the columns in them are structural in nature - they support the roof). I will call the builder tomorrow to check on his schedule. I know the exterior walkways/sidewalks are going to wait until the spring when they won't be damaged during construction activities.

Edit - I called him and the front porch concrete will be placed Tuesday and the rear porch Wednesday - framing lumber to start being delivered as well.

They didn't put sand down over the 15-mil Stegowrap before placing concrete and given the weather conditions and slab/footing construction method, I agree with the decision. Good curing conditions (weather) and a slab placed integrally with the footings (instead of a two-step pour) means the chances of curling are minimal. Curling is one of the main reasons sand is used under the slab, it helps speed curing of the bottom of the slab and protects the vapor barrier from damage.

In using Stegowrap, the vapor barrier material is so durable that protection wasn't required.

Also, the use of sand can be detrimental to a nice, uniform thickness slab without defects, as it gets pushed around and tracked into the concrete during placement.

The time-lapse photo camera seems to be performing well - I wonder if a momentary power glitch caused the problems with not all the photos being taken a couple weeks ago.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ready for concrete

Well, we are ready for concrete. Stego Wrap is down and the sand cover should be placed tomorrow. Concrete will be here on Monday.

Unfortunately, we will be in Missouri at the time, so I hope the camera is working OK.

We are not going to be using welded wire mesh in the slabs as that is rarely placed correctly and seldom does any good wherever it ends up. We are going to use fibermesh ( instead. We used this for our back patio where we live now and there isn't a crack to be found.

Looks like the weather is perfect for concrete placement as well, with temps in the 60's and cloudy weather.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Drains are in

All the drain lines have been installed and are ready for pressure-testing today.

After the test, the trenches the lines are in will be backfilled with sand and he can start placing baserock (capillary break), vapor barrier, and the thin sand layer in preparation for concrete placement.

We are using Stego Wrap ( instead of visqueen due to it's superior strength and vapor blocking capabilities. This is a first for our builder, and he thinks he might start using it on all of his future projects. I need to double check and make sure he's going to be placing it in the garage as well to help prevent efflorescence.

He may be placing concrete on Monday for the house and garage slabs.

Our family is going out of town for Thanksgiving week, so I will miss part of the fun.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our builder has started putting in the drain lines. He's trying to button up the other house he's finishing, but needs the tile and flooring guys to

get their stuff completed. We haven't had a lot of rain (just some more light sprinkles today, mostly), but too much of the wet stuff will start causing problems unless the concrete is placed. Still not quite to that point, obviously....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Forms are going up

Stopped by our site this evening and the forms for the foundation are partially installed. Too dark for pictures, unfortunately.

I am having some trouble with the digital camera I set up for the time-lapse photos. It only took about 5 photos out of 100 this week (the first 5 scheduled). I don't know why. I tried to turn off the flash before setting up the camera last time, so I wonder if that had something to do with it, but I'm not sure it would....

Bah. Why can't things just work as advertised?

Friday, November 03, 2006

We have broken ground

The backhoe guy did his thing (at least for now) and trenched for the septic drain line inside the house as well as the footings. The first photo is looking at the front of the house (looking west). The second photo shows the back of the house (looking northeast). We also have 3 fair-sized piles of trench spoils I wasn't anticipating (which I was standing on to get these pictures) - but I think this might give us a little landscaping material. Maybe a couple small hills/berms to add a little variety?

Sounds like the builder has a couple more days left doing touch-up work at the house he's finishing up and he's ready to work on ours full-time. He'll hopefully be done there early next week.

The little rain we've had the past couple days has been perfect to moisten up the ground without causing problems.

The SMUD gal showed up on Wednesday and marked out locations for a pole across the street as well as a pole on our property for service to our house. Let's see if they actually go in where she marked them....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A vision in chalk

Our builder laid out the exterior walls, footings, septic line, and front and rear porch areas in chalk today (see photo). The garage got cut off a bit on the right side of the picture. The backhoe is due out tomorrow for some trenching/digging work. We're breaking ground - woohoo!

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD - the local electric provider) didn't show up today to discuss bringing electricity to the parcel like we had discussed. After I called to see why nobody had shown up yet, they said that the designer I had talked to was new and they didn't know why nobody was there. They rescheduled for tomorrow - the supervisor I spoke with will come out instead.

We have chosen a loan provider and that process is now underway.

We are now trying to figure out where fences and trees and sprinkler lines and the pump and the propane tank and the trench for power and phone service and everything else are all going to go....

Friday, October 20, 2006

We have a driveway

We got about 75 tons of aggregate base (AB) delivered today. Our builder smoothed it out into a decent enough driveway for construction purposes. Should get everyone through the winter and we will "revisit" it next year when construction is done, if necessary. Driveway is about 200 ft long or so.

Here's a couple pictures from this morning. First one is from the first of three deliveries of AB, second is the (almost) finished product.

Our builder should be on-site a week from Tuesday (October 31) to start laying out the house on the pad and may be excavating sewer lines and footing locations with a backhoe a day or two later. He's going to get us a final cost estimate on Monday or Tuesday so we can finalize our loan.

Kind of exciting to see things starting to move forward. I need to work on getting rid of the blackberry bush sprouts starting to pop up along the front of the property where we removed all the old bushes and the fence.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Got Aggregate Base?

We are having aggregate base delivered for the driveway next Friday (October 20th). About 75 tons worth.

We need to be sure that we are not tracking dirt onto the road because the county will fine you for the mess and the contractor may need access during some not-so-nice weather. We really don't need him getting stuck or unable to work due to a muddy driveway.

We have a lender selected and almost all of the required background information has been provided to them. Still need a couple things from the contractor, but I just got the paperwork for him from the lender today and he's picking it up tomorrow, so that should be done in relatively short order.

Things are starting to move forward a little faster. I need to go fiddle with the camera setup for the time-lapse photos I want to take of construction activities.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Plans approved

I got a call today from our builder saying the plans have been approved by the County and he's going to pick them up tomorrow. He is pretty excited to start on our house, as he is going to be doing a couple new things (using Stego Wrap for the underslab vapor retarder instead of plain visqueen and putting in two tankless water heaters in parallel, for example). Our home will also be very close (less than 10 miles or so) from his house, so a nice short commute is appealing, too.

We are obviously pursuing financing right now and while it shouldn't be a problem, we need to get the plans and some paperwork put together and submit it with a cost estimate/contract and get the ball rolling. We could be under construction in less than a month!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sticker Shock

Well, we met with the builder today and got a bit of sticker shock, although I think we all had figured we were a bit to optimistic about the originally assumed price per square foot.

His estimate is about 20-25% higher than we had hoped.

A lot of this comes from the roof trusses, as they are about twice as expensive as the house he's currently working on and will take about 3 weeks to install instead of less than a week for simpler roof layouts. Ours has numerous valleys and ridges - more complex than your typical roof.

He has also budgeted on the high side for allowances such as flooring, cabinets, and roofing (assumed 50-year asphalt shingles, for instance - we may go for something more along the lines of 30-40 year). I have the feeling we would be able to trim some of the "fat" out pretty easily and get it closer to where we would feel a little more comfortable without too much sacrifice or effort.

I need to call about school fees - need to pay them when we resubmit the plans (he will do that on Thursday). My sister said their fees were over $11,000 when she and her husband built her house in the same general area a couple years ago. With a similar size house, I doubt ours are going to be any cheaper....

I need to follow up with a lender or two as well and get that process moving. It's possible we may start construction in less than a month.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Well, the general contractor said that he takes care of getting the power and phone hookups scheduled/co-ordinated, so that should be taken care of at the proper time. He also has the fire department reviewing the plans and creating a fire sprinkler layout for the inside of the house (required in county areas).

Still waiting on the plan corrections from the architect - he should probably finish later this week or early next week. Then resubmittal to the county, and hopefully we're done. ***crosses fingers***

We need to start making a few more decisions on items like the front door, fixtures, etc, as those things will impact the final house price and we'd like to be able to assign a firm number instead of a generic allowance. We already have appliances, gas fireplace, gas tankless water heaters (two in parallel for increased simultaneous hot water use capability), countertops, roofing, and a good portion of the cabinetry chosen, so that helps. We also have siding and stucco planned (siding for the front, stucco in the rear). Window type and brand has been chosen, as has general flooring type.

We're getting there, it just takes a while.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We went out to take a look at progress on the building pad - pad itself is done and the grading contractor has placed some fill on the driveway area and compacted it to raise it a little above grade.

Our little guy likes the dirt - nothing better than 5 acres of soil and a Tonka truck!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Plans back to architect

I returned the plans to the architect this morning with the county review comments and our own corrections. He thinks they (architectural, structural, and energy calculation revisions) should be finished within a week or so and ready for resubmittal.

Our contractor is currently working on another house and hopes to be finishing up that one by the first week or so of October. We may be breaking ground in under two months if this is the case.

I need to find out about getting electric and phone service to the site.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Earthwork complete

Spoke with the grading contractor early yesterday - earthwork would be complete yesterday before noon. All that remained was some minor trimming of the graded pad and placing some fill for the driveway (to elevate it above adjacent grade for drainage reasons).

I need to look into getting aggregate base and asphalt placed, but will probably wait until concrete is placed for the floor slab. The fewer heavy trucks running over it the better. I think I have a good recommendation - I need to veryify and follow up.

Here is a picture of our son next to the earthwork contractor's tractor. He thought it was pretty cool.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Earthwork Underway

Driveway culvert pipe is in and the ditch has been backfilled. Placement of aggregate base and asphalt will be later - no point in accidentally tearing up asphalt during construction. Photo is looking to the south.

The building pad is being graded and is almost complete. Top of pad elevation is about 2 feet above original grade. The pad should be done within another day or two.

Here's a couple shots of the site as well. The house to the right in the second photo is my sister's place. First photo is looking to the west, the second to the northwest.