Monday, June 29, 2015

Good-bye Maple Grove

Today we officially say goodbye to our old house.

Last year, we put our house on the market to sell. Our first viewer made us an offer. It was not the typical offer, so we had to think about it. It was a lease-to-purchase contract.

A lease-to-purchase was unfamiliar to me, so I had to research and see if I was comfortable. Our buyer would start off as our tenant. He would pay monthly rent and a portion of that rent would go towards the equity in the purchase price of the house. Or the portion of rent money could be used towards his closing costs.

In our agreement, the tenant could keep renting for a whole year and at anytime during that year he could decide to go through the purchase. If he did not exercise the option to purchase, he would lose the money he paid in rent. He originally said he'd purchase in November, and his back-up date was March. This was all based on when he gets his bonus from work.

November and March passed and I didn't get worried. I could have, but I knew God had a plan and He would help me figure out what to do.

I look back and realize how smoothly it all went. We had a great tenant that paid on time and kept the house in great condition. Now I don't care what he does with it! Although, I know he has plans to upgrade the kitchen and install a pool!

My mom has an acquaintance that has a lease-to-own contract on their house, and the tenant has stopped paying rent. Currently, they are having a hard time evicting the non-paying renter because of the lease-to-own contract. I feel bad and realize how scary of a risk you are taking.

June 29th is a great day!So excited to move on and only have two houses to take care of. Then we will list my mom's townhouse and get back down to one house! Hallelujah!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Garage Doors Installed

We've had our garage doors ordered since April! I stopped by and picked out my doors on a day it snowed back in March.We finally got them installed last week.

The doors I originally wanted did not fit in the budget. They were beautiful carriage doors that would go with our tudor trim. Besides price being a down side, they came two-tone. I talked with three different companies and they all only offered them where they had to be painted two different colors. I wanted the whole door to be one color. One company did offer the single color option, but it came with a price.

Dream Doors!

I thought I had picked a simple design, but it was still three times more than I could spend. I chose a simple door that had some detail to it. I picked out hardware and was able to place it where I wanted.

I had six colors to choose from and I picked the brown. I really like it. Having it come in a color and not having to paint it will help with the lifetime warranty of no painting! Luckily, our doors are not facing South, so we won't have the sun fade them. The trim around it will be painted our medium color, Gargoyle by Benjamin Moore.

Many contractors always want to be the last to install their stuff. The cabinets want to come in after flooring. Garage doors want to be after painting. We just really wanted to get our doors up so that the material we were storing in the garage wouldn't be tempting to people to steal. We can manually lock the doors and the door that goes into the house from the garage now has a deadbolt so we can keep our material safe.

Before the garage doors could be installed, the trim carpenter had to install 2x4's around the openings.

We had some 2x12's left over on site, so he ripped those down and used them. They got that done early Tuesday morning and the garage door company came to install the doors.

They got two our of the three doors installed on Tuesday because of the late start. When they came back Wednesday, they hung the final door, the hardware and the openers.

Now I was picky about the garage door openers.I have a draft blog post I never finished back from September of 2013 about the new garage opener we installed at the old house. Little JCrew's room backed up to the garage, and we had a chain drive. Every time you opened the door, it could be heard in his room. We upgraded to Chamberlain's Whisper Quiet Belt drive and loved it. I don't necessarily need the quiet operation for the new house, but I did request one feature... timer-to-close! You can set the door to automatically close after you have accidentally left it open. It can be one minute, five or ten. I never had to worry if I left the door open. We also had a remote opener located on the outside of the door to punch in a code in case the door ever closed while I was outside doing yard work. I actually liked that it did that. If I was in the back yard mowing or on the side of the house, I didn't have an open garage tempting someone to come in while I was occupied out of sight.

So our new openers are not the super-dooper opener, but they do have this timer-to-close feature and I am really excited.

And I'm really excited I can lock up my material. One step at a time, we are getting there!

Month 5 Metrics

The month of June has flown by. The invoices are coming in faster than once a month. The insulation, drywall and brick have completed since the last draw. 

For the last month, we have only had one rain day! And it was on a Sunday, when no one works. It has been nice, but it has been extremely hot. I was grateful, because the rain was not an issue while installing the brick on the exterior of the house.

Currently, we are about a month behind our original schedule and we are under budget. I am waiting to claim victory with the budget until we are officially complete. We have a lot left to do and you spend a lot of your budget in the last bit of the building process.

We have completed all the tasks we set out to accomplish, it just took us a little longer. The brick was delayed; the trim was delayed; and the inspections took longer than expected. Although some months we spend more, there are some months we spend less. It's kind of like how you go to the grocery store and spend so much one month because that month you ran out of a lot, but it means the next time you grocery shop, you spend less and get back on track.

I will say, staying under budget has taken an effort. It's a good practice to get many quotes. Some people can really be outrageous with their prices. I had budget goals that I knew could be achieved, but were not easy. I would almost lose hope when an estimate would be twice my budget, but then I would get excited when I got an estimate within or below.

Right now, it's my goal that we will be moving in around the third week of August. It's so close we can feel it and it's getting exciting. The trim (baseboards, interior doors, window & door casing, crown moulding) is almost complete... the wainscoting has not started and the remaining baseboard cannot be complete until the cabinets are installed (baths and kitchen).

We're almost there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Masonry Complete

I posted a little sneak peek on Facebook Tuesday, that said I thought our mason job was two days away from completion. Guess what? They finished today! Two days exactly.

We started installing brick on May 22nd. I was told this would be a two-week job.. EASY!

We did not finish until June 17th!

It was not all the mason's fault. We did run out of brick. And when we ordered more, not all of it was from the same run and we risked it not matching. We then had to wait to locate more from the same run.

We lost a couple days because those deliveries of brick were late in the day and not 5:30AM. Other jobs had priority I guess.

It was fun to see the pattern the "brickers" worked in because their was no logic!

I would come home and be surprised at what was done. I couldn't predict it.

I learned so much during this process, like I do with each process. Those brick ties that are on the wall help the brick not ever lean in or away from the wall. There is also a gap to cover up the imperfections of walls.

Now, the brick pictures differently. Up close, it looks like it should. Some dark, some light, some red. But from the street, it looks brown. I like it. It's pretty neat how it is like a chameleon.

A couple of days the crew stayed late. One of those nights I was so surprised! They had started building the patio!

I had been working so hard to make sure this was not forgotten. The footer was not poured at the same time as the house. This was mainly because the surveyor did not draw it on the lot layout as elevated. It was drawn at the same height as the driveway. There would be no need for footers. However, I did not want steps immediately off the exterior door down to a patio level with the ground. The footers were dug and poured in one day. Then they got to moving on laying the block.

The front of the house was last to get to.

One reason we ran out of brick was because the porches had brick all the way down. It's wasteful to have brick to the footer and then have concrete come fill the porch and you don't see it.

We bought 4-inch block to use, but the crew only used it on the back patio.

Now we have leftover block!

While we were waiting on locating brick from the same run, we had our stone delivered and we started working on that. I was bummed it was in boxes that I couldn't peek in to.

Our stone would be on the back screened-in porch and the "tower."

The back porch might seem silly because no one sees it but us and our guests, But I think that is special for our guests to be the only ones to see it.

When it came to the stone, I had special instructions. The stone would not be dry stacked. I wanted to have wide joints. I found a picture in a magazine for a local store's add. I took that picture with me to choose the type of stone. 

I picked out a man-made stone, Horizon Stone. The stone shape is 19th Century. The color is Shenandoah. I was so nervous the color would not coordinate with the brick. Turns out, it was perfect!

The back porch took two days and the front tower took two days. It was funny to see the masons using cake decorator tools to put the mortar between the stones.

I love the front tower so much that I am redoing my landscape plan so that I do not block the details all around it.

Our Architectural Committee approved us not having a crawlspace but told us we had to make it appear as if we were a cralwspace by having foundation vents.

I spray-painted the blocks black and the masons left spaces to put vents. Instead of buying $75 irons vents, I made vents out of brick.

I saw it done on a townhouse already in our neighborhood and liked it!

The last of the brick to get finished was over the garage. We had to get special "speed arches" to hold the brick.

Most door and window openings have straight lentils that hold the brick up.

I was so excited to see the garage doors get finished.

Now that the brick is complete, it's time to pressure wash it clean.

I now can't say we are the "blue" house when people ask. The brick has covered up all the ICF framing so that it looks like a normal house.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Drywall Installation

After the insulation was installed, we had another framing inspection before we could start drywall. We quickly passed and moved on.

We had the drywall delivered on Tuesday, Day 147.

The drywall installers were on site on Thursday and they started with the ceiling.

I was so anxious to see what they were doing, that I drove home for my lunch break.

One of the guys then asked me if I'd be back later that night. Silly question! Of course I would. He then told me I would see a huge difference when I came back. I was excited!

They kept telling me they would be finished by the next day. I didn't believe it. But seriously, if they hadn't run out of material, they would have been!

We were 18 sheets short. But they still came out on Saturday and picked up their mess.

Normally, insulation is not added to interior walls. But we wanted to install insulation to the laundry room walls for sound purposes. Mom's room is right next to the laundry room and I remember how loud our old laundry room was. I'm so glad we added some sound proofing to the walls.

On Saturday, we had the finishers come out. They started mudding the drywall that was hung.

So much action in a short time!

The weather was so humid that the mud was not drying. We then left the windows open to help dry the mud faster.

Luckily, we haven't had rain for several days and the mud dried. Today, Day 156, the finishers came to skim their last coat. They will be out here Saturday to sand.

The drywall finisher told me the trim guy could go ahead and start, but we're waiting for them to sand first.

It seems to be going really fast! I didn't think drywall would be hung in just two days. And mudding has taken about a week so that dry-time was included between coats.

Our trim will be delivered on Monday with the interior doors. Time to get some baseboard in here!
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