Friday, August 17, 2012

Tweaking the design

We got the first round of quarter plan drawings last night. I was surprised at how many changes Phil had made from our initial sketches -- some good, others not so much.
Sharon and I spent an hour (after getting back from the theatre, so a tired hour) going through and making notes, then sent it back.
Somehow we're back to the debate about whether to have a high cathedral ceiling over the living room, a decision I thought we had made ages ago. Funny how that goes -- just when you think you've won, you find out you haven't!
Tree-cutting is going well. Only a couple of big ones to bring down, a few mediums, and lots of little baby trees to kill. Of course it isn't the bringing them down that takes the time, it's limbing, dragging and stacking. Isaiah was out helping me the other evening, and I'll get some more labour out of him this weekend. It makes a big difference, and almost makes it worth all the cereal we have to buy to keep him fed.
We had a couple of burns over the winter (well, one in the winter and one that was really too far into a rather dry spring -- a near disaster that I'm not in a hurry to repeat!). The rest of the branches are being stacked well off to the sides of the property with the idea that we'll bring in a chipper when the house is built and convert them all into lots of lovely mulch for gardens. Sawlogs are also being stacked for future firewood-making days. Thank goodness for a good Stihl.
Chainsaws, by the way, are one of those tools where it really pays to buy the best you can. I bought a $200 Homelight chainsaw from Home Depot, and when it kacked out even a staff member at HD asked me why I was buying such a crappy saw. I now have a $650 Stihl, which I love using. Starts, runs, cuts, shuts off, all when it's supposed to.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Decisions at last!

So many options, so many possibilities, it's been more than a bit overwhelming. But we've made some key decisions in the past couple of months, and we're moving forward.
Like 95 per cent of home builders in North America, we're going with standard stick framing. It's cheap, it's proven, it's efficient. Tempting as it was to go all funky with bio sips or rammed earth, this is just too big an investment to play with. I'll build a straw bunkie or a rammed earth shed sometime, maybe a hand-hewn log cottage, but the house will be 2x6 on 16 inch centres.
We've signed on with Rolston Home Building Centre in Huntsville. Their lead designer is an engineer with tons of experience, and he really enjoys helping first home buyers through the process. And he lives four doors down from our new home, so he's really familiar with the property. We handed over a deposit last week, and are hoping to have quarter drawings from him within a week or so.
Once we've got that done, we go back and forth with him to finalize the design, file the site plan with the town, and await blueprints. With blueprints we can then get final bids from contractors and get our building permit (after we pay gajillions of dollars for it! Honestly, the fees are an unbelievable cash grab. Permits and development fees will cost more than the well and septic!)
The plan is to start building around the end of September and hopefully get it closed in before winter sets in. I'm acting as general contractor and hiring our framing contractor to also be the siteman and coordinate the trades. Once it's closed in, I'll take some time off work (been banking a lot of holidays and time in lieu!) to do a lot of the interior work -- flooring, trim, baths, closets, kitchen, fireplace surround, painting, etc. I ain't doin' drywall, though -- you need to know your limits.
In the meantime we've been prepping our current house for sale (the upstairs bathroom is now unrecognizeable.... in a good way). I'm taking a week off next week, and will spend much of that time either working on this house or cutting trees and prepping the site on Cedar Lane. Will a change be as good as a rest? Ask me this time next week.