New house

Final steps…

This is the penultimate house update as we are literally a couple weeks from move in date.  Over the last month, the beams were installed and kitchen cabinets mounted.  In the mechanical room, we had the various tanks, boilers, wires and panels connected while outside the heat pump was delivered.  I spent the last week helping the guys move the material for the sidewalks and patio so we have that mostly set up, ready to pour.  Craig, Big Al and I moved some rocks, small and big, into various positions to form up the entry stairs and a short retaining wall.  Overall, things are going nicely.  The next update should be after the house is finished!!

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Nearly there…

It’s been a turbulent last six weeks and Christmas was a pretty sad time but life marches on and, despite our situation, the house construction progressed.  Inside, electrical and plumbing was finished, boards hung followed by mud and tape and painting started.  Outside soffit and siding was completed along with some work on well connection and perimeter drains.  We also saw the cedar siding on the tall sections nearly finished which helped to blend the house into the landscape a little.  The main things left to do, other than landscaping, include door installation, painting, trim and sills, install kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities then finish electrical and plumbing.  We’re nearly there.

 

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Locked up…

I’m a bit late with this update but we’re well past lock-up now, with insulation and boarding on the sched for the next couple weeks.  It has been really fun to see the windows and doors go in; the plumbing and electrical complete except for finishing; siding basically finished and trim well underway.  The front of the great room and the kitchen garden have yet to be sided but that will be done soon.  Tom, Ron and Chelsea have done amazing work and Craig and Al have kept everything moving forward; they’ve all been a great team.  So far, I think everything is on track for our move-in early next year.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

 

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I’ve been framed…

My last update was when we had just finished pouring the concrete slab.  Since then carpenters Tom, Ron and Chelsea have done a great job getting the house framed, walls up, trusses on and ready for the roof.  Our schedule is to roughly be at lock-up by early November.  Now at least the house has a shape and form.  It is interesting to walk through the house, checking out the different rooms.  The size and scale of the house changes with each new bit of construction – sometimes feeling way too big, other times just right!

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Onward and upward!

We’re now ready to start framing the house.  Over the last couple weeks, we’ve finished filling the shell of the house; backfilled around a portion of the foundation; seen the plumbing rough-in; set the insulation under some mesh and poured the final slab of polished concrete.  We also had our septic guy, Mark, finish the system and I asked him to put in a curtain drain as well.  It’s been a busy few weeks but now that the foundation and floor is done, we should see the framing go up in short order.  Our contractor, Craig, has guided the process admirably thus far, very smoothly.  I’m still enjoying puttering around helping out with a variety of jobs.

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Out of the ground…

Well, it’s been a busy few weeks as we finished the site prep, got the footings done and foundation walls poured, box filled and compacted and perimeter drains set.  I’ve had lots of fun working on this project so far and the guys have been very encouraging – although secretly I think they liking me help out as I can be the grunt on site.

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Manuel, Manuelito and I finished the poles for about 450 metres of fencing and we’ll be stringing the wire in the next week or so.  We had a bit of trouble with some of the posts as the augur drilled into a clay-like material which just kept sucking the bit down but after extracting a couple poles with the excavator, we managed to press on.

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And we’re off…

I’m mainly doing these updates for those of you who aren’t local; if you’re here, just swing by for a visit and to check things out!

Well, at long last we’re about to start the house.  We had some major issues earlier this year which put us more than a few months behind schedule.  I certainly learned a lot about expectations and if we ever build another house these lessons will be invaluable.  The design journey was challenging.  Our finished design has few of the features I wanted in my original brief; it’s nothing like I envisioned but Josée and Craig (our builder) have assured me it will be a enjoyable house in which to live.

Craig had us do most of the project leg-work over the last couple months.  Wee really have enjoyed working with him so far.  Working sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with Desiree Barton (Modlux Interiors) we’ve picked out external colours and cladding, plumbing and lighting fixtures, interior colours, door styles and windows, appliances and host of other things.  We designed our kitchen with Marije Wagenmakers at Oak Hills and worked with Rob Howland at Colonial Countertops for various countertops.  I arranged services with Hydro and Vancouver Island Powerline; scheduled Drillwell from Duncan to put in the well and will have Ian McGill to service it.  Finally, I managed to put a driveway in, connect it to Knight Road with a culvert, excavate some ditching and rough in the hole for the house.  It’s been a productive few months.  In between house projects, Manuel, Manuelito and I put in about 400 metres of pencil pole fencing.  We’re not quite done but we should have that job licked in the next week or so.

I’m putting together another video of the driveway build and should have that finished shortly.  I can’t believe the transformation!  Before construction starts on Monday, I will put up three ‘camera’ posts from which I’m going to take some photos once or twice a week to track the progress.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it into a time lapse type of thing – who knows!

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Interviews…

So part of my time thus far has been spent collecting names of reputable contractors, builders and service providers.  Thus far, we’ve met with three builders, two interior designers, an alternate energy dude and an HVAC company.  Tom and I visited the CVRD to discuss plans, zoning and environmental concerns.  I’ve discussed grey water systems and had a fairly positive review of alternate septic options with VIHA/Island Health.  Thus far, I have to say that most people I’ve (we’ve) dealt with have been great and it is making the decision making process difficult.  I’m sure we’ll have dozens of meetings over the coming weeks and months but I think putting the time in to assemble a tight team is worth it.

Does anyone recommend local trades, suppliers, service providers and the like?  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!  Onward we roll…

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Sketches…

Tom giving us the low down on basic house shapes.

Tom giving us the low down on basic house shapes.

Well, we’ve had a few meetings now with Tom who is the architect working with us on this project.  So far, we’ve showed him a bunch of our ideabooks and had a few discussions about features of the project, the overall feel and some of our needs and wants.  We’ve set a very rough budget although this will probably be firmed up a little more accurately over the next few weeks as we get a better idea of where we’ll focus our funds.

Tom prepared a few concept sketches for our last meeting.  At this point, we are mostly looking at layout issues; what room goes next to what room; do we want a linear house or something curved or an L-shape?  We don’t have anything completely fixed but rather are just playing around with different ideas.  I have a pretty good idea of some of the layout features so it is just a matter of working with Tom to make them come to life.  He’s definitely captured a few of them thus far!

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And so it begins…

11148789_10204723771680510_5477294508863731662_nFor the last four years, I’ve gathered photographs and ideas, jotted down pictures and book-marked websites, all in an effort to put some thought into our next big adventure – building a new house on the property.  It’s now time to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard to CAD software) and start bringing this projection to life.

I plan to document things start to finish, successes and failures, trying times and exciting developments.  My Dad told me once that he heard it took three ‘builds’ to get what one wants in a house and I think that is often true.  I hope we can get it mostly right in one.

We have a few chief goals in this project.  I’ll outline more details as we go along but the overall project will:

  • suit our needs both now and well into our future
  • be built, as much as possible, by local people, using local, sustainable materials
  • feature alternate strategies (e.g. solar arrays, composting toilets, cistern systems, earth berms, drainpipe alternators, grey water treatment and recycling etc.)
  • be constructed at a price which will allow others to realize that an innovative, energy efficient house can be build without requiring a massive budget

It should be a fun project so stay tuned!

Cheers,

Ben

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