Friday, October 19, 2012

Sticker shock

Nearly a month ago, we gave our builder the plans that we'd developed with our architect.  We knew they weren't perfect as is, but our attempts to downsize the design had been frustrating, and we needed to know how close the current design was to our budget.  The bids were finally in, and we met with our builder last night to discuss the details.  In short:  ouch.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Auctioning Grandma's estate

The last of my grandparents passed away 15 months ago.  They lived on the same farm for 73 years, so you can imagine how much stuff had accumulated.  After much sorting, pitching, and planning, we finally held the estate auction this weekend.  We learned a few things the hard way, and I wanted to spare the rest of you some pain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Choosing a builder

Choosing a builder for your new home is a decision that should not be taken lightly.  You'll likely be working hand in hand with this person through the entire process, so the smoother the process goes, the easier your life will be.  You want to be able to concentrate your energy on the house, not baby sitting your general contractor.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Repairing a brass door lock

Our house is somewhere around 100 years old, give or take 20.  The front door lock is original.  Over time, the door frame itself has sagged, and the latch bolts no longer lined up quite right with the holes in the latch plate.  This created a lot of resistance whenever you locked or unlocked the dead bolt, to the point where we had to lift the whole door upward (by the door knob) in order to (un)lock it.  The brunt of this resistance was absorbed by the brass knob for the dead bolt, and it eventually broke.  Since I'm easily distracted, we spent the next ten months (un)locking the front door with a screwdriver before I finally got around to repairing the lock.  The fix was so simple, I should have done it right away.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dealing with Poison Oak

A couple weeks ago, my son and I were out at our new acreage clearing brush away from the tree stumps that our pine wilt infestation left us.  Despite the various implements of destruction, we spent plenty of time handling the felled foliage as we loaded it into the trailer and later back out again at the dump site.  A couple days later, I discovered the hard way that there must have been some Poison Oak in the mix.  This was the second time in a few years that I'd dealt with this weed, so I figured it was time to learn more about it.  Here's what I found.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A floor plan that's close enough to bid

After several rounds of redesign with our architect, we've finally got a plan that's close enough to what we want that we can send it to our builder to get a reasonably accurate cost estimate.  That's been our goal through the last couple months of meetings with the architect--not to get a final plan, per se, but to get something that was close enough that we could give to our builder so that he could give us a reasonably accurate price.  Once we have that, we'll know whether we can run with this plan, or whether we have to readjust things to reduce the cost.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The floor plan keeps growing

We've met with our architect several times over the last couple months.  Our goal has been to flesh out the details of the original plan that we came up with on our own.  We were hoping that he could provide some professional insight that could shrink the plan (and cost) a little bit without compromising the goals we were trying to meet with our original plan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A burned out burner

We've had our pedestal-mount MHP WNK gas grill for about a dozen years.  It's served us well, but this summer, I noticed a hot spot forming under the front center portion of the grill.  No doubt a gas leak from the burner.  I haven't been as faithful as I should have been about cleaning the grille, so I figured it was finally time to take the grill apart, diagnose the hot spot problem, and thoroughly clean everything.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A new architect

I mentioned in a previous post that the first architect that we used didn't seem to be listening to us and didn't seem to have a knack for the 120-year-old farmhouse style that we wanted.  At the recommendation of a good friend (a commercial architect), we contacted a different architect that we hope will meet our needs a little better.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The clock is ticking

While talking with a realtor friend today, we got to talking about our house and slow speed at which we were progressing.  He told us that we really ought to get moving & break ground before the November Presidential elections.  Why?  At the moment, the current administration is doing everything they can to keep interest rates low so people will be happy with the job that our current elected officials are doing and will want to re-elect them.  Once the elections are over, the administration will return to business as usual, and the interest rates will do whatever the market dictates -- which probably means rising significantly.  Unless we want to spend a lot more money over the course of our mortgage, we need to get on the stick and begin construction before November.  So I guess we need to get on the stick with our floor plans...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Window shopping

We went window shopping today... for windows.  In the plans we currently have drawn up, there are 50 windows which could represent 10% of the total cost of the house.  That seems to us like a pretty good target if we're looking to cut costs.  We knew virtually nothing about the various window options, so this was an informative morning for us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First cost estimate, and doing work ourselves

After months of scheming, we finally thought we'd come up with a floor plan that we liked.  We got together with our builder to discuss the plans and to get an approximate cost estimate.  During that meeting, we discussed a few things that we could do to reduce the cost.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Portable design software

We've been making a lot of progress on our custom home floor plans lately.  After making our initial edits on a white board, we got to the point where we needed to get things more to scale so we'd know what would work where.  After puttering around a while searching for software that would allow me to edit plans on either Linux or Windows, I settled on using the community version of QCad version 2 and saving our plans as DXF files.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Discussing floor plans with our builder

Our progress on coming up with a floor plan for our new home has not exactly been at a stand still, but it has been quite slow.  I've been reading a lot of idea books lately, and we've stood in front of our white board throwing out ideas now & then, but we haven't gotten much farther along than we were back in November before the holiday rush hit.  This week, I feel like we finally took a couple steps in the right direction thanks to a meeting with our builder.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inside the Not So Big House

After giving up on our architect and trying to come up with a floor plan on my own, I've ramped up my reading lately.  Last night I finished going through Sarah Susanka's "Inside the Not So Big House," part of a series of books on the subject which I borrowed from a friend.  I love the whole series, and it often takes me an hour to get through a few pages because every photo sparks my imagination and sends my mind down a rabbit trail.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Farmhouse floor plan books

After a couple meetings with the architect we'd chosen to design our new custom home, it became apparent that he wasn't listening to what we were asking for.  After a hefty hourly bill, we ditched him and went back to trying to come up with a plan on our own.

To that end, I checked out several books from our local library that claimed to have hundreds of farmhouse-style floor plans.  I basically just put "farmhouse plan" into the library's search form and took what it gave me.  Those three books combined showed us 745 plans that somebody might consider to loosely resemble farmhouses.