Construction, continued…

It was a busy July, working full time on the house. At the end of the month, we were nearly dried in and have started to shift our focus toward prepping the interior for mechanical work (HVAC, plumbing, and electrical). The house is really taking shape now that the roof is in the building.

Much of the month had evenings filled with checking orders against the master plans to make sure windows and doors would fit the holes we built for them.

Reconciliation, shared CC-BY.

All walled in
All walled in, shared CC-BY.

Building the second floor felt very surreal, having not lived in a multi-story house in several years.

Truss work
Truss work, shared CC-BY.

The trickiest part (to me, at least) was getting the roof trusses set. We rented another big machine to do the bulk of the work in standing up the walls and in raising the roof on the house. This photo really shows the scale of the work we did for most of the month:

Setting trusses for the roof
Setting trusses

As windows and doors are wrapped up, it's feeling more and more like something that can be lived in. Now that I'm back to work, my time on the house is going to slow way down, but that was the goal. We'll be able to hire out much of the mechanical work and then spend evenings and weekends doing things like plumbing and electrical.

That's a wrap
That's a wrap, shared CC-BY.

Until next time...

This Site is Under Construction

Last month, my family broke ground on a new house.

An excavator working on a construction site
Step 1: Dig a really big hole.

Less than a year ago, we were just toying with the idea of building a house, and now we're actually in the process of building. It's surreal to think back on the original discussion and consider where we've come in this process already.

My wife and I standing in front of our hold house on our last night there.
We moved out of this place after seven years.

I work hard to make sure my summers are as tech-free as possible. All of my email is archived automatically and a nice vacation responder tells people to write me again on a given date. I'm focusing all of my energy this year on contracting and building the house with my brothers-in-law as well as assorded friends and other family.

Concrete trucks pouring a new foundation.
Click through for the full-size picture because it's bonkers.

Most of the work so far has been through hired concrete contractors, but this week lumber started going in, which is a huge burden both on and off my shoulders. Waiting for construction to start was hard, but now that we're moving, it's really refreshing and empowering to be able to do this project with my own hands.

Framed basement walls in a new house.
Framing is extrememly satisfying to do because everything happens so fast.

I'm trying to remember to document the project. When you're in the middle of it, it feels trite to stop working to take a picture. But, it's not every day you get to build a new house yourself. As of tonight, the first floor is ready for the subfloor and we're getting ready to start framing exterior walls. We're also going to order all of our windows as well as the second floor trusses.

If you want to follow along, I have a photo gallery going for all construction-related pictures I take. (Feel free to browse other non-construction related photos.) And if you're so inclined, there's now an RSS feed you can subscribe to because RSS is alive and well.

Quince House

I just finished packing up our first house, to be put on the market tomrorow morning after living here for eight years. As I moved from room to room making small repairs this morning, I thought back on the time, sweat, and energy we've poured into it.

We bought the house after ignoring it for months because the outside was...interesting. My father-in-law convinced us to pull over and look into windows. That's the first time we met the neighbor, Dan, who with his wife Vicki, are the best neighbors in the world.

Yes, they're better than your neighbors. I will die on this hill.

All four of our kids were born in this house. My wife's family lived down the road and my parents were able to come and stay with us every couple of months. The neighbors became adopted grandparents by all of the kids. Small group meetings, brothers driving through, visits with cousins and other friends happened here. Our lives were shared in these rooms.

Circa 2017
Sometimes there just isn't enough room on the couch.

Circa 2018
This is about a year before the latest baby was born in June 2019

Since living here, I've learned how to frame, tile, plumb, and do my own drywall and electrical. I've installed a septic system. I've converted the house from electric heat to a gas furnace. We took a large bedroom and made it into two. Both bathrooms have had remakes...and those are just the large projects.

Circa 2017
Plumbing an entire bathroom by myself was terrifying. So terrifying that I installed the shower mount upside down to remind myself to let things go. The shower still works.

Circa 2018
Repairing a septic field isn't hard, necessarily, but it's a huge task.

I never would have imagined learning how to do all of those things (with my father-in-law's help) and now I can't imaging not having learned those things.

Circa 2013
Lindsey's dad (in grey) is a contractor and taught me 99% of what I've learned in the last eight years.

The spring brought new planing and the summers were full of wild raspberries, vegetables from the garden, and more recently, armloads of cosmos, ranunculus, and roses.

We watched the bats wake up during dusk and wondered how loud the cicadas could get during the day.

These things won't stop. I'm pretty sure cicadas live in Michigan, too.

These guys look way meaner than they actually are.

But all of these things happened for the first time here. At Quince House.

It really hit me that we're leaving when I took the swings out of the tree. I can't bring the house, but some parts of it are coming with us.

This is where the new house will stand in the fall of 2020.

We'll be building our next house on a plot of land adjacent to my brother-in-law's farm. We'll be able to wake up and see the cattle out back along the treeline. We're planning on building a hiking trail from our land to theirs so the cousins can visit whenever they want.

There will still be joy. There will still be disappointment and growing.

Quince House got us started.

The featured photo is of my backyard, early 2020.

Early 2020