16.5 Acres In Dayton Tennessee

The Ground is Broken

... Such a strange way to describe digging in the dirt. "Broke ground". It really just sounds like a problem. If anything the ground is getting "fixed" to support our home. English is stupid.

First things first - Our contract is finally signed. We took up the task of writing the contract ourselves with a little help from the Google god. It was a laborious task because there were certain clauses that our builder couldn't agree on, and visa-versa but ultimately we came to a consensus and feel comfortable that we have some protection and contingencies if something should go awry...knock on wood. We agreed on the wording last week and got it signed yesterday with our builder. Really should have finalized and agreed on the contract before starting the work, but hey... timing doesn't always work out perfectly and it ultimately had no affect on the build timeline.

We also have been tasking ourselves with finding the right front door, exterior doors and windows for our home. These are details that the builder will need to build in the walls with the right rough opening sizes. We think we landed on a great deal for the front door. More to come on that later.

On to the progress! Mike came to the property over lunch because our builder told us he'd be digging the footers today. No progress over lunch--Texted him a couple hours later and he said it's done. Man, these guys don't mess around. We stopped over to take a look at things starting to look real official. The task was accomplished with a mini excavator and a small bobcat front loader. The bucket on the excavator is about 2 feet wide, so they dig the footers that wide and about 1 foot deep. They've placed the rebar stakes in the center of the footer trench and will be laying rebar throughout the lengths and corners and pouring concrete this Friday. The plan is to lay the foundation block on Monday. It sounds like we might even start seeing  some "stick" walls here in the next couple weeks or so.

Anyway, the footer is not much to see in person, but it did help give us a better perspective on the size of the home. Sorry the photos aren't very good. Would really like some imagery from a drone but can't see shelling out hundreds of dollars for a toy that i'll take a few pictures with, then likely crash into a fiery ball of death.

There are several of these large holes inside the perimeter of the footer trench. I think these are for concrete pillars to support the internal structure of the house. That's my guess anyway.

That's it for now. Will have more photos of the footers and foundation here shortly.


Mike & Liz

It's Time For Color!

We have gone back and forth a couple of times with regards to color schemes for the outside of the house.

We started with a hunter green home with white trim and cedar accents. Then once we found our property, I was nervous about a hunter green house with a backdrop of forest to just be too much green. So to pinterest I went and came across this lovely home time and time again. 

It is a design from YoungHouseLove who I follow already and love so much of their work. I am not suprised I was drawn to something else they have done. So even though we have gone from green to blue, we have continued to want white trim with cedar accents. 

So we took this photo to our builder and said we want this. Now this house was painted, but ours will be limited to the color of vinyl siding available. 

So what did our builder tell us to do? To go drive around and find a house with siding, roofing, and stone work that we liked. Yep, it seems a bit odd of a request, but we went with it. And guess what we found? A lovely little blue house with a gray roof! 

This is a house we are pretty sure our builder did so he will easily be able to get this color siding and roofing. It is a bit darker that our original inspiration photo, but we love it! You can see it was a bit cloudy this day so we will make sure to go back when it is sunny (which is almost always is here anyway!) and make sure it is still perfect. 

But to us, their stonework looked a bit on the brown side, so we also found a stone we love a couple of houses down. 

This lovely gray stone will look amazing with our blue house and white trim. 

But what about the cedar? Well, we also drove by this house -

The blue is a bit different, but we love the cedar posts on the porch and even the cedar shutters. The accent cedar in the peaks (I'm guessing those have a more official name that we will learn down the road, but for now they are just peaks), it a bit much to us, but it helped pull together the idea that the blue/white/cedar is definitely our combination. 

We also made a trip to 84 Lumber, and will have a meeting with their outdoor materials guy soon, to discuss siding, roofing, doors and trim. They brought up doing an accent in the peaks just like this and we are definitely considering it. 

Here is an artist rendering of the front of our home from the website we got our floor plan inspiration from. 

We have made some changes so it won't look exactly like this, but it will have lots of similar elements. Like our front porch goes all the way across the front of the house, where in the photo the front door is on a different plane than the rest of the wall. Also, we will only be doing the stonework on the bottom 3 - 4 feet of the front of the home (not all the way up in some places like they have here). We made our garage longer as well, so it will stick out further in-front than this one does. 

So in addition to an accent in our peaks we are playing with the idea of doing some metal roofing on the front porch. Probably stick with a color similar to our shingles (gray), but it would be a nice contrast and we hear it sounds wonderful during rain. 

So many more things to think about and decide on, we will have lots of new posts coming your way! Make sure to check back soon for more updates. 

Liz and Mike

Wait Until The Last Minute To Finalize Your Floor Plan

When we were finalizing the front of the house (in the last post), we also had to really finalize the layout and dimensions of the house overall. We had a rough plan and had figured some basic dimensions out, but hadn't factored in all the walls and outside dimensions. And we definitely hadn't tackled exact dimensions for the second floor. 

So assignment #2 from our builder was to finish that up. In most cases you would have already purchased some blue prints and that wouldn't be something that you would need to do, it would already be done. But, since we went the super custom route and didn't pay an architect to make our drawing, we got to do this ourselves. 

It was actually quite fun to really get this done to scale and make sure everything lined up and had enough space. This is also where we got that our front wall was the 22 feet.



On the second floor, remember all the area you see the brown floor will be open to the square white area. That is our loft space and where the computer/office area will go.

Also on the second floor, the long rectangle that is white will be un-finished during the build. The hope is to turn half that into a theater down the road, and keep the other half unfinished as attic storage space. It will also have sloped ceilings as it will be built in the rafters, but all the other rooms upstairs will have little to no slope to them.

After we spent our evening getting these plans together and placing the house on the property, we started to think about what our builder would probably need next. To finish the dry-in we need to decide on window placement and sizes, and a front door! 

Liz and Mike

Location Location Location... Of the Front of The House

Where should the front door go? What angle do you want the house to sit? Does it fit in the space before the steep hill sets in? Does where you picked make sense for the garage and the driveway? 

Who knew picking a place for your home took more thought than "I just want it here". Once we closed on our loan this week, the first assignment we got from our builder was to go mark where we wanted our front door. Then, since we are putting the house on a bit of an angle on the property, we marked off the whole front wall of the house. 

Just hold out a tape measure and walk around your property a bunch until you like the fairly random place you are standing. 

Then add some stakes.

And step back and admire the view. Our house will face the pond more than it will face the road. It offers a much more scenic view out the front windows, and once someone does build on the front property, we won't be looking directly at another house all the time. 

Liz posing for scale. The front of the house is just over 22 feet wide. That doesn't include the garage, but where the porch and front door will be.

And boy was it muddy! It doesn't look too bad but we were squishing all over the place. Ended up going home to wash shoes. 

This is a good idea of a view of the front of the house. Can you see the two little stakes out there?

Here is an easier view for you! That is the front of the house and porch. 2-car garage to the left. The front door will sit to the left side of that space. 

This is just to show you how red the dirt down here is. There is still some brown bits, but this red tone is really very pretty.

Once we have a couple of dry days in a row, our builder will take the home dimensions and our stakes and mark out the rest of the house. So we will have a chance to go to the property and do a walk through before we okay it all and they start digging the footers. No turning back then! 

Things are really going to start moving right along (we hope) now. Many more decisions and updates to come soon!

Liz and Mike

It's Official!!!

We went in on our lunch break today (1/9) and signed all of our paperwork for the construction loan! And I (Liz) had to actually sign twice, since I started signing everything as Liz Longest (my signature on my driver's license), but the bank has me as Elizabeth Marie Longest (yep the whole long thing) and my signature must match. Oh my. You couldn't read a thing after the end of it all.

But, you know what this means? 
The land is ours!!! 

Like official official. The deed will get recorded tomorrow morning and we can pick up our copy on lunch tomorrow.

So how does all the payment stuff work you ask? That was definitely our main question when starting this construction loan process. Here is how it works.

We have a loan in the amount we need (for land and the home build) minus the down payment we agreed upon with the bank. As an example, let's say we needed $100,000 for everything (I wish!), and agreed to $10,000 down payment. That means we have a loan for $90,000. After we signed the papers today, the first "draw" on the loan is made to pay our closing costs and to our builder for the land purchase. Let's say that was $10,000. We have $80,000 left on the loan to build the home and the $10,000 down payment is in our private bank account. We can use the $10,000 down payment whenever we see fit - either use it early to keep our payments lower and keep a higher equity amount, or use it towards the end if we come in under budget, that keeps cash in hand for us. .

Monthly payments are made based on the amount that has been drawn each month and are the interest only. A construction loan does have higher interest rates than a conventional loan, so we will be on a tight schedule so that we can close the construction loan and convert it into a mortgage loan as soon as we can.

When we need to make a payment to our builder, or reimburse ourselves for items we may purchase, we call our loan officer and ask for a transfer to be made on the loan to our checking account. That may be different depending on the bank. Seems pretty antiquated, but that is how they do it, so we roll with it. Our county also doesn't have any electronic payment options for your utility bills and you must pay them in person every month.... I digress. So we call our bank and ask for transfers as needed to our builder, or submit receipts for purchases we make.

Since we did a cost-plus build agreement, it will be on us to make sure we are keeping items and decisions within budget.

All in all we are super excited to get started and footers might be going on this week. This part all depends on the weather. It has been fairly wet here but we are hoping for some clear days soon (and all in a row).

No photos here to update you. Neither of us thought about it during all the signing that we should photograph this moment. Ahh well. We have another opportunity for photos when everything is done and we are signing for our mortgage loan.

See Y'all Next Time!
Liz and Mike

Utilities are in!

Utilities are in! Well, most of them anyway. We went out Saturday 1/6 and there were a couple workers installing a phone line and closing up the ditch. Lots of rain in the forecast, so they wanted to make sure they closed up the ditch before it closed itself I guess.

We've got gas, water, electrical conduit, and phone line in the same ditch. Now, I understand that this is not exactly kosher, but we were permitted to run it this way. I think the big concern is keeping the electric line away from the gas line so they were installed on opposite sides of the ditch.

3/4" Natural Gas Line
I was surprised to see the gas line being entirely plastic. I've installed Home-flex stainless steel corrugated gas line with a PVC outer coating 24" under grade before. I had to run it through Carlon electrical conduit for added protection against damage.  I guess that's overkill in Tennessee? This is just a plastic hose 3 feet under ground. I guess this is how it's done here. Many people were surprised to hear that we have natural gas service. I feel so lucky! I looking forward to a clean burning maintenance-free fire place and gas stove cook tops. Might even add a gas outdoor fire pit on the back patio in the future.

Yellow - Gas Line
Large Grey - Electrical Conduit
Small Grey (actually white) - Water Line
Black - Phone Line
Red - Just some warning tape
They ran a phone line just in case we ever want AT&T Internet at our home; though Spectrum broadband cable is very good. Speaking of... While the ditch was open, it would have been the perfect time for Spectrum to come out and drop in a broadband cable line, but their installation service department is a about as responsive as a drunk turtle. We missed the opportunity, and the ditch was filled. They said the line only needs to be about 6" under grade since it is only communications rather than hi-voltage so there is no safety risk. They'll have to come out, hand dig and install it at a later date. No biggie.

I verified with the electric company's superintendent that the water pressure should be more than adequate because they just ran a brand new 6" water main down the road with 150 PSI pressure. We'll take about 30 PSI of pressure drop just climbing the hill to our house, and another 20 to 30 PSI of loss due to friction losses in 1200 feet or so of water line, but we'll still have plenty at the house; something I was very concerned about because our current apartment pressure is less than a gnat's sneeze.

I managed to sneak a photo of the contractors when they weren't looking. I think in this picture they had ran all the line and were just back-filling the trench.
So, a lot of this may not seem terribly exciting for anyone except myself, but this kind of detail helps me document and capture the whole process so if I should ever... I don't know... decide to get my contractor's license and build custom homes for people one day, I'll have a picture-perfect understanding of how it gets done.

Mike and Liz

Wood and Carpet and Tile Oh My!

We took a trip down to Dalton, GA at our builder's recommendation. Apparently it is the flooring capital of the US and there are miles and miles of every flooring store you could want. Both our builder and another local friend recommended the same flooring store, so off we went.

We looked at Pergo. We looked at hardwood. We looked at laminate. We looked at tile. We looked at carpet. We looked and looked and looked. We were able to make a choice within an hour or so for the flooring that will be in most of the home. Great room, kitchen, dining room, and loft will all be in the same wood-look flooring. Tile in the bathroom of course. And carpet in all 3 bedrooms.

We actually picked out the flooring we wanted in the first 10 minutes. We loved the variation in board width, variation in color, a nice cool brown base color and within budget. All to find out that it was a cheap laminate floor. Glue and sawdust. We wanted something that would be long lasting and will withstand spills, pets, and our steam mop. We told him we didn't need something as high end as hardwood, but something that looks nice with good abrasion and moisture resistance (there are multiple scratches in our apartment flooring already). 

He pointed us towards this beautiful flooring choice. Southwind Hard Surface Flooring in Woodland. It is an engineered wood flooring that has a built in pad and will be super easy to install. Oh, it's also water-proof. Win-win. We will save some $$ on the install (and hopefully do most of it ourselves) and it is going to look gorgeous.

Then was on to carpet. We wanted something that was pretty neutral to help with our many decor changes and wouldn't show a lot of cat hair and dirt. And of course something that will feel good between the toes like carpet should.

The salesmen directed us to PureSoft Carpet in a variety of colors. It is super soft and comes with a lifetime carpet pad.

You can see Liz pointing to the color we selected with our wood flooring selection next to it. They are lovely warm compliments to each other and are neutral enough to look great with any decor and furniture choices down the road. Also, this flooring sample and the entire carpet board came home with us for future color matches. 

Last, we talked tile. Liz isn't completely sold yet (it may just need to grow on her a bit), but for now we have picked out this Ava Terina tile in 12x12 squares. 

We originally got this quoted as flooring for the utility room and all bathrooms, including the walk-in shower in the master bath. We have picked out some more fun decorative tile for the utility room and will share that later.

We will also get some of the smaller 4x4 tiles and do a decorative border like this one somewhere in the master shower to add some interest.

So things are coming along! We are excited to make more decisions and see more happening on the property. 

Liz and Mike

When a Ditch Is Exciting

Remember when we had a pretty driveway? Well, then a ditch gets dug for utilities and it doesn't look like much anymore. But this is very exciting! Why? Because it is more progress! 

By the end of this week we should have water and electric lines up to the build site. They will also lay internet, phone, and gas in the same trench. 

The green boxes are kind of strange. They are just like big green Rubbermaid containers that will be buried in the ground serving as junction boxes for the electrical line every couple hundred feet. Not sure why they wouldn't run a continuous line from the road but we are taking our builders word on that one.

The trench was dug with an excavator and is about two feet wide by three feet deep.  Doesn't look too bad here, but then Mike jumped in!

Liz certainly wasn't getting down there (and back up easily). 

And trenches can be pretty in their own sense. Doesn't this look like a scene from Lord of the Rings or something?

We assume this is where the last junction box will be and where they will put the temporary pole for use during construction. The house build site is just to the right of this photo.

It is a good thing we have access to our property from the lot next door. The trench cuts our driveway right in half. My poor little Rogue was not getting through any of that!

Also, we are getting just about record low temperatures here in Tennessee. We are not happy to be breaking out winter coats, gloves, and multiple layers when we leave the apartment. We thought we left most of that back in Ohio! What the heck is going on?

So it is hard to see, but there is definitely ice down there. We know most of the country is getting these below normal temperatures, but we are ready for our average 47° January!

Super exciting utility pole!

Even with an ugly ditch and mounds of dirt, we definitely enjoy the scenic view every time we visit the property.

As mentioned, it was too freakin cold (especially in the shade) so Liz was ready to go home.

You have to click on this lovely panoramic that Mike took!

Until we have another update - Toodles!!! 

Liz and Mike

1/3/18 Update

Drove by and a couple disgruntled contractors were gluing together conduit, 1" SCH 40 conduit for the water line and 2-1/2" SCH 40 conduit for the water and electrical line respectively. I believe I heard the trench is about 1100 feet long. That's a lot of piping! I think the contractors were disgruntled because it's about 30 degrees out and they've been working on this for a while, sun's going down, etc...

Water line - Sure hope this is the right size. It's a long run and quite a bit of elevation gain. 

Electrical conduit

 Green electrical box near the house partially buried. Still investigating why these are needed.

Electrical conduit in the trench - Water line still above 

Long sweep elbow for smooth transition to the electrical pole. Should make for feeding the cable nice and easy.