Building Our Home: Getting it Dried In

My husband and son walking up the back steps.

My husband and son walking up the back steps.

Week 9:  Closing in

Week 9 was crazy exciting!  The siding and cornice crew started and we really started to see the scale and proportion of the house take shape.   First, they wrapped the house in a moisture barrier.  Then they set the doors and windows and started to cut and apply the siding and cornice (exterior trim pieces).  We chose to use James Hardie 8" Smooth Lap Siding for our farmhouse because I like the clean look of the smooth siding, the longevity of the cement board products, and wanted the ability to change paint colors over the years without having to re-side or re-brick.  

On the third day of week 9 we had three trades working at once.  The plumbers began the rough-in on the main levels of the house, the siding crew was still hard at work, and the roofing company began placing the metal flashing for the roof line.  We used Outback Companies from Oxford, GA for our metal roof after researching a few local companies and learning (via their website) that they roofed one of my inspiration houses, a cottage at Serenbe in the Chatahoochie Hill Country.  

We closed out week 9 with a massive clean-up effort from myself, my husband, and our kids (hehe!).  We had been picking up scrap framing wood for weeks and the siding just added a lot more trash to collect.  We had rented a 20 yard dumpster from Atha Rental and after the siding started going on the house, we nearly filled up the first dumpster.  Being the clean-up crew is a job that you can do yourself while building that requires absolutely no skill and will save you a bit of money because you aren't having to pay someone hourly to do the work.  

Week 10:  Rain

Rain.  That is all.  And ordering Pine Hall Bricks in Harbor Bay from Power Brick Company.

Beau Earning His Keep

Week 11:  DRIED IN! 

After a disappointing week 10, week 11 had a lot of promise.  Our roof was installed on Earth Day, how appropriate!  One of the main reasons that I chose the Galvalume Metal Roof was that it is one of the most energy efficient roofing materials available.  It's shiny surface will reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing the heat.  We had to leave off the two final panels of the roof due to the chimney not being completed (or even started for that matter).  

Our electrician, Mike Bond, began the electrical rough in of the main level of our home.  A LOT of decisions had to be made on light fixture placement, outlet placement, light switch placement, etc.  There were a ton of things to think through and it helped that we'd done some sketches beforehand.  

The rough install of the HVAC also began.  Duct work and air handlers went in and more decisions were made about the type of units and thermostats to be used. 

Siding continued throughout week 11 and our brick work finally began.  One thing that I learned about brick work is that it is painfully slow.  Masonry work can only be done in sections of about 4 feet in height per day, to allow the mortar to set and support the weight of the bricks above.  It also can't be done if there is rain in the forecast because the mortar won't harden properly.  In other words, if you're trying to do brick work in April, good luck.  

The brick work started with constructing the pillars under the porch columns, a total of twelve, around our front and back porch.   Insert first complete "Oh Crap" moment here.  I arrive on-site to check out the brick work and realize that the columns, which should have been flush with the porch skirt, were sticking out from under the porch.  

Bricks sticking out from the porch skirt.

Frantic phone calls to my husband, followed by frantic phone calls to the brick contractor, followed by frantic e-mails to the home designer finally resulted in a solution, which required moving the porch bracing and removing and rebricking the columns that had already been put up.  

This was a HUGE learning moment for us in the home building process.  We realized that building a home wasn't just deciding what you want and hiring someone to execute it, it's very much about foreseeing the possible problems and imagining differing end results based on a contractor's interpretation of what you asked for.  Leaving the bricks sticking out from under the porch was the easy thing to do.  It might even be standard, as the contractor told me, but it wasn't going to fly on my house and  we had to lose those bricks and come out of pocket to fix a problem that would have been avoided if we'd had more experience in relaying our expectations and vision to subs.

Week 12: Bricks and more bricks

We chose to build a masonry fireplace, instead of using a pre-fab.  See this article for the differences between the two.  Since our fireplace started in the basement and spanned the height of the house, it ended up not only being a budget buster, but a huge time commitment.  Week 12 marked the beginning of several weeks spent working on the masonry fireplace.  

Electrical and HVAC work continued in week 12 and we spent the last few days in anticipation of the rough inspections.  We would be applying for rough inspections on the following in week 13:  framing, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing.  With serious jitters we spent the weekend cleaning up the construction trash and made sure that we had everything in order for the inspection.

Week 13: Inspections, insulation & Bricks 

Spray Foam Insulation Installation

On the first day of week 13 we had four scheduled inspections.  We passed everything except for the framing with only one or two very small changes to make.  What a relief!!  We were so nervous that there was some super secret builder information that we weren't privy to that would cause us to fail our inspections.  Luckily, our awesome subs kept everything under control.

Our insulation went in during week 13 and I was so excited to see this process in action!  Medford Quality Insulation installed open cell spray foam in our roof line and in all of our exterior walls.  This entire process was fascinating!  The installers first sealed each space between windows, studs, and headers with a foam material similar to commercial grade Great Stuff and then sprayed the open cell spray foam in each area, while wearing something that resembled space suits.  After the foam was in, they used a giant razor blade type tool to scrape the foam down to be even with the studs.  These guys were great to work with!  I feel like we got a fair price, received great service, and I'm very pleased with the result.  I'm looking forward to seeing how our power bill looks after we get moved in.  

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Donna Peters

Front Porch Design Studio, Monroe, GA 30656, USA