Saturday, January 19

It’s been a long time since the last blog entry. My mood level was falling, and it wasn’t a good idea to write when in a bad mood. But things are picking up as our house is getting closer to completion.

“They” say that building a house can make you crazy. “They” are right! Especially when you’re trying to build a house by paying cash as you go along. You start out with the hope that you can do the entire job in one long unbroken sequence until voila—you move in to a completed house. But then reality hits and you find out that all the estimates for the individual actions are a little off. Or maybe WAY off. Plus there are peripheral things that aren’t directly figured in to the cost of building the house. Like putting in a well pump, over two thousand feet of big fat pipe, and water storage tanks (just digging the trenches cost thousands). Years ago we had already spent about $20,000 for the well. But getting water out of the well and into the house cost another $30,000. Hm-m-m. Then there’s the septic system—a nice big tank and two nice big 12-foot-deep leach fields. Just another $10k or so. Then we decided to put in a two-car garage. Ten grand per car. Plus the nine-by-eighteen-foot roll-up door and remote controls. We got that from Costco at a relatively cheap $3,000. It will be installed next Wednesday. The local telephone company is burying a DSL line and a conduit pipe for future fiber optic cable all the way to the house from across the river and only charging $800 or so. They used a backhoe and three bulldozers and a week’s time to do it, so we feel we’re getting a bargain.

You’re probably getting the idea by now. Additionally we blame ourselves for doubling the cost of windows because we didn’t want vinyl frames, but rather warm and gorgeous Douglas fir. Doorknobs can cost ten bucks or they can cost $80 to $280 per set if they’re solid bronze with hand-rubbed oil finish. Dang, bronze sure looks good! And feels good to the hand.

Thousands of feet of electrical wiring went in. That really shocked us (pun intended) once we discovered that the wiring is not only in the house, but under it since we have so much potential basement space.

So we ended up putting some of the cost on credit cards. Fortunately, that’s a deep well, but we were getting anxious about how long this can continue. We cut part of our expense by hiring some of the people who work for us at the ranch and giving them room and board besides. Also we’re getting some nice input from son-in-law Luke. In exchange he gets experience that he can use at the high ranch.

As of yesterday afternoon we finished getting the house “wrapped.” A double layer of tar paper and thousands of feet of chicken wire adorn the exterior along with special steel corner adornments, ready for the first coat of stucco. The soffits, the horizontal spaces under the roof overhangs, now have expanded metal covering, along with the entire ceiling structure over the 14 by 34-foot covered deck on the south side of the house. We are hoping our work will reduce the $30,000 estimate for stucco coating by about $10,000. Maybe, maybe not.

We may end up installing the interior wall covering ourselves. Drywall is one of those things that everyone we know says “DON’T DO IT!!” Even our main contractor says to hire out at least the ceiling drywall installation. Gypsum wallboard is heavy and ceilings are the most difficult part. We have lots of recessed lighting fixtures and air-conditioning vents and county-code-required fire sprinklers all over the place and county-code-required CO2 and carbon monoxide detectors to work around when installing ceilings. Not fun.

Our 3,750 watts worth of solar panels sit in their carton in the garage, along with the inverters that will convert their energy to 120 and 240-volt power. We have buried all the conduit to move the energy from the panels to the inverters and from the inverters to the house. Our next big expense will be storage batteries. Our last batch of batteries at the old house came to almost $10,000, and we expect the new ones will be that much or more. Solar panels and inverters came to $13,700. Sheesh!

More tomorrow, with pictures. Stay tuned.


Susan said...

Welcome back! Yes, the house sounds like it is being a long, drawn out, surprising pain. You are prisoners of the process. I sympathise. A lot. At the same time it sounds like it is going to be an incredible and unique dwelling where there has been much thought expended on the planning and care taken in the execution. It's going to be an incredible feeling when you are finally able to move in.

I'm looking forward to seeing tomorrow's pictures.


Pete S. said...

I'm glad you're back "on the air." Ana was the one in this house that discovered the new post. The word then spread like wildfire. (The internet was quite boring during your sabbatical).

Maybe it's a good thing you spent all that money --while it still had some value.

Pete S. said...

I forgot to say congratulations on getting a DSL line to the house! I didn't expect that!