An Update

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but we’re finally back to a somewhat normal life and schedule. My husband has returned to work, and while we’re not quite living in the house yet, we’re hopefully only a few weeks away.

Our time spent working on the house was pretty great – we haven’t spent that much time together since we travelled through Europe 12 years ago (and no, we haven’t filed for divorce!).

I mentioned in an earlier post that we were pretty much freezing our butts off while working there, but on April 12, it was positively balmy. We had a work party with some friends who came to help install soffits, and had our first barbecue of the season. One week later (April 19), we arrived to this scene:

It was breathtakingly beautiful, so of course we had to take time off from wiring to have a snowball fight. What a crazy winter it’s been.

You may be wondering if I’ve gone off my rocker and painted the house mustard and black. As lovely as the combination is, the yellow is actually rain screen mesh that we’ve had to install on the gable ends of the house where the overhangs aren’t adequate to keep the siding dry. There has been a huge “leaky condo” crisis in BC over the past 10-15 years (my mom and step-father both had to shell out big money to have their apartment buildings completely redone), because condos were being built with complete disregard for our drizzly climate, so the BC building code has been changed to make rain screen mandatory on most new buildings. The mesh creates a space behind the siding so that air can get behind it and dry any water that may have gotten through. It’s an added material and labour cost, but much cheaper than having to redo the whole exterior 10 years from now.

Here you can see the Hardie shingles that we decided to go with. It has been installed on some of the house, but there’s still a lot more to do. We’ve had help with this from a few of the guys on our contractor’s crew, as the bank wants us to have everything done before they’ll give us a mortgage with a decent rate. So we’ve had to choose between doing things ourselves and paying more in interest, and hiring someone to help us so we can save on interest. Either way, this is costing us more than we’d ever hoped!

This is my husband giddily wiring the very last fixture in the house. It took us way longer to wire the house than we thought it would, but we saved ourselves approximately $18,000 by doing it ourselves.

This is the stage we’re at now – the house is insulated and awaiting drywall. A neighbor who also happens to be a contractor (and an organic farmer – but that’s another post!) mentioned one day that it can sometimes be almost as cheap to hire someone to install the insulation as it is to do it yourself, since they get the materials for so much less. We did some calculating, and after our contractor sweet-talked his insulators, we ended up with a deal that we just couldn’t pass up, and our house was insulated in two days (something that would have taken us weeks, I’m sure!). Even without a heat source, the house feels downright snug!

Our raven friends have been keeping a close eye on our progress, as have many other kinds of birds. We have dined with eagles swooping playfully overhead, watched red-headed woodpeckers excavating logs for a meal, and you can’t be outside for 10 minutes without a hummingbird buzzing past your head.

Spending 6 weeks on the property has given us plenty of time to get to know the area and its inhabitants (human as well as animal), and we are smitten. I have never met friendlier people, and I can’t wait to be a member of this community. I already know more of my neighbors than I do after 12 years of living in the city!

This process has not been without its problems, however. As I mentioned earlier, our budget has been blown completely, in spite of our best efforts. Fortunately, interest rates are low right now, and the basement that I fought so hard against in the beginning will in all likelihood become a welcome source of income, as we are going to put in a suite to help pay down the mortgage.

Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with a good builder, which was one of our biggest concerns about building. Unfortunately the pre-fab company we were dealing with has turned out to be a bit of a dud. If we had to do it all over again, we would hire this particular contractor to stick-frame the house rather than do pre-fab, as this method of construction has saved us neither time nor money (quite the opposite, actually). The upside is, if we hadn’t used them we never would have met our builder, and besides doing a bang-up job on our house, he and his crew have become good friends to us as well.

And that’s about it. Next on my list: putting up a deer fence up so I can get the garden started!

15 thoughts on “An Update”

  • Cheryl, this looks simply fantastic. How proud you must be?

    Do you mean that you will rent out the basement for lodging?

    What do you use for a deer fence? Type and materials? They can jump them, right? (Not sure, city slicker that I am).

    Best of luck on your continued homebuilding!


  • Amazing! I am envious LOL You have done so much… and just so you don’t feel so bad, each house we build ended up going over budget as well in the end. The first had us getting more from the bank on two occasions!

  • I have been waiting to see your progress! I was glad to see you post a comment so that I knew you were back.
    Very happy for you that you like your contractor —so many people have bad stories. My parents included.
    Your house looks wonderful even in mustard and black—though I am sure you have a much better color picked out.
    Soon, very soon, you will be moving in—Oh the excitement!! πŸ˜€
    P.S—good idea about a renter because I believe everyone goes over budget. Well, except those that build solo and over years and years (ugh—can you imagine).

  • Wow! The progress looks fabulous. You must be so excited. Lovely location and the house looks so quaint. Can hardly wait to see photos of the inside when you’re finished. And I love the new header. It looks so spring like.

  • YAY!!!!

    I’ve loved seeing you progress on this project.

    Isn’t that how it is….always over budget(:

    At least that is what I consistently hear. And, if you had troubles….I can only imagine.

  • Hi! Sorry for the delay in responding, my computer’s in for repairs so I have to borrow computer time.

    Lu – Yes we will be renting the basement out if we can find the right tenant.
    I’ve bought deer fencing from Benner’s which is supposed to be good. It’s a black mesh that should be invisible from a distance, and the deer shouldn’t be able to jump it (the ones we have here are apparently smaller and can’t jump as high either).

    Shawna – Thanks for your reassuring words! It seems so overwhelming at the time, and it’s good to know that others have survived it!

    Monica – No, I can’t imagine building over years and years – one year of stress and upheaval is plenty!

    Carla – Thanks! Yes, we’re getting very excitied!
    I’ll post interior photos once there’s more to see than studs and insulation!

    Chelee – Over budget certainly seems to be the norm, I just had no idea how bad it would be! Nobody ever tells you about all the hidden costs, but then I guess no one would ever commit to doing it!

    Rural Aspirations – Thanks! I hope it doesn’t put you off building!

    Steffi – Thank you! It’s nice to hear from you!

  • Thanks for the great update. That is the way it always is, more then a person bargains in time and money. Great you could save so much in electrical. We had that snow here, very beautiful, but at the end of the season not as welcome as would be at the beginning of winter.

    I was wondering about the yellow colour, glad you cleared that up.

    I am looking forward to the interior updates as you go.

  • Just a few weeks away? so excited for you. AND you get to have a big garden this year? So happy for you Cheryl. Glad your back to update us. I kept checking to see , knowing you would not leave us hanging like that for very long. LOL.

  • Hi Cheryl – I’m writing from Seattle and found your post by doing a Google image search for Hardie Shingles. My husband and I are re-siding our house and I have been losing sleep over the fiber cement vs. cedar decision. The reality is that although I love the look of cedar, we can’t really afford it (especially if we have it pre-stained, which everyone is advising we do considering the climate here). I was so happy to see your photo of Hardishingles on your house; it looks fantastic! Best wishes on the rest of your project. -Jessica

  • The update looks wonderful. We have been following your progress and are excited to see that insulation. I have done all the drywall in our renovation and I wish we had hired out for it. However in our area it would not have been cheap or fast. Post another update for us so we can see how it’s coming.

I would love to hear from you!

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