DIY House Addition: Month 1 Wrap Up

The reality is, we’ve been working on this addition mentally and financially for over a year, and those two items cannot be overemphasized.  In the last month the workload hasn’t intensified so much as shifted focus from things-that-give-us-headaches, to things-that-give-us-bruises.

I prefer bruises, and MysteryMan prefers playing golf, if that gives you any indication of which one of us is in their element here.

I’m counting the official project start as the week I started writing checks with an absurd number of zeros on a regular basis. My usual denomination for spending money is in the tens, so imagine what it does to my sense of financial stability to pay for the lumber to build an entire house. Yeah, my eyebrows are permanently lodged somewhere above my hairline from the sticker-shock I suffer on a daily basis.

While I’m on the subject, let’s take a look at how far we’ve come in the last month, and then I’ll spill some of the financial secrets I’ve learned about building a house. (Hint: It costs a lot of money.)



Month 1 Progress:


Month 1 Financial Status: Spent 50%

Prior to the “official start” of the project we’d spent about 3% of our overall budget on:

  • Moving the gas line
  • House plans

We also saved 10% of our estimated budget, took a loan out for %40, and will see the remaining cash from the equity in the house I’m selling. (Thank you 15-year mortgage.)

So basically a month ago, we had a sufficiently large pool of money, and no house addition. Now we have about half of the money left, and a whole lot of lumber in the driveway.

Let me break that down for you. Here’s about how our budget looks:

  • Foundation – 15%
  • Lumber – 8%
  • Rough Framing (labor) – 8%
  • Doors & Windows – 15%
  • Roofing – 4%
  • Siding – 8%
  • Insulation – 4%
  • Utilities (Plumbing, Electric, HVAC) – 23%
  • Finish (Drywall, flooring, trim, cabinets, etc.) – 15%

In Month 1 we have paid for the foundation, lumber, rough framing, and doors & windows– approximately 46% of our budget.

Good news: We’ve paid for almost everything we need to get the house “closed in”. Still, it’s unnerving to see half the cash go out the window and have a half-framed house on your hands.

In fact, let’s talk about something that doesn’t give me a twitch in my left eye.

Month 1 Injury Report: All fingers accounted for.

At last count I had 23 bruises on my shoulders, forearms, and legs, in various shades of blue and green. I also still have all of my fingers and toes.

The worst of the injuries were sustained by two individuals who fell into the foundation hole and left moderate amounts of skin behind. I’m not naming names — you know who you are.

Month 1 Lessons Learned: Planning breaks even.

If you ask me, the key to success in any construction project (and any project at all) is how well you can coordinate things on the fly. If you ask MysteryMan, it’s how well you can anticipate and address all possible issues before they happen. (Do you get the impression that he’s an Engineer at all?)

Some things MysteryMan agonized over for weeks this winter, only to find out once construction started they didn’t even remotely phase the project. Other things, like making sure the well placement that determined the entire shape of the East side of the house was correct on the drawings, completely alluded us. And the resulting “on the fly” decisions culminated in a well that now spits up as much sand as water.

So… I think we can call that a draw on the planning thing. An addition requires planning, that much is obvious. It also requires the flexibility to deal with unexpected issues when they arise. Also, welding skills don’t hurt.

My bottom line is — plan for what you can, and don’t stress about what you can’t.

Month 1 DIY Did & Didn’t: This one’s for the crew.

Things we Did:

  • Set the new beams in the existing and new basements
  • Blocked up existing basement windows
  • Backfilled new foundation
  • Coordinated lumber deliveries, dumpsters, and a slew of other construction related details
  • Poured the foundation (MysteryMan gets the credit for this, even though he did it with his crew, and this is what they do every day. It’s not exactly DIY if your doing it with professionals. But it is still a helluva lot of work.)

Things we Didnt:

  • Excavate – Excavators are for professionals.
  • Rough frame – and thank god for the crew we have working on the house. We spent a day working on our donkey shed this weekend and realized NO POSSIBLE WAY the house would have been remotely straight if we’d done this part. Month 1  definitely belongs to the framing crew.

4 Responses

  1. I had a house built years ago & forgot how fast it goes to begin with. Then it seems you reach a point where it starts to crawl along. HATED that part. But this part – so exciting! Thanks for letting us tag along.

  2. I love the site. I was reading it last night and then today while waiting for stain to dry. I am also a DIYer and all the tools are mine, but I will share them with certain people ,aka my husband. He doesn’t use them much though because I work with cedar and he is allergic to it, also to stain. But he does buy me cool presents, like, a shaper for mother’s day. ANyway, I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures. Ours will start in the summer when we replace a rotten log home with another log home, only with dovetails. If you want to see I have 2 website/blog things (that is my husbands domain, computers don’t like me). http://www.ottawacedarfurniture and

  3. Kate – I know this lightning-fast framing is setting a bad example for how the rest of the project will go, especially since we’re doing the rest of it ourselves.

    Janet- There is nothing in the world like power tools for presents. Rock on! Checked out your sites and LOVE those Adirondack chairs you build. Just gorgeous.

  4. Hi, I’m interested in how you connected your addition foundation to your existing foundation. Any and all aspects of the connection.

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