It’s been getting progressively harder for me to breathe for the last month. During most winters the approach of Spring has been met with cries of sweet-jesus-relieve-us-from-this-frozen-hell.

 This year, Spring means the Memorial house plans need to be done, sealed, stamped, approved, and apparently signed in blood. MysteryMan has to get his Michigan engineers licence. We have to have building permits from a county that has neither building nor website to direct you to how in the hell you get those permits. I have to learn proper framing techniques. We need to line up excavation equipment and wall forms and get loans to pay for construction materials, and since MysteryMan has never taken out a loan from a bank in his life, he would prefer to be dragged face first over hot coals rather than be indebted to a financial institution. And then there’s the small matter of selling the Garrison house in the worst. housing. market. ever.

Basically there has been a big pile of steaming awesomeness on my chest, and it was making it difficult for my brain to receive the proper amount of oxygen.

But today we spent most of the day rehashing floor plans, our financial situation, the state of our collective union, and whether or not I will ever submit to living with a dog. (I like dogs, I just hate the way they smell. And drool. And jump on people. But I’m all about playing fetch and whatnot.)

We figuratively tore the Memorial House apart and then put it back together again, and MysteryMan had a brilliant stroke of insight which led to the new house plan (version 3 for 436, I’m sure) looking somewhat like this:





This design solved for a couple of outstanding issues we had with the old plan.
1.) Better placement of stairs to the basement and loft.
2.) Larger area for the Master Bed/ Bath
3.) Access from the Master Bedroom to the back yard
4.) All bedrooms now have windows
5.) The existing living room space is more usable

There is just one fatal flaw with this plan, which is that we are not keeping the existing bathroom in the main area of the house. I conceded to MysteryMan’s point that it will be better to do all the additions at once, and given the current state of the economy that will be after we sell Garrison Road. Which means once again, I’ll be living in a house that has no working bathroom.


We’ve decided in 2009 to work on the interior of the existing house, which basically means tearing out all walls (and ceilings), reinforcing the roof with exposed beams, framing in the few walls that will be left, getting the utilities set up for the additions, oh… and landscaping. Which means putting in a lot of fence, and one bigass pond.

Existing Property & Structures:


There is a word for this. It’s called barren.

Future Property & Structures:

 Luckily my family is in the mining business, so we have excavation equipment galore. Ricky assures me we can have that pond dug in a week. And since it involves heavy equipment and not simple tools like a shovel, I’m going to let the boys play with their toys. The person in this relationship who does math regularly tells me that we will be excavating 12,000 yards of dirt, and will only be using around 1,000 of that for the berm and landscaping. So. If anyone needs any dirt in the next year…

Ricky insists that since we’re going to be digging the place up we put the additions on at the same time (he thinks even bigger than I do, but MysteryMan doesn’t roll his eyes at Ricky nearly so much as he does at me). But that is yet to be determined.

Some of the fun landscaping features I want to focus on this year are, first, the vegetable garden, which I would like to fence in with something like this:


(This fence is from Rustic Garden Structures, and I’ve got a lot of love for people who create something this awesome and then put DIY Instructions on their website.)

I’m going to create the vegetable garden with raised beds using railroad ties, even though that’s really not the “country” thing to do. It’s how my grandma used to do it in her less-rural back yard, so I’m going to bring my own style to the country. (Oh boy, is MysteryMan’s grandpa gonna laugh at me.)

You may also notice I have a spot marked off for growing-things-we-will-eventually-ferment-and-drink, where we’d like to try our hands at growing hops or barley and grapes.

Which is quite ambitious, I know (however in the scheme of things I have suggested, for example, buying a cow and making all our own milk and cheese, this one is not outside of the realm of possibility).

It’s also likely that I’ll be digging 1001 fence post holes, since the perimeter of our property will have to be fenced in in order to have a pond. I have no idea how I got to be Chief Hole Digger in this relationship, but there you are.

So, big plans, as usual. And more than likely we’ll be making just as much progress outside of the house as we will in it this season, buy hey, after the last 8 months, we’ll take anything we can get.

P.S. Serious bit of brilliance from Mark at Rehab or Die the other day on renaming my header “La Femme Makita.” Swear to God I laughed for 10 minutes and then seriously considered changing the name of this website!

7 Responses

  1. Wow! Those are some awesome plans, and that pond is indeed huge!!! I am totally jealous as I have always wanted to have a pond. I can’t wait to see the photos as these plans come to life.

  2. Kit~
    I completely love that new picture of you holding the drill…that lights up!
    Love, Mom

  3. LFM,

    Thanks for the mention. There are some thoughts that came to mind. Check with your accountant regarding doing your gut rehab and the new home buyer tax credit. I *think* that if you “finish it” this year and move in, you may be entitled to a 10% (of the value) REFUNDABLE tax credit.

    There are some lenders now who are open to letting you use that toward DP.

    Also, while there are tons of resources on framing and while you’re way facile and handy, there are three tips I have for you on framing.

    1) look at EVERY that you frame with for twists and bows. If it’s a funky piece of wood, it’s going to be a funky spot on your wall. If that s anywhere near tile or flooring, or trim, or cabinets or counters, you’ll likely be cursing later. Trust us.

    2) Similarly, use a framing square at every corner. Think in terms of trying to get a tile job to look right. Think in terms of hanging cabinets. Think in terms of laying a hardwood or laminate floor. If you don’t have a square, use a sheet of OSB or hardibacker. Also, measure at several places along the wall. We got some walls really nicely square at the floor only to find them way off at 3′.

    3) use a framing nailer, not a hammer. It’s a huge time and body saver. That said, if you start getting pain in your arms or elbows, stop. Rest. Take Ibuprophen. We’re still getting over some odd tendinitis and arm weakness and we’ve been done with all the heavy stuff for a while now (the sameholds true for drills and circular saws). Don’t just work through the pain day after day. You’re young but you’re not indestructible.

    Good luck with this project. If we can be of any help on the financing front (advice not money wise!), let us know.

  4. wow, I could use all your dirt, huge drop off on one side of the driveway that needs filling but I live in SW Michigan and don’t have any way to get it. beautiful plans. jealous of the pond. and the donkeys! can’t wait to see the donkeys and the dog!!!

  5. I’m a new reader and I just finished going through your archives. I really enjoy your writing style and all of your handy-dandy information. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    You probably already know this, but if you’ve got a whole lot of post holes to dig, I recommend an Auger. True it’s something you’ll need to drive (which you’ve stated is not one of your forte’s) but it will make your life easier in the long run. I imagine there’s a rental equipment place (heavy equipment) somewhere near you.

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