DIY House Addition: Month 6 Wrap-Up

We’re almost six months to the day from when we hired a guy with a bigass excavator to come over a dig a moat around our house. That’s 183 days of:

  • Worrying
  • Learning new things
  • Spending evenings with a bottle of beer and pair of tweezers removing splinters
  • Picking out colors
  • Living in an old gas station
  • Swearing
  • Hammering
  • Waiting on unreturned phone calls from contractors
  • Yelling
  • Getting dirty
  • Spending money
  • Researching things on the internet
  • Living the life
  • Finding new ways to ingest alcohol
  • Admiring our handiwork

I’m not sure what we’re going to do with ourselves when its over. Sometime last month we “took a weekend off” and let ourselves not worry or work on the house, and basically we sat around in our one-room garage apartment and stared blankly at each other going, “now what do we do?”

Luckily this project will be finished approximately never, so there’s no sense in worrying about what will happen when we’re done. In the meantime, this is how things are progressing.

Month 6 Progress: Little Bit Of This, Little Bit of That

Here’s our progression since the project started:


Month 1:

Month 3:

Month 4:

Month 6:

That’s the most exciting thing going on with the exterior of the house lately, since most of the work has been on the interior. Here are the big things we’ve gotten done on the house in the last few weeks:

  • Completed all horizontal soffits
  • Installed 20% of the siding
  • Installed all concrete porch pads
  • Passed our rough plumbing inspection
  • Have all interior HVAC and our geothermal unit installed
  • Completed 60% of the electrical wiring

Next up on our list:

  • Installing and staining the rest of the siding
  • Drilling geothermal wells
  • Miscellaneous interior framing
  • Fireplace installation
  • Finishing the wiring
  • Passing inspection so we can insulate and put in drywall

That’s not too much to ask in the next month, is it?

Month 6 Financial Situation: Worth The Wait

Our financial situation is about where we expected it would be back when we sold my house for slightly less than originally planned, which basically means we’ll be able to put in everything except the kitchen and deck with the money we have banked.

It seems like these days, when people buy or build a home, they finance 80-90% of it. We made a conscious choice to keep our debt as low as possible, so when we took out a mortgage on the original foreclosed house we only financed 50% of what we thought we’d spend on the remodel. The other 45% came from the equity in the house I sold, and the final 5% we’re currently planning to pay as we go.

Could we have cut corners along the way and had enough money to put the kitchen in now? Totally. There were three decisions that probably impacted our financial situation the most:

  • Solid wood doors – Those puppies weren’t cheap, and we could have spent half as much on “wood-like” doors, and even less on steel doors.
  • Wavy edged cedar siding – It’s not as expensive as brick or stone, but there are definitely cheaper (and more plastic) options out there.
  • Geothermal heat – This was a big expense and basically doubled our heating/cooling installation, but we think our savings in the long run is going to make saving a few extra months for the kitchen well worth the wait.

You’re talking to someone whose been living in a garage without a kitchen for six months, so when it came down to seeing those gorgeous doors every time I walk in the house or waiting another six months for a kitchen, it really was a no-brainer.

We’re also making some non-traditional decisions like finishing off the grill/patio/fireplace area before we finish the interior.

The real good news is that when we’re finished, we’ll only owe about a quarter of what the house is worth, and if we roll the money we’re currently putting towards construction into our mortgage payment, we’ll be able to pay the house off in  less than five years.

Month 5 Injury Report: Why You Should Always Wear Safety Glasses

Other than the usual bleeding from having a tree-sized splinter shoved under your fingernail there was one injury of note this month. It didn’t draw blood, but it’s still a cautionary tale.

I am the worst at wearing personal protective equipment. I freely admit that. Most of the time I use powertools barefoot so when people say I’m going to loose a digit to a saw one day they may be more right than wrong. Twice I’ve had a piece of wood jump off the miter saw– the first time was a few years ago and I was being an idiot holding something off of the back guard, and the blade caught it, ricocheted it off the wall, and it flew the length of the garage. Two weeks ago I was cutting a small piece of cedar siding (using proper technique, I might add) when the blade hit a knot and the piece of siding essentially exploded on the table. A piece of it hit the back guard and was flung back at my face. It hit me just below my left eyebrow. Which basically means I came within a centimeter of potentially losing an eye because I wasn’t wearing safety glasses.

It didn’t leave a physical mark so much as an emotional scar, because guys, I really like my left eyeball. Guess who wears their safety glasses like a good girl now?

Month 5 Thanks: We Couldn’t Do It Without You

  • Our Chief Electrician- Who has spent countless hours here demoing and roofing, and put in a long couple of days last weekend to get our wiring started. Our lives would be less bright without you.
  • Mom – Who dropped everything and came over to help me put up siding last weekend when MysteryMan was working on the electric
  • MysteryMan’s parents – Who probably saved my life by going out to buy another ladder when they saw we needed it for our scaffolding. You should have seen the rigged up thing MysteryMan had me standing on. It’s almost like he wants me to fall 20 feet and go into a coma for the next three months. (I’m on to you, darling.)
  • MysteryMan’s grandpa – Maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that he’s like superman. We asked if he would use his tractor to put some more stone in the porch foundations before we poured them, and not only did he fill them up, he spent a few hours shoveling 3 tons of stone around and leveling it out. He’s 84. I totally want to be him when I grow up.

5 Responses

  1. I’m thoroughly enjoying this blog, although today you touched on something I told my wife some time ago. I told her, “Some of the things she does scare hell out of me, because she has a tendency to just jump into the middle of it.” And this is especially true of safety equipment.

    The first power tool I used was a Skil saw, which I used to build some bookcases. Later I used it to build the double-pedestal desk I’m writing this at. I have long since moved on to a table saw and other tools, but the Skil saw was the first. I remember getting that puppy home, plugging it in, and pulling the trigger for the first time. It absolutely scared the crap out of me. All I could think about was the ways I could lose fingers on this damned thing, so I promised myself that I would never use it without clamping the wood first. That way I can put both hands on the saw and keep them out of the way of the blade. It has now been close to 20 years, and I have a whole yard full of huge structures I built with a Skil saw (raised decks and a full-on 12×18 building). I have long since become 2000% comfortable with that saw, but I clamped the wood throughout. And I still do.

    I still have ten fingers, none of which have been surgically re-attached because I was too damned stupid to use the proper procedures, and I mean to keep it that way.

    The problem with bad work habits is that you can get away with that stuff for years. My wife’s uncle is a wonderful general contractor who cut off a finger with a Skil saw a few years ago. He said, “I’ve always known not to do it that way, but I’ve been getting away with it for over 40 years, so I thought I had it covered.”

    OK, end of lecture. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the time you save by not putting on safety equipment and using the proper procedures is quickly lost in an emergency room waiting for the doctor to sew a finger back on. And trust me, they do NOT work as well as the original equipment. Just sayin’.

  2. My boyfriend is always getting mad at me for not taking safety precautions. I’m getting better… slowly. Glad you still have your left eyeball!

    That is so cool that you guys are doing geothermal. I’ve been learning more about it (bf is a geologist) and it’s really fascinating.

    And holy crap good job on the financing (or non financing, I should say).

  3. Glad you learned your lesson. We have so many safety glasses they are in every corner of the house!

    Yay for the geo bores! Make sure you take lots of pictures. And be prepared for lots of mud/lubricant mess! My parents just had their’s put in and it was almost as big of a mess as ours. Almost.

    I appreciate you detailing out how you’re paying for all of this. It’s a subject I think too many people avoid. It sounds like you two have a great plan but I bet the contractors discount helps too. ; )

  4. relieved that you have two eyeballs still. Do regular glasses count? Because yesterday I held a piece of steel plate while three inches away Mr. Man cut off a chunk with a sawsall.

    Maybe hindsight isn’t always 20/20 in construction….

  5. Holyoke, I assume you’re kidding, but if you’re not, regular glasses are NOT the same as safety glasses. The latter are designed to deflect flying chips, etc. Regular glasses will break upon that kind of impact. Also, you want something with protection from the side too. Depending on what I’m doing, I often wear goggles for that reason. They make me much hotter, and they make me look like a dork, but oh well. I’ve grown fond of my eyes and would prefer to keep them.

    I also would have clamped whatever you were cutting. I have sometimes spent half a day making a jig to perform a procedure that lasts all of a minute or two. But safety just has to be paramount. I’m just trying to make it to retirement age with all the working parts still working and in their original condition, i.e. not surgically reattached!

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