Monday, February 13, 2012

Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 1

Welcome to the first installment in the series I introduced yesterday, answering questions asked about our home building experience...
"You built it, right?"                                                                                                                                                                                
Yes, we built our house.  Our ultimate, family DIY project.   Hubby taught a housebuilding course for about 15 years, and the kids were often on site, helping out during after-school or weekend hours their dad spent there.  They saw and learned a lot on those projects, and by his side at other extra jobs Hubby's taken on through the years.  We'd also remodeled all our previous houses, and the kids helped more with each as they got older and learned more things.  At age 11 or so, Prince Stoic was Hubby's right-hand-man, framing and wiring a new dining room addition on our last house, and remodeling a bedroom for him and his 2 younger brothers.  He and Princess Bossy did a lot of sheetrock installation and finishing, and then painting, when we finished the previously unfinished basement. 

The blessing of building our own home when we did is that all of them were still home, and most could take part and feel part of the accomplishment... and remember.  
Prince CuddleBunny was only 2 when we started, but he was constantly in the mix, adorned with his own tool belt, measuring and pounding with his hammer.  (One day he was really into measuring and everything was either "5" or "18.")

Living on site was a big plus.  The 30-year-old, single-wide mobile home was anything but luxurious, or even in 'decent' shape, but the 10 of us squeezed in and made it work.  The 2 bedrooms were wall-to-wall beds, and mattresses leaned up on the living room wall during the day and were brought down at night.  

It had no central heat, so the little woodstove was a warm and lovely spot for us to gather 'round.  That was what kept us sane in the winter and the covered deck helped expand our walls in warmer weather. I was actually afraid of moving into the new house with its 2750 square feet, where everyone could go to his or her own corners and weren't forced into togetherness as we were in the tiny trailer.  It was not nearly the embarrassing nightmare our teen kids feared.

The kids were great troopers.  They baked, they played games together, they created lots of fun outside.

Some trees came down, and excavation started in the spring of 2006.  

These were milled, dried, and became our interior trim and
island top 
The foundation was poured in August, with quite a big group of friends and family to help wheelbarrow concrete from the truck, and fill the forms.   Hubby found out that after building over 10 homes with the school project, he still didn't know everything, and helpful, knowledgeable, and skilled friends were a big blessing throughout the build.  

The other huge challenge was keeping up with 'regular' life during the build.  We suspended a few activities, like Prince Go-for-It's start into Little League. Homeschooling was simplified, as we had no room for a table in the mobile home. Bedtime and nap routines were fouled up for the younger ones, since with such small quarters, we tended to go to bed as a household, rather than on an age-appropriate schedule.

We switched from the church we'd attended for several years (45 minutes away) to one within a mile from home, where the older kids were already involved in the youth group anyway.  
Princess Bossy readied for
Prom in the awful
But other things couldn't be avoided... Like losing grandparents... Senior Prom... and Hubby's job.

With the foundation in by early August, and framing in full swing so we could be 'closed in' by winter, the beginning of the school year roared up on Hubby in a hurry.  Prince Stoic, Princess Bossy, Prince Inventive, and I figure he still owes us for running off to meetings, leaving us to get the 2nd-floor, 40-foot, floor joists into position on top of the 9-foot tall, 1st-floor walls.    

The joists want to bend, but they shouldn't, since they'll splinter and snap.  Maneuvering them at ground level was quite a job in itself.  Getting from the ground to the top of the walls was a much bigger struggle.  Thankfully, as happened many times during our build, a friend showed up at just the right time.  This time it was a male friend of Princess Bossy's, a strong, athletic college freshman, who added just enough hands and muscle to make it work.
The bruises... and far
enough after that I could
smile about it  ;-)

We fed the joists through the front window opening, up and over the living room wall, and I was 'catching' them from atop a ladder at the back wall of the house.  When the joist would make it through the front window, and be let loose, the tipped up end would fall down toward me, and if not caught and managed just right it would hit me in the upper arm.  It did this several times... Every time in the exact same spot, getting more painful each time.  I'd finally figured a way to avoid this problem, but it didn't always work, and the last time it fell on me was the so painful.  I meant to say "Dang!," but it came out a little differently, and the kids are still amused about "the time Mom swore!"

Hubby's work kept him far busier than he'd foreseen, and the timing and success of the house is owed, in very large part, to the hardwork and skills of our kids,
 especially Prince Stoic, who had just finished high school as we started the 2nd year into the build.  
Installing kitchen flooring
He did and/or supervised a lot of the framing and finish work with more capability and care than most adults.

There are lots of memories and stories from our build.   We had marshmallow roasts over fires after cutting trees, 
the younger kids used the sub floor as a skating surface and the crawlspace as a clubhouse, the kids and Dad worked late into the nights, and the house rang with the workers' laughter.                                                                                                                                                  

There were also delays, and weeks and even months of little progress.  It got frustrating by the end of the task and the lingering months in the mobile home.  
We received our Certificate of Occupancy on February 27, 2008...approximately 18 months after pouring the first concrete, and about exactly 2 years after we moved into the mobile home.  It was a happy day for us all to see the mobile home destroyed and hauled away.  
The day after move-in!
The frustrations and waiting seemed to disappear into thin air as soon as we were in the house.... although there was still much work to be done.

Things we didn't do:  Septic system installation, rough plumbing, roofing, wiring the main box, sheetrock install and finishing, and vinyl, hardwood, and carpet installation.  Other than that, it was us.  
Hubby and the boys framed the structure, wired,  and installed millwork.  

I finished the doors and millwork, and helped with electrical fixtures and finish pieces.  

Hubby built all the cabinets and installed those, the countertops, and appliances.  All the while, he was glad to have helpers beside him, older or younger.  Always a dad, even though an under-pressure homebuilder.  

We all painted and insulated. The girls made meals when I was busy at the house.  

It was a gigantic, team effort.  I can't do it justice in blog posts written this far after the fact, and after I lost a crucial file of digital pictures.  I just have to say it was one of the greatest joys and blessings of our lives.

I'm linking to I’m One Project Closer {DIY Link-It-Up #5} at One Project Closer.                                                                                               
If you're visiting from the link-up party, and would like to read/see this whole series, please click here, and read from the oldest first.  :-)

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