Sunday, December 9, 2007

Here are a few of my favorite things....Oprah's done it...Can't I?

After making lists of fixtures, lighting, fasteners, etc. for the house spreadsheet I thought I'd share some of the cool things I've come across.

1) I have been purchasing a few things here and there for the house when I find good deals. Some things I just need to wait on, because we don't have the space. Anyways, this black chandelier I saw in a bathroom on a tour home this summer. For the few amazing seconds I was in this bathroom, I considered buying the house. The entire house was Amazing, mostly furnished in a black and white theme with things found from the Z Gallerie (in Portland).

2) What is there not to love about Anthropologie (the store)? Well they have these cool doorknobs that really aren't that much more than a standard doorknob...yet they have so much more character.

3) Push Button Light Switches are the coolest thing! I have always loved to push buttons (haha), no really, there is something about pushing something in, hearing a click, and waiting for the after effects. I'd just have to know me, or just nod. It's the little things in life. It's hard to find a good picture but here is one from Rejuvenation, where they sell really hardware lighting, antiques, and other things. They have this mother of pearl finish on the buttons and different switch plate options.

This last week

Getting a little further....Zach finaled the house plans last weekend and he printed off 6 copies to hand out for preliminary bids. I wrote up a cover sheet with our contact information, our goals, and attached our construction specifications spreadsheet to the plans. Friday, I dropped off plans on to three different builders we have been in contact with. I also gave a set to a friend to review who works in plan review at our local building department. Next step...we should have some NUMBERS!!!! and feedback.

I'll work on posting the spreadsheet and other info soon. Many things are unfortunately still on my laptop which is on its deathbed. It is still hanging in there for me; however, there is no way that I can get it to connect to the internet. I pulled out the wireless card with too much vigor last time and broke the inside of the laptop (that is as technical as I can get folks...). I tried a new wireless card but that didn't work. There are moving parts inside. Tried an ethernet cord, nada. I need to spend some time and transfer files....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November...tick.. tock

Plans are getting closer to being done. Last weekend with the extra day off was awesome (thank you Veterans). We ate, breathed, and smelled house plans. I am a visual kinda person. Things need to be drawn out and in as much of a 3-D picture for me to understand how things will look. Here on the left is a layout of the 1st level with a deck (dashed lines) off the back...soon to come...Labels!
We are coming up on December and we would love to start construction this March (or earlier because of the interest rates) so we are tying to get it all lined up.

Scary issue #1. We don't know how much it will cost to build our house. About 1 in 5 people like to scare me by telling me it could cost $500,000 to build it. If that is the case, we won't be building. I think my approach from now on will be to ask 4 more people and then not talk to anyone anymore.
I have read a lot about estimates based on square footage, simple layouts, interior finishes, etc., but there are too many factors involved that I just don't know. We would rather have a good structure with a good layout and then do most of the finish work ourselves even if that means putting in cheaper, non-conventional finishes.
As soon as we can print out the plans and talk to builders we should know an estimate. We may have to go back to the drawing board, or cutting board in that case.

The Second Level is a partial second story Master Suite, again...labels and room sizings coming up next post.

Finally, this is a crazy view (not sure how it will look on this format) of all of the AutoCad layers (framing, plumbing, roof eaves, windows, etc) on in 3D, including the basement/garage. I like to use the orbit feature...pretty fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oh yeah... Partition approved.

Next steps will be approaching soon!! Zach and I are making a timeline to get our building plans approved by the county around March of 2008.
We are trying to get the last bit of detail (decking, porches, electrical outlets, etc.) on our AutoCad plans.
Finalize the specifications sheets.
Print out plans for estimates.
Meet with builders.
Choose a builder.
Turn in finalized plans to the county.
Meet with lendor.
Move into RV (yikes!)
Get rid of trailer house.
Build house.

On another note, I need to rant about Measure 37. Some of you may know about it already. Basically it was a property rights measure that passed in 2004 that gave longtime land owners a way around current land use regulations. The idea was that people should be able to use their land and that government should not be able to regulate what a landowner wants to do with it. We are just now starting to see the effects of the measure. All over, large housing development tracts are sprouting up all over the state on rural farmland that has existed as farmland for decades.

We recently found out our neighbors are planning a 20 lot subdivision right next to our property. On the other side, is a 5-10 lot subdivision, and across the road is a 200 acre who knows what is yet to come. These properties have measure 37 waivers (only other option was a payout) from the state and county to do what they want. Our only option to limit (not stop) the effects is to vote on a new measure, Measure 49.

All I am going to say is that we will be voting for YES on 49, a measure set to modify the original measure and to add clarity, limit large scale developments, etc.

I realize that we are developing our property as well and that this can sound hypocritical, but we are simply replacing a trailer home with a "stick built" home in the exact same place. Our intentions are to keep the property as farmland and limit our impact here.
Ranting is done... for now. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Signing of the Partition

Ok, So today was the big day. We signed the actual partition on the Special paper....mylar.
The end is near. When mylar is being used, it's a big deal. They can't ask anything more of you once you've signed on mylar. (crossing my fingers) I can see the light. All downhill from here. Trust me, I have to talk like this. It is a wierd world out there. This is me being hopeful, positive, and confident (with one eyebrow slightly raised). Surveyors, planners, title officers, oh my. The next signatures will go to the planning director, county surveyor, and county assessor. Should be completely signed and recorded by Friday / Monday.

Hot damn.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


One of our first purchases for the house... I was in our local home improvement store a couple weeks ago and stumbled upon this hot deal. It was too good to pass up. As you know, I was comtemplating getting one of those cool cast iron stoves available in many colors, but after looking at the prices for one of them...I think I'd rather put the money elsewhere.
This one was on clearance because someone ordered it last year and never picked it up. This model / size usually costs about $1,200 - $1,500. The cast iron ones are about $2,200 - $2,600. So when this one said $599. I had to get it. It has a glass door, a pull out drawer for the ashes, and the manufacturer has a great website where you can order parts (different colored handles - no gold please). It is the larger model - can heat around 2600 ? square feet. I called Zach, and yes he did not answer his cell phone, and left a message asking if I should get it. Since I figured his answer would be yes, (and since I'm trying to teach him the importance of turning his cell phone on, keeping it with him, and answering it when it rings!)...I got it.

He loves it by the way. Now if we could just get it out of the truck.... I know, there is no hurry. There is no house yet.

Update on the Burmuda Triangle: I wrote up a quitclaim deed for that piece, had the previous owner sign it (thank god - I sent her some gift cards and a thank you note). It has been recorded and our surveyor is finalizing up the partition. We will have to finalize some things with the county (get another updated title report, sign the recorded partition, get it notarized, have the county surveyor sign it, and the taxation director...). I'll let you know when that is done.

We will most likely wait until spring to begin construction. In the mean time, we'll keep getting ready, making sure we get as many details lined up for the building plans.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Santa Fe Find...

Here is my great find in Santa Fe. I love it. It was an adventure getting it to fit under the airplane seat in each of my three connections, but it was worth it. It has turquoise on the face of the skull. I'm thinking in the future entry way, or living room.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Luck comes with Higher Elevation

While vacationing in New Mexico this past week, I received an email from the woman who used to own our property (I've only been waiting two months now)... I smiled so big, I probably scared some of the onlookers wiating for their 15 minutes of computer time in the Santa Fe Public Library. She received one of my many letters that I sent out asking for her cooperation in this clouded title effort. I didn't exactly know where she lived but one of my letters were forwarded to her correct address. It was a brief response but all that I needed. I was losing hope. The man (ex-husband had passed away and she is living in another state entirely). Hopefully, within a week or two I will have the necessary quitclaim deed to move forward, or will at least be working on it with her.
Yes, I decided to go on vacation. The house project was going nowhere fast and an opportunity to take a road trip with two of my best friends from high school and vacation in Santa Fe just sounded too good to pass up. It was my first time in Santa Fe. It was beautiful, amazing, relaxing, interesting, fun, artistic, etc. I could definately make it a once a year kinda trip.
So, things are looking up. I will post again shortly and show you a picture of my favorite piece of art I brought back from Santa Fe (for the house of course).

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Bermuda Triangle - look no further

I've found it. It's here. Stop wondering where the mysterious Bermuda triangle is. It is in our backyard (ok, technically it is the side yard). So, our final survey is almost complete with the county. We have the go ahead from the planning department, and then the surverying department finds out that a portion of land, in the shape of a triangle, belongs to the previous owners still. Apparently we have been paying taxes on it, we never knew it existed, yet we do not have title to it. Long story. Luckily, it is a very tiny triangle, but one that needs attention - Crap.

Good news: I have been learning a lot lately about locating old deeds, going through mortgage notes, researching legal descriptions of properties, and title insurance clauses. Bad news: This stalls things momentarily. Hopefully, we will get this resolved soon and as painless as possible.

Lately we have been preparing some things for construction. We have our driveway approach widened, we moved a couple of fences (to allow for more room around the drive in garage /basement. Today, we spent 4-6 hours in Jerry's and Home Depot stores going over things that will be going into the house. This week we will have a water expert come in and test our water. Our water is a bit on the iron-y side. Prior to building, we need to see what can be done about the water (go deeper with the well, remove some of the well casing, replace the plumbing from the well to the site, new well - Ughh, etc).

It's June eh? Well, we are still full force ahead - we just seem to be moving through jello pudding -with machetes in hand.

Monday, April 2, 2007

We're still here.....

Lots of Things going on but we're still workin' away. Our driveway approach will be done soon (required when developing property). We have signed on with a local contractor to widen and pave our driveway approach (where the main road meets our driveway). About two days after we signed with a contractor we noticed the county trucks going up the road replacing culverts, widening driveway approaches, and paving them....Hmmm. I called all around trying to get the scoop on what was happening. Turns out they are resurfacing a section of the road and we are about 1 mile away from that project... I tried to get them to expand their project...not happening, Crap!! We could have had it done for FREE. Project to cost about $1,200 (I'm foreseeing the realities of the home building process flash before me...).

Zach is getting all fancy with the Auto Cad. 3D drawings, roof trusses, wall studs. He's almost done. I'll post another picture soon. We have also rearranged our bathroom upstairs (master bathroom) again, I think it is a better layout AND we managed to have room for a washer and dryer upstairs in the walk in closet. No walking up and downstairs for clean clothes. Good Stuff.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

17 Door Knobs, 10 Interior Doors, 2 Sliding Doors, and 1 much needed visit to IKEA

I have a few more things added to the list. Not the purchased list, but the yes we're sure list. The front door will be a hard decision. And yes, Red is an option, or natural wood. I'll post some options. The door knob type for all interior doors is in the photo to the right ; second row, middle, black-ish (semi-aged bronze), oval shaped. I like it. I kept turning that one at the store (and no, I had no disinfectant wipes with me)...
The above doors are Therma tru brand.
We like both styles and may find more...
Bamboo Hardwood Flooring is a pretty sure.
All the windows/sliding doors will be the low E Viking Brand.

IKEA Kitchen is a for sure. I have a model on my IKEA Kitchen Planner that I'll try to post but I need to try and keep three Base cabinets from floating up the wall. They really want to be wall cabinets. I'll work on that.
Zach has all of the structural calculations done except for the roof. The floor studs are drawn in. He is now drawing in the wall studs, and the window framing. Next will be to plan out the plumbing and electrical.
I'm still moving around the master bathroom to ensure a good layout with the newly decided bathtub addition. Something like this one, but still looking.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Construction Specs spreadsheet

I've been avoiding this spreadsheet. I'm an end results kinda gal...and this spreadsheet is never ending. One of the critical pieces of information needed in planning, bidding, and constructing a home is a detailed construction specifications sheet. I've been putting it off for too long and this is the weekend to tackle it (I think). I'm not saying it will be done in a weekend, but a lot of it could be.
This spec sheet covers everything going on inside the home (ceiling height, closet sizes, door hardware, electrical outlet locations, sink fixtures, lighting fixtures, windows, insullation, EVERYTHING...). At least it's a rainy weekend. A four day weekend even. I took today off work (Monday - Holiday - no workee). I got a massage yesterday, have food stocked up, downloaded more tunes, and the treadmill is in the dining room... I'm ready... for the spreadsheet.
Some helpful websites: - very good info. They also have a sample spec sheet you can download. Building Cost estimator - very rough estimates but some good information on what makes a house cost more.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Like Running for Chocolate...

Busy weekend. Zach and I started out pouring beer at our local Micro Brew Festival. Pretty fun; however, the next night was better since we got to taste some beers. One of my favorites was the 100 Meter Ale (Eugene City Brewery), and the Dry Irish Stout Collaboration Brew (Ninkasi Brewing Co.). People's Choice winners: 1st: Calapooia Brewing Co. Albany, OR (Chili Pepper IPA) 2nd: Ninkasi Brewing Co., Eugene, OR (I forget which of their beers won) and 3rd: Wakonda Brewing Co., Florence, OR (Beachcomber's Ale).

Today....I ran in the Truffle Shuffle (2 and 4 mile Run/Walk). It is a good
fundraiser AND it comes with a dark chocolate Truffle at the end. I ate mine much later, after MUCH stretching. My training consisted of signing up Friday afternoon and drinking beer Saturday.

niece's husband, Dave, inspired me to torture myself, I mean run. He recently completed two half-marathons! I would love to be able to do that. My god, that is 13 miles!! I chose the 2 mile version today and ended up finishing at 28 and something minutes. My first mile was 11 minutes and then my right leg went kinda numb (I think it was the 100 Meter Ale's fault), so I had to walk for a while. Next time, I will be better prepared.

House Progress: Zach is still plugging away at the "calculations" to verify that the house won't blow down, fall over, or lift off in the event of heavy winds/snow loads/etc. (my understanding)...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Well, 160 trees later

Weekend of planting....Okay, well, Zach was busy this weekend. I had all the intensions of helping him... I just got distracted. He loves it, really... He planted some western red cedar, ponderosa pine, giant sequoia, douglas fir, and grand fir. Most of them were planted by the creek, river, and along a certain fence line (to help block some neighbors).

Then my sister calls, who was on her way to town with "something to show us". I knew. She had a new addition to the family. Her first real vehicle....It is a sweet ride, Jeep Liberty. We took a couple rides, ate lots of food, laughed, watched a couple of superbowl commercials, drank....great weekend.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Change is good

I have always liked change. I proceded with my quarterly office remodel today followed by a small change to this site. You may see more changes in the future, so don't get attached to any specific layout or color. There are many template options from Blogger that are available at the click of a button. I could easily see myself changing the fonts, colors, and templates often.

I've been trying to fit more onto my site like small spreadsheets on the sides. There is a good blog that I've been following, savvy saver, which is pretty interesting.

I'm going to try and keep a log of the associated costs for building a house for a couple of reasons. For one, it is a good record of what we spent our money on. Two, I hope to help educate others because after searching for months and months I found it nearly impossible to get an idea of what it costs to build a house. I realize there are many unknowns, but something would be helpful.

Tomorrow, we get up at 6:00 a.m. to get in line to buy seedling trees at the annual tree seedling sale. They have good trees and they are reasonably pricesd. We usually end up buying 50 - 300 (Ughh, then we have to plant them!).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

House Images

We just went to our local Home show to look around and get a feel of what else might be out there in the building world. We met a couple of contractors who build in the area. I wanted to talk to some of the contractors that work with the ICF's (Insulating Concrete Forms - styrofoam legos). You can use the ICF pieces for footings and or the entire structure shell. Essentially they are styrofoam blocks with some type of netting in between that concrete gets poured into. They are supposed to be very efficient but they do cost more (kept hearing 5% more - but I'm sure it is more than that) I'll do more research on it and do another posting on it later, it may be overkill for our design.

Okay, so I played around with AutoCad and I got some images. This is our design that we are working with. Zach is still finishing the structural calculations and some other details, but this is what we are working of of now. The first picture is a floorplan of the 1st floor (1554 sq.ft.).

Next, is a floorplan of the 2nd Story with an outline of the 1st floor underneath (we both try to shrink this master bedroom down - its hard!). The last picture is a 3 D image.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Survey is Complete

We received the final survey plat today from our surveyor (private surveyor). Next, I need to get some final documents together (tax records, title report, well logs, etc.) to submit to our planning department as a final partition application. Once approved (usually 1-3 months), we can officially submit the survey and get going.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fancy Shmancy or Durable Classic Wood Stove

Woodstoves come in all shapes and sizes. We have been looking at few types. Basically there is the standard black stove (that heats very well) and it runs for $800-$1400 and will go with everything and be in style for a long time. Or there is the cast iron type available in a few colors (brown, black, blue, red i guess-this is the first red one i've seen-, mahogany, and white). It looks a little smaller than the standard black models, but it looks pretty cool. It runs $2600-$3200. The cast iron one has a front, side, and top loading door. I just don't know how efficient they are. The extra large cast iron model can heat up to 2400 square feet. The equivalent black woodstove made by a company like Quadra Fire can heat up to 2800 square feet. I keep changing my mind. Zach votes for the black classic model. I like that type too, but I also like the look of the cast iron one....Hmmm. Any ideas, or comments?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Style for the House

One problem I keep facing (see below for a great example...) is the melding of styles that I love in the design of the home. Fortunately, Zach and I agree on the overall style of the house. We both like simple, open, modern interiors, with lots of storage, good functionality, and for it to be as efficient as possible. We both like the Frank Lloyd Wright style with strong lines and the low pitch roofs. Lots of character without being too complex. Tomek Residence (Riverside, IL) - 1904

... Next... We also like the design and colors of IKEA kitchens. Here is an example of what we were thinking, cabinet wise (not layout) RED is now on our minds. The kitchen planner is a great tool that they have. You can lay the room out (dimensions, windows, door placement, etc.), fill it with the right cabinets, and get a price on everything. You can also view it in 3D (I tried to cut and paste my kitchen design and couldn't do it, so I'll work on that later). Just to keep everyone filled in...IKEA Portland is coming to us this summer. The official ground breaking took place July 2006.

Finally (not really, but for the sake of space)....Here is a picture from my recent trip to Mexico. We both love the foyer type entrances, use of color, and the open layouts of the spanish style homes. Still working on convincing Zach we need an atrium with an indoor fountain...
From what I've said so far I know it is hard to believe that we actually have a design in mind that we both like and can work with but I think we have something good. The interior will be a little harder. I had trouble getting AutoCad examples posted (earlier blog is missing the links) I will keep working on getting AutoCad layers posted.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Water On

Ahh...The water is back on. Actually it was an easy fix. Apparently the switch shut off. It needed to be reset I think. It came on after a few tries. We'll watch it, but hopefully it is not a big deal. This photo is from my recent trip to Mexico (plaza at the Museum of Modern Art - Mexico City) and not a picture of our water pipes thank god.

Today's meeting with the loan officer went well. We essentially got approved to have the higher loan amount. There is nothing solid or in writing but good news that she said there should be no problem for the loan. I'll compare the fees (Good Faith Estimate) from each lender and see what the better deal is.

Most construction loans offer a "one time close" in which you switch to a standard mortgage loan immediately after construction without more closing fees. Construction loans have a higher interest rate than the standard mortgage loan (around 8.25%) but hopefully that only lasts 6-12 months.

For now, we need to keep working on the plans and get it as complete as we can to get it to a builder soon (1-2 months) for a good estimate. Also, the sooner the builder can commit to this project the better. Once it gets close to the summer months we may be waiting for contractors to get to our project.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Buildings Schmildings

So the surveyor calls today and says the boundary line (line that allows us to split the two propertites based on split zoning for each lot) between the two lots runs right through a building. We were not quite sure where that line would fall we know. So after talking to a few different people at the planning department at the county we are pretty sure that we can jog the line around the building and another barn leaving a 10' setback from each structure. It is a small enough change that hopefully does not require another permit application. The surveyor will have to come back out and do these additional measurements and set more monuments, and redraw the plat map...(more money, but hopefully this will fix it).

Tonight, after work and my hip hop dance class (Fun class) I come home and take a shower. The water shuts off just as I'm finished. I thought, perfect did it know I was done? Then I paused, realized what happened...the water is no longer running. The power is on, the water can't be shutting off? Is the well Dry? Are we all out of water? Did the pipes freeze and burst? We were talking about drilling the well deeper months ago. Hmmm... Zach just went outside to check the pumphouse, 11:30 pm, 30 degrees outside, and the pumphouse is about 500 feet away from here.

Always something going on. Tomorrow after work I visit with another mortgage loan officer for an estimate on construction loans. I have done business with her before and I like her. We will see how much their fees are and if we can borrow more than we originally wanted to. The more the better. I went to Selco Credit Union and Wells Fargo about two months ago and have read that I should try a mortgage broker instead of a bank. I'll post more on construction loans tomorrow...and give an update on the water situation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Design Time

After many many months of looking at house design books and websites we decided to start drawing our own ideas. Our building site sits on top of a slope that is a little narrow due to the fact that we think we are going to keep the current septic tank in its current location. The slope would allow for a basement. We wanted to do a garage / basement so as to not have a large garage as the first thing you see when you get to the house. Here is a picture of the view standing at the approximate level of the top of the basement.

Zach has AutoCad 2006 software that he used for some of his engineering classes and currently at his job. So almost every day we are making additions and changes to our plans. We both want a second story (master bedroom). After many alterations we have come up with a plan that we consistently like; however, on the links below I still need to arrange the interior of the bathrooms (both of them). It is amazing how much you have to think about (cabinets, windows, floor height, etc). I often think to go to a designer to draw up our plans, but Zach thinks he can do the work, and so far he has done great. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Here is the 1st Level floorplan with a blue line outlining where the second story would go. 2nd story floorplan. The basement will be approximately 600 square fee. The 1st floor around 1600 square feet, and the 2nd floor at 625. Our idea is to have an open floor plan (kitchen, dining, living area) with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. A basement for a two car garage with extra storage space.

I'll work on finding a way to get better AutoCad drawings on this site. We have 3D versions of the house on AutoCad that would be cool to let you see...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snow, Surveying, and Shopping

Snow has come and stayed. We aren't getting much done outside so we have been checking in with the surveryor. He will be done in a week or two. The survey is being done to officially split one big lot into two. The two lots have been taxed separately for years, they each have a house, and they are zoned differently; however, they have never been officially 2 legal lots. One is farm zoned one is rural residential. Because of the split zoning, we were able to officially split the one big legal lot into two legal lots. This will also allow for a smoother construction loan transaction.

I applied for a preliminary partition to get the split going back in June of 2005. It was approved through the county in September of 2005. A final partition is now needed and part of that will be to get a survey done and recorded. After some researching and recommendations, we hired a land surveyor, Donn Rowe in November of 2006. He has been out putting up pink flagging all over the property. It is pretty interesting what he does. I think we are getting more property (from an adjacent neighbor) according to the flagging.

Anyways, once the Surveying is complete (one or two weeks) I will do the paperwork and get a final partition going. Then we are on our way to apply for building permits....

Oh, Shopping. We have been going to our local home improvement store, Jerry's Home Improvement Center, to get pricing for everything (faucets, door knobs, tubs, EVERYTHING). I think they (the sales associates) are beginning to think we go there for a social kind of thing. We go there for hours on end, drink coffee, walk around and ...okay so maybe it is our only type of social function...whatever, not what I was trying to get at. Anyways, for a good bid from a builder you need to have a good description (construction specifications) of everything. To stay within our budget we need to price almost every item and pick and choose wisely.

To Build or Not to Build

We have been thinking about building for about 2 years now. We both love the place we currently live (building site) although it is adorned with a late 70's vintage single-wide right now. Although I love the single-wide living; I yearn for something with warmth, insullation, thick walls, nice decor, and with nature close by (not in the walls).

Zach and I have been talking about the next step for years... Buy a house, move, stay... buy, move, (that sounded fun) and we were off. When I get an idea I just have to go with it. I bought the book, Building Your Own Home for Dummies which is an amazing resource and have been collecting ideas ever since.

I'll update this site with photos and postings as often as I can. So join us in our journey. Here goes....! (You know this house thing really has to happen when you've created your own site).