House build, early November

Since the last update, we’ve been really pushing forward on the siding. Getting the exterior totally finished before it gets too cold is our priority. However, with the daylight waning naturally and then with the time change, Jeff opted to take another week off of work to push to get it done. We didn’t finish it all, but it was totally necessary and it shaved weeks off of our timeline. I downshifted all my other activities to try to help him as much as I could.

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North siding, mostly finished

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Siding is a straightforward enough job and Jeff was actually able to do a lot of it solo, although we could do it faster if I helped. It proved to be a kind of tedious job- lots of measuring and careful cutting, but then once you had a bunch of ready pieces, voila! Very gratifying in the end. Plus these colors, I love them. They ground the whole place into the landscape.

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West and North green, done!

Jeff has been doing careful shopping and got us great deals on a water filter/softener and heater. Collecting all these finishing pieces is really surreal to me.

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We really don’t have much in terms of daylight, so we’ve been running a generator at night and using lights inside to finish up the utility stuff. Jeff is so great and organized, and it’s really cool to plan the house so that everything makes sense to us. All these details that he is holding in his head!

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The driveway is almost finished. We need a little more fill in one area, and a little more gravel in another, but it’s basically done. Such a beauty, too. Every time I drive in now I smile. It winds around and dips and the trees glow in the sun. I am in love.

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Good news recently, in that the electric company has helped us form a plan and we can afford it! This came after a few months of frustrating interactions with them. They know they have the monopoly, and we are inexperienced, and it just wasn’t always fun to work this piece out. But yay electricity! At one point we were so frustrated with the process that we thought we might as well spring for solar panels… the rebates are pretty good and so we thought it might make more sense for us in the long run. When we asked the township, though, they told us we couldn’t on the grounds that it would be unfair to obligate a *future* tenant to not be hooked up to the grid. We can’t afford to do both, so hook up we must. It was weird and faulty logic because, hello, we are the current and hopefully forever tenants, it’s our freaking house, but we have to make decisions based on the future sale-ability of our house? Pretty annoying how many of these concessions we had to make. We had to make our house a certain size, not use vinyl siding, couldn’t put a trailer on site so we could live there while we build (and so instead we are digging into more and more debt just to get by until we can move in), etc. I am not complaining, just musing. I’m used to this stuff now, it’s just funny how it all works and how specific it is- but it’s specific in that it serves a standard for the current paradigm of earth-sucking oppression, not necessarily actual human needs. I wanted to believe it’s mostly about safety (which is what most people have said to me regarding the reasons for code, but so much of what suits code in that realm is toxic! What is “safe” anyway?), but that’s a small part. I want to do a post soon all about what I’ve learned about this process in that regard, but that’ll be for another day.

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Most of the house is green, but the gables are this country red. They’ll be board and batten style when we’re done, which will add a little vertical texture. I’m having a lot of fun watching the exterior come together and really liking it so much. Choosing colors is kind of stressful, you never really know how things will translate. But I actually really love it.

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The red siding comes in these big heavy sheets, as opposed to the long narrow planks that the green comes in. This means that they are easier to plan for and they cover a lot in one swoop, but they are heavy and awkward. Jeff hasn’t really been able to manage them on his own, plus it’s 20 feet in the air. Anyway, the jobs on site have been pretty distinctly divided based on daylight/weather, available help, and whether or not it’s a skilled solo job (for Jeff) or a solo job for anyone (for me). That’s got us jumping around here and there, but at least we’re always productive.

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We have gotten shipments too! All our insulation, including the special stuff for the cathedral ceilings. It’s a lot.

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We also got our flooring. It’s nothing fancy, but it’ll be durable and look nice. 🙂

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One of those solo jobs that I can do is caulking. So much caulking. I have to caulk the entire exterior, anywhere that trim meets siding. Really anywhere there is a gap, with some exceptions (not around any drip edging or windows with special “j channels”… I don’t know why, I do what I’m told). We got brown caulk and white caulk, thinking we could just be really careful and match it to the trim. Here’s what I’ve learned about caulking- you can do it well but not pretty. It’s ridiculous messy stuff, and despite practice and watching youtube videos, I think that’s just the way it is. I feel like I learned that lesson fairly quickly though, and opted to go to the store to buy clear caulk. This has made my life much easier, and I only have a little touching up to do as a result.

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Brown caulk… not so good.

The brown caulk can be used between the top trim and the soffits, though, since the shadows and dark color make it nearly invisible. Below I was sealing the small gap between them. Makes sense to do this, despite how tedious a job it is. This will keep the house drier and warmer, and it will help prevent insects from getting into the house.

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Below is the clear caulk before it dries. It’s nice because you get good visibility and can feel confident you’ve really plugged up gaps, but then it dries clear!

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While I work on that during the day, Jeff has been going to the house site after work and firing up the generator so he can work on the interior stuff. Below he’s working on HVAC and electric.

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He also framed up the wall to the laundry room in the basement.

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Below is the south side, half finished. We’re not entirely sure how we’ll get the top done, but do you see that guy down there? The one standing up in the doorway? Well, he built this house. I’m pretty sure we can figure anything out.

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You know, I heard this process had the potential to really give our relationship a strain (some people straight-up warned us!), but I actually think this has been really good for us. It’s taken us to a new level. I’m so grateful that we get to do this, that Jeff is working so hard for our family so we can live out our lives here. I tell him this all the time, even when we’re tired or I miss him and wish things were normal again. He comes home and thanks me for keeping our life together, for making food and pushing the laundry through, for remembering the mundane things he just doesn’t have mental space for anymore. He thanks me for believing in him and wanting him to do this build. When we do get to a job together, we have fun and work together well. This whole thing has maintained its purpose in our lives and our partnership. This process is trying, but I’m so glad I don’t feel like I have to question *this*… the two of us. I’ve got a home wherever I am. 🙂

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Ahem. Anyway. Below is more red on the west side.

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Then the east side was finally started. We had been stalling on this side because we were waiting on direction about how our meter was going to get installed.

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Yesterday the trim board for the east gable went up, then the start of the red on that side.

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The first and second panels were easy enough, although I’m uncomfortable up on the scaffold with a wobbly ladder and a big heavy sheet of siding, and the wind was howling… anyway, I was nervous up there and asked Jeff if he was scared working like this. He simply replied “I don’t know, I can’t really be, you know?” At that point I snarkily replied “Oh, I’m sorry, I guess my fear is actually just indulgence…” He told me he didn’t mean it like that, and I felt bad for snapping. But as we kept going, that short interaction stayed with me.

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The next panel was huge and really awkward. I went up first and he used the ladder to slide it up. He reassured me as best he could, but at a certain point we just had to do it. I mean, we had to keep ourselves safe and we would drop it if we needed to, but to get it done we just had to go for it. It was intense and a bit scary, but we had to just get the thing up there and nail it in. I caught myself whimpering a little at him, talking about how I just wasn’t sure and this and that, but I bit my lip and quickly apologized to him, because I realized there wasn’t any room for that- it clearly wasn’t helpful. I flashed back to what he said, “I don’t know, I can’t really be, you know?” and I wondered if that’s how this whole house feels to him. If we want this, we have to do it. We can have our feelings too, and we should be wise and listen to our instincts, but there isn’t a lot of room for that self doubt that’s born out of fear and mental fatigue. In reality, we have to risk ourselves and our comfort to get stuff done in this life. If we don’t, ultimately it means we’ve just outsourced the risk or hired it out, and that’s sort of the opposite of our mission here. I was nervous up on the ladder, but I was reasonably safe and sure and could do the job with him. I guess it’s hard to explain, but I feel like I got a reminder of what we’re dealing with. I remember feeling similarly back when we were putting up the ridge beam and the rafters… that was crazy. The reality is that we won’t finish the job with the attitude I had on that ladder, we’ll finish it with the attitude he had. And in the end, that piece is up and looking great! Another victory today.

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At the end of it, though, Jeff’s all-business exterior melted and he laughed and acknowledged what an adventure that last sheet was. Yikes! Today it’s more of the same, but thankfully Jeff has come up with a good plan and it uses smaller pieces. Like I said, we have to be wise, but we also just have to do it. He’s got a stronger helper with him today, so I’m hoping it’ll go smoothly. Anyway, I’ll finish today’s post with a few recent pictures of the land that I liked. Autumn on this property is pretty lovely.

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Gracie
Gracie

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