Friday, May 31, 2013

4 Walls!

Front of House - No, it's really not as small as it looks!

Front & North side
Back of house - Note the framing for the basement windows.

Framing the North gable end
Inside view - back wall
 Inside view looking towards the bedrooms
Inside view - Looking through the kitchen towards the dining room

Gable end ready to go up!
Progress, Progress, Progress!
Four walls are up and some of the interior has been framed. We can now see the basic outline and where all of the windows will be. Just the like we saw on paper, yet now, they’re real. The house is really coming together.
What a professional crew. They are all wearing hardhats and bright green t-shirts that say “Safety First”. Talk about a crew that provides a comfort level. To me, someone that ensures  that their crew is safe (They even had 2x4’s across all openings to prevent falls – it’s a 10 foot drop in some areas.) means they pay attention to detail. And if they pay attention to detail and keep their crew safe, then I am happy that they are framing our project.
Flashback & The Catch 22

While we were working on the plans and getting ready to demo we were also going through the Credit Union for our construction loan (I have yet to have a rich ancestor...) and dealing with all of that paperwork.  Working with a finance person can always seem a bit daunting but we had a great person to work with. However they still had their rules. Which made sense. I think.
Here’s where the Catch 22 comes in. The credit union requires a building permit in order to finance the construction. So off to the Town’s Building Inspector we went for our building permit. In our town, I think we’re lucky to have the building inspector that we do. He treats everyone fairly, equally and with respect; the three basic qualities that taxpayers expect from a municipal official. But, being fair and equal means that he too has rules. Which we needed to follow. It turns out we could not get a building permit for a new house because there was already one on the lot and two aren’t allowed. The old one would have to be demo’d first.

Hmmm, but wait, we have a mortgage with another bank on the old house. That could be a bit of a problem if they drive by and notice that their collateral is missing. Also, once I tear it down what assurances do I have that the credit union isn’t going to change their mind (tanking economy) and not fund the construction? I would be left with a mortgage on an empty lot. We’re this close and now this?

After a series of discussions, handwringing and thoughts of putting a For Sale sign out front, the Builder and the Credit Union (both of whom have a good working relationship which pays off for the home owner) and we worked it all out. We closed on the construction loan, paid off the other mortgage and were able to apply for the demo permit.
Ready, set…, Stop!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Linoleum with Asbestos (no, you can't see it - it has to be tested!)
Now that we had our design pretty much complete, it was time to start the planning to take the house down. Otherwise known as demo’ing it. There’s a lot to removing a house but we figured can do this. 

It was January of this year and the house was beginning to look a bit like the local eyesore. We had removed the bushes out front that were completely over grown in preparation for the long ago failed rehab. The paint was peeling on the shutters as well as on the outside. The roof was looking sad and the windows didn’t have any curtains so house just didn’t look friendly anymore.
We weren’t sure what we needed to do so Chris pointed us in the right direction by mentioning that we needed to have it inspected for hazardous materials more commonly known as asbestos. We knew the pipes didn’t have any because of the home inspection that was done when we had first bought over a year prior. So we thought, “this will be cake.” It wasn’t.

We hired a company to come in and inspect and the tests came back positive for asbestos in the linoleum but negative for anywhere else including the walls and insulation. Now I had heard of asbestos in floor tiles but never linoleum. I had now.
Turns out both the kitchen and dining rooms had it and the asbestos had to be removed before the house was taken down. The good thing, if there was a good thing, is that the mastic (glue) that held it down to the subfloor did not contain asbestos. The downside was because we were going to demo the house, we had to have a removal plan approved by the state. While it was a straight forward removal, it still added about three weeks to the process while we were awaiting approval.

So we hired a company (Yankee Fiber Control) to come in and remove it. They drove their truck up to the door installed a sealed tunnel and sealed off the inside of the house. They went in with their space suits and air hoses and completely removed it all and made the house safe.
I decided that the day they removed it was the one day that I needed to not be around being a pain and asking a bunch of questions. So I skipped watching the work that day. Probably a good idea.

Altogether, it added about two months to the process from setting up the inspection, waiting for the results, having the plan approved, removing the asbestos and having the house re-inspected and signed off as complete. But I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
While it seems like this would be an easy thing to work around, you shouldn’t even think about it. Besides being hazardous and needing to be trained in its removal, should you get caught, you will find that the fines will cost you a heck of a lot more than it would have had you hired a company that was certified in its removal. And you could get sick. Very sick.

So we were now in the middle of March, the plans were done, the asbestos was removed and we were ready to take it down.
Not so fast. Again. There were more things to be done.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

North Wall
Framing Day 3
Our First Wall!
Don’t worry. I won’t be posting daily pictures to bore you with. Only the ones that show progress. Hmmm, but that could be every day…

So, we have our first wall! The sub floor is in. And yes, they are using construction adhesive on the floor trusses which should eliminate floor squeaks. They have the other walls all framed and ready to standup which I’m guessing will happen tomorrow.
On the way to work early this morning I saw a truck heading in the opposite direction loaded down with what looked like roof trusses. I thought, “Hmmm, maybe they are going to our house?” Sure, enough they were delivered today.  They are all stacked up and ready to go up once the walls are up.

It’s amazing to come home from work and see the daily progress.
And they are doing it all without me.

While we were working on the plans, I was over at the lot using the little white flags from the fireball dog fence installation (see earlier blog) to get an idea of where the new house and garage would be located on the lot. I’m pretty sure the neighbors were wondering what kind of folks we were. While doing all this planning we had kept the yard mowed, the leaves raked and the driveway plowed of snow. Yet the house was vacant and looking pretty haunted.  It suffered through a hurricane (yep, still standing) and a blizzard.

And then these little white flags appeared around the yard and I’m out there at least once a weekend with my tape measure. “Who are these people?” I’m sure they wondered.

But with the plans and the flags we were getting close. After a year of owning our expensive storage unit, we were now ready to make plans to start building. We still had the old house though.

And that’s where things got really fun…

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Basement wall competed, Decking well along the way.
Looking towards the garage
Framing Day 2
More progress today! Rough, exterior basement walls are complete. They put on the balance of the floor trusses and started laying the subfloor, completing most of it. I saw used tubes lying around that could have been glue that I think (hope) were used as part of the sub floor install to prevent squeaking. I had dress shoes on so I didn’t venture out in the mud to investigate further. (Don’t ask.) Noticed that a port-a-potty had been delivered yesterday and a large roll off dumpster today.

I sent JM (excavation company) a text and told them their excavator was missing. That’s when I learned they came today and picked it up. I had been thinking about mulching around it as a joke.

Abby drove by and said the crew had a very professional look with their hard hats. That’s a good sign.

An approaching thunder and lightning storm kept me from sticking around and admiring their work further. It’s tough not being around during  the day to supervise.

They’re probably very thankful.

After about a month of doing some sketching and talking about pricing and what was included or not included, we signed our contract with Meridian. Whew, we were moving forward. Finally progress!

We spent a great deal of time with Chris after work and on Saturday mornings further perfecting the plan. He brought in Phil who is their in-house architect top put the plans and ideas to paper. Well, OK, so they were on a computer screen first.
Speaking of computers, one of the things that made the process so much easier was actually sitting with Phil and moving walls and roof lines and what not on his computer screen using his house building software (I have the homeowner version. Talk about being dangerous.).  He would then render a 3-D view which enabled us to look at it from many different angles. That visual gave us the effect of being in the room and being able to look around from all sides. While we realize that it was only a rough idea, it gave us a good idea on what the various rooms and house was going to look like.

They both (Chris & Phil) had more patience then I could have ever had. What also added to the positive work relationship was when we asked Chris if we could add “this”, he would say “sure, that will probably add x dollars to the cost”. That alone helped keep us close to original budget. Knowing how much we strayed with the rehab, we learned to prioritize what things were important and what their costs were.

I’m fast forwarding here, but by December, we had a set of plans that were about 98% complete. And they were what we wanted.

We couldn’t have been more pleased.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Floor Trusses

Back Corner

Framing Day 1
Wahoo! Framing started today!

 It was great to go over after work and see all of the progress made. The back cellar wall is up and 75% of the floor trusses are in. After all of the planning and agonizing and waiting, to finally see wood go up is like seeing a dream turn into reality. Progress!
We will now return you to our regularly scheduled Flashbacks.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It’s a Sunday morning and I’m sitting here getting impatient with how long it’s taking me to get my blog up to current state. (I’m about six months behind). So I’ve distracted myself with “something shiny” by looking on Craigslist for wall stone or block.

Part of my plan is to cut some of the slopes with a stone wall. The thought of the work involved is not so daunting but the thought of me sticking with it weekend after weekend is. I’ve done that sort of thing before and once I get into, I’m pretty driven. But, also easily distracted.

My problem besides being slightly impatient, is trying to be perfect. I’m bad enough that once when sending out envelopes for a campaign, I insisted that the stamps be put on straight. (I have my reasons). But leave it to my friends to keep me grounded. They made a point of sending one to my house with the stamp on crooked and bunched up with a gravy stain on the envelope. I did get a good chuckle but of course, me being me, wondered if any others went out like that. They know how to get me.

And I’m actually getting better as I get older about things that are really important in life. Straight stamps still are still on my list though.

At any rate, so I’m thinking about the stone and which type would look best. I prefer that flat stone look but know that blocks will go in a lot quicker. Which one will look best and not drive me crazy trying to get it perfect though?

I’m off to the site to cut what’s left of the grass and to think some more about the future landscaping.
Maybe I’ll find something else shiny to distract me.

Meeting with the “Plan B” Builder

So changing course from rehabbing a house to exploring building a new one, Abby and I asked about various builders in the area and while many were recommended, one that stood out was Meridian Custom Homes.

In our endless travels of looking for ideas, we had seen homes that they have rehabbed or built new and liked their design.  (When you throw yourself into these sort of things you start to notice the subtle differences in each builder's design.) One thing that we were a bit tentative about was the fact that Meridian had a reputation for building homes that sold for over a million dollars. And they looked every bit like a million plus home. We haven’t yet hit any lottery so spending that kind of money was off the table. We did learn however, that they were building a new subdivision that was made up of homes that were in the price range of what we were looking to spend. So we went over and peeked through the windows of some under construction and not yet sold and liked what we saw. So we gave them a call.

Enter Chris from Meridian.  Now I'm always leery of sales people (sorry, not meant as an insult to those who do that, it's just me.) but Chris wasn't a sales guy. Not in that sense anyways. He immediately put us at ease and listened to our ideas and made some suggestions on ways to make the house even better.  As our primary contact, we couldn't have been made to feel more comfortable.  He knows his business and over the next couple of months really helped guide us through the design process while keeping us on budget.

 The night of our first meeting we went over plans that Abby and I had penciled and showed Chris the floor plan form North Carolina that was similar to what we would like. We explained how we wanted the house to fit onto our lot and more importantly into the neighborhood. We wanted to be unique but we didn't want to stand out. He asked us general questions about what was important to have in our house with respect to number of bedrooms, family areas and so on. He had some great advice right from the start and help us put our ideas down to paper where he sketched out a basic floor plan. We also talked about budget and Chris explained the design and building process to us and gave us background on Meridian and their experience.

 It was difficult to contain our excitement. After all that we had been through working to rehab a dormant house that was rapidly approaching a year of ownership, we felt like we were making headway. We could do this. We could build something. And we could afford it. And we were sitting with someone that was extraordinarily experienced in his trade. Things were looking up.

 After spending a couple of hours of drawing this and moving that, we had our basic first draft floor plan. After Chris left, we breathed a sigh of relief. What had been evading us now had a renewed potential for being achieved. We were moving from rehabbing to building new and were working with a company that we were very comfortable with. It was exciting. But then there was the current house. Could we actually tear it down? It was going to have to go.

 But only we could make that decision. And it wasn't going to be an easy one.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Flashback (It’s all starting to come together)
Plan B – Early October 2012

We made the call. We stuck our toes in the water and reached to a Design/Build company to see what we could build while staying within our budget (by the way, budgets, when it comes to home building, are really nebulous creatures).

We decided to pursue the design/build route because we had already spent money with an architect on plans that we couldn’t use. The company that we called had everything in house and we felt that this would help provide better coordination on pricing. There is no doubt that independent architects work well in some cases. But we had already been there and done that.

It ultimately turned out that we were right. Having everything under one roof made it a lot easier and really would help us stay on budget. When we wanted to add something, we knew almost immediately what it would cost. It helped form a lot of our decisions and it helped keep our sanity levels in check.
While waiting to meet we listed out things that we’d like to have in a house:
  • Good Floor plan
  • Energy efficiency
  • South facing kitchen
  • Walk in closet in Master Bedroom
  • Master bath
  • Area for future Family room expansion in cellar
  • Area for my shop in the cellar (most important of course!)
  • Room over garage
  • Two car garage
  • Entertaining area.
  • Nice entry ways
  • Good Closets
  • Laundry room on first floor
  • House that fit on the lot – meaning better located

Our wants were simple, but sometimes you just have to write these things down to provide a guide for yourself.
Sometime before, we had stayed at Abby’s sister’s house in North Carolina where we really liked the floor plan. We wondered if we couldn’t incorporate something similar?

We found the floor plan on the subdivision's website and started to use that as our base layout. We sketched it out on paper and decided that we wanted the bedrooms on the north side, entertaining in the middle of the house and the kitchen and dining areas on the south side. After playing around with different ideas we slid the garage down behind the house so that its entry would now be from the side street (we’re on a corner lot). One advantage to this is that the lot slopes down about six feet from the front to the back. Putting the garage in this location, which was lower than the man house, gave the effect that it was not overwhelming the house.

It was fun doing this. Even with the unknowns of building new, we felt like we were reenergized with new options.
The only question was could we afford it?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Mid-September 2012
After a few weeks of discussion and at times, disagreement, we were still throwing ideas around of what we should do with our house. We knew what we didn’t like about the house (pretty much everything) and had a lot of ideas of what we would like in a house.
Along the way when we discussed our grand plans with family and friends, on more than one occasion we were told that it was cheaper to build new than renovate. Considering the amount of work that we wanted to do we didn’t believe that possible. Hmmm, maybe now though it was an idea worth exploring?
We had often driven through our local (and not so local) neighborhoods to get ideas for general design, landscaping and so on. While doing this we noted a number of signs that indicated “so and so company“ were building a new home or doing the renovation. On those that were new we thought that it was kind of crazy to be building a new house in this current economic environment.
But maybe they weren’t so crazy?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The End of Plan A

After about a week of depression, we called the builder and asked if there were areas that could be eliminated and that we could save money on. He said he would check. Following up with him a week later, the answer came back as a basic, no, it didn’t look like we could really save anywhere and still have the house that we wanted. We thanked him and told him that this project was dead in the water and we appreciated his time. He was a great guy and we really wanted to work with him. But at this point in time, it wasn’t going to happen.
At the end of the day, it all added up. Like going to Best Buy for a new TV, if you want more, you’ve got to pay more. It’s just the way it is. Everything added up. It wasn’t the builder’s fault that we designed it the way we did. We just should have stayed on top of pricing reviews instead of doing them infrequently. Additionally, while having an architect was great, they can only give you general costs, not what a builder might necessarily charge. And admittedly, he did warn us with every change that the costs were increasing and we were going beyond our target. We should have been listening closer.

So we sat and looked that plans that we had paid so much for and had spent so much time on and recognized that even with the amount of money that it was going to cost, the house was still not what  we  really wanted.

Maybe we were thinking that because we were so discouraged, who knows? But when we looked closer, we knew that with the kind of money that it was going to cost, the floor plan, while workable was not ideal. And we both love having sun come through the windows but the garage was going to be on the south side blocking most of it. The house itself was still shoved up against one side of the lot when we had so much room on the other side of the property. We had a house that needed a great deal of work, a great lot and a perfect neighborhood. Talk about being shoved into a corner.
In retrospect, I’m not sure if we could have or would have done it any different. We let the budget grow for things that made sense. After all, we didn’t want half a house.

So where do we go from here? And what will it cost to frame old plans?


Finalizing costs

So here it was the beginning of summer 2012, and after owning the house for eight months we were now ready to get the construction going. We had worked hard to get the plans for a house that we thought would suit our needs. We knew our advance work of having the trees taken down, a new gas line brought in and kitchen design started would give us a jump start. We had walked the lot, moved walls on paper and had pictures in our heads of what our newly renovated house would look like. Yay!

But there was one step left. Now we had to give the plans to the builder for the final cost. But we weren’t concerned as we had stayed in touch with our builder and had preliminary reviews and cost estimates done.  We were confident that we had kept it affordable and were sure that we could quickly put this to contract and we could finally get shovels in the ground!

Different things happened along the way with the summer. Jobs, projects, vacations, family events, missed phone calls. Everything seemed to add another week. It seemed our project had now come to a screeching halt.

Finally near the end of August, our builder called and said he was ready to meet with us. We were excited. Finally we can get construction on this overpriced storage unit going!

Once we met, the excitement quickly evaporated when we jumped to the price. The cost of renovating this house had suddenly skyrocketed. It seems moving walls, stairways, removing a chimney, a new second floor, adding bathrooms and a new garage, etc., all added up.

We sat there dumbfounded because we had kept tabs on pricing throughout the design process to ensure we stayed within budget. It turns out (big surprise here) estimates are just that, estimates. When you hit the final details and have added in things like floor trusses over the garage, new stairs and things like that, they just plain add up.
So as our minds were clearly on hyper drive, we recognized that it was beyond our budget. Way beyond our budget. We both told the builder that we couldn’t afford the work and that we had already made compromises to stay within our budget.

He left. I drank another beer. Neither of us slept well that night.  Or the next.
We had spent all this time designing our house and now it was beyond our grasp.

Friday, May 10, 2013


After spending months with the architect and builder, firming up plans, having the lot surveyed, and figuring out prices, we finally had a plan.
We moved the kitchen around to the south side by bringing out the foundation in the back and on the side. We also added an entry way on the south side which was in turn connected to the new two car garage. We decided to remove the wall that separated the dining room from the living room and move the stairway from the back of the house to the center. The first floor bathroom was moved from the center of the house to the north side and the old kitchen with the stairs removed was turned into a guest bedroom. We also added a laundry area to right outside of the bathroom. We also decided to remove the fireplace as it took up a significant amount of square footage on both the first and second floors. The new furnace was so energy efficient that we no longer needed the chimney and we planned on taking down the screen house and replacing the door with a gas fireplace.
On the second floor, we popped out both the front and back with full shed dormers.  This gave us added head room which in turn made the rooms larger and more livable. We added a Master bathroom and enlarged the other second floor bathroom.
In the back of the house, we turned the old garage into a family room with double, south facing French doors leading to a terrace outside.
It was a significant undertaking but we loved the plans we had developed. It had taken us months of discussions, redesigning, walking the lot, more planning, price check ins with the builder and a couple of disagreements but we now had a set of plans that we could use. We thought the rough part was now over and we could start building.
At the end of the day however, the rough part had just begun.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Another trying to “stay ahead of the curve” step that we took was to have the gas company bring in a new natural gas line. The house had an old gas line into the basement but it had been disconnected years before when they converted to oil.

Our plan was to have a new forced hot water system put in that used gas as it less expensive in New England than oil. At least now it is. (I’m convinced that they go through ten year cycles where one is less expensive than the other. Then everyone converts. Then the other is less expensive. Do you suppose they plan that?) The main gas line was out front so we thought, let’s connect. So they came in, dug a trench and brought a new line right up to the house. We had asked that it be capped off until we had better plans. They agreed and left it with the meter in front of the foundation.

We were now ready for the gas and were happy that we had least made progress somewhere.
And of course, like any rehab, progress is always a temporary thing.
Not a Flashback
In case you were wondering about all of these flashbacks, the intent is to walk the reader along the bumpy pathway that that we took before we went to “Plan B”.
Stick with me. Plan B is coming soon.


Sunday, May 5, 2013


Moving the rosebush

Along the way, one of my neighbors, who was close to the prior owners, expressed concern and hope that any work we were going to do would not disturb the rosebush that she had given them some years before. And of course, wouldn’t you know it, the plans for the garage put it dead center over the rosebush which had grown to about five feet high. Now, wanting to keep the neighbors happy, and not wanting to get her upset with plans that were yet to be finalized, I asked would she perhaps like to have the rosebush? I even offered to move it for her.

I must be going to heaven.
She said yes, that would be nice. So she showed me an area by the corner of her house where it would get plenty of sun. I’m thinking, this should be easy.

The rosebush didn’t go without a fight. So much for easy. At one time it had been supported with one of those round tomato baskets and now years later the branches had grown all through it so it was one big tangle of wire, branches and thorns. So I had to hack saw the wire away while trying to dodge the thorns which were big and sharp. I wasn’t successful at all about missing the thorns and I’m sure the rosebush was happy with the amount of blood it was able to draw.

So once I was able to gently dig around it and pry the roots from their long standing home, I moved it over to the corner of her house where she asked me to put it. Now, I’m thinking, this part should be easy. An old garden, good soil, should be easy digging. My work was almost done. Wrong.
When I looked at the location that she had earlier pointed out, I failed to see the gnarly roots of a long gone hydrangea. Like an iceberg, most of the roots were underground. It had to be three feet around and God knows how deep in the ground. This is where she wanted the rose bush to go. I must be being punished for some long ago error in judgment I thought.

So I dug, and hacked, and dug and hacked some more. Finally, after over an hour I had the roots free and the hole ready. The rosebush was transplanted with a mix of soil that my neighbor created and well watered and I was a step closer to getting on the other side of those pearly gates.
A few weeks later I noticed that the bush was still green but it looked like it now had roses. Now not knowing my neighbor and thinking that it wouldn’t be blooming until next year, I thought, oh great, she wants it to bloom so badly she’s taped plastic roses to it. Oh boy. Really?

So I went and took a closer look and saw that it was actually blooming! Wow, cool I thought. Crisis with my new neighbor averted. Not only did I succeed at transplanting the rosebush that meant so much to her, it was now even blooming. I have no idea how I was able to move it and have it still live.
Maybe I do have a green thumb. Or just plain dumb luck.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Before - Overgrown brush and trees blocking sun
During the spring while we were finalizing plans and going for the variance we decided to get a head start on a few property changes.
The first was doing something about the large number of trees on the lot. While trees are always welcome in my book, the ones on this lot had grown out of control. There were clumps of bushes that had grown woody and there were a number of trees that had been allowed to grow in groves. These groves, which were on the south side of the house, blocked the sun. This in turn made the house dark, damp and a bit smelly (add that to the fact that it had been closed up for over a year).

We both like sun so the trees needed to be thinned out. The trees were a mix of cedar and maples. Some of the maples had grown so close together, that they were stunting the growth of each other and causing some to start to rot. Also, in front of the house we had a beautiful maple with a large, round crown. It looked stately. However, upon a closer look, we realized that it was so rotted you could easily put your hand inside of the hollow that was once the center of the tree. It was dangerous and had to go.
In the backyard, we had a similar large maple. Unfortunately though, it was heavily shading a beautiful Japanese maple that had nice flowing limbs like a beech would. While we hated to take down the maple, we felt it would open up the back yard and help the Japanese maple grow and flourish.

Also, around the yard and the along the foundation of the house were a number of bushes that had probably been there for a number of years. While I’m sure they were beautiful at one time, age had taken its toll and they were now woody, clumpy and overgrown.
And truthfully, many of the trees were in the same location where the addition was going to go.

So to get a jump start on construction and stay ahead of that curve as well as to make the lot safer and increase the sunlight, we hired a tree company to come and take care of them.
They removed somewhere around twenty trees and trimmed up numerous others. They did a great job. We weren’t sure what the neighbor’s thought though because at one point as they were working and piling up logs and branches, Abby drove by and saw a group of folks from the neighborhood standing pointing and talking to one another. I’m sure they were talking about how sad it was to be taking down all of those beautiful trees. And we couldn’t have agreed more. It was sad and we would have liked to have kept them. But it was work that had to be done given the declining health of the trees.

The crew was great, there was hardly a leaf left behind at the end of the next day. And it was remarkable how much added sunlight now streamed into the house. You could actually feel the new warmth instead of the cold dampness. We opened the windows and let the house air out aided by its new friend, the sun. What a difference.
The house was beginning to have our touch on it. Yay! Progress.

Sort of.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

I think this was around the time I started to become an impatient home builder. While I recognize everything takes time, it just seems that every missed phone call added a week, every drawing change added more time. Throw in vacations and scheduling conflicts and it just seemed that months were dragging on and any thoughts of beginning construction in May were right out the door. Our proposed start date just evaporated and without any new start date even on the horizon, frustration was setting in. Of course we were still paying the monthly mortgage payments on a house that was empty and waiting for work to begin. I started calling it the world’s most expensive storage unit,

I’ve found that when doing any sort of building work, time is not your friend, nor your enemy. It’s certainly a tester of your patience though.