We knew going into this process that there would be a lot of quick fire decision making, but we didn’t expect those decisions to come so early in the process and have such a huge impact on the build. On the first day we found out that our sewer was only buried 6 feet deep. That might not mean much to many people, but in Utah most homes have basements and if you plan on having any plumbing in your basement, then your basement has to be at least 1-3 feet above the sewer line. And then the basement foundation walls are another 8-10 feet tall on top of that. Then your floor joists are another 15″-18″ on top of that. Generally speaking sewer lines are buried 12 feet or more deep so that the basement can be fully underground.
Originally we had planned on a 9 foot basement. I love tall ceilings in basements, and really had my heart set on 9 feet. Well with this sewer issue, the first thing that had to go was the 9′ basement. Even with the 8′ basement, the house is sticking out of the ground 4.5-5 feet. Which is a lot. And because our lot slops a few feet in the back, the house now sticks out 7-7.5 feet in the back. Which is a lot. So as you can imagine, we’ve been panicking… wondering what are the best decisions… wondering if we should even keep going! And it’s the first week people! So stressful! Cooler heads did prevail… we dropped the basement to 8 feet tall, and decided to embrace the “daylight” basement and make the foundation wall feel less like a basement and more like a house. Here was our initial elevation of the back – we did have one portion “dug out” to have an exit from the basement. There was going to be about 4 feet of stairs to get out of that digout area:
I changed the window configuration to take advantage of being above ground – added several windows (there weren’t any before where the triple windows now sit). And also added siding/board & batten instead of having giant exposed concrete areas. The result is that the rear of the house doesn’t feel like a giant concrete basement is just sitting out above ground. Seeing this helps me not panic so much.
Of course this is just the house portion of the house. There is also a very large garage to contend with. We found out a few days later that because of the slope in the lot, the garage foundation will need to also be 8 feet tall. Which is a lot. Twice as much concrete as we had budgeted. And this is not a small 2 car garage… So we went totally off the deep end trying to see if it was worth it to completely halt construction and just go ahead and excavate under the garage and have an extended basement (daylight still in the back, so not unlivable). We could have a rentable apartment and a theatre room, etc etc etc. But to be able to afford all of that, we’d have to take money from the budget elsewhere, and we’re already camped firmly in the danger zone of the budget. So again cooler heads prevailed, and we coined the motto “STTP” Stick To The Plan. And as tempting as it is to gain another 2000 sq feet of space for pennies on the dollar (we’re already paying for 8 foot foundation walls!), we decided it wasn’t worth the cost of sanity, time, dollars, and a million more what-ifs and try-this. Have I mentioned it’s only been ONE WEEK? Anyone want to trade therapy for design advice?
So the build continued. Except we had record rain fall, mud slides, call-in-the-sand-bags crazy rain. All this AFTER we just dug a big hole in the ground (I really could use that therapy). And we were told that everything would have to wait because they can’t set up concrete forms while it’s raining, and they certainly can’t pour concrete when there is mud pouring down the mountain. We must be lucky though, because when the rain cleared up, our site just had a little compacting, no flooding, and no back flow into the hole. And we must be really lucky, because even though it was supposed to rain for many consecutive days after the big storm came through, it didn’t. The ground dried and the workers came and set up our footings.
The house is kind of long, so I can’t get it in one frame. This is the middle section where the breezeway is.
And here is a panoramic shot – the panorama distorts the image, but you get the general idea.
This morning Mr. Project went on his morning jog to the build site, and could hardly believe his eyes when he saw this big concrete pump at OUR BUILD SITE. I got his excited text message and this photo:
So amazing to see actual progress after so many odd setbacks. It’s happening. It’s really happening! Here is the concrete in the footings forms:
One interesting part about this whole process is comprehending the reality of the whole thing. Up to this point, it’s all felt like a fantasy in a way. A plan, something fun to think and dream about. Kind of like when your a kid, and you can’t wait to be a grown up… but you don’t think it will ever ACTUALLY happen – even though you KNOW it will of course happen. So your knowledge of something doesn’t quite jive with your experience. Up to this point we’ve only experienced the design & planning phase. Even now, I don’t believe that this house is actually being built, although I can see it and actually touch it. In my brain, it’s still just a dream and binder/blog full of plans. I look at the floor plan, and I know it backwards and forwards at this point. I’ve imagined living and using every single space in the house. And now even with something concrete in place, it still only exists in my imagination because the final product doesn’t exist. So maybe it wont feel real until we’ve actually moved in. I guess I’ll let you know when it does feel real.
Either way, I’m through the moon excited. I miss my old house every single day. I miss having my own work space, my own creative space, everything pretty much organized, and clean. I miss my clean house. I can’t seem to keep this transition house clean because nothing really has a spot, everything is transient and wondering when it’s going to taken to its final destination. Soon enough. My daily motto – soon enough. And it really is happening!