The Project House Week 1

August 28th, 2013

theprojectgirl_excavationThe Project House V.2 has officially begun! We got our hole in the ground one week ago, and boy has it been a crazy crazy week!

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:

theprojectgirl_rear1I 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.

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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.

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And here is a panoramic shot – the panorama distorts the image, but you get the general idea.

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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:

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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:

theprojectgirl_footings3The city will inspect tomorrow, and then foundation wall forms will begin to go up. And then I think it will really begin to feel real.

Maybe.

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!

 

 

Mega Update and The Project House begins

August 21st, 2013

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted! I have a big huge mega update…time just got the best of me lately, between 3 business trips, a trip to the ER, the usual design deadlines, plus trying to get this house started, I’ve been falling into bed at night instead of my working on blog posts. Here’s my July + August in photos:

We drove out to CA and were able to see some friends while we were there. I also found out that it’s nearly impossible to take pictures of 3 little boys:

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We also made a special trip to the Restoration Hardware OUTLET in Vacaville (totally worth the trip) and found tons of gorgeous hardware and mirrors for 40-60% off regular price. Score!

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When we got back, Mr. Project started building the kitchen cabinets for our new Project House Kitchen.

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And I started potty training Ollie… but he did most of the work. And in this photo you can see the utter CHAOS that our rental is. Way too much stuff (and acquiring all our lighting and plumbing fixtures), and no place to put any of it! I so cannot wait to get into our new house and get organized again. Oh and we love our Froggy Potty!  He’s totally potty trained now (like a boss!) and it’s awesome not to have to worry about diapers for him.

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Then I went to CHA for a few days with My Minds Eye. I debuted my new line Cut & Paste (which I still need to pick my winners for)

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I came back home and got sick and had to go to the ER… turns out I have gallstones and need my gallbladder removed. :( But I was feeling well enough a few days later, and took some time to stop and smell the roses with my two sweet boys.

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Mr. Project continued to work on cabinets.

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And a few days later we headed to Costa Rica for a little bit of work and a little more smelling of the roses (with no kiddos!)

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I got back home and was too beat to run the 5k I’d been training for. But a few days later, I ran for 20 minutes straight… which is a huge accomplishment after taking up running just a few weeks ago. Here’s my view that keeps me going for my morning runs:

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Leo started walking… I still haven’t got this on video. He did take a good 10 steps in a row today, but my phone was out of reach!

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Mr. Project continued working on cabinets… He’s working on the farmhouse table island in this pic. Made completely out of rough-sawn reclaimed oak. It’s going to look amazing when it’s all done.

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And today, our house construction began with a big hole being dug. After all this time of planning and prepping, we have started. It’s thrilling, and scary all at the same time. I can’t wait to dive in, but I know it’s going to go so fast that I might not have time to blink. And I’m terrified that we won’t make all the right decisions, and we’ll be unhappy with aspects of the design here and there. But mostly I want to enjoy every minute of the journey.

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Here we go… 3…2…1… blastoff!! I’ll be posting more now with all the construction and design progress. Also I usually post daily on my Project Girl Facebook page and my Instagram as well. So there are lots of ways to keep up on our project house adventures!

Family Photos – completely worth it

June 20th, 2013

I posted a few weeks ago about having family pictures taken (and our outfits). We got back some sneaks today and they are so incredibly beautiful!

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Our photographer Michelle of Clover & Mustard could not have done a better job. She uses actual film for her photography and it just brings a quality of depth that I miss from digital photography. We’re so happy that she could take our photos and preserve these precious and fast-paced days.

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Getting ready and being willing to take family photos can be a lot of work, and cost a chunk of change. But putting in the effort is worth it. Having these photos forever will be worth it.  Whether you’re 7 months post-baby, and haven’t worked out in 3 years, or you are in the best shape of your life, it is worth it to document your family. So don’t wait thinking you’ll take pictures next year or when you hit your goal weight. Just do it now and you’ll thank yourself a million times for it.
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I’m also making the vow to actually order prints and hang up picture in our house as part of my “get the pictures off my computer” initiative. I think these will look amazing in our new house.

To see more pics from our shoot – check out Clover & Mustard.