Unplugged Play – Playing the Sock Game

January 30th, 2014

  It’s hard with a 1 and a 2 year old to figure out new and fun things to do with them especially working full-time. And all too often, a movie is the solution for keeping them occupied. I recently picked up this book Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner in an effort to find some fun simple activities with my boys.
unplugged-playI like this book for many reasons. One of them is that it’s sectioned by age group. So I can look through just the 1-2 year old toddler section, or the 3-4 year old preschooler group. There are a lot of familiar games, and variations on familiar games, but there are also many new and simple games that i’ve never thought of to play with my little ones.

My son’s favorite game so far has been what we call “the sock game” It’s a  really simple premise. You gather a bunch of big socks, and put little household objects/small toys in them without your child seeing (See easy! All stuff you have on hand).

toddler-sockgame

Then you give your child one sock at a time, and have them feel the object and try to guess what’s inside. Ollie would want to quickly look inside, so I started setting a timer for 1 minute with each sock to give him time to really think about what he was feeling.

toddler-sock-game-sockhide

During that 1 minute, I also ask him simple questions like “Is it hard or soft?” “Will it bend or is it straight?” “What shape is it?”  ”Is it big, or is it small?” etc.

toddler-sockgame-toys

He’s not quite 3 years old and LOVES to play this game. Usually we can do 2 rounds in one sitting before he’s ready to do something else. And I’m always impressed by which objects he can identify by just feeling them.

toddler-sock-game-screwdriver

It’s been great finding simple learning activities for his age, and this book has activities for up to age 10, so I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of it for years to come!

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The Project House – Custom Trim update

January 25th, 2014

I should title this post “Mr. Project is the most amazing person, I’ve ever met. Lets see all the beautiful things he’s created for this house” But it got kind of wordy there at the end ;) . But seriously, Mr. Project is so incredibly talented and hardworking, and I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to see his handiwork all around us in this new house. He did nearly all the millwork/trim/carpentry in this house, needless to say, he hasn’t been sleeping much.

theprojecthouse-paneled-entry2

When we designed the house, I wanted an entry way that had door portals so you felt you were actually inside of a room instead of a wide hallway. I also wanted a formal room right off the entry for a piano (which we don’t have yet), and a little seating area.

I thought about having columns built out to separate the spaces, but decided that columns were more formal than the look I was going for. I wanted to keep things simple, okay maybe simple isn’t the word, I wanted to keep all the lines very concise and all the trim work very flat. So a lot of detail, but simple detail. Instead of columns I went with trimmed out portals, so the trim work is all around you when you walk through. I carried this portal idea throughout the main floor, and all of the portals are 18″ deep.

Mr. Project installed all of the trim in the entryway, including the “tongue and groove”  ceiling. This tongue and groove has a big “V” groove at the seams.

Our front door is one of my favorite features of the house. We had seen a similar door in a home being built, but it had stain glass “X”s. I actually found that door at Simpson Doors, and I had my door provider price out the sourced door, and a custom built door, and the custom built door was about 25% cheaper than the pre-made one. The only difference was that the “X”s would be made of wood. It turned out so lovely, and so much a statement piece. I love it so much.
theprojecthouse-paneled-entry

I wanted an perfect paneled wall  (no doors etc.) in the entry as a backdrop for my entry table vignette. I also made sure there was a plug so I could have lamps etc. there. theprojecthouse-paneled-entry-wall

Moving onto the formal living/music room – We had more time than we expected to finish up trim projects (due to Christmas and new years keeping subs away), and Mr. Project asked if I had any other trim projects I wanted done. I sheepishly said that I wanted a full paneled wall in the living room, and he was happy to oblige. I think this wall took him 3-4 hours. I’m super excited for this room as the paneled wall will be white (all the millwork in the house will be white), and the wood floor will be next to it, and on the opposite wall is a huge picture window that doesn’t get direct light. So it will be a very lovely place to take photographs. theprojecthouse-paneled-wall

Moving to the great room… We had our builder do most of the ceiling work in the house. They build this beautiful coffered arch ceiling. It turned out so beautiful, it looks quite formal now, but once it’s painted white, it should look a little more casual beach-house. Mr. Project framed out the doors with trim above, which I think will look quite striking once there are curtains on them. The doors will be painted black. I love me some black doors. Also from this view, you can see just a peek-a-boo of the kitchen windows being trimmed out. Those won’t be finished till the kitchen cabinets are all in, so I didn’t take a picture of that space.

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Here’s another detail view of the ceiling. The planking is the same tongue and groove trim boards.
theprojecthouse-coffered-ceiling-arch

I pulled out my wide-angle lens for this shoot – so you get a much better view of the linen built-ins. These are going to be painted a very pale ice aqua color. Mr. Project built this unit, and it’s just phenomenal and really makes the space look incredible.
theprojecthouse-linen

Here is one of the door portals that I was talking about. We recessed the bedroom doors and created this trimmed-out portal effect, complete with a light in the top. All of this will be white, but the door itself will be black. Mr. Project wanted these portals to look really unique and so he mitered all the outside corners. This was a considerable amount of work, but makes them look very clean, and different.

theprojecthouse-bedroom-door-trim

Here’s the master bedroom portalL
theprojecthouse-recessed-door-trim

 

This is what the doors look like (and the regular casing) – and I snapped this picture because this door is a pocket door – the first one that was installed and it made me so happy!
theprojecthouse-pocket-door

 

 

The nursery got some board & batten. I wanted a more masculine skinny stripe for the verticals, and I think it turned out perfectly. This will actually be painted NOT WHITE haha, it will be a mid gray color, and the window trim will all be the same color. theprojecthouse-paneled-bedroom

This room has a little niche, so Mr. Project added these beefy shelves. I can’t wait to decorate!!

theprojecthouse-shelves

Mr. Project paneled out the master window wall. The builder did the ceiling planking, and there will also be some cool beam work that will make that portion of the ceiling look like rafters/attic floor.
theprojecthouse-planked-ceiling-paneled-wall

 

Mr. Project suggested a planked ceiling in the master bath, and I was over the moon excited! I’m thinking about painting it a light gray color.

 

theprojecthouse-planked-ceiling

I’m so loving our master bathroom. The marble and mosaic floor turned out incredibly, and I love all the trim details (not done yet!).theprojecthouse-bathroom-trim

Mr. Project paneled out the bathtub (with waterproof/resistant material called Medex). I’m so happy we went this route instead of tile up the side. I think it makes the space look so romantic. He also paneled the window out (still missing the bottom trim piece). This space will have a pretty rectangle chandelier over it. (see Master Bath Style Guide)

theprojecthouse-tub-trim

I couldn’t resist a detail shot of the floor:theprojecthouse-tile-border-hexagon

Mr. Project paneled out this portal just a little differently than the others due to the tile placement. I LOVE it! He used this 3″x.5″ pre-cut trim material for this door, and I love the proportion. He’s also going to panel out a the mirror part of the wall with a space specifically for the mirror etc.theprojecthouse-door-trim

And the closet system all done and trimmed out.

theprojecthouse-closet

I love all my drawers!
theprojecthouse-closet-organizer

 

And then onto the basement family room… We created a similar room-divider space in our last house to visually divide two spaces, and decided that we loved the look so much, we wanted to incorporate it into our design here. Mr. Project made the base cabinets, and they have doors on both sides. He also used these gorgeous solid live-edge walnut slabs for the tops, and then built these beefy columns to reach up to the beam that we had the framers build. I love how it makes the space seem not so big and boring.

theprojecthouse-room-divider

And of course the focal point of the room, is the fireplace planking. All the corners are mitered and it looks awesome. Mr. Project just built a reclaimed lumber mantel for the space and it looks amazing. The wood here is going to be painted gray, with white shelves and cabinets.

theprojecthouse-wood-planked-mantleAnd last, but not least, my craft closet! Lots of shelves, and this bin/cubby hutch in the middle with a space for my big elfa drawer units (from the container store).

 

theprojecthouse-craft-closetSoooooo that’s the trim work/millwork/carpentry projects in the house. There are a few more little things, and the ceiling work has to be finished, but for the most part we’re really close to being able to paint! So so exciting! I’m loving seeing it start to look like the home I imagined, and I really just can’t wait to move in. Actually I don’t believe it’s ours, I’m going to have to pinch myself every morning when I wake up and walk through this beautiful home.

Post post notes:

*I posted about our built-in bench/shelving earlier this week, so it doesn’t appear in this post.

*More updates coming soon, so keep checking back. for daily updates subscribe to my Instagram and Facebook feeds. 

*To see past updates – view my Canyon View House Category.

*If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them, just leave a comment!

 

Building Cost-Plus and working with Bangerter Homes (utah home builder)

January 24th, 2014

bangerter-homes-splash

I’ve been meaning to write about our experience building our house as a “cost plus” and working with Bangerter Homes specifically. There were some great discussions in my tile update post comments yesterday about all this, so I figured this was a good time to write this post.

Okay so I’m not going to go into all the technical details of a cost plus build, pros and cons and whatnots, You can read a great article about that – Hiring a Contractor Cost-Plus – from Building Advisor.  What I am going to talk about is my personal experience building cost plus and why this was a good choice for us.

I really have to start with talking about our builder. Cost plus really isn’t possible unless you trust your builder – this should be said for any construction project actually, but I think especially when it comes to cost plus as a builder could be unscrupulous as far as marking up invoices, or not caring how much the end price is and spending way too much money putting you over your budget.   When we decided to move to Utah (so Spencer could teach at BYU, I could be in the same state and facilitate my Utah clients better, and of course our family is here too), we looked into buying/renovating, and building a tract/production home. Although we loved our renovation in California, and would love to renovate again in the future, the ability to build a home in Utah is just as affordable (if not more so, than renovating). So we looked into building with a big home builder – they build lots of homes and develop the land, and you can do some little custom changes here and there. The prices are actually really good because they make their profit on the land mark-ups and sheer quantity. They also tend to cut some corners here and there… nothing terrible, but things that would definitely drive Mr. Project up the wall. I also called a few of the builders whom people had recommended and asked if it was possible to build and install our own cabinets, trim, and built-ins. The resounding answer was “NO”. Which I can understand… that’s kind of a wildcard to have a homeowner with unknown credentials want to build their own cabinets and what-nots. But for us, it was a deal breaker. Not only could we save 10s of thousands of dollars doing our own woodwork (and by we, I mean Mr. Project), if anyone else did it, it would not be up to our standards. So we’d pay 5x as much and have an inferior product. Not an option.

So where did that leave us? Up a creek? In my estimation, we couldn’t afford a custom home builder. Everything I’d ever heard was that they have huge mark-ups and cut corners to make even more profit (maybe not all of them do this). In the end you have a beautiful home – exactly what you want, but you’ve paid greatly for it – overpaid for it no doubt. Well we don’t like overpaying for things. So I just couldn’t even go there in my mind – if we built with a custom builder/contractor, I would be constantly stressed that we were getting milked. And I know that isn’t always the case, I don’t think contractors are crooks etc. But they do make their money in mark-ups and have to have a pretty big cushion in case some part of the build ends up going over budget – which, again, I get it but I didn’t want to be the one paying the big cushion. I just want to pay what it actually costs to build the house.

What we decided on was to Self-contract. We would find and contract all the subcontractors, schedule and manage the entire build. We’d have complete control over the process. Generally self-contracting takes a lot longer though – subcontractors work for their big clients first and get to you last. It helps if you have relationships already with subcontractors, or at least know which ones have good reputations. Dealing with one bad sub can cost you a lot of money and time. So there is risk involved there.

I started calling on lots that were listed online and talking to local realtors. With land I felt I was at a huge disadvantage in being so far away. A lot of land sales are not listed anywhere. The owner will put a sign in the yard, or just tell people in the neighborhood that the land is for sale. Sometimes there isn’t even that and people will cold-call land owners based on the county tax records.  Being in California, we didn’t know what land was open even do that. My resources were limited – in many ways I wish I would have been more patient and moved here first and then looked around for land, knowing more people and the area much better. What I also found was that it was really hard to find land with no strings attached. A myriad of lots were available, but you had to build with their custom builder etc. So I found myself looking, and not finding what I wanted. Finally I found a lot online that looked great – cul-de-sac – a mile from my brother, nice looking new homes on adjacent lots etc. I had my brother go check it out and he liked it. The next day I called the number on the lot… it was a builder – Bangerter Homes. I was disheartened. I told him that we wanted to self-build. He said that they would prefer to build on the lot. I asked if they would take more for the lot than they were asking if we could self build. He said that he had a solution… a Cost Plus build, and if we built with them, he’d even discount the lot a little bit more.

So that was the start of a beautiful relationship. He told me that a homeowner can save a lot of money with a cost plus build. The basic idea is that the builder is paid a flat fee (a percentage of the estimated build cost), and then all the actual costs are paid without a mark-up by the homeowner. Bangerter Homes even includes a 4% risk clause that basically says that based on their estimated price the exact services provided wont cost more than 4% over budget, and if they do, the additional costs are split by both parties. I asked about cabinetry. He said that the homeowner can do work on the house, and use their own subcontractors/suppliers if desired. To me it sounded like a dream come true. I know exactly how much of a premium I’m paying for having someone contract my build, and I also have the flexibility to be in control of everything that goes into the build. And to be honest, with the great price we got on the lot, and the amount we’re most likely saving on having really great negotiated subcontracting rates through the builder, I doubt we’re paying much if anything over what it would have cost us to self-build (especially if we had gotten a bad subcontractor or two). And of course with a lot less headache, and none of the work that it would take to manage the entire build, and much faster (how much are we saving on a construction loan and rent not having to spend a full year building?).

That is how we ended up doing a cost-plus build… and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a great experience. That being said, I think the experience has everything to do with what builder you choose. We kind of fell into our Bangerter Homes. We didn’t seek them out or know of their reputation etc. All we knew was that they owned the land we wanted to build on, and they were willing to do a cost plus build with us. We put out feelers, asked people about their reputation and so forth. Everything we heard was absolutely glowing. A great builder to work with. Incredibly ethical, hard working, and they put out a quality product. And now, just a month out from being done, I can happily say the same. I would build with them over and over again. They have treated us like family from the start, and have consistently gone above and beyond what is required and expected. And the best part is that we’ve been able to build the home that we want to build, exactly how we wanted to build it, and definitely for less than a custom build. For us, that is such a big deal. Mr. Project is incredibly detail oriented and picky about quality of workmanship etc. We can easily say that this is a well built home that conforms to our exacting standards – which are very high.

I’m sure a cost plus build isn’t for everyone. Sometimes traditional pricing through a contractor can save you money too. And definitely building a less custom home through a production builder is cheaper. We want to be as involved as possible, and save as much money as possible. I do want to say this about Bangerter Homes, they will go through the design/build process with smaller builds as well – possibly not a cost plus, but definitely a customized build. You don’t have to be building a big custom home – in fact that is a little more rare for them.  They have a drafter on staff who can customize existing plans – even design from scratch, and you can get exactly what you want on a smaller scale. Like their tagline says – “If you Dream it… we can custom design & build it for your life.” This has definitely been true for us – we dream big, and they have made it all come to life.

*Bangerter Homes isn’t giving me any sort of sponsorship for this post, we’ve just had such a great experience, I want to share and let people know where they can have an equally great experience. If you do end up talking to them or building with them, definitely mention my blog to them. They will love to hear that you found them through me as word of mouth is the lifeblood of their business.