Saturday Afternoon Pictures

We didn’t end up doing anything on the property when we were up over the weekend. By the time we got the truck unloaded and returned we were tired and not ready to try to start in on any futher projects. We stopped at the grocery store, bought some beer and chips, then headed out to the property to hang out for a bit. It was really nice, although a little strange, to just be there looking around and not really doing anything in particular! The weather was beautiful – mid-70’s with a nice mild breeze. The birds were singing, the air smelled wonderful and it was an absolutely lovely day. So, without further ado, here’s some pictures.

First off, I actually got to drive onto the property for the first time! Here’s our car, parked on our parking pad.  (And yes, that’s Gregory sliding down the slope to the house site.  He made it too!)


Here’s the pile of oaks just below the house site. If you compare this to previous pictures, you’ll notice that Matt has made a big dent in this pile.


And here’s the biggest stack of firewood… although there are several more smaller ones here and there too. Good thing we are heating with a wood stove!


Ah, isn’t it pretty?


Further update

Matt just got an email this morning from the company who is drawing up our plans and doing the engineering work and unfortunately things are going to be further delayed. They’ve lost one of their engineers and all the work is getting stuck in the engineering bottleneck. They’re now hoping to have engineering done by the end of the month.

As Matt said, “Oh well, what can you do?” At least we’re in the pipeline and it will get done. As someone at the park playday said yesterday, these delays seem like a long time now but once we’ve been in house for awhile they won’t seem like much at all.

Status Update

There isn’t really anything new to report, but I thought I would do a status update anyways. Our plans are still undergoing engineering review and should be done “soon”. Once they are done there, then they will be off for shop panel drawings. After that we should be getting our bundle of plans and such to submit to the county. Once it is in county review, it will take at least four to five weeks before we have our building permit.

Not much is happening on the property either. We need to get permits in order to do more work, (septic system and trenching for power, specifically) and in order to do that we need a final site plan. That’s supposed to be close to being done, but we’ve been hearing that for awhile now. (months, in fact)

We’re going up this weekend to move some things up into storage with a rental truck. I don’t anticipate getting much done on the property, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a better feel for where the garden should go. I think Matt is going to start doing some site prep for the work shed and he’ll probably continue to cut up trees, since there is always more of that to do!

At least things are moving along, albeit slowly. I suppose I should get used to it now because I’m sure this will just be the way it is for a good long while!

Post Request

Jennifer asked a few questions in the comments a couple posts ago and I thought I would take a stab at answering them. Questions are certainly welcome, and we’ll do our best to answer them – so if anyone else has anything they’d like to ask, go for it!

Jennifer asked first, “what made you guys decide to go this route”?

That’s kind of a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of different factors that went into making this decision. We kicked around the idea in various forms for years, probably dating back to before we were married. I think the key factors ended up being were affordability, control, and creative desire. We really couldn’t afford to buy anything (at all, really!) like what we’re going to be building, and especially not in California. We really like the idea of deciding for ourselves what is important in our home. Because we designed our home, we could jettison such common new home amenities like large master bathrooms, walk-in closets, and complicated and fussy floorplans and rooflines. Instead we have another bedroom, a walk-in pantry, a nice simple shape. Yes, it will hurt our re-sale, but we aren’t building for that – we’re building for our family. Doing it ourselves allows us to use uncommon and more interesting materials – everything from SIPs to reclaimed flooring from Matt’s Grandparent’s house. I think it is going to be a sometimes crazy, but ultimately exhilarating and rewarding project.

“What the cost difference is (on a percentage basis) than buying a pre-made house”?

If you are comparing apples to apples – i.e. a custom home instead of your typical shoddy tract home – we should come out (very conservatively) about a third cheaper. This includes the land cost, so if land wasn’t so incredibly expensive as it is in CA, we’d be doing even better percentage-wise.

“Is this your full-time job or do you do this in your spare time”?

Matt is going to take 4-6 weeks off this summer to work on the house, then we’ll proceed to work on it every moment we get after that. I think we will be living and breathing house for the next year at least. Matt may end up working a shorter week or juggling his hours so that he can take three day weekends to get more concentrated time on the house, but that depends on how the workload goes. I’m really not sure what my level of involvement is going to be – I’m hoping to do quite a bit, but I’m coming into this with less knowledge and the need to be the primary caretaker of two small children. We hope to be living in the house by the end of next summer, but at this point I have no idea how feasible that is. Knowledgeable people have told us that this is possible, but then we’ve read other people’s accounts where they say it took them two to three times as long as they thought it would! Even once we are in the house there will still be a lot of trim work to do, so I don’t see the house feeling really settled for at least another year at the minimum.

Anyone else have any questions? 🙂

Trenching and pipe

Our well is a fair distance from our house site – about 600 feet and on the other side of the road. Al trenched all of this, and then another guy came in and laid pipe in the trenches so that we can have water down at the house site (sounds like a great idea, dontcha think?)

Trenching towards the house site


Trenching and pipe under the roadpipe_under_road.jpg

Filled in trenching with a line sticking up for a future spigot


There now, wasn’t that exciting?

More site prep

And here’s what they ended up doing with that big drop-off in the last post (this is standing at the opposite end of the parking pad from where the driveway comes in) –


Doesn’t that slope look much better? Notice also how the parking pad is sloped away from the house pad – this should help keep water from pooling in front of our house. Proper drainage is very important!

Here’s Al in his big tractor/earth-mover thingy (someday I should learn what that thing is called), finessing the slope. Al does great work.


And here’s the hammerhead Al put in to satisfy the fire department requirements. This should allow a fire truck to turn around in case they ever need to visit… which I hope they don’t.


Pictures from April 21st

So I’m a little behind… but now that my camera batteries are all charged I can start catching up a bit. A lot has been happening on our property since I last posted on the 17th, and here’s the first installment of pictures. These pictures are from when we were up on April 20th – 22nd.

First off, here’s the view from the stump pile. Not much has changed from this perspective, as you can see.


However, if we go over to the driveway, you can see some of the work that was done during the week. (Isn’t the escaping toddler cute?)


And now you can pretend you are driving down our driveway, towards the parking and building pads.



And here’s the parking pad


There’s a bit of an elevation difference between the parking and building pads (about 4-5 feet)


And we have some impressive clay deposits


But at least our clay comes in attractive and varied colors.