May 13, 2008

An Update

Hello! It's been a while since I've posted anything, but we're finally back to a somewhat normal life and schedule. My husband has returned to work, and while we're not quite living in the house yet, we're hopefully only a few weeks away.
Our time spent working on the house was pretty great - we haven't spent that much time together since we travelled through Europe 12 years ago (and no, we haven't filed for divorce!).
I mentioned in an earlier post that we were pretty much freezing our butts while working there, but on April 12, it was positively balmy. We had a work party with some friends who came to help install soffits, and had our first barbecue of the season. One week later (April 19), we arrived to this scene:

It was breathtakingly beautiful, so of course we had to take time off from wiring to have a snowball fight. What a crazy winter it's been.

You may be wondering if I've gone off my rocker and painted the house mustard and black. As lovely as the combination is, the yellow is actually rain screen mesh that we've had to install on the gable ends of the house where the overhangs aren't adequate to keep the siding dry. There has been a huge "leaky condo" crisis in BC over the past 10-15 years (my mom and step-father both had to shell out big money to have their apartment buildings completely redone), because condos were being built with complete disregard for our drizzly climate, so the BC building code has been changed to make rain screen mandatory on most new buildings. The mesh creates a space behind the siding so that air can get behind it and dry any water that may have gotten through. It's an added material and labour cost, but much cheaper than having to redo the whole exterior 10 years from now.

Here you can see the Hardie shingles that we decided to go with. It has been installed on some of the house, but there's still a lot more to do. We've had help with this from a few of the guys on our contractor's crew, as the bank wants us to have everything done before they'll give us a mortgage with a decent rate. So we've had to choose between doing things ourselves and paying more in interest, and hiring someone to help us so we can save on interest. Either way, this is costing us more than we'd ever hoped!

This is my husband giddily wiring the very last fixture in the house. It took us way longer to wire the house than we thought it would, but we saved ourselves approximately $18,000 by doing it ourselves.

This is the stage we're at now - the house is insulated and awaiting drywall. A neighbor who also happens to be a contractor (and an organic farmer - but that's another post!) mentioned one day that it can sometimes be almost as cheap to hire someone to install the insulation as it is to do it yourself, since they get the materials for so much less. We did some calculating, and after our contractor sweet-talked his insulators, we ended up with a deal that we just couldn't pass up, and our house was insulated in two days (something that would have taken us weeks, I'm sure!). Even without a heat source, the house feels downright snug!

Our raven friends have been keeping a close eye on our progress, as have many other kinds of birds. We have dined with eagles swooping playfully overhead, watched red-headed woodpeckers excavating logs for a meal, and you can't be outside for 10 minutes without a hummingbird buzzing past your head.

Spending 6 weeks on the property has given us plenty of time to get to know the area and its inhabitants (human as well as animal), and we are smitten. I have never met friendlier people, and I can't wait to be a member of this community. I already know more of my neighbors than I do after 12 years of living in the city!

This process has not been without its problems, however. As I mentioned earlier, our budget has been blown completely, in spite of our best efforts. Fortunately, interest rates are low right now, and the basement that I fought so hard against in the beginning will in all likelihood become a welcome source of income, as we are going to put in a suite to help pay down the mortgage.

Thankfully, we've been blessed with a good builder, which was one of our biggest concerns about building. Unfortunately the pre-fab company we were dealing with has turned out to be a bit of a dud. If we had to do it all over again, we would hire this particular contractor to stick-frame the house rather than do pre-fab, as this method of construction has saved us neither time nor money (quite the opposite, actually). The upside is, if we hadn't used them we never would have met our builder, and besides doing a bang-up job on our house, he and his crew have become good friends to us as well.

And that's about it. Next on my list: putting up a deer fence up so I can get the garden started!


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