Progress 1/20/2017

This week’s progress has been slow-going. The mud is back (it’s been warm) and it is hard to get up to the house. We’re also finishing up the tedious work in the Master bedroom and bath where the walls and ceilings meet with the difficult cuts and additions where the heavy timbers go through the walls/ceilings. That involves a lot of figuring and dry-fitting.

Now the drywall is up in the bedroom and going up in the bath (the special purple kind). We added a small wall in the shower like I found in one of my inspiration photos:


Carrick putting up drywall in the shower. Note the new wall in the opening.
Mark doing his figuring to get the spaces right in between the beams and walls.


Drywall up in the Master.
The view out the Master windows. This is facing down Blacks Woods Road if you are familiar with our area.
Built-in ironing board in the Master closet. I got the idea for this from Hometime.

I watch A LOT of HGTV, Hometime, and This Old House, along with reading magazines, blogs, Instagram and Pinterest to cull down what I wanted in this house. I keep lots of boards on Pinterest if you are interested in my thought process. It helps me a lot to be able to see everything visually in one place and to keep track of where I found items online and their prices. I also keep binders with inspiration from magazines and other sources, along with another binder of the actual items I have already purchased for the house, so that I have instructions, measurements and other important information all in one place.

The foyer. The first door on the left is a small closet, the next door is the powder room, and the next is the way down to the basement.
The Pantry/Laundry room. All the cabinet cases are put together.

I had to move a few cabinets around to fit the area that changed from the original plans. One of the 15″ deep cabinets on the right will be moved to our Master closet and replaced with a 15″ x 24″ to fit in the space. So I did pretty good, only have to replace one and the extras were used somewhere else!

I got into a rhythm on putting these together, so as I went along it got easier and quicker. I love how sturdy they are and how I could easily change them to what I wanted. I have them in my current kitchen and they have help up very well!

The tall cabinet goes in the Pantry to hold all my cleaning supplies, vacuums, and other stuff. The other cabinets are put together with the exception of the island.

I have to wait because Mark wants to tape and mud the seams now before I put them in. So we have to move them around a bit. I will be working on painting the doors and putting down the backboard on the floor for the tiles.

This weekend will be warm, but with the chance of rain. I think the plan is to do some facia work and maybe even start some of the siding on the front if the weather cooperates! If not, we have plenty to do on the inside!

Progress 8/25/2016

I see that somehow it has been a month since I lasted posted any progress. Time flies…

Anyhow, we had a lull in progress for a while but now things are picking back up again. The original building crew is gone and now we are back to building by ourselves. Almost all the windows are in, the front porch is taking shape, the roof is going on and other mechanicals will be installed next week. We also finally got power and cable to the house! Next up will be putting in the doors, working on the decking and making about a thousand decisions on lighting placement and interior finishes. I also need to get the siding ordered!

Front of the house with the porch and roofers working
The kitchen looking into the Pantry/Laundry
Windows all installed in the back of the Great Room!
Master Bedroom
View from the Great Room into the Dining Room and Kitchen
The Tower/Foyer area
Tower area on the second floor
Back view of the house
Closeup of the hewn log veneer that will go in the Great Room

From the photos, the house looks so huge. In reality it is big, but not too big to feel like a cavern. Most of the rooms are just the right size. We are excited to get things moving again and the weather has been cooperative for the most part.


How we got here

Bob Timberlake Studio – Hearthstone

I thought I should tell the story of how we got started on our house journey many years ago. While living in the Chicagoland area, Mark and I decided we wanted to build a house since we couldn’t find anything that we liked. After looking at a lot of plans, we came to like this one from Hearthstone, but the actual building never took place because we couldn’t find land cheap enough and we also wanted to move back to the Pittsburgh area.

When we moved back, my dad found us an old farm on 24 acres that had an old house on it and we thought we’d fix it up and just live there while we were building the new house. Too bad it didn’t work out that way! The old house needed a total overhaul that took 10 years to finish. So now we were finally ready to start.

I started looking at log homes companies again and I still liked what Hearthstone had to offer. I found a series of plans that they had from MossCreek. That lead me to look at their selections in depth and I found “The Wedge”.

© 2016 MossCreek

By total coincidence, found out that their offices were located in Knoxville, TN and I was going to be there for one of the twins’ competitions. I met with them and talked about what we wanted in our design. After that, we decided to go with “The Wedge” and started to make changes to the stock plan to reflect how we wanted the layout. I changed the location of the screened in porch, along with no longer splitting up the laundry room and pantry (now one room). I’ll show you that in the future.

The Wedge Main Floor

After deciding on the plan, we had to finalize what builder we were going to use. After looking at several and going over costs, we decided on Hearthstone because they we willing to work with us to keep cost down and we also now had decided that we didn’t want a totally log home. Neither of us like the “heavy wood” look, and decided only to use log veneer in the Great Room. Other parts of the house will have reclaimed wood and drywall, and the Great Room will also have large wooden scissor trusses.

First Floor Plan – Skuse Wedge

Here is what the plan looks like after we make our changes. I took a lot of time and thought into what would work best for our family. I got the idea for the combo pantry/laundry from Better Homes and Gardens last year. It was a lot of back and forth, but I think that we got it right!

Progress – 05/12/2016

Front of the house
Rear of the house — Master Bedroom
Front Porch area/Kitchen
Master Bedroom Interior
Mark in the Kitchen

We’ve been really lucky this week weather-wise. Most of the rain predicted for us went right around the site! More of the panels went up in the stair tower area and bracing was put in for the windows and doors. Interior load-bearing walls are also going in. I don’t think it has progressed as quickly as the crew would like since they had told us they’d be done this week. There is still another whole floor and all the roof to put on, along with the porch and some of the windows. But progress is progress!

I will write in my next post about how we got started on our housebuilding journey. And don’t be a stranger, I’d love to hear what you think — leave a comment!

Progress – 05/06/16

Progress Wednesday evening
Progress on Thursday
The side/back view
Friday Progress – Great Room
Friday Progress – the Master Bedroom and Bath

We’ve had quite a bit of rain this past week, so progress is slow. We’re also waiting for more truckloads of house parts, due to arrive on Tuesday. They have walls up on the first floor and just have the large great room window section and the stairwell section to go before they move onto to 2nd floor. They think they’ll be done this week, but I am not as optimistic. There is rain in the forecast everyday this week.

We worked this weekend on one of the wall corners Mark wasn’t happy with, installed OSB on the back part of the walkout basement and part of the skirting where the trusses meet the floor and 1st floor. He also installed the strongbacks in the trusses in the basement. It was pretty nice weather-wise, but I have a bunch of new splinters in my hands.


Work Continues

SIP panels going up for kitchen and dining room

The crew got some of the panels set yesterday and it is beginning to take shape. All of the exterior walls are constructed of SIP panels so it should go pretty fast. Our construction is known as a “Hybrid home” made out of SIPs, trusses, large wooden beam trusses (in the great room) and conventional interior construction. We went this route because of cost and energy efficiency. We didn’t want a total log home so we will have log veneer in the great room, weathered wood in the stairwell tower and a mix of drywall/wood in the rest of the house. Our home provider is Hearthstone Inc. out of Tennessee. We’ve been working with them for years on trying to get just what we want.

corner of the side/front of the house


Front of the house: mudroom, pantry/laundry
The crane that lifts the panels in place
Checking out the windows

The Reps came today from Andersen and Home Depot to check the windows for any damage that happened during shipment. So far there was only one window that had a little damage that can be fixed, but nothing major like a broken window. They stand behind their product and if we find any issues down the road, they will fix them. So hopefully that will put that out of the panic mode for now. We had to rent a 40′ trailer to store all the windows in until installation! We thought there’d be room for other items as well, but that really isn’t the case. We have a garage full of doors, appliances, cabinets and furniture down at our current house and our basement is FULL of all the lighting, plumbing fixtures, rugs, and other treasures I have found in the past two years we’ve been waiting to build! At least that gave me lots of time to find bargains — I’ll share my secrets on that in a future post.

For now, the weather is holding. Hopefully we won’t get too much rain over the next week while they are putting the house together. We just got another truck in this morning with more panels and more supplies are set to come in soon.

Thanks for checking in!

Getting there!

It’s been a little while since I last posted, but we’re getting somewhere now. I didn’t have time to update because we have been very busy finishing up our end of the work before our building crew came in with the actual top two stories of our house. I was also in Atlanta for 5 days with the twins for their National Academic Games competition.

Having fun at the World of Coca-Cola

Let me show you the progress:

First inspection passes – plumbing under slab
Getting the trusses in
Pouring the concrete for the basement
Progress on the walkout
The elevator shaft…er, stairwell
Looking out of the basement
Getting closer to completion
Final touches and the crew starts!


We have a few smaller jobs to finish up for the crew, like build a support wall and install some support piers for out screened in porch off the side (near where the dirt bike is in the photo above), but we are getting there. If the weather would just cooperate and keep warm and dry we’d be great. That will be tonight’s job.

Next up for us is that tomorrow the Andersen rep is coming to check out all 40+ of our windows that we had issues with on delivery. We ordered them from Home Depot and they were unfortunately delivered by people that had no business delivering them, so they all need checked before installation for damage! Ugh. And there are some huge windows, some 10’+ tall! Hopefully it will all turn out well. It is just disheartening because we took our time with the order to make sure that they were exactly right before placing the order and now this happens.