Progress – 10/26/2016

OK, so it’s been two months since I updated! Things got hectic with back to school and everything that goes along with carting 3 boys around to all their events.

Steady progress has been made since the last time I checked in. The roof is on most of the house (with the exception of where the chimneys will go), all the doors are installed, the electric and plumbing are almost complete, large beams were installed in the Master Bedroom, and a whole bunch of other smaller jobs were completed. We are looking forward to our first inspection soon!

Here is the visual tour:

View of the house with the roof completed. (09/13/16)
The fireplace going in. Since all of our fireplaces are propane, they just need to be plywood boxes that we will apply the stone to. (10/4/16)
Large pine beams in the Master Bedroom and Bath – completed. (10/4/16)
Mark installing the beams. We had to use a pulley system with straps to get the very heavy beams in place. (9/25/16)
My bath tub installed in the bath. It is a wonder that it survived in one piece for as long as it has been sitting around the work site! (10/4/16)
Electric and heating going in the basement. (10/6/16)
Mudroom door installed.(10/16/16)
French doors to the screened in porch. These doors are 96″ tall. The open spot to the right of the doors will be a fireplace, and there will also be one on the porch.
Front door installed! (10/16/16)
Timber roof over the window in the basement. These will be covered with metal roofing. (10/10/16)


This is what happened to some of our beams during storage while we were constructing our house. Because they were wet, mildew grew on the beams. I tried about 15 different things to remove it, but nothing worked. Bleach was the only thing that removed it somewhat, but still not enough.
After a lot of research, Mark decided to purchase an electric planer. Even though it was expensive, it did the job much quicker and better than the previous attempts. No more black and hours of sanding/treating. (10/23/16)
Shot of the rear of the house. You can see the huge pile of shavings left behind after we planed some of the beams. Also note that the La Cantina door has been installed.

Next up on the schedule is getting the siding and soffit installed, insulation in the ceilings and partial basement walls, beams on the second floor ceiling, finishing up the HVAC so we can work in a warmer area since the weather has turned colder, painting the cabinet doors for the kitchen/pantry, installing the septic, gas and water, and about a thousand other things! I hope that the weather doesn’t turn too cold for a while.

And a big shout out to this guy for all the help he gives us. We couldn’t get as much as we do without his help.

Thanks for checking in!




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.


Progress 7/25/2016

Interior Framing, looking into Master Bedroom

We started the framing of the first floor last weekend. It went relatively quickly, except for all the extra figuring with the vaulted ceilings. We got all the framing completed there and then moved on to the stairs.

Interior Framing – looking from Dining into Kitchen


Interior Framing – Master Bedroom, closet and bath
Electric Service, waiting for hookup

It was interesting to get the wires from the house to the pole so that our house can be hooked up for service. It took about 250 ft. of large electric cable and a lot of horsepower to get the cables pulled through the pipe. The cable was slowly pulled through the pipe with a lot of pipe lube and the cable attached to a rope, which was then attached to the truck. Everything was hooked up on our end and inspected. Now we just have to wait until Dusquesne Light comes to hook it up to their system. Hopefully soon! It stinks to have to run everything off of a generator.

This past weekend we worked on framing the stairs, which took a bunch of figuring! None of the sets of plans we had were the same, so Mark had to figure out all the measurements, build the walls, and cut all the stringers. I have to say he did a really good job! Everything worked as he thought it would.

Second floor framing

Now we are moving on to the 2nd floor framing of the boys’ bedrooms and bathrooms. This is also time-consuming because of the vaulted ceilings here, along with beams that will be installed later.

Stairway to second floor

I realized that I didn’t take a photo of the stairs from the 1st floor, so I’ll have to do that.

Trying to keep the rain out during the storm

It wasn’t too long into the afternoon yesterday when it began to storm. We could still keep working, but it is hard because the roofing is not on yet and it leaks like a sieve!

Hopefully the roof will be put on soon. We’re just waiting on special order drip-edge (my fault — I wanted galvanized like the gutters).

The valley during the rain storm
2nd Floor framing of the boys’ bedrooms and baths


Our crew is supposed to return this week, so hopefully we can get the roof on the front porch and all the windows installed, along with the new roof on the tower.

I’m still waiting on the bid for the siding and gutters, so after the roof is on we’ll move to buttoning up the outside so we can get working on the interior finishes.

I’ve completed finishing one set of doors to the porch and have 1/2 of the front door completed (stained and finished). It takes a while since there are so many steps to getting them done. I’ll have to remember to snap a photo of them.

Progress hasn’t been as fast the past two weeks because Mark started a new job and he’s still learning the ropes and going to training. But I think that we still have done pretty well.

Thanks for checking in!

Progress 07/01/2016

Radiant floor heating in the basement
Lots of late nights working ’til Midnight
More basement in floor heating
Mark’s beautiful piers
Making sure it’s straight and level
Windows are in and porch roof is up!
Wink putting up the trusses on the porch
Front and side — porch will be constructed next
View of porch from the driveway
Roof completed on the porch and shingles ready to go on
Back-filling has begun
group pig roast
Pig Roast #24 crew

Lots of progress since the last update! The house is totally under roof now and some of the windows have been installed. The past couple of weeks were a blur because we were under deadline to get the in-floor heating installed each night after parts of the concrete floors were poured in the basement. We had three consecutive nights where we worked until after Midnight to complete the job. But we made it, and the basement floor is complete.

Our crew was also scheduled to complete their job for our builder (Hearthstone), but they agreed to stay and help us finish up some of the harder items on our list, like installing the windows and the timberframe roof on the porch. We had some hiccups getting the lift here and work slowed a bit, but we caught up. The porch is built, the roof is on, windows got installed and back-filling has started.

Our crew has to go to Virginia for a job, but then they’ll be back to finish up the windows and redo our tower roof. The original trusses were wrong, so they will be replaced to make the tower as tall as it should be!

We got a much-needed break this past weekend during our 24th annual Pig Roast held in Corry, PA to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. Just look at the wonderful group that was there!

We’ll now put our attention to the shingle installation, final siding choices, porch construction, interior walls, electric installation to the house and a million other things! Thanks for checking in!

Progress 6/14/2016

Progress on the Great Room
Great Room Ceiling
Master Bedroom trusses
Pouring concrete for the porch footing
Working on laying block for the porch piers
Porch piers progress

The past two weeks seem to have been a blur at the job site. More of the roof was completed and the crew is getting to the end of their part of the job. Right now they are working on completing the roof over the Master Bedroom/Bath and the Tower stair area. We have been working on the piers for the screened in porch and getting the basement ready for the rest of the concrete flooring, which will start tomorrow. We are also waiting for our plumbing and footing inspections that will take place tomorrow.

Next up after that is getting the roofing on and the windows installed, along with back-filling the foundation so that we can have a weather-tight shell to get moving on the inside work.

Progress 05/31/2016

Front view of the house
Side view of the house
Inside view of second floor
Side view at back
Back view

As you can see, things have really been moving along! In the past week and a half they got the 2nd floor up and many of the roof rafters. This week I think most of the roof will be up and covered. The great room (shown in the photo above) will be more time consuming I think because it is all heavy timber rafters.

Over the Memorial Day weekend Mark, Carrick and I worked on finishing up the skirting around the first floor trusses, removing the forms from the last concrete pour, screeding and removing extra gravel from the basement to get more area ready for the next pour and just generally cleaning up the work site (which the crew keeps pretty clean). We also took time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom (Cade & Cole marched in the Freedom and Conway Memorial Day Parades).

Waiting in Conway to start the parade.

Our next steps are the get the footing poured for the porch supports, estimate the huge amount of stone we need to order, and get the house under roof so windows can be installed. All of my doors came in and it took me a while to finally decide on stain color. I also have all my appliances. The last purchase was the hood and blower for the stove that I bought on eBay. I will be glad to get all of these things installed that we have been storing for over a year!

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!