Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I am fiery hot with anger

I wish I had more news to share. This process has been so painfully slow that I want to scream, or cry.. or both. I know we will have a home when this is all done, but right now that feels soooo far away that I can’t even imagine it.

Anyways.. FYI, I’m not in a good calm mood today. So please excuse my frustration.

This has just been delay after delay. So, the foundation was re-done late October, but there was another error made by the foundation crew—they left an air vent in the bottom of the foundation on one side, meaning water can seep into our crawl space from the surrounding ground. We are STILL waiting for the foundation guy to come back to get it done. I mean seriously—it’s been OVER a month.. WTF is the hold-up dude? Can you not just patch it with concrete to get it done??

Last week Graham and I had our breaking point. Graham and I usually balance each other out. We have a very nice symbiotic relationship where when one of us gets stressed, the other is calm.. But not last week. We built off each other’s stress and finally decided to email our project manager with Lexar. We have not heard a word on when the framers were scheduled, when the foundation guy was coming back, or even a general completion date for the house. We have not even met our new project manager at all. We don’t have the amended floor plans for a slight change for our storage room. I have been trying to arrange a new tile floor set-up for over a month, and a color change of bathroom cabinets.. and I’m the one who has to email and remind them to email me back.. Is it just me or is giving a week between emails being extremely lenient? In this digital age where we expect emails and texts back right away, a week is more than enough time to respond. So, we sent a firm and frank email to our project manager describing our frustrations and lack of communication.

To our project manager’s credit, he called us right away after receiving this email. It was 8:30 at night on a Tuesday, so that was unexpected. He said that the email blindsided him because he thought he had communicated with us regarding the hold-up with the framing crew. Surprise—NO, he didn’t let us know the framing crew may take a while to get out to our house. That really upset me, and it was quite insulting to not be notified of potential delays.. especially when the delays affect our house’s building schedule right now. We feel like the red-headed stepchild of our Lexar office, because it feels like we are being neglected. WE are not the ones who have made errors or caused delays. Anyways, he apologized and emailed us an update the next day.. but really, it was damage control because we were still both very upset.

Phew. Now that I’ve updated you on the negative.. here’s the positive: our foundation has been backfilled and the footing drains have been installed (although both of these were delayed due to the snow--in November--when the machines got snowed in). Our retaining wall has been built. We haven’t been able to take pictures of it because of the rain and our schedules. Our dirt guy is seriously the best. If you have excavating needs, Steel Justice with Justice Construction in Graham, WA, is awesome. He is honest and hard-working. We highly recommend him. We showed up at our house on Wednesday night last week before Thanksgiving, and he and his crew were putting up the retaining wall in the dark, the mud, and the rain. He made some further recommendations for the wall and for soil stabilization for our slopes. I will definitely take some pictures this weekend when we can see it in the light.

Our fire hydrant was installed a few weeks ago. The great and very petty thing is that none of the people that will buy the lots around us will be able to use it for fire code credits for building their new houses. It’s my $8K hydrant, thank YOU very much.

Our framers are set to come next week.. hallelujah. I wonder if they’ll be delayed too, but hey, the weather has been dry on and off for the past 3 days. So, hopefully they’ll get finished with their house now and move on to ours. I watched this framing video on YouTube and I got super excited because our house will actually start to look like a house! Our excavator plans to lay more quarry spalls past our construction entrance because the rain has been relentless over the past month and our lot is now pretty muddy (no standing water though—woohoo!). The rain in the PNW has not bothered me as much as it has now because of the house building project. I literally prayed on Sunday for the rain to back off a bit, and much to my surprise, it has!

I hope to have more positive posts in the future, but I’m just here wallowing in my misery and anger. Maybe it’s because I ate a protein bar and Granny Smith apple for breakfast—super lame.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The good, the bad, and the ugly..

One thing Graham and I always ask each other on our conversations.. what do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news?

We almost always ask for the bad news first, so I'm going to do the opposite to mix it up. I do apologize for the lack of blogging. I just started my new job early last month, so I've been all over the Puget Sound area training in various clinics. I'm getting used to a slightly longer commute, working out in the morning, and preparing my breakfasts and lunches. Also, with my change in job, I'm talking more and more throughout the day (I'm not really a big talker), and walking way less, so I come home kind of emotionally exhausted but physically bound up with energy. Anyways, on to the home update..

The Good:
--Our foundation footings were inspected and poured the third week of September. It was a huge relief to finally get something solid in the ground.

--The foundation was inspected and poured the last week of September. No issues with the county.

--We finally got temporary power at our property (the foundation guys had to use a generator for their tools).

--We picked out our finishes and everything the first week of September without major arguments surprisingly.

This is our interior color: Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray
Image result for mindful gray

These are our exterior colors by Sherwin Williams:

Main Siding:  Waterloo
Image result for waterloo sherwin williams

Accent Siding in the Gables/Shakes: Tavern Taupe
Image result for Tavern Taupe

Trim: Gossamer Veil
Image result for Gossamer Veil

Kitchen Cabinets:
Procraft shaker-style in espresso (sorry to disappoint all of you white cabinet kitchen fans!). In case you're wondering, we did pick out a white/gray quartz for the counter tops..
Image result for Procraft shaker-style in espresso

Kitchen backsplash:
Subway tile in Dorian Matte

This subway tile design in kitchen
Image result for subway tile designs in kitchen basket

Laminate flooring in hallways, kitchen & entryway:
evoke "rebecca" in wide plank

Shaw carpet in bedrooms: Color 501
Image result for shaw carpet color 501

3-panel shaker doors
Image result for 3 panel shaker style interior doors

Outdoor Lanterns:

Front door (we're not painting it--we're going to stain it a natural wood color kind of like in the picture). The glass on the door will not be separate, but it will be privacy glass.
Image result for s601xc fiberglass door with chord glass dentils

Not pictured: quartz kitchen counter tops, vinyl flooring in laundry, tile flooring in bathrooms, tile shower in master, subway tile backsplash in bathrooms, sinks, exterior Hardie plank siding with shakes, exterior stone veneer (seriously--how could I not take a picture??), etc..

The Bad:
--After the foundation was poured, our excavator met with Graham to prepare for backfilling and they both thought, HMMM, this doesn't look right. The vents for the crawlspace are too low, so where are we going to put all of this dirt? So, we made a call to our builder, and they said, no, that's the code for vents and foundation. Graham insisted that something was wrong. So, we brought up the plan that we were supposed to have a 4' foundation with 2' pony walls in the front. Our construction manager said, no, we don't do 4' walls. So, we showed him the foundation plan that he himself had made, and the $13K (!!!) charge for the 4' foundation walls. Apparently, the builder made the plan but the subcontractor didn't follow it, which would've given us 2' foundation, 4' pony walls on top.. which would've looked freaking stupid. SOOOOO, they admitted their mistake, and had to send our plan to engineering. The 2 options were as follows: bulldoze the entire foundation to pour it all in one layer, or have engineering figure it out to avoid bulldozing the foundation but still have 2 layers of foundation that are stable.

--The builder put it through engineering, who figured out they had to jackhammer out the old vents, drill holes in the original foundation, and put rebar through the holes. This has all put us back another MONTH. We are waiting for the foundation re-inspection today (YAY--I just got the notification that we passed!), with the plan for the foundation guys to place the forms and pour the remaining concrete later this week.

--Our temp power pole failed its first inspection, so then it took L&I another full week to get out there again. Lesson learned: pass the first inspection always.

The Ugly:
--Well, the guys working at our Lexar office were unhappy with their situation (I don't blame them--having to tell 15+ customer they now owed $24K+ would suck), so the construction and salesman left their jobs within the past month.. but luckily, not really leaving us in a bind (other than the foundation situation).
--Here's where the "ugly" comes in:

  • The finishing options at Lexar were a little disappointing to say the least. Luckily, the cabinets weren't a let down, as they had the exact finsh and style we liked.. but they told us at the time that having a different color cabinet in the bathrooms (I want white in the bathrooms) was an upgrade, even though they would be the same style. 
  • The quartz choices were just ok--we already paid more for that upgrade, but they had even more upgraded styles for more $$$ (which of course were better, but we weren't going to pay even more!).
  • They literally ONLY had subway tile for the kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. They didn't even have upgraded backsplash options. 
  • Their vinyl selection was acceptable (we are getting it in the laundry room only), but still, we didn't like any of it. I foresee us putting in tile in our laundry room one weekend in the future..
  • The floor tile selection was not good. you could only get it in the 18" square option in vague beige/gray colors, which honestly is a bit outdated. I like the rectangle options, including the ones that look like wood and/or linen. So, we paid for the tile and installation already, so if we just substitute the floor we really want, that'll help us get our dream bathroom. Having them install blah floors, and then taking them out in 5 years would be a waste of time and money. What would you do? These are the finishes we're thinking of for bathroom tile floors:
This is my favorite tile that looks like linen. Not as trendy as the wood-looking tiles, but just as beautiful.
Image result for rectangle linen tiles

I also love the wood-grain look, but I may go for the linen-looking tile in the bathrooms just because they were my first love.
Image result for rectangle wood tiles
All in all, I think our home will now be finished in April/May.. Please Lord no longer than that. I can't take this crappy townhouse any longer!!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mo money.. Mo problems..

This was me two weeks ago. Literally.

Our foundation was dug out at the beginning of August, based on measurements made by our construction manager. He marked out the corners, and our excavator dug out the foundation. Then, Graham met with our builder to mark out the foundation corners. Our builder said, "this won't work".. the second time he's said that. So, Graham drove out to the engineering firm that did our site plan, and talked with the engineer face-to-face about the slope, the foundation, and adjustments needed for our site prep. But, our excavator wasn't comfortable with the foundation being poured without confirmation from a surveying firm.

And so, that day when I heard we needed a surveyor, I laid down on our carpet with my face down and legs in the fetal position. You see, surveyors don't come cheap. Depending on the scope of the project, it can be several thousand dollars. When we initially got a quote from a surveyor, it was $5K to stake out the property corners, and to mark out the clearing limits and open space. Hmm, we said, no thanks. We were under the impression that a surveyor would be at least a thousand dollars.. Again.. more money out of our bank (and this was AFTER our builder told us our price was going up on our home by $24K). I just couldn't handle another delay and additional cost.

BUT, the good news was that there is a local surveying company in Gig Harbor that is family-owned and operated. Aspen Land Surveying was recommended to us by a future neighbor, and we also know one of their employees from church. We called them up, they gave us an extremely fair price, AND they were done by the end of the week. I would highly recommend them if you have surveying needs in the Kitsap, Pierce, or Mason county areas.

See the red mark at the bottom? That's where the builder marked the corner of the foundation.

Anyways, so while it was an extra expense we didn't originally budget for (goodbye to part of the contingency fund for our construction loan!), it corrected the foundation layout (the angle was off by about 5-6 feet in one area!), and it put our minds at ease. So, Graham met with our builder AGAIN (making this the 3rd time) to make sure the dimensions were correct. And, believe it or not, he said the foundation wouldn't work because the foundation would have to be greater than four feet tall.. Anything more than four feet tall would require extra engineering, time, money, etc.. I just about died when Graham told me the news. Luckily, they were able to work it out with an additional small step in the foundation and two-foot pony walls (I really don't know what those are). So, our excavator should be finishing the foundation dig this weekend, as well as trenching for power and water.

Getting power to your house is the worst. Luckily, we have underground power at our property already.. so a trench just has to be dug to within two feet of the power source. Then, the electrician has to run the power from a temporary power pole into the trench. Then, the state (or county, I'm not sure) has to inspect to make sure it's within code parameters. Then, the power company has to connect the last two feet from the trench into the power source. And, somewhere in all this mess, the trench has to be filled with dirt. Literally, we are coordinating between our builder, our excavator, the electrician, the power company, the county, the excavator again, and then our builder again. I am exhausted. It's a stress circus of phone calls, texts, and emails.

So, last night, we went to the lot to go measure out the changes needed in the foundation, and I had to use garden shears to attack any remaining roots or branches sticking out from the ground. My forearms kind of hurt today. The kids were just filthy from playing in the dirt. We stopped by our future neighbors house (did we mention we have three future neighbors that are all young families building homes down the street?), and we struck a deal. We had some huge logs (cedar, pine, etc) that we needed to get rid of, and they were too big for us to cut through.. So, our neighbor took our logs this morning, and they are letting us borrow their industrial drying fans for our drywall and stuff. Win win. Always a good solution. We let strangers and co-workers come on our property to cut and take a giant amount of wood home, and some people freaking trashed the place. One person left a broken bike, others left melon rinds, and some of them trampled our silt fence for construction and didn't put it back. Craigslist people, man...

All in all, we are feeling an extreme urgency and anxiety to get our foundation INTO the ground. We don't want to get any further price increases, and we REALLY want the roof on before the rain starts. We have had such a dry summer up here in Seattle, and now it's just been wasted with delays and such on our house. But, nobody else feels the urgency that we do to start the house! It's maddening, and yet, par for the course..

To end on a good note, I have Wednesday off this upcoming week to complete new job paperwork (my last week at the hospital!), and so Graham and I are meeting with our builder to make selections for our house. This means, floor, carpet, siding, stone, tile, etc. We are SO excited. I'll try to take pictures to give you an idea of what things will look like.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is the home building post I DIDN'T want to write..

If you know me beyond this blog, you know I don't put people on blast normally. I *usually* don't enjoy fighting with people online, and I try not to post a lot of negativity on my social media. I don't really do negative reviews on Yelp, either, although I do understand the necessity of truth telling from people. However, I think negativity tends to be more contagious than positivity, and when all you can think about is the bad stuff, you forget all of the good stuff.

With that being said, Graham and I are not happy with our builder. Remember why we said we signed a contract with Lexar of Tacoma back in November? Because the base price of the home was going to increase by $25-30K over the next few months! So, we rushed into it before we were truly ready. We were planning to wait for two years after buying the land to save up more money, but then the price of the home was so low it was smarter to just go for it.

So, we've had a pretty good experience so far with our Lexar office. They've been busy, but have communicated well about their delays. They have been forthcoming about some of the issues they have been having with their builds due to labor and supply shortages. We were thrilled to be SO CLOSE to pouring our foundation (I mean like literally, it could be a week away at the most).

And then, I got an email asking for my phone number so the construction manager could call me. Hmmm, not a good sign. We had a brief conversation that the corporate office was making them increase the base price of the home. We were told the increase of the price was based on how long ago we signed the contract and how close we were to pouring the foundation. When I asked how much so I could be mentally prepared, I was told the info would be in the email later that day. So, no help there. Graham and I were upset, but then we got the email that night around 9 PM, that the cost of the home would go up by $24,000. We could pay out of pocket (yeah sure), or get a letter from our lender for the extra funds (not happening either).

Graham and I could NOT sleep that night. I mean, here we are, $40K down already, we just closed on our loan a few weeks prior, and we have a giant hole in the ground.. and now they're asking for more money! They justified this huge increase in cost by the clause in their contract that if your foundation is not poured within 60 days of signing the contract, they can increase the price. We were initially very concerned about the language in the contract, but we were assured by the salesman that they would not increase the cost. Apparently, this same clause is used by other "on your lot" builders as well, so Lexar isn't the only one who can screw you over. I mean seriously, 60 days to get your foundation poured from signing the contract? That's freaking impossible. We didn't get our finished plans until four months past the signing date, so only then could we get our site plans, construction loan, and permits. Everything literally couldn't come together until July.. EIGHT months after we signed the contract.

They told us that 14 other families are in the same position as us.. which was reassuring, but not really.. because we know the pain and anger that they were feeling. Graham had a long talk with the salesman the next day, calling him a liar and a bad person for telling us months ago that they wouldn't increase their prices. I thought that was a bit extreme and mean.. until I heard what the other families said to them. Many people threatened to take their business elsewhere, somebody threatened to burn their office down, and somebody else brought up bringing their gun into their office to shoot them (which isn't so funny nowadays). So, I think their reactions were a bit more extreme than Graham's, and I didn't feel as bad.

So, over the next few days, we weighed our options: taking our business elsewhere, changing our house plan, and/or getting rid of some of our additions. We were hoping that the corporate office would be willing to take a hit off their profits and just increase our price by $10K, but no such luck. However, the construction manager and salesmen worked hard to present a couple of changes to our plans. We do have to give them some credit because they aren't the owners of this location/franchise, and this mandate came from the top down.. and they're the ones who had to deal with the hate and backlash from their customers. They proposed some things to save $12K like: changing the pitch of the roof, changing some of the cabinets and trim, getting rid of some of the smart home features, and replacing the original recessed lights with dome lights (not ok with that one--I hate boob-shaped lights hanging down from the ceiling). We accepted most of the changes, but we had some ideas of our own..

--We are getting rid of the wood-burning stove and the stone behind it. That's $7K.
--We can get rid of some of the recessed lights we added to the plan.
--In extreme measures, we can get rid of the tiled master shower and the full height tile backsplash in the master bathroom, but we really don't want to..

Anyways, we meet with them tomorrow to discuss some of the changes and issues. We will owe them money, but we hope not more than $5K. Like I said before, this SUCKS, but the cost-changing issue is not only limited to Lexar.. so for those of you who are considering building your own home with one of these "on your lot" builders, beware! And, we all have watched enough HGTV to know enough that any custom home will have budget and timeline issues. It's not solely limited to these builders or the Seattle area. We are grateful for the construction manager's and the salesmen's efforts to helping still build our dream, but it doesn't really make me happy to pay more out of pocket when I'm already stressing about the budget.

Lastly, Lexar, if you are reading this.. I don't fault you for trying to make a profit. I know you're not a non-profit organization and don't build houses for charity. But seriously, don't try to tell me that you're "not making a dime" off my house. You are raising my price to the current base price for my home.. so if that were true, you wouldn't be making a dime off any of the other houses that you are currently under contract to build. So, if you weren't in it just for the money, I would've expected a small increase on the base price of my home, or I would've expected to see a bigger across-the-board cost increases on your other customers' homes and your website as well. So seriously, don't try to placate me with that empty phrase. K thanks.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sometimes it's the BIG things..

Graham and I often make big life changes all at once, like when I graduated from grad school, got a job, and moved up to the Puget Sound area from Portland all in one month. We also bought a house, moved to a new area, Graham started his career, and he had to move to Virginia all in another month's time.

Now, I've been thinking about building a home for almost a year now, when I saw land for sale in our area.. so this wasn't really a rash decision by any means. But now, we are building our home, we closed on our construction loan, and I got a new job! Woohoo!

To my followers that don't know my life story, I started on the path to becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD) 15 years ago in college. A lady from my hometown who was an RD tried to convince me not to be an RD: low pay, no respect, people and doctors don't listen to you, blah blah. I said, I don't care.. and away I went. And then I started working as an RD, and I thought to myself, I should've listened.. Really, being a Dietitian isn't a horrible job. But after a while, money can be a motivating factor to get a better paying job/career.

So, I started working to getting certifications to improve my skills and up my pay. In October 2012, I took a test to become a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC), which covered my continuing education credits for 5 years and got me a 75 cent/hr raise. It is nice having the extra letters behind my name, but they mean nothing to anybody other than Dietitians (although other medical professionals can get their CNSC credentials too). Then in August of 2015, I decided to bite the bullet and take a test to become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). I thought it'd be better to study for the exam when I planned to get pregnant compared to after having 2 kids. I'm so glad I took (and passed) the exam when I did because it would've been insane to study with a baby. I got a $1.50/hr raise with my CDE, which was partially my motivation to taking the exam.

Another motive for taking the exam was increasing my skills and improving my ability to get hired somewhere else. As a clinical dietitian in a hospital, I have to work weekends and holidays, which BLOWS. I've worked at least 3 Christmas days in the hospital. Also, outpatient dietitians and CDE's make more money. When I was in college and bright-eyed, money didn't mean a thing, but now.. it does.

When we initially looked at how much house we could afford, I did several analyses on building a house in 1, 2, or 4 years. We initially decided on waiting 2 years, but then we had to jump the gun to save $30K on the base home price. So, we didn't have as much money to put down as we would've liked. Also, we had to reduce our sale price of our home by $11K for the roof and need for outdoor painting. Lastly, we did not plan on having to pay PMI on our construction loan. So, we kind of overextended ourselves on our monthly loan amount.. and things were going to be TIGHT in the upcoming home building months.

And then, I heard there was a CDE job opening in a bigger city closer to our house, which would pay more. I know several people who work there, so I had some insider details. I went through 2 interviews that went well, and they offered the job to me a few days after. And guess what.. the increase in pay will be enough to cover the increased expenses for the construction loan. We really have been so blessed, and I'm excited at the new prospects and experiences my job will bring.

We look forward to more big changes in our lives: new house, new job, and air conditioning (it has been HOT and awful here in Seattle this week).

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Big Sigh of Relief

Well, I have not updated this blog or even thought about it over the past month. We have been all over the place. Graham has been working 50-70 hour work weeks, I have been interviewing for different jobs (more about this later), and Carter's been at home for summer break. I am currently at home this week with Sadie while Carter is in Idaho with Graham's family. I get to play "stay at home mom" this week with the baby. It's Tuesday, and while I like waking up whatever time the baby gets up and working out whenever I want to, I'm kind of bored. In fact, even writing this blog is boring me. Anyways, we finally have had some forward movement on our house.

First, we had to work with our engineering company to re-orient the house with retaining walls around the areas of the home with large slopes. That took an additional $900 and 2 weeks to get it re-engineered. Fortunately, it was re-submitted and re-approved through the county quickly.

Then, we finally closed on our construction loan.. THREE months after putting in our application. Geez. That was a huge relief, as we were worried that things might fall through and then we'd be stuck with the bill. So, we finally put a big chunk of change down on our loan, and we gulped when we saw the monthly payments for our loan. Turns out, we're going to be house poor without a house.

We finally got word from the building review division at the county that our second-draft version of the playroom and storage wouldn't be approved. They apparently removed the door from the playroom to the storage room, but the county still considered it a "closet", so they wouldn't approve it. The building review guy literally quoted the dictionary for the definition of a closet. So, luckily, Lexar expedited the plans to remove the wall entirely from the playroom. I wanted the storage entrance to come from the utility/laundry room, but that particular change in walls would need more time in drafting to be completed.. so we just removed the walls to get it approved by the county. I plan to work with Lexar to get the walls back up, and hopefully have the entrance from the laundry room instead.

So, we met with our builder and excavator today to informally mark out the foundation limits. It took a bit longer than previously thought, as our house was now at an angle. One issue was that we didn't clear as much of the land as we needed to. So, our excavator had a little more work to do prior to digging out the foundation. Hopefully, he plans to dig out the foundation this week. Then, it's on to the water, power, and then the foundation!!

One bugger that is holding back our building permit is the freaking fire hydrant. We need to have a receipt of payment for it prior to our building permit is issued. So when we contacted our water company, we were told it may take a while to get it through engineering. So after two weeks, when we contacted them again about putting a down payment on the hydrant, a customer service rep told us that our water company may pay for the $8K hydrant themselves. What the what? was our response. So now, we have no idea what's going on, and the customer service manager has been on vacation for over two weeks. As soon as we get this taken care of, we can get our building permit and get things done!

So, talking with our construction manager today, we were given a finish date of 6-7 months from when the foundation is poured, which is what we were expecting/hoping. Apparently, there is a major labor shortage going on in the Seattle area right now with all the crazy growth and construction... which is spilling out into residential projects like ours. So, delays will be expected for sure. All we hope for is a home that's done right around February of next year, which is when our current lease is done. Oh, and I found out that Lexar Homes (at least the Tacoma office) knows about my blog. **Hi Lexar!!** Don't worry, I'll be as objective and honest as I can, realizing that delays and mistakes are made with every builder. It's inevitable.

Well, we will see what will happen over the next month. Like I said, I've been interviewing at different places (nothing bad happening at work--just different opportunities have opened up locally), so I may have good (or sad) news soon!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Delays and Delays and Delays and Delays...

Ok, so here's the home building update... and mind you, this is coming from a point of frustration.

We still have not closed on our construction loan. The appraisal was due June 2nd. Then, the appraisal was delayed because there was a death in the appraiser's family. Then it was due June 14th. Then, it was delayed for another unknown reason. It is now June 28th. We are still waiting. We initially applied for the construction loan over two months ago. We are waiting to give them our money. I'm not paying extra interest right now, so I'm glad, but still... this is the worst.

We met with our excavator three weeks ago to go over the plans for clearing the land. We were not expecting him to be able to start until July or August. We were extremely surprised and excited when he told us that he would start clearing the land the next week, on June 12th or so. We were not ready for that. To prepare the land, the boundaries, and the clearing limits, we spent that whole Saturday at the property. We had a metal detector for the iron rods at the property corners, we had stakes and green tape for the clearing boundaries, and we had to buy a machete to get through the thick bushes. How weird was it that Graham went to Home Depot at 9 PM on a Friday night to buy a machete? He had to ask for help to find it, and the employee kind of gave him a weird look. Graham's response was, "My kids won't go to sleep." I told Graham that that employee was probably looking for his picture in the news the next day because that was a super creepy thing to say.

Looking out to the street from where the driveway *may* be (see below).

Side yard view.

So after all this fuss and work, we showed up to the property all excited to see the land transform from a garden of Eden to a big mound of dirt.. and soon, our hopes were dashed. Our boundary tape was still up, and not a darn thing was done. A few days (and drives to the property) go by, and still nothing was done. We finally put in a phone call to our guy, and his excavator broke.. So again, he told us maybe the next week... Repeat the following unfulfilling visits and broken dreams.. And then we got a call on Saturday the 24th that our guy was clearing the land and he wanted us to check in with him. Surprise! Best day ever. We were finally able to see what it'll look like not covered in trees.

The side yard view.. Do you see that upward slope? Also, we requested the cedar in the foreground to stay, but I'm pretty sure we're going to have to get rid of it.  :(

The remains of the trees. This is the back/side yard of our property.

So then, our excavator said Lexar should come and stake out the foundation so he can figure out where to trench for power, water, etc. So we planned to meet with Lexar on Tuesday June 27th. Then, I got the news back from our county that the dimensions were wrong on the site plan from our engineering company. The county also wouldn't approve our building plans because the playroom had a closet, and they took it to mean it would be used as a bedroom.. and since it doesn't have a window, it had no point of egress. We decided to move the door to the closet to the utility room to fix that problem. So just a couple of things to fix.. no biggie, right?

Next, we met with Lexar on Tuesday on my day off. Unfortunately, Graham couldn't take off work, so it was me and the kids. It sucked because Lexar had to go off the site plan from our engineers, which had the wrong dimensions. It wasn't my fault, but I was super embarrassed and annoyed that something simple could make things go so wrong. We were able to muddle through the site plans and get the correct dimensions from the construction plans, and mark out where the foundation would go from there. We noticed something bad, though..

Big problem. HUGE. The foundation area was on a super sloped area, meaning that:
1) The foundation would have to be ginormous (and go through special engineering) because it'd have to match the 10 foot difference in slope from side-to-side, or
2) You'd have to dig out and severely level out the foundation and lot, with retaining walls near the side and the back due to the slopes.

So, we are back in this spot where we don't know what we're going to do. One big issue is that there is an easement (utilities and road) on our lot for 30 feet in.. and the setbacks are bigger for easements (25 feet) compared to side yards (10 feet). So, there is a very limited area where we can actually put the house--despite the lot being over 3/4 of an acre!! Turns out we would've been better off with a 2-story house, but we were really trying to build our forever home....

Yeah, this sucks. We are currently in talks with our builder, excavator, and engineering company to get a better plan out there. We will see what happens.

I am fiery hot with anger

I wish I had more news to share. This process has been so painfully slow that I want to scream, or cry.. or both. I know we will have a hom...