1st Floor Slab & Aerial Photography

Our first concrete pour of 2015 – the first floor slab and patios!  Here is a photo pre-pour, illustrating the rebar as well as the amount of forming required to create the back patios.


The back patio (on the furthest side from this photo) is approximately 12′ off of the ground level.  The bags were filled with gravel and then plywood was constructed as the exterior form for the concrete walls and slab.  Here is the patio after the concrete has been finished.

Back Patio

Here is an aerial photo of our property after the concrete pour, taken on January 19th.  We are now using the first floor as a staging-area for the materials we have to build the 1st and 2nd floor walls.

Aerial Photo

As you can see in the photo, we have already started setting the corners in place.




Basement Pour


We completed the concrete pour for the basement walls and the 1st floor deck.

IMG_7860  IMG_7863

The pour had been scheduled for Thursday September 18th, but we had to call it off because on Tuesday night at 3am, my water broke.  Our son was born on the 17th – and my amazing husband still pulled off the pour on the following Monday!


Here I am with our one week old baby, standing in front of the freshly poured basement!

Basement Progress

Instead of using a select fill material that would need to be compacted, we used gravel, which we then just needed a bobcat to place.  We trucked in 7 loads of gravel for backfilling the basement.


This weekend, we had special visitors, my Grandpa, aunt & cousin from Florida.  Grandpa was very intrigued and enjoyed talking to Austin about the house.


After completing the backfill, Austin began with laying out the basement walls.  He drilled & epoxied rebar dowels, laid the track, and erected the first corner!  He has also pre-assembled all the corners and a bunch of the wall pieces so that he can get more efficient production.


The basement is really starting to take form now.  All the materials in the center will eventually form the walls!  We have received quite a bit of interest from the neighborhood, wondering what the heck we’re building with this Styrofoam 🙂


Footings are officially formed, and as of last Wednesday, poured!IMG_7142

It took 3 weekends and several weeknights to perform the layout, forming, fastfoot installation, and rebar placement.  I am so proud of my husband for doing it all himself.

The footings for the basement are a level 5″ below the finished floor elevation.  The footings for the 1st level are purposely not level, instead they are simply 16″-24″ tall.  Stem walls will be installed next to bring the foundation to a level finished floor elevation, then the non-structural slab can be poured.

Since the subgrade for our house is solid rock, the footings will serve as a transfer point for the load directly bearing down on the walls.


Day 1 – Milling the Basement

Construction has officially started!!!  Ground-breaking May 19, 2014 – almost exactly 11 months after we first laid eyes on this property.


The Iron Wolf milling machine arrived on our property on Monday and began digging out our basement per the layout we had previously completed.  The depth of the hole varies as the natural slope of the land was factored into the plan for this basement.

hole collage

We have not received our permit yet, but it is expected back today so hopefully there are no issues.


Austin found a “souvenir” rock milling tooth – he was pretty excited about that and wants to somehow incorporate it into our house.

me with equip

We are just so excited to officially be “under construction”!

Surveying & Layout

This weekend, Austin & I did some surveying and did the layout of the building corners.  There was an established benchmark height in the center of our cul-de-sac which we transferred down to the manhole at the corner of our property.

The last time I did any surveying was during a mini-mester at A&M – the same mini-mester that Austin & I started dating.  We were in the same Surveying Course, and he took me to lunch one day!  It brought back fun memories!

layout collage

We had to buy a hammer drill to be able to put the stakes in the ground, since we are working in limestone.

layout 3

Now we have the layout ready so we can bring in earthwork contractors to dig the basement.  We submitted our application for permit yesterday…it’s finally coming together!

Bathtubs & Commitment Phobia



I started perusing the web for bathtubs for the master bathroom and quickly realized that while we had planned for a 72″ bathtub, with another 6″ for a ledge; we hadn’t realized that a 72″ whirlpool tub is actually only 46″ of sitting space when you consider all the sloping and such.  Fortunately, we could easily shrink the shower by a bit to gain more space for a bigger tub.  Now we have 84″ of space which will fit one giant bathtub!

The Master Suite Layout

The Master Suite Layout

Since we are both very tall people, I wanted the bathtub to be long enough to comfortably stretch out in.  I measured our apartment bathtub for comparison and found that it was around 52″ of sitting space.  Since this is a standard 60″ bathtub, it doesn’t have the same sloping as a whirlpool tub.  With the 84″ model I found, we will gain another 8″ or so, totalling 60″.  The sitting space I refer to is illustrated by the innermost circle in the specifications image below.

Whirlpool Bath Sizing

Whirlpool Bath Sizing

There will be a 4′ wide single-hung window which will be centered directly above the bathtub, a few inches above the bathtub.  I want to be able to enjoy the view while soaking in a bubble bath!

On another note, as mentioned earlier this week – we can finally see the “Finish” line (for Design, anyways — which really is the “Start” line for Construction!)  It’s both incredibly exciting and a bit terrifying to realize that we have reached this point.  It’s as if my mind is playing tricks on me, now that I know we can’t change anything drastic, I have the urge to go through the plans tooth-and-nail looking for things we could have done differently.  Alas, that’s typically how all my life decisions are, so I am at least used to it and know it’s not specific to this house.

We should have everything on our must-have checklist by Monday so we can submit for permit, finalize our construction loan, and get formal approval from the Neighborhood Architectural Committee.  Let’s do this!

What size would your “dream” bathtub be?  What do you actually have?

Checklist to Start Construction

We should be able to start construction in the next month, pending the following items:


  • Final Architectural Drawings *currently awaiting revision extending roof over back patio
  • Final Structural Drawings *waiting on Structural Engineer…ugh!
  • Permit Approval *application is complete…need above items to submit
  • Final HOA Approval
  • Final Loan Approval *need to submit final drawings, specs, and construction budget


  • Subcontractor Pricing for Sitework
  • Purchase Builder’s Risk/Liability Insurance
3D Structural Model

3D Structural Model

The First Floor

This is how the 1st floor is shaping up after our latest re-design due to misplaced sewer lines and rogue easements.

1st Floor

1st Floor

Is it obvious I love Christmas?  I had to make sure our layout would accommodate a Christmas tree!!  Also, I am hoping that we’ll be moved in by then.


1st Floor - 2


The 3D perspective helps me to really visualize how it’s going to look with our furniture and such.

We overlayed this on the site plan and we’re 5′ clear from the sewer line.  Now if the city would just give us official word that 5′ is enough!

Sewer lines, Easements, and Re-designs

We hit a speed-bump a few weeks ago.  Cautiously yet optimistically, I submitted a question to the City regarding a potential conflict we had noted with the sewer line on our property.

city lineWe realized that the corner of our garage (orange star) overlapped with the wastewater line (red).  However, the question in our minds was…why is the line  there?  Why wasn’t it installed within the easement (green)?

Well, nevermind the answer to why, because the City isn’t going to move the line.  Now the question becomes, how far away from this line does the corner of our garage need to be?

Since it’s taken over 3 weeks and we still have no answer from the City, we are re-designing with the assumption of a 5′ distance from the line.

And that’s why we shifted the top half of our floorplan to align with the far edge of our dining room.

snapshot level 1 changesThe blue indicates a shift, the red indicates minor changes to the original plan.

It’s not ideal, but fortunately, the changes aren’t too significant.  Here’s a snapshot of the new view of the kitchen.

kitchen view 1

A few of the most “significant” changes were the reduction in the depth of the garage; a new opening from the kitchen to the dining room; and the fact that you no longer walk straight thru the mud room to get to the garage.

Unfortunately, these changes all take time.  As you can see, all we have right now are sketches.  We’ll have to meet with the Architect to iron it all out and of course make these adjustments to all of the subsequent plans (roof, elevations, site, etc).

THEN…and I know I’ve been saying this for months…we’ll be ready to hire our Structural Engineer.  I am very glad we hadn’t already gone through the Structural process before this revision though!

What hiccups have you encountered in your life recently?  As a natural planner, it is always an exercise for me to adjust to these unexpected events!