Saturday, December 31, 2011

Moving right along...

We have a house!  Well, at least a basement, floor, and exterior walls!  The basement went in on a rainy Thursday.  It was a lot of fun to watch the crane set the walls.  It took the truck more time to get up our road than it did for the crew to set the walls.  The basement floor was poured the following week.

This past week, Dad came down to help Dan frame up as much as they could.  They were able to get the floor on and frame up all the exterior walls.  This was quite a feat for two guys in one week - especially with some weather issues.  We had a contractor out today to see about setting the trusses for us.  That would be impossible for just two guys! 

Sorry for the lack of updates lately!  We have been super busy with all this house stuff :-)  I hope to start blogging on a more regular basis in the new year - expanding the blog into homesteading topics.  It will be fun for me to use this as a creative outlet until we are moved in to the new house - which we are aiming for the end of May! 

We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2012!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One big hole!

Yep, that's the hole for our foundation!  Such a great surprise on Saturday - we had to meet our foundation man (FM) at 8 AM (although he didn't show up until 8:45) to discuss moving our house.  Due to the variance in the grade, the walls for the garage wouldn't be below grade.  Sooo, we ended up moving the house 30 feet to make it work out better.  We asked FM what the plans were and he indicated his guys were on their way with the excavator.  Much to our delight, we got to watch most of the hole being dug.  Kole was in H E A V E N!  He had so much fun!  The plan is to install the walls this week, plumbing this weekend, pouring concrete next week, and hopefully framing things up the week after Christmas!

We have water, too!  And Kole gave up his binky without a fight!  What a wonderful week it has been for us :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Where, oh where, could our water be?

Water - it's what has been on our mind all week.  The rain and drilling our well.  On Monday, things worked out better than planned, as the dozer was delivered for starting on the foundation.  The foundation contractor told our well guy to use it as he needed it.   They got the rig into place and the drilling commenced.  He hit water at 100 feet and 200 feet.   There was a problem, though.  Apparently there was some sort of horizontal crevice that the water was just leaking out of.  Ugh.  And unfortunately, we still had to pay for the drilling although there was no water to show for it.

Dan and the well guy got the truck moved out.  The well guy and his wife came back out to look for water.  They use an old method called dowsing, or divining.  , or water witching.  A y-shaped piece of wood (in their case, a piece of wild cherry) is held while the holder walks across where there is suspected water.  The rod, or stick, will "bend" towards the water.  They found a vein of water running across a lower meadow.  This is approximately 200 feet below where he drilled before, so we are hoping we avoid the crevice issue.  The dozer was utilized to build a road so that the drilling rig could easily get into position.  The well guy needed to fix a piece on his rig and plans to be out there tomorrow afternoon.  Keep your fingers crossed we find water!

Kole and I visited the Winter Farmer's Market today.  We got some meat for the month - we have committed to buying only local meat.  I even put in an order for a local ham for Christmas.  We think Kole just went through a growth spurt, on top of cutting his canines.  He all of a sudden seems taller and is much more pleasant to be around.  He was a bear this week (hence my lack of blogging!).  We are going to go to a local Christmas tree farm next weekend to get a real tree for our little apartment.  Kole's final Christmas present was ordered tonight and everyone else is done.  Christmas cards will go out tomorrow.  Cookies will be baked soon.  Oh, yea, and hopefully a house will be under roof!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When I set this blog up, it was meant to serve the purpose of journaling the building of our new house.  I have come to realize that we are not just building a house, but a home where we can raise our family.  A home where we can have free range chickens to provide us with all the eggs we could want.  A home where we can raise dairy goats and make all the cheese we desire.  A home where we can chase fireflies in the summer and build snowmen in the winter.  A home where we can pursue our passions - baking, wine making, knitting, gardening, hiking...I could go on really. 

An article in the Washington Post recently has really hit home with me:
I chose to study Chemistry at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  I enjoyed learning.  I am proud of my accomplishments.  Now, as a mom to an almost 2 year, I love being a stay at home mom.  I adore Kole and could not imagine not being with him during the day.  Yes, there are day cares in the area.  And yes, I could have pursued gainful employment after grad school.  But, I now realize that I would not have been happy doing that.  It is not something I am passionate about.  I have become passionate about homemaking and homesteading.  It makes me feel empowered to be able to provide for my family in a non-monetary way.

Because of that, I hope to expand this blog to include this passion - I hope to post about chickens, goats, knitting, baking, green cleaning, and other homesteading/homemaking topics.  While it may not be directly related to building our house, it is intimately linked with building our home.

Friday, November 25, 2011


If we have learned anything so far on our home-building journey, it is to remain flexible.  Once our road was finished, it was hoped that the equipment would be moved in to start the foundation.  We had plans of starting to frame the house soon after.  As it turns out, the foundation guy is held up on a big job in Morgantown and it might be Thursday or Friday of NEXT week before he starts.  Luckily, my dad and friend Travis have been great in being flexible with us, as they are traveling down from PA for the week of framing. 

Our well permit was approved, which is great.  Now, we are just waiting for the rain to stop so that the drilling rig can be moved in to start the well.  The rain has been the bane of the project so far. 

Dan also ordered our windows.  All 409823097 of them.  Ok, so we aren't getting THAT many, but we are getting somewhere around 30.  Do I have any volunteers to help keep them clean?!  With our windows and the design of the house, we will be making window quilts to use during the winter.  They are meant to keep the heat in the house after the sun goes down.  I guess I might need more help putting them down at night and raising them in the morning!  It will be worth it, though, if we can eliminate or at least greatly reduce the need for an external source of heat in the winter!

I will put together a post about the design of our house soon!

PS - Is anyone on Pinterest?  That site is super addicting, especially when it comes to dreaming up design of the interior of the house.  If you want an invite, let me know :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a week!

Whew.  What a week.  Each day threw us a new curveball, but made us realize that we are making the right decision in building our home.  Here's a quick recap of our week:

** Dan and his dad got all of the conduit in the trench and Dan got some back filled before MPE was scheduled to come back to pick up the excavator.  As a side note, MPE is HORRIBLE with delivering and picking things up on time.  We now know not to depend on their time schedules if we need to rent equipment again. 

** Our road is f i n i s h e d!  It is pretty nice and we are thrilled we can drive the CR-V to the top without getting whiplash.  We spend today spreading 29 bales of hay along the edge of the road across the meadow so that rains don't start to wash away all of the precious work that we waited so long for!

** A pretty nice buck hangs out with his girlfriends near the house.  We spotted him first on Thursday in the middle of the road and I saw him again this afternoon in the meadow.  We haven't been close enough for long enough to see if he is an 8 or a 10 point.

** We apparently have a nice sized helicopter landing pad on top of the hill.  While out there on Thursday, a WV stated owned copter touched down briefly to check transmission fluid.  Of course, Thursday is the day we didn't have our camera, so we don't have photographic evidence :-)

** Any work that needs done on the truck generally takes 2 1/2 times as long as expected.  Dan changed the control arms this weekend and it ended up taking almost 2 days due to some rusted bolts.  Kole enjoyed spending so much time at Gramps and Grammy's house!

** We ordered our front door, siding, and roofing from 84 Lumber.  It is looking as though we will be framing the house up the first full week of December!  It will be awesome to see it under roof!

** The well driller we called to see if he was willing to drill our well finally called Dan back.  He came out today to check things out.  As it turns out, he doesn't like drilling over a strip mined property.  That isn't our case, so he felt more comfortable.  He told Dan he found a spot where there was definitely water, but how deep or how fast of flow will be determined when the well is drilled.  When Dan asked him how he could tell there was water, he replied it was a "trade secret."  He's considered a master driller, so we'll see how skilled he is in a few weeks!

** Kole is growing more and more every day.  He tries to repeat everything we do now and is starting to say 2 syllable words, as well as small sentences.  His imagination is amazing - he found a stick this week and decided it was a saw.  He spent 20 minutes sawing on a log.  He also took a pair of pliers and "worked" on a tree.  It is hard to believe in a little over 2 months, he will be 2 years old!  He is quite proud to show you his one finger now when asked how old he is!

I will be posting pictures soon.  I'm working on my netbook right now and trying to load pictures makes it go all kinds of crazy!  We had the camera nearly every day, so we are going to have quite the collection of construction pictures!

Next up (hopefully this week): excavation and foundation work!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Indian Summer

Boy, are we ever thankful for the beautiful weather we have been having the last few days!  We have been having highs in the 60s and a ton of sunshine!

Saturday morning started our weekend off great....  Dan met the delivery man from the local electric supply store for the conduit to run across the field.  The road crew was working, putting down stone on the upper part of our driveway.  Kole and I stayed home to wait for a call from MPE to deliver the ditch witch.  They told Dan they would call between 10 and 11.  Kole and I were ready and waiting by 10, anticipating a call early.  Dan called to check at 10:30 and was told we were next in line.  I called again at 11:30 and was told there were several people ahead of us.  Needless to say, I put Kole down for a nap and Dan handled the situation.  The equipment wasn't delivered until almost 2, which wasted several hours of daylight.

Dan's dad came down bright and early Sunday morning to get out early to get caught back up.  I received a call from Dan at 9:30 telling me there was a major problem.  As it turns out, the water pump went out on the truck.  Coolant was leaking everywhere.  They were able to get the truck to Shinnston to Advance Auto Parts to get it fixed.  When we got to the property, Dan discovered that the ditch witch had not been getting as deep as it needed - 36 inches.  Some places were as shallow as 28 inches.  Some manual labor solved the initial problem and a quick call to the REA engineer confirmed that although 36 inches was most desirable, 30 inches would be ok.  We were thankful for an extra hour of sleep Sunday night!

Dan got up bright and early to get out to finish trenching.  He and his dad glued conduit, waiting for the REA engineer to come out to check the work and MPE to pick up the ditch witch and deliver a small excavator.  Although the weather was B E A U T I F U L, the road crew was not there working.  The REA engineer showed up and MPE directly after.  Work progressed today, but there is still a bit to get done tomorrow and Wednesday.  We hope to watch the road crew work, as well as the right of way crew from the electric company work tomorrow.

I hope to get some pictures up soon! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Road, electric, and water - oh my!

Boy are we ever enjoying the beautiful weather we are having this week!  Kole and I drove out this afternoon to check on the progress of the road.  Unfortunately, for the second day in a row, there were no men working.  I was a big upset at first, but seeing how happy Kole was to just play in the field, on the pile of dirt took away any anger I felt.  When we got home, I called our road contractor to chat about the status of things.  As it turns out, the gas companies hoard the stone from the quarries for the new gas wells they are installing.  So, trucks can't just pull up to the quarry whenever they need stone.  This has been putting a little hold on things, but he claims it will be done  by next Wednesday.  They will be working tomorrow and early next week, so I am sure Kole will be one happy little boy watching all that stone being laid out.

Dan received a call from our well driller last night - apparently the engine in his drill rig blew up and he is out of commission for at least a few weeks.  He gave Dan another number to call.  He heard back from the other driller today - well, from his wife.  She indicated that since our land has been mined under, her husband probably will need to be convinced to try to drill.  He has apparently had some bad experience in the past with wells running into mines and it creates a lot more work and is more expensive to drill.  Our initial reaction was to slightly freak out, but Dan did some digging and found that where our house sits and where we were hoping to drill the weather have in fact not been mined under.  Even if they have, the mine lies 800 feet below the surface.  I don't think it will be an issue, but we have to wait and see.

We can already tell that we only want to go through this process once!  We know it will be worth it in the end, but man this year is going to be a test of patience!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Beginnings

Welcome to the house on the hill!  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the tales of this crazy family trying to live out their dream by building a home and starting the journey toward self-sufficiency!

The view, which is the background image for this new-fangled blog, is what sold us on the site of our future home.  Each morning we will welcome the day with uninterrupted 360 degree views of beautiful mountains :-)  While meeting with our road contractor today, he told us that he thought we were close to the highest elevation in Harrison County!  And boy, oh boy, can you tell when you're hiking up our road!

Speaking of our road, progress is finally being made almost 4 weeks after closing on our mortgage.  I will post photos of the road when it is finished, but let me tell you it is a radical change from the jungle it was before.  Our road contractor has been really patient with us.  We have some large trucks that need to make their way up that half mile drive in a few short weeks and we need to make sure things are in the best shape they can be!  Kole thoroughly enjoyed himself today watching the big trucks emptying their loads of rock!  This kid is going to be in hog heaven once things really get rolling!

My father in law is coming into town next week to help Dan put conduit across the field so we can have underground electric.  Don't want those big ugly electric poles to detract from the view we've been waiting for.  The REA staking engineers were out today to mark for poles and we hope to have temporary electric in by the time we start framing. 

Stay tuned for progress shots, shots of a curious almost two year old, and random musings on starting our homestead!