Yard Graded and Power Begun [Weekly House Update]

Fun day with the family! We went down to the property as usual to check up on the progress and saw some very noticeable changes on the property and afterwards we went to the zoo to celebrate how stinking nice it is outside. Excitement over the progress of the house and fun in the sun has made the mood bright in the Monroe house.

Work this week:

  • A half-acre or so around the house was graded and really makes the area look nice.
  • The electricity coming to the house is underway. The bore under the neighbor’s yard looks complete, but the work to get it across our yard and the transformer installed is still in progress.
  • The outside unit for our HVAC system was installed!
  • The wiring to the main circuit panel was completed.
  • The construction dumpster was removed. Nothing makes you feel like you’re getting close like seeing that gone.
  • The gravel driveway has starting to go in. We got to park in our driveway for the first time!

On to the pictures!

Houston, we're building a pump house

So we definitely need a water filtration system; both the fellow who put in our well and neighbors confirm the water needs a bit of help. In the process of pricing a system out and locating a contractor to do the work one bit of advice can’t be avoided… we need someplace to put the stuff that is going to filter the water. With a modular home we don’t have a garage (yet) and Erica is not taking too kindly to notion of taking up the laundry room with filtration equipment (I can’t imagine why!).

So with that in mind… the first project of the new house will be building pump house. Which is likely going to happen before we move in. We got the go ahead from the builder to add a lean-to the back of the using the same contractor that built the porch. We could have saved money building it ourselves, but this is one of those scenarios where the bit of extra money is worth the cost. Granted, I really wanted to save the couple hundred bucks in labor. But given how quickly we’ll need the water filtration and how much we’ll be tied up doing other things, I quickly warmed up to the idea.


Porch complete [Weekly House Update]

We just got back from a trip down to the land. We were hoping to see the transformer and/or some of the work to bring the electricity to the house, but it still is pending. The porch, however, has been finished. So have the two small decks and stairs in the back. We also noticed a few small finishing touches like the electrical fixtures and some cleaning up around the house.

Another happy story this week is we had some business to carry out earlier in the week and had to stop by the house to talk to one of the contractors. While there we met one of our neighbors and had a good conversation with her. We all felt relieved after the meeting I think. Our neighbor runs a dog rescue where she rehabilitates and helps find homes for dogs and she was relieved that we had no issue with her dogs. On our side, we were relieved that she had no issues with us raising chickens or other livestock. Chickens and goats here we come! lol

And now… the pictures!

Another Hurdle

Erica posted earlier that the builder was hoping to close next week. It was very exciting news, but we also had a number of things still to be resolved. A big one being the connecting the electricity to the house. The survey had obviously been done, the future site for the transformer staked, and the path for the lines marked, but we still hadn’t received the invoice from the electric company.

After a number of a calls and a day of waiting we finally got the call. The amount was… shocking. To be honest, we thought there had been a mistake. We had set aside a good chunk of money to pay for the connection and the amount was four times our savings. We called around and the amount surprised everyone, but it wasn’t a mistake. The builder said that he had never seen anything like it in 27 years of building homes. Awesome.

We thought long and hard about how to pay the invoice, but ultimately decided to take it back to the builder and ask him to revised the contract (and the sales price) to include the fee to connect the electricity. While we could have paid the fee, it would have wiped out everything we had for other big expenses related to moving. Financing it in was our best option even though we were not happy adding it into the mortgage. The good news is we have plenty of appraised value to do so and the cash we did have set aside for the electricity can be re-purposed for the shed/workshop, but the bad news is the loan has to go back through underwriting (meaning closing will most assuredly not be next week).

The journey is not quite over yet.

Homestead Plan

When we started this journey we had a budget for various expenses building the house (appraisals, perk tests, etc) and moving in (lawn equipment, sheds, etc). Our remaining budget set aside for those expenses is quickly dwindling and we still have two large expenses to go: trenching the electricity to the house and the pending water filtration system. Last night, Erica and I sat down to take a look at what was left and re-prioritize our plans for the house and property.

Immediate Goals (0 to 3 months)

  • Shed/Workshop
    • The shed or workshop is still a high priority, although we do not know where the funding is going to come from. So much hinges on have a place to store lawn equipment, tools, supplies, etc that we have to figure out how to make this one happen.
    • I’m really hoping for the workshop (14 ft x 18 ft), which would be a bit bigger than the shed (10 ft x 14 ft). Even though it wouldn’t be a true workshop in the beginning, in time as we add more structures (like a small garden shed) it would be a modest, but nice workshop (and just a workshop).
  • Garden
    • The start of the garden. We will face time and budget restraints doing too much this season, but we want to get started.
  • Evaluate land and make a plan
    • We will likely need to till and disc much of the land (around the house at least) to make the land flat enough to not destroy our garden tractor. Some of this will be done for us by the builder, but we need to evaluate if more will be needed.
  • Evaluate driveway and make a plan
    • 32 tons of gravel will be brought in for our driveway and we have a good base of sand already where the driveway will go. We will need to evaluate the driveway provided and possibly bring more gravel in to make a place for both cars to park off the dirt.
  • Evaluate tree availability and make a decision
    • We will be fairly late in the season to order trees in bulk from the Department of Forestry. We plan to at least see what is left (if anything) and evaluate if we want to get any this year.

Short-term Goals (3 to 6 months)

  • Evaluate gutters and make a plan
    • The house does not come with gutters. We could have had them installed, but we didn’t have the budget or the desire to pay someone else to do it.
  • Evaluate paint/draperies and make a plan
    • The house comes pre-painted, but all the walls are all flat-paint and the same color. Painting over the flat-paint with something a bit more washable where the kids roam is a must in our minds.
  • Evaluate house-related projects and make a plan
    • This one roughly translates to minor projects like making Adirondack chairs for the front porch, a bench for the entry way, shelves for the den, etc.

End-of-year Goals (6 to 12 months)

  • Adopt a Pyredoodle
    • Erica fell in love with Pyredoodles. We would love to adopt one sooner, but we really need to figure out the fencing below (not to mention the finances to adopt the puppy). It will be hard to wait!
  • Expand garden
  • Ceiling fan for MBR
  • Evaluate orchard and make a plan
  • Evaluate fencing and make a plan
  • Evaluate chickens/coop/paddocks and make a plan
  • Evaluate trees and make a plan

Mid-term Goals (year 2 and 3)

  • Back deck
  • Garden shed
  • Electricity to shed/workshop
  • Truck

Long-term Goals

  • Pond
    • Not a garden pond. A nice big pond to water the garden with and get soil to cover the root “cellar”.
  • Root “cellar”
    • Not underground because our water table is too high. We hope to dig down a foot or two, but mostly mound over the structure with dirt dug from the pond.
  • Green house
  • ATV
    • It would have some utility purposes, but this would be use for play as much as for work.

Porch and Yard Progress [Weekly House Update]

We got back from a week in Charlottesville and couldn’t wait another day to see the progress so we drove down this evening. The big things accomplished were:

  • Porch closer to completion; roof, deck, and railing were all built this week
  • Brick skirt completed
  • Pipe from house to septic covered with dirt/sand and graded

Check out the pictures below!

Water Filtration


The well is dug and the water test still pending, but we heard yesterday from the folks that dug the well that it is fairly common for the area to have high levels of iron in the water. We did expect this, and we have money set aside for it, but here is hoping it doesn’t eat too much into the shed/workshop budget.

Porch progress and a brick skirt [Weekly House Update]

We just got back from going down to the property this morning. We had another couple of days of bad weather this week, but they are still making progress!

Big changes this week:

  • Brick skirt is almost complete; the back and both sides of the house are done
  • The basic framing for the porch is complete, but there is still a good deal to be done
  • The plumbing from the house has been connected to the septic tank

The most exciting items to see was the brick and the porch progress. I’m pleased with construction of the porch so far and the brick really is starting to make the house look more polished. Check out the pictures below!

UPDATE: We had family visiting this weekend and they wanted to drive down to see the property so we drive down again. After we left yesterday they drilled the well and started the trenching and plumbing necessary to connect it to the house!

Land and Home Journey to Date

I wanted to draw together this page as much for myself as to share with others. Below are the various posts we’ve written through our journey purchasing the land and home to date. It was fun to pull it altogether and relive the progress again from the beginning. Check it out.

The journey actually began several weeks before our first post. Sometime in August we went a visited a builder in Moyock, and while the building quality was outstanding, the house was smaller and further from my work and our family than we wanted. A week or two later, on August 25th we visited Clayton Homes in Elizabeth City to discuss the modular home option. We didn’t have land, we just wanted to know if it was possible. We spent the next month driving around Moyock and Camden looking at properties until we made the offer mentioned below.

September 26th, 2012 – Offer on Land Accepted

October 19th, 2012 – Perk Test Complete

October 29th, 2012 – Loan Approved (tentatively as we would find out)

November 6th, 2012 – Appraisal of Doom (home to land cost ratio woes)

November 6th, 2012 – More Bad News (bank fussy about size of land)

November 7th, 2012 – Land Closing Delayed (bank hurdles to clear)

November 12th, 2012 – Drywall and a Fireplace (revisiting the land home cost ratio)

November 15th, 2012 – Options Finalized

November 19th, 2012 – House Plan (with all the details)

December 8th, 2012 – First Look at New Home (the house built and waiting)

December 12th, 2012 – Land Closing Delayed Again (still waiting on bank)

January, 4th, 2013 – Final Approval (finally)

January, 11th, 2013 – (Land) Closing at Last

January 22nd, 2013 – Home Progress Updates (septic to start soon)

January 23rd, 2013 – House Delivered

January 30th, 2013 – Woodchips (house on foundation)

February 9th, 2013 – Major House Progress (starting to come together)

February 16th, 2013 – Weekly House Update – Getting Closer

February 24th, 2013 – Weekly House Update (inside starting to look polished)

Weekly House Update

We went down to the property this afternoon after church. It has been another cold and rainy week, so we weren’t expecting to see much. Still, work has been done, although the bulk of it seems to be indoors.

Changes from last week:

  • The footing was dug and poured for the brick skirt to sit on that will go around the perimeter of the house.
  • The meter for the electricity was installed and it seems that the electrical work to tie that into the house is underway.
  • More plumbing work to connect the house to septic tank has taken place, but this is still underway.
  • The master bathroom has a door! We were fretting over this as it looked to be an archway at first and that was not on the plans.
  • The seam between the two halves of the modular have been plastered and a ton of finishing drywall work has been done.

Here are a few pictures: