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It's February 2024, how is your build going?

worthy
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

Groundhog says spring is nigh...around hereabouts at least.

We haven't had to heat our basement for a week!

Finally said "goodbye" to our less than competent carpenters as we go about correcting their errors and omissions and Code violations as per advice and reports from the building inspector and a newly hired structural engineer.

We've just commissioned an industrial-influenced central steel and walnut staircase merging the designs of the late architect Virgil Abloh, below with walnut treads and risers.


Virgil Abloh design.

Slabwood staircase, arch. Omar Gandhi

We're aiming for the antithesis of the common notion that a luxury "modern" home must contain acres of porcelain mimicking marble, shiny chrome, plexi everywhere and walls as white as snow.

Comments (80)

  • agbhw
    2 months ago

    A great February so far with some actually progress for us!
    Roof is completed… insulation was finished on Sunday. Masons finished the stonework on the chimneys as well!

  • agbhw
    2 months ago

    A few more of the roof and chimneys.

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    congrats carsonheim! wish i had better news from today. fridays are usually the big day at our house. today we were supposed to see all the flatwork poured (scheduled for tuesday or wednesday this week), grouted backsplashes, finish plumbing, and all our electrical fixtures hung. we worked feverishly to have all our bulbs and fixtures up there timed exactly when the electricians were to arrive so that there are no products sitting around asking to be stolen. since we purchased ourselves, nobody will take responsibility for them. so we got there at 1130. electricians were scheduled for noon. they strolled in at 350pm on a friday and literally wandered around until 4. they started unloading stuff from their truck and i'll be d@mned if the first thing they unpack isn't recess can bulbs that should have been pulled OFF the work order. as it is, the lighting vendor sent bulbs too (in the wrong color, which is why we didn't get from them in the first place) along with notes saying they should not include bulbs. i will never understand how anyone in the industry makes money when these trades insist on doing things the hard way. and you guessed it. no plumbers, no flatwork, no grout, and not a single fixture hanging at 430pm when we left. the pleasant surprise was that they finished our fireplace and hearth, and they built our cedar shutters and window headers! they won't be stained until the very end. i'll post pics tomorrow - we're going back up to monitor the lights being hung because they instilled very little confidence today. haha
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  • Janet
    2 months ago

    @liz888 Condolences on the passing of your father. Our hearts have so much room for grief and joy and happiness. I still find it interesting at times after these last few years without my mom how I can hold so many different feelings at once in my body and soul and heart. Enjoy all the happiness you can.

    Love seeing everyone’s photos. We have been delayed waiting on some tile. Our mantle is up.

  • 2rickies
    2 months ago

    Love seeing everyone's progress!


    @worthy, the HVAC is all through ground-source heat pumps. The house is all electric. The only propane used will be for the back-up generator.

    worthy thanked 2rickies
  • izzieo
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Great to see everyone’s progress!!

    Question for those of you doing cost-plus with your GC… For those of you supplying stuff such as cabinetry, are you still paying a GC markup on top?! Apparently we are expected to pay the GC % markup fee on major works items and stuff that is fabricated, supplied and installed. They say the contract permits them to charge us markup even on items we are supplying ourselves, but they tend to forego this for finished goods like fixtures which clients can supply.

    I want to pay them fairly and I really value what they do, I was just surprised as I didn’t understand this, I thought it was flexible and if we wanted to handle aspects we could do that and save both management hours and markup $… We pay for all time and materials, including hourly project management…. But we can’t just buy $100k of cabinetry and have it delivered and installed without paying a markup? I like our GC, they seem like really good people but it’s annoying to pay what feels like an unnecessary premium… we are essentially penalized for choosing more expensive finishes/interior selections because it’s not like they’re doing more work or somehow adding more value, we are just choosing more expensive stuff. Though they explained that the markup % is quite low for some areas where they put in a lot of work behind the scenes, so it averages out in the end.

  • worthy
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    We built spec houses,houses to our specs on our infill lots and project management for a flat fee.

    It's hard to separate many aspects of housebuilding from others.

    Due to supplier glitches and trade complications, our current build is out of order. Wall-size windows missing and broken, blocking framing completion. Yet I'm over there tomorrow morning to mark drain and faucet locations on the fly for the plumber! I can't imagine splitting that responsibility with a principal.

    Two out of three ain't bad! Middle window, which required a change order in October, still "in production". And the entire opening had to be re-framed as our new structural engineer nixed it.

    Obviously, there should have been a better written agreement between you and your builder.

    BTW, we did charge markups on custom items for our houses built to our plans on our lots. I only regret we didn't charge more for the delicate and hard to find extras the buyers insisted on.

  • 2rickies
    2 months ago

    @izzieo, I think this is par for the course with cost-plus. It is difficult to separate tasks when you have someone managing construction, and in many ways it's not desirable to do that. It could lead to finger-pointing when something goes wrong. The only thing I hired separately was someone to get the road in shape so that construction could begin, which took 3 months. The builder ended up using the same excavator for the whole job because their bid was competitive and they do a good job. The excavation at the house site goes through the builder, but the roadwork goes directly through us. The road was a big undertaking so it made good economic sense to do it that way, and the builder was fine with it. But anything related to the house or connecting to the house via pipes, wires, nails, etc (eg, well, septic, generator, and even internet), I wanted the builder to be responsible for. The cabinetry requires a lot of coordination, measuring and re-measuring, especially the kitchen cabinets, and the builder's people will be doing all of the installation.

  • izzieo
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Ahh, thanks!! Yes our builder is handling pretty much everything, but it seemed like cabinetry was something I could just handle since the cabinet maker has an installation crew… I see how it can be hard to split things up, easier to go one way or the other - either the builder manages everything, or the owner instead self-contracts the whole build. Also with cost plus it's easy to look at the expenses since they are fully disclosed and wish we don't have to pay them... if it were fixed, we'd probably end up paying more but we would be none the wiser. I talked to the GC and I get why they charge the markup now, seems fair.

  • Keen B
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Back from the build...accomplished lots of little things. Chose our window treatments-we cut them to size and I lined the ones that really needed privacy. Saved thousands, and they look great!




    Sewed some pillows to match a chair!



    Painted a FB find for one of the guest bedrooms, and changed out the hardware (Had to drill the holes myself to make them fit since the description was not quite right. They were NOT 2.5 on center as they were said to be.)



    Hung some of the towel racks myself.




    But best of all... got the kitchen tiled (though not grouted.) Woooohooo!



  • Keen B
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @Liz888 I am so sorry to hear about your father. You may recall, my best friend died the day we broke ground, and then my mother last year. It is hard to balance all those opposing feelings of joy for the build and sadness for their loss. My only comfort was that neither of them is still in pain or confusion. I'm going to have a garden in their honor, one day, with plantings they would like. Maybe a bench in your father's name?

  • K_ Dub
    2 months ago

    @izzieo We have had a similar experience. I regret not asking more questions about the cost-plus arrangement. We’re in the home stretch and will know soon exactly what we paid to the GC. We did the same thing with our cabinets, we worked with a custom cabinet builder he wasn’t even familiar with and the GC had nothing to do with the entire process. I better not have to pay him a dime related to the cabinets and vanities. I plan to clearly state my case when we sit down to finalize the fees. We’ve been paying all along of course but there will be a final meeting and payment. I hope I feel better after that conversation. In the meantime flooring is almost finished. Getting ready to install the cabinets and the front door.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
    2 months ago

    cost plus is tricky & used typically when the project is not completely decided upon. In general the total quantity of dollars relates to the GC's time & average complexity of the project but each sub task (of a few dozen) if broken down would have a variety of markups.


    Took over a project at similar stages when the original GC was terminated. We charge a weekly fee for my effort plus labor charges for my employees.... so we don't worry about mark up on the major items owner has paid directly for.


    @k_dub you're in the second half & all finishes should be installed, onsite or in transit. Looks close. Interior doors?


    While builders don't have the same sequences, tiling baths and floors after prefinished hardwood is a challenge to keep the wood protected.



  • Chandllerin
    2 months ago

    Just when I thought all of the tough decisions were behind me…in walks the door handle decisions. Help! Interior door handles seem relatively straight forward. I’m caught up on exterior door handles (front door, side/mudroom door, deck door, garage and exterior basement) are they all supposed to match? Why is this so hard?

  • izzieo
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @Chandllerin - we got the multi point locking hardware from Emtek, they have beautiful options! I was looking at Emtek interior hardware, so nice! But then once I got the cost I decided to just stick with the boring cheaper ones that are like $50/each instead of $250 because I didn’t want to spend several thousand $ more for door handles not to mention the fancy hinges. Anyway you could choose a special one for just the front door and then another for all the other doors but doing the same one for every single door will look nice and cohesive plus it will save you time/stress which might be most important of all! I went with the same lever (Emtek Tribeca) for exterior doors.

  • worthy
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago


    First bricks. At C$2.20 labour per unit, I'm afraid to start counting the stacked pallets!


    Keeping it warm and cozy. Indirect ducted propane-fueled heater to keep the mortar from freezing on another delightful winter day. The taped XPS meets Code here. But I 'm a belt, suspenders and rope kind of guy. So brick paper is included.

  • izzieo
    2 months ago

    Wowww, I bet the neighbours love the view from the chateau 😂 Strikes me as the type of neighbourhood where people call to complain about construction any chance they get… am I wrong?

    worthy thanked izzieo
  • worthy
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    If that's directed at me, "yes, indeed!"

    But not from the owners of all the newer infill homes, but the longtime residents concerned about the "changing" character of the neighbourhood. Ours is about the smallest new build in the area.

  • izzieo
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @worthy hah it's like you didn't get the style memo, going in there with your modern architecture and changing the character!


    I can't imagine being somewhere with a home owner's association... my understanding is that they can hold a lot of power over design decisions.

    worthy thanked izzieo
  • worthy
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    We had to deal with a Committee of Adjustment, which considers setbacks, height and gross floor area. But as the Committee's all encompassing guideline indicates, everything is fair game.

    "3. The variance requested must be desirable for the appropriate development of the applicable lands, building or structure..."


    Nearby Modernist blight.

    Modernist homes resemble warehouses and should not be abided, sniffed one of our Board members. Indeed, the permissible flat roof height is three feet less than for "traditional" homes.


    We were saved only because the Board Chair had some mildly favourable comments about completed nearby modernist builds.



  • izzieo
    2 months ago

    I have never seen such a nice warehouse. Sounds like a comment from someone who has not seen many warehouses 😂

  • Renee M
    last month

    We've had so much happen this month!

    Foundation pour 1/31

    Framing 2/2

    Board & batten done by 2/15

    Fireplace in 2/16

    Kids' tub in 2/16

    electrical and plumbing roughed in by 2/16

    Exterior colors chosen 2/16

    Shingles this week, drywall next week. We haven't been out this week yet, we're excited to see what progress has been made when we go Saturday!

  • worthy
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    So, framed in full just two days after the slab is poured. And ready for painting in three weeks.

    Boy, are we sluggards!


  • T T
    last month

    Renee, wow that's an impressive timeline. How is your builder able to move so fast and get subs in so aggressively? Framing alone took about a month for us. Maybe the crews were smaller.

  • Renee M
    last month

    T T, we chose a builder that's built a house for my husband before. We specifically chose them because they have dedicated contractors, people that have been working mostly for them for 20+ years, so they don't have to find workers. Also, they said it's not too busy for them right now, slow season, so they can devote a few crews to our project instead of just one or two. They just finished 2 houses in January (that they started on in August 2023), so those crews moved to our house.

  • Kyla McSweeney
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Agreed, our siding alone took almost 2 months (and they didn't start inside til outside is done).


    I love the style of your home!

  • izzieo
    last month

    Wow that is shockingly fast! So how many people working on site?! We started in October and just working on siding now. I can’t imagine them moving faster though because I’d have to finalize so many more details sooner and I would freak out hahah!

  • Renee M
    last month

    I'm not exactly sure, I've never counted them (because they're all over the house). For the framing, concrete, and hardy stage there were about 10 vehicles on our property. Caulking of hardy, there was only one guy finishing up when we went that evening. Electrical, there were at least 8 guys. We haven't been out this week yet to see how many are working on roofing.

  • Renee M
    last month

    We made most of our selections in November before we signed the contract. It's just been little things to choose now, such as hearthstone color, and verifying what we selected before they put it in. I chose lighting/appliances/ front door in January. We chose fixtures in December.

    We were given an allowance for each category and just pay the overage if we upgrade. This is the original allowance sheet they gave us, front door allowance actually changed to $2,500, I just don't feel like searching for the new sheet.

  • Renee M
    last month

    We have a roof and paint!!! Stone has been ordered, sheetrock next week. They said if the weather is good they'll have it up, taped, floated, textured in 10 days. No rain forecasted until next Thursday.

  • Chandllerin
    last month

    @Renee M they are moving so fast! Congrats. You’ll be done before all of us!

  • gdionelli
    last month

    TT, doing it from long distance is really hard. Our builders have been great, but the selections person wasn't (now off the job, we're not sure if fired or quit - definitely the right decision, though.) It's all about communication. We're just waiting for one last detail to be taken care of and then we think (fingers crossed) we'll be taking possession in just a few weeks.

  • izzieo
    last month

    Wow that is remarkable! Meanwhile I’m practically taking an entire week just to decide the sconces for the stairwell. It is a struggle… Finally decided on the cabinet maker and meeting them on site next week though!

    Question for everyone - did you coordinate bathroom cabs with kitchen or go for completely different styles? We are doing a custom kitchen and I have yet to find out how much it will cost to do the vanities also. Part of me thinks I could find nice stuff elsewhere or from a ‘semi-custom’ company… but it all takes time and effort so I’m tempted to just pick the prettiest thing I can come up with and get it from the place doing the kitchen. I’m not sure whether the bathroom cabinetry should match the kitchen or reference it in some way whether through profile or material! It might be strange going more traditional in the kitchen and super modern in bathrooms or vice versa…

  • gdionelli
    last month

    We used the same style of cabinetry everywhere, and same handles, but different paint colors (and in the great room did wood.) So there's some continuity from room to room. Cabinetry is expensive! We were glad we did custom, however, because we got configurations we wanted.

  • Renee M
    last month

    We're doing the same style cabinets in the kitchen, laundry room, closets, pantry, and bathrooms, all shaker style. Different styles would drive my crazy.

  • K_ Dub
    last month

    Same for us. Custom cabinets throughout, kitchen, wine bar, vanities all same style, different colors. White in the kitchen with dark stained island. Master bath is SW urbane bronze, hall bath is Evergreen Fog. All shaker. I like the consistency. Front door is finally installed and the mason was able to finish the stone. Hardwood and tile should be finished by the end of next week. We applied for the retaining wall permit in October, finally got the approval today. Hoping to be in by May 1.

  • AC M
    last month

    Renee, how are all the inspections scheduled to be done so quickly so that you can keep moving along?
    Also, where are you building - rough area, I.e. state?

  • AC M
    last month

    I’m jealous, it is taking us months, months to get our sceptic permit re-issued….grrrr

  • Kelly M
    last month

    howdy all! Looking good on all the projects.

    We are in the permitting process and I replied to the plan review letter today, and got a proposal from a civil engineer for the required storm water plan. I will hand carry him a check next week and look at our changed views. The big development next door has begun and they have taken down the trees that blocked our view of Mt. Baker.

  • Renee M
    last month

    ACM- the builder is handling all of the permits, when they're done they upload the inspection reports to "Buildertrend" for us to see, so I know they're being done. They actually started the permitting in December after we signed our loan closing on the 18th, so they had a little head start. They're a well run machine, that's why we chose them. 😁

    We're building in SE Texas outside city limits.

    worthy thanked Renee M
  • worthy
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Stop rubbing it in!


    Dig In, my friend! (7 July 2023)

    23 February 2024

    Our architect met with the city in Dec. 2018. Permits received May 2023. Nine months in and another 5-6 to go, says our frazzled project manager whom I can't escape.

  • Kelly M
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @worthy I applied for permit in early August 23, thinking I could break ground in a few months. LOL! Now I hope to land somewhere in between the two extremes. On a personal note I will start taking my pension and semi-retiring in May. Perhaps the timing will be right?

    Thanks to you here, my cabinets may be the same style but we will mix natural finish with a painted island to break up the "sea of wood" effect. That may translate to some of the other rooms. It is liberating to consider, as I am a staunch Wood Fever guy who loves to make cabinets.

    worthy thanked Kelly M
  • bmanning
    last month

    @izzieo we are using a custom cabinet maker but they have 2 lines. One that’s high end with all of the bells and whistles and the other that is cheaper but more basic. So I’ve got the pricey stuff for the kitchen and the cheaper stuff in the bathrooms. I had to pay a little up charge to get the cheaper ones in wood to match the kitchen but pricing them out, these were actually cheaper than ikea and they are real wood, built locally. Anyhow, it’s worth asking the cabinet maker if they have options to help keep your costs down.

  • bmanning
    last month

    @k_dub I love your front door!

  • gdionelli
    last month

    Here's the timetable we experienced:


    November 2021 we looked at lots. Saw one we really liked but first contacted a builder and interviewed him (we were looking for a CAPS certified builder, and found one that was also design-build.) The builder asked to see the lot but also another in the same community. He really liked our choice so we made an offer and the sale was finalized February 2022. Meanwhile we started meeting with the builder's designer in December 2021.


    We saw the initial house plans in February 2022, worked further with the designer, made changes, and signed off on the "scope of work" in April 2022. Some changes were made, electrical diagrams were firmed up, and we had the final plans in June 2022. The designer prepared the application for the HOA architectural review committee and submitted in July 2022. The committee said it was one of the best applications they'd ever seen, and it was approved by late July. This was one of the reasons we loved working with a design-build firm - we didn't have to lift a finger to make that application.


    Grading began September 2022. Our builder decided to enter the home into the Parade of Homes in October 2023, so the house was basically finished by then. That was good and bad - they really pushed to get it ready in time, but then slowed down a bit afterwards, even though there were still things to be done. But all that's left right now is installing a dehumidifier in the encapsulated crawl space (somehow that was left out originally) and going through our final checklist, and we should take possession in about March.


    A couple of issues slowed us down, just because of shortages and problems in the building industry. We couldn't get an electrical transformer box for the longest time. They just weren't available. Our builder just called the power company once a week and got to know someone on the other end of the line, meanwhile using generator power. Eventually the insulation subcontractor said he could not work on generator power, and magically our contact at the power company found a transformer. There are people in our community who have been waiting two years for a transformer. Digging the well was the other big delay. All the well-diggers in the western NC area are booked months, in some cases years, ahead. Somehow our builders managed to nab one.


    Overall we felt the process was really smooth with our builders. The main part of the build took just a year, and after that it was a matter of putting in the driveway and doing minor things.


    If you've read this far (sorry so long!), you might like to look at our Parade of Homes virtual tour. The house wasn't really quite finished at the time it was photographed. There was no driveway, and there were no shower doors. There was a faulty lighted mirror, and the electrician had reversed the dining room and breakfast nook light fixtures. It's all fixed now!


    32- Gateway Mountain Getaway in the WNC Parade of Homes

  • aklogcabin
    last month

    We had the sheetrock installed on the cieling of our new home. Our son and me insulated the attic area. 200 bales of cellulose fiber blown in insulation. R 7O. Now I'm starting to get some of the extra wall insulation up. 2" of ridgid foam pinkboard. R15 over the rockwool fire and sound insulation in the walls R21. We are zone 7 so we need the extra insulation. And fuel oil prices will continue to increase.

    Im a 1 man crew so things take a bit longer. We are building out of pocket so ice to have everything paid for. And I'm meticulous about the quality of the work. Gotta be as good as I can get it.

  • tozmo1
    last month

    @liz888 I've been thinking of you and your family, especially your mom. I hope today is a good day for all. Tomorrow? You just gotta ride the wave. Sometimes it's relentless and sometimes it's calm. All the best to you all.

    For those who recall my very positive experience(December 2023 post) with a production build for a rental property which has accommodations for a wheelchair bound person, the experience continues to be nothing but positive. I must say it helps keep the stress level low when you're three hours away and you won't be the one inhabiting the house, but the communication with the builder is excellent and the news just gets better and better. I have a walk through on March 11.

    The builder is decorating it with things from the model on the 18th. They even asked for a vision board from the two teenage girls (one of whom is wheelchair bound) for their bedrooms so they could get the colors right. Imagine being a teenager and having someone ask for your bedroom vision board so they can make it happen! This builder is a dream!!!! The big reveal and closing are March 21. They are providing breakfast for all who are attending. Just like a TV show but this one is truly from the builder's heart.

  • Liz888
    last month

    I've been taking some time off to mourn for my dad who passed away. I'm doing better now.


    @keen Thanks for the well wishes. I really like the idea of remembering my dad through a bench or maybe even a tree named after him.


    @tozmo1 - thank you for thinking of our family. My mom is doing better than expected and yes I agree about the waves and just letting myself go through the emotional rollercoaster ride that comes with losing your loved one.


    Our house is taking shape. Our cabinets are mostly in, painters are in this week doing first coat of paint. We are getting our hardware installed.


    I hired a landscape architect to design our landscape, hardscape, etc. We are out of money so we will do it in phases. We plan to just do the basics for now.


    We are hoping to work on the hardscape in March, we need to get the driveway installed - we plan to do asphalt and also walkways and grass. The last stretch of the home building seems so long but we hope to be in by April.

  • Liz888
    last month

    Few pics

  • Kelly M
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I met with the civil engineer today and wrote a check for his services. He is dealing with the stormwater plan that is required.

    The development next door to the property is in full swing, and they took down all the trees. This changed our views.

    Now we see most of the San Juan Islands to the north, as well as the views of Whidbey and the North Cascades.

    New stuff:



    He thinks he will have a letter ready at the end of next week. How that translates to a permit in hand is yet to be determined.

  • Liz888
    last month
    last modified: last month