Warning: This post has around 75 photos, may take a while to load. Here are a few photos of our house during and after construction along with several tips to make things go smoothly.
We are still in the process of moving in and getting settled but glad to finally be “home”. We contracted our house out ourselves. Meaning there was no builder to handle anything for us. It is a lot of work but worth it for the savings $$$ if you have the time and patience.
My husband had to pick the house location in a heavily wooded piece of land. Once we had the area cleared it contained several major challenges. The entire piece was on a deep slope. So we had to move dirt around to level off an area. Preferably you want to build on land that is flat and requires very little tweaking. But once we cleared off that area and paid the crew it wasn’t feasible to find another location. Luckily, we had a great team and Mr. David was able to smooth out the slope to a manageable pitch and create paths for excess water to flow away from the house.
Hay is your best friend during construction! Use it all around the house from the very beginning, especially if you’re building during rain season.
Framing & Sheetrock
I used tape to mark all my outlets, media and electrical components. Pink for outlets, green media and orange for misc/lights. With a custom home you have to be hands on and every detail preplanned. Think about where you want to charge your phones, tv locations, lighting (functional and accent) and you can never have enough outlets….ever.
I also made sure to place extra studs were my tub edges are so that the heavy frameless shower doors would have a solid piece to bolt to. You’ll see several shelves between studs, those were eventually made into built in shelves for the shower (no more flimsy metal rack hanging from the shower heads!). I also placed a board to mount a grab bar too later so it would have a solid piece to mount to.
The purple sheetrock is for wet areas. We went crazy with it in the bathrooms and behind any sinks plus placed it throughout the garage. It’s worth the extra expense. Also, notice the tubs and floors are covered. We protected the floors throughout construction because we planned to epoxy them. The tubs go in during framing, cover them if you don’t want to be scraping out dirt, paint and misc chemicals.
Roof is up and brick. Prepping the concrete block for stone.
We used spray foam in our first build and this one. It is well worth the added expense. Especially when temps in our area climb over 100F during summer.
Purple sheetrock (wet rated) for the garage.
The crew gave me a hard time on the measurements for the fireplaces (yes 2, one in the living room and another outside on the porch). I had planned the height of the mantel and size of the Tv cutout beforehand but had to argue to get what I wanted. It turned out fabulous even though it is not standard sizes. We are a sports family and love to have company over for the games. The guys can sit outside and the girls inside but we can see the Tv’s from both rooms through the wall of windows. We all feel “together” without having to be squeezed into a single room.
We had to use an electric fireplace inside due to the spray foam but placed a gas ventless outside which is warmer.
Our mantels are from a pecan that was cut from my in-laws yard and locally milled. We mounted a 2x6 on the fireplace then ran 12” bolts through it. Cut the ‘head’ of the bolts off, drilled holes in the 6”tallx8”deep mantel , epoxied the holes, then slipped it onto the bolts. Now hoping it stays!
I let my masonry guys get creative with the steps. It is a bit too much in my opinion but atleast now I have a place to set out a couple plants.
See all the sand? It has a purpose! We used sand all over the slab immediately after it was poured. This kept the framers from tracking too much clay onto the slab. After the roof was on we covered the inside with paper to protect the floors but kept sand on the porches to protect them from clay footprints. It is messy but sand is easier removed than red clay from concrete.We learned this after our first house’s porch was covered in red clay and no chemical nor pressure washer would remove it. Our new house still has some clay (it is inevitable) but not nearly as bad as if we just left them bare.
I went with a 7’ high garage door, never having one before I didn’t know better. Go with 8’ or higher trust me! And those stairs were not in the original plan. Because we built on a slope the front of the house is 2 or 3 block high but the back is 8 and 9 block high. Which means the garage is 4 steps lower than the floors in the main part of the house. Bonus is we have really high garage walls for storage. Bad is that to get in the house from the side and back requires several stairs and the doors are not level.
I have the most amazing trim guy he did my tapered porch columns, then we wrapped them in vinyl
Septic going in
Outside fireplace brick, inside stone
Again my amazing trim guy, added 3 beams to the living room ceiling and designed the pantry shelves.
When it was time to paint I used scrap trim to sample the colors. Then wrote which rooms would get what for my painter.
They sprayed the ceiling and walls to prime. My floor guys were incredibly thankful that we covered the floors beforehand
Ours floors are troweled on epoxy (2 different colors) then 3 coats of clear polyurethane. They use this stuff in air plane hangers it is amazing. We have had several large scratches and they disappear with a wipe of a rag. Plus it takes minutes to sweep and mop. But you can’t walk into your house for up to 4 days so make sure you trust whoever is doing them to do it right. Once it’s done you’re stuck with them. Here is my amazing floor guy: Fine Design Concrete
We then covered the high traffic areas again. It wasn’t needed but made me feel better.
My amazing trim guy worked hand in hand with our cabinet shop to create our closet cabinets. The shop supplied the drawers and shelves. He then built the hanging areas and rods. Then we painted it. Saved us a bit so we could spend more in the kitchen.
In the kitchen we have spice racks on either side of the stove. I used Glideware for my pots. Glideware Pots Organizer
This is the Hy-dit toilet brush/plunger cabinet. LOVE IT. Fits between studs. Hy-dit Toilet Plunger Storage Kit
This owl came from a yard sale. I stained the post to match and screwed the owl on.
We painted our shelves by hand. Was quite a chore but saved a lot of money vs having the cabinet shop do it.
Finally the tile went up. The red is for water protection. Jamo
Our kitchen sink which is fabulous! Kraus Double Sink
The cut out is for a microwave. We don’t have a lot of cabinets in the kitchen but what we do have functions well.
The master closet painted and shelves installed. I had this nearly 7 foot tall “G” cut from a local wood shop months before we began building. It now is in our foyer and I love it!
We went with a Sauder closet system off amazon for the kid’s bedrooms. Sauder Lancaster Closet System I didn’t want bright colors everywhere, but made sure to add pops of fun color for the kid’s in some areas. It’s their house too!
Master Closet and the pocket door with mirror. One of my favorite features in the house.
Our dining table and bench were made locally by Mr. Mott. He is amazing. Also made us a coffee table and end table. I wanted a pottery barn table but couldn’t afford it. Showed him a photo and he made it for us!
Here is a better photo. The table cloth on the wall is to help me arrange a photo collage (will be in a future post). Still looking for 3 back chairs!
Countertop guys made a mistake and forgot to add notches for the spice racks. My cabinet guys improvised and trimmed the spice columns to hide the mistake.
And my “mud room” or drop zone. Has an area for hanging jackets, then shoes on the bottom. The center draw is for sitting to put shoes on and the right side for mail, paperwork, bills and school stuff.
On the opposite side of the mud room cabinets is the pantry and I used cabinet knobs as door knobs.
Our master bath is not large. But it is functional. We have a large wall of cabinets with a TV above. The opposite side is the toilet room and large shower with glass doors.Yes, we have tv’s everywhere. My husband is a newspaper man and that means the news is on 24/7 or sports. The light fixtures were a bit of a challenge but worth the effort. You’ll notice all my sinks have large bar pulls or appliance pulls. Those are for hand towels to hang on. They all also tilt out for storing toothbrushes or sponges
Wall mount sinks. I had NO idea how much I was asking from the plumbers. They acted like they have never heard of wall sinks before. Which led to all 3 of my bathrooms faucets being messed up. If you do put in wall sinks make sure the plumber knows what they are doing.
Kid’s bathroom (mirror not installed yet). It is small put I packed it full of trim to spruce it up. The toilet is for kids and guests, my husband would have divorced me if I put one of these in his bathroom. But I think it looks cute for the space.
My son’s room. We stained 12” boards and mounted them up on the wall. Originally it was to be more boards and less green but because of the lighting placement we couldn’t get as many up. My son is still happy with his ninja turtle wall though!
Hidden paper towels and I used silicone lids for my pots to save space next to the glideware.
Laundry room has a pull out iron board. Then 4 trash cans for laundry hampers. The shelves hold 4 baskets for the clean clothes.
I used seeded glass doors for dishes. Another photo of the master bath
The plumber “mistake” they didn’t bring the faucets flush with the wall. Which meant the threads to place the knobs/faucet on were in the sheetrock. Me and my handy rotozip had to drill out all the tile and come up with a solution.
We moved the faucet valves up to where they were supposed to be. Then cut wood plates out to cover the holes. One day we will fix the tile but for now this will have to do.
Back screened porch (where my husband lives). And the upstairs bonus room. We used pine trees cut from my in-laws, milled locally for a fraction of the price of buying lumber. I sanded then coated it with Dreft in satin.
Master bedroom barnwood headboard. Our cousin brought down some old barnwood from Georgia, so it is now our headboard. Plan to replace the butterfly with a feather wreath one day.
Kid’s built in linen cabinet in their hallway. It is on the opposite side of the fireplace in the living room. I used all the space in the walls I could to put in shelves and cabinets. They even have a tilt out hamper.
Master Bathroom frameless door.
Living room work in progress.
Kitchen Edison Lamps from Lowes.
The kid’s bathroom finally with a mirror.
I used faucet handles from the local hardware store for towels hooks, painted them and screwed them in using heavy duty anchors.
The built ins for the living room are not anywhere close to symmetrical because I needed each to do a job. On the left houses all our tv components and internet. It’s basically the central station for entertainment. On the right is my desk. It flips down and the computer slide out. It’s not the prettiest thing but it is functional which is what we needed.
The same wood shop that cut my “G” in the foyer cut a name for over my daughter’s bed. She loves it. Still lots of work to be done in her room.