Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes!

J & I took the weekend off from stalking visiting our home site and ventured off to sunny Florida so he could return the favor and be Best Man for his Best Man's wedding.  It was warm, sunny (mostly), sandy and did I mention warm?  While PA was in some sort of sick late spring deep-freeze we soaked up some rays (ok I toasted a little but it happens!) and relaxed.  Well, J relaxed and I lost my voice which is apparently the funniest thing EVER.  At least to J.

Drama-Free Zone

 Our PM had sent us a quick note (he's not wordy...the email updates are very short and to the point and that's ok - at least he responds) that our framing would be starting either Monday or Tuesday.  Score!!!  No more looking at just dirt or a hole or a footer or just walls!  Of course I headed to the site after work on Monday to check this out.  Bah!  No walls.  They had managed to move some lumber onto the corners but it was a bit of a mess.  I didn't stick around.  I snapped a quick picture, looked for my sign (totally invisible) and hightailed it back to the house to watch Game of Thrones.

I guess this is progress?

Yesterday I worked out of a field office and again, detoured by the construction site on my way home.  I think my suv's got auto-pilot and just knows to drive up I-79 after work.  I literally squealed when I pulled up and saw that WE NOW HAVE A FIRST FLOOR WITH WINDOWS!!!

I see windows & door openings!

I totally photo-ed the living hell out of the place (evidence below) and walked all around - hey, this time I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, much more construction site-appropriate than a dress and ballet flats!  I was all kinds of excited to walk through the rooms (and walls - soon enough only a ghost could pull that off) and imagine where our furniture will go, what the views will be, etc.  I must say, J has one heck of an office - that 4' extension is really nice!  The nerd in me took pics of the steel that will support the bonus room & the columns/beams used for the basement floor.  I also took pics of some suspect lumber they used but these 2x4s weren't on load-bearing walls (it's nice to be able to look & see which ones matter) so I'm not too concerned.  It would've been great if J had been there with me but alas, he was still chained to his desk.  Something about needing to pay for the house or some other such nonsense.

View of Great Room from Garage

Great Room & J's "Study"

My Kitchen!  Oh, and the awesome Morning Room, too!

Our'll be fabulous when the leaves are out!

That's a nice piece of steel!

Good to know we're properly supported

Sign update:  I found it.  Well, I think it was our sign, I saw the bottom post and a tiny bit of the sign sticking out from under a pile of dirt.  NOW IT'S PERSONAL!!!

It's not a problem until it's a problem...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's beginning to look like we can build a house!

En route to J's northern property last night, I took a hugely surprising detour by our house.  It seems weird to call it "our house" instead of "the site" but now that there are basement walls, I feel legit in saying that.

I was once again doing a happy dance in my SUV when I realized that the giant stack of windows & doors WAS FOR US!  Then I noticed the 2 huge piles of lumber with "PTN-CX-704" spray-painted on them.  Houston, WE HAVE LUMBER!!!

First Floor!  

Guessing the other pile is for the second floor?

What lovely windows & doors!

To top off that wonderful sight, we signed the paperwork and J's house should hit the open market this weekend!  I totally challenged the realtor to beat my parents' home selling in 2 days in 2013.  Hopefully it all goes according to plan - the realtor loved what we had done and said we did an excellent job on our "homework".  That's fancy talk for an ungodly amount of cleaning!

Sign update:  Our "new" SR has taken notice of our poor sign.  He claims it "must've been knocked down during the earthwork."  Of course it was.  Maybe after framing it'll get some love?  Until then...

This sign is officially my nemesis.

Here's an interesting situation.  Our neighborhood had 2 SRs.  The one we had been dealing with almost exclusively was transferred to another community.  No biggie - there's still a familiar face who can answer questions.  The "new" one (to us) is actually better.  At least he answers the phone, returns emails, etc.  I'm not saying that our "old" SR is bad or anything, she just neglects to inform us that she's followed up on things and as such, I look like a bit of a jerk for re-sending emails to confirm.

The latest incident was concerning our address.  The county website doesn't have our address listed, rather, it stops 1 before us yet that address is actually our neighbors' lot according to the parcel map.  I emailed "old" SR last Thursday bc, well, it's a bit concerning that the address you've been given no longer exists and I wanted some clarification.  Crickets from her.  Perhaps she has forgot her little speech that "anything less than a 10 is failing"?  Luckily "new" SR cleared it up - the county is wrong (imagine that!!) but they're working to rectify the issue.  In the grand scheme of things, it's not a showstopper but it IS highly annoying.  We spend a nice chunk of change and deserve better communication.  At least that's my little opinion.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Is it B&E if there's not a real window yet and it's sort-of your property??

I like to ask the tough questions.  I would love to know why it's a pair of pants or why one parks on a driveway but drives on a parkway.  Along the same lines, is it "breaking and entering" or just "entering" if one crawls into one's future basement through a window opening?  A real mind-bender, to be sure.

Saturday was once again a beautiful day and I was able to pry J away from his workstation on our patio to go look at the progress on the house on the way to making very bad decisions at Taco Bell.  I can't help it, there's a healing power in those tacos and I was exhausted from a very late night involving old-school YouTube hip hop videos and my awesome family members.  Side note - that run for the border worked.  Or it was the nap I had right after but either way I was able to rally for a SECOND 3am evening (what am I, 23??) so all was good.

Anyways, back to the house.  We drove up and ALMOST met our next door neighbors!  We know they're a family of 4 and also a pair of engineers.  We now know that they have a Pathfinder.  They drove off as we drove of these days we will meet :).  J&I were quite pleased to discover that they've installed the waterproofing (more later on that) and the sewer pipe and managed to backfill.

Progress! (view from the garage-side)
We walked around and noticed that our waterproofing was not tight against the wall and that the anchors were in odd locations.  I'm curious if there's any rhyme or reason to where the anchors are located.  I'm also curious if it's ok to install anchors so that they're under the finishing strip - wouldn't that just be a point where water could seep up under the strip since it's not flush or tight behind the wall?  I don't think it would cause any issues but I may ask our PM just the same.

J Stew being J Stew.
Notice the waviness on the waterproofing to his left - is this normal??
Fastener under the finishing strip - ok or cause for concern?
We also noticed that we will have a bit of a dropoff on the side of our house.  I'm willing to wait and see how the final grading turns out but there's definitely a weird line or way they installed the waterproofing under our dining room window.

Remember this pic?  Now the paint instructions are starting to make sense...
Dirt to the top of the waterproofing - I think this means we get a retaining wall!!!
We got the bright idea of checking out the basement from the inside...of course we had to climb in!  J had no problems but I'm not as tall so it was a minor struggle to get my leg up and over the window ledge.  A big shout-out to my trainer for my improved upper body strength!  We took some pics and decided that our basement is a really good size and our bar is going to be a-ma-zing once we build it!

Future Bar!  (and yes, I'm wearing a shirt featuring a T-Rex.
Little known fact, but T-Rex HATES push-ups.  Think about it!)
The echo was pretty sweet.  Pretty sweet indeed.
Man Room.  He can hang his turkey in here.  It is NOT going into a common area...
My home gym!
Let's hope that the elliptical serves a higher purpose than hanging clothes :)
Surprisingly, climbing OUT of the window was easier for me - no idea why.  Although next time we visit, I think I'll wear "real shoes" instead of flats.  They're just not practical for a site visit.

Sign update:  It's on, RH, it's on.  I am POSITIVE that you're messing with my sign just to see how long before I snap.  I'm pretty sure I have about 72 hours of patience left in me with the sign.  The only reason I haven't said anything is because it really doesn't matter and I want to save my questions for real issues :)

No love.  At least today it wasn't buried but it WAS on our neighbor's lot
And because it was such a gorgeous day, we decided to end it with one of our favorite activities - an evening with the Buccos!  Our first date was a Pirates baseball game and we go to quite a few games each year, although 20 was a bit much last season (partial season tickets).  But we love our local team, our ballpark is just spectacular and really, there's nothing better than a beautiful spring evening at PNC Park, especially when Zambelli Internationale is in charge of post-game festivities!

First Buccos game as Mr & Mrs!

View from our seats - seriously, this is the best stadium in all of major league ball!
Zambelli Internationale does it again!
Only in Pgh are the fireworks after a Pirates game better than on the 4th of July...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Glad I Stopped By!

Big changes since Saturday were discovered on my way home yesterday. Well, it was a total side trip to the tune of 16 unnecessary miles but it was a nice evening so I figured I would stop by the site and see if the basement walls had been poured. Much to my delight, not only had the walls been poured but the form work had been removed too!! This was definitely the highlight of my day! J's response to my text of "BABY WE HAVE A BASEMENT" was a rather animated "SSSWWWWWEEEEEEETTTTTT!!!!!"  That's a huge show of emotion via text for him!  We may be a little excited, can't you tell?

Here are some fun pictures from my visit:

Home, Sweet Home!

Wonder if this is the trench for the drainage?

YES!!!  They got our egress window in the correct spot!  I've seen this messed up soooo many times that I was a little concerned about this NSR.
Sweet view of the interior of the basement.  No floor yet...
I just love the writing utensils in the Construction World!  But what did they scratch out?!?!?!
Now I know it's personal.  This sign is totally my nemesis!  Why no love, Ryan?  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who knew a little bit of concrete would be so exciting?!

Ok, so the short answer to that is no one except a civil enginerd. I remember making concrete for a grade in school. Nothing that fun EVER happened in my accounting classes!

But seriously, I drove by Thursday afternoon and was really excited to realize I had my workboots in my car. Score-I could walk over to The Pit without ruining my good shoes! I talked with the guys removing the form work and they told me that our basement walls would likely be poured Monday or Tuesday (today as I write this-I got busy!)

I snapped a pic or two and of course didn't bother to notice if we were on solid rock or not (sometimes I really disappoint J with my lack of observational skills) but no matter, we had to stop by the site en route to his property Saturday! Bonus-if no one paid attention to the site conditions, I wouldn't be guilty if he was there too.  
I made friends!  I didn't mention the footers were all crooked because...well, it doesn't matter!

So we returned Saturday and thoroughly investigated things. J noted the shaley excavation conditions (verified by our PM) and I took pictures of him enginerding from the safety of the garage footer. I was not in the mood to climb anything after my unimpressive driving of Manny (J's 5-speed Honda) but that's another story.
J Stew doing what J Stew does...

J surveying the site
I felt like this was a good "where's waldo" photo-op

Our sign is still on site but still is being treated like a red-headed stepchild as it's lying down, face up on the dirt. Why is ours the only one not standing!?! I'm beginning to think it's intentional...

Poor, poor mistreated sign
This has nothing to do with the house but yesterday was the Home Opener, Play Ball Buccos!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Mound o' Dirt is Back!

And it's a GOOD thing! I stopped by the site yesterday to see if there was any earth disturbance-we were told that they would be breaking ground this week but which day was a mystery. Much to my delight I noticed the bucket from an excavator sitting in our future front yard!  Progress! It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the excavating for the footers, foundations, etc was underway. I was, to put it mildly, excited. J got a text from me IN ALL CAPS about it. He told me to quit yelling but was duly excited as well. Apparently I did make a serious faux pas in his eyes in that I didn't walk across the mud to see how deep they had dug. In my defense, I was wearing a long skirt and dress shoes-not exactly site visit apparel. My safety team would not have been impressed so I stayed on paved surfaces.

Today it's pouring (love awesome Pittsburgh least it's not sleeting) so I doubt there will be any progress. But let the real fun begin!
I always wanted an excavator bucket for a yard decoration!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Weekend Update

Nothing much has changed...our house is still staked out & they should be breaking ground this week.  Since it was a beautiful Saturday, J & I stopped by on our way to pack more stuff at his house. We walked around and stood in each room like complete dorks.  I have photographic evidence of J doing just this:
Keep Out, Wife...this is MY Study!  Even if a dozer tracked right through it.

Oh yeah, it was deceivingly muddy.  Good thing that our neighbors had some erosion & sedimentation controls in place that we could use to scrape off the mud. (ahem - I may also be a little bit of a dork for recognizing the e&s controls)  We also found a handy "pool" that had both water and piles of excess concrete great for mud removal. Their house looks like it'll be framed this week - exciting for them for sure!

Go Big Blue!!  (A shame they lost)

We did find out that NVRM isn't just making us resubmit forms 2 & 3 times.  This is an epidemic with these people.  Our friends who've gone through and are going through the process all say the same thing.  And boy is it irritating to have 5 people asking for the same thing.  Get it together!  Create a folder in your email for each property, use a database to store documents, TALK to your coworkers, etc.  It's not that hard to stay organized and one avoids the appearance of being less than competent.  Let's just say that I don't have a warm fuzzy about these folks.

That's all I have for now - hopefully I'll get the notice that they broke ground today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

We're Staked!

I took a slight detour on the way to work on J's house Sunday.  This detour just happened to be right into our new neighborhood.  What can I say?  It was a gorgeous sunny day (a real rarity in Pittsburgh) and I wanted to see what was going on with our new place.

I pulled into the cul-de-sac and did a little dance in the drivers' seat...our house had been staked out!  We had a good idea how it would sit on the lot from our Pre-Construction meeting but there's nothing like seeing it "live!"  I texted J some pics - he claims there were stakes earlier but since there was a giant Mound O' Dirt, I can neither confirm nor deny that statement as I wasn't going to leap a trench to get muddy and see for myself.

Admittedly, I'm not a good photographer, especially when excited.
Mound O' Dirt Gone, Stakes are In!
Me at the Front Door

Our sign...still seeing no love.  No one knows where lot 704 is!

My boys being sweet and almost innocent.  Almost.