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The House that We Built, page 2

At the beginning of 2002, Shelley and I secured an owner/builder construction loan from a local bank. That wasn't an easy task, since most banks want construction done within six months, and an owner/builder typically can't get it done in that amount of time, especially when they have a full time job, like both Shelley and I had. We were very thankful to find a bank willing to write the construction loan for up to a year.

In February of 2002, I was involuntarily activated by my National Guard Unit. Just as we had started digging for the foundation, I had to go overseas for what was to be a minimum six month deployment. We felt the timing couldn't have been worse. We had the house panels ordered, the foundation blocks ordered, and a time schedule to get this done to the satisfaction of our bank. Life is what it is and we pressed on.

Taking advantage of the Soldiers and Sailors Act, we first petitioned the bank for a mandated low and locked rate during the time i was deployed. They accomodated that request without hesitation. This gave us some room to breath as it significantly lowered the interest rate while I was deployed. Meanwhile, I was gone, I was literally half a world away and my wife Shelley had to build a house.

This is where Itron came to the rescue. Itron didn't so much build the house for me, but they did come out and help Shelley on a few days when it was critical have some help. The house panels were going to arrive by truck and we had to provide a way to offload them. This was a new surprise for both Shelley and msyelf. I was gone and she had no way to get them off the truck. She called Itron and bless their hearts, they came out with a crew so big, that when the trucks arrived with the panels, Itron employees had them off-loaded almost before the driver could get out of the truck. This was the single most significant thing Itron did for us while I was gone.

So there was our house all panelized and laying flat on the ground in three piles. Now what?

Shelley percevered and continued to work on the house. She solicited help to frame the footings and get the concrete poured. She got more help from Itron to stack the blocks for the concrete foundation walls and shore them up. It all went slowly but it helped Shelley pass the time while I was gone.

When I finally got home after over seven months of being deployed, the concrete footings and basement walls were done. I now swung into action at full speed. Here is summary of how it all came together:

  • I witched a location and contracted a local well driller to punch a hole for water and install a pump.
  • I had friends help me build the pump house.
  • I started installing walls in the basement.
  • I installed all the rough plumbing in the basement.
  • I hired a concrete flat worker to do the basement floor.
  • Friends and co-workes at Itron came and helped with joints, sub flooring and panels.
  • A gentleman and his brother who build Structurally Insulated Panel homes, saw our construction and offered their time for hire to help tip up and install walls. This was a God send, they helped tremendously get the outer walls and roof on the house.
  • Friends and I built the interior walls.
  • Friends helped install all the doors.
  • I hired a contractor to do the remaining rough plumbing.
  • I did almost all the electrical work with a little help from my wife.
  • I hired a contractor to install all the HVAC.
  • Friends helped with sheetrock.
  • I hired a contractor to do tape and texture.
  • Friends helped paint
  • I hired a contrator from church to do our roof and siding.
  • Shelley and I did all final electrical installations and plumbing fixtures.
  • Friends and co-workers at Itron helped assemble cabinets.
  • A Contrator contact at Itron helped with some finish work, mostly stair railings.
  • We contracted the carpet.
  • I lay the snap-click wood flooring myself.

Late in 2003, we finally received our Certificate of Occupancy from the county and we moved in. I will say that our inspector was very amiable and was a tremendous help during the entire process. He came out to answer questions ahead of inspections, which gave me the opportunity to learn and fix things prior to a -real- inspection. This one things alone helped make the relationship a good one between myself and the inspector. It really built a trust in him that I wasn't trying to pull any fast ones on him, and it helped me build a better home.

Here are some highlights of our design and efficiencies:

  • Six inch wall panels rated at R-24, main floor and loft.
  • Eight inch concrete walls in the basement with 2½ inch foam insulation on both sides.
  • 11 inch roof panels rated at R-30+
  • High efficiency windows.
  • A high efficiencly Heat Pump rated for slightly more than the house needs.
  • Hardi-plank pre-stained siding.
  • Extra-heavy guage steel roofing.
  • Fully insulated garage.
  • Extra capacity Septic tank, larger than required by code.
  • Higher horse-power pump on the well to accomodate the available water supply (26 gpm)
  • Plumbed for central vac.
  • Plumbed for radiant heat in basement.
  • Extra large capacity Water heater.

All these items have given us a house that is very comfortble to live in year round. All rooms stay within a degree or two of each other and our utility bills are some of the lowest in the neighborhood.

We are very thankful to all those who helped us build out home. We broke the budget by a little bit but still got much more home for the money than we would have if someone else had done it for us. We are very pleased with what we ended up with, and we'd do it again.

To see more of the construction details, please visit the Gallery of photos.

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