Hints from the WWM

Blog Post
I visited the hovel and while the basic structure is complete, there are elements that are not – mostly finishing elements which include the kitchen and pantry countertops (concrete) and the bathroom countertops (marble), the bulk of the finished plumbing, etc. 
The photos that I’m dropping on the blog are the master shower (right) which has multi-directional valves on the walls, a bedroom (below) ad the kitchen as taken from the front door area.
I have advice for anyone interested in building a custom home and it’s the same advice that I’ve heard elsewhere. Budget for price +15-20% over what you expect to pay. All that will be cash. Budget for construction time plus 33%.
I know that Fredd is planning to construct a home closer to Aunt Sally’s (so he can go there for dinner more frequently) in Texas. Things may be different in Texas, but maybe not THAT different.
SO, caveat emptor.
If you throw enough money at the new house, or shack/hovel, you might end up getting a nice place. I reminded the general contractor about the propane generator while I was up there. He’d ‘forgotten’ and now it’s going in. Trust me, your contractor will have memory issues and you need to be able to remind them how the cow ate the cabbage.
The subcontractors on this project were really first rate as near as I can tell. What was done was done well. Ok, once I move in, I might have a different view of things, or maybe I’m just mesmerized by a 2000 square foot garage.

22 thoughts on “Hints from the WWM

  1. Yes, a 2000 sqft garage can boggle a guys brain pretty quickly.

    It's looking good, LL, and will be worth the wait.

    And yep, be prepared to find a zillion little things that "aren't quite right", from wrong wattage/color temp light bulbs, to loose fixtures paint drips, etc. We've been here almost a year, and I'm still sorting out things.

  2. I am the soul of patience when it comes to organizing to get things right. It's when I can't organize and prioritize that organization in my garage that frustrates me. The electrician is installing all of the lightbulbs so I hope that means that they're all the right units for the fixtures. I went with a lot of LEDs because they have a very long life.

  3. Bet your need for more funds to pay for the overage has motivated you to work harder/smarter/focused. Overall, a net gain.

  4. It's been a long grind from concept to plans to ground breaking to construction. I believe that it will be worth the effort.

  5. 2018 has been a rough year all the way around. I'm not going to lie. Not a bad year or an impossible year, but very challenging.

    I'm not looking for sympathy and things are still good. I'm going on vacation for a couple of weeks even if the house isn't completed and soak off the frustration in the sun, sand and ocean. I told the builder that. He can float the money he's out while I'm on vacation if the house isn't finished by Thanksgiving. I told him that I'll revisit the house on my return. I get along with him ok, but he's over schedule and poor planning on his part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

  6. Well, what a marvellous hovel it's turning out to be. Nice shower. Make sure you buy some exceptional shower foam from Kiehl's because supermarket soap just won't cut the grade.

  7. Looking like a little patch of paradise on Earth. Bathroom is gorgeous. Everything we can see is.

    My combined original garage and the "dream shop" we added are about 1200 sq ft. I don't have a car in there, do have a boat, and while it's full, it's still wonderful. 2000 sq ft will be good with two cars in there.

  8. I dealt with contractors (vendors) when I managed a capital equipment sales organization in several parts of the country: the midwest has the most reliable contractors, they usually show up when they say they will, costs run around what they quoted. That is, unless it's in Michigan and one of the 10 hunting seasons is underway: bow hunting comes first, then black powder, then open season, then special permits such as bear and other critters. Otherwise dependable vendors during hunting season will lie like a dog right to your face – so that they can spend the day freezing their nuts off in a deer blind.

    In Virginia/Maryland/Washington DC, vendors are ALL full of crap. Since fishing season is virtually year around, if the fish are biting, your project can just wait. No matter that you promised your customer that the vendor would be on the job site on such and such a date, doesn't matter; the fish are bitin.' To hell with you. And then when they return, they are truly surprised that you are madder than a wet hen because you promised your customer in blood that they would show up. The fish were bitin,' don't you understand? Or they will just lie like a rug, and tell you that their mom died (for the fourth time that year).

    Yes, we already have the plans for the Hovel-East, but it is nearly a four hour drive from Aunt Sally's (thank God). And I have not dealt with Texas vendors, we'll see how that works out. Our architect based in San Antonio is a stand-up guy (so far…)

  9. I'm more of a supermarket bar soap kind of guy. (purchased at a discount warehouse like Costco) Shampoo purchased at the same warehouse – but with short hair, it's not nearly as critical as it is with long blonde tresses.

  10. It's a very nice house, flooring turned out better than I thought it would. Showers turned out to be quite cool and started out (concept) by wandering through Arizona Tile. One of the problems (and it is a problem) with building a house from scratch is ALL OF THE CHOICES, from door stops and hinges to roofing material.

  11. We have the hunting/fishing season issue up in the Arizona highlands as well. I think that contributed significantly to the building time and stretched schedule.

    I didn't have a problem with the architect or the engineer. Because the hovel is sited on a ridge, we had a design that ended up being re-done (and new permits pulled) because of issues dealing with the elevation (map elevation, not altitude) and the move put us into even more difficult bedrock that needed to be blasted out before we sank the masonry, which translated to cost. However the architect didn't charge for the changes that needed to be made. I was very pleased with the masons used and with their work. They were not fast, but they were exceptionally good.

  12. Fredd,

    I just had a house built in the area near Bandera, Texas which is 40 some odd miles NW of San Antonio. We went through a rather large company that does custom homes (plans from their files or your own). During the process we found out about the problems with the various trade sub-contractors in this part of Texas. There were a number of issues with getting good, consistent work done by some of the trades. One crew was even bold enough to not come out because they just didn't "feel" like it. They got out here five days after the day they were supposed to show which included a weekend. Too, while visiting relatives in the DFW area the news actually pointed to the labor shortage in building construction. It is only exasperated by the continuing rebuilding in the Houston area because of Hurricane Harvey. I have a feeling from the anecdotal information I got that there are labor problems endemic to this general region in the South (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, etc.)

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