Home Building – the Struggle

The New House in Progress
The New House in Progress – Our Guest Cabin is at the Left

I don’t know if I’ve shared that we are building a home in our new state of Maine. We are.

It all began with an innocent conversation a few years ago on the front porch of the old house. We loved being in Maine so much and we didn’t like having to leave to return to Florida when the summer was over. The seeds were planted. Tom, who had opened and closed the “camp” for 30 years was on board immediately to help us realize the dream.

A few years of research which included talking to someone who would lift the old camp and build a “foundation” underneath the existing house, lots of discussions about whether that was even feasible because of the age of the structure and nothing inside was up to the current code (and construction requires bringing the structure up to code) including the second floor floor joists, electric, plumbing, and the list went on.

Fast forward to April 2015 when we arrived in Maine with all of our belongings and a permit to replace the old house with a new house and a custom home, design that was very close to the design of the original house.

 

May 20, 2015
May 20, 2015

On May 20th the old house was demolished. On July 5th the slab for the new foundation was begun and the framing for the first floor was started on July 13th. Today marks almost three months and two weeks since the framing started and I’m getting impatient to be in the house for many reasons.

The guest cottage is getting smaller by the day – we live in roughly 200 square feet of uninsulated space with three dogs and a propane burner. It’s getting colder outside (in the lower 30s this morning). I want to move forward and I feel like we’re back to baby steps … (nobody is here today) and there is still a lot to be done.

 

We’ve also hit a few bumps in the road over the past week or two which may further delay our moving in.

Cabinets ordered through Home Depot were not the right size (their fault) and had to be returned. Some of the cabinets, despite not being what I had specifically said that we wanted, were already installed and can’t be returned or exchanged. They are supposed to be delivered next week. We have had to postpone the countertop template measuring because of the cabinet problem which will delay the countertops (since I am not sure whether I have faith in Home Depot’s promise to “make it right” since it was not our fault.)
We may not have a kitchen until after Thanksgiving.

The washer and dryer that Sears labeled as stackable stand 78 inches high. The dryer controls are on the top front of the dryer … I’m not sure how they call this stackable unless they’re for someone who is at least six feet tall. I am not. And, since I’m not getting younger – surely this experience is aging me prematurely! – I am not going to plan to use a step stool to get me to that height. Back they go. Leaving us with quite a challenge of finding a normal-sized washer and dryer that will fit in our tiny utility room … and praying that everything else that we need will fit in there with the washer and dryer. By code, the boiler and water holding tank and electric panel, etc. have to be certain distances from each other and vent to the outside. We will be close.

The electrician has been told to wrap it up by the end of this week. Today the generator came home (when the power guy asks if you’re going to have one you get one). We haven’t bought even one light and we are having difficulty agreeing on what we will buy. Neither of us loves anything at the local Lowe’s or Home Depot and there aren’t a lot of choices here in Central Maine.

We have no bathroom counters/cabinets to date. We wanted to use an old bureau that we had as a guest room bathroom cabinet but it turned out to have a veneer top which warped and will not work. We may have found its replacement at an antique store in Augusta. TBA. Our master bath is another thing entirely. Ned wanted to use the old beams from the old house as a counter … had them cut at a local lumberyard and they don’t line up properly. We don’t have the right tools to make them line up. Out they came. He and Tom are supposed to build something custom for the space. For now, there’s nothing there.

The front door handle/latch that was just installed is broken … if we close the door and latch it we can’t get in or out again. We bought three of the same from Home Depot … had them re-keyed so we only have one key. Now what?

The Guest Cottage
The Guest Cottage (the dock parts have been removed!)

Did I mention that nobody’s here today? It’s a source of frustration for me that we seem to have days when nothing gets done … and it’s getting cold. I am struggling with bouts of depression and anxiety. I long to be living a normal life again in a home with heat and our stuff around us. Moving is stressful. Starting a new life again is stressful. Building a house is stressful. And it was my expectation – because I was told – that we’d be in three months after the framing began … and it’s already two weeks past that. Then is was November 1 … but it seems that we’ll be passing that date, too. This adventure is getting less and less fun with every week that passes.

IMG_4948I know I’m lucky to be building a house that’s so beautiful and to be able to live here. Logically, I get it. Stuff happens. Delays happen. The struggle is in getting the last details finished and getting the construction team out here to wrap it up and finish things up so that we can get our life out of storage and out of this holding pattern and start our new life. I had hoped it would happen before our family arrives for Thanksgiving. It makes my heart ache to think that it may not happen.

Gone varnishing.

 

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