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The Journey of building a house....the planner and the doer.

Updated on February 13, 2012

Building a house, the vision his and hers

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The vision

When my husband was about to retire from 20 years in the United States Airforce he was looking into teaching JROTC and I was hoping to stay within two hours of my home town of Amory, Mississippi. Looking at the list of JROTC openings in our area of interest Scott mentioned Bay Springs, Mississippi to which I said "nay nay" that is hurricane territory (Bay Springs was blown away the next year by hurricane Katrina). But aas luck would have it there was an opening in Jackson, Tennessee. I had ridden through there a couple of years earlier while on a trip to National softball championship with my daughter, Jennifer and her college softball team. Jackson is in a rolling landscape centrally located between Nashville, Memphis, and as was His plan, Amory, Mississippi. Yay! Score!! So we decided to look there and me being me I researched places to live online. I found a pretty little plot of land with a cabin on it and set up an appointment with a realtor. Scott said "dont you think you are getting ahead of yourself? We havent even been offered the job yet?" I said if I cant find a good place to live then there is no reason to accept a job there." This should have been the first sign of what was to happen over and over for the rest of our marriage. Explanation to follow. We went, we looked, we loved it. Even after looking at 20 more places we came back to it. Scott was offered the job, I found a job, we bought the cabin and 26 acres. Now I need to just say that the idea was to live in the miniscule cabin for no more than six months and start building our house. When I say miniscule, I mean there wasnt a room large enough for our king sized bed. We had to enclose the carport for our bed to fit. Almost three years later Scott comes in the cabin and there is a strange man standing there with me. I introduce our contractor, Richard. We knew we wanted to do as much energy effiency as possible without living in a rectangular box. We wanted our house to have charm and character. We went to a solar seminar. Solar was so expensive then, but by the time we got ready to purchase it we got twice the size for half the price of the original. Yay another score!! We decided on spray in soybean insulation in an envelope system. We agreed on these things. We knew we wanted travertine tile on the whole first floor, stained concrete in the basement and hardwood on the second floor. All this meant cold floors so we decided to put in radiant floor heating ..ourselves. The basement was finally dug in the worst drought that Tennessee has ever seen. It is May and we are laying the tubing in the basement floor of a basement that is truly only concrete block walls at this point. Taking a break, I am leaned against the wall looking up at the sky and I asked Scott "What do you think about blue for the upstairs bedroom walls?" He turned and looked at me like I had just started spewing pea soup from my mouth and said " We dont even have concrete in the basement floor and you are asking me about upstiars paint colors? Give me a break, Sherry." (Another sign) To which I replied, "ok so you don't get to choose." We finished the radiant floor tubing, the concrete was poured and construction went on, painfully slow." I had made changes to the blueprint before giving copies to various subcontractors and to Richard. I eliminated 11 windows but 26 windows remain. I went about choosing energy effience doors and windows for the best price I could find. One day I went in the house and the framers had cut the opening for the basement stairs....in the wrong place. i pointed this out to them and after arguing they finally figured out that I was right. Duh!! After the second floor was framed Scott and I topped the hill leading up to the house and I said, 'Holy crap they put a wall in the wrong place." He said, "You need to stop harassing the framers." I said I am telling you that wall is the wrong place. " Sure enough I was right... again. Scott began to be a believer. He went up to ask about the wall in the wrong place and scratching his head, framer guy said he didnt know. Scott said where is the blueprint? In the truck, he was told. Dont you think you should have it with you, I can tell you my wife knows that blueprint backward and forward and you should too Realizing they had messed, up the framers asked if we wanted them to tear it down or make it work. We didnt want them to leave for the day so we said just leave it. They were so relieved they left for the day anyway. :( . We decided that this grandson of the real framer guy was way over his head and that fact was proven when the granddad came back to the job. More work was done in the two weeks he was on site than on the previous two months. Finally we get it framed and a roof on it. I got the basement floor stained and the doors and windows are in. Electrical and plumbing is roughed in. The drywallers come in and in record time they are out of there. Wow !! Now it is all us. We paint ( I had chosen colors before the concrete was poured), we start to tile, we(I) lay the hardwood. Our new mattress is being delivered to our master bedroom that Scott has finished tiling. An idea is born to me. I announce to Scott that he should install a commode in our master bath (even though we have no interior doors) because I will not be sleeping in the cabin once my new matress is delivered. He did and I loaded a trailer and started moving stuff in. Not but a few days after Scott comes to me with what we call an "Oh Sh_t !" look on his face. "Sherry! We are moving in and we cannot afford to decorate those upstairs bedrooms!!!" I burst out laughing and answered smuggly, " All bought and paid for. You didnt want to think about it so you didnt get to choose. I made a decison and found stuff on sale to decorate with." (Another sign) If you havent figured it out yet all signs point to this. Most men,, and my husband in particular cannot think ahead. They can only focus on the task at hand, whatever that may be. Only one project may be started at any given time and until that project is finished no other projects can be accomplished. This is super duper frustrating when one needs closet rods to hang clothes and a kitchen sink in which to wash dishes at the same time. And for a planner like myself all of this is on paper ready for the go ahead from the doer like himself. At one point I begged for closet rods and finally got them. Later the same day I stated that not one more meal would be cooked until a kitchen sink was installed. "Sure", he said that Friday night," that shouldnt take me but a couple of hours". Sunday night when he finished. :) "I said I will install the garbage disposal".Scott"have you ever wired anything before?" Nothing important". And I must have had a sheepish look on my face because he asked again a little more pointedly "have you EVER wired ANYTHING before?". I said" no, but how hard can it be if our ridiculous electrician can do it?" So I installed the garbage disposal and wired it and it still works to this day. We are now in our fourth year of living here and have just gotten under the window trim and shoe moulding in places. He finally finished his office upstairs and the bath in the basement. Two years ago, like he didnt have anything else to do, he started a masters of family counseling course at night. OMG! Now here I sat with not only no one to talk to but the dogs, three channels on the tv because we had satellite tv canceled when we started building, but a lot of unfinished projects staring me in the face. We are talking upstairs closets had no rods or shelves for example. So I decided I would design and implement those things. I drew them off, figured out the materials and built and painted them myself. A huge sense of accomplishment and it makes it so much easier to organize things. It also inspired me to continue my little projects and I do. Why not? Well one why not is because it involves power tools. I shot a staple through my finger with a pneumatic stapler. But other than the fact that I am absolutely measuring impaired that is the only mishap I have had with power tools. I just have to be situationly aware. We are now installing a new stove venthood and backsplash in our kitchen. After much cussing and discussing we finally agreed on a decorative stove vent that did not cost $3000, agreed on a color and who would apply it, (he is the stainer and I am the painter), the materials for the backspash (bought and paid for last year and have been sitting in the coat closet ever since), and agreed on a design for the backsplash. YAY SCORE!! We even agreed to get it done this coming weekend as I was not going to Houston, Texas to be 24 hour a day Nonna to NS while her parents are out of the country, and I wasnt going to Amory, MS to be painter and cleaner to my mother, or get up with the new grandson, LK, all during the night. (Which I love by the way). And he wasnt taking a load of stuff to our son in Knoxville or having to go to class. I will take some pictures of that project and let you know how all that goes. There are some challenges due to floor plan change (remember all that was done pre framing but wasnt taken into consideration? whole other story)

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    • sparkhurst profile image
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      Sherry 5 years ago from Jackson, Tennessee

      Also I would like to add that we arent quite finished with the outside just yet. We added a pool last summer just in time for me to lie in it everyday since I wasn't working full time plus anymore. But the front porch is in need of some curb appeal.

    • sparkhurst profile image
      Author

      Sherry 5 years ago from Jackson, Tennessee

      Thank you, Mighty Mom. This was my virgin voyage. :)

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi sparkhurst. Great first hub. Love the photos -- really cool house. As you write more you will get comfortable with all the different capsules (tips and tricks to make hubs as readable and attractive as possible). I can tell you have a ton of practical experience to share with the world. Happy hubbing. MM

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      Husband Scott 5 years ago

      Nice synopsis honey. You captured the essence of the project....but dont forget to tell folks that they should NOT be afraid of this kind of undertaking. We grew very close during thi time. I was amazed at the many talents my wife has. We were a good team.