The Deavens Build at Twin Oaks

Events and milestones

2002 May 1-10
Jen first saw the lot, searching for houses. Her comment: "it looks kinda scrubby."

21-31 We walked the lot for the first time.  Note the great tree-fort tree!  Made an offer which was accepted.
2002 June 
Started the process of making house plans with our builder. Our realtor suggested a house plan that fit our needs, and we modified it slightly.


2002 July 
Soil tests performed on the lot.  Aidan even got to dig a test hole!  No problems, great soil conditions.
Initial site plan complete.
Lots of plan reworking, pricing with builder, excel spread sheets of what's in and out of our plan.
2002 August 
Tile selection first round (we will install the tile ourselves).  Fireplace selection.
Using a small 8HP wood chipper and some friends, we cleared the area around the house of anything less than about 2" in diameter.  The kids came out to the lot often, to play around in the woods, or just enjoy the great outdoors.  The hardest stuff to take down on the whole lot was honeysuckle.  They jammed the chain saw constantly.  Looking forward to fires made with them after we move in.
Plans are complete!  (basement, first floor, second floor.) 
We closed the deal.
2002 September 
Dave did minor clearing during lunchtime breaks from GE work.
We went on a vacation to Texas.
There's enough of a road to drive the truck onto the lot!  We rented some bigger chipper trailers, and cleared the larger trees on the lot in the house and septic field areas.  Dave replaced a clutch and a brake line in his truck -- sliced the brake line spinning tires in mud with chains on, trying to drag a big trailer chipper to the top of the lot. The culvert materials were delivered!  Something is happening! 
We did the final clearing and grubbing, removing some trees that we were sorry to see go. The kids pitched in!  At the end we had just some piles of wood chips and empty area for the house
Dave installed some wood fences around the trees we left within the construction zone. 
We went to pick out the final tile selections for the bathrooms.
2002 October 
A contractor was hired to grub out the area where the house will go (remove roots and organic material from the topsoil). They did a very poor job, so we'll have more work later when we landscape.
Septic field installed, left a big pile of great quality fill. From the top of the pile, a great panorama movie of the whole lot can be taken.
BROKE GROUND ON THE FOUNDATION! Topsoil stripped, hole dug.  Andy, the excavator operator, saved some trees for us by scooping them out and transplanting them. Our fill is excellent, and we used some to build the driveway

Wow, it turned out to be a big hole.  It was fun to walk inside. We are picking rocks to save for use later, building retaining walls or outdoor structures.  Here's another panoramic movie, with the hole in place

The footings were poured, the wall forms set, and then removed to leave the foundation walls.

2002 November 
The foundation was insulated and sealed with polymer sealer and Styrofoam panels. The main steel I-beam was placed in the central part of the foundation.  The foundation was backfilled. Stone was placed  in the garage and on the driveway. The drain for the footings was laid.
Building materials are dropped at the site for the framers.
A snowstorm hits!  Our materials and lot are covered in snow. The snow melts, and the roof trusses are delivered. The framers build the first floor with engineered I-beams.
2002 December 
It snowed again!  After that, the framers really went fast.  The bay window panel for the study went up first.
The great room window and transom wall went up. The first floor first-pass framing is complete. Now erecting walls on the second floor. The roof trusses were installed all at once with the help of a crane.
The windows were delivered to the site. It is starting to look like a house from the back and from the front! The great room looks a bit like a barn at this stage? The windows were installed and interior half walls framed. Skylights installed
2003 January 
Fireplace installed.  Roofing done. Now it really looks like a house! Garage tests OK -- the truck will fit. Rough plumbing work complete: basement grinder pump and vents/stacks. Plumbing pressure tests done. Septic installer called back to install the stub from the tank to the house. Because the north side of the house still had frost, a big excavator was used to trench.  Siding delivered to the site.
11-20 Knee walls for the upper and lower tub surrounds completed.  Dave installed 1 1/2" PVC conduit from the basement to the attic, for future wiring projects. Front door and sidelights installed (just a construction door at this point). Basement floor insulation laid, in preparation for basement flatwork. Tubs installed.  Begin installing house siding. Basement flatwork done in two passes. Electrical work begins (note the "universal design" switch height - lower than conventional). Siding is coming along. Curb appeal?
21-31 Garage door installed. Electrical work continues.  HVAC vents installed. Dave marked trees along the route for the electrical service to be buried - crossing our fingers that we can keep the trees. Siding completed (although we have some issues with it that need to be fixed). 
2003 February 
Dave installed rubberized asphalt coating on many of the plumbing pipes, to deaden sound.  Boxes and cable (monster speaker cable!) installed in the great room and speaker boxes also in the master bathroom, a last minute request from Jennifer. Conduit to the mantle space installed, in case we want to add an outlet there in the future.
After some tense discussion with the builder, a half wall was erected for the raised breakfast bar in our kitchen/great room.  While the thermal insulation was being installed, we also installed acoustic insulation in the interior walls. The electric company finally came, but they brought a rig that was too large for our taste -- so we asked them to go get a trenching machine instead.
Electrical installation completed,  interior gas lines installed. Furnace is on, but not connected to anything, just heating from the basement! Drywall starts! Tile materials delivered to the site... on three pallets.  It turned out to be a lot of tile. Of course, this went into the unpoured garage. We learned that our well driller went out of business before drilling our well. Thrills come with the territory.  We sold our current house in about 4 hours -- and are planning to close on May 15th.  Will we make it?
2003 March 
Drywall finished. The great room space is dramatic, and after the first primer coat the bridge area is looking pretty impressive -- very nice design by our architect. The kids like the place -- but it is a long way down from the bridge to the great room! Garage floor poured. Painting done (note our "unfinished" storage room accidentally got drywalled and painted). The tile had to be moved from the garage into the master bedroom and the storage room to make way for the garage flatwork. New well driller contracted to drill the well.
While installing cement board, Dave noticed that the wrong shower controls were installed -- oops, had to be replaced. Jennifer painted the kids rooms - purple for Mia and Blue for Aidan.  Well drilling crew (Todd and Dick) came, finished the 265' well casing in 24 hours, and installed the lateral and water pressure tank the next working day!  We have a good strong well, pumping water at 128'. Dave starts laying floor tile (mainly surface preparation). HVAC installer connects the basement plenums to the house ductwork, and begins to install the heat exchanger. Dave floats the sloped floor of the master bathroom shower.
21-31 Dave starts to lay tile - entryway first in an attempt to keep out of the other trades way in this final phase. Finish carpenters arrive! Jennifer and the kids go to Texas, so Dave tiles the downstairs bath floor and the upstairs bathroom floor, so that the cabinets may be installed on top of the tile. Kitchen cabinets are installed (another view). In order to properly install the door to the garage, Dave had to cut off some tile in the mudroom.  New tools abound: dry cut diamond saw and even a wet saw!  HVAC installers finish. Soft water installer tests the water.  All good but a mildly elevated iron level ~1.7ppm (typical).
2003 April
Transom windows and trim installed in the bedroom entrys. Kitchen cabinets raised 3/4" so that the maple flooring can be slipped under. Miscellaneous problems with the cabinet install corrected and hardware installed on the doors.  Landing and stairs from the mudroom to the garage installed.  Trim complete apart from the custom stairwork. Fireplace stonework installed. Dave installed the shower pan. Heat exchanger connections completed. The first pass at a handrail and balusters for the bridge is dryset, but we want a thicker handrail so that needs to be rebuilt. Dave started setting slate wall tiles in the upstairs bathroom. Electrician installs most of the interior and exterior lighting fixtures.
11-20 Bridge railing and balustrade completed. Work continues on the shower tile. Wall ovens installed -- they needed custom modifications of the cabinets. Installation of maple flooring in the great room starts. Slate border in the upstairs bath has to be broken out by air hammer and re-installed -- Dave forgot to do the border on one wall!  Front stairs and porch poured, finally -- but we'll have to wait until after occupancy to install the final metal railing.
21-30 Carpet installers come and do the whole house in a day and a half. The Viking range is connected and installed -- another custom cabinet modification. A 24' extension ladder can be used to adjust the skylights -- barely. (Dave had to climb up a few times to prevent rain damage).  Good thing they are remote controlled.  Bamboo floor in the powder room goes in -- first a shim to make it even with the entryway tile, then picture-framed bamboo. Dave laid out a custom cut tile mosaic based on Jen's design for the master bath shower floor. Dave installed some of the security system motion sensors.
2003 May
We moved in on the 2nd, although the kitchen countertops were not yet installed (we had temporary plywood counters). The counters were installed on the 5th, but one got cracked, so they will have to re-make it -- a process which requires several weeks. The kitchen is looking good. Jennifer's "from the moon" refrigerator was delivered and installed.  Dave burned lots of honeysuckle in the fire, taking revenge (see above section on "lot clearing"). Our punch list to the builder has more than 50 items on it. And we still have a few substantial items to complete ourselves.
16-31 Lots of work inside the house yet to be done.  We had to remove patio doors to stain and finish them, still need to finish the windows. Speakers mounted on the walls. Front entryway exterior painted (the railing is temporary). Security system installed -- all control terminals and door sensors now working.  Great room lights hung. Punch list now numbers 76 items, although many have been fixed - about 50 left to finish.
2003 June
Pot rack hung in the kitchen.  Here's a nice view of the great room from the hallway.The most serious item on the builder punch list is probably the bulge in the exterior siding. We may end up contracting our own installer to tear it off and re-install. Had to have two fireplace hearthstones replaced, they were the wrong color.
2003 July
We have lots of deer in our backyard.  Stone delivered for making landscaping walls.
2003 August
Landscapers pull the excavated dirt off of the trees in our front yard. Dave and Charles start building the mantel.  Aidan gets to drive a bobcat.  Stone walls built around trees and in front.  Dave and Charles complete the building of a playset in the back.  Back patio completed.
2003 September
Dirt for final landscape grade delivered.  Final grade and topsoil in, about $200 of sprinklers installed to water the newly-seeded the lawn.  Lawn starts to grow.
2003 October
Grass is in nicely.  Dave and Jennifer install a stone path in the back using stone donated by our landscaper.  Landscaping looks nice, we like the planting beds and tree on the north west corner.  Bought our first piece of new art for the house.