Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh, my!

Delivered and ready.

          Exterior doors
Sun tunnel master bath
       Pocket door frames
        Stairs to basement

The past two weeks have found everyone imaginable visiting the house and asking us to determine the “where and what”. First arrived the HVAC  technician. He is as toasty and warm as I hope our heating system will be! Besides trying to decide where the thermostat will be placed, he inquired where the two returns would be located.

Painful flashback to 1990 and Chestnut Drive blueprints. Enter HVAC asking where to place returns!  We installed through the family room closet up to the second floor through one of the girls’ closets. It was painless.

This time, with an open concept home, one doesn’t have many closets in which to install a return. I admit it was a challenge…and no suitable location could be found that day.

Fortunately, my hubby and Mr. HVAC figured out a plan after I had left the site. One is in the pantry where space was ample. The other is on a short wall as you enter the master bedroom; not ideal but better than anywhere else. Note to self if we ever build again…draw in where your HVAC returns are going to be located!

                        Entering Master

Along the way I finally figured out what the acronym HVAC means… heating, ventilation and air conditioning. I know, I know…simple, right!?

Next came the roofers. A sigh of relief as the chosen color of black became a soft black when actually applied.

A week later, the metal roofing at the front and side is applied. I love it!

   Roof dappled by light through trees.
          Standing Seam Metal Roof

Knocking at the door next was the soft-spoken and patient electrician.  An additional blueprint sheet, marked with every can, fixture, receptacle, etc., had been completed many weeks ago on my computer hoping to make this meeting efficient. Two and a half hours later, the electrician and I ended the task. One day later, the process of reviewing where a receptacle would be and if another can was needed…that’s right…I made revisions with my hubby alongside me and ended the evening printing pages for the electrician. All is good!

Or was it? All was good until I took a little trip and spent a few nights with my artist friend. Through conversations and a visit to her studio, I was armed with better information on how best to light a painting in the kitchen area as well as how to light my studio. Another note to the patient and soft-spoken electrician…

Finally, the last visitor for the week would be the sound system guys. This time hubby and I were on site to walk-through. I could not tell you what one single item to which they referred looks like or what function it performs until they spoke the word, “television“! Which brings me to a dialogue exchange between hubby and me.

      Me: (spoken to the audio guy) I’d like a tv here on this wall.” 

      Hubby: “You know how I feel about tvs in the bedroom.”

       Me: “I have lived 40 years without a tv in our bedroom, and I want to live the next 40 years with one.” (spoken gently, of course)

Thus ends another week in the house-building process.



Making a List and Checking it Twice


Okay, I know…I make lists as do many of you, but the difference in my list is I check it more than twice! Let’s say I edit my lists more than necessary. There are so many, many exciting products on the market that it is often difficult to choose only one. Have you seen how many different kitchen faucets are offered to the consumer?! The kitchen faucet, fortunately, is one decision I made early on and never waivered.

          Kitchen Faucet

Lighting above the kitchen island is more of a challenge. I am slowly narrowing it down…slowly…molasses is coming to mind.

Back to my list…we can check off the following:


So, last Friday the builder, workers and I enjoyed lunch together. I always enjoy the time I have visiting with everyone, and bringing cookies or lunch makes it worth their time!

  • Windows ordered, delivered & installed.

The only decision needed was which direction the casement windows on the front of the house should open. I made the decision easily because in reality, those two windows will rarely be opened.

One goal we had when modifying our original blueprint was to have light or a window in every room. While we will have a sun tunnel in the master dressing area, we didn’t want to neglect the walk-in shower.

                         Master Shower
  • Fill-in with gravel around house.

FIFTEEN truckloads of gravel were used to fill in around the entire house which equals approximately 200 tons! A-m-a-z-i-n-g! Remember our home is a wood foundation, so the gravel is essential to draw any water away from the foundation.

We could finally visualize our porch. The garage is beginning construction. This is a view from our family room. On this day, we decided to extend our porch more allowing us a spacious area not only for relaxing but for dining as well.

     View out to porch and garage
  • Be Excited!

This was easy to check off our list because with the house almost dried in, one can really begin to picture the rooms and how it will look when finished.


Roof Trusses

I know! Is this not cool?! It is actually a rendering of the roof trusses sheltering the first floor family room. Here’s more….

2D Rendering
Another View
If I were a bird!

Our builder shared an app this morning with us, Mitek Sapphire. I downloaded it on my iPhone, and it is just what I needed this morning as a distraction. I awoke from a dream about neighbors on Claremont Avenue. (760 Claremont Avenue will be our new street address.) In addition to my subconscious mind messing with me, I was second- guessing our roof color selection as I retired to bed last night. This morning I shot off a quick text to our builder and will be off to look at shingles with my sample stone and stucco color in hand. I am hoping the brand we wish to use has a gray without a blue, green or purple undertone; otherwise it will have to be black.

Now for some actual photos of the roof being installed. As you can tell, the roof is rather complicated which means a little longer for the workers to linger in the air!

Lift me up!
Measuring and Balancing

We do not often travel to town to see the house since it is forty minutes away from us, but there are specific stages of the building process I strive to see. One is the pouring of the concrete in the basement. While I did not arrive early enough to see the concrete mixed and poured, I did arrive as the floor was being smoothed using this piece of equipment.

(Stock Photo)
Looking in from the outside

I have to admit…it is starting to feel like home!


Walk the Plank

       View from Churchville

The snow is falling and I have a beautiful view out the picture window. You cannot see the mountains due to the low visibility, but the sight is beautiful nonetheless. My African violet (blooming) is over 15 years old. It provided color at the lake house for seven years. Thankfully, it continues to enjoy life and bloom in Churchville!

So, what does the title of this post mean?! Walk the Plank. Take a look.

                Kitchen Door Entry

It was with deliberate small steps that I ascended into the house! I do not care to walk up those stairs that have no risers you often must use during the building process much less a precarious plank.

One stumble and …

                      Ten foot drop

This past Tuesday, the “wall” of our master bedroom had been constructed and vertical.

             Master Bedroom

Two days later, the worker bees are busy nailing and raising the “walls”.

                            Front Door
          Side wall with bedroom and master bath
     Windows and door in family room

Individually, we tend to go by the site when either of us can fit it into our schedule since we do not living in Harrisonburg. This past weekend, we made time to go visit the site together. Because our morning room (aka breakfast room) is on the smaller side, I wanted to pull out the ole’ tape measurer. One wall was definitely missing an inch or two. I don’t know what the standard error of measurement in building is, and there probably shouldn’t be one, but I know I need every inch from the blueprint in that room. Yes, I worried I was exhibiting beyond my Type A personality…This morning a conversation with our builder clarified everything since the builder was on the site despite the snow falling.  The framer had carried the 2 x 6 boards from the front porch all the way to the inside walls of the morning room. It did expand my foyer by approximately three inches, but the extra inches in the foyer are not of consequence to us. So, in the snow today, the framers are working and all will be corrected. Side note: The dimensions in the house gain inches due to the foundation.

We spent many, many months on our blueprints hoping to avoid any changes once construction began. Did we really think we could begin and end with no changes?!

1st change: Remove doors and switch to pocket doors.

Our draftsperson allowed 2 x 6 walls for pocket doors and our builder only needs 2 x 4. This prompted us to add a pocket door to the laundry room and the half bath. The half bath always presented a challenge for arrangement of toilet/vanity and door, so to add a pocket door without taking up any of the hallway width was wonderful. Eclisse sells pocket doors with soft close that may be desirable for the half bath; perhaps a better locking system as well.

              Laundry and Half Bath Doors                                        pre-pocket doors

2nd Change: This via our builder.


“Why not remove the columns on the porch and replace with two 14-inch LVLs for a beam. Removal allows a clear sightline to the backyard.” YES! Truss engineers were consulted, and it is a “go”!

We are so thankful to have a builder who is continually using his experience and his own homeowner desires to present ideas to us.

                                      It’s a wrap!


Up, Up and Away

                               Walk-Out Basement

While I was eating lunch with a good friend in Staunton, Steve was snapping photos! I cannot believe how quickly a day or two makes a difference. Loving the sun shining even though this is the walkout basement – double glass doors and a window where Steve will have his “man cave”! That translates to trophy room with mounted animal heads such as Blackie the Bear and several deer as well as a stuffed pheasant and wild turkey. The antelope Steve shot in Wyoming this past October has yet to be mounted, but I do believe it will be on a wall somewhere on the first floor. Yes, I know what you are thinking, but an antelope will  add a special (unique?!) touch to the decor.  I am still contemplating exactly where this antelope will be placed. Perhaps I will need to wait until he returns from the taxidermist.

                              First Floor Joists

Earlier this week we met with our builder about the front elevation. Our last house had six steps to the front door. Those six steps translate to five treads and six risers. Terminology is critical when communication desires and wishes with owner and builder. Our blueprint had two steps to the front door…wouldn’t that be grand?! So to take into consideration the topography of the lot and the desire to have as few steps as possible, we finally reached a consensus. Three treads and four risers. I’ve enjoyed using Mark-Up so I have a visual, and easy to share with the builder in case words do not suffice.


I leave for a trip to Florida with my friend on Monday for the week. Wonder what a visit upon my return will hold…stay tuned!

Heave Ho!

Lumber has arrived!

So, it has been awhile since a post has been seen here due to a “pause” in construction. A few life challenges took place for our builder during which time it was a challenge to give attention to the building process. Life happens. Perfectly understandable. Our patience abounds for the creation of our home; we have already waited a good length of time for this home to be built, so should a week or two really matter?!

The visit to the lot, aka muddy lot, happened earlier this week. Having a chance to meet the guys working on the foundation was great…and watching all three guys heave and ho the foundation framing from ground to upright made me appreciative of their job. These guys hand hammered every nail. No nail gun here! 20-penny nails are required to attach the wood used for the foundation.

Let’s tackle the word “penny” first. “Most common nails, used in wood to wood construction, are referred to in “d” or penny terminology. The d is the symbol for penny, which can be traced back as far as the Ancient Roman Empire. There are two theories as to how exactly the measurement came into being, but what is conclusive is that the d stands for the Roman coin denarius, or in English, the penny. The denarius was the coin which many a person used in the Roman Empire during the time when Rome occupied what is now England, so that’s why it’s called a penny but uses a “d” as the symbol. Now you know!”  (

Layman terms: A 20-penny nail is 4″ long.

Next topic…the nature of the wood. Yes, this home will have a permanent wood foundation and not a masonry (concrete) foundation.  “Oh, my,” many of you are thinking. On wood foundations, there are devout believers, and there are naysayers alike.

My childhood home was constructed using creosote-treated lumber and resisted damage from water, pests, and the like.  Of course, creosote is no longer an acceptable preservative, but during that time, (1950) it was widely accepted. So, while creosote cannot be used today, the wood used for a permanent wood foundation must be specifically treated and labeled to indicate such.

FDN Label

The properly treated wood and correct installation is key to the success of a wood foundation providing a warm and dry basement of your home. Our builder has built many, many homes with wood foundations. After chatting with homeowners and conducting some research, we chose a permanent wood foundation.

So after the guys hammered and hammered, the second frame was hoisted. Heave, ho! (I think they could have used an extra person, but who would snap the pics then?!)

By the end of this week, all “walls” should be complete. Woo-hoo!

Porta Potty

           Little visions can bring joy!

Supposedly the invention of porta-potties began in the ’40s when shipbuilders were losing time by having to trek to a facility throughout the workday.  This porta potty sighting last Saturday made us smile; not because we were in need, but because we knew workers were on site daily.

While I am on the subject, many days have been spent researching and reviewing the subject of toilets!

Toto toilets have the distinction of being rated highest among consumers. While I yearn to have a Neorest Toto, the price tag at >$5,000 is a tad prohibitive. Smiles! The Drake Toto model, of which there are several, appears to be rated highly and is affordable.

One forum extremely helpful for any advice and answers to your questions on plumbing is Terry Love’s. For example, if using a Kohler white tub, will the Toto toilet in White Cotton match? Did you ever think about the whites in your bathroom matching or at least complementing one another?!

The plumbing rough-in occurs soon after framing, so I have been armchairing research on bath fixtures, too.

  • What style? contemporary, transitional…
  • What finish? Matte black, polished nickel, champagne bronze…
  • How many handles? One, two, wall mounted…
  • Which shower head? Rain shower, handheld, combo…2.0 or 2.5 gpm
  • Which toilets? elongated, round, square (yes, there are square ones now!) one piece, two piece, wall mount… front lever, side lever, right, left…Oh, my!

Black may be the new gray?!  For Bath #2, aka girls’ bathroom, I am influenced by the trending matte black finishes while still favoring my all-time favorite chrome. I love the shine and look of chrome in a black and white bathroom, but matte black could be striking. Perhaps the analogy of “infatuation or love” is apropos.

With a black and white tiled floor (pattern tbd) and vanity with marble countertop (tbd), chrome or matte black should work. Opinions are welcome!

So what exactly have you decided upon for Bath #2, you may ask?! Drumroll…The Kohler white drop-in tub because I know it will match perfectly the Toto toilet in White Cotton.




Drive By


After visiting our good friends for their annual Christmas Eve family gathering, I suggested (instructed) our driver (my husband) to drive through our future neighborhood and enjoy the holiday lights. (Yes, it wasn’t to drive by and enjoy the lights as everyone else does during this time of year.  I freely admit it…my wheels are turning and I am already planning how to deck out the exterior of our house come December 2018!)

Would I love the neighborhood to get on board and follow Sunset Hills in all its glorious color and lights?!  The annual drive through Sunset Hills in my hometown is nothing short of amazing.

Of course, you need an older established neighborhood (Sunset Hills circa 1924) and trees…alas, there are not many trees in our new neighborhood. It wasn’t that long ago that the land was used for farming which explains the lack of trees. So, wherever you are, plant a hardwood: oak, maple, and hickory.

Oh, and I found out some of the trees chopped down on our lot last week are (were) hickory! Hickory! It is definitely one of the most popular woods used these days for flooring. While we both love it, we decided on European Oak. I digress and will share later about floors, paints, stone, plumbing, kitchen…

Merry, merry to one and all!

Tonka Toy

I couldn’t resist driving by last week if only to see those pink ribbons again. What a surprise to see the excavator’s sign planted in the ground!

And if that small sign with the Tonka toy wasn’t thrilling enough, take a look at what Miss Utility left!

Temporary electric pole

Wow! It doesn’t get any better…or does it?!

Remember the arched casement windows on the front of the house? The casements are the only historically accurate component, and one of the most expensive, for this style exterior.  Anyway, I attempted to locate the exact spot of our Morning Room where one of the casements will be located. Ahh…

         Sipping Coffee with Massanutten Mtn.

Site Staked

                                                                                   Our lot

We are building in a neighborhood that requires approval through the submission of blueprints, site plan, paperwork, blah, blah, blah….Most of the paperwork is so repetitive you begin to question whether you should build or not in this neighborhood! Sheet after sheet requests the color of your roof,  your name, etc., when you have already supplied it on the first sheet of many. How many times do you need to provide it?! (To be fair to anyone building, more times than not your chosen builder will complete and submit the paperwork for you.)

Even more interesting, and the first challenge for us, was writing down not only the color of roof (black) but we had to include the brand. At that time, we only knew we were doing a black roof. Oh, wait, we hadn’t really decided on the stone and stucco so a gray roof may look better than black.

Hmm… “Let’s write down black.”

“We don’t know what brand the builder likes to use and forgot to ask, so let’s put down GAF.”

Stone: Brand and color. “Okay. El Dorado and gray.” We knew it would be El Dorado because our builder provided that brand as one to use. That was not specific enough for the approval committee, so we wrote down “Andante Fieldledge or Falling Springs”. Yes, I had looked at several stone profiles and colors already but had not decided. (Whisper, whisper…we have not decided yet!)

Facia, rake, door color, window trim…all the things we needed to know way before breaking ground and making those final decisions!

Alas, we were approved a week ago with very little scarring from the experience, and within days the lot was staked.

Love the pink ribbon on wood stakes!

 Where is the front door to be located?!