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Software techie and professional seamstress.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

That was fast!

It's been just under 2 months since my last post, and boy have things changed.

The house looks like... a house. They're installing the electrical systems today--HVAC and plumbing are already in as are the fireplace, windows and garage door.

So far, I've only found one thing that wasn't done right the first time--the doorway from the great room to the hall was installed backwards. My project manager got it fixed quickly and everything is looking good.

the corrected doorway
Guest bath/shower

I am SO excited about this exterior vent in the kitchen.

My new, big soaking tub
I ended up selecting the smallest available floor plan, mainly because I had major issues with the other plans. Here's a list of the things that struck me on many house plans I've looked at:
  • Walk-in closet off the master bath(or any bath)
One word: Moisture. A bathroom has a large amount of moisture, even with a good exhaust fan. WHY would you want your clothes right next to a main and continuous source of this? It's just asking for trouble. Even if your clothes don't get musty, moist environments are great for silverfish which love to eat cellulose (ie, cotton, rayon and linen)
  • Coat closet 10+ feet from the front door
Seriously, if the coat closet isn't right inside the front door, it's just a closet.
  • Laundry off kitchen or any main living area and/or laundry closet.
I'd much rather schlep my laundry to the other side of the house than have a pile of laundry in the kitchen. Also, even the best machines make noise. I want mine behind a solid door that I can shut. Finally, I do fabric dyeing. The utility sink will be in the garage--right outside the laundry room. Less distance between these two mean less mess.
  • Long, narrow approach to front door
I don't want myself or my guests to feel like they're approaching a back alley dive. Maybe I'm a little claustrophobic, too.
  • Access to common rooms through kitchen
My new kitchen is open to the 'great room', but I've seen some plans where you walk through the kitchen. I consider my kitchen private in some strange way. I don't mind you see it, but I'd rather no one have to walk through it to get to my main living area. Kinda seems like having to walk through the back garden to get into the house...

Laundry room

Monday, September 11, 2017

Thank Goodness I Like the Guy

I had my first appointment this morning with Casey, the project manager for my new house.
He seemed like a regular sort of guy, which is just what I was hoping for. Too slick means he doesn't actually do any of the work (and probably never has). Too rough--maybe he'll trash the place if you piss him off?
This guy struck me as someone who works hard and takes pride in doing a good job.  I told him my experience with rennovations and home-building and made it clear that I understand what it takes to build a house, and that I am very clear on what I am getting in a "production build".

He explained the post-tension slab foundation (which I was curious about), how they will handle things like cracked/weak studs (reinforce with additional boards) and the general timing of things. He seemed confident that I'll be moving in January. (!!!)

I stopped to get a photo, though things may change. When I left Casey was waiting to hear back if the forms needed to be moved. Apparently the plans used to set them were an inch off. He estimates the slab will be poured by the end of the month in any case.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Holy Sh** This is Actually Happening

My sales guy said I should hear about permits by the 8th, but I was ready for things to be delayed after all the damage and mess in the Houston area. That, and buying a house just a couple of weeks after deciding it was the right thing to do was starting feel a bit dream-like.

So when I got a text from Brandon (previously mentioned "sales guy") with this photo, my gut reaction was "oh crap. this is really going to happen." Yes, I'm more than a little freaked out at having a mortgage all on my own, but if I let fear keep me from doing things, I'd have a very different (and not anywhere near as fun) life.
So after work, I drove up to check things out and to see what my commute will be like. Without traffic, it is quick (less than 15 min), and easy--two toll roads and just 2 traffic lights.
I'll meet with the project manager, Casey, on Monday for the "pre-construction orientation".
My new back garden.

The rest of the back garden. Not much, but big enough.
Me in the future "Great Room"

From the curb (or kerb, for my UK friends)

From the front door

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This is fun

and scary! But mostly fun.

My mortgage loan is "gold certified" (whatever that means), I've finalized all the options. Now we wait for permits. I've been told we should break ground in 2-3 weeks now.
Today I received a few things I ordered from the UK.
Pulls for the kitchen
 I fell in love with these bin pulls as soon as I saw them. I bought enough to put on all the cabinet doors and drawers. They are darker than they appear in this image, but I still they are going to look great.
Railway signs
Since my first visit to Europe, I've wanted a "toilet" sign. Not just because it's cool, but it is practical. How many times have you had to give directions to your bathroom to guests. This takes all the guesswork out of it.
I also got the Laundry sign since a) I'll have a laundry room and b) it looks cool.
I had to get this sign for so many reasons. The main is that I, like most people, detest anyone coming to my door trying to sell something, especially religion. The funny thing is, I used to be one of those people. I was a kid and didn't have a choice, but still--we knocked on doors, spreading "the word" in an effort to save all those poor people who hadn't figured out that we had all the answers. I'm cured of that now...

I love the wording of this sign. I just hope anyone who thinks about knocking on my door to sell me something understands it. And sods off. ;)

Being the over zealous person that I am, I already have projects plan for after I move in. The first set will be installing a water softener, ceiling fans and cabinet pulls. Next up will probably be painting.
I've already got swatches. At some point I'll add board and batten and crown molding, and hopefully some cool craftsman-style borders.

and that is just the beginning...

Have a fantastic day!


Monday, August 21, 2017

Pretty sure it's too late to change my mind...

This morning I made the final selections and sign and initialed a few dozen papers. It's exciting and scary and emboldening.
I changed my mind about 200 times, fretting over colors and finishes and appliances. I've worked up a spreadsheet and my Pinterest account has seen more activity in the past 3 weeks than all the years I've had it. I can't imagine how overwhelming this is for someone who's never owned a house and knows nothing about home building.
One of things I love about having a new house built is that I'm able to add electrical outlets and light fixtures where ever I like. Especially good for the rooms I'm using for my studio.

Decisions I made:
Hardwood floors (technically engineered hardwood floors). I know tile is more durable and vinyl planking is easy to care for and replace damaged sections, but I like the look and feel of real wood.
Ideally, I'd have a Craftsman-style house, and that's the feeling I hope to exude in my new home.

Stainless steel appliances: I went back and forth on this, but ultimately it was the double-oven range that's only offered in stainless that made the choice for me. I would have preferred gas, but none of the new communities around here are running gas, and if they did, the added cost would have priced me out.

Range hood instead of a microwave/hood combo: I was all set to get the lovely, feature-filled microwave that would sit over the range. I like the one in my apartment, but then the hood isn't vented outside, so it's pretty useless. I got all excited about one that has a steam feature. Then I thought to myself "would I really steam anything in the microwave?" As it is, I only use it to heat things up and melt butter for crepe batter. Then I realized that a high-CFM vent would be far better for me. I can cook more 'smelly' things inside and not worry about the entire place smelling of it.

As much as I've like living in this complex, I'm looking forward to moving to my own place. Other than putting up shelves and ceiling fans, there won't be anything I'll have to do right away. I can take my time painting rooms and settling in. I'm excited about having a garden again, and already thinking about what vegetables to start with. First thing, though, will be to plant some trees. There isn't a single one in the entire subdivision since is was an agricultural field (there's still corn growing in the next one over)

Saturday, August 12, 2017


No one has asked me this yet, but I figure someone might be wondering why I chose to buy a newly built house over one I could buy much cheaper and renovate. I thought about, it since my ex and I did that twice and then built our own place here in Texas, with our own hands and the help of two fantastic guys from Guatemala, Oscar and Eddy.

Here's the list of features that won me over:
whole-house blown-in insulation and the option to upgrade ceiling insulation to R42
Double-glazed, UV tinted windows
9' ceilings throughout
Externally vented exhaust fan in kitchen
HVAC equipment located at side front of house, away from all living spaces
option to add outlets during build process(I'll add counter-height outlets in the den and secondary bedrooms)
covered patio (as in, under the roofline) I've really enjoyed the covered patio here at the apartment, and more importantly, so has Gabby.

On a more practical level, I'm much older now and though doing work on a house myself would be good exercise, I've decided I'm better off letting professionals build my house and I'll focus on building my technicals skills and expanding my sewing business again. I'll focus on custom bridal and alterations and teaching. I should have plenty of space for a couple of students in the new house, and a much better office space.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

and Then Things Got Even More Interesting...

My friend, Leslie, likes to say, "If you want something done, ask Juliette to do it."

The Bloke starting seriously encouraging me to buy house a few weeks ago. Just over a week ago, I decided to go for it. I started looking online, got an idea of what I could qualify for, and made an appointment with his realtor to look at "pre-owned" houses on Sunday. I completed a pre-qualification with her mortgage broker.
I'd already mentally rennovated a dozen houses by Saturday morning, but noticed that anything in my range that looked decent only lasted a few days before going into contract.
So Saturday morning I headed out to look at some new communities. Four, to be exact. What I realized was that the things that were really important would be difficult and costly, if not impossible, in an existing house (mind you, these are all build in the 70's and 80's).
I came home exhausted, checked in with The Bloke and went to take a nap. I didn't sleep. I had a foreboding sense of impending loss, that if I didn't move immediately, I'd miss out on this opportunity.
I asked The Bloke if he'd think me crazy for heading back and putting a deposit on a place. He said I should jump at the opportunity.

Soooo, less than 10 days after deciding to buy a house, I bought one.

Now, before you tell me I'm an idiot or that I'm rash and reckless, my ex-husband and I owned three primary homes (one built with our own hands and the help of two great guys from Guatemala, the other two we did massive rennovations on), two vacation homes and two investment properties with a partner. I know a few things about houses and building, and I have personally done framing, drywall and texturing, tiling and light electrical. I know how to use power tools. I also know how much work it all is, and that I'd be better off advancing my technicals skills and rebuilding my sewing business while professionals build me a house.

I get to focus on the fun stuff--flooring, finishes, paint colors (which I will do myself) and avoid the all too familar mess of living in a construction zone.
If you're interested in that sort of thing, here's my Pinterest board:

and here's my list so far of upgrades by catgory:

"I can't believe I have to pay extra for this since it doesn't really seem optional":


"I could live without this if I didn't live in Texas":
Plumbing for water softener
Wiring for ceiling fans
Ceiling insulation upgrade to R42

"It's Gabby's house, too":
Sliding glass door (to accommodate pet door)
Extend Covered Patio, add ceiling fan (okay, this is at least as much for me, but Gabby does love to sit on the patio)

"If I going through all this, the place should reflect my fantastic style and taste":
Hardwood floors in all "non-wet" areas
Marginal lite windows
Painted shaker-style cabinets
Upgraded tub with tile surround
Craftsman style front door
Bullnose finished corners

"This would be a major pain to do myself":
Plumbing for Utility sink in garage
Garage door opener
exterior outlet

So this is how a house can start at 'the low 200,000's!!! and end up in the high 400,000's. Just kidding--it's not THAT bad, but sheesh, this stuff adds up FAST.

More to come--I've got six months to obsess about this stuff.
What the hell am I doing?