After framing was complete and while insulation was going in, I had a chance to walkthrough the build with our builder. Our build site is about an hour from our home, so we weren’t able to visit the site on a daily basis, or even on a weekly basis during parts of the year. When we could, we tried to coordinate our visits for times when Shaun was on-site so we could talk about any issues that cropped up or decisions that needed to be made.
The Little Things
This time around, the walkthrough focused a lot on little decisions and updates. For example, our framing inspection was slowed down because the building inspectors wanted a “height survey” to make sure we weren’t over the maximum allowable build height. We weren’t, but why the “height survey” didn’t involve just dropping a tape measure from the roof I’ll never understand.
As far as decisions went, we decided we wanted sound insulation between the “private” side of the house, with the bedrooms and my office, and the “public” side of the house with the common areas.
We also refined the dimensions of the bench around our peninsula fireplace – we wanted a comfortable place to sit that wasn’t so big to be in the way.
By this point all of the rough electrical was finished, so part of the walkthrough also involved confirming that light fixtures and switches were in the right spots. We had a couple of edits – for example, our downstairs vanity was so wide (80″) that a single light fixture couldn’t span both sinks. So we needed to run a second wire for a second fixture. But there were only a few edits, all pretty minor.
Another minor decision: our girls’ bedrooms are mirrored, with one exception: the bedroom on the exterior wall has a small step-down in the exterior wall due to the concrete following the slope of the hill. Did we want that to be a drywalled shelf, or did we want to move the wall a couple of inches into the room to have a flat wall? The answer was: whatever is easiest.
The answer was the same for “what drywall texture do you want?” With minor exceptions, I’ve never walked into a room and thought “hey, this drywall texture is awesome!”
We also had to refine a bit where our different siding materials came together. The board-and-batten on the house will get a coat of grey paint, and the green sections will eventually be clad in blackened pine. But we went over where the two materials met and how that interfaced with the deck line.
Next up, we would need to start choosing exterior finishes. Though COVID had a big impact on lumber prices, it didn’t seem to have such a large impact on the prices of interior finishes, like tile and paint. But there was a lot of building going on, and so the availability of interior finishes was a bigger issue.
Instead of emailing back and forth with Shaun – “Hey, we like this tile that’s in stock,” and then a couple of weeks later when he tries to order it it’s out of stock, we decided to take a different approach. The plan was for Shaun to get us a big spreadsheet of all of the interior decisions we needed to make: wall color, flooring, vanities, toilets, plumbing fixtures – all of the things. Including how much of the things we needed: how many square feet of flooring/tile/etc. And finally, the budget we had for the things, since it’s possible to buy tile for $2 per square foot or $20 per square foot. Once we got the big punchlist we could start to work through it and purchase the items directly, rather than routing the decisions through Shaun. That was still to come.