A Journey Through Home Building

From the Blog

Posted by Mike at 10:14 am

Originally I had planned to pour concrete counter tops for the kitchen. I did it in a previous house and thought they looked awesome. But that was way back in initial planning when we were going to have hardwood floors. We ended up putting in concrete floors and we figured more concrete would have been too much. And fortunately we found some money in our budget so we decided to get granite.

We looked at a lot of granite suppliers in the Denver area and it was really hard to pick out a slab. It’s amazing how every store has just about the exact same stone and none of them really jumped out. Let me clarify, none that we could afford jumped out. There were lots of “exotic” slabs that were amazing. To make it a little more difficult, we had a long dimension on the south wall and I didn’t want to have a seam. So we needed a slab about 126″ long and most slabs are about 110″. After several days and many hours of looking at stone we finally picked a slab that was okay, but neither of us were super excited about it. Then on the way home we decided to stop in one more place we had been before and there was our slab. We were both really pleased. It has some really cool textures and we love it. On top of that, we could get all our counters out of the one slab and we even had extra for the window sills in the kitchen. I guess things happen for a reason.

Note: I made all the kitchen cabinets out of 3/4″ maple plywood. You can see the unfinished base cabinets here. I am currently in the process of making the drawer boxes and door fronts as well as the upper cabinets.

Posted by Mike at 9:38 am

Landscaping is expensive. I mentioned this in a previous post. We got a bid for about $20,000. That’s CRAZY!  Actually, I wish we could afford to hire someone for all it, but we can’t. Most of it I could do myself, but it would take a lot of heavy labor. So we decided we’d do some things ourselves like put in the irrigation system, put in plants and trees, and seed or sod some grass. But we decided to hire someone to put in some rock. And man am I glad we did.

We had many tons of cobble stone delivered before the driveway was poured so heavy trucks didn’t need to drive on it. Then a few weeks later a crew came in and went to work. They installed a “dry” river bed in the front of the house. I put dry in quotes because when those afternoon monsoon rains come, it is no longer dry. It is however extremely functional and channels the water away and around the house. We also had about 40 feet of 2 foot high retaining wall built on the south side of the house where the lot sloped  pretty severely. Then we had them install a three foot wide band of cobble around the entire yard. Lastly, they graded around the house and installed three feet of cobble there too. All in all, it was definitely worth the price.

This fall we’ll hopefully be planting a lot of vegetation. We plan on taking advantage of the sales and getting lots of plants and a few trees to put in the ground.

Posted by Mike at 9:56 am

The basement bathroom has been up and running for a while now. I had a couple friends come out and visit the first week of June so I had to get it ready. That meant tiling the shower and getting the sink, toilet, and urinal installed. I worked a few long days and the plumbers were able to come the day before my friends arrived to get everything hooked up.

For tile I originally bought 12″ x 12″ slate for this bathroom but then I discovered that almost every tile was not square; one end to the other was off by 1/8″. That makes it impossible to have straight grout lines. I called the tile store and they said there was variation because it was a natural product. BULLSHIT!  I’d buy that with color and thickness, but nature didn’t cut the stone into 11-7/8″ x 11-3/4″ (almost) squares. So I returned all that and went with a 12″ x 24″ porcelain tile installed vertically. It is called metallic brown and is meant to look a bit like rusted metal. You can cover some area pretty fast with such a big tile, but it is a bear when the wall isn’t flat, which was the case in a few spots. Oh well. It’s in now.

By the way, the urinal is one of my favorite things in the house. I work at home so it’s pretty nice to walk across the hall and have a urinal to use.