Master Bath

We’re just about ready to move into our master bath. It took a while to get the walk-in shower completed, but it was worth the wait. Read our full post on the master bath.

Granite Counters

Originally I had planned to pour concrete counter tops for the kitchen but we ended up putting in concrete floors and figured more concrete would have been too much. And fortunately we found some money in our budget so we decided to get granite. Read our full post about our granite counters.


We decided to hire a landscaping company to install some rock. The rest we’ll do. Read our full post about our landscaping.

Stairs Complete

We finally got our stairs complete. It was a struggle and after getting screwed by our stair contrator Matt Dodd, I think we ended up with a better stair case. I might be biased, but you be the judge. Take a look at our post for our staircase.

Driveway Poured

We finally got the driveway poured today.  It runs all the way out to the road which is over 100 feet (32m). It’s 16-feet wide (5M) and has a 20′ x 40′ parking and turn-around area. They also poured the sidewalk up to the front porch. It all turned out really nice. All told, there was over 3,000 sq ft of concrete which was just over 40 cubic yards. To read more and see some pictures of the forming and pouring of our concrete driveway, view the full driveway poured post.

Doors and Trim

We’re almost done with the trimmers. They started a couple days ago and have been fantastic. They are like artists with door and trim as their canvas. As some of you may know, I like woodworking, but I don’t have the patience or skills to do trim work. Read more about our doors and base and case trim.

Exterior Stairs

After months of running up and down an alternately sandy and muddy slope, we have a staircase. This had been part of the plan, but we added some retaining walls too. Check out our post on adding the retaining walls and stairs.

Drywall Hung

It took a while to pass all our inspections to be able to hang the drywall, but we got everything squared away started hanging last Friday. After four days it was all hung and we got it inspected today without any problems. Read our full post on hanging the drywall.

Insulation Installed

I have a couple friends that work in the insulation industry and I considered doing some of it myself. But once I got the bids I realized how stupid that idea was. Read the full post about our insulation.

Stone Wall

We wanted to dress up the front of our house so we decided to have some stone installed on the exterior of the stair well bump-out.  It just so happens our new neighbor to the west is a stone mason. He did a great job. Read our full post about installing the dry-stacked slate facade.


Our scratch/brown coat is now complete. This is the first layer of stucco. Once we get all the drywall installed and that weight has settled, the final coat with color will be put on. You can read the full post about our stucco to learn about the bids we received and the process.

Electrical Wiring

We’ve made some great progress on the electrical wiring. Two friends (Scott pictured here) and my dad have come out to help which has sped things up considerably. Read more on our full post about the electrical wiring.


We are just about ready to turn on the heat. The boiler, supply lines, and zone valves have all been installed. No we just need to pass our electrical inspection and we’ll be ready. Learn more at our full post on getting our boiler installed.

Folding Door

We finally got the folding door installed. It was delivered at least a couple months ago and due to delays it has been sitting in our open garage since then. I’m glad to finally have it installed. This was a huge part of our vision for the house and it does not disappoint.  This door is 15 feet (5 m) wide and fully opens by the five panels folding against one side. This leads from our kitchen/dining room to the 550 sq ft (50 sq m) patio. To read more, please visit the full post about the folding door.

Framing and Trusses

Framing is getting close to complete. All the exterior walls and most of the interior walls have been framed. All the trusses are set and the roof sheathing has all been installed. Next up is installing the fascia and soffit around the house and then setting the windows. Before too long we’ll be able to get the felt (tar-paper) installed on the roof and a couple doors installed and I’ll be able to start the electrical. Read more on our full post about framing and the fascia and soffit.

Note: This view is from the west side of our lot looking back up at the house from the walkout end. Notice the roof area without sheathing. This looks like a point in this picture, but is actually a 90 degree angle.

Framing the House

We’ve started framing the house. It’s exciting to see the house start to take shape. We can finally see the walls coming up and get a feel for the rooms. So far so good. We’ll see. To see more pictures and learn more about the process, please visit our full post on framing the house.

Floor Poured

The main floor of our house was finally poured. We are doing concrete floors throughout the house. One of the main reasons is we have radiant in-floor heat and concrete works well to distribute the heat. And now that it’s done, it should simplify the rest of the building process with no flooring to go in. Read more at the full post about pouring our structural floors.

Water and Sewer

Water and sewer are now complete. It took about a week and was filled with lots of stress, problem solving, and hours of work, but we finally got it. Read our full post coming soon for all the details.

Garage Dry

The garage is now dried in. They finished framing the garage last Wednesday and it was inspected Thursday. Snow was forecast for Thursday evening and the thought of snow soaking into the sheathing on our newly framed roof really bothered me. So I made a few calls and my friend Rick offered to come up and help dry-in the roof with felt (tar-paper really). It took us a few hours and we were sore the next day from reaching, bending, stretching, and nailing, but we got in done before the snow came.

Garage Framing

We completed the garage structural floor and have now moved on to framing the garage. This view is looking west out of the back of the garage, a window we didn’t include in the original plans. After realizing what we might be missing, we added it. I think that was a good decision. Read more on our garage framing post.

Garage Floor

One of the cool things we added to the project was a structural floor for our garage. We’ll park our cars on this level which leaves me the garage basement as a wood-shop/man-cave. It’s nice to have this part of the project done. Now we can move on to building the garage walls and roof. Read and see more pictures at our garage structural floor post.


Framing has begun. Yesterday they framed out the walkout corner of the lower level (pictured here with a sunset over the mountains). Next they are working on the structural floors for the garage and then the house. We’re hoping they can move quickly as Fall is here and we want to get dried in before the snow falls.

Basement Floor

Now we’re finally getting somewhere. The basement slabs (for the house basement and the garage basement/wood shop/man cave) would be the first finished surfaces in the house. We did a lot to get to this point. See our post on pouring the basement floor for more details.

Radiant Heat

Radiant in-floor heat for the basement has been installed. This will provide a consistent heat from the concrete slab floor without blowing dry dusty Colorado air. Read more about the radiant heat from our post on installing the radiant in-floor heat in our basement concrete slab.


We’ve moved on to backfilling around the foundation. The crew has been moving and compacting truckload after truckload of good dry sandy backfill. It’s sure to take at least a week, but sure feels good to see some progress. Be sure to read our full post on Foundation Backfill for more details and pictures.

Foundation Walls

The foundation walls are complete. It took 104 cubic yards of concrete which is about 15 concrete trucks. They poured on a Wednesday, stripped the forms over the next couple days and viola, we have walls. For more info, read our post on pouring the foundation walls.

Forming Foundation

Forming the foundation, well actually the basement walls, has started. It looks like it should take about a week to get the forms ready for a survey to make sure everything is in the correct location. Then a couple more days to get everything ready to pour. Check out the full post and a couple more pictures at the Foundation – Forming Basement Walls post.

Structural Fill

For the past 2 months we’ve been digging down… as much as 15 feet (which included 3 feet of over-excavation). Next we had to drill down 25 feet for our caissons. Now we’ve started going in the other direction. We’ve finally started building up. Three to four feet of structural fill has been added to the entire area of our excavation. This will support our basement slabs. Read more at our structural fill post.


Due to the generally poor soil (expansive clay), a suspended water table, and our sloping lot, we had to put our house on caissons. Our caissons are a 10-inch diameter hole drilled 25 feet into the ground and then filled with concrete. Each caisson has three pieces of rebar their entire length that stick out at least 2 feet from the top. The walls are then formed on top of these caissons with the rebar connecting everything together. It wasn’t cheap, and we didn’t have a choice, but at least I am confident the house isn’t going anywhere. Our project has a total of 34 caissons: 6 for the garage, 7 for the retaining walls around the patio, and 21 for the house itself. Read more on our full blog post on caisson drilling.


We finally broke ground last Wednesday. We’re excavating to three different depths: the detached garage, the house, and the patio. We started with the house and the garage main-floors being at the same elevation, but after seeing how steep that made the driveway, we raised the entire garage a foot. We decided to keep the house down that extra foot because it will already be sticking out of the ground a fair amount and we wanted to minimize it as much as possible. I’m sure there will be lots of surprises, but it’s hard to know what’s underground until you start digging.


So we’ve been thinking about our kitchen design. I designed the kitchen in my first house and I even built my own kitchen cabinets and poured my own concrete counters. I enjoyed the process so much I’m going to to the same thing on this project. Read my full post on kitchen design at

Truss Design

The truss design takes into account how the roof will be supported. One of the things I’ve always liked is the look of a low pitch (4/12) hipped roof common in prairie style architecture. It is also effective in shading windows to prevent solor energy from entering in the summer months. This design allows a 7-foot overhang on the south-west and west facing walls, a 4-foot overhang on the south facing wall, and a 2-foot overhang everywhere else.

Here is the view from below looking almost straight north. The 4-foot overhang is in the front of this picture and the 7-foot overhangs on the left.



So we’ve got a look for the house. Overall the house will be a combination of mid-century modern ( high wide windows) and prairie style (hip-roof with a 4-12 pitch). This combination allows for privacy and energy efficiency.  The main exterior surface will be stucco. The texture will not be as strong as this image suggests. We’ve added some control joints to help with cracking and break up the surface. The back side of the house will be mostly windows, including a 15-foot wall of windows/doors that will open and fold against one side. Should be impressive if we can afford it and make it happen. Overhangs are 2-foot except on the south-side where they will be 4-foot and on the west/southwest sides where they will be 7-foot, providing engineering and budget will allow.

Front/Northeast Elevation:

Northwest Elevation

Southwest Elevation:

Southeast Elevation:

Site Plan

We have just about got our site plan done now. As you can see we have a detached garage and the main house that are 12 feet apart on this plan. We’re thinking of moving the house up 2 feet which will give distance of 10 feet between. This will give us a shorter walk from the garage to the front-door and move us a total of 14 feet off the south property line. The neighboring house on that side has the house all the way east on about an acre lot, so our house will be adjacent to open space in their back yard. Still, it will be nice to be a little further back.

The city planners said we had to have a set-back of 25 feet on the north or east side of our lot. We had the option because we’re kind of in a unique location behind two houses and 100 feet off the main road. We chose to set back from the east property line because it allowed us to put the garage as close to the easement to our property as possible. Also, our lot is about 140 feet wide, and we wanted the house more in the center of the property any way so giving up 25 feet on either the east side was not a problem.

You’ll also notice these plans have a roof plan included. I’ve always loved the look of a hip roof (similar to Prairie Style architecture), mainly because you have overhangs on all sides of the house. That’a a big part of our design for look and energy efficiency. We’ve also used a somewhat mid-century modern design for the walls/windows that allow for wide shorter windows up high on the walls of the front and sides of the house. This allows natural light to come in, but lets the overhangs block the sun in the warmer months. We have typical 2 foot overhangs around the garage and on the front and sides of the house. But on the south side (kitchen and dining room) we put a 4 foot overhang to help block the sun from getting into the house in the warmer months. Yet in cooler month, we let the sun in. On the back of the house which faces west and southwest, we’ve elected for 7 foot overhangs. This will allow us to have some of the back patio covered, and help block some of the late afternoon sun during the hot months. Ideally we would not have had any windows on the west side, but since we have some pretty nice mountain views, we decided we better take advantage of it.


Our lot is about 13,000 square feet or about a third of an acre (1,200 square meters for our metric friends). The lot is sloping down from east to west and is roughly square in shape. The views to the west are the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.


This is the start of our design for the house. We’re looking at a rather small house, by many people’s standards at least. We seem to always hear about people with 4,000+ square foot houses and we wonder what are they thinking?  We didn’t want to be those people that have so much “extra” space in their house that they:

  1. Don’t use
  2. Have to clean
  3. Have to heat
  4. Have to cool
  5. and have to BUILD!

So our plans are for a 1496 square foot (140 square meter) one-story “ranch” (or rambler as our midwest friends would say) with a walk-out basement. We only plan on finishing 800 square feet (60 square meters) of the basement and leaving the other half for storage and/or future expansion. That would put us at about 2,300 finished square feet (200 square meters).