**I just want to preface this post with this, these are not a reflection of my professional photographs. Most of these images were taken with a cell phone. This is just a personal blog share about our building experience thus far**
Building the dream first started with the dream. I’ve probably been imagining what this would feel like since elementary school. My love of HGTV, Home Finder’s Guide, and cutting out home decor images from magazines started young. I never really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew that whatever it was, I would work hard so I could fulfill this dream I’ve had of raising my kids in a house that had room for huge sleepovers and birthday parties. I had a friend when I was younger that had a huge window in her room with tall ceilings and there was a feeling I would get when I woke up in that room that just made me feel so relaxed. The natural light and the space to breathe was something I coveted. It’s been a long road to get to this place. My husband and I have been married since I was 19 and for the larger part of our marriage, have either been in school during the day or night. He put me through college while working full time and taking classes at night himself. Of course, once I finished school, it became very clear that what I was meant to do was photography and not what I actually went to college for (sorry babe! haha) My husband works at Sasol and also runs his own HVAC company (Fontenot’s AC) on his days off. To say we have worked ourselves to the bone to make this dream become a reality is an understatement. I wanted to make this part clear in the beginning of this post because to fully grasp what I mean by “building the dream” you first have to understand when this all started. Thinking about doing something for 20 years really is a dream. You never really think you will be able to do the things you’ve always thought about doing. Hell, we are in the home stretch and I still won’t believe we are really doing this until I get to sleep there and even then it may take a while to sink in. My desire to build my own home has all but consumed me for most of my life. Yes, there are other driving forces for me. My kids, husband, the love of my job, the excitement from my clients, but this THING has always been underneath those forces. Supporting and pushing those other driving forces. It’s ok to brag on yourself sometimes. I’m proud of us. I should be. We are doing exactly what we said we would do. Nothing more than a lot of hard work and commitment to a greater goal. And with that said, I can jump right into the adventure.
Well this is where it starts. This piece of property below. It looks just like a regular lot but what you don’t see in the photo is that it is right next door to my Grandparent’s house! Another huge motivator in us jumping into this crazy adventure was that our kids could walk right next door and visit with their grandparents. We’ve already had a taste of what that is like. We have been living in their garage apartment for 10 months since we put our last house on the market. Yes, you heard correctly, garage apartment. That means 2 bedrooms, 5 people( 6 when my mother in law comes to help with our kids), and I work from home the majority of the time.
The next crazy step after deciding to finally pull the trigger and buy the property was to start designing the house. My do-it-yourself nature had me needing to draw the plans myself. Unfortunately for friend’s poor husband, he agreed to let me be hands on with this process. Meaning I would meet with him with a stack of hand drawn plans on grid paper and he would allow me to sit with him at his drafting computer as he would input the measurements I gave him. Gosh, we must have had 20 revisions if not more. I still have a foot tall stack of papers with all of the original drawings. I can’t bring myself to throw away all of those hours of work. The layout I was looking for really didn’t exist. I run my business out of my home and meet clients a few times a week so I really wanted that to feel like part of the house while I’m in there doing computer work but still separate when I have clients over so they don’t see how messy my kids are. We put the office in the front of the house off of the foyer for a more formal client entrance and also put a half bathroom across from my office so my clients wouldn’t have to go to my girls’ messy bathroom. Eventually they will be teenagers and who knows what kind of hair and make up mess that will have in store. The windows, ahh, I must have spent a month deciding on the exact window measurement and placement and style. What do you expect from a predominately natural light photographer. The lighting is super important! haha
Which is probably why I spent a surprising amount of time on the electrical plan. I mean, light switch placement, it’s basically rocket science.
The outside of the house is not exactly what I had envisioned but to make the layout exactly like I wanted it (which to me is more important than the exterior because you live INSIDE of your house) we had to make some sacrafices on the outside. It’s still a beautiful home but It kind of made me want to pull my hair out doing the exterior. Roofs are hard! Which kind of makes me laugh typing this because 6 months ago drawing the roof was hard, now getting roofers here to finish the job is a whole other issue. (32 days and counting from the start of our roofing with a 2 to 3 day estimate on completion. Don’t even get me started haha)
The first real progress was the dirt work. All of the other planning phase stuff was just me locked in the office working on planning, bids, and budgets which the kids did not find interesting. The dozers and tractors on the other hand were facinating enough for my two youngest girls to want to watch from pawpaw’s house with snacks every day ( Yes, the curly haired kid is picking her nose. Thought I would show her in her natural state)
Everything moves so slowly. It took us two months after dirt work started to begin the form and finish phase of things. I’ll spare the details on the headaches and stress. Just know that it was enough to make me lose a significant amount of weight during this process. The only diet that has ever worked for me but I promise I won’t be doing this diet again…ever. lol
It was always interesting trying to take care of stuff for the house with the kids digging in the dirt and treating the trenches like a maze but hey, memories right?
Every day after school the girls would be so excited to run next door to the new house and see what happened when they were gone. They are pretty good sports and I think they even like living all in the same room right now and aren’t really in any rush to be done with the house. Me, not so patient anymore haha
The slab pour day was nuts. I had worked until 2am editing them the pump truck arrived just before 5am. We had 13 dump trucks of concrete I believe which meant a nice full morning of coordinating trucks and tickets ( did I not mention I’m contracting the house myself? Yea, there’s that). Oversaw the pour all morning then left and went straight to shoot a wedding. LONG day doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’m lucky my brides are amazing and I have so much fun at work I ALMOST forget how tired I am.
Decker pumping arrived early, did an amazing job, and beat every price we were quoted. Great customer service as well. Our awesome sales guy at Dunham Price recommended them and I’m glad we decided to use them.
Ray wanted to lay in her bedroom and had to pretend poop in her new bathroom. Don’t ask. This is the crazy middle child so we just go with it.
Materials delivered, framing started, and it actually started to look like a house.
STILL missing the decorative metal roofing piece that goes on the front bay window but the shingles are done.
All of the exterior doors are installed except for our pool/exterior bathroom door that we forgot to order with the exterior doors. The security system is wired in, electrical, plumbing, and hvac ducts are installed. The back porch is still braced. The posts are ready to be installed and the bracing can come down any time now. The back porch will have an industrial size ceiling fan, a tv will be installed above the exterior windows, and we are wired for sonos in the corners of the porch. There is a walkway to our California garage( doors on the driveway side but it’s open like a carport in the back) where a bar will be installed under the long 8ft window for serving food.
Fireplace went in today actually. Of course it is missing the cap but they will be here “tomorrow” morning to put it in. If I never here the word “tomorrow” again after this build I would be just fine with that. I hear “yes ma’am, we will for sure be there tomorrow” So many times it is unreal. Of course tomorrow actually means maybe next week or when we get there pretty much.
Walls prepped for fiberglass. They will be here TOMORROW 🙂
The top left photo is the future HF Photography office. My clients will have a nice seating area and I’ll have great little work space. Definitely better that my dining room at our old house or using my grandparent’s sun room for bride consults! The top right photo is over my oldest’s bedroom. My dream kid room with a bay window and a little bench seat. Bottom left is our walk in pantry and bottom right is the dream laundry room. Counter space going in, industrial sink with commercial sprayer so I can live out all of my cafeteria worker dreams. Those sprayers are legit.
My sanctuary, the master bath. Straight back with with window is my closet and directly to the left when you walk in is the hubby’s. Pocket doors going in on both master closets. Top right photo is the walk in shower. bottom left is the bathtub. Shelves going in on one side with tv and chandeliers in bathroom and closet. Bottom right is a closer image of the closet space.
View from the living room to the kitchen space. 12 foot ceilings that drop down to 10 in the kitchen. 11’x6′ island going in. Double oven, extra large cook top, and in island beverage cooler going in. Bottom left pic is the view of the breakfast nook from the kitchen. Bench seating going in under the window.
Staircase to bonus/ media room. Under the stairs will be a built in desk and a bench seat area as well as a hanging area for back packs and lunch boxes.
Foam finished up today in the bonus room. We decided to foam the bonus room and spray fiberglass the rest of the house. The bonus room would have ended up staying really hot being so close to the roof so we decided to upgrade the insulation there to save on electrical costs later.
The top right image is part of the kids’ playroom area. Not sure yet what that space will function as. I’m thinking while they are little, maybe an art area. When they get older probably the the “I’m on the phone with a boy” nook. Lord help me. The top left image will be the “media room”. Which for the present time will most likely be the place where we put unpacked boxes after we move in. Media room will probably be last on the furnish list since we literally be moving in with mattresses and clothes so we will have a whole house to furnish before this gets done. And the bottom image is the kids’ play area or possible a future studio for me if I decide to start shooting studio work. Getting a wall of built in cabinets for toy storage.
And the last thing on the list of progress for today is the Hardie Soffits that went in just this past evening.
Hopefully I will be able to share more interesting design updates now that most of the boring progress stuff is done. Ready for the rest of our insulation to be done then sheet rock. Once that is in then we can get started on cabinets, trim, tiling, painting, and so on. No, we have no clue when it will be done. When it’s done I guess. When you’ve waited 20 years, what’s a few more months.