Odds and Ends and Delays Already

Delay is the enemy of progress. ~Eliot Spitzer

Bill talked with the well driller (Scott) last night to confirm what time they would be drilling on Monday. Scott told him his truck was broke and they were trying to fix it, but he will not be able to drill on Monday. 😦 Unless there is a miracle repair today, we will have to reschedule the date until later in April. I asked Bill if he was sure Scott wasn’t playing an April Fool’s joke on him. He said, “No!” πŸ™„

Here are a few odds and ends:

  • A follower asked the square footage of the new house. Answer: Just under 2200 sq. ft. Contrary to what most people think, we did not downsize. 😯 Our present home is a little under 1700 sq ft. Everyone always thinks it’s larger when they get in here since it is a tri-level. If you notice on any of the floor plans I’ve shared, the new house will definitely be a one-story home. No stairs for these old bodies! πŸ™‚
  • I signed up for Social Security on Tuesday this week. Knock on wood, so far my experience has gone a lot smoother than Bill’s. It started out a little rocky, but ended up okay. I had made an appointment for Tuesday at 9:00 am. I was told it would be a phone appointment and I would not need to go to the SS office. Worked for me. However, by 10:00 Tuesday, I had not received a phone call. I actually thought my phone wasn’t working, so I called the national SS phone number. They said someone would call me before 3:00 pm that day. Around noon I got a call from the downtown SS office with an apology that the office I was assigned to was short-handed that morning and no one had called me. It was all good and I was able to get all signed up. I should get my first check in April.
  • Regarding dental/vision insurance – After we had decided to not buy a dental and vision insurance or discount plan, Bill continued to search on the Internet. He found something about a discount plan that Delta Dental had for residents in certain states (Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio). For $80/year fee for a whole family, we could save an average of 20-40% on dental services, receive discounts on hearing care, and vision care. The cheapest discount plan we had looked at earlier was almost $600/year premium for both of us and they didn’t provide hearing with their plans. The deal on any of these discount plans is that you go to one of the participating doctors/services. We decided this would work for us and we enrolled. The $80 fee will pay for itself after one of us gets a cleaning. Thank you, Bill, for finding this. Thought I’d post about this in case others want to look into it. Here is the link: Delta Dental Direct of Indiana.

I forgot to share the kitchen cabinet scare we had last weekend. Bill had finished building the refrigerator cabinet and only had the cabinet to go above the refrigerator left to build. He decided to line up all the cabinets to mimic how they would look in our new kitchen so we could make sure everything was correct before he started building doors and drawers for the them.

When you look at the pictures below, note that Bill rested the small upper upper cabinets on top of the base cabinets and then the upper cabinets on top of them. Actually, the upper 36 inch wall cabinets will be mounted about 18 inches above the countertop, which is standard. And the upper upper 12 inch wall cabinets will be mounted above the upper cabinets. I wanted the cabinets to go up to the ceiling. There will be a 4-1/2 to 6 inch moulding to reach the ceiling – similar to Jill’s cabinets, but Bill is also adding a crown moulding. Obviously, I will never be able to reach those upper upper cabinets. The plan is to put LED lights in them and display something (not sure what yet) in each of them.

Here’s the funny (and scary) thing. When Bill invited me out to the pole barn Saturday afternoon to see the cabinets, I got so excited seeing them set up that I NEVER noticed that the set-up was all wrong! And, obviously, Bill thought they were right or he wouldn’t have set them up that way either. 😳

Bill decided to leave the cabinets set up so Jill and Jim could see them when they arrived later that day. Fast forward several hours and the four of us go back out to the pole barn. Bill, Jill and I were talking about what was going to be in each cabinet and then all of sudden I said, “Wait, this isn’t right! There is supposed to be a drawer cabinet on each side of the cooktop cabinet.” Like this:

Cabinet Set-up

Cabinet Set-up

Bill said, “No, I have it just like you printed out from the software.” He grabs the paper and looks at it and then sheepishly said, “Oops, I’ve got it wrong. I’ve got that base blind corner cabinet next to the cooktop cabinet.” We all just looked at each other in shock. Then, Jill says to me, “Mom, how didn’t you see this was wrong earlier today?” I started laughing and said, “I don’t know!” Then, I said to everyone, “How in the heck are we going to build a house if neither one of us got this right?”

Jill and Bill start talking about moving the cabinets to their correct positions and whether the corner cabinets were wrong AGAIN and Bill would have to remake them. I was sick for him. Really, I had a pit in my stomach. I didn’t want him to have to remake those cabinets. That meant he would have made them three times! Bill and Jill are two of a kind. They both have that engineer brain and can visualize things flipped and in order and how things connect. All those things that my mind cannot do. I walked away from the cabinets and started talking with Jim. Bill and Jill finally figured that Bill had to remake those corner cabinets again. 😦

Oh, this gets even better . . . Fast forward to the next morning. Jim had brought us those large professional print-outs of our house plans. Bill and I were the only ones up in the early morning. I’m looking through the house plans and realize that the way Bill had arranged those cabinets in the pole barn the day before didn’t match the house plans. When we flipped the house, the long run of cabinets with the cooktop was along the wrong wall. I get my cellphone and look at the photos I took of the cabinet set-up. The cabinet layout was supposed to look like this:

The correct cabinet layout

The correct cabinet layout

I quickly tell Bill about my findings. He comes over and looks at the house plans and looks at the photos. He said, “Well, maybe I did make the cabinets correct but lined them up wrong. Maybe I don’t have to make them over!” Now, I was even more worried about us building this house. πŸ™‚ While the rest of us went to the Children’s Museum for the day, Bill stayed home and set-up the cabinets the correct way in the pole barn.

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Turned out Bill didn’t have to re-make any of the cabinets. Yay!!

The Spring that Never Sprung!

Spring is the time of plans and projects. ~Leo Tolstoy

As soon as I flipped the calendar to March, I immediately started to panic. It was time! This is the month of spring . . . or NOT! Everything we had done since we purchased the property back in fall of 2008 lead to this very moment in time. And, now that it was here, the reality of it all smacked me right in the face. 😯

It was time to sell our present home. It was time to call the realtor. Bill and I had interviewed a couple of realtors last summer. We kind of clicked with one – Mike Puckett. Maybe it was his age. Maybe it was his business background. We had not talked to him since June of 2012. I gave him a call and we scheduled a meeting for March 12 after Bill got home from work.

As soon as I hung up the phone with Mike, I called our window guy so I could see when they would be able to repair those front windows. I refused to put the house on the market and have pictures taken before the windows were fixed and the house paint touched up around the windows. Steve (window guy) said there was one or two days later that week which were suppose to be warm enough but they were already booked to finish a job. Then, they were scheduled to be at the Indianapolis Home and Garden Show for 10 days. He asked if I could give them two weeks to get out here. That was March 4th. We are still waiting for them to come. 😦 Granted, this long winter has not been kind to us. But, we need those windows fixed! As I type this frustration, I wonder if this will be our life when we are building the new house with delays after more delays. I’m going to put Bill in charge of calling all the contractors for the new house. I think I’m too nice. πŸ™‚

Our temps did reach low 50s two days that weekend. I itched to get outdoors, even if it was to pick up sticks/branches and clean out the flower pots on the back patio. At least it was a start. I remembered the year before having 80 degrees during March and I cut grass a lot during that month. Not this year. The grass is still brown, trees bare, and no new spring buds sprouting up. We still have a lot of work to do outdoors before selling the house. Unfortunately, it entails using the power washer. You can’t get that going until you can turn on the outside water. It’s been too cold for that, too.

Shifting gears to the new house, I had to do some more online ordering. With the change of the vault and the mirroring issue, we discovered we needed another light fixture (for the entry) and another door knob (for the pole barn). I was waiting to order the door knob when I had other materials to order so I could get free shipping. This was perfect timing because we had gotten our tax refund back. When we changed the vault orientation of the family room, Jim had lengthened the entryway of the house. The entry has a 9 foot ceiling. I had purchased two sconces for the entryway, but now that wasn’t going to give enough light. I actually let Bill have final say for the light fixture. Surprised? I think he was, too! Actually, I’m trying to be more open to listening to his reasons. I was looking at a chandelier fixture. He thought it would be too large and would hang too low. He was right. (I’m sure he will have a huge smile on his face when he reads that sentence!) Here is the light fixture we picked. It matches all our other interior light fixtures.

Entry light

Entry light

I found the light on sale at an online store for $50 cheaper. Build.com matched the price.

The other big purchase on this order was flood lights. Should we buy incandescent, halogen or LED lights? We determined that the LED flood lights were too expensive. Halogen lights cost less than LED but more than incandescent. Bill put me in charge of researching the difference between the incandescent and halogen.

Here’s what I found:

Halogen bulbs function similarly to incandescent bulbs, but with a few key differences: They’re composed of a small, pressurized, peanut-size bulb inside a larger outer shell. The gas inside this inner bulb is halogen. When tungsten evaporates from the filaments of these bulbs, the halogen combines with it, escorts it back to the filament where it’s redeposited, then heads out to round-up more escaped tungsten particles. Since there’s less soot on the bulb’s shell, light output remains strong, and since filaments are constantly being rebuilt, the bulbs last longer. But the key differenceβ€” and the quality that makes them useful and uniqueβ€”is they emit a whiter, brighter and more easily focused beam of light, almost like real sunshine.

For outdoor use, halogen floodlights cast a brighter, easier-to-see-by light. And since they last twice as long as standard bulbs, you won’t need to struggle to reach hard-to-access outdoor fixtures as often. They have other benefits too. They’re 10 to 20 percent more energy-efficient and cheaper to operate. They burn brighter longer (a halogen bulb will still be cranking out 94 percent of its original light output near the end of its life, while a standard bulb diminishes to a measly 82 percent).

We decided on the halogen flood lights. I had to find a really good deal because we decided on the twin lights and wanted the motion feature. I finally found one that would match the house colors. The lighting manufacturer had the lights on sale for just about 1/2 off. I couldn’t believe it. That made the price just a little over what the incandescent lights would have cost. The sales rep at build.com said they could not match the price because it was too low. When I said I’d buy them elsewhere, he quickly said he’d match it since we had purchased so much from them. πŸ˜€ Here are what they look like:

Halogen motion flood lights

Halogen motion flood lights

The realtor called us on Sunday, March 10, and apologized that he now had a conflict for March 12. He said he could meet with us the next evening, March 11. Before I could change my mind, I said, Yes. I went into cleaning mode the next morning.

When Mike arrived he asked for another tour of the house. Then we settled down at the dining table and talked about comparisons of houses around the area. He came up with a listing price. We were happy with that price. I provided him with a list of all the improvements we had made to the place in the last several years. He said I must have read his mind. We talked about how we would be contacted when someone wanted to see the house. He said he would write-up the contract and email to me within a couple of days. Mike pays to have a home stager meet with his clients to go over suggestions before taking pictures and putting the house on the market. We decided to leave the listing date open until after we met with the home stager and see how much more he/she might suggest we do.

Two days later I got a called from Gary Barnett at Home Matters to set up an appointment with one of their Property Stylists. Bill wanted to be here when the home stager came. We made an appointment with Gregory Henry for Tuesday afternoon, March 19.

I’m a HGTV addict and watch all the shows – House Hunters, Property Brothers, Kitchen Cousins, Love it or List it, Income Property, Candice Tells All . . . I’ve watched them all over the years. I knew that de-cluttering was a big thing. I thought I had done a pretty good job so far. However, I knew I had to go back and re-organize the kitchen cabinets that held food items. And, since Mike suggested that we sell our refrigerator with the house, I needed to clean that, too. I wanted to get that done before Greg came.

Here is how I go about my de-cluttering. I take everything out. It forces me to do something with all that mess after I get it out of a shelve, closet, or room. Then I clean the empty space. After that I categorize whether to pitch or keep. Last, I place the keep items back into cabinets, closet or room in a way that will work for us.



Here are after pictures.

It got to be a crazy week and weekend between the realtor and the arrival of the home stager. I shifted gears again and focused on Medicare medigap insurance plans, drug plans, and dental and vision plans. We finally got word from the retirement specialist that I would have health insurance after Bill retired, but neither one of us would have dental and vision insurance after the end of March. We had worked for several months with a Medicare insurance broker, Matthew Frankic of Crosspointe Insurance Advisors. He was helping Bill and me understand all the different supplement plans and the ones that would fit Bill’s needs in health care and prescription drug coverage.

Bill asked if I could do research on all the dental/vision plans that Matthew had sent us via email. Going through all this Medicare stuff the first time isn’t easy. I ended up pricing out the 4 or 5 options and creating a spreadsheet so Bill and I could sit down and compare the plans. My head was spinning. I had reached a point where I didn’t even know how to compare what we would spend each year. Unfortunately, Bill and I spend a lot of time in the dentist chair. 😦 We were a little anxious not having insurance. We ended up sitting down together on Saturday, March 16, to study the plans and make a decision. After much discussion and I think only one flare-up πŸ™‚ we decided we would self-insure ourselves. Meaning, we decided that we would be paying so much money out of our pocket for the insurance premiums that during a good dental year, we would not get our money’s worth. Decision was no dental or vision insurance. It was a risk we thought we’d take. Then we settled on which medigap supplement plan and drug plan for Bill. Whew! We had a phone meeting with Matthew on Monday, the 18th, to sign up for those. Glad that was done.

Bill spent the rest of the weekend out in the pole barn re-working the cabinets and trying to straighten up the pole barn as best he could before the stager arrived.

Jim called me on Sunday in the middle of de-cluttering and asked if I had time to go over house plan changes I had emailed him a week ago. Told you we’d have more! πŸ˜† There really weren’t many changes: switched two closets; made closet door 36 versus 32; added bi-fold doors to the garage utilities area; added notation where gas cooktop and wall oven would be located; verified where 8 ft soffit was located in master bathroom; eliminated the shower window; added back a wooden front door with sidelites (see picture below); corrected the window schedule with which windows had grids and which did not; added the exact flooring we wanted for the laundry room; and added lights in the attic to the electrical plan. See, that wasn’t that much, was it? πŸ™„

The two things Bill and I have struggled with the most on choosing for the new house are flooring and the front door. I’m hoping we get the flooring settled this weekend when we go to a couple of flooring stores down south. We saw the fiberglass front door we originally picked out (not cheap) at the Indy Home Show in January. We thought it was too lightweight. Neither one of us wanted to install it on our house. So, we went back to looking at wooden entry doors. This is the one we think we are going to buy. But, we are waiting to order it after we move south.

Wooden Entry Door

Wooden Entry Door

Monday and Tuesday, March 18 & 19, I cleaned house. That’s all I seem to do these days. We were ready forΒ  Greg, the house stager Tuesday afternoon at 1:00. When he arrived, he said we would start outside and then come back inside the house and go room by room while I took notes the whole time. We started out front and the first thing he talked about was the paint around the windows – you know, the windows that were damaged! We shook our heads and said that would all be fixed. He mentioned something about cleaning up the front landscaping when the weather ever got warmer. It was really cold and windy that day. Then we went back to the three-season porch and he suggested getting rid of the metal table and suggested a way to place the furniture we had on the porch. Next, we headed out to the patio area. He said to pulled the patio furniture out and place it around. When we got to the pole barn, he was intrigued with Bill’s cabinet building. He loved it. Honestly, he looked around and said, “Bill, just straighten up the best you can.”

When we got back to the house we started in the kitchen. He opened my cabinets and grinned. Then he said, “I could blog all day how good this looks!” He told us what things to put away during showings (like trash can, my utensil crock, my knife caddy, and paper towel holder). And, he staged some of the items I had – I took pictures so I wouldn’t forget.

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He suggested we paint the dark burgundy walls in the dining/family room. 😦 Suggested we move out our sofa table, take out the TV and stand in the dining area, and take out my large L-shape desk in the family room. He suggested purchasing some lighter colored pillows for the burgundy sofa and love seat in the family room and some solid color ones for the living room couch. No surprise, they want us to store all items for the new house somewhere other than the garage. And, the list went on and on and on. I had four pages of notes by the time he was done. He kept saying how nice the house looked and the great job I had done and what we had to do was not bad at all. But I still had this long list. By the time he left, I was depressed. πŸ˜₯

So, folks, this is where we are now – working our butts off trying to get as much done as we can. I thinned out silverware and utensil drawers and packed a bin of stuff. I cleaned out the coat closet. Want to see what three down coats, two long winter coats, one heavy leather coat, two pair of insulated over-alls, and a slew of other jackets look like in those space bags? They work!

Compressed winter coats

Compressed winter coats

I emptied my shoes from the rack that is installed on the inside of our bedroom closet and put them in under-bed containers. I need to take the rack down. I bought three different size candles for the coffee table, a small silk flower arrangement for the dining table, new pillows for the sofas, and storage boxes for the closets to store loose things. I made another trip to Goodwill with a trunk full.

I’m crossing off the list as I go. The biggest thing now is getting the stuff out of the garage and deciding if we are going to paint. Bill thinks he can find room in the pole barn to store our new house items. He doesn’t want to spend money on a storage unit or a pod yet. I have two closets to pack up and I think I will be ready to start painting. We are hoping Bill can work on some of the outside stuff next week/weekend if we ever get a break in this cold weather.

Bill’s last day to work is tomorrow – March 28!!!! He will be officially retired! Friday, we are going down to Jill and Jim’s for a long weekend. Monday, April 1, we drill for the well. We can use all the prayers you can spare that we hit water! We plan to meet with a couple of vendors while we are down there. We are changing our stone choice. Surprise!!!! We hope to pick out our hardwood floors and carpet and tile. And, we plan to meet with the pole barn builder again and see about other options. I’m sure I’ll be taking lots of pictures while we are down there.

From here on out, I hope that my posts are current and short. They probably will be because I won’t have time to ramble on like this any longer. Our adventure has been on an upswing all these years. Now, I think we are approaching the summit and heading down.

I hope it’s smooth sailing . . . πŸ™‚

Mirror Mirror . . .

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. ~Socrates

February 2013 was a month of de-cluttering again for me. I got back out my list I had made way back in the summer of 2011 and looked to see what items were left to do. Like the quote above, I didn’t want to fight with this old stuff anymore. I just wanted to concentrate on building the new house. 😦 But, to get to the new – I had to deal with this old.

I cleaned out and organized the spare bedroom closet, all three bathroom vanities, a bathroom cabinet, the linen closet, and an antique cabinet.

Bill was able to squeeze in a day where he replaced bulbs in our tract lighting in the kitchen and dining area and patched up some areas around the house. A couple of days after that I did touch-up painting over the repaired spots.

We were also able to get our taxes done early and e-filed by mid month. Woohoo! Nice refund.

And, just about every Thursday evening we got a call from Bill’s retirement specialist. Bill would repeat the same questions almost each week and add another one to the list. Each week the retirement specialist would promise to get us the answers. One of the most pressing questions was about health insurance for me until I turned 65. We were both covered on Bill’s insurance until the end of March with Bill retiring on March 28. Bill will go on Medicare starting April 1. Bill was grandfathered in on a benefit that covered spouses after employees retired for a minimal amount of money. We were trying to verify if that was still in place and how much it would cost. And, they had my name on file as Sandra K. Williams. πŸ™„

And, if that wasn’t enough, Bill got a letter from Social Security confirming that he would start receiving benefits in March. 😯 Nooooooooo! It was supposed to start in April; he’s still working in March. After more phone calls to Social Security, he was told he had to go down to the SS office in person to get it straightened out. He decided to take off work and get there before they opened so he could be one of the first in line. He came home with a couple forms. His work had to fill out one form and we had to be fill out the other. Once we got those completed he asked me to drop the forms off at the Social Security office the following week. I wish I could say that took care of the problem.

As weather permitted, Bill continued to build cabinets for the kitchen. The corner base cabinet and corner upper cabinets were a pain for him to build. One exciting thing he tried was a tinted Danish oil technique on the mahogany instead of stain. He had gone to the woodworking show in January and watched a demonstration on it. Bill said it was so much easier to apply versus stain and he thought it would give me the dark rich look I was looking for on the cabinets. The left piece of wood is veneered mahogany (sides of cabinets) and the right piece of wood is solid mahogany (all the cabinet face-frames). There will be many layers of finish on top of the Danish oil so it will be even brighter when done. I was very pleased with the look. Unfortunately the tinted Danish oil doesn’t work with maple – the wood which Bill made the laundry/pantry cabinets. Those will need to be stained.

Tinted Danish Oil on Mahogany

Tinted Danish Oil on Mahogany

Remember my last post when I said we thought our house plan changes were over? πŸ˜†Β  When Jim sent us the digital version of the forms at the end of February he sent us two other options of how our house and pole barn could be placed on our property. He called us and said that with the very wet winter, the ground was saturated. He thought if Bill ever wanted to drive back to the pole barn he would mess up the yard. This was how we originally had the house and pole barn situated. We planned to share Jill and Jim’s driveway on the left.

Original Site Plan

Original Site Plan

Jim said there was no pressure to select another site plan, he just wanted to give us options we might not have thought about. He said he had a “favorite” site plan he had drawn up, but he would not tell us which one it was. I even begged him to tell us and told him we respected his opinion but he wouldn’t tell us before we made up our own minds.

Here was Site Option 1. We would still share Jill and Jim’s driveway, but the drive into our house would be longer, the house would be pushed farther to the east side, and pole barn would be moved to the west side of the property. We would have a gravel drive off our driveway to the pole barn.

Site Plan Option 1

Site Plan Option 1

Here was Site Option 2. We would have our own driveway on the east side of the property next to Jim, Sr. and Joan’s property. The driveway would extend all the way to the pole barn. The driveway towards our garage would be much wider and allow for double parking or plenty of room for backing up and turning around. The house would be pushed more toward the west.

Site Plan Option 2

Site Plan Option 2

Bill and I really liked the idea of Option 2. We did like the idea of having our own driveway and it did offer driving to and from the pole barn, which Bill does a lot where we now live. But, here was the kicker. If you looked closely, you will see that in Option 2, the house’s orientation is flipped horizontally – it is a mirror image of what it originally was. I was having trouble wrapping my head around that switch. Whenever I cannot visualize something about the new house, I turn on the laptop and start up the 3D house design software. Bill asked me if there was a mirror feature on the software (which I had never used before).Β  We found there was a mirror button. Yippee! I didn’t have to redraw the whole thing!

As Bill and I looked at the mirrored floor plan we started to notice some issues. Really? Nothing is easy when making changes. One of the biggest issues if we made the change was the kitchen cabinets. Bill said that his corner cabinets would not be correct. The sections of the corner cabinets were not symmetrical. On the base cabinet Bill had made a blind corner cabinet. We had purchased a Rev-A-Shelf Blind Corner Cabinet Organizer. What he had built was in the orientation of the picture on the left. If we mirrored the house, the corner cabinet would have to look like the picture on the right.

The upper corner cabinet was such a bear to build in the first place and Bill determined that most of it would have to be rebuilt. Here was the inspiration photo for the upper corner cabinet.

Inspiration for upper corner cabinet

Inspiration for upper corner cabinet

In addition to the corner cabinets, Bill would have to remake a couple face-frames for cabinets on each end. And, he had to remake the side panel for the microwave/wall oven cabinet. The list was mounting.

The second biggest issue was door hardware. We had already purchased all our interior and exterior door hardware. In the mirrored house plan the doors were swinging in the opposite way than our original plan. If you used knobs as door handles, that would be no problem. However, we had purchased all lever handles. Bill and I got out all the handles and double-checked to make sure they would still work for the doors. The handles were reversible, so we were fine except for the front door. That door in-swing could not be changed. Because the front door is in the middle of the wall, we decided that we could keep it opening the same way as we originally planned.

I let Bill make the final decision whether we made the mirrored plan change or not. He was going to be the one that had to remake cabinets. I would never intentionally ask him to do that. Plus, I worried about his time to get all the cabinets done period, let alone going backwards and remaking a bunch of cabinets. Bill gave the nod to Site Option 2 with the mirrored house plan. He said he would remake the cabinets because the new site option was a better plan.

We called Jim the first part of March and told him our preference. It wasn’t until we made the decision before he would admit that Option 2 was his first choice, too. Thank goodness, Jim had a mirror image feature with Auto-Cad and didn’t have to re-draw all our plans from scratch. Of course, that didn’t mean there weren’t more changes to be made.

Next up: Meeting with our realtor and a house stager.

Well Well, That’s a deep subject!

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. ~Lao Tzu (Chinese Philosopher)

Bill had been doing some research for some time about drilling for a well in the area of our property. There are not many wells in that area. There is a lot of farm land around our property. And, it appears that we are on the very edge of an aquafer. All the water experts that Jim and Jill and Jim’s parents (from here on known as Jim, Sr. and Joan) talked to told them that the best access for water on our properties was to pump fromaquifer_types our lake. There are fish in that lake! How could I bathe in that water let alone drink it? 😯 The other alternative was to install a cistern and haul water every week or so. Hmmmmm. The lake water is free. Hauled water costs money.

Those two families went with the first choice and are presently pumping water from the lake and having it filtered with some pretty hefty filtering systems and filters. But it wasn’t easy getting to the clear water they have now. I think they went through at least two different filters before finding the one they now use – some micron sediment filter. One of the filters clogged up within one hour of the water being turned on. Yikes! I have to admit I do not know a lot about the water filtering system that the families are using. I do know that it has its challenges. Sometimes you have to wait a few minutes between people taking showers for water pressure. The system works fine for Jill and Jim. I’m not sure it is Jim, Sr. and Joan’s preference.

wellDiagramBill and I have a well at our present home. I don’t particularly care for the taste of our well water even with our osmosis filter. But, the water is free and clear. Other than that, we’ve been pleased with our well and pump over the years we’ve lived here. Bill contacted a well drilling company in southern Indiana. After several phone calls and emails, we decided to meet with a rep from the company on Saturday, January 26, down at the property.

We met with the owner of the well drilling company and discussed the possibility of finding water. He said it was guesswork. We wished Bill’s Uncle Bill was still alive. He was a plumber by trade and Bill said he could always find the right spot to drill for water. It is a scary thing to risk paying that much money whether you hit water or a dry spot. Bill wanted to take the risk and that is what we have decided to do. The day after Bill retires, we are driving down to Jim and Jill’s for a long weekend. We are going to drill for water on Monday, April 1. We may be fools to try drilling, but maybe not. πŸ™‚ Bill is going to get a fresh willow or crabapple branch and channel his Uncle Bill. Hopefully he will find the right spot to dig for water. If you want to know what I’m talking about, Google Y rod. Do I believe this will work? I don’t know, but the well driller said we were welcome to hire a dowser to find where they should drill. Bill is free. I trust his instincts. But, I’ll be praying for guidance from above.

Another purpose for the January trip was to spend time with Jim going over our house plan corrections/deletions/changes. It’s ever changing! But, we’ve been told it is better to get all the changes done on paper prior to building to eliminate change orders and the high costs associated with them. The last visit Jill had helped me rearrange the hall bathroom in my 3D software, but I had never had Jim change it on our official plans. To cut back on costs, we decided to eliminate using beams in our gables and took off the stone on both sides of the house. There were some minor changes and there was one big one.

Have you ever visualized something in your head and then when you see the real thing it isn’t anything like what you envisioned? As I’ve said before, I have lived and breathed these house plans because I created them in the 3D software. I’m always checking this or that and comparing what is on our software matches what Jim draws up in AutoCad. I always knew that the vault in the family room was west to east. However, looking at the floor plan, you cannot tell which way the vault goes. You could figure it out by looking at the roof lines, but just in the flat floor plan you wouldn’t know.

Here is a picture of the inspiration photo I had been using for the vaulted ceiling beams.

family room ceiling idea

Notice that the vault is going north/south – not west/east. That made no difference to me because I knew which way the vault was suppose to go. However, since Bill had seen this picture over and over again for months, he always visualized the family room vault to look just like the photo. While I was showing Bill some more inspiration photos one day he said, “Wait a minute! That’s not the way I ever envisioned the family room to look!” 😯 Oh my! Now, what should we do? We discussed whether this was a deal breaker or not for either of us. Bill wanted the vault changed. But, if we made that change, we should move the fireplace from the east interior wall to the north exterior wall. And, if we do that, we need to get rid of the sunroom which was north of the family room. This was a domino effect. 😦 I pulled out the laptop and started changing things to see what it looked like in the 3D software. This was a very big change!

I found two inspiration photos. In the first photo below, I didn’t think we would have room to put two doors on each side of the fireplace. We liked having some higher windows, but wasn’t sure if that was possible if we were using a gable there. Love the wood on the ceiling, but we need to cut that out. No budget for that.

Family Room with Fireplace along exterior wall

Family Room with Fireplace along exterior wall

This second photo is strictly an inspiration photo of the ceiling beams we want.

Family Room Ceiling example

Family Room Ceiling example

Jim was able to make the vault change. As with any change, it brought more questions and decisions. Gulp! Did we want to give up the sunroom and enlarge the family room. (Yes, that would work.) How about putting windows on each side of the fireplace instead of the doors in the inspiration photo. (Ah, yes! These could be window seats Bill can build.) Did we like the new exterior look with the roof-line changes? (Looked fine with us!) Where would we put the exterior door since we did not have room for it in the family room? (We put the sliding glass door in the dining area.) The biggest decision with the change was that we would need a very long structural beam between the family room and kitchen/dining areas. Jim told us that would definitely cost us more. (We decided to go with the large beam.)

Here is a pic of the floor plans and the north/south elevation plans with the changes. Jim got them done for us at the end of February.

February 2013 floor plans

February 2013 floor plans

North/South Elevation Plans

North/South Elevation Plans

With these changes, we said we were done. We would concentrate on getting our present home ready to put on the market and getting Bill retired. In the next post I’ll share how we struggled with all three of those.

New year, new milestones, new adventures, new house?

A new year is unfolding–like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within. ~ Unknown Author

As I start each new year I naturally reflect back on the previous year as I write important dates on my new wall calendar. 2013 was no different. I took down the 2012 calendar and went through it month for month adding birthdays, anniversaries, and other important reminders on the new calendar. So, while I was reflecting, I noticed I left out a couple of things which happened at the end of 2012.

I think I hinted a couple posts ago that there would be even more new improvements added to our house. Turns out that while we were down to visit Jill and Jim in September, we had a hail storm back at home. Our neighbor called Bill to tell him that while we were away. When we got back home we didn’t see any visible damage but Bill thought I should probably call the insurance company just in case. Long story short, we had lots of damage. Enough damage to warrant a new roof on the house and the shed and new gutters! Of course, you might know that the year before our homeowners insurance had changed our policy that our deductible for any hail damage would be 10% of the house value instead of our usual $500.

The good news: we still got a good deal and new owners of this house will appreciate a new roof and gutters. I hope! πŸ™‚ The roof and gutters were installed in December.

The bad news: the roofers messed up three of our new windows! 😦 Unfortunately, they are the three awning windows in the front of our house. They bent all the flashing. We did deduct the amount of the repair from the roof bill. However, we are still waiting to get those windows repaired. The window guys said it needs to be above freezing for them to be able to caulk. So, we wait until this silly winter ever ends.

Another improvement we made in late 2012 was to have the front concrete landing torn out and another concrete landing installed. This was an eye-sore ever since we bought this house. There was a large crack in that landing. After we purchased the house, we had a company “shore up” the landing and add concrete to the crack. In addition we had added a concrete overlay pattern on the landing and the walkway up to the house. But with every winter of freeze and thaw, that landing would crack again. Our neighbor’s adult son does concrete work for a living. He just happened to be next door at the right time and gave us a great price. It looks much better now. It will definitely make a much better first impression before entering the house. We still need to power wash the walkway and front landing, but here is an after pix.

Front landing

Front landing

I’m ready to move on to 2013! Thirteen has not been an unlucky number for me and Bill. We were married on April 13. This year we will be married for 45 years!!!! Our son and daughter-in-law were married on March 13. So, we feel that 2013 will be a GOOD year for us.

Sandy and Bill's wedding

Sandy and Bill’s wedding

Bill was turning 65 on January 26. He wanted to make a decision about retirement soon. Following the rules, Bill signed up for Medicare back in September 2012 – three months before his 65th birthday. But wait . . . he didn’t need Medicare yet because he was still working and was still covered under his company’s health benefits. We thought he would get a penalty if he didn’t sign up on time. Then we got a notice that said we could not contribute to our HSA (health savings account) if Bill was on Medicare. 😦 Poor Bill made so many phone calls to verify what to do. He had to go down to the Social Security office in person and unenroll from Medicare. Of course, in the meantime, he receives his Medicare card. πŸ™‚

Soon after that Bill found out that if he retired before April 1 he would receive 6 weeks vacation pay when he left. Hmmmmm, that was tempting. But, Bill wasn’t sure if he should just go ahead and plan to work until August when I turned 65. His thinking was we wouldn’t have to worry about our health insurance and we could use the extra money toward the new house. Talk about all the life stressors you can go through! We were hitting a lot of them and all at the same time – selling our home, planning on building a new home, retirement, and Medicare! Auuuccckkkkk! 😯

Early in January we set up a meeting with our financial adviser. We had been working with him for years planning for these days ahead. The purpose of our meeting on January 8 was to discuss Bill’s retirement date. Should he retire at the end of March or wait until August?

I have to tell you . . . we feel that our financial adviser, Mike Wagner was a Godsend to us several year ago. Our first financial adviser was young and was recommended by someone from school. He set up a couple of accounts for us, but Bill did not connect with him. That was a problem. You have to have trust in someone who is going to be handling your money for your retirement. Bill heard about Mike through a co-worker. We love this guy and his assistant Andrea. Talk about customer service! Good customer service is hard to come by these days. These two are always willing to help us.

Back to the January 8 meeting. Mike always meets us at our home. He lives in the same town as we do. We met after Bill got home from work. We discussed Bill’s decision to retire in 2013. We talked about selling the house. Mike asked about how much we thought it was going to cost to build the new house. We worked on a retirement budget. Thank goodness I had already made a retirement budget and had tweaked it for months. We talked about how much we needed to take out for federal taxes on Social Security. Then we talked about the amount we would take out from our investments on a monthly basis. Is your head spinning yet? Mine was. And, of course, the fear of the unknown started to creep in. πŸ˜•

Once that was all done, Mike suggested two things. First, he said that even though everything on paper showed we were in good shape, he thought we should contact some financial institution to see if we actually qualified for a construction loan for the new house. I had worried about that for some time. I didn’t know anyone who was retired and was building a new home and would have a mortgage. In addition, Mike said that the laws had changed so much in the last several years, he just wanted to make sure we knew what was ahead of us beforehand. This turned out to be great advice! We even talked about taking the money out of our investments and paying cash for the house. Mike said he didn’t see anything wrong with us having a mortgage since we could still deduct property taxes and mortgage interests from our taxes.

The second thing Mike suggested was that in the whole scheme of things, there really wasn’t a huge advantage financially for Bill to wait and retire in August. He said if Bill was ready to go sooner, he should retire at the end of March and start enjoying retirement.


Months before I had contacted our bank about a construction loan and had corresponded via email with the regional loan originator about some generic information and qualifications. I called her the next day and set up a meeting on January 16 to see if we could go over our scenarios. She emailed me several forms which I filled out during the week before we met.

Remember all those items we had purchased for the new house? Remember me mentioning that there was a specification document that went along with our house plans? Those two played together and became very important for the meeting with the loan originator. Most people do not buy materials/items before they build. Those items are all rolled into the “build” price as allowances from the total amount you borrow. We were trying to mortgage as least amount of money as we could. So buying stuff beforehand was our way of decreasing our mortgage. However, those items also acted as equity in the new house. πŸ™‚ Our land purchase was paid off. So, the land plus the house purchases all could be applied toward having 20% down. In addition, we also plan to put a good chunk of money down from the sale of our present home.

So, that specification document was supposed to have everything listed that we had purchased for the new house along with a lot more information which Jim had already entered and we would update if things changed. The Plumber would need to know what faucets we purchased and which ones we wanted him to include in his bid. The electrician would need to know what lighting we purchased and what materials he would need to include in his bid. Etc, etc. Bill didn’t like the format of the spec document we used for our preliminary bid. He wanted to change it more like the spec documents they used at his work. He spent several days copying and pasting all the information from the old document into the new one and then handed it over to me to update everything. 😯

I procrastinated working on the spec document. I loathed, detested, despised, and very much disliked working on this document. Get the picture? And the worst part of it all, it was in Microsoft Word and all of our purchases were in tables. And we were switching between Microsoft Word for Windows and Microsoft Word for Mac. It was not pretty. It kept distorting the tables. I was so frustrated. Finally, I just entered all the items and let Bill reformat all the distortion afterwards. He is a whiz at that. I’m too impatient. (If anyone whom I worked with for years at the schools is reading this and didn’t know this about me, I guess I fooled you all those years since I always had to find a way to solve your problems whether I liked it or not. πŸ™‚ )

Enough about the dreaded document! I ended up creating several spreadsheets before our bank meeting: retirement budget; new house bid budget; improvements to the land costs; and materials/items we purchased along with costs. The loan originator didn’t ask for this information beforehand, but every bit of it was necessary during our meeting to determine our qualifications for a construction loan for the amount we needed to build the house and the pole barn. I’m going to brag here – I’m glad I had the time and know-with-all to have thought about this before our bank meeting.

We ended up going through several scenarios of income and costs. We wanted to see if we qualified for our worst case scenario. We did qualify even without me starting Social Security. YAY!!!! However, the loan originator said that our retirement income would need a history and a paper trail for us to qualify when the time comes. Meaning, she suggested that we immediately start taking out our monthly allotment from our investments. She said we would have a paper trail from Bill’s work income and his Social Security. We had a paper trail from my retirement fund payments for the last several years. She said if we waited to start taking out from our investments until right before we started to build, we would probably be declined. She said a retired couple had come in a few weeks before us and wanted to start building a home. However, they were declined for a home construction loan because they had not been taking out a monthly income from their investments. They had a portfolio to show how much they had in their investments, but because there was no paper trail of a monthly income from it, they were declined. We were so glad we checked all of this out sooner than later!

After the meeting, Bill and I hugged each other out of relief that we were going to be able to build our dream home and workshop pole barn. Bill looked at me and said, “I’m going to retire on March 28!” He made it official the next day at his workplace. Whew!

Next up: Well, well, well. And, another house plan change!

Do we NEED it or WANT it?

There’s a difference between wanting, needing, and having. Once you have what you want, make sure that what you want and have is what you need. ~Unknown

The moment of truth was upon us. The “total” cell in our budget spreadsheet was in bold. We looked at the total figure. 😯 We looked at each other. 😯 That can’t be, could it? Does that include the pole barn? No? OMG!

Yes, the cost to build the house and pole barn came in at a higher rate than we thought. Bill and I had a budget in our head prior to bidding out the house. Honestly, I’m not sure what this imaginary budget was based on. I’m sure at one time we discussed some per square footage prices a couple of years ago. Maybe that’s what we were using? Maybe not. At this point, it really didn’t make a difference. What did matter was what we wanted to do about it. It was time to regroup and make another huge decision. Do we keep this house plan and adjust some things OR scrap it and start all over?

Jill and Jim were so supportive with wonderful advice. They never applied any pressure. Jim always had great ideas on how to save us money with our house plan. His mantra was always the more rectangular the plan without a lot of jut-outs the better because it was cheaper to build. Jill, however, would say, “Mom, don’t let him talk you out of something that you really want just because it’s cheaper. I would never have had that window seat if I hadn’t fought for it!” πŸ™‚

Want Vs Need

Want Vs Need

We decided on some things we wanted to keep. Geothermal heating and cooling was high on that list. Yes, it cost more than standard heating and cooling, but the federal government has until 2017 a 30% rebate (taxes) off of the equipment and installation if it is a new build. The rebate would cover the extra upfront cost. We wanted to keep the family room ceiling beams and stained wood throughout. Bill and I appreciate the look of wood. Besides, our home was going to be a craftsman style home.

We found some ways to cut the cost of the build from the preliminary bids. We took the stone off each side of the house and left it only in the front. Bill decided he might do all the staining instead of the painter. The roofer was double what Jim and Jill had paid and we had a smaller home. I thought I could find better prices online for the lighting fixtures and ceiling fans. The trim rep suggested a cheaper option for the sun room divider. We finally got the square footage price down to a more manageable amount. It was still about $50K over our imaginary budget, but Bill and I decided to stick with our house plan and up our budget. πŸ˜•

We made another trip down to visit Jill and Jim in September to celebrate the grandkids’ birthdays. Earlier in the summer, Jill and Jim had decided to finish out their large bonus area above their 3-car garage. When we went to visit this time, we got to stay in what we call “our home away from home apartment” for the first time. Who could ask for more? It is separated from the other part of the upstairs where the grandkids’ bedrooms, bathroom, and bonus area are located. It has a separate staircase. It has a huge family room area, a kitchenette (with bar, bar stools, coffeemaker, small fridge, and microwave), two bedrooms, and a full bath! We are early risers and now we can stay up in the apartment and have coffee in the wee hours of the morning without waking up everyone. We are still working on a method of not waking up Maggie (their dog). πŸ™‚

My favorite part when we stay down there is when the grandkids come up to the apartment in the morning. Jack is also an early riser and the first up of the two grandkids. I love it when he comes up the stairs and quietly knocks on the door (or quietly opens the door) and comes in. He always has a big grin on his face and comes and gives me a big good morning hug. Love, love, love!

I do believe this was also the trip when we decided that I could not be the general contractor for our build and Bill started talking about retiring. We were at a restaurant waiting for our food when the subject came up. Jill, Jim, Bill and I were discussing the logistics of a timeline for selling the house, when we would start building the new one, and how long Bill planned to work. There was the usual kidding from Bill that I was responsible to get the house built and then there was the usual look of panic from me. 😯 I’m sure I probably said the usual, “I’ve read three books on it, but still don’t know what this or that means. I don’t think I can do it. This isn’t my strength.” But all of a sudden Jim looked at Bill and said, “With all respect, Bill, Sandy cannot do this.” I cannot tell you the relief I felt.

Jill then said that we needed to think about how we were going to handle this. Who would be our general contractor? Jill said she could help, but she could not be that main person. We talked about maybe looking at having another builder take over the job instead of using Jim’s family construction company. The general contractor they used for their houses had left the company prior to their houses being completed. Jill had filled in that role at the end of their and Jim’s parents’ builds. However, Jill was working full-time at her own business now so didn’t have the time to devote to this. Then Bill started talking about maybe he would just retire in 2013 and he’d be the general contractor. The wheels started turning.

After our trip, Jim talked with a builder and showed him our house plans and specs and asked if the numbers we were getting back were high versus having someone else build it. The builder said for the level of trim and finish that we wanted for our house, he could not build the house that cheap. He said most builders would use painted trim, vinyl windows, carpet in the bedrooms vs. hardwood, and no custom doors and trim. Jill and Jim had told us that one decision that single-handedly rose their budget was using stained wood. But, as I said before, we don’t want painted doors and trim.

The rest of 2012 was a whirlwind of online pricing and buying of anything I could find that would be a better bargain than the prices we received in our bids. I bought all our interior lighting fixtures, exterior lights and floodlights, cabinet drawer slides, and some door hardware. Some websites would have specials over the weekends only. I looked for free shipping and no tax. Build.com became my best friend. They matched prices from other websites. I got a great bargain at Tuesday Morning on four bathroom vanity mirrors. Bill said even if he decides to replace the frames (which I love) with custom frames to match the cabinets, he would have to pay a lot more for the mirrors by themselves. We got very good bargains on the ceiling fans and door hardware from Menards. And, of course, we bought them when they had rebates. You will see from the pictures below, I changed my lighting. I went with Murray Feiss American Foursquare Collection. With some keen bargain shopping I was able to afford higher quality lights.

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Jill, Jim and the kids traveled up here and we celebrated Christmas – our last year to have Christmas in this house. And, I didn’t even get out my Christmas dishes! You know why? They were all nicely packed on the storage shelves in the pole barn. They will have to wait until we get into our new house. And, for the last time we used our Charlie Brown leaning 3-1/2 foot Christmas tree on a TV tray. πŸ™‚ It went to the trash the day after Christmas. Our big Christmas tree broke the year before so we decided not to buy another one until we moved in the new house. After Jill and Jim went back home, we set out to do something that Bill and I totally dreaded doing. We painted the family room ceiling. Yuck!

As 2012 came to a close, Bill decided two things. #1 – He wanted to see about drilling for a well on our new property. #2 – He decided to retire in 2013.

Up next: Will there be any more changes to the house plans? Will Bill really retire? Will we find water in them there hills? Oh my goodness. It’s only the middle of March 2013 and it’s been chocked full of goodies!

The Mother-of-All-Decision-Making

Do not plant your dreams in the field of indecision, where nothing ever grows but the weeds of “what-if.” ~Dodinsky

As spring turned to summer of 2012, I was constantly looking online for inspiration photos for the house. It was totally consuming my thoughts and time. In fact, when I looked through my iPhoto library of photos for the summer, I found it was mainly filled with pictures I had taken at stores or snapshots of items from online sites. People would ask me what I was doing with my time since I retired. Hello? I’m de-cluttering the house and making decisions of what our new house will look like. They would look at me as if saying, “You aren’t done with that yet?” πŸ™‚ Here are some of the inspiration ideas we had.

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You can guess all you want about how much a house might cost to build, but until you actually send it out to bid, you will never know. Our dream home wasn’t going to be a cookie-cutter home in a subdivision. This would be our last home we would own. It would be the first and last time in our lives we would choose every detail in how we wanted our home and Bill’s workshop (pole barn) to look and feel. Some of the options were open for modification. Some were not.

Taking from their learning experience on their build, Jill and Jim suggested that the more products/materials that we specified we wanted in the house in advance, the more accurate the bid amounts would come in. They said that the least amount of allowances you put into the builder contract, the better. We did not want to make last-minute decisions on products or materials that were important to us.

We all felt we needed to send out a preliminary bid to contractors to get an approximate cost of how much it would cost to build this house of our dreams. Could we afford to build and maintain it on a retirement income? We could not go any further in our planning until we got those answers. Jim became our representative from his family’s construction company to build our home. He suggested we send out bidding information early in August. 😯 That meant we needed to make decisions soon about flooring, lighting fixtures, siding, stone, windows, doors, trim, counter-tops, etc.

With house plans and inspiration photos in hand, we made a long weekend trip down to the area where we would be purchasing all the materials. Some places were not open on weekends, so Bill took Friday off the last weekend of July. We made one appointment ahead of time – the trim company. They would provide all our interior wood doors and interior trim work. A week before we met with the trim rep, we sent him our house plans and inspiration photos via email.Β  That way he made up mock samples to show us at our appointment.

I created a packet of the eight vendors we planned to visit during the weekend along with a Google map that had each of the vendor’s location pinned on it. Plus, we added each vendor address in our GPS. Even though we had visited Jill and Jim for 15 years, we had never been to a lot of these locations. It was a great way to learn the area. In two full days we ended up visiting a distributor for all our exterior products (siding, stone, windows, exterior doors, and garage doors), a trim company, a lighting distributor, two flooring companies, a granite yard, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a post frame (pole barn) builder. We made some decisions on the spot. I took pictures. We collected more literature and samples.

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We spent the rest of the weekend keying in all the information of our preferred materials on our specification document that would go with the house plans when Jim sent out info to contractors to bid. Through the weekend Bill and I agreed on so many materials it was surprising. The one area where we didn’t agree was lighting. πŸ™‚ Turns out my hubby likes fancy things – meaning lighting fixtures that have a lot of adornment and lots of curves and curly things. This was the one time I pulled the trump card and said I would make final decisions on lighting. I like straight lines – nothing fancy. I don’t like fixtures with chains. I don’t like white glass. For the preliminary bid I settled on lighting from this series of lights. Notice, this chandelier had a chain 😦 and white glass, although I requested amber glass.

Forte Lighting

Forte Lighting

On August 1, Jim sent out all our info for bid. He asked that all bids for services and/or materials be returned to him by August 12. He sent out a reminder email before August 12 and again on August 15 since he had not heard from some contractors. As Jim received bids he forwarded them to us via email. I would print them out.

Soon our email mailboxes were filling up. And, papers were thrown in pocket folders. I was feeling very disorganized. And, when that happens, I get stressed. I needed to get all this information in a format I could easily access. Before we had left Jill and Jim’s house in July, Jill had shown me the big 3-ring binder that their general contractor had used to organize all the bids. I had keyed in all the section labels he used in my Notes app on my iPhone. We had a large binder, so I went to work getting all the paper stuff into one place.

Home Construction Binder

Home Construction Binder

Then I started to organize all my emails. I made folders for all the categories (concrete, drywall, electric, trim, flooring, foundation, granite, insulation, lumber, plumbing, etc.) both on my hard drive and inside my email account and saved emails and attached documents to both places. After that, I started tackling looking at the bids and the line items on each bid. I looked online to see if there were any spreadsheet forms out there dedicated for building a home that we could use. I found several and with Bill’s excellent talent of formatting Excel and Word documents, I was on my way entering bids into the digital documents. By keying in items line for line, I found a few errors but mainly discovered where multiple contractors bid on same materials.

Jill and Jim and the grandkids were coming up to our area for Jill’s high school reunion over September 15 weekend. Bryan was flying in for a Colts game. Woohoo, family time! Well, a little time before everyone had to go their separate ways. Anyway, we ended up spending hours that weekend with Jim and Jill going over the bids, contractor by contractor and seeing if the materials/services were what we asked for and if the price was too high compared to what Jill and Jim paid for the same services/materials. We used another spreadsheet for our budget.

Were we going to be able to build this dream house or were we going to have to find another house plan? That mother of a decision came next.