Category Archives: Our Dream Home

From start to finish as we build our dream home.

Well into the decluttering

Well my day has consisted of decluttering and cleaning half of my kitchen, Doritos, Ichiban, beer and playing with my pup 🙂

I didn’t realize how much crap I had in my cabinets and drawers. 2 boxes of dishes, a big bag of garbage, games and cookbooks which are all going to be donated.

Didn’t want to stop so had to quench the hunger and thirst with some junk food 🙂

Still have the other half to tackle tomorrow. Trying to do a little at a time so it’s not so overwhelming. 

Put the For Sale sign out this past weekend just in case we had some “Sunday Drivers” lookin around. My son and his friend came on Sunday to film the house for our upcoming website! The website is going to have all of the details of our house, the price, photos and a video.

I will post all the details when complete.

The original plan

The plan was to build our house with a finished basement so the kids could have there own space and when they had their kids they could use the basement…but it didn’t quite end up that way. Because we built 90% of the house ourselves it took ALOT longer than we anticipated. We didn’t even get to build our daughters room as we wanted in the basement before she moved on. We finished our sons room also in the basement but he was only in it for a couple years then he moved on.

I kind of regret that; as the kids were very excited for there “dream rooms” 🙁 But Priorities I guess.

Dream home

Just like a lot of people we wanted to invest in property so we started looking around. We found a nice, inexpensive 3 acre piece of property just minutes away from where we lived.

We thought this is perfect! The developer would sub-divide and add roads, and power then it would be worth more so we could “flip” it!

That didn’t happen…we fell in love with the property so we ended up building on it.

One year prior…

So 2006 we were living in a small town. Our house was the perfect size backing out onto a green space, we were just finishing renovations. That’s when we decided to sell.

We had had a Titanium 5th wheel trailer, a utility trailer and at the time 2 vehicles. Our kids were still small at the time but knew soon they would be needing a vehicle of there own as well.

My husband and I (without each other knowing) would go to the property every once in awhile and think how peaceful it is out here. So then it happened… we made plans to build on the property.

We started designing our “Dream Home”. This house was to be everything we wanted but in a “blown-up” version.

We looked at hiring a builder  but then after doing all of the designing ourselves (with help of Engineers) we decided to build the house ourselves.

My husband had some experience building as he and his dad built there house at the lake years prior. But this was no small home, it was going to be a 5000 Sq Ft walk-out bungalow, plus a 1400 Sq Ft attached garage!

After designing the house we started building…

 

I don’t know if either one of us knew what was in store for us but we just took it day by day. That summer the developer had put in roads and power.

 

We went through a winter working with engineers, developers and researched all of the product we needed to start building.

Well we couldn’t wait for spring to come, my husband bought a Kabota tractor and started clearing the snow before it had a chance to melt. Of course the kids had a blast playing on the nearby trees and just hanging out.

 

Soon after we decided to buy a Sea-can to put building materials in and of course the tractor. We purchased and had all of our trusses delivered to us by Leduc Truss. We then decided to move our trailer out and get it setup.

 

We had to invest in a Champion generator to power the trailer and all the tools required for building. We had arranged for a lot of our building materials to be delivered way before we needed them just so they were “on site”.

 

We had a couple friends help us with our windows and door delivery because we had so many (36 in total!) When the truck showed up they kinda missed the driveway and jack-knifed the trailer! Well after awhile they got it all straightened out and we proceeded to unload the windows and doors into the Sea-can.

Time to start digging! We had the hole dug in no time.

 

We had to make sure the ground was leveled properly as we were going to be building with a product called Polycore. This product is made of Styrofoam and steel…great for insulation value! I have attached a couple of pictures of this product from one of the home shows we were at. I will be posting some pictures of the install itself.

 

We then hired a couple of guys to help with the footings but a couple days later decided to do it ourselves. Yes we all helped with the footings and tying all the Reed-bar…

 

As we finished up the cribbing we then had Inland Concrete supply the concrete and Rebel Concrete Pumping pump all of our footings. Of course it had to rain in between so there was a big mess on the footings.

 

Meanwhile we had built a fire-pit area to burn scraps and keep warm at the same time. The boys had built themselves a sled for the dirt hill and my mother – in – law was planting some potatoes at the edge of our driveway 🙂

 

We had buried 3 cement tanks from Westcon Precast ; two for sewer and one for rain water. The tank for rain water was hooked up to the eave trough from the house so we could use it as a watering source outside.

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While we were finishing up the cribbing our Panels from Polycore arrived!

 

We hadn’t moved to the trailer yet but were spending most of our time there. We had friends and family out for visits and enjoyed most of our meals out there.

The move from house to trailer

As soon as word got out about selling our home in town our life turned into a whirlwind…we hadn’t even had a chance to list our home when we had a knock at the door from a local couple that my daughter new through the library asking if they could look at our home. Of course they loved it and took possession seemed like right away. So we finished up our renovations and started packing!

 

With no where to go we decided to move into our 5th wheel and store our household belongings in 2 sea-cans. So at this point all 4 of us (plus a dog) are living in a 30′ trailer…well actually when it got nicer out the kids decided that they wanted to stay in there individual tents so they moved out. We had a free-standing garage for our BBQ, a table, a boot-room area and outdoor living.

When we weren’t busy with day to day activities…school, work, life, we were building our house.

My husband was self-employed at the time so was able to take a couple months off to get the house to the point of “lock-up” Of course he had to buy all the tools to build. That made him and a few of the  hardware stores very happy!

 

We had help once in awhile. Family and friends would stop by just to “check-in” see how we were doing. We did hire the odd contractor of course to dig the hole, do our septic, retaining walls (as its a walk-out bungalow), trusses and things  we couldn’t actually do because of the machines needed.

Now to get started on the structure!

 

That year we really learned to hate the weather. We started building in the very early spring so fighting with the snow wasn’t fun and when summer came it was hot, some days too hot to work. When it rained we went to town for supplies but then the next day we had to work twice as hard dealing with the mud on top of that. When it was windy we had to tie supplies down so we didn’t have to run to the neighbors yard to retrieve them. The wind was so bad one day that we all had to take cover in the basement of our house (no upper walls up yet) to watch our kids tents and free-standing garage blow away.

Very scary.

Now the exciting part! Too build the structure!

As said prior we chose to build with Polycore as it has many unique advantages, insulation value, significant labor cost savings, and its ease of installation makes the product easy for the “do-it-yourselfer” and save on skilled trade workers.

For this part of my blog I really wanted to go into detail about building with Polycore so I hope this interests you as much as it did to us while building. As said before it was imperative the footings are close to perfectly level for the panels to sit on. The only cement in our house would be the footings and telepost pads as seen in the photo below.

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Next step was to install a moisture barrier under the steel track on the footings. After we had all of the steel track anchored to the footing you then start putting the panels up (they are numbered to the engineered drawings). I must have been put to work because there’s no photos of the panels 🙂 As you can see from the picture some of the panels had wiring holes and window openings so it made it easier to work with, also we put steel cross members to make it stronger and used a million cans of spray foam to seal EVERY crack in-between the panels so it was moisture tight. So as you can see we have all the basement walls up and have attached the joists.

 

The panels that are going to be below grade level came coated with concrete. The main level goes up the same way of course the panels need bracing until the trusses are on. The door ways and window openings are re-enforced with additional header steel as you can see. The open concept made it fun for the boys to roller blade 🙂

 

Meanwhile…

We got all of our lines buried. Power, water, weeping tile and sprayed the tar on the lower level before it was back-filled with gravel and dirt.

 

To get the basement floor ready for the panels we had to spread sand throughout then tamp it making sure it was leveled accurately. This was hard to do especially when you had pipes in the way.

 

Lower windows went in next of course in a wood frame.

 

Did all the major framing on the main level before we started on the trusses.

 

Time for trusses! We had some guys help us with the trusses as our roof had a 10/12 pitch so I wouldn’t let my husband do it 🙁

 

While they were putting up the trusses we were installing the upper windows and doors.

 

Soon after we started sheeting the roof as well as the inside basement walls. Then my husband being an electrician started the wiring and installing the pocket lights.

The guys shingled the roof for us then we were pretty well to lock-up stage!

 

My husband and I found it quite easy to work with the Polycore panels. The plastic strips on the exterior made it easy to attached siding. I will still be mentioning Polycore as we build but I just wanted to give you a look at how the structure went up.

If we were to build again I would definitely use Polycore! Once again there product is awesome and there customer support will not leave you hanging, they will help you in anyway they can. Thanks Mark for everything!

The Rest of the House…

We started by back filling the inside of the garage getting it ready for cement. On the one side it will be my husbands workshop so there will be in floor heating, on the other side will be where we park our vehicles so we’ll use an infrared heater.

 

My husband worked on the heating and plumbing on a constant basis. He did the “rough in” part of it right away but as he built rooms he just added as he went. We had in-floor heating in the basement which we had no problem weaving the hose through the Polycore panels. We also plumbed in a kitchen in the basement that we would use in the future.

 

So my husband decided that HE was going to install all the roof vents (remember our roof has a 10/12 pitch) so he gets himself a harness, ties one end to the Kabota tractor and one end to my Jeep and carries on. Safety First! LOL

 

After we finished with the insulation and poly in the house ceiling we had Cosy Insulation come out to spray our attic for us but we also rented a small machine to fill the odd areas after finishing the electrical. My son was nominated to go up to the attic…he wasn’t very impressed 🙂

 

As you can see from the photos the basement floor is Styrofoam and steel as well from Polycore. It was very easy to place the in-floor heating tube in each panel and then follow with plywood.

 

We used a boiler system to heat our house. The in-floor heating was run in several tubes and separated in zones. My husband did all the work on this before the inspector was called.

 

Putting brick on the fireplace was nerve racking as it was surrounded by dark hardwood flooring. To prepare the floor we put down some plastic, thin Styrofoam pad and plywood. We then coated the fireplace with a cement base then started placing brick with mortar from the bottom up. It wasn’t that bad to do just messy. Looks awesome though! The hardwood floor made it through with NO scratches!

 

My husband decided that he wanted to do a custom walk-in shower in the master en-suite. The shower was to be 89” x 43” with a corner seat and a cubby for shampoo. It was quite the project from hooking up the power and water lines to adding accessories like the 3 jets on the wall, a rain head plus a regular shower head. The foundation consisted of cement, plastic, and the base to make sure the water would end up in the centre of the drain. Using a special drywall they started boarding then added the hardware and then the fun part…tiling. I don’t think I’ve heard my husband and son curse that much before, the wall tiles were hard enough then they got to the ceiling tiles, they were the worst part. They ended up placing one tile at a time then keeping it place on the ceiling with screws on the edges. They all turned out good and the shower turned out beautiful!

 

We built our son a bedroom in the basement. He had his choice of paint colour and flooring as long as the flooring was either vinyl or laminate because of the in-floor heat we couldn’t put hardwood nails in the floor. He chose a off grey for colour and a really nice vinyl flooring (very durable). His closet was a bit unlevel so they filled it with concrete, worked perfect! So his room is approximately 185” x 161” and his walk-in closet is about half of that. He also used his closet as his office for editing his films, it is a nice size.

 

For the master bedroom with laid dark hardwood throughout except the patio door area we laid the same tile we have throughout the house for protection of the dirt and water from the hot-tub. We have 2 sinks, a toilet room and a walk-in closet that my husband built all the shelving for. He also installed all of the cabinets, even in the kitchen.

 

Sprayed the entire ceiling. What a messy job that was 🙁

 

So basically that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 9 years and counting. It has taken this long because we also wanted to live and travel while we were healthy enough too do so. Remember priorities 🙂 We’re still working on little things like baseboards, laundry room sink, moldings, and putting blinds up but we do it usually in the colder months. Life’s too short to stay at home while camping awaits us 🙂