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Moving into our custom home aka construction zone

We have been in our custom home for a few months now and while it's great to be in, the work continues. In addition to hiring contractors for certain jobs, we are taking the DIY approach to others. 

The key for us is to determine what work we are capable of doing ourselves and what we should leave to the professionals in the construction and design industry. Our challenge is while some trades are extremely professional and do a good job, others are lacking the perfectionist personality trait we have. The difference is this. Just like when you owns your own business and it’s your “baby”, when you are building and designing your own house you become attached to it. It’s our masterpiece which we pour our blood, sweat and tears into and we want it to be built well and just right… no shortcuts.

In addition, the DIY approach is cost effective. As long as you know what your skill-set is, otherwise fixing mistakes would be more time consuming. You also have to consider the fact that time is money. And sometimes, family time wins over money. That is invaluable.

For the most part we have been very pleased with the professionals we hired. We tend to use people we have used before, or those recommended by friends. After all trust is everything. When we haven’t had a recommendation we have read reviews and hoped for the best, for the most part that’s worked out!

The laundry room (Valentine’s Day gift) is in progress.

Our kitchen is complete and while relatively empty, it’s starting to feel like a home. 

Grand plans for landscaping have been drawn and more furniture is on order. We are finally making progress installing lights to replace the single bulbs that were previously installed as a temporary measure.

Custom Kitchen for our Custom Home Build

As each day passes we are getting closer to moving into our custom home. A huge milestone was seeing the kitchen we designed installed.
We went with a two-tone custom kitchen which features a giant 5 by 10 ft. island, which is sure to be a gathering place in our home.

The wooden cabinets and drawers were painted using Benjamin Moore colours, specifically Chelsea Gray for the island and White Dove for the remaining cabinets and in the adjoining servery. We selected alternating drawer pulls, knobs and calm shell hardware in brushed nickel to complete our transitional kitchen look.
It was important to us that the cabinets extend to the ceiling. We went with 10 ft. Cabinets (including the crown moulding) to go to the underside of our waffle ceiling.

The quartz counters are the icing on the cake! We fell in love with Caesar Stone Alpine Mist for the island, it's a light grey with white veining that shimmers in the sun. To keep it simple and true to a two-tone look, we went with a grey concrete looking quartz for the back counters.

The appliances and lamanam backsplash are on order now. We can't wait to get cooking!

Plaster Makes Perfect

We are close to taking occupancy of our casa. Our interior doors and trim are installed throughout the house and our custom plaster work is complete. 

We probably went a little over the top decking out the majority of the rooms with crown moulding, pencil trim and the like. The thing is when you are designing and custom building your own home you have the option to go as fancy as you want. Sure it's technically possible to add a waffle or coffered ceiling to your kitchen once it's installed but it's would make a mess and I would worry about the cabinets getting damaged. We took time to plan all the details of our dream home wish list at the design stage so there are no afterthoughts. 

So back to the plaster. We used Canamould for our home and it was one of the best decisions we made. They did a fabulous job bringing our vision to life. From trim to window sills to columns they do it all. 

The last of our tile, the inlay in our bathroom, is going to be installed this week and we are getting ready for our white oak hardwood floors to arrive in two weeks. 

Interior Finishes for our Custom Home Build

It's been awhile since my last blog post about our custom home build. I'm pleased to share we are now working on the interior finishes, the fun part for me!

Our previous homes have been decorated with modern interior decor, for this house we are going with transitional decor.

Here is a sneak peak of our foyer.

Our shower and floors in the ensuite were finished with statuario marble.

We went with a grey hexagon tile for the Jack and Jill bathroom.

For the powder room we installed a marble floor. We went through a skid of tile to find pieces without natural strawberry veining to install. It was time consuming but we are happy with the end product.

In addition to interior finishes starting, both sets of custom stairs leading to the basement have now been installed. One is at our side entrance and the other is in the middle of our home.

 I'm looking forward to posting more soon as we hope to be in our home build with the majority of the finishes completed within the next two months!

Building our Dream Home from the Ground Up

It feels like we are finally reaching that moment where moving into the home we designed and are building is close to becoming a reality.

It's been a busy few weeks at our custom home build. Right now the interior looks more like a barbie dream home than a French chateau with purple spray foam and pink insulation.

Seeing the place insulated makes it seem more like a home and less like a construction project. Once drywall starts next week I can only imagine how it will continue to take shape.

In other news our septic tank is being installed this week. We had to make the decision to get the machines there to install it now before the snow hits or wait until spring when it thaws and risk a muddy mess.

Looking back at how far we have come is keeping us going. We are in the home stretch now.

Update on our Dream Home Build

The exterior of a our home abuild is finally done! The soffit and fascia went up recently and entrance to our home is complete. 
In other recent developments our basement slab has been poured. Our crew worked round the clock to complete the 3,700 square foot basement slab. Now that it's done our plumber is able to close out. 

Here is the truck pumping through our garage. 

Here is a look at our basement slab being poured. 

Hyro has been hooked up.

Electrical is underway and our septic is coming soon!

It's a mad rush to get insulated before the cold Canadian winter hits but we are making progress.  

From Home Designer to Home Builder

The masonry is just about done on our custom home build! All of our Permacon Chambord Grey and Lennox Grey stone and brick is up, except for the very front which needs to be added to our concrete entry surround.
It's taken the company we used three times to get the surround right, but apparently third time is a charm and it should be delivered this week. The surround weights over 1000 pounds, so getting it installed will require a small crane and our talented masons. I can wait to see it up! 
In other news our stucco is complete, we went with a linen colour to break up the darker greys in our stone work. It also draws the sparkly gold glow out of our bricks. Pretty. 
One thing I find with construction is things I think will take longer are often completed quickly, and things I think will be completed in a day or two can take much longer. For example I figured the stucco would be a quick job, I didn't anticipate all the waterproofing and preparation that goes into it. Thankfully hubby has the construction brain. As the general contractor of our project and the one coordinating that trades, he knows to plan accordingly. 

Speaking of trades, our window caulking is now complete. The guy we hired was a pro and completed the whole job in less than a day, I found that impressive. We passed our framing inspection (woo hoo!), our HVAC is finished, plumbing and electrical are underway and we are getting closer and closer to our move in date! 

Choosing outlet locations is something I wish I had been able to do in my past homes, which were from subdivision builders. Instead of designing the room and placing furniture around where the electrical outlets are, this time we are spoiled in that we get to plan in advance. For example in our office we know where we want the desk (in the middle of the room) so we can put outlets in the middle of the room on the floor so we don't have wires in the way of our desk. It's all in the details! 

You might remember hubby designed our house and is the general contractor. Lately he has also become more of a construction worker/builder. He has always had a knack for renovations and DIY projects and helping the trades has been very cost effective. He is an absolute perfectionist so it's nice to know our home is being built well and have a view into what's behind the walls. 

Adding stone and bricks to our custom home

It's summer time in Toronto and our custom home is in the process of getting stone, brick and stucco added to it.
I'm obsessed with the Permacon materials we selected, chambord grey stone and lennox grey brick. To help determine which colours to go with we found it helpful to visit local homes that had been constructed using the exact colours we were considering. This allowed us to see the tones in the daylight and get an idea of how the masonry worked together on an actual house, instead of trying to select colours from tiny in-store samples.
Our vision was French Chateau / Scottish castle inspired and I think it's come together quite nicely!
Our masons, who were recommended by Don and Sons have been excellent! It's amazing how much they can accomplish in a day. At this point, we are a day or two away from all of our stone being complete, and about a week away from the remaining bricks being added. At that point, stucco will follow and finally our custom concrete door surround.
We are on to our third carpenter (third time is a charm right?) and have a few days left of interior framing to complete before inspection.

Overall we are thrilled hubby's drawing is coming to life.

The house that built me - a custom home journey

It's officially summer and our custom home build is making progress. In my last post I mentioned our new carpenters were doing a great job putting the house back together after a big storm, thankfully they still are! If you are ever going to general contract a custom home good trades are the most important thing. 

Exterior framing is done and interior framing should be totally complete this week or next. Our framing took longer than average, mostly because every single room in our house has a complicated ceiling, think cathedral, trey or cove.

Once we finished exterior framing, plywood sheathing was applied to the roof. In total our roof is 7,000 sq. ft. That's a lot of plywood at $30 a sheet. Thankfully Scugog lumber kept us stocked up. 

Next came the window and door install. We went with Trimbo Windows, a Mike Holmes approved vendor who were great to place a custom order with. Our biggest window ended up being 8' wide by 11' tall. They worked with us to ensure our vision came to life. I especially love their window mullion colour options. For our French chateau theme we went with a dark grey. 

For our doors we went to Home Depot and ordered Masonite fibreglass doors, each 8' tall. I never knew there were so many options for doors before we started this build! We are really happy with our slate grey, European style doors. Finally the grey roof shingles went on, it's amazing the team shingled the entire roof in only three days!

Once all that was done we worked with our landscaper to flatten the dirt around the house and with the city and our electrician to get power run to the house.   

There are still rough ins and work to finish on the interior, however at this point we are almost ready for masonry! I can't wait to see what our permacon stone and brick will look like. 

Let's Build a House on a Piece of Land

It's been awhile since my last post about our Casa Di Villani custom home build, that's because framing has taken longer than we originally anticipated. Between bad weather setting us back, having to let a set of carpenters go after their poor work caused some of our trusses to fall down and break, and our roof design being more intricate and challenging to build than we originally thought, we are finally making good progress. 

At this point the roof trusses are all up and the wood sheathing is 90 per cent done. 
By this week the remaining sheathing will be on and our first 3 windows are going to be installed! 

We have learned one of the biggest challenges of building you own home is finding good contractors, who are reliable and skilled enough to complete a complicated project. Going with the cheapest quote certainly isn't always the best approach (as we learned). Now we have experienced carpenters on the job and couldn't be happier with their work. 

The other lesson so far is timing trades back to back can be challenging, for example our windows were ready before our framing was complete. Thankfully the window company held them for us for two months, which is unusual. 

Building in the country has been a great experience so far. The one thing we have noticed is our neighbours are all amazing and willing to help. The amount of locals who stopped by to offer their equipment to us, or recommended quality trades to us has been overwhelming. 

I'm looking forward to posting photos of the house build with windows installed soon! 

Framing our Custom Home 101

It's March and the walls are finally going up on our house. It's surreal to be able to actually walk through the house hubby and I designed. It's been great being so involved in creating our own design and now actually seeing it come to life.

After completing the foundation, the sub-floor went on, then our carpenters built the exterior walls flat in place first then raised them to form the outline of our house. Next came the interior walls. I was shocked by how quickly the framing was completed. I always figured it would take at least a month or so to frame a home, however the majority of the walls were up within a week and a half!

Now that the walls are up the roof truss system we ordered is on site. I'm looking forward to getting it installed over the next few week. It's really going to make our house unique as we were able to build in cathedral, cove and trey ceilings into the majority of our rooms.

Winter Construction - Completing our Foundation and Starting Framing

It's February and we are making more progress on the custom house build. The basement is now complete and has passed inspection.

We have been lucky to have a balmy winter in Canada this year, however despite the warmer than usual weather the, temperatures have been dipping down below 0 some nights. Frost blankets proved to be useful, although pricey at 2k, and also time consuming to lay out each evening. As mentioned before we are general contracting our home build, so after long days at work it became a second job to drive to the property in the dark and make sure all the blankets were in the right spots and hadn't blown around. Who needs a gym?

There were a few days of heavy rain when temperatures warmed up. During these days we ended up renting a pump to remove excess water from the basement. From what I have learned about foundations you don't want extreme heat then cold, or freezing and unfreezing as you don't want any of the walls to shift. We were diligent checking up on the build and thankfully made it though this phase successfully.

Once the foundation was complete the steel beams arrived and were installed. We are very pleased the foundation ended up being only 4 inches out than planned for on our drawings. Once basement measurements were confirmed we ordered our roof trusses, to arrive in the next few weeks.

Next the lumber was dropped off and the floor joists were installed.

Finally the floor was completed, windows were sealed up (to protect the basement from a cold weekend) and framing of the walls is now underway. 

Sure, we might have taken on some additional challenges with winter construction, however I imagine there would be different challenges in the muddy spring. I'm looking forward to seeing the walls go up and the frame of the house take shape over the next few weeks.