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City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Posts Tagged ‘house’

A flurry of development

With the house set and our loan re-approved, it was time to do all the things we could not do before the house was placed.  We drove from my uncle’s house to the new house almost every day!  (That took a lot of gas.)  Sometimes, we had more than one service being installed on the same day.

First came the septic system.  But not the kind we used to have when we first got married… the kind that’s just a big tank with a drain field.  Those aren’t allowed here any more.  Now any new septic system has to be a “Mo-dad”, which is basically a self-contained sewage treatment system.  It has an electric pump which constantly aerates the system, allowing waste to break down much more quickly and completely.  Then it goes through a drain field, but any treated sewage that makes it beyond that point is simply piped to a ditch or something.

It seems that once it leaves the septic system, it is actually safe enough to end up in an open ditch.

We were very glad to see the guys show up to install the septic system! Our neighbors and the store up the street had been so gracious to us, and allowed us to use their restrooms quite a few times. Of course, we still needed water and electricity in order to be able to use our own facilities, but it was a start.

After quickly digging the necessary hole, the concrete septic tank is ready to be placed. The black things in front are the pieces to the drain field. I was on antibiotics which made me sensitive to sun, so I had to do my picture-taking from the front steps.

The septic tank is lowered into the hole.

I don’t remember what I was doing while this was being done, but I missed the rest of it.  I was probably trying to find an electrician to come and run electricity to the house.  It would have been about the right time.  I spent several days researching electricians at night and calling them during the day while at the property.  I didn’t get any replies to my messages.

Someone finally told me that most electricians don’t like taking jobs this small.  Wow, really?  $2,500 – $3,000 for a day’s work isn’t enough?  How is your average homeowner supposed to get their electricity hooked up, if no electrician will take the job?  My beloved Shay could have run it, but he simply did not have time.

Meanwhile, we had to show up very early the next morning, to get our well dug.  We are so very blessed!  The water here is soft and good.  All of the horror stories about hard well water, clothes not coming clean, rust stains, all that… it doesn’t apply here.  I researched the aquifer and was anxious to see if it was true.

I would have included more pictures, but they all looked like this! That's pretty much what it looked like all day. At 110 feet, the well was done.

With an above-ground tank to give us pressure and a submerged pump that would always stay primed, we were ready to go once the plumber piped it all in -- if I could find an electrician to hook it up!

Our next trip out, we found gravel on our driveway! No more mud!

I had to run some errand by myself, so Bunny-Wan Kenobi sent a companion with me. Spiderman, of course, with his keen understanding of the laws of physics, was very anxious to wear his seat belt.

Still unable to find an electrician, I mentioned my lack of fortune to a neighbor.  The next thing I knew, the pastor of the local Baptist church was installing our pole and wiring everything up!  I could just see God smiling as He brought everything together.

After putting the pole up, it was time to dig a trench out to the well. I braved the sun for a few moments for this picture.

I never got over the amazement that, when no one else would take the job, a local pastor who just happened to be a master electrician wired everything up for less than half the cost I would have had with anyone else. God is good... all the time.

The pastor and our neighbor across the street discovered a siding crack I needed to address with the dealership.

The pastor passes wire to our neighbor, who came over to see if he could help with anything. The neighbor is pushing the wire into the conduit the pastor has run under the house.

This neighbor and his wife have turned out to be amazing people.  I don’t know what we would have done without them.  They, another family to one side of us, and the pastor and his church have helped us immensely as we get settled here.  We are so grateful to God for all of them!

We have been to many churches.  In all of them, we have heard teachings about loving and helping one another, as the church is supposed to do.  In only a couple, however, have we actually seen the people doing it.  Interestingly, it has been only in the very small churches.  The larger ones have ministries and committees, and part of the offerings go to fund these various outreaches to the sick and poor.  It works okay, I suppose, but there is a disconnect between the members giving and the needs met.

In the small churches, there aren’t enough people for committees and lists of ministries.  People help each other more directly.  While the pastor was at our home once (as a guest), we asked him if he knew anyone who needed some light fixtures.  We had removed seven of ours and replaced them with ceiling fans with lights.  He knew two families who could use them, so we gave them to him.

Right before Thanksgiving, I entered a drawing for a turkey through the local paper.  To my great shock, I got a call saying I had won!  I never win anything, and I had bought a turkey for Thanksgiving, and three more which we had quartered and put into the freezer.  I did not need this turkey, though it was tempting to stick it in the freezer, too.

I called the pastor, who gave me directions to a home just up the street from us.  We drove the turkey over there, and it turned out to be the home of a family we had met, that had just lost a very dear grandmother we had gotten to know a little bit.

When the pastor learned that my mom needed a bed frame, he dug around in his own attic, and gave her one complete with head- and footboard.

This is what the Bible meant about the early church having “all things in common”.  It wasn’t some communist thing, with everyone dumping all their possessions into a pile which was then spread equally to everyone.  It meant simply that if someone had a need, and someone else could meet that need, they met the need.

Acts 2:44-46 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

So it’s been really neat to see that in action.

The plumber came and ran all the water pipes and waste pipes and tied in the gas range and furnace (who knew it was the plumber, and not the gas company, who did that?).

We got our certificate of occupancy, and the pastor asked when our power was going to be turned on.  When he learned it would take several weeks, he called in a favor — we needed the power on, because we were very close to our scheduled moving day!  Seems he had done something for a man who is in charge of service hook-ups for the electric company for this whole region, and the man had told him if he ever needed anything, just call him.

Next thing you know, this man is standing next to our power pole, calling the local inspector.  “These people need their power on.  They’re getting ready to move in shortly.  I already have my men right here ready to put in the meter.  You need to come inspect this.”  And that afternoon, the power was on.

With power came water. Bunny-Wan Kenobi helped hook up a hose we temporarily snitched from my uncle's house, so we could flush out the well.

It was all true.  The water is excellent!

Now that we had power, the trim crew could come finish the house.  At this point, we were hardly ever at my uncle’s house.  We paid just enough attention to the bunnies to make sure they had food and water and a little lovin’.

One of the things that needed to be finished was the siding on the ends of the house. One man worked on this, while the other worked inside.

The man inside worked to complete the trim of the marriage wall, as well as trim all over the house. He certainly wasn't going to win any fashion awards, but I didn't object. It was hot... though the other fellow working on the siding wore jeans and a t-shirt. Much better.

The threshold, which would cover the gap in the floor, would be finished later.  They didn’t have a color that matched the linoleum, only the trim and cabinets.  So the dealership had oak threshold material milled for me!  We stained it with Minwax Espresso, and sealed it with polyurethane.

As we waited for the trim to be completed, as we had waited for so many other things to be completed, the kids read, and Mom took a nap.

ILoveBunnies found a walking stick. These little things are so fascinating!

Some of the clay had washed down from the pad, pooled in the yard, and dried out. The cracked red clay made a beautiful pattern.

Everything was coming together so quickly, it made our heads spin!  We were so grateful to have refrigeration, running water, and power to run fans.

There was still plenty to do, but we had to keep our eyes on a hurricane that was forming, and projected to come in our direction.

 

 

 

Stressing the deadline

The next day, we drove up and parked on our gravel road.  No way we were going to get stuck in the driveway again!  We walked.

That day, at 5:00pm, was the deadline for our loan.  I was to call for an interview with the bank when the house was completely leveled, blocked, and tied down… and the phone call was to be made by 5:00pm, or the loan offer would expire.  If that happened, and they reviewed our application and decided not to re-extend the offer to us, the house would be pulled back off and carted away.

Surely… both halves were there, they were almost finished being “married”, blocked, and leveled.  Surely the tie-downs would be completed in plenty of time!

When we walked to the driveway from our car, this is what greeted us:

It was their turn to get hopelessly stuck! We found the man we bought the land from pushing the setup crew's truck up the driveway! It seems he just felt he should come over and see if the crew needed any help with anything. God is so good!

The other setup truck got a push, too. Conditions were so sloppy, one of the men already had his shirt off.

I felt so sorry for these guys.  What terrible conditions to have to work in!  If it wasn’t about to storm, storming, or just finished storming, the sun was out and absolutely scorching!  The mud pulled at their legs, causing them to use several times the usual effort to walk.  They got so exhausted.

The kids spotted a pretty little butterfly, so I did my best at a picture of it with my cell phone.

Mom chats with one of the crew, as the odd little caterpillar-treaded machine that pulled us out of the driveway holds the house up for him to add blocks. The axles and the last few wheels are in the foreground. There is nothing mobile about this home anymore!

Yet another funny little machine... this one screwed the anchors into the ground.

By this time, I was getting concerned.  It had taken a lot longer to get to this point than I had expected.  The lady at the dealership, bless her heart, was getting really nervous.  She begged me to make the call to the mortgage company and tell them it was blocked, leveled, and tied down, since the crew wasn’t leaving until it was done anyway.

I understood her predicament, but that would have been lying.  Yes, it was rain that had caused all this to run so late — rain had delayed the driveway, rain had delayed the building of the pad, rain had caused work to stop several times, and so on — but the truth, no matter the perfectly valid reasons, was that it wasn’t finished yet.  I waited.

Meanwhile, my joints became slowly more achy.  As I mentioned before, my joints are hypermobile, and I’m usually in some amount of pain, even if it’s minor.  Usually, it’s a little more than minor.  This day, I felt more and more like I’d been walking on concrete floors all day.

It was finally time to tie the house down! At this point, I was not sure we'd make the deadline.

I was amazed at the number of tie-downs this house got!  By the time they were finished with all the ties under and around the house, I think it was over 50 of them!

The poor lady at the dealership was beside herself.  She wanted so badly for me to call the bank.  I thought they might be finished in time, but they kept adding more and more tie-downs.  Not that I’m complaining — I don’t want to turn to Toto and tell him we’re not in Kansas anymore!  Eventually, though, I knew the tie-downs would not be done by 5:00.

I called the bank, but I did not tell the gentleman that the work was finished.  I was truthful, and told him that it was almost finished, but that they were still working on the ties.  He explained that the process of tying it down could actually cause structural damage to the house, and so it was important to wait until all the ties were completed, and I’d had a chance to walk through the house to inspect it.

I determined that I was not going to allow our new home to be founded on a lie.  I would not tell him it was finished when it was not.  When it was finished, I would tell him it was finished, and if that meant we lost the house, then so be it.  I did not believe that God wanted me to lie to keep the home we believed He had granted us a loan for.  If He wanted us in that house, then He was more than able to ensure the loan was extended to us once more, if we did indeed pass the deadline.

And we did pass it.

The pain got worse and worse, and I could not stand or walk for very long.  That’s why I didn’t have more pictures for this post.  Of course, that may be a relief for some of you!

Bunny-Wan Kenobi passes some time pulling roots remaining from trees that were removed. With the ground so wet, they came up pretty easily!

As some of the crew worked on the ties (two around the outside and one underneath), two more worked to finish the roof.

4:50pm came, and I called the bank.  I left a message detailing exactly how far the work on the house had progressed, and what was left to be done.

Finally, at about 6:20pm, the leveling, blocking, and tying-down of the house was completed. The exhausted crew left.

As I waited for my beloved Shay to arrive from work, I stepped inside and slowly looked around the house.  I was in so much pain, it was really hard to climb stairs and walk, but it had to be done.  It turned out that this was more than my usual pain.  I had Lyme disease.

There was some damage, but only the kind that is to be expected when a structure like this has to endure a long drive, with all the flexing it does.  There were some wall panels that were cracked, and there was stress damage to the caulking around the countertops, and other issues like that.  I saw no structural damage.

I called the bank again to leave another message, and again explained the horrendous conditions the men had worked in, which had certainly delayed completion, but that the setup was now completed.

I had told the truth.  Now the outcome was up to the Lord.  I’d rather have it in His hands, than be trying to manipulate circumstances myself!

When Shay arrived, we walked through the house again.  Naturally, we prayed that the loan would be extended to us once more.  For one thing, if it wasn’t, then we had very little time left to put something on the land that we could live in before my uncle got married.  Graciously, he suggested that after the wedding, he could move into his new wife’s apartment until we were able to move out of the house, but we wanted to be able to be out of the house by then.  And the wedding was coming up in early November!

I called the bank the next morning, and the gentleman explained that he had scheduled a review of our application.  I waited on pins and needles for him to call me back.

He did.  They were re-extending the loan.  The house was ours.

The pad was done and rock-solid, and half the house had been delivered.  We scrambled out early the next morning for the installation.  By this time, it was August, the peak of our scorching, humid summer.

We got there and put our chairs under a tree, and it wasn’t long before the setup crew arrived.

It wasn't long before they had driven the back half of the house up onto the pad. The truck would hold the house level until it was blocked.

One of the crew rolls a wheel he just removed down the side of the pad.

ILoveBunnies' hat held some sort of amazing attraction for the love bugs. Love bugs are the scourge of the earth. Okay, maybe not, but they are excessively annoying.

A couple of the crew started distributing the blocks that would be used for the pillars.

The front half of the house arrived! The crew left it on the gravel road in front of our property. Above the trees, you can see the storm clouds gathering. Uh oh.

One of the crew takes blocks up underneath, to set them under one of the two main I-beams. The plastic he is on is 6-mil vapor barrier stuff. Nice and thick.

This man works to level the house with an ancient tool, the water level. In front of the pillar he is building is a pier cap, or a termite cap. These will help protect the house from termites, by removing the pillars as points of access. Naturally, there are other points of access, but this takes care of some of them.

The pieces of wood holding the protective wrap over the middle of the house start to come off.

....... And then, it suddenly stormed. Mom and the kids took refuge at a neighbor's house, while I put things away and was going to move the car out from under the trees. I never got that far, because it turned out that my mom had my keys. So I just stayed in the car.

Rainwater pools in the tire tracks behind the house, and begins washing some of the fine clay particles from the pad.

Work resumes as soon as it stops raining, but you can see that the smooth, hard surface of the pad has softened, and has begun looking like a well-walked beach. After this, it was so much harder on the crew. It was wet, the clay was soft and stuck to their shoes, and the sun came out and just drilled them into the ground.

The crew decided they'd better get the other half up onto the property, before it rained again and they couldn't get it past the end of the driveway.

They unhitched the truck and began moving the house with a small piece of equipment with the heart of a riding lawnmower. Amazing that it could pull all that weight. As he maneuvered and finished turning the house, the sun broke through the clouds.

They used this odd machine to slowly walk the house the rest of the way up the driveway, and onto the pad with the other part of the house. As you can see, the property had drained pretty well by this point, but that didn't mean things weren't still soggy. More storm clouds brewed in the distance. The guys had noticed this, and had stopped removing the protective barrier from the half that was already set.

Moments later, the rains returned.  Once they let up, the crew decided to let the land drain while they went for lunch at a truck stop down the street.  We climbed into the van, and told them we’d see them there.

It didn't happen. We had a slight delay, and the crew was up the highway a couple of miles by the time we headed out. We made it to the end of the driveway. I could see that getting out might be difficult, and I navigated it the best I could. It was no use; the end of the driveway was already too soupy. We tried all sorts of things, even shoving sticks under the tires for traction, but they were buried too deep. So there we sat, wondering how long it would take for the guys to start wondering where we were.

When we saw them turn down our road, we could see them start laughing and waving.  They had realized at some point that we had told them we’d meet them there, and we hadn’t arrived.  “I wonder if they’re stuck in the driveway,” one thought out loud.  Yep, we were stuck in the driveway.

Thankfully, their handy-dandy whatchamacallit machine was up to the task! They pulled the van backward as I steered, and then I drove out by cutting through the shallow ditch on our neighbor's property, only a few feet from the driveway. The other side of the driveway was in worse shape, so I couldn't go that way.

Having rescued us, it was time for them to return to work. ... Assuming they could get back up the driveway, which was quickly turning into a swamp. The powered rear of the truck slid off to the side and almost got stuck, as they tried to make it all the way in.

When we returned from lunch, we found them working to bring the two halves together, in a procedure called "marriage". The "marriage wall" is the doubly-thick wall that runs down the middle of the house. Even where you walk from room to room, you have the marriage wall at the ceiling and floor.

More storms approach, as the men fight to bring the house together and finish the center ridge of the roof before it rains again. In the end, they had to tarp the rest of the roof until the next day.

They work to finish leveling so they can tie the two halves together and do the ridge of the roof. As I said, it wouldn't all happen that day.

I had thought we were supposed to do a walk-through for our loan once it was blocked and leveled, which it was. We waited for Shay to arrive, and then we tied bags over our mucky feet, so we could walk through. We had to cut the barrier between the two halves and step through to pass between some rooms. I found out later that the walk-through was to be done once all of the tie-downs were completed. Oh, well. At least we got to see it, and it was so exciting to walk through it!

Exhausted, we headed home, knowing we’d be right back early in the morning.