Home Sweet Home

Hi There! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on here. 3 years to be exact. You might be wondering what has inspired me to jump back on here and wrap up this journey with one final post.

About two months ago I made a strange acquaintance. I was bowling at a company holiday party and struck up a conversation with the wife of one of my co-workers. She was talking about how she and my co-worker were in the process of building their home through the Self Help program. Instantly we had a connection! During our conversation she mentioned she was following a blogger, the blogger was me. She mentioned how much this blog has helped her throughout the build and how the blog has given her hope on long days.

I can’t express how happy this makes me and the overwhelming gratitude I have to be able to give to people in the same shoes as me. The though that this simple little thing that I started three years ago is still making an impact on people’s lives is overwhelming.

So what happened after my last post?

I stopped writing because my Dad got very sick with a rare strain of pneumonia and was in the ICU for two weeks. This event changed everything in my life. I focused all of my extra energy outside of work and construction on my family. It was much more important to me to focus on my family and help my mom with whatever she needed. My family will always come first.

So, let’s rewind to what happened after the cabinets, flooring and light fixtures were installed. We were then given three to four days to go through our own homes, cleaning them and making sure nothing was broken or needed to be fixed. We then fell into a waiting period for the city to do one final inspection before we received our occupancy certificates. Once everyone was approved, Guy set a date for us to get our keys and move in – best day ever! I remember I was so excited that I slept on the floor the first night.

About a month after we moved in Mountainlands gave us binders with all of our financial information including all of our receipts from contractors, utilities, supplies etc. Some of us had leftover money from our loans that we could use on any landscaping or have it put back into our mortgage. I ended up using my extra money to build a fence in my backyard.

Three years later I am still overwhelmed by how fortunate this community is to have non-profits like Mountainlands Community Housing Trust (MCHT). I wouldn’t be where I am today without this opportunity and neither would many of the the people who have built their home through the MCHT Self Help program. Thank you to all of the staff who made this journey possible! I am forever grateful and hope this blog keeps inspiring people in the future to take the leap into home ownership.

Construction: Week 26 & 27 – It’s A Date!

Have you ever experienced something in life where a situation was completely out of your hands and you felt completely helpless? The  past couple days/weeks have felt like that for me. My Dad has been in the hospital for the past 13 days severely ill with a rare form of pneumonia. There was a period of 48 terrifying hours where we didn’t know if he was going to get better, but with a lot of prayer and faith in God he pulled through and today he was released form the hospital.

I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone that prayed and has prayed for my family and has been offering help to get us through this tough time. Especially the compassionate nurses and doctors at the University of Utah hospital for their exceptional care and passion for science, medicine and people. My Dad would not be where he is today without you, so thank you!

With that being said, there has been a lot happening at construction. We have finished laying all of the tile which includes cutting the side pieces and filling everything with grout. Cutting tile was a very frustrating process for me because it is very easy to chip the tile and after trying to make the same cut two or three times it gets discouraging. The tile is very susceptible to breaking because we cut everything in a garage and the cold makes the tile brittle. I did enjoy the grouting though. It is a simple process and at the end you feel very accomplished to see the floor done.

my bathroom tile

lots of tile

Most of the wood flooring has been completed too and we even have the start of our cabinetry.

kitchen

kitchen face

cabinets

The best news of all though was our official move in date, February 25! So stinking close!

Construction: Week 25 – It’s Hip to be Square

Every time I visit my house I learn more and more about the area. I was so excited to get started on flooring this week that I arrived early. I couldn’t help myself, I had to race to the entry window and look inside to see all of the unpack-aged wood. On my way back to the car this beautiful white rabbit was just hanging out next to the sidewalk. A sure good luck symbol as we near completion.

rabbit

This week we focused on getting flooring into the kitchens. We need to get them complete, so the wood workers can get our cabinets installed – how cool is that! It was my first time tiling and installing wood. Both of them have very strategic processes to be completed the correct way.

tile boxed

For the tile the construction managers had already laid what is called a kings row, which is basically the starting tile piece which all the other pieces will be based on. Before we could place any of the tiles on the ground we had to mix the thin set, a cement mixture, which the tiles will stick to. When making the thin set, small batched are best because we can get a better consistency and a little mix goes a long ways so this way we don’t waste any material. We mixed the cement in the same buckets we used for painting – finally we get to reuse something and not waste it!  Slowly adding water and the powdered cement, we mixed the concoction with a drill which had a paddle like a mixer secured to the end. When the cement had a cake batter like consistency it was ready to go down on the floor.

tile supplies

We scooped the cement out of the bucket with a trowel, a spatula looking device with teeth on two conjoining sides and a handle on the back of it, and smeared the mixture on the cement board then using the kings row, we placed the next tile down. To make sure the tiles were equidistant from each other, we used small plastic spacers. To make sure all the tiles were the same height we used a silver dollar and rubbed it from tile to tile. If the coin gets stuck in the crack either your tile is too high or too low.  Once your tile is properly place it’s on to the next till the floor is complete.

laid

Installing wood is a completely different process. The wood comes in individual planks and each plank is a different length. On each plank there is what is called tongues and grooves. The tongue is what it sounds like, a small notch sticking out on the side of the wood that fits into the groove, a small indent in the side of the plank. All the pieces fit together like a puzzle and finding a pattern is a puzzle.

wood floor installed

Before any wood can be placed on the floor we must create a pattern. The pattern consists of the different lines the planks create when they’re put together and makes the wood look natural. The pattern is laid out on the floor three rows at a time and then we install them.

To install the floor each plank is placed one at a time. The tongue and grooves are hit together with a hammer and then a contraption called a flooring nailer is used to hold them in place. The flooring nailer is at best described as a reverse nail gun. You step on the gun and bop a large nob on the end of it to shoot the nail into the floor. It makes an intimidating crash when you hit it.

I can’t wait to see the floors complete and I think the cabinets will completely transform the kitchens.

 

Construction: Week 23 and 24 – Good Tidings and Cheer

Winter is my favorite season. I love bundling up in cozy sweaters, sipping hot tea, spending time with family, playing in the snow and seeing what weather mother nature cooks up. I feel very fortunate because the past two weeks have been filled with all of those things.

family

My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Seattle, Washington to spend Christmas with us. The days were filled with celebration, Yahtzee tournaments and domino games, long snowy walks with Gracie, a smorgasbord of Christmas food and remembering the true meaning of Christmas. We also had a special guest appearance from football coach and Bears legend, Mike Ditka.

mike didka

Over the past two weeks we painted, re hung doors, removed base boards, trimmed undercut for the door casings and laid cement board in lot 29 (Clara). I have been busy painting all of the houses and this was my first time trimming the casing and laying down the cement board.

prep for floor

To trim the undercut of the casing we used an electric saw called the Jab Saw, which is similar to the Sawzall. Instead of a straight nose blade, the Jab Saw has an “L” shaped blade with teeth at the end of the “L”, perfectly designed to delicately trim the bottom casing of the doors. To get the perfect height without spending a bunch of time measuring, we took sample pieces of flooring, placed them below where we needed to trim, leveled the saw on top of the flooring, which created the perfect height resulting in the leveled cut we needed.

getting ready for tile

Once the casing was cut we could install the cement board. The cement board is what prevents the tile from sinking once it is laid on the floor and creates an even grade throughout the room. When we placed it down it had to be a quarter inch from the wall. After fitting the pieces like a puzzle they were muddied down and stapled securely.

wood floor

Other exciting news: my wood floor is out of the box  and ready to be installed! Each day we get a little closer.

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.” – Charles Dickens