September of 2017 brought framing, framing, and more framing under the hot AZ sun. We also trenched, fought irrigation, and shopped for junk.

My favorite sight these days is a lot of people descending on the house to knock out a big project. Most of the time, there are just a couple people working at once, but the early stages of the framing process brought a lot of framers and really rapid progress. It was so gratifying!

Getting SRP (our power company) to work with us on moving the power pole was like trying to break the enigma code. But that was nothing compared to working with CenturyLink, who still hasn’t shown up despite dozens of promises, appointments, and confusing phone calls. Their little green box needed to be move a few feet so that our power pole could move closer to the fence. We finally took matters into our own hands and told CenturyLink we’d gently take the box out of its place and lay it on the ground so we could keep SRP moving. They approved the approach but still haven’t come to install their box again – five months later. As it turns out, there is only one person on the street hooked up to this box, and their service is in suspension at the moment anyway. These de facto monopolies are super frustrating.

While we love cool built-in furniture, we decided that we would find cool furniture pieces to go in the places we would normally build in bookshelves, cabinets, and other carpentry pieces.

We found this cool piece at a basement furniture sale. It’s taking the place of some counter-style cabinets. This is a much cheaper option, but it provides some needed style to one area of the kitchen.

Here’s irrigation wreaking havoc again, delaying work on plumbing and electrical conduit work.

We found these lockers at a vintage market. They’re going in the boys’ room in place of one of the closets.

For some reason that last picture reminds me of this scene from Three Amigos – one of my all-time favorite movies:

A couple of our beams are being delivered in this pic. When the beams started bouncing and swaying on the forklift, Kylee got a little nervous about our car!

We had to work with at least 15 different people at SRP to arrange getting this pole moved. Most of them were on site the day the work occurred.

Something old. Something new. Right? (Or is that weddings?)

We wanted to blend some old materials into the design of the house. We discovered some gems at Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market.

This old washing machine part will become the sink in our guest bathroom.

This window came out of a farmhouse in the Midwest. I love the chicken wire between the panes. It’ll go in the wall between my office and the main living space.

We’re using a bunch of these army bins in the mud room. Keeping the landing space in our house clear of kid clutter is a constant struggle. I like the idea of using these bins in the place of closed storage, hoping the kids will find it easy to slide their backpacks and shoes into them quickly as they walk in the door. We’ll clean them up and paint them grey.

Check out this framer on the forklift. It’s fun seeing the tradesmen get creative on the job . . . as long as they’re insured!

Here I’m meeting with Anson, our framing contractor, to hash out some of the details of the build. Kylee was on site most of the day every day to answer questions during framing, and I’d stop in every day or two to help work through particularly difficult challenges or help make design decisions. We held numerous conference calls with my brother/architect while making decisions, too.

The kids inspected the lofts above their rooms every day.

In just a couple of places, different drawings on the plans didn’t quite match each other. For the most part, we caught those in advance and made sure we resolved the conflict before any work was completed. But in a couple of instances, such as this one, we had to get creative in the middle of framing. Here the foundation was poured a few inches too short in this cutout.

Anson – the framing contractor – and I became good friends during the build. He and I met early one morning to add two little concrete blocks so that his team could finish framing this window set. I’ll be honest. I grabbed the concrete and he did the work. But it felt good to put in a bit of extra work to get this build properly.

Nearly everyone involved in the project – except the engineer – agreed that our house design was way over-engineered. That cost a bit extra and took a little longer to build, but we simply didn’t want to take the time and go through the hassle of having another engineer run models again to certify a “lighter” build. If a hurricane ever comes rolling through AZ – it would probably be the first time in history – our house will probably be sittin’ pretty!

Dustin Smith

Author Dustin Smith

Dustin is the father of four awesome kids and works as a consultant and entrepreneur in the entertainment attractions industry.

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