Foundation Week

April 6, 2016

April 8, 2016

April 9

April 11, 2016


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Clay, Corners, and Rain


It’s March in LA so it must be raining right? You betcha. Several inches today and more on the way this week. The clay is down and the corners have been staked. Pouring the cement footings is next, whenever we get a stretch of sunshine.

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We got our building permit on Wednesday.

Sue’s response to the news:

“Wow!!! It’s finally happening…:)”

The first sign came yesterday. 


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Slowly We Turn…

Our engineered plans were filed with the City of Fairhope. Sue and I closed on our construction loan this week and have our builders risk insurance in place.

Everyone seems to ask, “When are you going to start?” Well, we started back in June when we bought the lot, and it really has not stopped. It’s been “going.”

I think about my father when they ask. He was in the building trade as a drywall hanger and finisher for many years. He died in 1994. When I think back on his craft, and make no mistake it was a craft, like a sculptor or a plasterer, I call him the maestro of mud. (No one ever called it by the name on the green and white bucket-joint compound.) He could wield those knives better than John Williams could ever shake a baton.

When I worked with my Dad, on Cape Cod and on Martha’s Vineyard, most of the people called him Frank, but everyone in our family called him Francis. My dad had developed an alter ego.

“Hey Frank, when you gonna wrap this up?” Teddy K. his boss, would ask him.

I’d be covering screws, sweeping, or most likely sanding the now dried mud smooth.

“If it wasn’t for (insert name of contractor, plumber, electrician, or weather phenomenon) I’d be done already,” Frank would say.

My Dad and I watched The Three Stooges together a a lot on Channel 38 on Saturday mornings. I don’t remember Dad smiling much, but Curly or Moe could still get a grin out of him.

Gents without Cents,” a short from 1944, is based on an old Vaudeville Act. The Three Stooges play aspiring entertainers who meet three women and this episode includes acting rehearsals, dancing, gymnastics, musical numbers, and of course, slapstick. There is even one scene, on the stage at the shipyard, where Larry loses his lines. You can tell he’s not hitting the mark. But Larry is  a professional, yes he’s a Stooge, but he’s also a classically trained violist. He’s only off for one or two words and then boom! He’s back in stereo with Moe.

Whenever he was doing his job, my dad, like all construction workers are part of the greater gig, the big picture. Lots of other jobs had to wait until my father was done taping and coating all the sheetrock seams, joints, and steel corners. Also, my dad had to wait for those jobs that went before his could begin.

I draw a construction parallels to symphonies and The Three Stooges because when people are not completely in sync, it is noticeable, and off-putting. But symphonies like house building, and Larry, can recover so the rhythm of the work site matches the down stroke of the general contractor. Unlike my father and Larry, what happens during construction is out of our control. We have hired professionals, contractors and their craftsmen to construct a well built house in a timely manner.

So if you ask me, “When are they going to get started?”, or “When are you moving in?” I could play Moe, in the scene from Gents without Cents.

“Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…”

Or I may say:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

If that doesn’t work, my plan is to shout the words made famous by another Frank.

“Serenity Now! Serenity Now!” Like Frank Costanza in Seinfeld.

I’ll post the details of this exciting experience here.

If you have other questions please visit my alter ego at “Stump the Librarian.”

Final Plan Edit

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Building A Home, We Are!

We have signed a contract with

radcliff button

Bobby is a direct, no-nonsense kind of guy and he has been in the business for several decades. As a single family home developer and custom builder he, and his construction supervisor Alan, have the experience to help us make cost-effective decisions without sacrificing quality construction. This will be a tremendous asset since we are in the process of applying for a construction loan with

National Bank of Commerce

Melissa, our loan originator, and Jim, the senior VP, are headquartered in the branch right behind the Fairhope Public Library. They work with homeowners and have a great reputation with many local contractors, both large scale and custom builders.

Our house plans, by Deborah’s Residential Designs, are being engineered by


We are pursuing gold fortification in the construction of our home. There is a lot of steel reinforcement and the building must follow the 2012 International Building Code standards, which translates to a strong well-built home and significant savings in homeowners insurance. Once Cristin’s engineering is complete, plans will be submitted to the City of Fairhope’s building department.

I wish I could tell you when the groundbreaking will happen. I cannot. There is, in my estimation, another month of paperwork, permitting, and approvals ahead. When the groundbreaking happens, you, dear blog readers, will be the first to see earth-moving pictures.



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It’s been a while since I posted, but that doesn’t mean things are stagnant. Sue and I now know that we can’t afford a full custom home.

Here’s a picture of the lot covered in winter rye. The city, rightfully so, made us seed it to prevent runoff. It’s really a beautiful piece of land, and we hope to have our home on it one day.

We have a full set of plans and are exploring all options, but I don’t expect much to happen with the holiday season upon us.

We are optimistic about a few things in the works, and we’ll share more in 2016.

Happy Christmas.


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The lot has been seeded and covered with hay, a city requirement. In the meantime, we are still working with Lemongrass and had a very productive meeting two weeks ago. The biggest change we made, and a huge cost saver, was attaching the garage. Here’s all the changes and the latest site plan.

·         Move earth from the back of the lot forward, (take down Cedar) to lower the foundation slope

·         Reverse the floor plan so Garage is on North side of lot.

·         6/12 roof pitch

·         Add window in Dining area

·         Garage moving forward so it’s even with kitchen window wall

·         All brick, lapboard Hardi only on the front

·         Reduce depth of back porch to 9 feet, and move house onto rear setback

·         Remove wall between office and laundry creating one doorway.

·         Put Door and Window in rear of garage, opening onto back yard with the door closer to the house.

·         Let’s take one window out of the middle bedroom, keeping the one that aligns with the entry door.



We did not have to compromise our floor plan and we love the changes. We are cautiously optimistic that these changes will get us closer to our price range.

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We designed our dream home! The plans have been engineered and we have an initial estimate from our builder. Hold on, wait for it…We can’t afford it! As it stands today the estimate is $70,000 over budget. Part of that additional cost is the foundation for our sloped lot, but that’s just one cost in a list of expenses that have added up to blow up our initial budget.

We are tweaking the plan, and trying to attach the garage off the kitchen. Delia (Lemongrass) is tightening up the numbers and will be getting back with us next week.

Quite frankly, we’re about to tell Delia, ‘It’s not you, it’s us!’ We don’t want to take such an expensive leap. If this next round doesn’t work out, we’ll start looking for another builder.

During all this, Sue and I are rethinking the entire project. Building a new home was supposed to be our 25th wedding anniversary gift to each other. What really has us thinking is, “why do we want to spend all that money on a place to live?’ We have a lovely home right now.

If we can’t build, believe it or not, we are okay with the decision. We have invested in a piece of land and had it cleared. The land purchase is simply an investment regardless of whether we sell it or hold onto it a while. The creative process was great and we have the plans for our dream home, if and when we choose to build it.

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Land Cleared!

We are no longer Lot 4. We have our new street address!


The Land Clearing Permit was issued and the work was completed last week.

This is the view from our construction entrance. We have now met all our immediate neighbors, including the owner of the home under construction next to our lot.

This view is looking toward Mershon from where the garage will be. As I write this, our house plans are being engineered (City of Fairhope requirement, but a must for us anyway, given the slope of our lot). They should be complete next week.

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It begins

 Kahlbau Construction and Big John’s started clearing the lot today. It looks very different already.







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