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twinAK 02-13-2011 11:43 PM

2900 sq ft DIY house
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I've been reading these forums for quite some time and figured it was time I post my ongoing project here. My wife and I started building our house in 2008 for cash, and short term loans as necessary to complete a stage in the process. Why? In today's shaky economy and the fact that I'm about to take a leap into a new career this summer, we don't want a mortgage over our heads. I'm disappointed in the quality of work done by a lot of contractors and can't afford a custom builder so we decided to do it ourselves. I've had experience in most of the trades required so we will do most of the house ourselves with a hired helper when needed. The short and skinny to bring you up to speed:
2007: Purchased 3 adjacent acres to build, cleared it myself with a borrowed dozer. Removing the top layer of vegetation helped thaw out 4-5 ft of frozen silt
2008: Built a 12x20 cabin to work out of, and had initial excavation done, 4 ft down to gravel
2009: Had excavator finish excavation to match modified house plans, backfill and compacted 2 foot of gravel to raise the elevation (low area+ high water table)
2010: Had well drilled 105', temp water setup installed. We built the footing forms out of 2x10s, bent, installed rebar, poured the footings and masonry heater slab in crawlspace. Went back a month later, erected 4ft ICF crawlspace walls, installed rebar, and poured the foundation walls. After that we applied bituthene to the walls/footings, attached 1/2" EPS for backfill protection, shoveled drainage gravel around footing, put down fabric, then 2" of XPS for frost protection, then pushed the dirt to within a foot of the wall until the subfloor was installed. We were able to reuse a good portion of the footing from boards to make the beams required in the crawlspace. I'll post the pictures up to this point here and add another post. Lots of hard work but when it's all paid for it will be so nice! I get really interested in hearing other peoples stories about how they build their own house and overcome the obstacles. More fuel for the fire!

twinAK 02-13-2011 11:52 PM

More progress notes, photos
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We also installed the underground fuel tank and 1250 gallon septic tank/leach field. We rented the excavator and a friend ran it for me while I installed all the components. Some of the dirt and gravel had to be done by hand, WHEW!! Reminds me of working hard on the farm! I put felt and 2" XPS on top of the leach field and covered it up. The XPS reduces 2 ft of dirt cover and helps the leach field not so obvious in the backyard. I took a month off and went back to frame up the first floor. Next post....

twinAK 02-14-2011 12:24 AM

First and second floor framing
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All right, last post for today. I took a month off work in September to get the first floor framed up. I got most of the the joists and decking down with the help of a friend. I know some builders swear by Advantech but I got a really good deal (40% off) on standard 3/4" T&G CDX and topcoated it with Thompson's waterseal to protect against the elements. I got this at a deep discount as well. I hired a a guy on to help with building and standing the 2x6 exterior walls since I was sheathing them on the deck. I built most of the attached garage walls by myself since I had to ration my cash available for hired help. Framing them in place took some time. Once all the exterior walls were up I built all the interior walls myself. Between occasional help from a friend and assistance from my helper, we installed all the 2nd floor joists and decking, including above the garage where the joists had to be spaced 12" O.C. to accommodate a 22' span for the bonus room. But before we installed the joists 4 of us had to slowly wrestle this huge gluelam into place above the open space between the kitchen and great room. That was 2 hrs of nerve-racking manual labor. In hindsight I should have either hired a crane or got two more people. The backfill is all done and the existing structure is covered with 6mil plastic for the winter. As of now I'm coordinating with the power company to have a power pole put in on the corner of my lot. After I get the 2nd floor walls and roof framed up in the spring I'll install my service entrance and main load center to run enough wire for a couple circuits for now. Once I get the roof on and shingled I'm going to take a breather and go fishing!
The only things we plan on subbing out are: HRV install, poly-foam spraying the rim joists, and maybe the boiler install. If I can get a really good price on drain waste and vent rough in I may opt for that as well since I really don't want to mess with it.
I welcome the feedback, good and bad(recommended solutions/ideas for the bad of course) Thanks for looking.

shumakerscott 02-19-2011 01:09 AM

Great job, Now I have to wait until spring for more pic's? Get back up there and get to work!!! Keep posting, looking forward it. dorf dude...

DangerMouse 02-19-2011 05:50 AM

so???.... how many fish did you catch?????


twinAK 02-21-2011 09:20 PM

Quick weekend trip
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Originally Posted by shumakerscott (Post 593711)
Great job, Now I have to wait until spring for more pic's? Get back up there and get to work!!! Keep posting, looking forward it. dorf dude...

Thanks! Unfortunately I can't go back up there because I have to save my vacation time for pre-retirement leave this spring. So the good news is starting mid-May I'll be back at it everyday with lots of pics. We did make a trip this weekend to haul a bunch of materials and do a few minor things. I installed a service door in the garage wall and moved some snow. There was at least 18" of snow on the ground and we left this morning in the middle of a blizzard. Weather report said an additional 22" fell within the past 24 hrs. I didn't take any pics, forgot the camera. However, here's an aerial pic given to me by the power company. The water filled hole near the "location of new pole" is from early excavation efforts. The pic is a couple years old but shows the area.


twinAK 02-21-2011 09:36 PM


Originally Posted by DangerMouse (Post 593745)
so???.... how many fish did you catch?????


None lately, I was referring to this coming summer after I get the roof up. But since you asked, last summer we caught a couple kings, a few small halibut, and dipnetted a bunch of red salmon. My last fishing trip was cut short due to a damaged prop. We're just about out of fish so I'm anxious to get back out there. The quicker I can get the roof up, the more time on the water for my family and I.:thumbsup:

kickarse 03-01-2011 01:12 PM

This is really inspiring for me to build my own house in a limited budget... great work!

twinAK 03-01-2011 09:29 PM

Floor plans
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Thanks! I can tell you it's not easy at all, and I started out with a lot of cash, with the foundation and septic eating up all of it. I had to borrow some money to get it to this stage before winter and worked on paying it off. I just paid for the trusses today ($8700) to be ready in a couple months, the costs of lumber just keep going up and up. We really wanted a 2500 sq ft house to keep the building costs down but every set of plans we looked at in that range just wasn't functional for our family of 5. I attached some pics of the modified plans. I did stretch the garage out another 4' to make it 22x28 since I do all my own auto repairs. Anyways, enough blabbing for today.

twinAK 08-25-2011 02:07 AM

Still at it
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I've been extremely busy since May and disconnected from the internet where we're living until now (travel trailer) so I haven't been able to keep up on the posts. The short version is I retired from the military in May and started a new full time job two days later and have been devoting every waking moment to building the house when I'm not at work. Two weeks ago I finally took two days off, the first time since May. Progress has been slow and I've blown my budget out of the water for hired help and a couple other things. Since I'm not able to put as much time in as I'd like, I've had to hire on some help here and there. That really took away from available funds for other supplies but I've been able to work around it, so far. Now the race against time is on as fall is just about here and I probably only have about 30-45 days until snow flies in this part of the country.

Anyways, here are some pics. I got all of the framing done, passed inspection, and now I'm pressing with the garage slab prep. The roof is covered with Triflex and is holding up real well. I still have to do some more Tyvek and fine tune some flashing at a couple roof/wall intersections. The flashing is all done around the foundation. I'm just tryin to get the house weatherproofed., and make a section of it livable before snow flies. The foam is down on the gravel base in the garage but I burnt up my hammer drill trying to drill holes in the foundation wall for the radiant PEX. Guess I'll be renting one tomorrow so I can knock out the prep for the slab pour in about ten days. I do have electrical service and ran a couple circuits to power the tools and supply the camper with power. The phone company took their sweet time running a line to my property so we finally have internet and a land line. Once I get two more circuits ran for the well pump and heat tape, my well guy will finish the water line install to the house and install the pressure tank. Once I'm in the house and not racing against old man winter I'll have more time to post.

twinAK 08-31-2011 01:04 AM

Garage slab
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We spent last weekend prepping for a slab pour this coming weekend and it's all ready for Saturday. We also knocked out the rest of the Tyvek install except for under the service entrance riser on the side of the house. The wife has been putting in fiberglass batts during the day while I'm at work and I knock out some other things for a few hours in the evenings. I put 2"x4'x8' of XPS foam on the perimeter of the garage slab, then added 1" sheets inside that perimeter. Laid down 1/2 PEX and then mesh. I had some leftover rebar from the foundation so I used some of it to strengthen the front part of the slab near the door. My DIY radiant manifolds are almost done. I pressure checked one @ 58 psi for two hours and it only dropped 2 psi in 2 hrs. I'll put 85 psi on it tomorrow to make sure it's good. I'm not a plumber but I figure that should be good.

BigJim 08-31-2011 11:45 AM

Good gravy, you don't do things in a small way, that is for sure. I admire your spirit, your strengths and knowledge of under taking a project this size especially being located where you are. Please by all means keep posting pictures of your home, we appreciate you allowing us to be there with you through your posts.

twinAK 09-01-2011 01:29 AM


Originally Posted by jiju1943 (Post 718704)
Good gravy, you don't do things in a small way, that is for sure. I admire your spirit, your strengths and knowledge of under taking a project this size especially being located where you are. Please by all means keep posting pictures of your home, we appreciate you allowing us to be there with you through your posts.

Thanks! Every morning I wake up, look at the house out my camper window and a Dierks Bentley country lyric comes to mind, "What was I thinking?"

I really wish I had the internet access earlier because those pics are just a few of many. Now that I'm connected I'll try to post more regularly. Thanks again!


twinAK 09-17-2011 12:27 AM

slab, radinat, electrical, and insulation
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For the past couple weeks we've been busy pouring a slab, installing insulation in the garage ceiling, master bedroom walls, master bath walls/ceiling, running electrical circuits, and other minor stuff to prep for winter. We poured the slab but the concrete was very slow to activate even with 1% accelerator mixed in. The guys hand troweled the best they could because it wouldn't firm up enough to get the power troweler on there. It looks good though. I put 2" of XPS in the joist bay above the garage and then my wife put 12" of fiberglass under that. She fell off the ladder the other day trying to finish it up and twisted her ankle but is recovering. I used metal joist bridging ties to hold the foam in place while the foamboard glue dries, works pretty well. Most of the garage ceiling 'glas is done except for about two more joist bays which we should knock out tomorrow. The overhead light circuits are ran so we'll install the visqueen very soon in the garage. If I wasn't going to occupy the garage for the winter I wouldn't bother but we have to seal it off from the rest of the unoccupied/unheated space. I ran all the circuits for the master bath, well pump, water line heat tape, dryer, and laundry room circuit. I ran short on 6-3 for the stove circuit to the garage so I have to splice it in at a box and finish that up too. A cheap bath fan is installed for now until next year when I have money to get an HRV installed. The vapor barrier is up all through the master suite, I just need to seal around the ceiling light boxes and put up a few temp light fixtures while I save up for drywall. Over the past couple days I put down battens on the floor and today ran all the radiant PEX. Tomorrow or Sunday I'll fill in between the battens with sand for thermal mass. Right now my main concern is installing the wood stove chimney in the great room, hanging the vapor barrier in there to create a large air bubble, and installing the garage door. They're calling for snow next week so I got to keep plugging along until I get the bare essentials in so we can get out of the travel trailer. Oh yeah, and the dryer venting is installed as well. Here are a couple pics, I'll post more tomorrow or Sunday.

twinAK 09-19-2011 01:27 AM

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This weekend we got a good bit done but a little more is always nice. Saturday we filled in between the 2x sleepers on the floor and covered over the PEX with sand but the sand is damp so I used up the rest of my propane on the bullet heater to heat up the master suite in an effort to dry it out. Didn't work so well, but I'll keep the fan blowing across it for now until I can fire up the wood stove and cook it out. Once it's nice and dry I'll cover over it with some hardiebacker for tile areas and 1/4" OSB for hardwood flooring areas. The wife finished up the fiberglass in the garage ceiling so it's now ready for vapor barrier. The well driller stopped by to see what was needed to finish up installing water service to the house. Right now we have a temporary control on top the well casing that we plug a generator into when we need to refill the camper tanks. He's coming back this week to trench the line from the well, into the crawlspace and up into the garage and set up the pressure tank. I expect frost within a week so it's important to get some utilities set up in the house. I wrapped the inside of the garage door opening with pressure treated 2x and flashed it. It's ready for the door now but I'll wait until later in the week after the vapor barrier is up so we have good lighting for that. Today a couple friends stopped by for a few hours and we put up vapor barrier in the great room ceiling, installed a few pieces of drywall where the chimney comes through, and put the ceiling support in for the chimney. I used some .7 mil plastic to enclose the great room at the second floor walls, creating an air bubble to keep some heat in, making it a little nicer to work in. I hope I can knock out most of the chimney when I get home from work tomorrow evening, we'll see. The picture of my sleeve is from the result of messing with black death, aka, acoustic sealant. Man do I hate that stuff, it gets everywhere and it won't come off.

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