Category Archives: Homebuilding

Where Was I?

Construction has been progressing!


This is pretty close to what the house looks like this morning.  We should have some men come put on our new roof today!  Dad & I will then get after some of the siding and installing doors, windows, and a chimney so we can finish siding.

So why haven’t I posted in over a month?  I built a mudroom on the opposite side of the house and the mudroom enclosed the satellite dish that connects us to the internet.  So I called to have the dish moved, and the technicians were booked out for more than 3 weeks.

In other news, my babies continue to grow.  Abigail is quickly approaching her second birthday and pretty much refuses to talk because she can communicate by sign language.  Joshua is 3-½-months old and weighs 19 pounds!


We also had our first calf born on our farm:  a bull calf I’ve named Norman because he gave us quite a scare at first — we weren’t entirely sure he would make it through.



But the really exciting news is that I got a job!  Or rather, God has provided for his children.  I will detail this more in a future post and I will testify to the goodness and providence of Jesus!

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Hired a Professional

Oh wow!  I just keep getting farther and farther behind.  I started this post 3 weeks ago!  I was going to try to keep up with the addition work through posts on a regular basis, but that is just proving to be impossible.  In the interest of getting this post done and moving on to other posts about more interesting (?) things, suffice it to say that we hired an electrician to cure three problems for us:  run electricity underground to the barn (my black walnut tree knocked the overhead wire out during a storm), replace the pole service so that we would have a shut-off switch to be able to work on the electricity in the home or barn, and move the overhead wire approaching the house.

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September 8

My Dad’s 60th birthday, but that isn’t what this post is about.  This post is about the abundance of productivity accomplished at my house on this Tuesday after a holiday!

The photos show Wentz Construction as they put the forms together for an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) wall.  The ICF wall will be 2 inches of styrofoam on each side of an 8-inch-thick concrete wall.  These forms make pouring a basement wall incredibly fast, easy, cheap, and even better, because it is insulated.

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You only get one pre-pour picture today.  There is a limit to how many pictures of holes in the ground with rebar in them I can post.  I know, I know, what’s my excuse for all the other photos?  Bah.


The first concrete of our new addition.  Isn’t it special looking?


Here you have the crew working to pour the footings:  Kenny holding the chute, Kevin and the kid smoothing it out.  Oh, and Caleb supervising.


Okay, so it really isn’t that much different from the last one.  But at least it has people in it.  And now that I went to all the trouble of loading it, I’m not going to delete it.


Now these are some fascinating pictures, huh?


At least this one has a better shot of the greenhouse in the background.


And the tire treadmarks make it look like someone has already been using the garage.


And have I talked about this yet?  I’m not sure I have, so I will just leave the picture and no commentary.

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Lagoons — They’re Full of … Dirty Water

In our case, gray water.  One of the wonderful things I bought when I moved to Nebraska was a dysfunctional wastewater plan.  The septic system carries the really bad water (“blackwater”) out through the septic tank, but there is no leach field.  The septic tank just has a straight pipe that runs out over the ground 200′ south of the house.

The graywater system for the house (graywater is all wastewater that isn’t blackwater) just ran out through a pipe to a ditch along the side of the road.  The ditch is fine for graywater, but that isn’t exactly legal.  I wasn’t too happy about the graywater system, and was happy that the two systems were handled separately — it gave me the option of recycling the graywater at some time in the future.

So we were digging out this addition to my house, and we knew we would hit the graywater line, because we knew it was down there.  We found it, but it smelled foul.



A house’s wastewater line is supposed to use gravity in order to move its contents from one place to another.  What we found here is evidence that gravity is not working for us.  Rather, we have at least a section of this pipe that isn’t falling.  The filth from the graywater is accumulating in this section of pipe and you can see how it is taking up at least 30% of the pipe’s size.  When it was still in the ground, it was closer to 50%.

So, I made the executive decision to put in a lagoon.  A lagoon is a legitimate way to handle wastewater in Nebraska and is relatively inexpensive (relative to a septic tank and leach field).  It is basically an open pond that wastewater drains into and nature does its job of decomposing the various nasties.


This is my new drain line as it exits the house.  The old drain pipe was too high to start, so Gary had this new pipe drop down several inches before it starts its run towards freedom, er, I mean, the lagoon.


The pipe is now running further away from the house.  Just for perspective, the 2×4 laying on the ground is a 12′ board, so the end of that board is where the wall for the addition will be.


You can see the lagoon now (this picture was taken from atop that mountain of dirt we created).


The goats are really enjoying lounging and watching the big machines.  I would have figured them to run and hide.


Here is Gary working (talking on the phone) while Randall digs.  Really though, what a great crew of guys those three were.


Same caption as last one, only different angle.

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Digging It

Digging finally began!  Only 8 weeks behind (my) schedule, but it has finally begun!  On Thursday, August 27, a traxcavator and backhoe started tearing up my yard to the East and South of the house.  On Tuesday the backhoe was dropped off and on Wednesday, Gary Kuhl showed up to use a demolition saw to cut the concrete to the Southwest of the house.  So we knew it was coming.  But the fun really started on Thursday as Gary & Don started moving dirt.  What fun it was, too.


Above, you can see Don preparing to work with the traxcavator.


I guess a ‘before’ picture would be nice.  It won’t look like this ever again…


This is Gary removing the cement on the South side of the house.


And Don starting to dig out the new driveway.


At the end of day one, still some more digging to go.


But obviously they moved tons of dirt on that first day.  We are just so happy to finally have started.

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Addition Work Begins With Demolition

So here is a post I started 7+ weeks ago.  For those who don’t know, my parents have been on the mission field in Ukraine for the past several years.  They sold their house in Delaware and have been planning on moving in with us here on the farm when they return from Ukraine.

It is now time for them to return.  My parents leave Ukraine on September 1 and should be to my house by October 1, so we had a plan to begin adding on to the house right after July 4 so that the addition would at least be dried-in by the time they get here.

Following are pictures from the beginning of the addition work.

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