We Have Concrete!!

IMG_0531They foundation is now complete.  Wow!

They called me early in the morning and said they were going to get an early start.  I rushed the 50 miles to get there and ran up waving a copper pipe I needed to put in for the water supply.   Just in time, we were able to work it into the partially poured concrete.

It didn’t take long and the pouring was complete.  I brought along the wall anchor bolts and they embedded them around the edges where I had marked the forms with blue tape.

I’ve written probably three humongous checks in my life and this was one of them.  Once doesn’t write checks much anymore and writing one for $20,000 is weird.  The other large checks were $24,000 for my Prius and whatever I paid to pay off my mortgage many years ago.  Smokin!

So my future is now, literally, set in stone.  My forever house is locked in.

My next step is to trench and install the power line from the pole to the foundation.  I might do that next next weekend.  I would like to have it completed by November 5th when I start my 10 day vacation and do some framing.

I’m kind of surprised with myself that I’m not freaking out much.  It has been a lifetime goal so I guess I am properly mentally prepared.  I’m also not thinking too much about everything other than the technical details.  The rest will work itself out.  Life will unfold as it will.  I’m just going to nudge it in my preferred direction and see what happens.



Slab Foundation Frame in place

IMG_0489Things are moving pretty quickly.  They foundation guys have finished the framing and padding for my new house.  A little too fast.

My plumber is there today to put in the drain pipes for the sinks, shower, toilet and washing machine.  I am going to do the supply side myself but I don’t have any experience in the drain part when running through a concrete foundation.  Screw it up and you’re really screwed.  Best let a pro do that.  He is charging me $720 for that part which sounds good to me since I expected it to cost at least $2000 considering the recent leak in my old house cost me $3500 to fix.

The plumber is a long-time friend of my uncle so he’s giving me a good deal.

He should be finished by tomorrow and then they can plan to pour the cement.  My master plan is ahead of schedule.  I have a week off of work next month in November and I can actually start framing the walls.  How exciting!


Early Retirement – Starting to freak out

I think I’m starting to freak out.

My new early-retired life is only 3.5 months away.  I think having second thoughts or butterflies is natural in these situations.  Today my boss, who was out for a few months on medical leave, came back and gave his notice for his retirement.  He’s gone.  That kind of brought it home for me.

It’s scary to make a huge change in your lifestyle.  Extremely scary!  I’m asking myself if I’m doing the right thing.  What is it to follow a dream that may be stupid?  Could it be a mistake?

Logic tells me that I am fine.  There’s nothing wrong with saving up a ton of money, retiring early to the country and building a house.  Financially, I am fine, but you never really feel financially fine.  It’s not normal.

I worry a little about not being able to pull it off.  I am doing this alone because I have to.  Not because I want to.  I won’t be ENTIRELY alone.  My sister, aunt, uncle and cousins will be nearby.  That is at least some comfort.    Physically and technically, I can do this.  Mentally….It might be tough.

I have some faith in my destiny.  Dying along in an empty house isn’t always a bad thing.  I will have ultimate freedom.  I also feel that I will finally have opportunity to meet someone once the big change is complete.

I’m just a phone call away from the point of no return.  Once I authorize the pouring of the foundation, I’m $20,000 deep in this project.  I can turn back and sell the land easily but the $20,000 for a foundation that only I can use is probably lost.  I’m reminding myself that this is what I’ve wanted all my life.  Still scary!

I don’t really want to turn back though.  The facts are straight:

  1. I don’t want to live in San Antonio any longer.
  2. I want to live in the country near a small town that still has the feeling of being small.  (Too bad about the Walmart but it’s still a little backwards like I like it.)
  3. I will be near relatives and not far from Mom in the city.
  4. I will be perfectly fine financially.  I can work if I want to but don’t have to.
  5. I am in relatively good health and can make it even better once I’m free of the siren call of the big city restaurants.

I am thinking that once the foundation is complete, the call of the construction of the house will override my insecurities about quitting a safe, well paying job that I hate waking up for every morning.  It will take me up to a year to build during which time I won’t have time to think about stuff like that.  It will help me transition to retirement.

That’s my plan.

What would happen if I was to wuss out and not do it?

  1. Nothing.
  2. More of the same until I die.
  3. I would enjoy the comfort of common mediocrity.

Another thing that bothers me is that the land I bought is not 100% what I wanted.  It is 80% there and I have the freedom to make it as I wish. No HOA to tell me what I can or cannot do.  I think it will be fine.  I will mould it to fit my desires.  It’s good!

I worry about construction costs now that I find that the foundation was twice my estimated price.  I think that might be the worst of it though.  The foundation is beyond my control.  The rest should be fully in my control.  I could do without the tariffs on Lumber and Steel.  Thanks Donald Trump.  Bad timing!!  The only other questionable cost is the septic tank.  That comes next.  I think the water supply should be fine.  I have a choice of the water system at the street or a well.  According to my calculations, I can afford it.   It will be fine.  It will be awesome.

Readers of this blog are probably tired of hearing about this but it is everything to me and I have to convince myself that I am doing the right thing.   You are going to hear a lot more about it if you hang around these parts.

I feel better already in laying this out for you.  Getting stuff straight in your brain makes all the difference.  I’m glad I have this blog or I would probably implode.

The next day…

I did it.  I called the guy and got the ball rolling.  The future is now set in stone. (Or concrete) My path is set. Engage Number One.  First star to the right and straight on ’til morning.


Met with Slab Foundation Guy

The other day, after work, I met with a concrete guy out at my property to get his estimate on the foundation for my new house.  I showed him the location and gave him illustrations of my floor plan and elevation.

Today he sent me an estimate.  The total would be $40,000 with garage.  I freaked out!

I estimated the cost to be not much more than $10,000 for the house.  It would cost that much to do the garage only.  I actually had hot flashes and had to sit down under the ceiling fan for a few minutes.  This could be a serious problem.  The cost of the foundation would be as much as half of the cost of the house pushing the estimated cost to over $100,000.  I was planning for $75,000.

We spoke on the phone and made a few changes.  I dropped the garage foundation for now.  (I plan on watching how they do the house and then doing the garage slab myself later.)  That knocked $11,000 off the total.

We also took off the front and back porch which I had already planned to do as a wooden deck anyway.  I thought if it wasn’t much more we could just do it in concrete.  That knocked $8,000 off the total.

We were down to $20,000.  Still double what I planned for.  I plugged the new numbers into my retirement simulator and it turns out that it’s still within my budget.  Sucks but it will still work.   I’ll give it some thought for a few days and if nothing else turns up, I’ll give him the go ahead.   I know he does good work so I suppose having a quality foundation is worth the cost.

He said it was highly possible to have it done by the end of October which will fit nicely into my master plan.   If all goes well, my current house will sell for more than I’m thinking anyway.  It’s a good market for the seller right now and my house is awesome.


The Biggest Leak


I woke up last Saturday and sat on the toilet for my morning constitutional when I heard water running.  Why is water running?

I went out to look at the meter and the little flow indicator was turning rather quickly.  I first checked my sprinkler system since it had sprung a spontaneous leak in the past.  It was fine.  I checked all faucets inside and outside the house.  Dry.  That’s really bad!  It is likely under the slab foundation which is beyond my DIY abilities.  I hate to not be able to fix something.

I posted a, “Is there a plumber in the house?” question on Facebook and got a few recommendations.   I called one guy and he came to take a look.  He got in touch with another guy who came out today which was four days later.  I had already tracked down a likely location.  We took a hatch cover off the wall behind the washing machine where the noise was loudest.   We found the main manifold for the house.  That’s good.

He’s going to come back in a few days and will have to cut the manifold and see if we can isolate the branch with the leak.  If I’m lucky, it will be AFTER the manifold and not the main supply line in the slab.  If I am extra lucky, it will be the branch that goes to the outside faucet on just the other side of the opposite wall of the washroom.

If that turns out to be the case, we can just run a PEX line from the manifold through the ceiling and down the other wall without having to tear up the slab or much of the drywall.  That would be excellent.  Relatively.

In the meantime I welded together a special wrench-tool so I can easily turn the main water supply on and off.  I only need it to be on for a few minutes each day for showering, washing dishes, watering plants etc.  Other than that I keep it turned off to avoid any unnecessary damage to the foundation or whatever.  Luckily I don’t have a wife to complain.  I’ll manage through the situation.  As long as it’s not the electricity.  You simply cannot live without air conditioning August in Texas.

Wish me luck!  Think lucky plumbing thoughts.


Electrical Service Installed

powerpoleI Got The Power!! Bomp..bomp bomp bomp.

I headed out to my country property to finish spraying the re-emerging Mesquite trees and looked over to see that the power company had installed the new service!

I have a nice new pole with a shiny new transformer.  As I was hoping, they installed the meter and a main 200 Amp circuit breaker.  That’s all I need!

I’m ready to dig the trench and install the conduit and service cable to the house area.   I’ll put in a 30 amp plug to hook up my RV and a regular outlet for construction equipment like my air compressor.

I’m well on the way now.  Shit is happening!

Mmmmm.  That new power pole smell.


House Layout Test

It was a nice Saturday evening so I decided I would head out to my property and spray some weed killer on the re-emerging mesquite trees.  I had the land cleared of all the growth but Mesquite is evil and comes back quickly.

I ordered some Remedy from Amazon at $77.00 a gallon.  Sounds expensive and it is but if you buy it locally, it will cost you $90.00 a gallon.  I poured 19 ounces in a two gallon gas can and hit the road with my new backpack sprayer.  I stopped to buy a gallon of Diesel which is mixed with the Remedy to keep it on the leaves.  I figured a gallon would be enough to do the driveway area which needed it most.

I got there about 7:30 and started spraying.  A gallon didn’t go as far as I expected but it was a good test.  I got about a third done.  I’ll go back later this week and do some more.  By that time I might see if it has worked on what I did get sprayed.

I had a lot of spare time so I walked around a bit.   I just bought a measuring wheel and used it to measure the distance from the electrical pole to the house.  160 Ft.  I’ll need that to install the underground cable for the electrical service.

I stopped at the location for my house that I had marked the corners of with metal rebar stakes.  I thought it sure would be nice to get a better idea if I could only see the walls.  There were plenty of sticks laying around.  Remnants of the clearing process.  I scavenged them up and laid them out to represent the walls using the measuring wheel.  (As seen in the picture above.)

That worked out nicely.  It was getting dark quickly but I decided to keep going so I found enough sticks in the area to represent the garage. (Not shown).  It was almost completely dark now but using the light on my phone, I was able to get more to represent the inner walls of the house.  For the first time I was able to experience a full-scale representation of the whole house.  I was able to imagine the location of everything and really get a feeling for the spaces.   I liked it.   Everything felt perfect.  I am satisfied with my design.  It’s good.

It was now pitch black and I was glad I had my phone flashlight.  I could just make out the gleam of my car’s license plate maybe 250 feet away.

I took a moment to appreciate the darkness.  You don’t get to experience darkness outside in the city.  Even in the middle of the night, you can easily see without a flashlight due to the light pollution in the sky.  I really wanted to see the stars but I was too worn out to sit around much longer.  I went back to the car and drove the 50 miles home.

Totally worth the trip!!