New Post Coming Soon

Quick update before I get to a bunch of photos in the next post.  Just wanted to update everyone that we are officially done with the “shell” of the house.  We started tiling last week and we have a good start on the interior painting.  All exterior windows and doors are in on the main and guest houses except the main front door.  All tile has been picked out and has arrived in St. Croix as of today.  Emily went with Hera (architect/interior designer) to San Juan two weeks ago and picked out all tile and granite for the house.  The only concrete work left is the driveway.

We have had some minor issues with the Judith’s Fancy HOA in regards to our fence, but that has all been worked through and the fence is up.

Here is a photo from my phone that I took last week.  More to come later this week/weekend.

 

How about some new photos?

Sorry, no time for a write-up, but here are a few photos.

 

Yes, We Are Still Building A House In St. Croix

First, let me start by saying we have not abandoned our construction and left island.  🙂  I haven’t posted in a while and a bunch of you are asking for updates.  Yes, yes, it has been a bit frustrating, however, the thoughts of quitting haven’t crossed our minds.  At least not yet.  It has been a little over a month since my last official house update and I believe we have made some progress.  However, it does still feel as if we are just crawling along.

Where shall we start?  How about the roofers.  Well, like I mentioned before I am glad we not paying them by the hour, at least not directly.  They have spent the past two weeks framing (just the rafters, not decking or cypress yet) the main living area roof.  Prior to watching these guys work I would have guessed that the work could be completed in 2-3 days.  Either my estimating skills are piss-poor or these guys are slow.  There are three of them, one mostly just stands around and tells the other two what to do.  I was told yesterday that there would be two other guys joining the roofers next week.  We will see.

Plaster.  So at the recommendation of John (builder) I purchased 80-pound bags of pre-mixed plaster/stucco from Best Products in Miami.  I ordered 2 pallets (84 bags).   The plaster mix comes in different colors so that you wouldn’t have to paint afterward should you choose not to do so.  We aren’t sure what color our house will be so we went with white for plaster mix.  The plasterer says this is the best stuff he has ever worked with and faster to mix as you simply mix it with water.  According to the the instructions those bags should have covered about 26,000 sq/ft which would be plenty for all the interior and exterior walls.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.   Those 84 bags covered the back fence and about 20 percent of the exterior of the main house.  That fence and 20 percent exterior completed took nearly two weeks to apply.  I have mentioned several times that maybe we should add another guy to the plaster crew.  But my thought process is apparently illogical as “he isn’t slowing us down”.  To make matters slightly worse, the plasterer cannot plaster the walls the roofers are working on because the fascia boards aren’t completely in place yet.

We are in the process of choosing tile, but can’t put that in until the inside is painted.  Can’t paint until the inside is plastered and drywall is put up.  Can’t put drywall up until windows are in.  Can’t put windows in until exterior is plastered.  Can’t do anything until the roof is on.  I don’t know, it seems we could have done things exponentially more efficiently.  Next house.  Anyway, yes, we are deciding on travertine for the interior and exterior.  We are between two suppliers in Miami with the cost of 18×18 between $1.69 and $2.25 per sq/ft.  Then roughly 70 cents sq/ft for delivery to the site.  Depending on where the tile is from (Turkey) we will also have to pay import fees for it.  Got to love the Virgin Islands and their double taxation.

On a positive note, last week was the first full week we were not impacted by rain since April.  Woo hoo.  And since it is Friday, even though it rained some today, they worked through it and made it two weeks in a row.  Love it.  So, concrete.  Where are we?  Well, with the pour of the guest house slab today we surpassed 500 yards of concrete.  In the past 30 days we have finished the garage (concrete work) and now have the guest house slab poured.  Their goal is to get the guest house walls poured by next Friday.  That may be pushing it, but John is leaving for three weeks and I know he wants that completed prior to his departure.

In building this house I have met many characters.  Some good, some bad.  Some, like the concrete delivery guy who said “you are going to regret building here” referencing the salt spray or another concrete delivery guy who said “you will regret building here” because of tsunamis.  Everyone has their opinion and everyone seems to want to share it with me.  Then we have characters that are simply characters because of their name.  Snapper.  I met Snapper a few weeks ago.  He was going to be delivering some fill dirt to my lot.  He brought a few loads and I mentioned that I would eventually need topsoil and to let me know if ever ran into any.  I got a call from Snapper on Wednesday asking me if I still wanted topsoil.  So after negotiating a price for the topsoil and delivery I asked when he could deliver it.  Turns out he was already at the lot.  He brought two truckloads pretty much assuming he was going to sell them to me.  I probably didn’t convey the humor in that, but I thought it was hilarious that he was trying to sell it to me while sitting at my site.  I mean it isn’t like he is selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door.

One other footnote of sort since this relates to our move to the Virgin Islands.  I made the USVI national soccer team for the World Cup qualifiers that took place earlier this month.  We beat the British Virgin Islands, both home (St. Thomas) and away (Tortola) to advance to the group stages that start in early September and run through November.  It was the USVI’s first win ever in WC qualifying.  While I didn’t get on the field in either game, it was still great to be a part of it.  I am currently the oldest member on the roster.  We practiced up to 4 days a week for two months leading up to the games and will continue to practice through November.

Below are a few of the photos from the hundreds I have taken over the past month.

7/8/2011 - This is where we are building

7/8/2011 - This is where we are building. Taken on my flight to St. Thomas.

6/20/2011 - Work begins on the garage

6/20/2011 - Work begins on the garage 6/30/2011 - Preparing garage slab pour

 

6/24/2011 - Forms coming off main living area

6/24/2011 - Forms coming off main living area

6/30/2011 - Preparing garage slab pour

6/30/2011 - Preparing garage slab pour

 

6/30/2011 - Plaster work commences

6/30/2011 - Plaster work commences

6/30/2011 - Lumber delivery

6/30/2011 - Lumber delivery

6/30/2011 - Garage slab pour

6/30/2011 - Garage slab pour

6/30/2011 - Emily supervising garage slab pour

6/30/2011 - Emily supervising garage slab pour

7/5/2011 - Garage wall forming

7/5/2011 - Garage wall forming

7/9/2011 - Guest House work begins

7/12/2011 - Guest House work begins

7/9/2011 - Plaster work continues

7/12/2011 - Plaster work continues

7/12/2011 - Guest House footers poured

7/12/2011 - Guest House footers poured

7/12/2011 - Plaster work

7/12/2011 - Plaster work

7/13/2011 - Garage forms removed

7/13/2011 - Garage forms removed

7/14/2011 - Porch poured

7/14/2011 - Porch poured

7/17/2011 - Guest House support walls being formed

7/17/2011 - Guest House support walls being formed

7/17/2011 - View from above

7/17/2011 - View from above

7/17/2011 - View from above

7/17/2011 - View from above

7/18/2011 - Trench for electrical runs

7/18/2011 - Trench for electrical runs

7/21/2011 - Plaster work

7/21/2011 - Plaster work

7/21/2011 - Guesthouse under-slab electrical and plumbing going in

7/21/2011 - Guesthouse under-slab electrical and plumbing going in

7/22/2011 - Guesthouse slab poured

7/22/2011 - Guesthouse slab poured

Anybody know what kind of spider this is?

Anybody know what kind of spider this is?

7/8/2011 - USVI National Soccer Team

7/8/2011 - USVI National Soccer Team

 

St. Croix Home Depot Soon Come

When we started construction we knew that Home Depot was also under construction. We figured they would be opening well past the point of usefulness for our build. However, with our rain delay and our relatively slow construction it appears the Home Depot may open in time to be somewhat useful to us during the finishing process. Last I heard was a late July or early August “soft” opening. Fingers crossed.

Ran across this video on YouTube:

Main Living Area Walls are Complete

I have started writing this entry about three times over the past three weeks but each time end up getting distracted by more pressing matters.   The first time I was going to update it was simply to let you all know that it was basically still raining. 🙂  Our concern at this point in June is to get as much of the house closed up as fast as possible.  We are now in hurricane season so we are pushing to get the roof on and the windows in the main house.

As I mentioned in the last post I spent two days pumping water from the electrical room and from under the deck. They are both full again. Two weeks ago we got completely drenched again and lost 2.5 work days. But there are definitely positives to share. Right before those additional heavy rains we were able to get the slab for the living area poured which meant we didn’t have to wait for the site to dry out to start forming the walls. Over the next two weeks the walls were formed and on Saturday we poured the walls. Of course none of this was without headaches, but that part is complete which is a major milestone. With this pour we surpassed 400 yards of concrete used thus far.

Some of the items I have dealt with since the last post include having to confront a worker over theft of materials (I caught him) and having to spend weekends trying to remove mold and mildew (lots of it) from 250 cypress planks that were delivered shrinkwrapped in pouring rain last month. Water got in and sat there a few weeks. Many boards were damaged beyond our ability to disinfect properly, but we were able to salvage most (except for those that were stolen). In regards to the stolen material, our neighbor saw this person leaving with the boards one evening and reported it to us. Then I caught him in the act. It of course was awkward, but I will leave it at that for now.

We also had/have green mold forming on all our outdoor rafters that are now covered with cypress. The rafters were painted, then the rains came, and the cypress wasn’t put on until after the first batch of rains. The mold started forming after later rains and after the cypress was put on (see photo below). I suspect that the mold we are seeing is a result of water getting into the tops of the rafters (they didn’t paint the tops and apparently should have) and slowly seeping out through the paint. It is a complete mess, so we will have to repaint those rafters. Learning process I guess.

In addition, our AC installer had an angioplasty a few days before we needed him to run his sleeves in the walls. In the end he got the job done, not as I instructed, but it should be workable.

The question for a long time was “are you going to connect the two pods”? “A walkway between the two”? “Maybe a skywalk between the two”? “What is it going to look like?” Now the question we get is “when do you think it will be finished”? I wish I knew. We have passed our contractor’s estimate for completing the shell, and he likely has two more months to go. I think we can have the main house shell completed with windows installed, plastered, and roof on by end of July. Then the finish would begin. Tiling, painting, drywall (not too much of that), cabinetry, etc. I am on the lookout for people with these skills, so if you have anybody to recommend, let me know. If the price is right I will fly you down from the states. 🙂 My original best-case-scenario finish date was October, which coincidentally is also the end of our lease. Can we hit that date? Doubtful. Emily laughed at me when I set that date 6 months ago and when I mention it now it is apparently even more comical. So, realistically we are shooting for December. I would still be content with that but am pushing for October, even though we have basically lost a month due to rain. Go, go go. It has helped that our concrete guys have worked the past two Saturdays. Hopefully they keep that up.

What else? We had dinner and drinks on Friday night with Mike and Tisha (sp?) from Grand Rapids. They have been readers of the blog and are down for vacation. They got a hold of us through their realtor Kim Lucas and we all met up for drinks that turned into dinner. Mike and Tisha, thanks again. For other readers, chime in, let us know where you are reading from.

Emily has rented out a great space in town and has started teaching a Saturday morning yoga class at the Sanctuary on Company St. You can find more info at http://www.StCroixYoga.com if interested.

Tons of pics below, sorry for the slow loading times.

 

5/31/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

5/31/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

5/31/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

5/31/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

6/1/2011 - Mold on outside rafters

6/1/2011 - Mold on outside rafters

6/1/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

6/1/2011 - Prepping living area for slab pour

6/1/2011 - Decking patio roof

6/1/2011 - Decking patio roof

6/2/2011 - Prepping living are for slab pour

6/2/2011 - Prepping living are for slab pour

6/2/2011 - Prepping living are for slab pour

6/2/2011 - Prepping living are for slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/3/2011 - Living area slab pour

6/5/2011 - Wall forming begins

6/5/2011 - Wall forming begins

6/6/2011 - Wall forming continues

6/6/2011 - Wall forming continues

6/6/2011 - Wall forming continues (big pocket door)

6/6/2011 - Wall forming continues (big pocket door)

6/9/2011 - Wall forming & window framing

6/9/2011 - Wall forming & window framing (notice crate path due to mud)

6/9/2011 - Ah yes, the rains came again, and dirt work has not been done to alter this outcome

6/9/2011 - Ah yes, the rains came again, and dirt work has not been done to alter this outcome

6/9/2011 - Just a cool shot I liked, that rain was past us

6/10/2011 - Just a cool shot I liked, that rain was past us

6/10/2011 - Working on the other side of the deck roof

6/10/2011 - Working on the other side of the deck roof

6/10/2011 - Shortcut

6/10/2011 - Shortcut

6/10/2011 - View from above looking at the living area

6/10/2011 - View from above looking at the living area

6/13/2011 - Window and electrical and plumbing rough-in

6/13/2011 - Window and electrical and plumbing rough-in

6/13/2011 - front door and electrical rough-in

6/13/2011 - front door and electrical rough-in

6/13/2011 - cypress completed on guest side of deck roof

6/13/2011 - cypress completed on guest side of deck roof

6/13/2011 - Living area wall forms and support

6/13/2011 - Kitchen wall forms and support

6/14/2011 - Electrical

6/14/2011 - Electrical

6/14/2011 - Electrical

6/14/2011 - Electrical

6/16/2011 - Wall forming nearly complete

6/16/2011 - Wall forming nearly complete

6/18/2011 - Time to pour the walls

6/18/2011 - Time to pour the walls

6/18/2011 - Pouring walls, splattering on ceiling and rafters

6/18/2011 - Pouring walls, splattering on ceiling and rafters6/18/2011 - Pouring walls, splattering on ceiling and rafters

6/18/2011 - Pouring walls

6/18/2011 - Pouring walls