St. Croix Ocean Vista Guest Cottage Rental

We finally have our guest cottage available for vacation rentals.  Our first renters are arriving from Georgia this weekend.  If you are interested in coming to visit St. Croix, and you should be, then consider staying at our cottage.  Sorry, no kids, and no smokers, but our rates are great.

 Check out the details on VRBO


 

We Are In The House

As always, this post arrives a bit late.  We moved in 4 weeks ago.  It was probably a mistake as it has been a bit stressful trying to do “work work” while people around me are doing “house work”.  But each day we are getting closer to having all the essentials completed.  All the interior doors are up and the trim should be completed in the next few days.  We had to build all our door frames because of all the crazy sizes.  All counter-tops, vanities, and sinks are in except for the powder room.  We are still waiting on some things from the Marble Shop out of San Juan that really should have shipped 2 months ago.  It has been extremely difficult to work with them and I won’t recommend them to anyone. The AC units are finally all in. Not all functional yet, but all installed.  They started installation in December and proceeded to come work on them in one hour increments since.  I don’t get it.   Main kitchen cabinets, same thing.  They started before Thanksgiving and we still have a few drawers that don’t function as they should.  The company seems to send a different worker each time they come out.

After finishing our pool we found we had a leak.  The concrete work wasn’t done properly around the skimmer, so we had to remove all the tiles from that area, rework the concrete, apply a sealant, and re-tile.  My pool guy does a decent job….when he shows up.

The house is a bit of a mess at the moment.  Boxes everywhere.  Dust everywhere.  Dust dust dust.  Everywhere.  Fun stuff.

We put in for our final inspections last Tuesday.  The plumbing inspector came out that same day.  Structural and CZM (Coastal Zone Management) both came out Wednesday.  We are now just waiting on electrical inspection.  By getting our Certificate of Occupancy we can move off of the construction electric rates, turn on our solar panels, and move off of our construction loan to our 30-year loan.

The dogs and cat have settled in well.  Besides the barking at all the people in and out of the house all day, they do seem to enjoy it here.  We don’t have a front gate yet so I can’t let them out in the big yard without supervision, but they have the fenced back area for the time being.

Our first guests (my mother and her friend Deb) arrive next Wednesday.  Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that the furniture is going to arrive on time for the guest house.  Sorry Mom. 🙂

Front Door Finally Completed

Front Door Finally Completed. Some grass growing.

 

Our newly planted Christmas Palm Trees

Our newly planted Christmas Palm Trees (and newly planted grass)

Kitchen

Kitchen

The dogs enjoy the deck

The dogs enjoy the deck

 

Pelicans

Pelicans have been cruising by my office window non-stop the past two weeks and dive-bombing for their meals right in front of the house.

 

 

Moving in on Friday

I kept telling myself that we weren’t moving in until we were completely finished with everything.  I didn’t want to live in the house during construction.  But, we have decided to do just that.  We aren’t far from being complete, but there are some things that will take some time.  Our interior doors and 2 of our gates arrive next week.  The granite for the main kitchen arrived today and that will hopefully be installed in the next day or two.  So as of today, we lack interior doors, countertops (everywhere), and sinks (everywhere).  We do have power, water and internet, which are all the essentials.  In the end, it made financial sense for us to do this now.

Needless to say, the stress has kicked up a notch over the past weeks.  We have had some bad experiences with some of our suppliers and some of our hired contractors.  Hired help goes missing, scheduled deliveries do not show, etc.  But soon this will be over.  One of our friends, Jouni, has been helping finish quite a few things on the house since early November.  Without him we would probably another month away from moving in.  He has helped so much.  Jouni is a jeweler by trade, but decided to take some time away from that business and has become my utility guy.  I had the hardest time trying to find somebody with experience installing garage doors.  In the end I handed it to Jouni.  He figures things out.  Thanks Jouni for alleviating some of that stress.

Also a shout out to Mike and Laura for stopping by in August and again last week on their trips to St. Croix to check on our progress.  That bottle of champagne will be opened on Friday. 🙂

I had promised to post photos from October through December when I got some time, but instead of doing that right now here are a few photos from this week.

Desperately waiting for that sigh of relief.

1/20/2012 - Emily cleaning the newly finished pool

1/20/2012 - Emily cleaning the newly finished pool

 

1/20/2012 - AC units being installed

1/20/2012 - AC units being installed

1/21/2012 - Plants

1/21/2012 - Plants

 

1/21/2012 - Front entrance

1/21/2012 - Front entrance - no grass yet, but we did plant it

 

1/23/2012 - Main living area

1/23/2012 - Main living area

 

1/23/2012 - Main living area/kitchen

1/23/2012 - Main living area/kitchen (still missing countertops and island light)

 

1/23/2012 - Yoga room

1/23/2012 - Yoga room

 

1/23/2012 - Master Closet  (missing countertop)

1/23/2012 - Master Closet (missing countertop)

 

1/23/2012 - Master Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Master Bedroom

 

1/23/2012 - Entry Way

1/23/2012 - Entry Way

1/23/2012 - Guest Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Guest Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Office

1/23/2012 - Office

 

A few older photos:

1/14/2012 - Spent a large part of two weekends getting the grey water system operational

1/14/2012 - Spent a large part of two weekends getting the grey water system operational

 

1/10/2012 - Appliance Delivery

1/10/2012 - Appliance Delivery

1/6/2012 - Rainbow from the pool

1/6/2012 - Rainbow from the pool

 

 

1/24/2012 - Water purification system, solar hot water tank, and water pump

1/24/2012 - Water purification system, solar hot water tank, and water pump

Weeks away from moving in? + September photo catch up

We are still slogging along trying to get this house finished.  We didn’t quite make Christmas, but now are shooting for mid to late January.  We have to move out of our current rental at the end of this month, so a bunch of things need to happen quickly.  The major items left to accomplish are 1) interior doors  2) vanity and guest kitchen cabinet install (scheduled for this week) 3) main house electrical fixture installs (scheduled for this week) 4) Garage Doors (still need to order), 5) granite fabrication and delivery from San Juan 6) plaster pool.   Plus tons of minor items.

Emily and I both took last week off from work and worked on the house basically for 10 straight days, usually 10 hour days.  We got a bunch accomplished.  The guest house was powered on Friday and most of the fixtures installed which was a major milestone for us.  The electrical room was also powered which means we now have running water to all the toilets, showers, and hose bibs (no sinks installed yet).

We have on average gone to Home Depot three times a week since they opened September 15th.  It has been a blessing to St. Croix, but they are having issues keeping items in stock.  The supply chain needs reworked.

We made it through hurricane season unscathed.  Hooray.

We are over budget, but not horrendously.

We used 620+ yards of concrete during construction.

We just surpassed the year mark.

Emily and I are still married and don’t have any plans of divorcing.

The US Virgin Islands soccer team didn’t fare too well in the second round losing all six of our games, 2 each to Haiti, Curacao, and Antigua & Barbuda.  But I did manage to play in 5 of the 6 games.

 

Anyway, here is a random sampling of photos from September 2011.  I will add additional photos in future posts.

9/11/2011 - Fill Dirt - Some of the 900+ yards of fill dirt we hauled in. And we had a relatively flat lot. I still don't understand.

 

9/11/2011 - Still staining cypress, almost done.

9/15/2011 - Home Depot arrives and changes our purchasing habits dramatically

 

September 2011 - Our plumbers Frenchie and Pete

September 2011 - Guest house roof work

September 2011 - Drywall work begins

September 2011 - Plaster work on guest house and garage

September 2011 - Plaster work on guest house interior

September 2011 - This trailer hadn't been moved in 9 months

September 2011 - What we looked like at the end of September

September 2011 - Future walkway and yard

 

 

 

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.

 

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