"Three Bridges"

Sometime a few years back, Gwen and I started house-hunting. It seems like forever we've been looking, and now we're just starting on the new house in the fall of 2011. Nothing horribly wrong with Folsom, but after 20 years in the same place, you're bound to come up with a few things you'd like different. A single-story house was high on the list, a cooler climate, reasonably large property for the dogs, staying relatively regional to Northern California, maybe a nice view. All that sounded simple enough when we started to look.

We were looking for either an existing house or some property we could build on.

First we tried the Napa/Sonoma region, and just didn't get anywhere. Then we tried Santa Cruz, and while the ocean was pretty tempting, we couldn't come up with anything we liked (that we could afford). Two years in, we started looking right here in the Sacramento area at various properties around the lake, and finally found a nice lot in the foothills of the Sierras. It won't meet every requirement (namely the "cooler temperature" one isn't happening), but everything else will work. It's a nice oak-covered lot with huge rock outcroppings and a nice view. We can tuck away a house among the rocks and trees, while at the same time having a nice broad view of the valley and lake.

The plan is to prepare the lot this fall (2011), then design and permit the house over the winter to break ground first thing in the spring of 2012. As you can see from the timeline, we didn't get started on construction until the fall of 2012 due to some major design changes, and re-permitting. Prodigy Homes will manage the job, they've been doing a fantastic job for us so far, and we can't recommend them enough.

Where are we at?

December 2013, we're in! It's been a long 2-year project, but we're thrilled to be in the house just before Christmas. We're calling the house "Three Bridges" because is has three distinctive spans, one of wood, one of steel and one of concrete.

November 2013, we've spent what seems like two months on the exterior, building retaining walls, doing some additional grading in back, and finally pouring the driveway and sidewalks

September 2013, we finally have to pay our dues, with the beginning of a cabinet nightmare.

July 2013, Interior is painted, the tile and stone is installed on the floors, and the wood flooring is being laid.

June 2013, the drywall is in, and the finish carpentry for windows and doors is moving forward. Meanwhile Gwen and I are busily trying to finalize materials for tiles, countertops, etc.

April 2013, the deck is installed, and the stucco job starts. Meanwhile, I continue to spend much of my time creating pathways through the rock and cleaning up the wild brush.

March 2013, the roof is on and the windows are going in, so the house is finally getting water-tight

February 2013, the house is all framed up, and the roof is about to go on. Inside, the plumber, electrician and HVAC folks are working away.

December 2012, the foundation is in, and we're starting framing!

November 2012, we have our permit, and can start building in earnest at this point! The foundation is being poured, and we're fighting the weather for clear days.

October 2012, we're back on the lot! Plans are final at this point, with a slightly more conservative setup. We've flattened the roof line to be all at 10ft, and we've removed the cantelevering from the back deck. The plans are being reviewed for the permit, and meanwhile we've started trenching and forming the foundation.

July 2012, we have a major reset. After getting all the bids in for construction, it appears our eyes were bigger than our wallet. We're doing some re-design on the house to cut out some expenses. It will cause a significant delay because we'll need to re-engineer, re-draw plans, get them re-approved and re-bid, but it must be done.

As of June 2012 we are about to get our building permit from the county. Plans are done of course, and Prodigy Homes is putting together a bid package that hopefully will be affordable! If all goes well, we might start on the foundation by early July.

As of Jan 2012, we have just finished all the site preparation. Grading, digging, blasting, and retaining walls, all are done. The dry weather this winter has allowed us to spend the time to really get the property perfect so we can start building as soon as we get plans and permits.

Task Start Date Done? Notes
Buy Lot 7/14/2011 Y Photos of the lot in its native state with trees and rocks everywhere.
Engineering 8/23/2012 Y The Civil Engineer put together this plan to describe the various grades of the driveway and pad area for an "artist's rendition" of a house.
Get Permits 9/19/2012 Y After seven weeks of pleading and check-writing, I have a grading permit in hand and we can start grading!
  10/17/2012 Y On Oct 17, 2012 we re-submited the second version of the plans for a building permit which was issued on Nov 5th.
Grade 11/10/2012 Y Grading this lot for the driveway and house pad is going to be a project for sure.
Rock Walls 12/2/2012 Y We need large gravity walls at the driveway and down below the house pad.
Blasting 1/5/2012 Y We decided the last of the big rocks in the driveway just couldn't be hammered out, so we brought out the big guns to blast them.
Architecture 6/14/2012 Y All the drawings are done and at the county building department waiting for a building permit.
Foundation 10/16/2012 Y Other than some rain delays, the foundation was complete with no major hitches.
Framing 12/30/2012 Y Framing kicked off quickly once the foundation was complete, and we're expecting it to take about a month.
Roof & Utilities 2/15/2013 Y Once the framing was done, a bunch of stuff started in parallel. The plumber started all the rough plumbing, The electrician has started the rough electrical, and the roofers are out working on the roof.
Deck Jul-Nov 2013 Y This steel deck has been a huge component of the design of the house, and you can see the whole thing come together. We still haven't finished the paint, railing and finish concrete layer.
Stucco 4/9/2013 Y The stucco process took a lot longer than I'd imagined. Three coats, the final coat is white.
Drywall, Doors and Trim 4/15/2013 Y The drywall install is done, but the finish carpenter takes quite a while to trim out some 55 windows and 30 doors.
Painting and Floors 7/15/2013 Y Paint, tile and wood flooring going in.
Cabinets 9/15/2013 Y Cabinets, stone and appliances
Exterior Walls and Flatwork Jul-Oct 2013 Y Seemingly endless block walls, sidewalks and driveway concrete.