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It was around Memorial Day 2011 when we signed the contract with Mr. Builder, who was going to build our house on the mountain. After that weekend, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Summer was in full force.
Sometimes David and I would drive up to the lot and just sit there, enjoy the view and imagine how it would be to live there. Without anything physical to look at except a rugged hillside, it was not that easy to imagine a house up there. It was mind-boggling actually.
How on earth was that builder going to build or dream house up there?
But that view. Oh that glorious, “welcome home” view was the only answer we needed to keep us content. All the questions and uncertainty just faded away into the sunset beyond the ridge.
If you recall, Mr. Builder told us it would take a while before building could begin. It could possibly take up to 3 months to purchase the land and get permits from the county to build our house. We waited patiently all summer. 3 solid months! We anticipated our house would be started around the first of September.
After a couple of weeks of September rolled by, we started to get anxious. We were so tired of all the waiting. We started thinking Mr. Builder ran into problems with the permits or the land sale. We made a phone call to Mr. Realtor to see if he could find out what was going on.
Mr. Realtor made some phone calls. He reported that the sales transaction of the land had gone through. Mr. Builder now owned the lot for our house to be built, but the county was dragging their feet with the permits. Mr. Builder was still waiting on a couple of permits before he could begin building our house. All this red tape was getting on our nerves, but our hands were tied and so were the builder’s hands.
So, we waited some more…
On September 19, 2011, at 3:46 p.m., I received a text message while I was at work. It wasn’t just an ordinary text message and it is one I will always remember. Mr. Realtor had attached a picture to that message. The picture was of the prettiest bulldozer pushing dirt in the prettiest place on this earth as David and I know it. It was truly a sight for sore eyes. The excavation work had begun on our lot and they were starting our house! We could hardly wait to see firsthand what was going on up there on the side of that mountain. We rushed up to the lot the minute we got off work.
After hours that seemed like days, David and I arrived at the mountain. The bulldozer was parked and the engine still popping and knocking as it was cooling from an afternoon of pushing dirt.
It was a warm September day and the smell of earth and fresh-cut wood was strong in the air, along with the slight smell smoke from where the excavators had burned some of the cleared trees. The rich dirt under our feet was soft.
David and I were surprised at just how wide the lot was. In all our excitement, we never once saw a survey plat of the property line. Besides three acres, we had no clue where the property started and ended. Our only clue to where the property lines were was a few bright orange ribbons hanging from some of the trees. Although it was steep, there was a lot more wiggle room up there than we thought. We were bursting with excitement. We were so pleased that after months of waiting, something was finally happening.
While the house was being built one of us needed to go up to the mountain and check on things to ensure all was coming along as we had planned. It was out of the way for David to go check on things. I drove right by the mountain every day on my way to and from Bull Run Mountain, where we rented. It was only logical for me to be the one to check on things after work on my way home.
I arranged with my boss to change my work schedule while the house was being built. I would be taking a ½ hour lunch and leaving 30 minutes early each day. The fall days were getting shorter and there was less light up there on the mountain just after 5 p.m. when I would arrive. I needed the daylight to check on things and make sure things were going to plan.
At 4:30 each day I left work and rushed up to the mountain, 20 minutes away (10 minutes as the crow flies) to see what was going on. Over the next week or so, there was a lot of dirt pushing going on up there but that was about it.
After about a week, we got a call from Mr. Realtor. Mr. Builder wanted to meet with us to discuss the location of the house. Mr. Realtor was unable to attend this meeting, due to prior engagements. We agreed to meet with Mr. Builder on our own one afternoon after work.
It had been pouring rain just about all day. By the time we arrived, the rain had slacked off enough to get out a walk around the lot. The air was damp and chilly and the view from the lot had disappeared inside the rain clouds. As we walked around on the building lot, the mud was squishing up over our boots. Mr. Builder was nearly barefooted with Crocs on his feet and he was wearing shorts. David couldn’t help but ask him if his feet were cold. He said he didn’t wear long pants, shoes, and socks until it snowed outside. A true mountain man.
Wooden stakes were marking the area where the house was going to sit. They were not at all where we had intended the house to be. Mr. Builder explained that in order to build a house where we had intended, they would have to pour ridiculous amounts of concrete to support the house. It would look a tower stuck out of the side of the mountain.
A better alternative was to move the location of the house over to the opposite side of the lot. The ground was more stable there. This is why there was so much bulldozing going on up there. He also pointed out that it would be on a slight angle with the back of the house facing the south-western skyline of the ridge we loved looking at so much.
What he was telling us made sense. If the ground was more stable where the stakes were then obviously that is where the house needed to go. Our main concern was the positioning of the back deck. Moving it to the right side of the lot would put it to close to the neighboring tree line and cause some obstruction of the view we wanted. We mutually decided that the house plan would need to be reversed. Everything would flop around and the deck would be closer to where we originally intended it to go.
We left that damp, muddy, cold, meeting feeling a little concerned, but trusted Mr. Builder’s suggestions.
The next time David and I went up to the lot, there was a huge hole in the ground. It was the exact spot in which our house would sit. I decided to climb around so that I could stand inside. This was the first day that I could kind of visualize our house.
I walked around to each area of the space inside the hole, announcing to David that I was standing where the living room would be, I was standing where I bathroom would be, I was standing where the spare bedroom would be…. Nothing but a hole dug in the dirt, but we were so excited.
I am pretty sure I drove up there at least every other day to see if anything had happened after the foundation hole was dugout. Two weeks passed and with each day the anticipation made it drag. On October 24, 2011, it happened! I drove up to the lot, not allowing my hopes to get up. As my Jeep peered down from the driveway I saw the most wonderful sight. They were pouring concrete!!
There was a wonderful blue and yellow concrete was backed down onto the lot. There were workers there manning the operation. After all this time, something was happening and it did not stop there. The next day when I arrived, there were molds for the walls set up on top of the concrete footer that had been poured the day before. Our basement walls were getting framed for concrete. There were parts of this framing laid out all over the place. I took pictures of it for David to see when I got home.
The next day when I arrived, there was a man working around the forms for the concrete. I didn’t walk down to take a look, but could clearly see that the forms were in place and waiting for concrete. Interestingly enough, it was the end of October and there was snow predicted for the following night. Yes, snow in October. Remember our pictures of Skyline Drive the year before? It wasn’t unheard of. It was just our luck that would snow. It seemed to snow the day on or before a big life event. It was par for the course.
The following day was a day of mixed emotions. We were excited that the concrete had been poured into the forms, but there was a big storm brewing. Looking out at the beautiful fall patchwork quilt that blanketed the valley, it was hard to believe that snow was in the forecast.
That night it was to start as rain that would switch over to a wintry mix and finish with snow and there were our freshly poured concrete basement walls. Our concern was the freezing temperatures and the curing. It was out of our hands and technically we didn’t own the concrete that had been poured yet.
We would just have to see what happened up there in the morning light after the snow had moved on through. Just before we left, we could see the snow in the distance coming up through the valley below.
We needed to get back home to Bull Run Mountain before the weather got bad.