Late in 2007 Jon decided that if we were ever going to build that dream-home we've talked about over the last 30 years then we'd better get our butts in gear.

To that end Jon bought some 3D-CAD software and spent two weeks coming up with scaled drawings of a home we thought we could afford, that embodied the things we collectively thought were cool.

The collection of blog entries that follow start where we started -- deciding what we wanted in a house and then drawing the structure (inside and out); and end with our completed home as shown in the last entry.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to start the journey with the first entry: We hope you enjoy reading about our adventure as much as we enjoyed experiencing it in real time .... Jon and Pat Wallace





Our New Home -- Fall Pictures

December 3rd, 2009 - We've pretty much completed all the outside work we'd planned. Pat and I are happy with our new home and look forward to many years of 'future memories' to come.

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Fencing Done and a Bit of Landscaping

Tuesday, May 19th - We got our decorative aluminum fence installed by the All American Fence Company yesterday. We are quite happy with the result.

We also started doing our own landscaping by visiting Menard's and Home Depot to pick up 11 plants (Pygmy Barberry, Korean Boxwoods, WinterCreepers, Day Lillys, and Blue Fescue grasses) which we planted in our front yard 'rock garden.'

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Painting of Porches and Entry Door Trim Completed

Friday, April 24th, 2009 - Work on the house proper is officially completed as of today. We also got our Final Occupancy Permit and our $14,250 dollar deposit back from the village last week. Today the outside painting of garage casement trim, entry door trim, and porches was finished.

We have contracted to have a backyard decorative aluminum (bronze) fence installed in May. We've submitted a landscape design for a quote from Lupe's Landscaping and hope to complete that work by beginning of June.

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Spring Arrives -- 2 Months In Our New Home

Thurs - March 5th, 2009 - We've been in our new home for 7 weeks now. We've enjoyed every minute and are still furnishing the inside. The weather reached 66 degrees today so we are now looking at getting the porches painted and stained, the front door painting completed, and of course completing the yard grade work to allow us to pass the village engineer's scrutiny (requires what appears to be minor touch ups to grade on the north and east sides of the lot).

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We've Passed Final Inspection - Now Have Temporary Occupancy Permit

January 17th, 2009 - The foyer, dining room, and loft outlets were modified to pull a neutral wire back to the panel box in the basement so the combination AFCI's there could be tripped by both line faults and outlet connected device arc faults. The inspector actually came out twice before we got everything 'kosher.'

We now have our Single Family Residence (SFR) house inspection sticker and we went down to the village planning department and got our temporary occupancy permit (good for 6-months). We have some touch-ups to our north-side grading to be done when the weather warms up before we can apply to the village for return of our deposits and permanent occupancy status.

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Failed 2nd Final Inspection - Electrical Still Not Right

Jan 13th, 2009 - We took our 2nd final house inspection today and failed it because 3 of the rooms (loft, foyer, and dining room) failed the Arc Fault Circuit Interruption test the inspector performed at the outlets.

I'm starting to get a little stressed -- the electricians were pulling additional 'neutral' wires this morning to connect to the breaker panel in the basement... now they've got to come back and pull more wires through the existing crowded conduits to get this crap to pass when the inspector's test gadget is connected.

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We Failed Our House Inspection Today

January 8th, 2009 - We held our final inspection today and the house failed with several minor issues and one major issue. Our next inspection is scheduled for Tuesday the 13th.

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Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC Complete -- Back Out Punch List Prepared

Jan 2nd, 2009 - The house is looking pretty good. The carpets are in and look great. The electricians have finished ... all lights, switches, and services are wired up and working. The plumber installed the bath, kitchen, and laundry fixtures and trim pieces, and fired up the water heater. The Heating and Ventilation guy installed the air-conditioner condenser and humidifier.

We have prepared the official punch list of things that remain to be done before we can move in. We are racing to the finish line!

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Oak Floors Stained, Inside Wood Trim Completed

December 21st, 2008 - The painting (except backout touchup) is complete inside. The cabinet tops are all in place (kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms). The wood trim is complete inside, and the oak floors have been stained.

The stair side-boards, railings, and finished steps are in place and painted -- waiting for carpet on the 22nd.

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Pictures of Graded and Sodded Lot

December 4th, 2008 - A team of two worked for four days (Nov 25-26th and 28-29th) to grade and sod our lot, just before the weather closed down such activities for the year! They also installed 110 feet of PVC drain pipe connecting a back yard drain and our sump-pump to a 64 cubic foot dry-well (4x4x4) in our front yard.

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Final Grading and Sod Being Laid

November 25th, 2008 - It's freezing every night and we've had a couple of light snows in the last week, so it is with great relief that I report we've begun doing the final outside work consisting of dry well and sump/drain hook up, final grading, and sod placement over 4" of pulverized, screened black dirt.

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We're Getting Closer to Completion

November 15th, 2008 - Things are moving ahead. The siding is mostly installed (the siding crew is like molasses, but only a few points remain to be done). The driveway was poured on the 6th; the public and private sidewalks, and entrance were done on the 1st.

The garage doors and openers were installed on the 3rd. The house has been furnace heated since the end of October.

The red oak wood floors were installed (not yet stained and poly-urathaned) on the 5th. The tile was laid over two days (the 7th and 8th). The wall tile for the baths was done over the 13th and 14th.

The cabinets and vanities were unpacked and set over the 11th - 13th.

We are currently making arrangements for the final grading of the lot to be done (including dry-well work: Yes it is still not done!)

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Dry-Wall Complete, Siding Delivered

October 26th, 2008 - The last three weeks have gone by quickly. The inspections have all completed successfully. On Monday the 13th our garage and porch concrete was poured. ComEd connected power on Friday the 17th, and the following week the furnace was installed. The insulation batts were installed and inspected by the village on the 20th. We will have cellulose sprayed into the attic space sometime over the next two weeks to achieve R-50+ insulation.

The house is now dry-walled and heated. The garage doors will be installed tomorrow, and the dry-well will be dug by Wednesday.

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Ready for House Re-inspection

October 7th, 2008 - The framing, rough electrical, heating and ventilation, plumbing, and fire-safety sprinkler work is now complete.

We held the first inspection last Wednesday (the 2nd). The village inspector required several electrical conduits to be rerouted and rewired (to reduce the number of bends with their accompanying wire-stretching). He required fire-stops that were missed on one wall section, along with two additional posts over the living-room ceiling rafters (spread across 4-rafter joists). He passed the plumbing, heating ventilation, and fire-saftey work.

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Basement Concrete Poured

September 22th, 2008 - Holhard poured our basement concrete on Friday, the 12th, before the weekend's record breaking rain-fall. They didn't pour the garage, front, and back porches that Friday because the soil needed to be wet down and compacted in those areas. The basement cured for about 6 hours before we got heavy rains.

No electricity on site meant no sump-pump operation and by Sunday we had 35 inches of standing water in the basement.

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Rough-in Plumbing Complete

September 8th, 2008 - The plumbers and heating ventilation crews worked all last week to get the house plumbed and ducted.

We passed the basement plumbing inspection -- so now the concrete crew can return to pour the basement slab, the porches, and the garage in one pass.

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Roof and Windows Are in Place

August 22nd, 2008 - The Miramontes Brothers set our windows today. Our roofing was completed yesterday. Our home is really starting to shape up -- and we like the way it looks.

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Our House Framing is Complete

August 17th, 2008 - Our home is under roof and completely framed. The carpenters worked a total of 10 days between Saturday August 2nd, and Friday the 15th (we had a Monday rain-out).

It was a treat to watch the house 'grow' each day. The crew of 5-6 guys worked efficiently as far as I could tell. Pat and I visited daily.

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Steel Installed and Framing Begun

August 6th, 2008 - Friday the steel beams for the foundation were installed. The garage ceiling steel beam will be installed the following week.

The carpenter team moved in the next day (Saturday) and put down the sill-plate, ledger-board, and floor joists.

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Water and Sewer Connected

July 31st, 2008 - Phase One Excavation and sub-contractor Esposito Plumbing worked Tuesday and Wednesday excavating on the west side of Park Blvd and on our side of the street to install our new water service. They then disconnected the old sewer T-connect and dug a new sewer connection hole about 12 feet to the north - installing a new T-connect for our service.

Phase One Excavation completed the trenching and installation of the sewer line to our house today.

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Backfill, Rough-grading, Some Window Changes

July 27th, 2008 - We've resolved our water-runoff issue by installing a 4 x 6 drywell in the front and connecting only the sump and front-south downspout drain to it.

We will wait until final grading / landscaping and run shallow trenches containing perferated 4" PVC away from the gutter downspouts. We will add better drainage of the low-area in the yard with a pvc run to a leaching area (center-back of property).

The excavator completed most of the backfilling and rough-grading Saturday. He'll be back Monday, along with a gravel trucker to complete the front-porch, garage, and driveway area on Monday.

We've contracted with Phase One Excavation to also do our sewer, water, and drywell connections. This work is scheduled to be done this coming week.

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Thoughts on Storm Water Drainage Using a Drywell

July 17th, 2008 - I found out today that we are not connecting our sump-pump and downspouts to the city storm sewer as I'd thought. Apparently, the city decided not to allow the connection and instead specified a drywell be installed in the front yard.

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Foundation Pour Complete - Ready for Backfill

July 16th, 2008 - Thursday the 10th the concrete crew set the foundation wall forms in place. They came back the next day and poured the walls. After almost 4-days of curing, they returned Monday, the 14th and stripped the forms. We have beautiful 10" thick, straight foundation walls!

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Excavation and Foundation Footings Complete

July 4th, 2008 - We have our foundation excavated and the footings poured. The Excavator marked the cut-outs on Tuesday and completed the excavation on Wednesday.

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Construction Permit Issued -- Ready to Excavate

June 26th, 2008 - In order for us to begin excavation at our home site a village construction permit must be issued. On Monday this week (the 23rd) we had CES survey and stake the construction site for excavation. I picked up the permit this morning after writing another huge check.

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Demolition Complete -- The Old Homestead is History

June 18th, 2008 - Phase 1 Excavation began the demolition Wednesday, and finished hauling away the concrete foundation Thursday. I even took photos!

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Demolition Permit Issued; Construction Plan Approved

June 16th, 2008 - We've scheduled demolition for the 18-20th, and have paid the village demolition fees and security deposits.

We've also gotten our construction plan approved and will pay the fees and deposits for that later this week.

Here are the particulars for those interested in such things.

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House Vacant, Utilities Have Been Disconnected

June 6th, 2008 - All our stuff has been removed from the house, and the gas, electric, water, and sewer have been properly abandoned and inspected.

Monday, the 9th we'll be setting up the fencing for the demolition project and the tree's protection. Once the village inspector verifies the property is ready for demolition we'll pay the village for the permit and schedule the demolition within the next two weeks.

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Successfully Moved to Apartment

May 25th, 2008 - We moved into a 1-bedroom apartment located less than a mile from our home last Thursday. We will be staying here while they build our new home.

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Village Notice of Property Demolition Received

May 17th, 2008 - We just received mail notifying us (and our neighbors) that 'the structure at 153 S. Park Blvd is being razed.' The earliest demolition date is stated as June 9th.

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Lot Cleared in Preparation for Demolition

May 16th, 2008 - We contracted with Steve's Tree Service to remove our front crabapple and two small fir trees, as well as all the shrubbery surrounding the house.

In the back two stumps and two intertwined crabapple trees were also removed. All is now ready for demolition and subsequent construction.

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We Lease an Apartment in Preparation for Demolition

May 8th, 2008 - The permit application packages were finally submitted to the village of Glen Ellyn Wednesday April 30th. A village engineer toured our property May 5th and spoke with Pat - who explained we had lived here 31 years and were planning to live in the new home that is to be constructed over the demolished site.

Today we talked with our GC about what we need to be doing in preparation for demolition (the village will not issue a permit until these conditions are met.

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Still Waiting to Exhale (Delay in Permit Submissions)

April 16, 2008 - Well the 9th came and went and no permit packages (demo or construction) were submitted to the village!

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Boundary and Topological Survey Results

April 5th, 2008 - The civil engineer has completed the surveys and put together a plan for the demolition and new construction.

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Site Engineering / Surveying Begins

March 19, 2008 - Yesterday we authorized Civil Engineering Services (CES), Inc to begin surveying the existing property in preparation for demolition and subsequent construction. The surveyor arrived this morning bright and early and is still working the first Phase of the contract.

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Design Drawings are Complete

February 2008 - Vic, Pat, and myself meet with architect Tim Nelson to finalize on Design Drawings.

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We Review Design Drawings

January 25th 2008 - We drive to Geneva to view the first renderings of our design by architect Tim Nelson.

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Our First Contract - Architect Drawings

January 2008 - Tim Nelson offers to draft our home design in two stages. We sign a contract with Tim to create Design Drawiings to be followed by Construction Drawings after site engineering review.

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We Select an Architect

December 2007 - After talking with Vic Fiala who will be our McMasters general contractor for the project we decide that we will commission an architect to render our drawings to blueprint form to prepare for getting subcontractor bids and for applying for village permits in March.

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We Talk to Custom Home Builders

October 2007 - We put together a package of information along with images from our home design effort and distribute them to four local area custom home builders.

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What Does Our Dream Home Look Like?

September 2007 - Jon and I pour through over a 1000 online home plan renderings to get a feel for what we like and don't like Here's a good starting point for anyone wanting to search designs which include floor plans.

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Thinking About Building A New Home

August 2007 - We decide that this is the year to begin thinking seriously about building the house we will live out our lives in.

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