Our House: Building Update #1

Throughout the process of building our house, I’ll give updates outlining the different stages of  construction and our experiences with them. 



Our house is under construction!!!!!!

We are so excited to be in the process of building it.

This first update spans a great deal of time, but future updates will be shorter in time and with more process. The beginning stages take some times as there is time for permitting, surveying, leveling the lost, framing the foundation, pouring it, etc. Once the house is framed the pace tends to accelerate (hopefully!).

So let’s begin!

Monday 4/25/16

Bought Our House

We signed the contract for our house!!!

In the following weeks we send emails to our designer, Ali, at the Design Studio asking about some finishes and pricing. We didn’t immediately make an appointment to select our finishes as we still were pricing out our options and we preferred to do that on our time, in private to discuss money without a designer there. We felt it would be beneficial to be more prepared at our design meeting.

While that was happening, an architectural firm was readying drawings to submit to the building department for review for a building permit

Wednesday 5/25/16

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We met with our designer at the Design Studio to make our finish selections. (I will do more an in depth recap of that process)


Wednesday 6/1/16

Our plans were submitted to the building department for permitting.

This process typically takes 30 business days for Hillsborough County, where we are building.

Thursday 6/9/16

Price dropped off the 30% check for the design options that we selected that was over our budgeted amount. This is due as we exceeded the original contract amount.

Wednesday 6/22/16


We frequently checked the building department website to check on the status of our permit. We saw that the Graphics Review was now complete and being forwarded on to the plans examiner for their review.

Friday 7/1/16


Our permit was denied! Ugh!

The comments and rejected plans are now going back to the architect to get updated and revised for re-submission.

While this is extremely disappointing as we wanted things to keep moving on, I have worked on plenty of projects that have permit comments. It’s a bummer, but it happens.

Thursday 7/14/16


The comments causing the permit to be denied were addressed by the architect so now they are back in the building department for review.

Friday 7/22/16


We are really excited at this point as the plans have now been reviewed and approved. The next steps in the getting the permit in hand is under way!!!!

Thursday 7/28/16


Our Permit was granted!!!

Tuesday 8/2/16


We met with our project Manager, Chris Bernhardt, to review the process and estimated schedule of building our house. Chris was great to meet with as we did a great job at explaining the process to us. While we are well versed in architecture and construction, we are not that familiar with residential projects. Also, building in Florida is going to be different, in some ways, than what we are familiar with from growing up in the Northeast. There are different codes and practices that are here, like building is done on grade vs on basement foundation or that of a crawlspace (like what I grew up with).

Wednesday 8/10/16

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Stopped by in the afternoon to check on progress. Nothing had been done to our lot, except for the flags being installed indicating underground utilities. The lot next door had their slab staked.

Friday 8/12/16

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Signed off on 2 revisions to our electrical plan that we made during our 8/2 meeting with Chris. They were electronically sent back to our designer at the Design Studio to be officially added to the contract documents. (Make sure you get everything in writing!)

Saturday 8/13/16

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Crews were working on our neighbor’s house (she got her permit before us). No progress on our lot.

Monday 8/15/16

Price stopped by after work and saw that our lot was scraped and leveled. As well the corners of the house were located, per survey.

Excited to see progress but questioning if the location of the corners are correct as they are so close to the black silt fencing.

Tuesday 8/16/16


Price emailed our Project Manager asking about the location of the house as it appears to be so close to the silt fence (property line?) and the adjacent house.

Stopped by in the afternoon (2.30pm) to check on progress. No crews on site, but more slab framing had occurred.

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I had a tape measure with me so I took some measurements of our house corners to the house next door. Verified that the location of the house was correct. The deceiving part is that the neighbor next door laid a brick walk off  from their lanai in their set back area. Their house and lanai are located right along their set back line (5′ from property line) so this through us off a bit.

Received an email (3.30pm) from our project Manager further explaining what I has just figured out while I was on site. Additionally, clarified that the silt fence is not on our property line, it was set further in.

Saturday 8/20/16

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We stopped by the house to see if there was any progress since we had last been there on the 16th. During that time crews dug trenches for plumbing supply and drain lines.

Monday 8/22/16

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This visit gave as a real peek at what plumbing lines go into the ground before the slab is poured. Plus, it was fun to space plan where things where as we could identify rooms where things where going, like our sink is in out kitchen island so I could stand there and pretend to see the living room and backyard from there.

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We noted that a plumbing line and drain on our lanai was missing.

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Tuesday 8/23/16


We stopped by again to see how things were going at the site, in particular we were wondering if the missing plumbing for the lanai was installed- it still had not been.

We emailed Chris about this as we didn’t want to be in the position of having to chip out a brand new slab missing stuff that were always in the drawings. Of course, there are inspections, but I have been on plenty of job sites when things have been missed.

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Wednesday 8/24/16

Price stopped by after work to check on things and saw that they had the plumbing for the lanai installed!

Thursday 8/25/16

The plumbing passed inspection and the vapor barrier had been laid down in preparation of pouring the slab.

Saturday 8/27/16

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We stopped by the house at 8.30 am to check on the crew pouring the slab. It was exciting to pull up to the house and see 4 concrete mixing trucks right out front of our lot!!

We left shortly after 9 to head back home and get on with our day. They were still hard at work pouring concrete.

Sunday 8/28/16

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We were expecting to see the crew again hard at work but they actually wrapped up the day before!

It was so wonderful to see the smooth slab. We had wanted to stick our hands into it while it was wet but it was well worth missing out on that to have the slab done.

The next step is to wait for the delivery for the Concrete Masonry Units (CMU), aka block,  for the first floor block walls.

Tuesday 8/30/16

Emailed Chris requesting a project update and the next steps as we saw that the block, had been delivered to the house.

As well, we asked him about the landscaping for the property. It’s a long way away but we were curious to know what plans are included for our property (it varies by building and by house design) and the general layout. We are interested in knowing what would be included since there are plants that we do/don’t want and we want to clarify with the landscaper where we will plan on installing a fence.

Wednesday 8/31/16

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Received an email from our Project Manager saying that we just need to wait out the storm to get started- totally understandable.

Chris also included an example landscaping plan and plant list. The plan is not site specific so they would need to make adjustments for our house and the lot (pie shaped). While there is a list of plants on the plan, he clarified that the plants do depend on what the nursery has on hand (due to season and stock). (Good, since we dislike most of them. ha!)

Thursday 9/1/16 Through Monday, 9/5/16 (Labor Day)

Hurricane Hermine and Labor Day Weekend really-wrecked havoc on our schedule. The storm prevented the crews from working on the block walls for the first floor of the house. And then it was Labor Day weekend.

On top of that, the geniuses that delivered the block on site on 8/30 also brought bags and bags of cement, which got ruined by all the rain that fell. So we needed crews to free up and more supplies to get delivered to the site.

Tuesday, 9/6/16

Price emailed our Project Manager Chris (4.30pm) to let him know that we had been by on Saturday and Sunday, the 3rd and 4th, to see if there was any progress (there was none) and to bring to his attention all the cement that has been ruined. Additionally, we wanted to confirm that the lanai has a gas line, as we didn’t see one next to the plumbing.

Chris promptly responded at 5.15pm that he will remind the block installers that the cement is ruined. He also clarified for us that gas line is run later in the project.

Friday, 9/9/16

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I stopped by after work to check on progress at the site, the block crew was working on the neighboring house. This was great since we had to wait a bit for crews to be available again since the schedule got all messed up from the storm and holiday weekend. I had a quick chat with one of the guys on site and he said they would be starting on our house on Saturday and it should be done by EOD Monday.

Saturday, 9/10/16

When we did a quick drive by the site mid-morning, we didn’t see any action yet on our house. The crew was next door working.

Sunday, 9/11/16


Since the crews had worked on past weekends, we stopped by to see if they were working. Unfortunately, they were not, but it gave us a chance to walk around and check things out since they did start on our house…

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Our excitement was quickly washed away when we were walking around the site and I noticed some trash stuffed in one ofthe blocks. I grabbed it and discovered it was a half eaten pulled pork sandwich. Then we noticed beer bottles in the walls.

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We began the process of walking around the site to see what else we could find.


In the end we pulled out about 20 empty and almost empty bottles of Corona from the block walls.

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Food was also found in the piles of block that were set up in staging areas around the site. While those could have been cleaned up later on as they grabbed those blocks to use them, they clearly had no intention of cleaning up the bottles in the various walls. Assholes.

We emailed the team about this at 1pm explaining what we saw with pictures. We tried to keep it up beat but clearly we were pissed off, frustrated, and hurt that people would disrespect us and our house this way.

We got calls and emails from the team but I still stopped by the show house later on (around 5pm) in the afternoon and spoke with Renee to confirm that we didn’t want a new crew, which would cause a delay in schedule, but a supervisor watching over the crew would be acceptable. She apologized for the behavior of that crew as we discussed what happened while reviewing photos. (I spoke with Chris the following day and he apologized repeatedly as well.)

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I then went back to the house to get out more bottles with a grabbing tool. I was able to get all but 2 broken bottles.

Monday, 9/12/16


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Stopped by the house on my way to work to check on things. A crew was there and a supervisor was there with them.

Then my dad stopped by later on in the day and snapped a few pics of the crew working.

Tuesday, 9/13/16

The lintel of the house (the top 2 tiers of block of the first floor) are getting filled today.

Wednesday, 9/14/16


My dad stopped by and snapped a few picture so we could see the progress of the block being done!


I am stopping this recap at this point to capture the competition of the block. My next update will be about the framing of the interior and exterior walls.

While there have been some schedule delays and issues with a crappy crew, we are so excited that our house is underway. The Ashton Woods team that we have been working with has been great and attentive along the way.

We are looking forward to the next steps of the process.


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