Our 4th of July Weekend

We have started to build on our 10 acres in northwest michigan. So here is a story about the weekend and how everything went.

We decided our plan was to get to the property early Friday, and get as much built as quickly as possible. Char took the day off on Thursday to help ready us for the trip. She went and bought some of the materials needed while I worked, which was a huge help. For the braces, corner 4×4’s, insulation and nails she ended up spending about $320. We are keeping a record of what we buy and for how much so we can break it down for everyone when we are done. After seeing everything she bought, we talked and decided we didnt need everything on the list to build the place. We took back all of the floor braces and decided we could just screw the boards into the cross beams. It will hold up just fine and with everything we took back, ended up getting $110 or so back to put towards other things.

Char also went to this place called the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit (https://www.aswdetroit.org/). They resell items from torn down houses and operate as a non profit. We ended up getting 75 2x4x8’s for the walls (plan calls for 65) for just $75. That put us around $160 less than the plans we are using said it would cost. I was also able to grab enough housewrap for our place for $30, which would have been over 100 at the store. By the time I was off of work, she had the 2×4’s unloaded in the garage and the materials we were taking on this trip ready to go.

After I was off of work, we took a trip out to see a guy about buying a generator. We knew we would need one. For cutting, drilling, charging batteries and eventually being used as a backup power supply for the house we were building. Generators aren’t cheap. In a couple weeks of checking craigslist, I saw just a couple with a good amount of power and a decent price. This one came about and seemed great. $150 for a 5000 watt four cycle. We arrive at this house, which isn’t in the nicest area around Detroit and knock a couple times. Finally a woman answers and tells us to go to the garage in the back yard. We go to the back and wait. We immediately notice there is a rainwater collection system set up next to the garage. A young girl comes out and tells us her father will be home shortly to show us the generator.

While waiting for the gentleman with the generator to show up, we notice a bucket full of snails. As we are looking at the snails the man pulls up. His daughter stays outside and explains to us he is italian and does not speak nor understand much english. He goes to start the generator and it takes a few pulls. He is mumbling in Italian at the thing while trying to get it running. Then gives a loud “Come on” and it starts. He plugs in an air conditioner to show us its working. Fair enough, I give the daughter the money and Char goes to pull the car up to load it. The generator is too large for the trunk. The italian man says *no offend*, which the daughter tells us means dont be scared. He opens the back door to Char’s car muttering again to himself. All of the sudden he comes out and has pulled out the bottom part of the seat! Charlotte looked absolutely frightened. I have taken out the back seats of cars before for other reasons so I knew it would go back with ease. Generator is now loaded up and we are ready to go.

Before we head out, Char asks the guy where he gets the snails from. His reply was Michigan. Maybe he didn’t want to give away his secret snail snagging spot? His daughter goes to grab a small bag to put the snail in. The father takes it and must have put 50 snails in the bag. It was quite funny, and he then told Char to eat one of them. She politely declined and we were on our way. I did some research and we decided the snails wouldnt go well in our frogs home.  We decided against keeping the snails.

The next morning we sleep in too late, go past our exit and had to backtrack, and had all of the holiday traffic. We left the house at 10am on the normal 3.5 hour drive and arrived in the town close to our property at 430. I thought there was a Lowes to buy the lumber we needed for the floors in the town and there wasnt. Luckily, there was a do-it center with a full lumber yard. We stop in there, get pricing and availability and decide we would get to the property (about 34 more miles) and get camp set up, and return to get our supplies so we could start building that night. We return after spending too much time walking around enjoying our 10 acres and the place is closed. I was very disappointed because that more or less wasted a whole day between travel and the lumber yard closing. We went to this little town about 15 mins from our property for dinner. We stop at our favorite place in the little town of Fife Lake, MI which is the general store. A great guy owns it named Rob and his sister, Carla helps run it. We bought a couple items we would use for the weekend. They really do have everything in that place!  Asked him about getting a grill cover so we can grill some things over the fire. He runs around the whole store and finds nothing. His sister goes into the basement and returns with a fan cover. What a greta idea! This store is great and I will write more about it later. It’s really a general store, with everything you could imagine.

While talking to Rob, I talk to him a bit about the property and tell him the weeds and grass have gotten much taller since we last visited three weeks previous. He tells me his sister just bought a large field mower and he would rent it to me for $5. Excellent, thanks rob. I didn’t get it this past weekend because they didn’t get it tuned up and ready to go, but we will rent it the next time. There is about 1.5 acres of cleared area I would like to trim down.  Out of the general store we go and head to get some food at the fife lake inn. We had an incredible waiter and left him an incredible tip. Hopefully we made his night.

We head back to camp and the people who own a 2.5 acre parcel next to ours are around so we meet them and talk for a few. By now it is about 1030 or so at night, maybe 11. We start a fire, talk for a bit about the day and head to sleep. The plan was to wake up early the next morning and get the structural wood as early as the lumber yard was open so we could get a good day of building in.

We wake up around 830 which was perfect because the lumber yard opened at 9. We head up, get the things we need, get some gas and start to head back to the property. on our way back there is a small grey steel building with no windows that has a sign for breakfast buffet. Char and I were both hungry so we stopped. It was a local eagles club. I think it is something like a vfw club, not sure. Either way it was all old timers and us. They seemed generally happy we were there, and we were happy to give our $12 back to the community for some good home cooked food.

First step, the outside frame
First step, the outside frame

We had everything done but the osb boards by the time we were done for the first building day. I was sunburned and Char and I were both tired. We decided to go into Fife Lake and watch the firework show they had for the fourth. It was a good show for a small city. We arrived back to the property around 11 pm and were too tired to even start a fire, we just went right to bed.

Second step, frame the floor
Second step, frame the floor

We woke up around 10 am Sunday morning and started putting the osb for the floor support in. Finished that and started packing up. We had everything set to go, then drove into a town nearby called Mancelona. They have a habitat for humanity resale shop there for building materials. They were closed so we headed back home. With traffic and fromt he holiday it took about 4.5 hours to get home. We took showers that we needed all weekend and that was the end of our first trip to build our future home! There is one or two small things that need to be done before putting up the walls but that will be done the next trip. Here is a pic of how it looks so far.

Install the subfloor, cover for protection
Install the subfloor, cover for protection

Thanks to everyone reading and I am sorry for the length of the story. I don’t want to leave anything out.  Have a great day!

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