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McPhailville 3.0 Update: The Messy Middle

I've received several questions recently from friends and loved ones about how the house is going. I think that is so sweet and I thought it would be appropriate to write an update blog about it. Earlier this year, I did a series on all the things I know about building a house from a buyer's point of view. Today's blog will pick up from there and give you a little update on how it's all going.


Here's the short of it. We're smack dab in the thicket. The crazy part. The part that absolutely sucks. The things you thought you had all beautifully planned to make the process easier are starting to crumble. Really at this point, I think it was good to have plans, but truly, I have redone the plans at least 3 times.


Just when you think you know all there is to know about building a house....you build your fifth one and you realize, you still just don't know shit. Seriously.



This is the front porch. The big open area will be the front door. The posts won't be gray, but white and beneath them will be stone.


The part we're in is the phase that makes you second guess every decision you've ever made in life. I'm not kidding either. You have to make so many on-the-spot decisions, so things don't fall apart, that your body becomes numb. You are hit with change orders over $15K on a Thursday at 5p and you're left just wanting to throw in the towel.


If you've never built a house before, this phase is the part that sucks the most. I am NOT kidding. The part we're in right now is where you either just go through the process in numbness or you fight right and left with your spouse and threaten divorce (we haven't done that this time thank God). This part...it just sucks.


So you ask...but Janell...you had everything planned out, what would you do differently? I can say with 100% honesty there is nothing you can do differently. It's the messy middle of this process and you just have to trudge through. You have to stick to your guns about the budget, or figure out ways to make the budget work. You have to look at the issues and determine if the changes are something you need in this process or if you can do it later when you live in the house.


Case in point....never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be over on the electrical budget. I am not an electrician, nor do I know anything about how to bid a job to wire an entire house. I'm just thankful there are skilled people on this earth who know how so I can live with electricity and air conditioning. So you ask...how are you over then? Wouldn't the builder know exactly how to estimate electrical? Well, the short answer is yes. BUT, in reality, when that 2D plan on paper becomes a 4D life you start to realize you need an additional plug in the pantry. Oh and speaking of the pantry, you only planned for one light. Now that you can actually walk in the space you realize you actually need two lights so you don't have to squint to read cereal boxes. BUT, what I don't need are USB plugs and special motion sensors. I can delete those from the plan, save the funds and minimize overages. I can't add plugs later, but I can change out anything to a motion sensor later.


In this part of the process, you start to realize how you will LIVE in the home and with each step and install, you add a little bit here and there. It just happens. This is why you have contingency budgets because this messy middle part....is stressful. It just sucks.


Next stressful example....if you looked at the property where we built our house from the road, you would never expect a huge change in topography. I mean we live in the foothills of the Hill Country but NOT in the hill country so the house site seemed flat. Well guess what? When you take that 2D drawing and add some surveying special equipment, it turns out there is quite a slope to the land and...drumroll please....you end up with a 7 foot tall slab on one side of the house. Yep. Seven feet. The other end of the slab? Totally normal. But by golly that is a lot of concrete. The builder totally knew and estimated accordingly, but my brain doesn't work in 4D and it was a shock to me. All I can think about when I'm on the porch now is how I will handle three young kids and a rail on a seven foot drop. The builder assures me he will backfill with dirt and it won't be 7 feet in the end....but it's still stressful.


Here's that 7 foot slab in all its glory. That, my friends, is a whole lot of concrete!


It's just the part we're in now. Here's what I will say to add to the process though. It's normal. I know it is. And we will get through it. It's kinda like being 9 months pregnant and swollen. It's painful, uncomfortable, irritating....but you know as any woman who's ever been pregnant knows...that baby has to come out one day and one way or another. You do it. You make it through that stage, you bear the pain of childbirth....all the things. If you don't, you never know the joys of having children. Same with building a house. It is a painful process. In the end though, it is worth being able to live in a space you can say you designed exactly how your family is to use the space. It is incredibly rewarding. You just have to bear the pain and realize, you still have a lot to learn in life.


This picture was taken yesterday for the boutique and I can just see the tiredness in my eyes. The messy middle is real, but we'll make it through! Outfit details from the boutique: Circle Sweater in Navy, Long Sleeved White Tee, Khaki jeans from KanCan, and snakeskin mules from Target.


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