Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau


-If you are building during the winter months, factor in an additional 3-4 weeks of construction time due to winter weather delays (Hopefully you won’t use all of this additional time in consecutive weeks like we have!).

-Take your kitchen and bathroom plans to multiple locations to get quotes for cabinetry. Do this well in advance of when you are needing the cabinets. Sometimes you can score huge savings if you catch a promotion/sale.

Topics of Discussion in this Article:

Our story…

It was exciting for us to see the completed basement floor one we returned from vacation. Even with the walls poured, it was difficult for us to get a feel for how big the basement truly was. Now, with the floor poured, it was starting to take shape and give us an idea of the amount of space we would have. In the upcoming weeks, some of the back-filling will be completed, we will have made our cabinet selections, and our first load of materials will be delivered on site.

Back-fill Process

Now that the gravel had been added over the perimeter drainage tile, Keith was able to start the process of back-filling. As you have seen in previous pictures, there is a 2′-4′ space around the perimeter walls for the over-dig that allowed the installation of drainage tile, water-proofing, and gravel fill. At this point, Keith used his bobcat to push dirt towards the house and fill-in many of these areas. This is necessary before the framers begin construction for safety. The framers will now be able to walk up to the perimeter with tools and materials without falling or having to step over a drop-off. This will be especially important when they are working on the exterior to fasten sheeting, install windows, etc. This may sound like an easy process; however, it was a muddy mess. With the constant freezing and thawing we’ve been experiencing, some days it was too frozen for him to scoop/push the dirt and other days it was too wet and he was just spinning in the mud. On the days with ideal conditions, he was able to get partway around the house. Keith had to avoid the two walls where the concrete company screwed up the egress windows due to structural concerns. He will be able to back-fill in these areas once the repair is complete and the flooring system has been installed. While this step doesn’t sound very exciting, it was nice to see how he is planning on gradually sloping the dirt away from the house so that the basement doesn’t appear to be 4′-5′ out of the ground.

Next, Keith had to fill in the garage and back porch area with stone. Before he could do this, he tied in a 3” PVC pipe into the exterior drainage tile and left it sticking up in the back of the garage. This is what will be buried underneath the garage slab prior to pouring so that we will have two floor drains. Keith then filled the entire garage with what I would refer to as pea gravel. He uses this type of gravel for filling because with the small pebble size, it has a high rate of compaction. This eliminates settling concerns with the garage and porch slabs. With the garage area filled, workers now have a level area to work even though the slab isn’t poured yet.


Egress Window Repair

Michelle and I (with the help of an engineer) finally decided on a solution/repair to our egress window situation. The concrete company agreed with our proposed solution and put the repair on the schedule with the “Quality Control” division.

Proposed solution from our engineer.

In order to repair the area where there was supposed to be concrete headers and rebar above the windows, they had to take the following steps: 1) Cut down the bottom of the windows to the correct height. 2) Drill into the concrete 18” in two places on each side of the window openings. 3) Install rebar into the holes and secure with epoxy. 4) Install and secure wood forms for the appropriate-sized headers. 5) Fill with concrete. After this process was completed, the forms had to remain on for several days while the concrete cured appropriately. At least at this point, the framing crew could go forward with their work.

After a week and a half, the forms were removed and a worker had to apply a thin coat of concrete patch to the areas. Hopefully this will be the end to this unfortunate situation…

Winter Weather Delays

As you are aware, the weather here is Indiana has been crazy over the last month between the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. While the boys were excited for the 6” of snow that fell on Saturday, I could have done without. We took the opportunity to do the usual sledding, shoveling of our driveway, etc. Keith had said that they hoped to start framing on Tuesday and that the basement floor would have to be cleared. Therefore, on Sunday, we loaded up the truck with our sleds and shovels. Our first stop was the sledding hill at Southeastway Park. After about an hour of sledding, we headed for our lot.

It was peaceful at the lot seeing everything covered in snow. The boys thought they would try their luck sledding down the dirt piles, but they quickly realized they were a little too rough for this (not nearly as fun as sliding down the mud piles in their school clothes when they were digging the basement). We then decided we’d take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and build a snowman in our basement. How many people can say they’ve done that?!? The snow was wet and perfect for building so it didn’t take long. They raided the back of my truck for my tool belt, shovel, hat, gloves, etc. Before we knew it, we had a decked-out construction snowman in the middle of the basement. Hopefully, we would not have another opportunity to do this again!

After taking a few pictures with our beloved snowman, we started the task of shoveling the entire basement. The boys started out strong until they realized just how wet and heavy the 6” of snow was. After about 30 minutes, Caleb had enough and hailed a ride home from Michelle. Harrison, however, was in it for the long haul. There were a few times I was ready to call it quits, but he was adamant about staying until the entire basement was cleared. Two hours later we finished and he was satisfied.

Cabinet Selection

Over the last month, I had reached out to three different places to price cabinetry for our kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room. I honestly had no idea what to expect when it came to cabinet pricing. I printed blown-images from our blueprints of the areas where cabinetry would be installed. I also made a “wishlist” of everything we would like when it came to cabinetry color, door styles, sizes, and features. I figured it would be easiest to get a proposal with everything and then decide what to adjust so it would be within our budget. Some of the features that were on our wishlist included: one color of cabinet along the perimeter of the kitchen and another color on the island, staggered height upper cabinets, a pull-out spice rack, a couple large drawers for pots and pans, a pull-out trashcan, and a pull-out hamper for the boys’ bathroom. However, we realized that anything was going to be better than the small kitchen out of which we currently operate.

I started out visiting the Lowe’s cabinet department. The guy was extremely knowledgable and nice. He took all of my information, prints of the different areas, and requested that I come in the following week to view his proposal. The following week, Michelle and I went in to see what he had prepared for us. He had everything that we requested and the dimensional renderings looked great. Then he hit us with the price… His proposal was nearly 6k over our budget. We didn’t feel that we could cut down on enough features to shave that much money. We thanked him for his time and away we went.

Next, I checked with Joe, who owns a custom cabinet shop in the London Road area. This cabinet shop was recommended to us by a family friend for his quality and his pricing. After a brief phone conversation, Joe requested that I send him the same information. This was easy to email since I had already provided it to Lowe’s. 0ver the next few weeks, Joe put together a proposal with the dimensional renderings as well. He came in within $1K of our budget, which was something we could work with. I thanked Joe for his time and told him we would check back in with him in a few weeks.

Finally, I wanted to get pricing from Gilman’s Home Center in Batesville. Keith recommended them for their price and quality as he had several clients use them in the past. I reached out to Renee, his contact, and explained what we were looking for. She also requested that I email her the prints and then she would put a proposal together for us. After two weeks, Renee suggested that we set up an appointment to come and meet with her. Michelle was busy with work commitments, so I set up a time for us to meet. At our meeting, she showed me the cabinet door and drawer style that we liked. She also went over the renderings and features that were included. Renee had added many additional items, like cabinet panels on the side of the island, small cabinets under the bar, etc., that neither of the others included. Her price was a little higher than Joe’s, but I liked her ideas for the additional features. I requested that she email me all of the information so I could share it with Michelle.

After receiving the email, I showed everything to Michelle. She was also super excited about how she had laid everything out for us. We were about $3K over budget, so I emailed Renee back and asked for ideas on how to shave some costs. Originally, she had priced a full-overlay door and drawer. A full-overlay is where you don’t see any of the cabinet framing as it’s completely covered. I asked that she switch from a full-overlay to a partial-overlay. Another change is that we opted go from painted cabinetry on the island, in the bathrooms, and laundry room to stained. After making these two changes, our price came back where we needed it to bed. Renee also shared the current Kraftmaid promotion which was 20% off all cabinets if ordered by the end of January. This was HUGE! As long as we ordered before month’s end, they wouldn’t actually make our cabinets until we are ready for them on-site (hopefully late April). Confident with our choice to go with Gilman’s, Michelle and I set up an appointment for the following week to make some more specific modifications to the plans.


I assumed that we could get everything wrapped up within an hour, but that was far from accurate. We went through every cabinet with Renee. This included if the doors would open to the right or the left, shelves versus drawers, etc. We ended up making some minor changes that would give exactly what we needed. We didn’t opt for the in-drawer organizers, the hands-free trashcan, or any of the other pricey options. Then came the task of color selection. This was an extremely time-consuming process as I think I took just about every sample off of the showcase area. There were some colors that I ruled out and others that Michelle did. In the end, we had narrowed it down to 3 options for the painted cabinets and we both agreed on the color for the stained cabinets. At this point, I let Michelle make the final selection as I knew there would be other areas in which I’d want more of a say in the selection. With all decisions being made, we locked-in our order and could check another task off of our list of things to do.