Things seem to move really fast near the end of the project. Organizing a move, and making sure all of our “to-dos” are complete in time can get hectic, so this post is definitely later than anticipated. Be sure to read to the end for our best advice for this stage of your new build!
Let me back up to where we left off …
We weren’t expecting any work to be done during the break over the holidays but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the roofing had been substantially completed! I’m not sure why but that step felt like a big one toward completion. Our Plumber managed to make it up and do some work to extend the wellhead to get the casing up high enough for final grade and to prepare the well for connection to the house.
New Year, New Progress!
As soon as January 9th came, we hoped things would start progressing quickly. It didn’t but that was a little hard to do since we still had no hydro to power the equipment needed to do the work. The crew did what they could using a propane heater to try to keep the interior warm-ish. In the meantime I stayed in touch with our Hydro One customer support person to get us on the connection schedule. Exactly one month prior to our HUG date (That’s Quality Homes’ guaranteed completion date), the hydro connection was completed. Suddenly, there seemed to be so much work and so little time … I wasn’t sure they could pull this one off!
Our hydro connection took place on a Sunday, and as the hydro crew were pulling out, the siding crew was pulling in to get ready for the week. We were glad to have met them as we were able to do a walk-around with them and clarify a few items. From that, we knew what to expect from their scope.
What Happened Next?
The siding, soffit and fascia went on:
The concrete in the garage and on the front porch was poured:
And on the interior, progress accelerated as soon as we could maintain a consistent temperature and get the dehumidifiers running:
- Insulation finishing in the crawlspace and top-ups in the attic
- Drywall repairs, including our centre beam and other joining points for the modules
- Kitchen island and dining lighting installations
(No interior pictures … I want it to be a surprise!)
Every Wednesday, after work, we’d meet at the Air B&B we were staying at, make a coffee for the road and head up to see the progress. We’d come again at least once each weekend; we just couldn’t stay away!
Some days the place looked worse instead of better, especially during the drywall work due to all the dust and debris that creates. That happens when I clean the house too – I’ll often make a bigger mess than I started with, but it all comes together at the end.
At one point we discussed not coming up midweek as I’d get flustered either by seeing that no one had been working for a few days or by the mess. HA! I just thought … it’s like children: when we’re around all the time we don’t notice their growth but when people come to visit they remark on how much they’ve changed. In the end, we couldn’t stay away because we’d miss the place too much. Yes, even in the chaos of the final steps, it felt like home and it was just too hard to stay away.
Still Dreaming and Making Plans
Weekends were the best visits because we’d spend more time planning our first projects and discussing our finishing touches. We’d:
- Bring samples for the kitchen backsplash (we chose not to have Quality Homes do that),
- Measure up the pantry to make sure everything we’d planned would fit, and calculate the supplies we’d need,
- Figure out how to organize the shelving in the garage
- Imagine where our furniture would be placed, and
- Note things that we’d want to point out to our Building Manager when we got to that stage.
Finally, about 2 weeks prior to our HUG date I asked our Construction Manager if we could go up and note items we want to be sure they take care of. His response was “I’d say give us a bit of time and maybe look at doing that over the weekend? Give us some time to fix things first ”
Boy did they fix things!
By the time we went up to make our notes it felt more like an easter egg hunt! Brian took his flashlight to the walls to check for imperfections. That’s nothing new, he’s done that to check his own work too. The floors and cabinetry were still covered so we weren’t able to look at them too closely. It was mainly the exterior plus interior lights, doors, walls, trim and crawlspace that we were able to check.
Building Inspection Results
On the Thursday before our HUG date, I started to see email notifications of our Permit inspections passing:
- 3:33pm – Insulation PASSED!
- 3:34pm – Heating PASSED!
- 3:35pm – Plumbing PASSED!
- 3:36pm – Occupancy – FAILED! What?!!!!
Before the real panic set in, I quickly opened Cloudpermit to see if there was more information available.
Okay, they’re just waiting for paperwork! That should be easy enough to provide before our HUG date right?!
Final Paperwork for Occupancy Permit
Not knowing which ESA certificate they were looking for, I scrambled to get the two ESA certificates I did know about: one from the original inspection with Quality Homes and the one that took place after our Electrician swapped out the meter base for the one with the integrated generator switch. It turns out that these weren’t the right ones; these were just the Connection Authorization certificates that you get before Hydro One will do their connection. UGH!
After connecting with the Building Inspector on the day of our HUG date, it turns out that our final ESA inspection hadn’t yet been completed! My scramble for documentation turned into a scramble for information. Fortunately, we weren’t planning to move in until Friday (3 days after the HUG date), so I figured we’d have our Occupancy Permit by then. To cover my butt though, I told the Inspector of our moving plans and asked if I should look at pushing our move-in date to be on the safe side. He didn’t reply!
Story to be continued …
Our Best Advice for the Completion Phase of Your New Build
Before I leave you, and to make this story helpful in some way, here is our best advice for this “countdown to completion” phase of your new build:
Give your builder space to do their job.
You’ll start to see things (drywall work for example) finishing up but you’ll find imperfections. You’ll see details that aren’t quite perfect even though it looks like they’ve moved on to something else. You’ll think they think that piece is finished; you could be mistaken. Remember, your builder isn’t finished until they’re finished. Take a deep breath and let them do their thing.
If there’s a big thing that’s concerning you, by all means bring it up to your Build Manager.
Now that I’ve told you to hold your breath, I’ll add that if there is something that concerns you, definitely bring that forward to your Build Manager. As we were getting down to the final weeks, Brian and I took a really close look in the crawlspace to be sure it was drying out enough to not cause us worry again. We did notice an area of concern and mentioned it immediately so it could be addressed in good time.
I dislike having issues sprung on me out of the blue, at the last minute; why would I inflict that on our Construction Manager? I wouldn’t if I could help it.
Make sure the items within your responsibility are taken care of.
It’s easy to focus on what everyone else needs to do to get you into your home, be sure you mind your items too. Oh! And keep your Construction Manager in the loop as you do, especially if you have people coming onto the build site to do their work.
Keep dreaming and planning!
Building your new home, your dream home, is one of those BIG life events and this stage seems to fly by. Yes, it will likely have stressful moments woven into the time but it’s remarkably exciting to see the dream take its final shape. Enjoy it!
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