Dream House

I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford to build myself a new house (well...perhaps myself and the bank). Having been to several 3rd world countries and knowing that there are lots of people in the world who don't even have housing, I felt a few pangs of guilt about this. I had a decision to make: rehab the old or build new. The cost to rehab my old house was going to be substantial. It was October of 2009. My husband had passed away in August from liver cancer. I was in the depths of grief and sorrow. I needed a project. I decided that if I had to plunk down a lot of money anyway, it was better to build new. I also decided that if I was going to build new, I was going to build green. My new house will be both beautiful and "green". I will share the journey and the adventure with you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Well

The Well Rig used to dig my well
Its been a tough couple of weeks for spending money. There are so many expenses to building a house that you do not fully appreciate until you are in the midst of the process and cannot turn back. One of these is the cost of the well. Way back nearly two years ago when I decided to tear down the house and rebuild, I was told I would need to cap off my old well because the new house would be covering it over. This cost about $900 to do. The cost for the new well was contracted in to be about $5000. I was told that sometimes they needed to dig a deeper well, and I would have to cover that cost. Being, by nature, an optomistic soul, I figured I had a good chance of getting a well that was the approximate depth of my old well which was 108 feet deep. What no one told me was that the DNR (the Department of Natural Resources) in Wisconsin instituted some new regulations regarding wells in Winnebago County where my property is. This a happened a few years ago. In one township of Winnebago County, there has been a problem with arsenic in the water. I would agree that this is a bad thing. However, in my area, near the lake, which has a high water table, there has never been a problem with arsenic. In fact, I remember getting the well tested when this problem first cropped up in the county (it was required), and the water was fine. The new regulations allow for shallow wells, less than 100 feet, but no wells are to be dug in the acquifer that is 100-200 feet, if there is sandstone because it can potentially cause the formation of arsenic. The DNR did not want to have to designate only one township as being bad, so they decided to make the ruling for the entirety of Winnebago County. So they dug my well. There is no water at less than 100 feet, and there is sandstone in the aquifer at 100-200 feet. This means they had to dig down to the next aquifer. Mind you, they charge per linear foot. Want to guess how far down the next aquifer is? Answer: 400 feet! So...my $5000 well has turned into a $15,000 well. I was talking to the well guy on the phone a few days ago while I was riding in a car, asking about the final pricing, etc. I had been nauseated and sick that day and so my sister was driving. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach again, told her to stop the car, handed off the phone, and started vomiting out of the side of the car. My sister explained to the well guy that I would have to call him back later. He apologetically said, "I hope she is not getting sick over what we have been talking about...".  In actuality no, but it was nice to feel that I caused him some anguish too! I am hoping, after spending $15,000, that I have great tasting water without a lot of iron it. My prior well had bad tasting water with lots of iron in it that caused rust in the toilets and baths.

My Travertine Stone Flooring

Pre-grout stage, bathroom
Front Foyer (with grout, mosaic border)

 I also love my travertine floor. Being a neophyte to the house building arena, I had never heard of travertine stone before. I had started to look at tile for flooring almost a year ago now. I had some good possibilities, but none that I was totally sold on. At one point, I decided I should just use what Lowe's or Menard's had in order to save some money and to dress it up with some type of special tile or mosaic border. That brought me to Ann Sacks which is a specialty tile store that they have in Kohler, Wisconsin. I was visiting Kohler one weekend and decided to stop in. There I met Todd Graf, a salesperson at the store. Ann Sacks has some very expensive tile and I wasn't even thinking that I could afford it. However, I figured that I might be able to find some interesting mosaic tile border that would be more affordable and match with a low priced Lowe's tile. Todd showed me a beautiful mosaic, but at the same time he said, "I know the perfect stone that would go with this." He pulled out a piece of cream colored stone that was about 4"x 4". I thought the two looked great together. I showed him a copy of my house plans (which I always carry in my car during this house building process). He loved the house plans and asked who was building the house. I told him, "James Mathusek, from Gallery Homes." Well, lo and behold if he didn't know Jamie and Billie Jo and thought highly of them. He also knew the feng shui person I had consulted, Jackie Patricia. Its a small world. He offered me a great price and I decided to buy the mosaic and the travertine stone that went with it. This was maybe in January or February with the idea that it would be done in April. 
     After a few weeks, I ordered a couple of larger pieces and was quite shocked at how different it looked from the 4"x 4" sample. I wasn't sure how it would turn out or even if  I would like it. Travertine is a soft limestone that is formed underground by rivers and hot springs. It is known for the pits and holes in its surface.  I did not know this until I had already purchased it!  My first thought when I saw it was, "It looks like it has a disease!" It had been a spur of the moment purchase, and I was having some buyer's remorse.. When I brought my concerns up to Todd, he assured me that they would fill in the pits and the holes with grout. There was a choice between gray and brown, and Jamie showed me a finished tile with both colors. I chose the gray. Below you will see the tile in its natural form (which my friend, Kelly, loves and wants to do her kitchen in the travertine after seeing mine in it unfinished form), and you can see pictures of the finished floor. Since it is a natural stone with a porous surface it will need to be sealed periodically in its lifetime, but, on the other hand, it should last a lifetime too. For trivia buffs: Travertine stone was used to build the coloseum in Rome--look how long that has lasted!

The natural state of Travertine stone

Natural Travetine stone

Travertine with grout