Monday, June 30, 2014


Madalynn's life has been made. A very respectful, well-spoken, sparkly princess!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tips For Choosing A Builder

When we began looking for a builder, we knew we needed to choose someone that fit us in multiple ways. We also knew that we needed to be a good fit for the builder. Balance.

Here are some things we considered when choosing which builders to meet with and get quotes from:

  • The aesthetic of the house. Who has built houses like this before? They need to share in our vision with us. 
  • Size and budget. Who builds houses in this price range? It is no secret that some builders have a "standard" their homes must meet before they will build. We knew our dream wouldn't match those of home builders on Hilton Head Island. We are not trying to build an oceanfront mansion. We needed to find a builder that would treat my dream as if it were an oceanfront mansion.
  • Reputation. When you live in a small town and your family has been in the home building industry for over 25 years, reputation is everything. We turned to our friends in the mortgage/real estate/construction field to scope out reputations of builders that may be interested in our dream. 
  • Word of mouth. The best builders may not advertise the most. Advertising has nothing to do with quality of work. Talk to those you trust that have walked in your shoes or watched others walk through these same shoes. 
So we now had a small group of builders we were ready to meet with. (I suggest meeting with 2-4 builders after doing your research.) We invited them out to the lot one at a time. We showed them the land (it was already cleared).  We shared our vision with them. We asked them questions. They asked us questions. We talked for a while. We asked for quotes, shook hands, and parted ways. Full on interview status out the back of a pickup truck!

What made us go with the builder we chose?

  • He told me no! He told me no in the first five minutes of meeting him. How dare he! jk. I need someone that will tell me no. He is not afraid to tell us when something isn't worth worrying about or questioning. He is not afraid to tell us when our choices are not logical and why. 
  • Reputation. This builder came highly recommended from multiple people we have worked with in the past. He offered us references of past clients on our first visit. 
  • Budget.
  • Timeline. He gets that we want in the house yesterday, but he also knows what is possible and realistic.
  • Availability. This builder isn't too small or too big. He's not pounding pavement looking for work. He is not overbooked. He knows boundaries. 
  • Ability to communicate. This one was huge for us. This builder responded to our emails in less than an hour. This builder answered the phone when we called. This builder found answers when we didn't know.
  • A simple gut feeling. It felt right. Our personalities matched. 

Let's hope I have all of these nice things to say at the end of the next five months! We will. We will.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Perfection and a Let-Down

Yesterday morning I was out running errands while MMB was at soccer camp. I had five minutes to spare before Ulta opened, so I ran into Marshall's to check out their home items. Let me say this... I never go into Marshall's. I can't tell you the last time I've been. However, OMG! Their home items are amazeballs. It's like a mini Home Goods in the back of the store! I was impressed. Needless to say, I have a feeling I will frequent this store for this section much more in the next six months.

Our kitchen in the new house will have an island with a counter height bar. I chose this because I wanted more working counter space and I am liking how the counter height bars look these days. Here is a picture of our kitchen. That entire island will be counter height.

So I'm thinking I want three bar stools for the island. Obviously I will need counter height bar stools. 

Here's where Marshall's comes in.

Look at this counter height bar stool:

SWOON! It's gray (so is my kitchen island cabinets). The four legs and three of the "foot rests" are light wood (my wood floors are pine). The front "foot rest" is stainless silver (so are my appliances and hardware). 


And, Dude, it was only $129! The ones I have been looking at in various places online are $300+ each. 

I snapped a photo. Texted it to Jesse. He approved in a roundabout kind of way.

*Insert let-down and pouty eyes here* They only had one. I need three. 

UGH! I'm on the hunt. If you happen to go to Home Goods, Marshalls, or TJ Maxx in the next couple of days and see any of these, call me. I know where to find one (me and my new friend at Marshall's have a deal that she is going to hide this as long as she can for me in hopes I find two more), but I need three! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We've Been Signed!

Signs are up! We've been branded by our builder.

No fill dirt yesterday as I mentioned. I'm going to chalk that up as weather. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stakes and Jesse's Weekend Fling

*Let me make a disclaimer. All of these posts are my interpretation and understanding of the technicalities of all of the building lingo and logistics as told to me. Feel free to correct  educate me if I misspeak.*

Last week the surveyor laid out the stakes for the lot. They mark the corners of the house and also the exterior walls of the first floor.

Below is a picture of the lot with stakes. Act excited, okay? I know this doesn't look like much, but it means we're doing more than playing with dirt, trees, and stumps!

The stakes without blue flags mark the outside corners of the house. The stakes with the blue flags mark exterior walls. The blue flag marks the grading. It shows how high we need to build up the foundation of the house. So dirt will be compacted to reach those blue flags and then the foundation will be poured on top of that (which I understand is about another four inches). See:

So that fill dirt should begin being delivered TODAY! *insert happy dance here*

Remember how I just told you a couple days ago about my husband's relationship with the backhoe? Remember how I said it was over? I was wrong!

Thursday night Jesse, MMB, and I went out to take a look at the stakes that were put up and "visualize" our house with wall markings. 

Side note: Let me say that these surveyors should leave a note for women after inserting stakes. The note should say something like, STAKES MAKE ROOMS APPEAR SMALLER. DON'T FREAK UNTIL YOUR HOUSE IS FRAMED. I mean, really. I felt like I was standing in my kitchen and could almost Inspector Gadget my arm all the way across the house to my fireplace. Jesse swears I won't feel that way when the house is framed. He better be right. 

I began telling about us going to the lot on Thursday night to tell you this... The dirt man happened to come check the lot Thursday evening to make sure it was ready for fill dirt on Monday morning as scheduled. Well, he found one tree root that Jesse left on the property. This tree root was within the stakes. He told Jesse he could not bring in any dirt until that root was removed. The dirt man said it would not pass inspection and would cause us foundational problems in the future. 

So, guess what?! Jesse now had weekend plans. He had to remove the tree root by Monday morning without touching the stakes because we needed to stay on schedule and we did not want to repay the surveyor to come out and restake the property. Back to the backhoe he went. 

BUT, the backhoe's clutch is broken. The backhoe (owned by his Father) is currently out of commission until the clutch is fixed. 

Jesse called the local machine/tractor rental company first thing Friday morning to hopefully rent a backhoe for the day on Saturday. (The man that owns the local machine/tractor rental company will be one of our new neighbors. Amazing man. Amazing family. Amazing company.) No backhoes were available for our last minute need. But, they searched and found Jesse something similar that would do what he needed. A trackhoe. 

A trackhoe is a backhoe on steroids, in my book. A trackhoe is an army tanker on the bottom and the biggest claw I've ever seen on top. See:

Needless to say, Jesse spent his weekend with his new love affair. He removed the tree stump without touching a stake and I believe he did more projects with this thing as long as he had it available. Good thing this love affair was short and sweet and was already picked up this morning! 

Fill dirt should begin today! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Fly-Ty Retreat

This house has been in the works for a long while. We sold our second house about two years ago. We sold because we knew that our next step was to build a house, our forever house. It was a dream we hoped would come to fruition.

So, you can bet we've been searching house plans and blue prints for years. My favorite place to peruse (for hours and hours each night) was Southern Living House Plans. I searched here because I knew I wanted a Southern, Lowcountry home. This site has so many plans you can get lost in the shuffle, but once you know what size and type of house you are looking for the search becomes manageable.

Our musts were: Lowcountry facade, 2000-2250 sq. ft, three bedrooms, two and a half baths, no bathtub in the master bathroom, open-concept, and a fireplace. Specific, but attainable.

Jesse and I had a top five that we constantly referred back to. We hadn't yet fallen in love, however. One night we revisited a house we liked at the very beginning of our dreaming... It had all of our musts. It was everything we wanted, but not out of our realm of possibility.

We fell in LOVE with the Fly-Ty Retreat from Southern Living!

It was "the one", but it wasn't perfect. There were a couple of things we wanted to change. We wanted to reverse the house, enclose the covered porch and make it a den (which now has the house at 2100 sq. ft.), not have two doors on the front of the house, and pull out the laundry room door to be flush with the hall. That's not too much to ask, right?

Would Southern Living let us make changes?

Would we buy plans from Southern Living or would we need to go to an architect?

After consulting our builder (another post for another day), we decided to buy the plans from Southern Living if they made the changes for us. They did! We worked with Southern Living's architect out of Minnesota. They sent us proofs for approval, worked quickly, and catered to our needs. Southern Living had us full sets of digital plans within about two weeks. We were happy and content.

The home is now "the one" AND it is perfect!

I would work with Southern Living again. It was expensive, but they got us what we needed in a professional and timely manner. The only thing we had to do that we wouldn't have had to do if we were to work with a local architect was to take them to get approved from engineers familiar with our local building codes.

Here is a sneak at our upstairs and downstairs with changes made! What do you think?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Boy and His Backhoe

Jesse cleared our lot. He has been diligently working on this since October'ish of 2013. Jesse and his Dad spent days upon days from sun-up to sun-down working with tractors, chainsaws, and who knows what else clearing what was once a forest of trees and shrubbery. The lot is now cleared for building!

Here are some pictures of this boy and his backhoe! You will notice he had a cute little chickadee visit him and supervise often.


I'm proud of my boy. For a while there he had a love affair with this backhoe... I'm glad I don't have to share him anymore with this yellow beast! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

What's in a Name?

I chose (after much deliberation from some of my favorite people) to name this blog... The Bakers' Bluff!

Obviously my lil' family is The Bakers.

The road we are building our house on is called Bellinger Bluff.

Hence, The Bakers' Bluff!

I will say, however, that my mother and sister came up with some amazing ideas when I asked them for help naming this blog. I will give you one quick glimpse into where our conversation went... my favorite (inappropriate) blog name was, I Own This Shit! Bahahahaha. Classic.

I'm Writing a Blog!

Hey Y'all,

I'm writing a blog. Did you hear me?! I'm writing a blog!!!

I am writing a blog about building a house, my house.

I was introduced to the world of blogging by a friend a few years back and I now have quite a lengthy Feedly read each night. I am not a reader. Well, I am a first grade teacher that teaches reading all day and am also almost done with my Masters in Literacy, but I'm not a big reader of literature for fun. Never have been. I thoroughly enjoy my silent moments of Feedly each night, however. (Don't know what Feedly is? Email me. It is life-changing if you are an avid blog reader.)

This same friend reminded me the other day... I sent monthly emails during my pregnancy and weekly/monthly emails during my daughter's first years of life. Why didn't I blog then? I don't think I knew blogging existed then or else I could have spent less time in the "TO" field in my frequent Baby Baker emails.

So, here I am... blogging. Blogging about building a house from the ground up. Well, maybe I should say from the "forest" up since there wasn't ground to be seen when we began this journey.

I am going to share our new learning with you. I am going to share our mistakes with you. I am going to share our process, timeline, and choices with you. I am ready to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Cross your fingers. Say a prayer. We should be in our home in November. *SHOULD* is the key word here. I want to be in in October. I better be in by December.

I look forward to sharing this experience with you. I will give you some things we have already done/learned/did wrong in the next couple days. Cuz... we already started!!!!

Want a sneak peak at the house?