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What went into designing the Carpartment?

First of all, focusing on the main usage of the building was key.  A lot of discussion went into ours, before we even bought our land.  We knew we wanted it to have plenty of space for cars, that was most important to us.  The living space was important as well, but that design became important after we figured out how many cars we wanted to fit into our space.  We also knew we wanted a separate space for lawn equipment and any machines that would make a mess.  We just didn’t want unwanted extra dirt in the space with the cars.  So, a shed was built onto the back of the building that simply has a pedestrian door to go into, otherwise it is completely closed off from the garage area.  So our plans were plenty of space for cars and a somewhat small space for living!

Some people ask, where did you get the floor plan for the carpartment?  We didn’t actually get a floor plan.  My husband, Brian drew up the rough plan.  He is an engineer and he simply drew it up in autocad, or a program similar to that.  We sat down and looked at the plans he drew up and made changes and tweaked it along the way.  Since it is only 1,100 square feet and a one bedroom, it isn’t that complex.  We wanted to have more of an open floor plan with the living room and kitchen flowing into the other.  There were certainly challenges with doing the plans ourselves.  We tried to have some forethought on how doors should open, where lights and light switches should be, etc.  For the most part, it all turned out mostly the way we wanted, but there were some additions and changes during the building process.  To begin with, we simply didn’t have enough closet space in the design.  We only realized that once we moved into the one bedroom apartment, in between the sale of our house and the completion of the carpartment.  Looking back, that was a complete blessing, because it allowed us to take some ideas from that small space and implement it into the carpartment.  We quickly realized that a coat closet and a linen closet were going to be necessary.  Brian even decided to put a walk in closet in the design for me, with him having a separate smaller closet.  That isn’t something we had at either of our past houses, we have always shared a closet, but I have to tell you, I love having my own walk in closet!!!  The way the bedroom is designed and framed, the walk in closet will be removed, once we build the house and move out of the carpartment space.  The bedroom will become a heated and cooled garage space with a 2 post lift.

garage floorplan

Brian also drew out where all of the plugs and lights were to go.  This was a bit of a challenge and we had a few discussions with our electrician.  He had some helpful ideas and kept us on track with codes rules, but in some cases, he just didn’t understand our vision and wants.  In the end, we got everything we wanted, except for one less pendent light in the kitchen, which was no big deal.  He had wired them all without giving enough space for the wrap around portion of the kitchen cabinets.  The box was simply pulled out and the drywall guys patched over it.  And due to us just not knowing better, we ended up with those non-tamper style electrical plugs, which I hate!!!  I honestly thought those were a codes thing now, but since regular ones are still sold at Home Depot, I think that likely isn’t the case.  We don’t have kids, so no one would be shoving something in the plug that they shouldn’t.  Those are some of the most annoying plugs ever!  They do get easier to use, the more you use them, I guess they get broken in.

I do believe that having floor plans to look at and get ideas from is helpful.  It is also helpful that Brian and I are both visually minded people, so we could visualize everything along the way, while making changes or decisions on something.  This has been a long and sometimes exhausting process.  I am so thankful that all of that is behind us and now we can focus on getting everything the way we want it.  Then we can get to working on our project cars, which is really what we want to be doing!

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Carpartment Update

I know some of you are curious about what is going on with the carpartment these days.  I have been so busy for the last month with getting the last inspections completed, packing, moving, etc. that I haven’t had time to keep up the blog posts.  I am sorry for the lapse in time and information.

So here is an update…we are officially moved in, we received a temporary certificate of occupancy a couple of weeks ago and last week, we received the official certificate of occupancy from the county.  The temporary electric has been disconnected and we are officially on a regular meter now.  We still have a row of boxes lined up in the garage that have to be unpacked, but we are starting to get settled into the living space.

In the last couple of weeks, Brian has been finishing up the baseboards and trim around the doors.  He has also installed shelving for both of our closets and for the coat closet and pantry.  I have been puttying the baseboards/door frames and painting them.  I still have a lot to finish with those.  We still have some drywall work, that is in process, that is preventing Brian from finishing the baseboards and one door frame in the living room.  The excavating around the building is complete and the septic tank and field lines are all covered up and functioning now.  We had to put out seed and straw in order for the groundwater department to approve our final inspection.  Unfortunately, it immediately rained after it was put out, so we have very little new grass coming up, at this point.

Bathroom

Close up of Tile

Closet

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Once we get the living space complete, then the work on the garage space can begin.  The first item up will be lighting.  We chose to go with all LED lights in the living space and we will be doing the same in the garage.  Brian will be wiring the garage himself, the electrician put in an extra panel box, specifically for all of our extra needs in the garage.

It is truly exciting to finally be moved into the living space and I will share a lot more about that another time.  Gotta go for now, I have more unpacking to do!!!

 

Epoxy Floors

One thing we knew that would be a must in the carpartment is epoxy floors in the garage space.  We always meant to put epoxy on the garage floor at our last house, but never did.  The reason why is, we were rushed to move in and once you have things in the garage, it is so difficult to get the motivation to empty it.  Plus the floor needs time to dry which means you have to put your belongings somewhere in the meantime.  Lucky for us, at this point in our build, this go around, several cars are the only thing that we had to move.  It was tough for us to leave the cars outside, since they are typically always garage kept, but it is only short term.

Researching epoxy products was a long process for us.  We went back and forth between having the floors professional done and doing them ourselves.  The biggest concern was making sure that it held up, because moving everything out to redo them later, isn’t really an option that we want to entertain.  They are so many do it yourself products out there and some seem good and some seem horrible, based on reviews.  After doing tons of research, we decided that 100% solid epoxy was the best option.  This seems to be the most durable type of epoxy.  One thing people comment about, as a complaint on epoxy floors, is hot tires sticking to the floor and peeling it up.  That isn’t supposed to happen as easily on 100% solid epoxy floors.  Only time will tell, but we feel comfortable about the choice in products.

After making the decision on what we were looking for in a product, we found a local contractor who has been doing floors since 1998.  We met with him and discussed all of our concerns.  The company has a lifetime warranty on the floor and are even able to do patch work if the need ever arises.  We finally decided that having a professional do it was the way to go.  That meant the only prep work we needed to do was to get the garage area cleaned out and move all of the cars out.

A far as color choices for epoxy go there are tons of color options, but Brian wanted a medium grey with no color flakes.  The color flakes make it impossible to find something if you drop it.  And since a lot of cars will be worked on in this garage space, no flakes seemed like the way to go.

The most important tip on epoxy floors is the way the floor is prepped is the most important step of the process.  The way it was explained to us, there are two methods of getting the epoxy to adhere properly, either chemically or physically.  With the chemical method, of course chemicals are applied in order to open up the concrete to absorb the epoxy.  With the physical method, they basically sand the entire floor to allow the product to adhere.  With the size of our garage space, that would have taken much longer.  The obstacle we had was getting a water supply for the flooring crew.  Luckily we had already had our water line ran to the living space, it just isn’t attached yet.  So our plumber was able to put a spigot on the water line to enable them to have running water to rinse off the chemical they applied to prepare the floor.

What we have now is a super shiny epoxied floor!  We are hopeful that we will get years of use and they it will stay looking good.  So now when one of our lovely cars marks it’s territory, we will be able to wipe it right up without the aid of brake parts cleaner!

How to Keep Sub-Contractors in Line

Having anything built is a long process and when you decide to be the general contractor on the project, the process is even longer!  The pole barn itself we hired a company to build, but all of the finish work on the inside, I have managed.  Learning and following all of the building codes rules is one thing, but keeping all the subs in cue and in line is another thing entirely.  Our area is booming like crazy, middle Tennessee is one of the fastest growing areas in the country.  Because of that, the subs are extremely busy and you throw weather in the mix and it can delay things even more.  Pretty much every sub-contractor we have hired has gotten behind schedule on other projects, which makes them behind schedule on our as well.  We have used all local subs, some owning their own small companies and that has been helpful and cost effective mostly.

Managing their time hasn’t been the most stressful part, getting what we ask for has.  We have planned and planned and tried to be as specific as possible with the various subs and there is always something that turns out wrong.  The best way we have stayed on top of this is to always check their work.  It has been things like a board not in the right place on the framing, a pipe in the wrong place on the plumbing, a light switch not in the right place, gravel not quite where we wanted it in the driveway.  The items have been relatively simply fixes, but they take time and extra trips for the subs.  I feel like staying on top of the work, along is the way, is critical to getting it built the way you want it.

One of the main reasons we approached this build the way we did is so we can be onsite when we eventually build the house.  If we are already living on the property, then we can keep an eye on things and make sure they are going as planned.

I sometimes feel like work ethic comes into play, it seems in some cases the worker is trying to see what they can get by with.  They just want to do the bare minimum and move on.  This is usually the workers that work for the various subs, that I see doing this.  I understand that they need some help to get all of the jobs done and I bet it is truly hard to find good workers, for any of the trade fields.

The truth is that no one is as particular about your build as you are yourself.  But when you are the one spending your hard earned money on it, then you want it to be right.

My last thoughts, most of the subs have been great to work with and regardless I am very thankful to them for the efforts they have made.  Some of them have went above and beyond and they are truly a rare breed!

Next week, we will talk about epoxy floors!!!

Hardworking Examples

This weeks blog post is a little different than what I have posted thus far, so bare with me…

Over the weekend, Brian had to rework some of the framing of the carpartment, for various reasons.  He also had to install some plywood to the attic space for the HVAC to sit on.  He and I both, put forth some manual labor and grunt work.  While we were there working on it, I started thinking about my Mom and Dad and the great example of hard work and effort that they showed me growing up.

My Mom and Dad built the house that I grew up in, with their own two hands.  They had some help from family members and friends who pitched in on weekends, but it was mostly the two of them that built it.  It took years to complete, but they did and my Mom still lives in that house today.  At first they built a basement only, you couldn’t even see that a house was there from the road, it had a flat roof.  We lived in that basement for years, before the second story was built.  They built what they could afford, saved up and then finally built the second story.  The above picture is of my Dad sitting on the edge of that flat basement roof, when he had just started framing the walls.  I can remember seeing them both working their tails off on it.  My Mom did just as much manual labor as my Dad.  I remember seeing her swing a hammer or carry things that took the strength of a man to carry, but it didn’t stop her!  She was just as determined and hardworking as my Dad, to get the house done.  This weekend while Brian and I were shoving heavy 3/4 plywood, into the attic space of our carpartment, I couldn’t help but see that image of my parents from years ago.

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Brian cutting plywood for the HVAC unit to sit on

Growing up, I was no stranger to doing work that was better suited for boys.  I was an only child and my Dad believed strongly in making me tough.  So my parents made me do a few manual labor jobs, on the build of the house.  I remember having to pull up nails with a hammer, out of the wood on that flat roof, once the exterior of the upstairs was complete.  I remember hating every minute of it, but they still made me do it!  They always worked extremely hard, my Mom still works hard!  We lost my Dad in 2007, but his work ethic is something that I will always remember.  To have such hardworking role models as parents, growing up was such a blessing and I am extremely grateful, even though I hated it as a child.

Even though, Brian and I have sought out the professionals to handle most of this build.  I feel very proud that when something needs to be handled or re-worked, that we jump in and do it.  I will say, that we have it way easier these days, because we can look up how to do things online, even watch videos if need be.  My parents had to just figure it out or ask someone how.  I sometimes wish my Dad was still around, so we could draw from his knowledge, but we will just keep working through the process, day by day.  Each day we get closer and closer to having a finished carpartment!