BLOG - Our House Building Journey from Beginning to End!

Journey to Build a House - Follow my Husband, Ryan and I through our New Home build! Follow us #stawskibuildadventures
Feb 25, 2018 - House at Lock-up Stage! Doors and Windows installed!
      Picture from first day of framing for the foundation footings(behind us)! Nov 30, 2017

Ryan and I would like to welcome you to this blog to document and share our house building experience!  A little backstory - we met in 2005 after graduating high school and fell in love; 6 years later in 2011 we got married and joined our large families forever!

We never planned to build a house; it was never even a dream or thought; but after living in our first home for 6 years and working at fixing it up the appeal of new began.  We didn't think we could manage a new build, but after searching the market for a home to purchase and coming up dry every-time again new seemed more and more tempting - especially for Ryan. He saw the potential and thought we could swing it financially. Lucky for us my brother and sister-in-law had just built new 2 years earlier so we had some first hand advice and info watching them go through the experience.

Fall 2016
From there the research really began. We started looking at lots and dreaming about what we could potentially build. After finding a beautiful lot on York road and sitting down with our current builder - we discovered we did not have a budget for the beautiful large post and beam home with the lot facing the river....reality started there! We felt discouraged after falling in love with the lot and thinking this was it! The challenges of that particular lot - plus the unrealistic plans we had for what we would build took us backward for awhile. We needed some time to think about what we really wanted and where our priorities were. 
We found and explored the lots on Leeming Rd in the Stories Beach area and while we didn't quite fall in love we both really like the area and I'm quite familiar with it since I grew up not 5 min away! The lots were covered in bush and trees - so very difficult to envision what might become of the lot and neighbourhood - but in time we figured this was it. 
March/April 2017 - Whirlwind
We made an offer on the lot after doing a lot of ground work with our builder and realizing we could afford to build a house that would suit us well. Our offer was accepted! But this was just the first step! We spent the month researching septic systems, working on getting financing for the purchase of the lot, drawing up plans with an architect for our new home so we could really draw up a budget and work on affordability. We prepped our old house for sale along with help from many family and friends! Listed the house for sale with help from an agent within my office, scheduled viewings on the house, had multiple offers come in and settled a deal on the old house which would complete and have us moved out in 5 weeks by the first week of May! 

Here is one of the copies of the new house plan from April - this is where we were at. Progress at this stage was slow - but we were close - everything changed a great deal from here thou:


May - Nov 2017 WAITING............
At this point we had moved out of our home and been lucky enough to have family to stay with while our new adventure of building a home came true! We had now purchased the lot and had a partial mortgage on the land with interest only payments. We thought we would be moving along in a month or so as we were waiting for engineering to approve our plans and once that is done we also had to wait for our permit to come through from the Strathcona Regional District. We knew this would take time, but had no idea it could take months! There was other things happening behind the scenes as well - builder was working on mapping out the house for electrical, heating ... and who knows what else!
This was definitely the most difficult time for us.  It felt like endless waiting and we started to feel hopeless at this point. We were homeless and living with family which was great - but it was difficult knowing that we weren't making progress. We did use this time to pick all of our plumbing (faucets, toilets, bathtubs) which took A LOT of time! We spent a great deal of time researching and learning about different options for heating, siding, roofing, you name it we were looking into and researching it.

Above: Our lot! Excavator was in digging the hole for the foundation. To the right is a brand new house taking shape on the neighbouring lot.

This day was magical! Beautiful blue skies and even a little sunshine peaking through the clouds. We finally broke ground!! Our excitement could not be contained and we felt like maybe... finally... we would actually have a home of our own again soon. It started to feel like ours - when we drove by, or walked through the lot, it felt like home... there is no residence - no structure, but all the feels are there. We already love it.
Above: Few Days later...Footings for the foundation put in place!
This was a super exciting day. At this point we could actually see the layout of our house on the ground. This was really cool - to actually walk through the house... in the ground! It was fun though - when they dug the hole we felt like it was huge - way to big for our house. However once we step in the hole and walked around the footings to see the layout it felt tiny! Ryan was worried about the size and it was difficult to imagine at this point what the size would actually look like in the end? Was our living room tiny?! So hard to know. We assured ourselves that we trusted the architect - and we had done our homework on the room sizes - so there was nothing to worry about!
December 2017
Things are now taking shape and we are getting excited! 
Watching the house come up from the ground is a very 
surreal thing to see. We've been waiting so long and its 
just such a relief each day to see progress happen.

Above: Footings put in and really shows the shape of the house.

It took most of December to complete the foundation. We had some weather delays due to lots of rain and then we also had snow as well! Mid-December we also had another fun exciting day! Our builder set up meetings for us with a few suppliers of items for the house. We were scheduled to meet the builder at Windsor Plywood for doors, and hardware then off to Island Overhead Doors to pick out a garage door and then to Van Isle Windows to pick our windows! We were a little worried about this day because we weren't really knowing what we wanted for these choices and we were concerned that we would have trouble making the choices. Another reason to have a builder you TRUST! He was really able to narrow down the options and help us make choices within our budget and style.

January 2018 - This is the year we MOVE into our new house!!!
Yes!! It's true - 2018 is here and this will be the year we move into our new house! We are beyond excited to be here and to be seeing progress! With the foundation complete and perimeter drains in place we were ready for backfill - where they put the dirt back in place around the foundation of the house! This is a big step - basically the first step complete!
This is also the "First Draw" on the construction mortgage - which is overwhelming! This invloves having an appraisal done and then going through a few steps with the bank to get payment to the builder.  If you have questions about the construction mortgage process please feel free to contact me! It can be a little complicated - but luckily we have a great local contacts who have been so helpful in getting everything sorted step by step!
Now that the land was flattened out we could really see what our property looked like and how the footprint of the house fit in the space. Was neat to see! 
Next was to get the bottom of the crawlspace skim coated. Below you can see the whole foundation after they skim coated the bottom.

January was a tough month for me fighting a sinus infection.
 I went out to the lot this day while feeling crappy and just wanted 
to see if anything was happening and check out progress and 
was shocked and super excited to see a floor!! I instantly 
felt better! When I arrived the workers were already  gone, 
so I got out of the car - and proceeded to dance around excited 
on this new floor - hopefully the neighbours don't think I'm crazy!

Once the floor was down they wasted no time at all getting 
the framing up. Picture 3 below was the first week of framing 
- first floor all framed! Bottom pic is two days into the following 
week - final days of January and they are well into the second 
floor. Over the weekend Ryan and I walked through the first 
floor and absolutely fell in love with the house. Love the 
layout and are super happy with how it is coming together! Can't 
wait for a roof! Hopefully the roof trusses are ready and waiting!

February 2018 - Amazing Changes!
Things this month have been moving right along! 
For the first couple weeks things were changing so
fast it felt amazing! Seeing progress everyday was 
just wonderful and we really felt more and more 
like this was OUR house! At end of January we 
were ready for Trusses and we were praying that 
we wouldn't have to wait long!  
~Building homes in Campbell River right now is in high demand and therefore it everything is in demand! Including the truss company!! Quite often due to high demand they are running short on time and trusses end up being behind schedule... which can be very frustrating for all!~
Seeing the trusses go up was amazing! We have been going to the house almost everyday at this point since so much progress had been made things were changing daily! This day we turned the corner onto the street and saw the crane truck lifting the trusses onto the roof!!! We cheered! It was a big moment we'd been waiting for! Everyone wants a roof! Once they got the trusses up we could really see the roofline - we actually had to pull out the house plans so we could figure out where everything would be and what we were looking at! The more we go and the more we look at it - the more we see the final product and how it will look.  Still loving it!
It may seem like every post is just me saying how exciting this moment was... that moment was.... but it is! Every time we see progress we get so excited and it is such a big deal! We are one more step closer to our home! With that said there is stress - a lot of it! Right now the stress is budget and money... of course. Since getting the roof one we have had windows and doors installed and are now at Lock Up Stage - this is where we get a bank appraisal and then have draw on our construction mortgage to pay the builder! This and bank appointments and trying to stay on budget with choices is a bit difficult at this stage. We are seeing extras that we would like - and when you look at things like concrete - ok - we have a 10'x10' patio pad of concrete - not very big - we can add more... $1,000 extra - no big deal. Farmhouse sink - instead of normal, $1,000, woodstove overbudget, hood range over budget... and you see what I mean... before you know it your at $10,000 over and don't know how to move forward! We are making some tough choices and it is what you have to do in any situation.... Do I go for the house over budget with more value, the cheaper house I can fix up... might still go over budget... compromises always must be made... but you must chose the right ones! It's not always easy and fun! We are making it through day by day; one choice at a time!


Showing my youngest niece around the house so she can see where sleepovers with Auntie will be!


Lock Up Day! Windows and doors installed! Feb 25, 2018!

March 2018 - And I thought February was exciting.....

Another amazing and exciting month! Coming along nicely and feels like we  actually have a house now! Just not quite a home yet! Progress has been steady and the neighbourhood is coming together! We are budding in an old neighbourhood but this street was near fully developed until now; so there are many homes on the street being built at the same time. Our neighbour's have moved into their home now and the neighbouring lot on the other side of us has started building. We were a little disappointed to hear that they are building another big 2 story house beside us - we are just hoping it doesn't block too much light coming into our place! So Far so Good! Nothing we can do about it - so just have to forget about it!


Here we are March 20th, 2018 First Day of Spring!!
We are so excited to see siding going up! We have smart lap siding on the bottom and a vinyl shake on the top and we are loving the look. Very country. 
Things inside are also coming along with showers installed and plumbing, electrical and heating all roughed in we are getting close to drywalling time! Which also means time to pick our lighting! My brother warned me this was a tough task - and boy was he right!
Here is some of the lighting we liked while out shopping the other day - with that said the prices were shocking... so nothing was purchased yet!

April 2018 - Time to Start Inside!

Well here we are April 10 and it is starting to feel like spring a little more everyday! We are getting eager and excited to get into our house this year - and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!


Drywalling is happening now and we are seeing the house truly transform before us! We went in over the last weekend and couldn't believe our eyes. It was warm and dry inside, drywall was all hung and the rooms felt like a house now... for the first time we couldn't see through the walls! We had concerns that once we got to this stage the house would feel closed in and small... but that was NOT the case thank goodness! The downstairs is very open concept and because of that we had to have some beams arcross the ceiling for pipes and the "guts" of the house to go through and hold up the second floor - we also had concerns of how these would look - but again - we trusted our builder and they turned out to look great!

Just a little side note that Evernote is amazing!
It is an app to use instead of Notes and keeps everything sorted nicely - you can add pictures, links and everything that you need! This is where I screenshot pics of lighting, flooring, things I think of on the run for the house.. that way I can keep all my "house thoughts" in one place where I can easily reference them or go back to them. You can set reminders and so much more I'm sure I don't even use. This app has been a must have for me in this build.

April 25th today and WOW - what a beautiful day it was! 23 degrees out, sun shining all day! I even took an hour to answer emails and book some showings on my laptop outside catching some rays.

Last week my hubby and I went out of town to visit friends and it had been over a week since we'd dropped by the house! We expected a lot of progress when we got back to town... however when we arrived back and took a walk through the house - progress was not what we saw. Sometimes when building progress is not always seen ... sometimes things are happening in the background and behind the scenes. Sometimes the contractors are working on another house that they have to finish before they can come paint your house! It's frustrating... but staying patient is always required! 
Took a walk through the house yesterday and took some pictures of the progress... there is some progress! Drywalling has taken along time but it is coming along now and we should see paint on the walls soon! Even with just drywall up there are a few things I already love about the house... my Ensuite id one of them!! The design phase took quite of but of revision to make this ensuite everything I wanted! There was no way that a separate soaker tub and full size shower would fit... but somehow we made it happen... and I love it! A Last minute addition was the skylight - something I've always wanted but didn't think we could afford! Turns out skylights aren't that costly, and they are so worth it - I love the light that they bring in - and my only regret will be not having more of them! 

May 2018 - 1 Year Later!

May 5th went by this week before I even knew it was here! 
Is it really MAY?! One year ago is when we packed up the old house into storage and handed the keys off to its new owners! 
This weekend went by so quick! The market for Real Estate is in full force with the weather improving by the day - and that means I have been busier than normal! I worked most of this weekend which didn't leave much time for blog posts on the 1 year anniversary of being out of our house! Ryan and I did make time today before he headed off to work to meet our tile installer and discuss tile installation! Tile installation begins tomorrow!!
Our Septic system is also slotted to be installed tomorrow! Looking forward to seeing that completed as its a big tick off the list of things to do!
YUP! Thats paint on the wall! Cape Cod Grey... and I'm loving it!
We were nervous to pick a colour and once we picked this our builder suggested we get one wall painted so we can see how it looks on. We did so and loved it. Now the whole house is painted this colour and I'm very happy with it and can't wait to see it with the house all put together! 

With things moving right along this week I will try to increase Blog posts to keep up to date! Even now it's fun for me looking back at the beginning of the blog so re-read the experiences.  So many things have happened. Thanks for coming along on this journey with us!  Cheers!

May 14th
Mother's Day over the weekend was busy busy as usual! Ryan and I made dinner for our families which was lovely and we had a great time! The days are longer now that spring is in full swing but somehow everything still doesn't fit into a day sometimes! We keep thinking we are done making choices... and then we have to make another decision. We are feeling pretty tapped out this last couple weeks - mentally tired. We are ready to move in and settle down... One day!
Last week we did have some excitement though - the Septic system arrived and was installed which was a big step forward. We also had tile installer arrive on site and start the tiling of the bathrooms and woodstove area! We are going to the house everyday - sometimes more than once a day - we've been taking some friends and family through to see whats going on which is fun. This week more flooring is set to go down which we are very excited to see done. It feels more like home every time we go - its harder to leave every time too!

End of May 2018 - Don't let anyone fool you!

This process can be looooonng and difficult. Some days are good some days are downright tough to get through. The decision making is exhausting ... and every-time you think your done choosing... it's time to choose something else. We are so done with the build - and "over it" in a way. We just want to move on - it feels like we are stuck here... building - feels like a rut now. 
With all that said I'm sure it will be a very rewarding process and that we will be so glad we decided to stick it out and do this. I'm hoping we will be able to enjoy this house for many years to come and hoping that we will love every bit of it... but only time will tell! Until then - it's day by day moving through this process - and swallowing every new delay hoping this will be the last one. 
Something worth noting here is that we did choose a custom house - we drew the plans with an architect making this process alot more difficult than if you were to say buy a home from a builder that can be customized to your liking - or even buy land and choose a builder who has complete plans ready to go for you. The fact that we chose to start from sctrach made everything a little more complicated - and made the process prior to breaking ground take a lot longer. 
If you are considering building a house I'd be happy to chat and help you to understand the process and what kind of timeline you could be looking at. 

The last few weeks have been trying - progress seems slow at the house - and it doesn't really "look" much different... so makes it hard when your not seeing a lot of progress - things are happening and we are getting closer ... this is what I tell myself so I can sleep! This week we should be seeing cabinets which we are very excited for - trim-work is mostly done and we are loving how finishing touches are looking. Flooring is also completed since my last post - and while there were some delays and adjustments to be made - we absolutely LOOOVE the flooring we chose. It works perfectly with the space and theme we had planned. Take a look and let me know what you think?!


Nearing the end of June!

Check out my update right from the house where you can take a look around with me and I show some of my favourite things happening now! Things are coming along - but still not quite there yet! Keep checking back!

We Made It! July 20th Move in Day!

We made it! July 20th was our move in day and its been a whirlwind of a month since then! We have been non-stop doing our own landscaping and fence install... along with unpacking, installing blinds, and enjoying life in our own custom home!!

The First Weekend in was time to install a Fence! We are so lucky to have help from friends and family to get this done in a matter of days! Both our neighbours are new construction as well - so we had all three sides of fence to tackle - alot of work! But it all came together!
Once the fence was done we moved onto the landscaping - we planned to level out the yard a little, lay sod down and be done... easy right?! NOT.... We borrowed a bobcat from a friend which broke down the first day - so we then rented one for a couple days - which turned into a week! But still sooo much cheaper than hiring someone to do the work. Luckily my brother has a history in landscaping so he came with a plan! He levelled the yard and then since it's mid-August and had been 30+ degrees out everyday we decided if we were going to get sod we needed a sprinkler system to keep it alive! So we started digging! 
After the yard was levelled and the piping was in for the sprinkler system it was time to put in a driveway! Bring on the dump truck loads of blue chip gravel! Then came the sod delivery and we were lucky to round up a handful of guys to help make an assembly line for the sod! We didn't think we could get it all installed in a day - but we did! We only planned to sod the backyard and deal with the front yard later - but we over ordered! So we've nearly finished the front as well!
See that rock in the front yard? YUP - that HUGE rock was dug out of the backyard and we managed to roll it with the bobcat all the way to the front yard - where it is now growing on us both :) We sodded around it and will hopefully power-wash it off one day to make it a little shiny and maybe put house numbers on it and solar lights? Any suggestions?

More to come soon!! I'll show you some of the inside - some of my favourite things & I'll share my favourite local companies we dealt with during this process!

Have you built a house before? How did it go? Any regrets... anything you'd do differently? There is so much to learn about the process and I feel like you can never know enough!

Thanks for coming back to keep up to date with #stawskibuildadventures! Appreciate all your support and feedback!

Questions about building? Looking for more detail on things I've mentioned? 

Contact me! ~ashleystawskirealtor~ on Facebook & Instagram


Email or Text/Call me 250-203-1980

Thanks for reading!

Ashley Stawski
Ashley Stawski
950 Island Highway Campbell River BC V9W 2C3