Building During COVID, 1 Star Do NOT Recommend

Posted by Amber Jensen on January 21, 2021

Building During COVID, 1 Star Do NOT Recommend

Building during COVID_19…1 STAR, DO NOT RECOMMEND


I know it’s been a while since I have had any updates! I think my heading says it all… We have actually made some good progress since my last post though. To skip ahead we are now finally dried in! Which means windows, exterior doors, roof and siding are done!


Now what all happened up until this point?! I left off with applying for permits and getting our site plan done by an engineer. Obviously, that has been approved and we were able to start clearing! The more we get into this process, I realize how exciting each step is! It’s hard to envision your home and landscaping when your property is covered with brush and trees. Our lot was covered with a lot of brush so we decided to clear most of it will replant this spring. We would have liked to leave more a buffer for privacy but there were also lots of dead/broken trees. It’s a bummer it will take longer to grow but will look so nice once they finally do!


Clearing property is both exciting and a little scary as you are venturing into unknown territory. Luckily for us our lot seemed to be pretty level but that’s about the beginning and end of any “luck” we would have! I try to stay positive and post mostly positive, but this is real life and building life and Covid life all rolled into one… My best advice to anyone attempting to build is a whole lot of patience and very low expectations, oh and make sure you have a good architect, this will save you time and money down the road. That has been our biggest regret so far.


So where did I leave off?! There is so much that went on in the last few months, it’s hard to remember it all and I’m sure I’m choosing not to remember it all! We got the lot cleared and staked out the placement of our house! The start of our vision coming to life! Seeing where the front door & porch will be and for the first time saw that had a peek-a-boo view is when things were really starting to feel real! You spend so much time planning and designing then redesigning and waiting and waiting then waiting again for permits you lose track that you will be starting your home, at least I did. It’s such a surreal moment when all that work pays off and you get to actually start building!


I don’t want to spend my time complaining, so I’ll keep it brief…


We poured our foundation, found out that it wasn’t right, again your architect makes a huge difference! Corrected that!


Lumber was delivered and our floor built then framing began! This is probably the most exciting part so far! Getting to see how all the rooms layout, getting an idea of sizes, and watch it become an actual home is so thrilling! The framing goes pretty quick so every day we would stop by and get to see more progress. Tip when designing your home: take window and door sizes into consideration. We went with 9 ft ceilings; windows should be at 8 ft especially if you do the 8ft doors. The larger and higher the windows are the grander appeal your house will have compared to standard size.


I can’t tell you how thankful we are that our framers were rock stars! Some of this part was a bit of a mess, I’m so happy they stuck it out with us! Framing is the time to make smallish changes i.e., making sure your windows and doors are correct, adding closets, moving some walls, etc. you obviously can’t make any structural changes but it’s your last chance to get it right! Some things we changed; note though you may need to revisit the engineer which means you are charged more and takes time. Ultimately it is worth it if it’s right though because it’s going to be a lot harder to change these after that fact, if at all. Some of the things we changed and corrected at framing:


We decided to have 8 ft doors instead of the standard 6’8” which meant we needed to change some of our windows to allow for egress (mostly the bedrooms) and make them the same height of 8 ft as well.

We also added a sliding door instead of a window in the master bedroom and what one of my favorite things we did a double slider in our family room! Which also meant we needed a much larger beam so we had to make the window above smaller and go back to engineering.

We changed some closets around and made a little more storage as well.

We have an oversized garage and had a beam in the middle of one of our garage bays which makes having a larger garage kinda pointless. After re-engineering (again) our beam being ordered wrong twice, on our dime non the less and a month long wait we were finally able to have the massive beam delivered which meant hiring a boom truck to lift it. After all that, the garage and bonus room was finally finished! We waited so long to see how it would all look and come together!

Another thing we had done was a 9ft opening for our single garage bay. Well after what we thought were our final plans our architect changed it back to 8 ft for some reason, this wasn’t caught before we poured the foundation so back to engineering and figuring that out. It ended up being an easier fix,  I need all the room pulling into the garage from past experience!


Making these decisions and changes while in the initial design process will save you time, money and stress! We have learned a lot during this process, and it’s a fact that unexpected circumstances will come up and of course expected ones will to! My biggest take from this so far is that not everything will turn out how you hoped or have been envisioning. You have to be flexible, and yes that is easier said than done as I’m still working on that… I’m told that when this is all over, you’ll forget most of it and love the finished product! I certainly hope that is true! I’ll let you know…


Next up, price increases from good ol “Covid”  that almost broke us, lighting design, exterior design and trying to pick out every detail!


This is our personal experience of building and I hope to share some helpful tips of things we learned along the way. Everyone’s story is different, this is ours!