Aug 07 2008

One Year Review - Contractor Review

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

Well it has been about a year since we moved into the house.  I wanted to post a contactor review because I have found that many people stumble upon the house blog while searching for information that I was once looking for.  Hopefully this will help someone else out there.

We have had some issues with the house since move in time that I wanted to share on here.  The first thing was a major item.  Our yard failed to absorb water, and our curtain drain the county required doesn’t work as the country thinks.  The county knew our yard had a poor absorbtion rate so I therefore paid for an extra large septic system with a curtain drain.  It all works except for the fact that when it rains heavily (like this year at 110 year high rainfall), the curtain drain cannot drain all the ground water from the yard.  This causes a problem when a septic system works by allowing the water to go to an absorption field in the yard.  Because this is a hot topic with me, I’ll end by saying that Madison County really needs to do their job a little better.  In the end I had to pay for a new system which the county would not allow me to put in the first time because they didn’t prefer them.  I now have a typical Aeration system and have overpaid by almost $7,000 due to rework and additional requirements like lift stations that I would have not needed if Madison County let me put it in the first time.  Thank you Madison County.  They are not alone here though.  Thank you planning and zoning of Highland for agreeing to allow our subdivision into city limits to tax us without requiring the developer to provide city services required (streets, storm drains, and sewers) and for not having a plan yourself to provide these services in the future.  Thank you City of Highland.

Contractor Reviews
Framing and Concrete - K-Five Contracting Company 

I cannot say one bad thing about this company.  They showed up when they said they would, and worked every day until the job was done.  The organization and planning of their crew was excellent.  The quality of work has been great too.  We have had no issues with their work, and if I were to build again, they would do the entire house.

Plumbing - Webb Plumbing -  Collinsville, IL
Definitly cannot beat their price and they did all their work with great quality.  Showed up every time I scheduled them too.  Very easy to work with.

Heating and Cooling - Toennies Serivce Co - Damiensville, IL
They are the largest installer of Waterfurnance units, and they definitely have the savings associated with that.  They were a very cost effective solution to using geo thermal.  They weren’t the greatest at showing up when they said they were going to, but if you keep on them they work it out and get the job done for their original bid.  Our geo thermal unit has had no major issues.  The few issues we have had, they have immediately remedied or I have corrected them myself.  We had a small leak through the foundation where the geo thermal tubes came in, but they just patched the area with some Hydro cement and all is fine.

Insulation - Blue Sky Insulation
They came and did all their work in one day as expected.  They definitely put down plenty of cellulose and didn’t skimp on the attic areas where they easily could.  Their prices beat the other large insulation company in the area, and they cleaned up after themselves well.

Lumber Supplies - UBC / Rehkemper Trusses
Very easy to work with and schedule deliveries.  K-Five handled all the orders through my account and I did not have to get involved at all unless it was items I was ordering for other contractors.  They worked with price matching and locking in prices once I was committed.  They were able to compete eventually with Construction Supply prices to keep my business.

Roofing - Joiner Sheet Metal and Roofing / Gateway Roofing Supply
No complaints from them.  They had a great price on the roof and gateway supply had competitive pricing on the materials.  We have had many storms this year and record rainfall in the area (over 40 inches this spring).  No issues with shingles or leaks.

Brick - Kohrmann Brothers
They definitely had a lot of work ahead of them.  When shopping around and looking at brick on people’s houses, I really liked their work.  It was clean and not sloppy.  We wanted special features like window keystones, ribboning, and quoin corners.  He did not charge ridiculous costs for those features.  They did not show up directly when they said they would because of other jobs, but once they did get there, they stayed and workd on my house until they were done.  Not like many contractors who start many houses at once.  They made our stepped foundation look great.

Septic Install 1 - Hediger
The system and the price was good, the problem was my yard did not work.  I think they should have been able to identify this a little better, but in the end their system technically worked, but the curtain drain did not work as the county said it would.  The sad thing is all installers know this, but the county does not.  I can’t blame them for the problems, but I would say that they should have a better idea of what will or won’t work based on soil analysis.  The area I had for a septic system just kind of sucked.

Septic Rework - Ross Excavating
This was the installer I wish I would have found the first time.  He dealt with everything.  I didn’t have to mess with the county or permits.  They took care of planning out the install and getting it to work.  They were able to reuse many components to save me money, and did a great job on the work. They were always available and returned calls and very informative.  Looked at every option and discussed them with us. System and work is excellent.

Drywall / Paint - J & R Drywall
They were the haggler of the contractors I had, always saying costs went up or this is extra, etc.  I was still satisfied with their work, but this was kind of annoying.  Their quality of finsihing work though is consistant and free of problems.  It has been 1 year and I have no issues with cracks or other items people typically have with drywall after a year.  When I go to finish my basement I will still call them.  They left the house very clean after their work by covering all the sub floor with tar paper.  They did spray my bathroom fans and some of my doors with mud, but I should have covered those as well.  It was tough because we went on vacation while they did their work.  Their paint job was completed nicely and I even had another painter comment on their edging with the ceilings.  I was able to pre pay for my drywall which saved us some money and helped us out since the drywall costs were going up.

Doors / Windows / Trim - Windoor - Swansea, IL
We were overall pleased with windoor, but have had some issues that I still find annoying.  Our basement door leaks.  They came out and did replace all the weather stripping and re caulked it but I am still having some issues.  Not sure where the problem is lying with that.

My huge annoyance with them though is ALL my exterior door frames have peeled all the way back to the wood.  Windoor claims that because I did not paint them immediately, I left the door with the manufacturer primer exposed to the elements and this caused the issue.  I think this is BS.  No one paints a door before siding or anything is up on the house.  The door has been sitting in their warehouse primed for who knows how long.  They will not do anything about this.

Our screens for our Simonton windows suck.  Not sure if these are truly simonton window screens or something Windoor gets, but they suck.  They do not have tabs in them to install the screens from the inside, so you must install from the outside.  They also are not snugly fitting into the windows, and have had 1 fall out from wind.

Trim had an issue with the paint when we first got it, but they brought us a new shipment of trim no questions asked.  All stair parts were great quality and no issues with the products.

Final Grading / Seeding - J R Excavating
JR creates a beautiful yard, that is for sure.  He didn’t cut any corners and used quality seed.  Our yard looked so good right away it was amazing.  After seeding the entire acre and watering, I have a small spot about 1 foot by 2 foot of thin grass.  The rest of the yard is excellent and thick like it was sod.  I will be calling JR back to re seed the yard torn up by my septic work for sure.

Aug 29 2007

Moved In

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

Thats right, we are moved in.  The last month has been absolutly crazy.  We sold our house and the new homeowners wanted a 3 week closing.  That pushed us to finish the house to the point to be able to live in it by then.  We did accomplish that.  Last monday was our first night in the house.  I still had to install closet organizers, mirrors, towel rods, blinds, etc.  This weekend coming up is Emma’s Birthday.  We will have all our concrete poured by then but we will not be able to drive on our driveway for another week.  Since the move I have tnot taken any more photos.  At this point people can just stop by and see the house.  Only thing left after concrete is seeding our lot.  That should be done within a few weeks.  Just working on getting final payouts to the contracters so I can see where we end up with our loan and close that out.  I plan on doing a contracter review to keep here i ncase others i nthe area are getting to this site from soem of the owner-builder forums I was on.  There is not much information for contractors in our area so I definitly would leave feedback on the ones I used for others to benefit from.

Aug 01 2007

Getting Close to Move In Time

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

We close on our current house on August 21st, so the plan is to get the house to the point where we can get an occupancy permit and move our stuff in.  Not much time these days to blog on the house since we are working so much on the house, but in short:

Flooring is in progress.
Lighting is in place throughout most of the house.
Doors are being hung.
Kitchen cabinets are installed.
Appliances are being delivered tomorrow with the bathroom vanities.

To move in we need plumbing inspection and electrical inspection to be completed.  Plumber is waiting on the countertop to come in (estimated 2 weeks) so he can trim out the house in one day.  I am working on completing the electrical and finishing up installing all lights, outlets, and switches.

The yard is at final grade now.  Long story on that with some neighbor issues, but in all it is done and there is no more ugly looking 12 inch grass for them to look at.  There still is a pleasant dumpster to look at and a construction site, so I am not sure the reasoning on the complaints, but complainers are complainers all the time.   Just a great welcome to the neighborhood.

Here are some quick pictures.


Jul 08 2007

Matt | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Just a quick update and sold older pictures I forgot to post before going out of town. Drywall is complete and painting will be complete tomorrow. J & R drywall finished all the mudding and taping last week and then primer and painted the whole house. They still have Emma’s room to paint and our garage left to paint. The pictures were taken during the mudding and taping process. As you can see there are in their third coat of mud (the darker yellow mud) on some joints at that point. J & R drwall does tinted mudding which assures they get all areas with the proper amount of mudd and also is a qquick way for me to check on progress.

The week before Blue Sky Insulation was in the house and sprayed in the blow in cellulose. I have a picture of that as well posted below.

We finally have water in the house. Webb Plumbing was great and able to come out on get the water tapped into the house system so the drywaller’s had water.

Schedule coming up:

Get AC Running ASAP - We need the AC running to continue progress with flooring. I have a call into Toennies but it did not sound promising. They have to get out there for sure by next week or else plans push back.

7/12 - Thursday - Fireplace Install of the mantle and surround in great room.

7/16 - 7/17- Monday / Tuesday - Tile install in bathrooms.

7/18 - 7/23 - Wood Floor Install

InsulationDrywall 1Drywall 2Drywall 3Drywall 4Walkout SidingHouse Outside 1House Outside 2

Jun 19 2007

Drywall Begins

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

    We passed our inspections on the second check. For the electrical, there was nothing wrong against code, just some things the inspector wanted us to change. I changed them and we passed the second inspection. We also got sent a bill from the City of Highland for the second inspection of the electrical. If it was more then $30 I might have to complain a bit since nothing was against code, and the items they mention could have been told or outlined out as a city preference somewhere before we started. Anyways we have the approval. Framing also passed inspection so we had the go ahead to insulate and drywall.

Blue Sky insulation came out late last week to insulate. They were there literally all day. I finally went back out to the house at 9:30pm and they were finishing up. They did a great job cleaning up for the size mess I saw as it was going. They prepared the soffits and installed all the vents in the attic, covered all electrical boxes and ducts, then sprayed in the insulation. They didn’t foam all the corners where interior walls met exterior walls, so I had to go back and do those this weekend. We also had to clean up a lot. Amanda and I spent about 4 hours on Sunday just cleaning. On Monday I added some more insulation to act as sound proofing that was not done by Blue Sky.

J & R Drywall had the house stocked with drywall on Monday. We have a little over 200 sheets. Today they already started hanging he drywall to my surprise (hasn;t been typical for people to start ontime when they say they will). They already have most of the ceiling up in the house which amazed me. His estimated timeleine was hang drywall til next Tuesday, and then be done painting by July 16th. We will see how that goes. I was hoping it would be done with paint sooner, but I can’t complain since he was pushed back and is doing other jobs too.

    Germantown Seamless Guttering has been out to start the siding, soffit, fascia, gutter install. As of today they have the complete walkout wall done with sidng, soffit, and fascia. The back of the house is mostly done, and the front of the house and garage is completely done with soffit and fascia. The house from the front or the side now looks like a finished house. They have done a great job. The siding is so seamless looking. Our siding is a Majestic Carvewood Series in Pebblestone Clay color. I imagine the siding crew has only one more day left, and then the gutters will probably come and be hung in a day.

Toennies Services has hooked up the geothermal unit to the main trunk line. So now I can run the electrical to the unit. They still need to come out and run one last duct that I think they missed because they capped off the trunk line one joist short of where the vent is. The vent is in Emma’s room. The problem now is there is a load of drywall covering the vent, but they will have to work around that and get that vent in before the drywall is placed on the walkout wall in the basement. In order to get the unit fired up they just need power, and water.

I called the city as well to have our water meter delivered to the house. Highland’s water meters are installed in the house and somehow transmit a signal outside for them to read. Webb Plumbing will be out sometime this week to hookup the water meter and the main line of the house. I also asked for a hose bib in the basement so they can fill up the geothermal unit and we can have water in the house. We need the air conditioning running before we can have any flooring delivered.

The flooring was all ordered today from Vallow Floor Coverings. They gave us some great deals on our wood and tile. We plan on installing our wood ourselves with the help of some friends. The tile is going in the bathroom’s and I have decided to let them install it since it was such a small square footage and I have enough to doalready. We also ordered our bathroom vanities last week and the tops for them. They should be in towards the end of July. We got them at Norm’s Bargain Barn, or Wilke. They seemed to have the best prices for the style of vanities we wanted. We got the taller vanities for our master bathroom so that will be nice to have. They are all special order and not just cloesout items they had laying around. We did find some we really liked but they were not in the sizes we needed. We were able to upgrade our bathroom vanities and we still saved $700 from the next closest price.

Todo: Order fireplace mantle (stain color needed), order lighting, pickout final paint colors, get dumpster dumped (smells like something died in it, and it is full).

Jun 10 2007

Inspections this week

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

We are in progress of getting drywall ready.  Right now insulation is set to be installed on Wednesday.  Blue Sky Insulation will be doing the work.  J & R Drywall is going to stock the house with drywall on Friday with hopes they have availability the following week to start. 

Before all that we must complete our inspection process.  Our electrical inspection had 3 notes:
1. Move wires away from metal gussets in the trusses. - I found a few places I think this was the problem, but saying wire cannot touch metal when it is double insulated and held in place with metal staples is crazy. 
2. Wires in truss area must be stapled to the side of the stud when clearence is over 30 inches.  - I think the reasoning behind this is so if your walking on the top of the trusses 2×4, your not stepping on the wires.  I moved all wires to the side of the stud of trusses.  I did not move any wires on the top of the walls top plate because it was pretty much impossible.  Also these are lower then the trusses so you would never really step on it.
3. Make sure dishwasher and disposal are on seperate dedicated circuits.  - They are already.

The framing inspection had a few items to fix too:
1. Had to double up some 2×4’s under a doubled up truss. 
2. Tighten anchor bolts. - Done
3. Seal around tub drains. - I had thought I put tin over all drains already but noticed I missed half of the master bath shower drain.  It was on the other side of an I-joist.  Not sure if this was the specific reason for the failure or not.  I also firecaulked around all of them to assure it is trully fireproof.
4. Block plumbing vents on stud plates.  - I installed the nail in 2×4 steel plates over all areas where they needed to be. 

I will call tomorrow for a reinspection once the framing fix is completed.  They also can check the fireplace and roof as well to knock those off the list.

Jun 05 2007

Brick Done

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

The brick is done. Kohrmann Brothers masonary has done a great job on the house and the mailbox. Some pictures are posted below. They had to order a few more pallettes of bricks, but they finished up today with the garage. Joiner Roofing is going to come out tomorrow to finish up the roof so we are completly dry. Hopefully K-Five Contracting will be able to come out tomorrow and frame up the outside soffits so I can set the cans tomorrow night and call for inspection first thing on Thursday.

Our septic system is installed and has passed inspection. Our septic installer was out Monday to set the tank in place, and today he ran all the laterals. He ended up doing 7 laterals 72 feet long. This meets Madison County’s requirement of 500 feet. He is going to put the curtain drain in next and also run the water line to the house tomorrow.

The city of Highland’s water is a little behind the times and are requring the pipe I have to maintain in my yard to be copper almost all the cities in the area have switched to plastic. So now all of us Highland tax payers can understand why it is so much for our water hookup fees. Copper is $4-$6 a foot at 1 inch, where the same pipe in plastic is 30 cents. What I didn’t plan on doing was running almost 200 feet of this pipe to my house since Highland put the curb stop at the furthest point from my house.

We have power run to the house as well. On Friday the City of Highland Electric ran the main service line to the house and moved the meter from the temporary pole to the house meter base. I installed an outlet in the garage on the dedicated central vac circuit and an outlet where my entertinment center circuit is, in the center of the house. This at least gives them two outlets that are dedicated circuits and powered up off the panel.

Our plumbing has passed inspection too according to the building department. I couldn’t find their sticker anywhere in the house, but also did not find a list of problems. I called after a few days and they informed me we passed. They have been a lot of help at the buildingdepartment when I call in with questions.

MeterSeptic FieldMailboxFinish Brick 1Finish Brick 2Finish Brick 3Finish Brick 4

May 30 2007

Plumbing Ready for Inspection

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

Something is finally ready for inspection.  I called in the plumbing inspection for Tuesday.  They did not get to it then, and I did not run to the house tonight so I will find out in the morning if we passed or if we have issues.

Brick is still in progress.  Last Friday we had some rain so no brick was set that day.  Monday was a holiday, and Tuesday they got the gable completed on the far end of the house, and almost all the windows are now keystoned.  Just the garage front, a few corners, and the front door area to do.   Now that the brick on the roof is done, I can call Joiner Roofing back to complete the last section of the roof.

I am hoping they finish the brick y Thursday so possibly I can get K-Five to come out Friday and finish up the soffits.  This would give me all weekend to hang the cans and fireproof the house (fill all holes between floors with special caulk).

I had a interesting conversation with the developer of te subdivisionyesterday too. The conversation started with me needing a laywer to him realizing I did not have anything even poured yet and the complaint is not warranted.  We were in agreem,entthat I was not doing anything wrong.  It would have been nice if he would have looked at the house first to know what was going on.  He thought I already had my driveway in ( not true) and a new complaint that my house was too close to the road.  Considering my house is further back then others in the subdivision at 50 feet to the garage front and 60 feet to the house, he was unsure what the complaining was about.  I guess he did not see the house before he believed the unamed neighbor.  Amanda and I are not worried about this because we already have friends right by our house, and know that there is always complainers.

May 24 2007

More setbacks

Matt | Category: Highland House | 0 Comments

Brick is on day 3 and its looking great.  Only one setback, they didn’t get to the gable completed that I needed done first.  Since Joiner Roofing was supposed to come tomorrow to finish the roof, I had to cancel them.  Now who knows if I can get on their schedule for next week since we will be a day shorter with the holiday.  I cannot drywall until that roof is finished.

To complete the brick around the front door and porch, I needed to fill the porch area with rock so they could get their scaffolding setup.  I talked to Steve at K-Five Contracting, since he will be doing the flatwork.  He suggested I just order a load of rock with a slinger, so they could fill the porch area and then just dump the rest of the 16 ton load on the driveway area.    So we now have a nice size pile of rock for the driveway area.

Well another issue with the driveway came up.  “Some neighbors” called the developer of the subdivision saying I am putting my driveway and mailbox to close to my neighbors property.  Apparently they think the 10 foot drainage easement is a setback line.  The difference between a setback line and an easement is nothing can go within the area of the property line to the setback line.  The subdivision has no setback line rules.  They show a 10 foot easement for water drainage in the front of my lot and the side of the lot.  Obviously my driveway can go in the easement or else I could never pull into my house.  Long story short, I called the City of Highland Building Inspectors and they concurred that I was right in what I was doing.  My driveway has to follow the city 3 foot setback line, and it can be placed in an easement as long as it does not block water flow.  My mailbox is fine anywhere on my property and following the proper height and distance calculations from the road.  So my mailbox pad that is 3 feet of the property line will stay, and the driveway will go in as planned.  No changes just a headache and a bad start with a new neighbor.  We only have a whole acre lot each, I guess there would be a big difference in 5 feet.  As a note, we never planned on putting our driveway past 10 feet from the property line, so if they would have just told us their concerns, this would be a non issue.

On other notes, our kitchen cabinets are done early and being delivered next Friday.  How convenient that we are behind by 2 weeks and they are early by a week.  Hopefully they will deliver them into the basement since I do not want them in the way of the drywaller.

Blue Sky Insulation called and originally wanted to insulate our house Friday or Monday, but I told them there is no way we will be ready then.  They tentatively scheduled me for next Thursday but I forsee changing that already unless I can get everything done Tuesday and inspections wednesday go perfect.  That is very optimistic.

Toennies was supposed to come back and run the water heater vent and finish the rough in, but they were too late to get the water heater vent in, and now we cannot vent easily up the wall we have framed for it.  So we basically made our great room 4 inches shorter for nothing.  I called up Webb plumbing immedietly and they were going to come out and install PVC for a powervent water heater.  It is supposedly more efficient, but it costs a little more.  They have a blower in them to force the exhaust of the heat out of the house quick instead of letting the heat build up and draft its way out.

Current pictures of the brick:

Brick 3-1Brick 3-2Brick 3-3Brick 3-4

May 22 2007

The Maverick’s - The Breast Cancer 3-Day

Amanda | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I’m using our blog as a forum for a way to help me raise money for a good cause. I know there are several people who check our blog that I don’t have e-mails for.


I know I’ve told many of you about my Mother-In-Law Margaret Caminiti & Aunt Lou Wrench and their struggle with breast cancer in the last year. Matt’s Grandma Caminiti fought a hard battle against this terrible disease as well.


Well, I heard from a friend about an event called the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and decided to sign up to really try to do something to keep other families from having to struggle with this disease. My friend Lisa Delgado & I (Team The Maverick’s) will be walking in Chicago, IL on August 10-12. Lisa & I will be walking 60 miles over the course of three days with thousands of other women and men. The net proceeds will support breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment through Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.


I’ve agreed to raise at least $2,200 in donations but I’ve set my personal goal at $3,000. This makes The Maverick’s team goal $7,000. Please help me in attaining my goal and supporting breast cancer research. Follow this link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support The Breast Cancer 3-Day:

All donations of any amount are greatly appreciated.


Thank you in advance.

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