More concrete!

Well, we did it… sort of.

After weeks of preparation we finally had the concrete poured to level the first floor, create the pillars, and fill in the walls.

It was extremely difficult to do this with just C and I. The plan was that he would be directing the concrete on the top while I stayed at the bottom to alert him if anything went wrong. About 5 minutes in something went wrong. The support at the bottom of the form for the walls gave out and started to bow out. We stopped the concrete from pouring and put up plastic to keep the concrete from pouring down the wall forms. I then moved to the top to help C move the concrete. We used buckets to start filling the pillars. About 10 buckets in the form failed ad busted open. So we stopped filling those forms.

We finished off leveling the top of the first floor and then used the rest of the concrete to fill in a part of the driveway that needed to be leveled.

We are extremely disappointed in this concrete pour.

After the truck left we proceeded to fix the wall by chipping away the excess and using that to fill in the dips in the floor.

Then we removed one side of the pillar form and chipped away the excess before reforming it. After much deliberation it has been decided that we can buy more concrete bags and slowest fill the forms ourselves. If we add about 5 bags at a time and let them harden (even partially) we won’t have the pressure from mass amounts of concrete causing the forms to bow out and fail. With the walls we are going to go back to our initial plan of filling 1-2 foot sections at a time.

Here is a picture of our only success of the day


Building up again

Today I Refilled the bottom layer of tires on the living room wall we tore down the other day. It is now ready to have the next layer put back up.

I also added tires to the wall in the pantry. After I fill these tires I have 3 more layers until they are level with the second floor (part of our goal for the end of August).

Also (as promised) pictures of the inner walls, ready to have concrete poured on Tuesday!

So much done, so much yet to do

We were supposed to be pouring concrete this week but of course the forecast called for rain, and yet again it didn’t rain, go figure. We have all the forms up and ready but this allows us to prepare even more by filling in all the gaps with thick concrete on Sunday so we don’t have to worry about leaks when they pour in Tuesday. We also moved up some of our scheduled activities for next week. Today we took down some of the tires in the small section between the front door and the greenhouse. They were leaning back pretty badly and we wanted to do a controlled fall before it actually gave and took more of the wall with it. We only took down about 20 tires and they should be really easy to put back up. We will be packing the tires that are now exposed then putting the old tires back on them, packing those back up and repeating this process. We will also be adding a concrete layer every 2 feet to reinforce it. At the 9ft mark they will be above the framing for the door and will be joining the other layers of the second floor. Between now and the end of August we will be pouring the concrete, putting the tires back up, and getting all of the tires up to the height of the second floor. It’s a lot but completely doable!

Unfortunately I have no pictures today. I know you all love pictures. Next time I promise.

On to the next thing.

It doesn't seem like we have done very much today, especially after the extremely productive 2 days we have just had, but it was quite a busy day.

We started off this morning with gravel trucks bringing gravel for our driveway. We finally made the decision, after watching the weather apps on our phones tell us it's going to rain most of the week even though it hasn't, that soon the rainy season will be upon us and we should actually be prepared for it so that we don't have to put off working on the house, like last year.

As with most everything we do, this was quite the interesting endeavor resulting in C almost cursing out one of the drivers. The first driver was awesome. He didn't even voice concern about starting the gravel on a steep hill. He got it ready and up he went. It was beautiful. That is a driver with experience and confidence in his work. The second driver was terrible. All he had to do was finish the top of the hill (which was at a much lower incline than the first guy had to deal with) and take the truck around a curve and up another small hill. He first told us that he couldn't finish the hill at all and that he was just going to dump the gravel where it was. After a long heated conversation he dumped half of the gravel in a straight section then came back and sort of finished the rest, with about 5-10 foot bald sections in places. We were less than happy with him. At one point C told him to get the other driver to come back and drive his truck. I thought that was hilarious. The driver didn't think so. We left it as is and have hired a guy to come out with his tractor and grader box to straighten it out. I'm happy with that.

After messing with the driveway for almost 2 hours we finally got to work on the house. We decided that our goal is to have the concrete pillars and wall leveling poured next Thursday. Since we require a lot of concrete and my truck is still out of commission we are having a concrete truck come out. Today we were able to fill 5 of the remaining 11 tires still needed to complete the first floor section of the loft. We also put up the concrete form for half of the outer tire wall. We didn't finish the form because the rest includes the section that we use to get on and off the loft and the tires that aren't filled yet. We also planned out some of the concrete pillar that is going in. This will frame up the front door and hold up the tires above the front door. One of the fun/ isn't really "progress" things we did was plan out the upper bathroom and closet. That was pretty fun. We pretended we were showering in the bathroom and laying on the bed. The final thing we did was to completely cover the loft in heavy plastic and duct tape to keep water off of it. All in all we were out for almost 6 hours and we were TIRED. There is so much more to do before Thursday, but it's all completely possible! Oh! And as promised here are pictures of the completed loft. I forgot to take pictures this morning and ended up taking them while we were in the process of covering it in plastic.

The loft is complete

We stayed out until 10 tonight finishing the loft. It looks amazing. I was able to get pictures of it when we were about 2/3 finished. By the time we were completely done it was way too dark out to get a good picture. I will take them tomorrow and include them in my post then.

We placed 17 boards today. These are the same boards that were placed on the first driveway (the one up a hill from the house) because the lowes guy didn't want to take them down to where we needed them, even though multiple three axel gravel trucks and several concrete trucks have had no problem. We first threw each board halfway down the hill (because it was too steep and riddled with very high weeds to carry them). Then we carried them to the tire wall and lifted them onto the wall in a giant stack. We are exhausted but so thrilled to finally be entering a time when things are going to move very quickly.

This is my favorite thing: the view from our bedroom. This is what we will looks at every day.

and finally a look into the girls' room from above.

We stood up

Today we went out and put up 7 of the subfloor boards. We started on the scaffolding until we had a line from the front of the loft to the tire wall. Then we were able to climb from the tire wall onto the floor and sit on top of the sub-flooring to screw the board in. Once we finished the last board of the night we stood up together and saw the view from our bedroom. It was beautiful. Days like these remind me why we are doing this.

this piece of flooring still needs to be placed properly. I wanted to give an idea of the room actually looking and feeling like a room.

We almost have a second floor!

Sunday mornings are one of the few times we have available to work on the house. We went out for almost 4.5 hours today and worked out butts off!! We almost completely finished the floor joists. We have four more stabilizing pieces to put in the boy's room before we can start putting up the rest of the sub-flooring. We would have finished but we killed all five of our batteries for the power tools. They are currently charging up so we can finish Tuesday night.

We also met Darth Vader fly… it's actually a black horse fly, but I'd rather call it Darth Vader. As we were moving the last of the large beams we also upset the homes of both a large toad and a field mouse. We didn't get pictures of those though. I wish I had gotten a picture of the toad. It was really cool.

The loft

We are almost finished putting up the loft. We finished putting the walls up, then put up all the beams for the loft that went on top of the walls. After that the floor joists between the walls went up. This is where we are currently. To get the support we needed for the joists to connect to the tire walls we cut plywood into 8x 11 1/2" strips and secured them to the walls in 3 layers of plywood. It looks really nice. We have 2 rooms left to put joists up, the bathroom and the laundry room. They should be easy. It's about 5 small joists each. Once those go up we are putting the subfloor down and the loft is done! Then we get to finish the tires…. yay. The day we finish the tires I'm opening a bottle of champagne. These pictures are from a few days ago when we first started the beams.

Life is a learning process

It's so hard sometimes to be the person you want to be, and that's ok. People are flawed, people mess up, and the world continues to turn. This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn over the years. I used to beat myself up for making mistakes, especially when those mistakes hurt other people. In those situations I used to try and manipulate other people's perceptions of reality to make myself look better. Nobody wants to be wrong, nobody wants to admit that they hurt someone. The most important thing I have learned in life is that my pride is not more important than the feelings of others. It took a lot of pain and heartache but giving up my pride has been the most freeing thing I have ever done.

Last night I hurt someone pretty badly. I didn't mean to, it wasn't intentional. They had hurt me and my family for a long time and I was mad, so I vented on the wrong forum and they saw it. I didn't try to downplay what I said or that I said it. I admitted to everything I did. However there is nothing wrong with me venting my frustration about being hurt by this person, but the way in which I did it was wrong. I should have made sure I was posting to the correct forum, or I should have spoken directly with friends who could have offered advice. What I actually should have done was never let it get to that point to begin with. I should have told the person I was upset from day 1. It may have led to us not speaking long before this, or it may have made us actually have a relationship, who knows. I like to tell myself that I don't care what this person thinks about me, but I obviously did if I was afraid to tell them that they had hurt me to begin with. Hopefully in the future I will learn from this. Life is all just a learning process anyway.

The importance of a credit score

Unless you are wealthy and can (or not and just intend on) pay for absolutely everything in cash it's important to not only know your credit score, but to understand how it works and how to increase it.

I was convinced I had the worst possible credit score ever. I never paid attention to my credit score, I didn't think it was important. I got a card as soon as I hit college and maxed it out, frequently made late payments, and was just a kid about it. By the time I left college I had paid it off and was a slight bit more responsible but I still didn't understand how a credit card worked or how it affected your credit score. By now I had filed for bankruptcy (9 years ago), had divorced (which accumulated a lot of debt), had my house foreclosed on after not paying the mortgage for several years (this is a long story involving not wanting to share the house with my unemployed ex husband who refused to leave), and had been homeless for at least 6 months. My life was a mess and with it went my credit score, which I hadn't checked in over 10 years.

After C started working for Ford almost 2 years ago he started working in his credit. He wants to purchase a new truck after the house is finished but that won't be possible unless he works on his credit. He downloaded an app called Credit Karma and within 3 months had increased his score over 100 points and was able to obtain a credit card which has also helped increase his credit.

After much convincing (because I honestly wanted to pretend my credit score didn't exist) he talked me into joining as well, after about two months of persuasion. My score was terrible, although not as bad as I had expected. I was able to have two of the three old debts removed, and found out that the foreclosure actually helped my credit score. Apparently they just closed my old mortgage accounts so they no longer counted as a negative towards my score (very weird but I will take it). The thing that was counting against me the MOST was not having credit at all. I have only been on the app for maybe a month and a half but already my score is into the "fair" rating, allowing me to get a credit card which (if I am responsible about it) will increase my score even more.

Here are the things I have learned which should be taught to every teen before they leave home and have to figure it out on their own:

1) credit cards are great, and you should have one, if you use them correctly. How do you use them correctly? It honestly doesn't matter how much you charge on your card as long as you take it down to 30% or less by the end of the pay period. As long as your balance is less than 30% you are golden. We use our card for almost everything and pay it off as we go. We earn cash back pretty quickly that way and our bill is paid almost as soon as we get it. I mark the due date on our calendar every month, we make sure it's paid down to 30% or less and don't put anything else on it until after the new bill comes out. Paying your balance on your card should be just as important as paying your rent and utilities every month. As long as the balance from the last month is paid you don't accumulate interest, but you must remain diligent about it and not spend more than 30% of the credit line on emergency non budgeted stuff. That's the hard part, especially if you are poor.

2) Any delinquent accounts can be disputed. The larger the amount owed the less likely that you can get them removed this way, but if you can knock out the smaller ones you can call the larger ones and either work out a payment plan or (if you can, say at tax time) cut a deal with them to pay a partial amount and have it removed that way. Every delinquent account that you remove will raise your credit score.

3) the more hard inquiries you have to your score (every time you apply for a loan, credit card, etc and someone has to check your credit) the worse it looks on you. You are supposed to have 2 or less and they fall off every 2 years, but the more accounts you have the better your score is. C and I had a hard time with this one because how are you supposed to increase the number of accounts you have if you can't have hard inquires? Three ways. The first is to research cards before you apply for them to see if your score falls at or above the average score of people who obtained the card. Credit Karma has those numbers for the cards they recommend. You may have to go online to their website to fine it though. Don't rely on the "approval chance" that they give you, actually do the research. Secondly preapproved cards that you get in the mail don't produce a hard inquiry. You can apply for those. Lastly if you trust your partner and their spending habits you can be put on each others cards. C putting me on his card increased my credit score by 64 points. I in turn put him on my card which will bring his score up as well. This is risky though and I only recommend it if you openly discuss money and budgeting and trust each others spending habits.

4) Finally, and probably the hardest thing of all, be open and honest with yourself about your money. Being poor is hard. Being poor with a terrible credit score is next to impossible and so many of us live there. Don't spend more than you can pay off. Work hard to do whatever you need to do to increase your score and things will start to get better. You will be able to afford better loans (or a loan at all), better vehicles that don't fall apart, better housing, etc. if you need help with your budgeting please ask someone who is good at it for help. The first, and best, thing we did was go to a buy here pay here that was through a reputable car dealership. For us that was Sam swope. They report to the credit bureaus every payment and it's taken directly out of our account so we don't even have to think about it. The truck is a shitty truck but paying it on a regular basis was what helped C be able to get his first unsecured credit card. You can also start with a secured card and move up from there if buying a car isn't possible. The most important thing is to make sure you pay them on time every time.

I honestly don't know why this isn't taught in school, having a good credit score is basic American survival.