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Gingerhawk Construction Update – October 2019

Adam with our contractor Thad Vaughn of JT Custom Homes
Adam with our contractor Thad Vaughn of JT Custom Homes

Hey friends. You may have seen the post we shared earlier where we introduced you to the 25-acre property we bought in Washington State called Gingerhawk Mountain Retreat. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check it out to get up to speed. Today we're going to be sharing a construction update, and show you lots of progress pictures. We've been working with contractor Thad Vaughn of JT Custom Homes to build our dream home. He has decades of construction experience specializing in Northwest mountain cabins. We've enjoyed working with Thad as he is very organized, knows the area well, and has been friendly and communicative throughout the building process. Be sure to check out JT Custom Homes if you are looking to build a home in the Pacific Northwest area.

The entry to Gingerhawk
The entry to Gingerhawk

The picture above is the current entrance to Gingerhawk. Eventually we'd love to build a beautiful gated entrance like the picture below, but it's low on the priority list since we have a lot of other work to do first. Let's take a look at the progress we've made so far.

Our dream gate. Image via Tri State Gate
Our dream gate. Image via Tri State Gate

DRILLING THE WELL
The first step we took to get Gingerhawk retreat ready was to drill a well. Previously the property had no running water source. It did have a small cistern (a water storage tank) that the previous owners would fill up occasionally for glamping trips, but this was not a long-term solution that would be suitable for larger group stays. Drilling a well is always a bit of a gamble because you never know where exactly you will find water, and how deep you have to dig. We worked with Tumwater Drilling and Pump Inc. for our well, and were lucky to hit water sooner than we expected. Still, it's no small job and we paid $16,000 to get running water on the property. They arrived with a giant well-drilling truck, and installed a pump once we found water to get it flowing.

Well-drilling truck
Well-drilling truck
The well
The well
We have flowing water!
We have flowing water!

LET'S GET ELECTRIFIED
The second step we took to bring this property up to retreat quality was to get electrical power installed. The original owners had wanted to teach their family how to live "off-grid", but we decided it would be important to have heating, lighting, and electricity to make this a comfortable place to stay for retreats and family gatherings. Ideally we would have the house completely solar powered. Unfortunately, that's not quite feasible at this time. The Pacific Northwest is overcast a good portion of the year, and in addition to the expensive upfront costs, solar panels alone would not be enough to power this property. It's definitely a future goal to transition to a renewable energy source, but for now we've gone "on-grid" with Puget Sound Energy. It cost about $6000 to bring electricity on the property. I don't know the technical terms for all these things, but first they installed a big box at the side of the road. Then they ran wiring in the ground to a power pole near the house. Eventually, all the electricity in the house will feed off of this power pole. Now that we've got water and electricity set up on site (a $22,000 investment) we're ready to start construction. Keep scrolling to see more.

Setting up for electricity
Setting up for electricity
Power box at the side of the road
Power box at the side of the road
Setting up for the power pole
Setting up for the power pole
We have electricity!
We have electricity!

This is what the property looked like before we started building. It's a beautiful forest setting with a touch of mountain views. This area is prone to wildfires so we have to be very careful about what we can build and where. Our house is located in an area that must adhere to the strictest residential fire code, IR-1. This means that there must be 75 ft of clear-cut space around the house, or 50 ft with a sprinkler system. We wanted to keep as many trees as possible, so we decided to spend the extra money to install a sprinkler system to protect the property in case of fire. A sprinkler system can cost between $8000-$12,000 dollars, so this was no small expense. Still, we believe it was worth the investment to protect the trees and preserve as much of the natural environment as possible.

LAYING THE FOUNDATION
Finally, this summer it was time to lay the foundation. We purchased the property at the beginning of the year, and worked with an architect to develop the construction plans. Still it took months to get final approval from the county and permits to start building. Once we started laying the foundation, things started to move pretty quickly. Unfortunately, we did hit a 2-3 week delay not long into the construction process. I won't go into too much detail, but we got into a dispute with the neighbors about whether our property was legally situated. I was terrified that we might have to call the whole thing off, which would be a disaster considering all the money we had invested so far. But fortunately we smoothed things over and were able to move ahead with construction. Phew! Laying the foundation was a big undertaking. It involved digging into the ground with giant machinery and kicking up a lot of dirt. Check out the pictures below.

Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes

FRAMING THE HOUSE
Once the foundation was set, it was time to start framing the house. This is the exciting part where things really start coming together, and the house begins to take shape. Now you can see the footprint of the main house. The cement area on the right is where the garage will be.

Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
View of the back of the house. Image via JT Custom Homes
View of the back of the house. Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes

The house is really starting to take shape and it's so exciting! I like how the silhouette is almost reminiscent of a mountain range. This is the back of the house, and there will be a large deck area to enjoy and take in the views.

Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes

Building a house is a big job that requires lots of heavy equipment, and brave, skillful construction workers.

Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Flying in the garage trusses. Image via JT Custom Homes
Flying in the garage trusses. Image via JT Custom Homes
The main ridge beam is now in place. Image via JT Custom Homes
The main ridge beam is now in place. Image via JT Custom Homes

So that's where we stand with the main house. It's really come together in the past few months, and the framing is almost complete. It's very exciting, and soon we'll begin electrical wiring, roofing, and finishing the interior of the house. Stay tuned for more construction updates soon!

BATH HOUSE PROGRESS
In addition to the main house, we're building a bath house with sauna to serve the 3 little cabins situated nearby on the property. This will really make the property a true retreat space. Check out the bath house progress below.

Laying the bath house foundation. Image via JT Custom Homes
Laying the bath house foundation. Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Image via JT Custom Homes
Framing the bath house. Image via JT Custom Homes
Framing the bath house. Image via JT Custom Homes
The bath house has a roof now. It's so cute! Image via JT Custom Homes
The bath house has a roof now. It's so cute! Image via JT Custom Homes

Ok that's all for now. What do you think? Pretty cool, right? Stay tuned for more updates soon. We can't wait until the property is complete, and we can begin hosting friends and family at Gingerhawk Mountain Retreat. The roofing should be complete before winter sets in, and the next few months will be dedicated to interior finishing. Construction is scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2020.

About the author: Laura Weatherbee
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