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Log Home Journey: Sweat Equity

Sean and Amanda catch a glimpse of the finish line and decide it’s time to invest some of their own labor and talents to the construction of their New Jersey log home.

It’s finally here. That light at the end of that proverbial tunnel that we thought might never come. It’s the light that signals the project is on the downslope, and we can start uttering the words “we’re almost there.” While it always proves to be a bit farther away than it appears, that light on the horizon brings hope and comfort to weary travelers. Our journey has been no different.

As Amanda and I transition from the “starting” into the “finishing” stage, we took some time to take stock of where we are with our finances and began to make some of the tougher decisions between “must haves” and “we don’t really need that.”  It’s amazing how the financial well that seemed so deep at the beginning can begin to feel pretty shallow as you get closer to the end of the project. We decided that in order to keep some funds in reserves for the unforeseen, we’d roll up our sleeves and put in a little sweat equity of our own.

As the drywall install came to a finish and the electrician came back in to start hooking up lights and switches, we took on the painting. Why the painting?  Go get a quote for painting three floors of a 4,700-square-foot home. I totally respect (even more now) what painters do, but if you have the time and patience, it’s a nice opportunity to put some money back into your budget.

Before you take the plunge, however, make sure you are on the same page with your general contractor (G.C.) in regards to your schedule. While it helped that mine was the one who suggested painting as a way to save money, Amanda and I understood that we were now cogs in the wheel, and we didn’t want to hold up progress. In a nutshell, make sure you actually have or can make the time for the task, or you risk becoming an impediment to your own project.

For Amanda and me, this meant spending every weekend for nearly three solid months at the house painting — with three kids in tow!  The fun of actually being in the house and feeling the satisfaction of doing some work ourselves is what kept us going.  It made it feel more like it was “ours.”  We also had some fun with the kids, letting them do the priming in the less conspicuous areas, like their bedroom closets. We wanted to make sure they also felt like it was their home and get them excited about moving into their own rooms. The family that paints together, stays together!  (Trust me, there’s a lot of truth to that statement.) 

Since we were working in concert with our G.C. who was also working on the install of the tongue-and-groove ceiling, we were able to take advantage of the ladders and scaffolding he had in place. That made reaching the 25-foot-high areas in the foyer and great room much more manageable. The regularity of being on site also kept us both close to the pulse of the project and made on-the-spot decision making for other punch list items easier. 

As the painting came to a close, so did daylight savings time, so our electrician was busy wrapping up “core” lighting areas like the great room and kitchen. Again, taking advantage of the scaffolding, they were able to make the connections for the crown jewel of our log home, a 53-inch-tall antler chandelier from CDN Antler Company. It was our reward for the long days, sore necks and aching shoulders from all that painting. The chandelier is truly a work of art that’s perfectly at home in its foyer perch, visible from the great room, entryway and second-floor bridge. It’s large but appropriately sized for the scale of our home, and it’s the centerpiece Amanda and I always envisioned it would be. We couldn’t be happier. 

So perhaps, for us, that light … the one at the end of the tunnel we thought would never come … is, and always was, that magnificent antler chandelier. One flip of that switch and we’re reminded that the dream is real and the finish line is there. Perhaps it’s still a little distant, but it’s no mirage; and thanks to a little sweat equity, we’ll reach it soon enough. 

Keep up with the Murphys throughout their entire log home building journey - click here for more stories!

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