Getting comfortable

Now that the house is done and we’re all moved in, I thought I’d write a short post about how the first couple of weeks have gone. Since I haven’t lived in anything but apartments and condos since going off to college, it’s been a bit strange expanding into a much larger space.

The strangest part isn’t really the size, but rather the amount of “things” to keep track of… especially entrances and exits. In a condo, your only point of security is your one main door so remembering to close and lock it isn’t difficult. Additionally, unless you’re on the ground floor, any windows you may leave open are not much of a security risk. Yes, we have a security system to tell us when these sorts of things are open, but it’s still another thing to keep track of. We also have an indoor cat and there are quite a few neighborhood outdoor cats that hang out in our backyard, so making sure those boundaries are not crossed is another concern.

Another thing that was unexpected for me with new construction is how many post move-in tweaks and fixes there are. It’s definitely not like buying a new piece of precision electronics that’s been thoroughly tested and should be flawless right off of the assembly line. New homes are imperfect. They just are. Until people begin living in them, many of their flaws go undetected. Some examples in my situation include a shower with a defective thermostatic valve, pocket doors which don’t have the proper clearance to slide unencumbered, and a built-in dresser that isn’t tall enough to hang certain garments.

I won’t lie… at first, it’s a bit frustrating seeing these sorts of things right after you move in. You’d like to think a large team of professional “testers” came through your house before you moved in to flip every switch and jiggle every bolt, but unless you hired that team specifically, it is likely they didn’t. Builders do the best they can to present as finished of a product as possible, but as a homeowner, you’re always going to find things they don’t. This is no different than my business, where we produce web experiences we think are great only to have our clients and our customers point out things we didn’t do right.

The other important part of getting settled that we haven’t completed yet is just getting everything functional and into place. TV, internet, and whole-house audio are all working now, so that helps, and we have some nice new furniture as well, but a house feels empty without art, plants, and some of the other human touches people adorn their surroundings with.

I still have probably 10 or 15 more posts to write on some subjects I haven’t covered yet, but until then, feel free to visit the photo gallery for some new shots of the completed house. Build also has a new post on the completion of the house.

24 Responses to “Getting comfortable”

  1. nina Says:

    Just wondering if you have decided to have any blinds in your house? We have a ton of windows and aren’t use to having ground floor access like you. We did top/bottom blinds on the main floor and regular blinds in the rest of the house. Useless windows (and there were a lot of them including two in the shower….) were frosted with film. The blinds were expensive but necessary. There are a few windows without anything on them…. and it gets pretty hot inside. I am wondering if it’s worth covering them now.

    Also, why did you decide on a electric stove top instead of gas?

    And finally…. Did you get a/c?

  2. Yolanda Says:

    Congrats on finally moving in! Absolutely gorge! My favorite part? The hot tub on the deck! Like being on a cruise ship (including the view)!


    Who made the laundry room sliding doors?
    Can you share some bathroom pics?

  3. Mike D. Says:

    Hi Nina. Yep, I have a whole post on the blinds coming up. We have some interior white roller blinds (mostly top-down but one street-facing one is bottom-up) and then 7 exterior motorized solar shades along the west face of the house. The solar shades cut out something like 95% of solar radiation before it even hits the windows so it makes a huge difference both in light and in heat.

    As for the stovetop, that ain’t no ordinary electric! That’s induction! Huge, gigantic fan so far.

    … and yeah, we did a heat pump which gives you A/C automatically.

  4. Mike D. Says:

    Yolanda: The sliding doors are by Raumplus (separate post on those coming too) and bathroom pics will be forthcoming in another post as well.

  5. Tom Q Says:

    Wow. Looks fantastic – thanks for sharing the entire process.

  6. Michael Says:

    Congratulations Mike, the house looks like a work of art. I have followed the progress from the very beginning and it’s interesting to see how it finally turned out. Just one question now that it is coming to an end:

    1. Do you think you would you do it again?

  7. Diane Says:

    Mike, looks beautiful. I’ve been following progress closely. Are there any interior pics anywhere. I’m dying to see what NB design did for the bathroom and kitchen cabs. etc.

  8. Toronto Modern Says:


    Congratulations. The house looks amazing. You are probably exhausted, if not physically, then certainly mentally and emotionally. The one thing I tell people who ask me about my own rebuild project is that the biggest lesson I learned is that “Custom doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect. Custom just means that it was built for me, to my specifications.” We had an amazing team working on our project (architect/builder/most of the subtrades), but even with an amazing team, there are glitches and problems and compromises. All I could keep thinking was “If it’s this stressful working with good people, imagine how stressful it could be…” It sounds like you have a great team working on your house. The post-move in clean up can take a while. The main thing that I struggled with, and continue to struggle with, is – I want to be reasonable, but I also want to get the end result that I want. Perfection (or what passes for perfection) sometimes is not realistic or attainable (especially if there’s been an initial screw up), and it takes a lot of effort and energy. How do I balance being reasonable, with getting an end result that I am satisfied with? At every point of stress I had to keep reminding myself that we were lucky to be in a position to have these problems.

    In our case, the post-move clean up has taken a long time, mostly because I was so tired and worn out from the project, that I wanted to pretend that the little problems didn’t exist and was very lackadaisical about the final touches. It sounds like you are taking a very sane measured approach to your project. Something you might want to keep an eye out for in the months to come:a common problem, even when the existing foundation is used, is cracking appearing in some of the doorway corners. I’m told that it’s not settling per se, but it’s due to the fact that even kiln dried framing lumber shrinks a little bit over time. Even though we made extensive use of steel, we’ve experienced some of these issues, and you should keep an eye out for these types of issues after your first winter in the house. The cracks will have to be patched, and the painters called back. Michael, one of your commenters, asked if you would do it again. I’m not sure what your answer is going to be. Mine would be “Yes, but only after the kids are grown up, I’ve retired from my job, and I’ve built up a huge nest egg!” :-) That being said, it’s a real privilege and joy to live in a house that designed for the way my family lives. I can’t imagine leaving it.

  9. greg Says:

    Very, very nice! Beautiful vision very well executed. I just love the cladding choices.

    One question: how do you plan on changing the light bulbs in the main living area? They look like they are 20′ in the air.

  10. Jim Ray Says:

    My room’s set up in the basement, right? The sooner I get moved in, the sooner I can start cooking.

  11. tiffehr Says:

    Very glad the serpentine evergreen (the blue-green fir by the backyard stairs) made it through construction. At least until the landscapers dig in.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Congrats on the move-in — the house looks great, and I really like the design aesthetic.

    We’re just about to start design on a custom house with YS Development in Redmond, and while I’m sure the design, materials choosing, etc. will be enjoyable, I am most looking forward to the move-in day when we’ll actually have our own custom-built home.

    I also appreciate that you blogged the whole process — you’ve helped inspire me to start a similar blog as we go through our project.

  13. Mike D. Says:

    Michael: Yep, I’d definitely do it again, although I plan on living here for the rest of my live. We’ll see.

    Diane: Yep, I have a whole post on the bathrooms and kitchen coming up.

    Toronto Modern: Yep, I certain expect some stress cracking at some point. I’ve seen it in plenty of other houses… seems like you need to be pretty lucky to completely avoid that. Also, yeah, with regard to the team working on the project, this is definitely the biggest variable as to how your experience goes. You’re really putting your life in their hands.

    Greg: I actually ordered a special platform ladder for those. I plan on not needing it more than once a year or so, but yeah, they are definitely tough to reach.

  14. How nice to read that you moved in.

    I started to read your blog out of pure interest. I don’t know you at all, you don’t know me at all, I know nothing about building houses, about Seattle, or about the business (Newsvine) you have set up and chances are slim I will ever live in a house in the same high pricerange as yours. But I like your style of writing about the things you come across on your other blog. So I decided to follow this blog out of pure interest and my large base of knowledge about all the above. Kind of “Gee, let me try something completely different this time: read a blog about somebody I don’t know, about a subject I know nothing about, stick with it and see where this leads to”.

    Now that I see the finished product in photos, it comes alive even more! Apart from a great house, it makes this blogthing for a nice experience. And what a great view you have from your new house, you lucky b*st*rd!

    Congrats on this endresult of this great achievement: the building of your very own house. As I have read in the past year or so: It is quite an achievement you’ve pulled off here.

  15. Congrats on the move-in! The house looks spectacular, as does the view! A house is never finished and some things need their time. We are still looking for two lights that are eyecatchers. Will know what when I see it :) Has been almost 3 years for us. Last weekend we went to Lille, France and found the perfect vase, that is how it goes :)

  16. greg Says:

    I just noticed the outdoor lighting by the garage. Very cool accent. What can you tell me about that fixture. We’re thinking of installing some outdoor lighting ourselves.

  17. Your new house looks just fantastic … so modern and stylish. I understand your security concerns as I have three entrances to my house and sometimes forget to close one of them. Its a good thing you have the security system that reminds you this kind of things. I hope you enjoy living in your new home.

  18. Amanda Says:

    What kind of cat do you have? It looks like mine!

  19. Mike D. Says:

    L to the J: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Greg: Are you talking about the stainless path lights? Those are Hinkley Lighting 1579SS lights. Love them. One of the only comtemporary path lights I could find.

    Amanda: Chloe is a Blue Point Balinese. Same?

  20. Karinne Says:

    I have happily just stumbled upon your site and WOW! thanks for all those posts!

    We own a 1 acre lot (in Canada) and we’ll hopefully be building next year (I can’t wait) and alot of your posts gave me some good ideas on things I’d like to incorporate (mostly the multi-zone HVAC system! NICE!).

    I can’t wait to hear how it’s going so far like any regrets on things now? Things you would change? Etc…

    Again, thanks for this!

  21. Jenny G A Says:


    Congratulations! Your house looks amazing and I am blown away by the view. I work for a Seattle based publishing company now and my recent travels to WA, OR and AK have given me a new appreciation for the PNW, especially the natural beauty, good food, and lower real estate prices.

    Naomi’s FB link pointed me to your blog and I’m so glad I found it. We’re in the very beginning stages of a remodel/expansion and you introduced me to the concept of design/build firms. We’ve met with our first one on Friday and I really do like the idea of having the same invested partner throughout the entire process. Would worry that we’re taking the “easy way out” but since you researched everything super thoroughly I feel more confident in the business model.


    Jenny Goodman Abrami

  22. Jenny G A Says:

    p.s. cannot wait to see the kitchen and bathes

  23. Michael St. Paul Says:

    In hindsight, are there any other tweaks you would have liked to have made?

    Is the wind cutting into your enjoyment of the outdoor spaces?

  24. Mike D. Says:

    Michael: Nope, I really don’t have any significant regrets at all.