Custom Homes and Cottages - Additions and Renovations

Pye Acres Blog

The following is the story of a Prinston Homes build, from start to finish, as told by Robert Pye on his blog at https://pyeacres.wordpress.com/

Day 117 - When people care

Bob and Eddy Prins "When people care" is the title of this blog post because Cathy and I want to recognize some special people who have put total care into the making of our dream home. Let's start with the guy who inspired this "caring people" theme.

"It makes a difference when people care," said our general contractor, Eddy Prins, as (on Day 58 or so) he quietly yet proudly commented on the incredible Prinston Homes team of trades people. Eddy and his brother, Bob, are serious about quality, and there is serious truth in their observation that a caring attitude is a conduit to quality work.

Cathy and I absolutely love our new home - and that has everything to do with the flawless and enthusiastic experience that went into its construction. Signing a building agreement doesn't make "caring" a contractual given. We are grateful for Prinston Homes for over-delivering on their amazing reputation of pride and quality. Thank you Matt, Scott, Steve, Mary Jane, Chad, Joe, Andy, Larry, Doug, Barrie, and a long list of other Prinston Homes colleagues, who cared just as much about the Pye family as Bob and Eddy Prins...

Introduction

This is a blog six years in the making.

In the fall of 2006, we bought 138 acres of outdoor heaven. The property has a mix of hardwoods, softwoods and rolling pastures and meadows. Stone fences, a pond, a row of massive century old maples and historic log barn give this property breathtaking character. It's first official severance paperwork dates back to the late 1800's. Cathy and I are the third owners.

Putting aspirations for a custom home on hold until the dream of having a family was achieved - enter Charlie & Jack - the time is now for a house on PYE/SYMONS acres.

On May 31, 2012, we broke ground on a dream. This is where we'll try to journal and share the adventure.

Thanks for following our blog.

Robert, Cathy, Charlie & Jack.

   

   

Day 1

Day 1 of construction was a success. The driveway is cut. We used a section of stone fence from our front field to lay down an awesome driveway base. The topsoil is removed from the footprint area of the house. Weather pending (we're in for "cats-n-dog" like rain activity) we may start digging out the foundation tomorrow. We're also using the excavator to really clean up around the barn. For safety sake, we said goodbye to a historic well.

Thanks for everyone's encouragement.

   

   

Day 2

That rain put a damper on plans to dig the foundation today. However, the bulldozer was busy. It knocked down a berm that, until yesterday, supported an old stone fence. The septic bed area is now prepped, the landscaping around the barn has a make-over, and the new driveway got 10 dump truck loads of gravel. It looks awesome. More digging on Monday as we get ready to pour footings with the green-light from the Inspector. That's the update!

Day 3

The foundation hole was dug today, and we're on a solid sheet of bedrock. A geological engineer will be on site tomorrow morning to inspect it. The driveway is done. It received another 2 dump truck loads of gravel. We still haven't made an official "drive" on the driveway yet. Next step, footings!

   

Day 4

Good news. The geological engineer told us today that the bedrock is in perfect condition for a house to rest on it. No additional equipment, materials, time or cost required to get the foundation going. Whew!!! However, we are waiting patiently for the Township to finish the permit paperwork. The cement guys are on standby to make a hole a foundation. No, I still haven't driven on the new driveway yet. I guess it just doesn't feel right to do so until there's a house at the end of it.

Day 5

I'll be brief. Permits acquired!

Day 6

There's a shape of a house on bedrock now. The forms for the footings get pumped with cement first thing in the morning. It all goes up from there. Most of the new furniture and appliance shopping is done. Arguably, however, our most exciting new home acquisition is an English Setter dinner bell. (Thanks M & J for winning it for us at the Ducks Unlimited dinner.) Can't wait to ring that bell!

   

Day 7

The footings are done. The concrete was poured today. Also just poured, a cold beer. (Okay, maybe 3... or 4). Happy Friday.

   

Day 8

Add "stone slinger operator for a day" to my bucket list. What a machine! It hosed stone all around those footings before I could get the boys to day care. Beats the hell out of a wheel-barrel and a shovel. Equally impressive are those big yellow foundation wall forms. They went up fast. In about 12 hours, those forms get filled; and, by Day 10, our foundation will be unveiled. No, I still haven't cruised the new driveway yet.

   

Day 9

Cathy is pleased that there's a bit of her hometown pride poured into the foundation of our family's new home. (Wow, that sounds like a metaphor.) St. Mary's cement trucks delivered the goods that filled those foundation wall forms. In other news, I saw a huge bear on the property tonight.

   

Day 10

In today's construction episode, our new foundation is unveiled. Today, we really got a feel for the design/view of the walk-out basement. Tonight, I walked around the basement walls and, suddenly, this whole project feels VERY REAL. Pinch me. This is really happening.

   

Day 11

Forgive my highly technical building construction terminology... Black plastic stuff went on the outside foundation walls today. Also, some tar was smacked on and all the concrete forms were loaded up and hauled away. Now there's an uninterrupted scene of a freshly finished foundation. It's almost ready for the building inspector's blessing tomorrow afternoon. Hard to believe that 2 weeks ago our future home was nothing more than a patch of grass and 4 little orange-painted stakes. Also worth blogging about on Day 11... Great to have a surprise visit from special Texas friends. Good to see Ya'll.

   

Day 12

Happy Father's Day weekend to great Dads like mine, and Cathy's. We're going into the weekend right on the contractor's schedule. In addition to a foundation inspection, today saw the return of the slinger to give the outside walls and footings a splash of stone. Our dirt-floor barn also got some stone slinger attention. What a difference. I don't want to rush the weekend away but bring on Monday for the back-fill, beams and sub-floor. Then, let the frames begin!

   

Day 13

Just when Charlie & Jack thought it might be fun to have a moat, the high-hoe back-filled their castle. Oh well, with all that limestone, there was no chance of it filling up with water anyway. Foundation grading is done. Sorry boys, no drawbridge required.

On Day 13, there was more shoveling than hammering but nails will fly tomorrow. The excavating progress makes a huge difference including the fine tuning of a great looking driveway. Apparently, I'm not nearly as superstitious about Day "13" as I am about pulling up a new driveway without a finished home at the end of it.

   

Day 14

Unless you were moving dirt and framing today, you probably have no reason to complain about the heat. Hard hats off to the Prinston Homes Team for slugging 2x10's, steel beams and gravel in a 35 degree swelter. Meanwhile, from the comfort of an air-conditioned donut shop, Cathy and I met with our GC to hammer down final decisions on things like the front door, garage doors, side doors and all exterior materials... basically everything but the kitchen sink. Actually, we decided on that too. Seriously.

   

Day 15

I know it's only stud walls and stone right now but if you listen closely you can almost hear it... the slap shot from a floor hockey stick, Friday night movie time or an "all in" moment around the Poker table. Those will be the sounds of our walk-out basement. On Day 15, we're a few more 2x6's closer to actually hearing them.

   

Day 16

If you have ever wondered what is at the end of the rainbow, look no further than Day 16 of our blog.

Tonight I celebrated summer solstice with a colourful skyline and a completely framed basement. Both are beautiful sights. Now the framing focus comes upstairs with the construction of our sub-floor. I can't wait to take my first walk across the plywood.

   

Day 17

It's Bass Fishing Eve, and I'm blogging from the Havelock Drive-In Theatre. Seriously. The kids are enjoying Madagascar III while I'm enjoying Day 17 photos. Today, the Prinston Homes crew got the floor joists all lined up for a blanket of ply. Every new stage of Pye home progress just gets us ridiculously excited for the next. Good luck flipping those bass holes tomorrow. I said bass.

   

Day 18

We got our first taste of the main floor view and altitude as our toes hung over the sub-floor edge. No time for sight-seeing though. We're into the final stretch of packing and getting ready to move into our temporary home away from current home & home under construction. Only 2 more sleeps and the keys for the little chalet and 28 acres that we've called home (for 9 years and 11 months) gets handed over to its new owner. I guess this is the bitter reality of pursuing a sweet dream. It's gonna be tough to say goodbye to our first home.

   

   

Day 19

Pretending I just stood up from the dining room table, I walked past Cathy's island, across the great room, underneath my 11-pointer, up the hall and into the dusk-lit horizon. Sunsets have a powerful way of making life so precisely clear, including a floor plan only on paper but constantly on our minds. My journey toward the sun stopped in Charlie's room. It would have been a hell of a drop had I kept on going. The sub-floor feels great under my feet, and even better over my head when I'm pretending there's a basement poker game going with family and friends. Full House, Gentlemen!! Bring it on. Literally.

   

Day 20 - Moving Day

On Day 20, walls were being built on our new home as rooms were being emptied on our old. Despite the heavy lifting, "Moving Day" required more emotional strength than physical. I make no apologies for being sentimental. Those empty rooms are packed full of memories. The echo of a belonging-free home is totally unnatural for a place that knows the warm sounds of children's laughter, the bark and pitter-patter of English Setters and the adult voices of pride & determination. While there are lots of memories to create 3 miles up the road on Pye Acres, our little Chalet in the woods will always be home to 10 years of our most profound life changing events. I can take you to the spot on the trail where, over 8 years ago, Cathy and I stopped cutting firewood to talk about the future. I told her that after my truck gets paid off I could put that money toward an engagement ring or an ATV. She replied, "Rob, we're not going to get this chord of wood back up to the house with a ring... buy the ATV." With an answer like that, is it any wonder that a month later she had both. If I could have any 6 weeks of life back, it would be 6-weeks to relive with Molly and the 9 puppies (including Bert, rest his incredible soul) that she delivered in our bedroom. And, by far, the most important memories of our Little Chalet in the Woods are of the days we walked in the door with Charlie and Jack.

Our Little Chalet in the Woods    Our new home

Prinston Homes crew

Day 21

Besides the completed framing of our east and west walls, day 21 represents some other noteworthy milestones: 1) Charlie graduated from Junior Kindergarten, 2) Jack was promoted to the Preschool room, 3) The deed to our chalet and 28 acres was officially bestowed upon its new owner, and 4) The Pye Acres Blog cracked 1,000 visitors. Let's raise a pint to the most important occasion of all... Cheers to the long weekend. Happy Canada Day and Merry Independence Day, too.

Putting up walls    Putting up walls

View out the back

Day 22 - Happy Birthday Cathy!!

According to Cathy, on your 40th birthday, the only thing better than seeing walls go up on your dream home is having your 2 1/2 year old take his first dump on the toilet. Way to go, Jack!! Here's to the end of our diaper era.

Thanks to Katie Young for preparing an amazing red-velvet birthday cake. It was delicious. When Cathy blew out the candles, we all knew what she made a wish for. Thank you for following this blog everyday so that you can soon see that wishes do come true.

Happy Birthday, Cathy. I love you.

Robert

Talking with the contractor    Taking shape

Walls go up    Down the lane

Day 24

After a couple of days away from Pye Acres, it felt good to come Home to four walls, a trench for the power line and a septic system. And, in a related story, did I mention that Jack is more determined to go poopy on the toilet vs his pants these days? Fantastic.

   

   

Day 25

Happy Friday night from Paudash Lake. It's a beer and bass weekend. On the way up here, we stopped at the property and here's what we found freshly constructed on Day 25.

   

   

Day 26

When that well pipe erupted, I was more excited than Jed Clampett when he shot up his bubbling crude. H2O, that is. Clear Gold. Pye Acres tea.

As Jed would say, "well doggie" there was great progress on Day 26 of Construction. Our topless home has walls and a well, an approved septic bed and a sheathed garage, plus a sparkling new electrical box and a hydro meter.

Tomorrow the roof trusses arrive to this locality. Ya'll come back now, ya hear? (insert Earl Scruggs banjo solo)

   

   

   

Day 27

Prinston Homes is ready to raise the roof on our dream home. The roof trusses are racked and stacked across the top plates. They are like big 3-D puzzle pieces. It's going to be fascinating to see how all the pieces come together to give our home three gables and a cathedral ceiling.

   

   

Day 28

I'm not very proud of it but on Day 1 of Construction I authored a new, self-imposed superstitious belief: never pull all the way into the new driveway of an unfinished home. For me, this one is right up there with making a wish on the first robin of spring and staying away from the undersides of ladders. I admit that being superstitious is a royal pain in the ass. Those meaningless ideas are totally unfounded and completely unnecessary mental blocks to otherwise clear thinking. But, on the other hand, why risk good fate when it only takes a few seconds to humor ol' lady folklore. At the end of the day, superstitions make us slow down to think about the important things in life, like the successful construction of a new family home.

On Day 28, the newly erected roof line of the double car garage made it tempting to pull my car right up to it. Superstition stopped me. It's amazing how a few rafters really help make the home take shape. The Prinston Homes team is doing a great job and they should have most of the trusses up before the weekend. Knock on wood.

   

   

Day 29

Superstitions be damned! It's Friday 13th and it's going to be an amazing day. Here's a quick photo update from yesterday (Day 29 of Pye/Symons-home construction). The roof trusses are making their way across the house and will soon meet in the middle at the great room's cathedral ceiling. In other news, I have date with my little fishing boat tonight... I'll blog about Day 30 progress after I satisify this fishing twitch.

Day 30

As exciting as it is to witness a roof raising, there's another important event now calling my name. It's called OFAH Get Outdoors Summer Leadership Camp and it holds a special place in my heart.

"Special" because it has helped shape the lives of hundreds of young people. And, "special" because the genesis of OFAH Get Outdoors Summer Leadership Camp traces back to ideas scribbled on the back of a Pizza Factory napkin during my first date with Cathy.

We were an awesome camp delivery duo in the founding years of OFAH Get Outdoors Summer Leadership Camp. On our first camp we struggled to fill 30 spots; 11 years later, 160 spots filled up in 19 minutes after registration opened. Amazing!

Indeed, I'm proud to say that the back-of-the napkin Get Outdoors concept has significantly expanded over the past 11 years thanks to great staff, dedicated volunteers and a world-class organization (www.ofah.org) that works hard to support fishing, hunting and conservation experiences for kids.

I'm a just a kid too when I get a few days out of the office to spend time taking Get Outdoors campers bass, pike and walleye fishing. I'm headed up north to OFAH Get Outdoors Summer Leadership Camp today.

   

   

Day 32

BUSTED! (apparently Jack didn't read my blog on being superstitious about pulling into the laneway of an unfinished home)

   

   

   

Day 34

I missed my daily construction site visit on day 33 and damn near ran out of daylight on Day 34. Better late than never is my motto. Although had I been there earlier and gone before dark, I would have missed this mostly cool, partly freaky photo shoot. It was a strange experience to walk the floor plan with skeleton walls and darkness around me. The sheathing will continue to make its way across the rafters tomorrow after which will be the point in the Pye Acres blog that will see a skip in the record. Starting tomorrow it is cottage week vacation time for this blogger and his family. It won't be hard to disconnect from the office but it will be hard to stay away from the progress of shingling and timber frame installations. Forgive me if I get my blogging fix next week by posting about beer and bass. Vacation starts in 14 more hours.

   

Days 35 to 40

It was sad to leave the cottage but exciting to return to Pye Acres. Tonight's blog is a synopsis of all of the progress made between Day 35 and Day 40 of our new home construction. While the Pye family enjoyed a week preoccupied with fishing and swimming, a team of skilled trades professionals worked hard on our roof construction, chimney installation, basement plumbing, framing, shingling, and most notably, the assembly of stunning timber frame accent pieces. Cathy and I are very pleased with these timber frame touches. I think they really make the home unique and they accurately reflect our country style characters. After spending a sunny Sunday afternoon on an electrical walk-thru with our GC, we're now on a mission to find the perfect lighting. While my fishing habit gets some rest, it's time for new home décor shopping!

Wait. Did I just enthusiastically say, "décor shopping"?

Shut up. I know.

   

   

Day 45

It was multi trade showcase this week at Pye acres. Plumbing, electrical, roofing, finish framing and window and door installation. Things are really moving along. This week, it was a nice surprise to have Cathy's parents, Bruce and Vera, visit our dream home in progress. This is a really cool stage in the construction process. It's great to share this experience, either with family and friends who drop by in person or virtually via this blog. Speaking of blog, we cracked the 3,000 mark according to our blog visitor stats... with daily blog visitors from as far away as Spain and Germany. Dankeschön!

   

   

Day 47

Great news! We're just a few more ceramic tile selections away from home décor shopping completion. Kudos to Cathy! She did a great job sourcing and negotiating the best deals on appliances, cabinets, furniture and lighting. Meanwhile, Prinston Homes and their construction colleagues continue to bring us closer to the actual installation of the fruits of our recent retail therapy.

On Day 47 of Construction, our home is essentially fully wired, most of the windows are now in place and the basement floor plumbing is complete. Now it's time to pour some concrete in the basement and the front porch.

   

   

Day 48

On Day 48, Charlie was almost attacked by a giant T-Rex. Ha!! I'll bet our blog readers didn't see that one coming. See! We told you there is plenty of wildlife around Pye Acres. As Charlie and Jack braved their local Jurassic adventure, concrete contractors were busy pouring our basement floor and the west-facing front porch evening retreat. I can't wait to crack my first beer on the front porch, watch the sun go down and spot for passing waterfowl, turkey, deer, bear... and Brachiosaurous's.

   

   

   

Day 52 - Pretty In Pink

"R" is for R-value and this week our new home is getting plenty of it. Who says that Studs don't look pretty in pink? "R" is also for race which is a good word to describe the speed of activity inside and out. That's not to suggest that speed means a sacrifice in quality. Prinston Homes and its team of contractors are doing an amazing job. Today, Chad Hope Excavating put the finishing touches on some backyard landscaping (it looks awesome!!) while, inside, contractors built the ultimate en-suite shower as well as installed insulation, bath tubs and the wiring for life's basic needs - internet, satellite, phone and in-ceiling sound system. Let's crank it up.

   

   

Day 55 - Special Stairway

Among all the special moments of our house-raising experience, here is one that I will always treasure the most. When hand chisel meets stringer, I think about my Grandpa. He was a World War II Veteran, a carpenter and a Master Stair Builder. He passed away in April. After we broke ground on our new home, my Aunt Cathy told me that she believed Grandpa Pye would oversee our stair case construction. She was right. Today, it felt like Grandpa was there.

   

Day 57 - Let the drywall begin!!

Drywall week got a head start thanks to Saturday morning crew that showed up to hang drywall in over half the house!

   

   

Day 58

If our new kitchen looks this great in drywall dust, tape and mud then we really can't wait to see it with tiles, stainless appliances and alder cabinets. The construction dust is scheduled to settle soon, and after the liquor cabinet and wine racks are fully stocked, we hope that everyone following our blog will find an opportunity to join us for drinks served around the kitchen island. Until then "cheers" to Day 58 of construction.

   

   

Day 60 - Set in stone

Today we got stoned. No, not that kind of stoned. I'm talking about the kind of stone that is already giving our new home a touch of classic country charm. The ancient skill of stonemasonry stands the test of time and, evidently, it is as much of an art as it is a trade. We are totally impressed with the impeccable brick and stone craftsmanship that is making its way around our home. Inside, more skilled tradespeople are getting the job done on the drywall and a great looking staircase. Grandpa Pye would be very proud.

   

Day 61 - If a bear poops...

Timber! It was worth taking a vacation day to conquer a massive maple today. It came half way down in a windstorm last summer and its heavy limbs spring loaded a few balsams around it. It scared the hell out of me to start processing it without the assistance of an experienced chainsaw-slinger. Thanks to our friend Ron, it took no time at all to safely set down a winter's worth of good burning. Cathy can't wait to fire up her splitter. Yes, it's HER splitter.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the Prinston Homes team, brick layers, drywall mudders, an electrician and heating guys, were hard at work. Even Mary Jane, our interior design consultant/flooring expert from FloorTrends made a visit today to confirm our tile and carpet selections. The front door installation moment that I have been waiting for happened while I was running the chainsaw in the back 40. The front door looks awesome but I refuse to share it with our blog readers until the front porch stonemasonry is complete. Oh the suspense!!

Here are a few pictures from Day 61, my first full day onsite since Day 1 ground breaking. It was a great day spending time in the woods as well as onsite to see talented trade professionals doing their thing. I can't wait to share photos of the completed masonry work. Stay tuned.

   

Day 62 - The half monty

Front porch stonework continues so you will have to wait until next week to see a full frontal. Relax. I am talking about the house. But speaking of well hung, drywall was installed on the ceiling and walls of the garage today. On Day 62, we will keep blog followers in "front porch suspense" but we will take you inside to see the skeleton structure of our great room's piéce de résistance, a Wolf's Creek fashioned stone fireplace. Here's to the weekend and to three amazing couples (Matt & Emily, Matt & Jenn, Jaime & Joe) who will tie the knot tomorrow. Wish we could make it to all three "big days."

   

   

Day 64 - Caution wet paint

"Caution: WET PAINT." That's the sign of more interior progress as our home just received a coat of primer to cover up shades of grey. Bring on the Obelisk and Hiking Trail, our carefully selected paint colour choices that should look just as personally fitting as they sound. Oh, pardon me... on my high last week about getting stoned, I failed to blog about the fact that, last Wednesday, we also got wired. Hydro arrived and we're now on the grid. I guess you could say that the lights are on but no one is home (yet).

   

Day 65 - Stare at the ceiling

You'll get a kink in your neck if you stare too long at today's interior work. The finished ceilings look great. There! Knock another "to do" off the home completion list... along with the installation of our furnace and duct work, and the stunning brick work across the back of the house. Brackets on deck footings and a "just delivered" stack of pressure treated posts and cedar boards tells me there's a deck on the way. Call me Mr. Obvious.

   

   

Day 71 - Making this house our home

This Prinston custom home is really starting to feel like our Prinston custom home. That satisfying feeling of originality has hit us a number of times during this house raising adventure... most notably when the timber accents were lifted up to the gables, and then again this week, as our personally selected fireplace stonework made its great room appearance. The metamorphosis from construction site to family home continues as we approach the one-month countdown to move in. Thanks to Prinston Homes and their colleagues in construction, everything is completely on track. This week, we welcome Andy and his crew of trim work professionals. They have already cased most of the doors and windows. Out back, Matt, Scott and Steve are building an awesome deck. In other news, our firewood is done! On Wednesday, Cathy and I devoted a kids-free/work-free day to bring in the last loads of winter fuel wood for our new home.

   

   

Day 74 - On the home stretch

It's official. October 4 is the BIG Day. Only 28 more sleeps until we are home sweet home. And oh how sweet it is! As the second coat of wall colours dry, the tile installers are ready to lay'er down in the bathrooms, kitchen and mudroom. "Wow" is all we can say about the finished stonework work, inside and out. The masonry is marvelous. The only thing our fireplace is missing is a deer. There's an 11-pointer hanging in my office that has been destined to fill that fireplace spot since this Pye Acres house-raising dream began nearly six deer hunts ago! We can't wait to go hunting this fall in our new backyard.

   

   

   

Day 79 - Take a walk on the tiled side

You know what they say about tile guys... they really know how to make an entrance. :) Apparently, they also know how to make a kitchen, a mudroom and bathrooms, all of which have been getting the trowel treatment since my last blog post. Nosing up to the tile edge soon will be our hardwood floor. We can't wait. This is an adrenalin pumping phase of our custom home construction. With every incoming material delivery come the personal taste elements that we last saw only as samples in the showrooms of flooring, kitchen and lighting stores. As Cathy said, it really feels like it's coming together when we start to see that installation of the things we picked out weeks ago. However, we didn't do it alone. We are grateful for the caring advice and direction from Mary Jane at Floor Trends as well our GC, Eddy Prins who cared enough to actually go shopping with us. I'm not convinced that there are many contractors who would demonstrate so much enthusiastic involvement about getting it right for a client. We certainly got it right so far. We really appreciate their help.

   

   

Day 86 - Floored, etc.

In the past 48 hours, our great room got a lot greater. Our bathroom got a lot splashier. And, our entire home got a lot brighter following the hook-up of all our lighting fixtures. The pots, spots, domes, fans, carriages and chandelier cast the perfect light. In just one day, every square foot of our hardwood floor was installed. We are floored. It's awesome. It's a perfect match for our country home.

Some days there is just too much to blog about so lets jump to the highlight reel. Here are Cathy's top 10 photos of the past two days of construction.

   

   

   

   

   

Day 88 - 3 Pears

"Dreaming is only dreaming 'til the dream is the only thing that's true." No truer lyrics were ever recorded, and they are found on a newly released album called 3 Pears, the latest masterpiece from Dwight Yoakam. This new Dwight song, titled Long Way To Go, could have been played as the soundtrack to the long journey that has brought the Pye Family to a "thing that's true" - a dream home with a dream kitchen.

I have been a devoted Dwight Yoakam fan since I was the Atherley paperboy. During the course of Dwight's 20+ album career, I have become infatuated with his music. Everything the Grammy winner touches becomes a Dwight original and an understated tribute to his influence from the styles and sounds of Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Ralph Stanley and even the Bee Gees, Rolling Stones and the Beatles. What's more important than the musical education I have received from years of wearing out Dwight albums (and I mean that literally), are the life lessons I have gained from his personal approach to career and life.

When I was 14, I memorized almost every word of an early Dwight Yoakam radio interview that I received on cassette. In that interview Dwight talked about things like "keeping your eye on the prize" and "to thy own self be true." Dwight relayed the important advice his Dad gave him as a teenager - the same message my own Dad expressed to me - about "just being who you are." Dwight talked about seeing beyond the mainstream as he introduced me to a word called TENACITY; and if I didn't know what that word meant then, I learned about the importance of tenacity through 27 years of observation of Dwight's rise as a music-making icon and a leading movie actor. I was moved by the way Dwight so genuinely and intelligently articulated his admiration for his own idols, as well as family, friends and fans who have been inspired by his conviction to stay true to his roots.

Welcome to our new kitchen. Here you'll find 3 Pears - and not the kind that sits in a fruit bowl on our new counter but the kind that will be playing on the day that we officially move in and during many more great Pye Family-home events. Our new kitchen came in on Monday, and my pre-ordered copy of Dwight's new album landed on Tuesday. I am equally excited about the arrival of both.

   

Day 91 - Love at first flush

Here's how yesterday's visit to Pye Acres went:

"Daddy, I have to go poo!"

"Cathy, Charlie just said he has to go poo!!"

"Quick!!! Text Eddy and ask him if these new toilets are ready for first flush."

Way to go, Charlie! You just christened your newly installed toilet. While Charlie was busy, I took pictures of other un-preoccupied rooms that have more features since our last blog post.

   

   

   

Day 93 - For goodness shakes

In addition to the expert installation of soffits, fascia, eavestroughs and siding, there was a-whole-lotta'-shakin'-goin-on around our new home this past week. The shakes contrast brilliantly with the board and batten siding and they really make those timber accents stand-out. The siding is now making its way around the rest of the house. Inside, Andy and his trim work team returned to finish the rest of the baseboard trim. They also affixed all of the door handles and assembled our stunning new stairway railing. Only 11 more sleeps until we'll be up and down those stairs with our moving boxes.

   

Day 102 - Good grades

Today at Pye Acres, Cathy's science students weren't the only one's working on good grades. As Grade 11 students enjoyed a hands-on lesson in tree identification and species classification, an A+ went to the bulldozer/high-hoe operator who gave our new home it's final grade. It looks awesome.

In the words of Mark Twain, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education." Obviously, the literary legend must have had a terrific teacher, like my amazing wife Cathy, who goes the extra distance to provide her students with special learning opportunities. Today's class trip to Pye Acres is one of a dozen of more that we have thoroughly enjoyed hosting. The student's enthusiasm for wide open spaces, and their fascination with wildlife, plant life and various creepy-crawlers, remind us why our outdoor opportunities are so important to share. I'm proud of Cathy for shaping our future's environmental education, right in our own backyard.

   

Day 108 - Field of Dreams

After a test hole was dug last November, I stopped here on a crisp deer hunting morning and captured a magnificent morning moment with my Blackberry camera. With a rifle over my shoulder, I closed my eyes and tried to image what the next 12 months would bring. The reality surpassed my imagination. Our new home is complete, and it's stunning. It all started with a field of dreams.

   

Day 117 - When people care

"When people care" is the title of this blog post because Cathy and I want to recognize some special people who have put total care into the making of our dream home. Let's start with the guy who inspired this "caring people" theme.

"It makes a difference when people care," said our general contractor, Eddy Prins, as (on Day 58 or so) he quietly yet proudly commented on the incredible Prinston Homes team of trades people. Eddy and his brother, Bob, are serious about quality, and there is serious truth in their observation that a caring attitude is a conduit to quality work.

Cathy and I absolutely love our new home - and that has everything to do with the flawless and enthusiastic experience that went into its construction. Signing a building agreement doesn't make "caring" a contractual given. We are grateful for Prinston Homes for over-delivering on their amazing reputation of pride and quality. Thank you Matt, Scott, Steve, Mary Jane, Chad, Joe, Andy, Larry, Doug, Barrie, and a long list of other Prinston Homes colleagues, who cared just as much about the Pye family as Bob and Eddy Prins.

In addition to a great contractor, dream home plans require a great banker. Discovering Kawartha Credit Union was one of the best things I ever did when I moved to this community almost 15 years ago. Cathy and I wouldn't have our dream land, or our dream home, if it wasn't for the "lets make it happen" determination and the personalized "above and beyond" member service that we have received from Kawartha Credit Union's Steve Self, Alan MacKay and Terri Maher. Talk about people who care! We can't thank them enough for standing up for our family.

Speaking of family, let me blog about a special part of ours. Her name is Katie Young and she epitomizes Eddy's philosophy about people who care. Not only did Katie put her roof over our heads during our new home construction, she put her heart and soul into our family ever since Charlie and Katie's daughter made our acquaintances in the day-care parking lot. Way to go Charlie! We couldn't imagine life without Katie in it. Thanks for taking us in, Katie.

Finally, a BIG THANKS to everyone who has cared enough to follow our house-raising adventure via this blog. We appreciate all of your "likes" and encouraging comments along the way. Our dream home is complete but that doesn't suggest that our Pye Acres Blog has reached its final chapter. On the contrary, the Pye Acres Adventure is only getting started! Please keep following our blog.

Here is a brief tour of our Prinston Home, including a photo of our first Thanksgiving dinner at our new kitchen table. Yes, we certainly have plenty to be thankful for.

Sincerely,

Robert, Cathy, Charlie & Jack