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Building A House: Final Installment

By Mike Rosso

We reached the end of the construction and finish phase of the house, and all that remained was the final inspection and certificate of occupancy.

After a bit of ground leveling by the builder, a dump truck full of gravel was brought in to create a driveway. The builders then came in and did a final cleaning, which involved vacuuming all the remaining dust, cleaning all windows and removing any leftover construction debris from the yard.

It was exciting to fire up the well and test all the plumbing and appliances. Although I’ve yet to test it for its mineral content, the tap water is tasty and refreshing.

Throughout the construction process, from dirt work to finish, the head county building inspector, Aaron Kroschel, checked in at the site, making sure everything was to code. At final inspection, there was a question about the distance of the double-wall stove pipe to the wall, but that was resolved by the installer who provided documentation to confirm it was correct.

Naturally, I was happy to get out from underneath the nearly year-long construction loan, which was at 5.95%, and locked in my mortgage rate with the bank. There were several requirements that were a bit unusual. First, I had to sign an affidavit with the county confirming that if I were to sell the house in the future, I was required to market it as a two bedroom home, as the size of the septic system is determined by the number of bedrooms. The home has an office with a closet, but cannot be counted as a bedroom.

The other requirement was in the closing papers with the bank, stating that I would not grow marijuana in the home or on the property. This is due to the fact that it is a federally-insured loan, and although pot is legal in Colorado, it is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA. Since it was never my intention to grow it anyway, I had no issues with signing it although it did raise an eyebrow.

Now that it is no longer the builder’s responsibility to insure the home, I took out a homeowners policy, which is escrowed into my loan along with the property taxes. It was gratifying to write the final check to the builder and finally see the actual numbers of the combined monthly payments.

Moving into the new house was not nearly as daunting as it might have been due to the fact that I had rented a 30-foot metal storage container the previous year and had it delivered onto the property.When I sold my house in Salida, I moved most of my belongings into the container, so it was a short hop across the property to get my furnishings and household goods moved into the new home.

The finished kitchen and bar. Photo by Mike Rosso.

There are a few things about the home which make it a bit unconventional. First, I opted not to have a phone line trenched and installed to the house. My reasoning for this is that I only use cell phone service these days, and due to the poor internet service I had received from CenturyLink in the past, decided to go with a wireless service offered by Colorado Central Telecom. They have a transmitter on Tenderfoot Mountain which is in direct sight of my home and only two miles away. That service is reliable and plenty fast for my needs. (They actually came out and pre-wired the house for internet during the construction phase.)

I also opted out of LP gas service, therefore have no gas line or tank to deal with. Since my house is all-electric, I have no need for propane except for my barbeque grill and its refillable five-gallon tank.

Another custom feature, the brainchild of the builder Kirby Perschbacher, was a custom cat door into the utility room, allowing the cat access to his litterbox, food and water, out of sight of the main house. Initially I had asked about cutting a hole in the door to that room, but Kirby insisted on an arched door in the wall itself, which happens to mimic the design of two of the arched niches recessed into the wall in other parts of the house. The cat loves it.

Interior lighting is very important to me, especially in the kitchen, so I had the electrician install dimmable LED lights under the upper cabinets, which are pleasing to the eye and provide needed light to the countertop surface. I was also given a three-head light fixture from my friend MA, which was installed over the bar. I purchased colored glass pendants for the fixture and fitted it with old-style Edison bulbs, but a modern, LED version. Inside the covered porch, I strung carnival lights on a dimmer which offers nice, festival-like mood lighting.

Speaking of lighting, because the bathroom is on the north side of the house, we installed a solar tube, or Sun Tunnel, which is similar to a skylight, but more flexible. A reflective, accordion-type tube brings light from a dome mounted on the roof on the south side of the house, to a diffuser mounted on the bathroom ceiling. It certainly does its job and brings much-needed natural light to that part of the house.

On the fourth of July, 2018, I spent the first night in my new home. Independence Day seemed a very appropriate holiday for the occasion. That night was greeted by a major thunderstorm from the east – battering the home with wind, rain and hail but providing a spectacular light show for such a prolonged period of time, I just turned out all of the lights and laid on my couch, grateful that I was finally home. Mother Nature provided a baptism of the new place not repeated since.

This past winter, I went through about two cords of firewood and my largest electric bill was around $40, so the house is performing to expectations.

Last fall, I began to plant shrubs and a few aspen trees on the property, all of which survived the winter. Landscaping is the next order of business along with what I’m now calling “the great weed battle of 2019.”

I am now coming up on almost a year in this new house, and although I am becoming a bit of a hermit, living only two miles from downtown Salida, I have no regrets about taking on this project. My hope is to live out my days on this windy mesa top with the forested arroyo below, and views of the Sangres and the Sawatch mountains, the South Ark Hills and the Arkansas River canyon. It’s good to be home.