I've made more than a few mistakes—some big, some small, some that cannot be fixed. For contrast, see Happy Accidents.


Yes, the foundation itself is all wrong, and it's all my fault. The first issue I noticed was how the lower level wound up much higher above the ground than I'd planned. This was due to my not taking into account changes I'd made in the length of the foundation just before construction. In the image below, notice how high the back of the house sits—it's about twice as tall as I'd envisioned. I could have corrected this by increasing the height difference of the three levels and/or by sliding the whole house back several feet.

The other issue was that the foundation is off-angle from how I'd planned it by around 10-12 degrees. This was due to my failure to double-check my marker stakes before the excavators started digging. The view below offers a sense of how the house points to the right—hover to see the detail.

I only noticed these errors after the foundation was finished. Obviously there's no hope of correcting them, as they're now literally set in stone. The bad news is that it bothers me every time I stand in the living space and look out at the ravine. It's a reminder of what can happen when I become overconfident, and that I should probably have had a professional manage the project. The good news is that no one notices them but me. Plus, it did have at least one happy-ish consequence: I wound up with the best deck design I ever hoped to have.

Front Porch

I've made plenty of other mistakes, but thankfully not many as big as the foundation. One fairly biggish blunder is the front porch framing. I knew in advance how the roof would be supported, but in my enthusiasm to frame the first level, I failed to plan ahead and accommodate the porch roof support members at the corners of the house. Consequently, I've got these awkward-looking posts at each end of the porch.

On one end, there was going to be a short wing wall to form the firewood alcove, so this was a non-issue. As I was framing it out, I liked the look of the unclad two-bys—as did some friends—so I added more beams to turn it into an "architectural element" (above, next to the "150").

The other end, next to the front door (above), received the same visual "patch" on 12 December 2018 (below) to further disguise my blunder.

One other blunder in this area of the house is the framing. As I was assembling it, I failed to notice that one of the corner braces had come loose. Consequently, the front wall is around a half-inch out of plumb, which is noticeable in how the front door tends to swing open on its own.


Another goof involved the refrigerator enclosure. I used the wrong measurement spec for the refrigerator I chose: instead of the total depth, I used the depth without the doors. I realized this later on when I was comparing two models, and I had to re-frame the whole pantry end of the kitchen because, if I didn't, the oven door would be blocked by the refrigerator door. Everything had to be shifted to toward the breakfast bar by around four inches (left, before; right, after). I'm just glad I caught it before the kitchen was sheetrocked.

As it is, I had to re-frame part of refrigerator enclosure yet again because, owing to the commercial property debacle, the model I'd chosen was no longer available, and the new one was almost an inch taller.


Somehow, despite a lot of very careful measuring, the island countertop wound up nearly an inch higher than the rest of the kitchen countertops. After pondering a number of possible fixes, I ultimately decided it wasn't worth the effort.


The roofers discovered a number of anomalies while they applied the standing seam steel roof. While none of them were catastrophic by any means—or even particularly noteworthy, as they remarked (they insisted they'd seen much, much worse)—it still bothered me. Example: the living space roof is over an inch wider at one end than the other. Also, one side is nearly an inch longer than the other. There were plenty more; thankfully, the errors are absolutely undetectable when looking at the finished roof.

Guest Cabin

Even The Epiphany has issues. I was in such a rush to finish it that I forgot to install a barrier on the underside to protect the floor insulation, which could only have been done while it was under construction—the floor is too close to the ground to get under it and apply one after the fact. Consequently the insulation is shredding and falling out.


Copyright © 2017-2022 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
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