Something happened after I got back from the beach… The money ran out.
Let me back up a bit. Before starting this project, a particular saying of Jesus jumped to mind.
“Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30
I know that I don’t know enough to put together a budget for building a house, so I took the plans to a friend who does it quite successfully as a side business. He took a look at the plans and built a budget based on the materials I would need and the prices that he expected me to pay. The budget seemed reasonable, so I added about 30% contingency and borrowed that amount of money from the bank.
Unfortunately, I can’t predict the future and nobody expected what happened to the cost of construction materials during the time between making my budget, closing my loan, and getting my building permits. (Insert the sound of a rocket ship launching into outer space).
Inflation = a Plague of Locusts.
Inflation is a black cloud of locusts that flies over the horizon and devours the livelihoods of widows and orphans. I’ve talked to guys who do construction for a living and their price per square to build has more than doubled. Prices for lumber and other building materials went through the roof.
For example, a 2×4 stud, which is used for just about everything, went from about $2 a piece to over $10. I managed to find them for about $7 each after first being quoted $9 at another store. Another example: 1/2 inch OSB plywood, which is used for the exterior walls and roof, went from about $13 a sheet to over $30 per sheet. At store after store, I heard about supply chain issues and surging prices.
With each new bill, I swallowed hard and prayed, “Lord, please help me to finish this project.” Three big purchases after I got home from vacation cleaned out the loan account. I was disappointed, but what could I do? I haven’t been spending outrageously on this project. My blood on the wood bears witness to my frugality.
I did walk into this with my eyes wide open. I do have some money in a Vanguard brokerage account that I’ve saved up since I got married. I’m not the best stock picker in the world, but I’m also not the worst. I kind of figured that this might be kind of like the parable of the man who finds a treasure buried in a field and sells all that he owns to buy the field. If cashing in all my stocks means that I get my own bathroom, I’ll do it.
Up in smoke.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the bad news. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to start my truck and a cloud of smoke started pouring out of the tailpipe. Not good. I took it to the shop. Really not good. It needs a new engine. And of course, supply chain issues make said engine twice as expensive. The truck is 20 years old and has 204,000 miles, so I’m not sure that it’s worth it.
I have to say that this truck was an answer to prayer when I got it maybe four years ago, but not the prayer that you might expect. My prayer was, “Lord, teach me to do car repair.” I think that God laughed and clapped His hands when I uttered that prayer.
Here’s a partial list of the parts I replaced on that truck: brake pads, brake calipers, brake rotors, brake lines, wheel bearings, ball joints, shocks, power steering pump, alternator, starter, radiator, spark plugs, distributor, distributor cap, spark plug wires, valve cover gasket, mass air flow sensor, upper oxygen sensors, air temperature sensor, fuel injectors, knock sensor, and pretty much all of the hoses. I’m not glad that I need a new truck, but I don’t think I’m going to miss that truck at all.
Consider the lilies of the field.
Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27) He’s talking about His Father’s ability to provide for all our needs if we’ll just go to Him. He wants to convince us that our Heavenly Father is trustworthy, so we don’t have a reason to worry.
It’s one thing to read about Jesus talking about the lilies of the field. It’s an entirely different thing when He decides that He wants to give you an opportunity to deeply consider the lilies of the field.
I don’t think anyone would blame me if I was completely freaking out right now. I have a dead vehicle and have blown through my addition budget before reaching the finish line. Yet, I am actually quite peaceful. I wouldn’t say relaxed. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about finding a new vehicle, but I do know that I have to keep going on the addition. When I try to do the math, these two goals seem to be mutually exclusive.
What choice do I have but to trust God? That’s a silly question. There are lots of other things I could be doing instead of trusting that God will provide. I could be panicking. Or calling my banker in desperation. Or despairing and hiding under my bed with a bottle of my father-in-law’s homemade wine (it’s free). Trusting in God is only one of a vast array of options that I might choose to take.
The picture at the top of this post shows my children in the hole that we dug for the new septic tank. They got my permission to jump in there, which they could do by themselves, but they couldn’t get out by themselves. I had to reach down and grab them by the hands and lift them out. You might notice a similarity between that story and my financial situation. I need my Father to reach down into the pit and lift me out.
I know that God could create a great big pile of gold doubloons out of nothing, but most of the time He works through people. If you think that the Lord would like you to help, pray about it. If you still think He wants you to help, here’s a Paypal link that you can use to send a gift. I’m a private individual, so it’s not tax deductible, but I don’t have to pay taxes on any gifts under $15,000. If you prefer to make an anonymous gift, you can contact Mike Firmin.
Progress in Spite of It All.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom after getting back from vacation. The first thing that I noticed is that we had a new door going into the addition. This was very important because we sealed up the big front window that I’d been using as an entryway before we left for the beach.
While we were gone, Larry came by, ripped out the unnecessary sheetrock, and installed the door. What a guy! And he wasn’t the only one working while I was vacating.
Before we left, I talked to Joe Almeter, our trusty neighbor and electrician, and told him where I wanted to put the switches, outlets, and lights in the addition. Not only did he completely wire those, but he also wired the new breaker box inside the house and the future meter base where the electric company will connect my house when it’s all said and done.
Water, Water, Everywhere.
With the electrical roughed in, I got started plumbing the supply lines. Supply lines are the high-pressure lines that go to your sinks, showers, toilets, etc. I have a little bit of plumbing experience from the last little home repair project that I did. A pipe started leaking in my bathroom and resulted in the complete destruction of my bathroom floor. The whole supply system was made of copper and when copper develops one leak, it’s likely to develop another. I tore out all the copper pipes and replaced them with Pex, which is flexible plastic tubing.
Before I went on vacation, I designed the system and ordered all of the parts that I needed. I know I’m not a professional plumber, so you won’t be surprised to see that my plumbing design looks like it was done in crayon by a 6-year-old. I did it on my phone. The red lines are hot water and the blue lines are cold water.
It did what it was supposed to do, which was to give me a visual so I could figure out the parts that I needed to put the whole system together. The weekend after I got back from vacation, I tackled this ever-so-exciting project. It’s kind of like high-pressure legos.
I’m bringing hot and cold water in from the other side of the house to run it to the two new bathrooms and three new hose bibs on the outside of the addition. Getting water to that part of the yard was a hassle before we added on, so I wanted to make it easier. I also want to switch to a tankless water heater eventually, so I ran lines to the spot on the wall where I plan to put it. I put all of the connectors in one place in the attic so that there are as few connections inside the walls as possible.
My least favorite part of putting in the plumbing was crawling under the house to get the 3/4″ tubes that will connect to my main hot and cold lines. Even that only took about half an hour. It was much easier than lugging 20 bundles of shingles up a ladder.
Over Labor Day Weekend, I started the septic system. I mentioned in an earlier post that I needed to build a completely new system, tank, and all, in order to get the permit. That means moving a lot of dirt. My next-door neighbor Wayne Johnson and his son Danny happen to have an excavator and experience doing this kind of thing, so I hired them to do the heavy digging. My buddy Ross also came to help install the septic system.
I’ve already broken my back digging the footer to pour the foundation. This would be a trench almost twice as long, twice as wide, and almost three times as deep. Trying to dig it by hand would probably kill me. Or take me until January.
They brought a laser level that would enable them to accurately measure the depth of the trench so the floor of the trench would be consistent along the whole length.
The presence of the excavator and the huge piles of dirt that it created summoned a herd of children as if by magic. Neighbors from two directions flocked to our building site to watch and frolic on the dirt mound. It got even more exciting in the afternoon when it started a good old fashioned Georgia thunderstorm. The rain felt very refreshing after working in the hot sun for several hours.
The rain also turned those piles of dirt into mud mounds. The kids had a blast. At one point, my son Joseph covered himself completely in mud.
Unfortunately, the rain did something to the laser level, so Danny promised to come back the morning of Labor day to finish the job.
Ross and I worked on three big tasks that Saturday. We installed the showers, ran the drain vents, and connected the septic chambers and the septic tank to the rest of the house.
On Monday, Danny came and finished the job by the mid afternoon. He borrowed a new laser level from a friend and showed me how to use it to keep the bottom of the trench level. I was a little concerned that he was going to back himself into a corner and not be able to get his excavator out of my yard. The other septic system for my house was behind him, and driving over it with that big thing would probably destroy it.
He surprised me by driving right over the mound of dirt that he’d just made. I didn’t realize how easily heavy machinery with tracks could get around. Danny took his time, balancing the digging arm by swinging this way and that, but he eventually got out and drove home.
Tuesday morning, I called up the health department and asked to schedule an inspection. This was a bit of a miracle in itself, because I didn’t realize that I needed an inspection before I covered the septic system. At least three different people called me to say, “Hey Nathan, don’t you think you need to get it inspected before you cover it over?” Finally, the weight of these suggestions prompted me to change my course and get the official seal of approval.
This was a good idea. It turns out that the county will make you uncover the septic system if it hasn’t been approved. I shudder to think about the work that would be involved in digging it out again.
The county inspector surprised me by showing up at my house a couple of hours after I called. I was in a meeting, so her call went to voicemail. Mary wasn’t home either. I found out that the inspector had been there when I got an email from her saying, “I’m sorry, but I can’t sign off on your septic tank.” She included five things that needed to be changed before she could sign off on it. The one that threw me for a loop was needing a license to install my own septic tank.
I made some phone calls and discovered that there is a test that I need to take before I can get a one time license to install my own septic tank. It’s not a full commercial installer’s license, but one targeting homeowners. I spent the following weekend doing all the repairs that are needed to pass the test. I’m taking the test this Thursday. Hopefully, by Saturday I’ll be able to cover the system with the official seal of approval.
In the meantime, a close family friend contacted me and told me that he’d like to help out with the project by paying for the septic system. I was blown away. Then an anonymous donor gave my spiritual director an envelope with some cash in it to help with the cost of the addition. Totally out of the blue. I think these are just the first fruits of God’s provision for this project.
God is going to help bring this project to completion. He’s looking on me in this pit with a smile on His face, waiting for me to look up, reach up my hands, and ask for help. Something that is impossible for me won’t take Him effort at all.
Everyone’s generosity during this process has blown me away. The following people have helped to make this project a reality. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them: Larry Harris, Mary Krupa, David Jude Krupa, Joseph Krupa, Catherine Krupa, Jonathan Krupa, Jerry Germann, Joe Almeter, Nick Almeter, Lawrence Almeter, Michael Almeter (his son), Michael Almeter (his cousin), Tag Bussey, Leo Suer, Ben Suer, Matthew Suer, Pat Molitor, Tom Molitor, Hannes Molitor, Pat Muller, Nick Wingate, David Johnson, Jordan Goodman, David McGee, Glen and the guys at Maner, David Germann, Tom Krupa, Joseph Krupa, Joseph Muller, Philip Hatfield, Miguel Melendez, Maddox, Jared Miller, Fr. Jacob Almeter, Anthony Almeter, Bob Visintainer, Ross Ott, Noah Ott, Max Molitor, Peter Molitor, Mike Hayes, Gabriel Hays, Kolbe Almeter, Luke Almeter, Charlie Almeter, Eric Sterett, Gabriel Hayes, Wayne Johnson, and Danny Johnson.
If you don’t have time or tools to donate, but would like to help make the House of Krupa a reality, a financial gift would be a great blessing. This is kind of like a do-it-yourself GoFundMe. DIY is my style.
If you want to read more of my adventures building the House of Krupa, check out the archive!
Jesus snatched me out of the darkness and saved me from complete madness. If you want to hear more of that story, check out Demoniac, now available on Amazon.