When they first moved into their current home, my sister-in-law was pregnant with B, their second of three kids. B is now seven years old (as of February). When they moved in the house was a five room (two bedroom, 1 and 3/4 bath home) in the center of a lovely NE town (the same town I grew up in, and where my parents still live - although they are on the south side, and my brother and family live in the center).
My brother immediately started renovating the inside to make it livable - the two bedrooms had never been completed - the man that built (and died in) the house was quite elderly, and didn't climb stairs, so he lived in the three rooms on the ground floor. M (my brother) had to install flooring in the two bedrooms. So the summer K (my SIL) was pregnant with B she spent living with her folks (and G who was two at the time), and M spent the summer, when he wasn't working, completing the house enough so his family could move in. The kids are in the two bedrooms and M and K have their "bedroom" in the tiny den on the first floor.
He has spent the seven years since B's birth planning and building the "addition" to the house - which happens to more than double the square footage of the house, and added a two-car garage.
The architectural plans were done by man who knows how to design an addition that will seamlessly expand the current look and feel of the house. M bartered for the plans. M is an artist (amongst his other talents), and at the time was working on a commission for the Eastman School of Music - a portrait of our grandfather for their portrait gallery. So instead of paying thousands of dollars for the plans, he did a portrait of the architect's daughter (and a couple of landscapes of land the architect owns on the Cape).
Three years in to the build (since he is doing 95% of the work himself) the cellar was excavated, and cement was in, the framing was up, and the exterior shell was weatherproof - windows and doors were in, garage was complete, and the shingles were on. None of the interior walls were up the last time I saw the house, which was about three years ago.
My mom took me over to see it today - since M was spending the long weekend trying to get a little closer to moving the family into the new bedrooms - because if the girls spend one more school year sharing a very tiny space we might have WWIII on our hands.
The plumbing and electric has all been done, and the walls are roughed in (drywall up, mudded and all - but the interior window sills have not been finished yet) - in some places the walls are even painted! There are stacks of hard wood for flooring planks in what WILL be the family/livingroom/kitchen waiting to be installed. The original plans only had a one-car garage, but when he expanded it to a two-car garage he left the girl's bedrooms the same size - but that expanded their closets - so they have the most AMAZING walk-in closets ever - with beautiful hand built built-in shelves and shoe towers (because my brother wouldn't do anything so mundane as buy ready-made anything).
The girls will share the new upstairs hall bath - L, their little brother (who just turned three) will remain in the original part of the house and have his current bedroom and the space where the girls' bedroom is, and the current upstairs bath to himself. Which I think he will be glad of when G is fifteen/sixteen/seventeen, B is thirteen/fourteen/fifteen, and he is nine/ten/eleven - living on the opposite side of the house from his teenage sisters. He'll still be a boy - and they will be rolling balls of hormones and hysterics (I know - I was once a teenage girl). That space will probably be a huge relief to him.
The master bedroom is gorgeous - with a closet slightly smaller than the girls' closets for M and a *huge* walk in closet for K - this closet is the size of my smallest bedroom! The master bath has a gorgeous oval soaker tub and a separate shower - but none of the tile or fixtures other than the tubs are in yet. The upstairs also houses the laundry room - which is probably a space about ten by ten feet, and two hall closets - linens and sheets, maybe? Perhaps one will house all the cleaning products?
The floors are in, but as yet unstained, in the upstairs hallway, and he is working on finishing the stairs and the newel posts for the bannisters. The bedrooms will be carpeted - that isn't in yet either. He showed off his pin-nail gun. And mentioned a couple of the windows "sprung" and before he finishes them he's got the replace them - what he means is that the seal broke on them and condensation got inside the panes - but the windows are under a twenty-year warranty so all he has to do is call them and they send him replacements. He'll replace the ones that "sprung" before he puts up the interior finishes - sills and framing.
The what-will-be-the-new-kitchen area is his current workroom - and the kitchen will be the last are of the house he finishes before he breaks through the wall to the current kitchen and joins the ground floors together. The upstairs he'll break through the wall as soon as the upstairs is ready to be occupied - but he can't break through before, because the wall where he will break through is currently where the girls' built-in bunk beds are in their bedroom (he built the beds when they moved the girls in together when L was born, because the roof line right there is weird, and there isn't the head space for standard bunk beds. He also built desks for them that fit the space they had in the very small room.).
He is planning the design and building the kitchen cabinets himself. Since he did this for his first house (and learned a LOT about making kitchen cabinets) I have no doubt his kitchen will be amazing once complete.
All in all I was incredibly impressed with where he is now.
I see a lot of work that the house needs, and K and the kids will be very lonely for him, and he will be very lonely for them, but they should have new bedrooms/bathrooms come September and they'll be back from the Cape, moved into the new rooms. Only a year late - he'd wanted to get them moved in last fall - but I think the summer he broke his collarbone (nearly exactly two years ago) put him way behind his schedule. All in all he is building it on his off hours from his day job (sys admin) and as he scrapes up the funds to buy materials and tools. My dad has tried a couple of times to give him money for various pieces of the project - but I don't know if he has been successful at getting M to accept at all. I think his frustration with my brother was what made him offer to redo my bathroom when the tiles were falling off the wall in the tub surround (the really bad tile job the previous owners had done was not done correctly - neither the mortar, grout or backing board was done correctly, so water had done its level best to rot out the backing board behind the (really ugly) tile). Since I didn't have the funds to do it at the time (three years ago) I accepted - and he paid for the tiling of the floor and tub surround, the new toilet, and the new vanity. I have no idea how much it cost, but it made him feel good to do it for me - and it allowed me to use the money I'd saved for house repairs to fix the roofline fascia and replace the gutters that were rotted out and falling off.