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Old 06-18-2005, 05:07 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default House-building tales

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Originally Posted by Jim Hart
Well, I was really ill for a while (respiratory infection started last winter and carried into spring)
Very sorry to hear about that, Jim.

How is the house going?

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 05:45 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ktinkel
How is the house going?
We were sort of on hold while I was ill as there were some things that needed attention I could not give. That was a large part of my catching up. One major issue that held us up and would have held us up anyway was drainage. Because of the nature of the terrain, the city requires a drainage plan to be filed with the permit application. We contracted with a landscape architect to do the drainage plan and he took a very long time to return something we couldn't use. Not all his fault: it turned out that the toplogical survey that we had done earlier was incorrect and had to be redone. Then we got that to the LA for a new plan and he again took nearly a month to get something back to us.

Meanwhile, someone else started work on another lot nearby and started rerouting a natural drainage channel that flows across that property. Doing that without city council approval is a no-no so the city made them stop and held up our permit as well until they could acertain what impact the rerouting might have on drainage in the rest of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, we were the first residence to apply for certification under the city's green building program and the green building coordinator didn't know how to process a residential application.

Engineering approved the drainage plan but then we found out that having applied for GB certification, we had to be certified before the building permit could be issued. And the GB coordinator was in learning mode and we were the lesson. I finally told him that if we were going to be delayed while he tried to figure out what to do I would pull the GB application. We got the permit that day.

So, forms are set, septic system is in place, we are waiting for a forms inspection on Monday or Tuesday and hope to start pouring concrete on Friday.

My next project is getting the website up to date.

(Aren't you glad you asked?)

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 06:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Hart
We were sort of on hold while I was ill as there were some things that needed attention I could not give. That was a large part of my catching up. One major issue that held us up and would have held us up anyway was drainage. Because of the nature of the terrain, the city requires a drainage plan to be filed with the permit application. We contracted with a landscape architect to do the drainage plan and he took a very long time to return something we couldn't use. Not all his fault: it turned out that the toplogical survey that we had done earlier was incorrect and had to be redone. Then we got that to the LA for a new plan and he again took nearly a month to get something back to us.

Meanwhile, someone else started work on another lot nearby and started rerouting a natural drainage channel that flows across that property. Doing that without city council approval is a no-no so the city made them stop and held up our permit as well until they could acertain what impact the rerouting might have on drainage in the rest of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, we were the first residence to apply for certification under the city's green building program and the green building coordinator didn't know how to process a residential application.

Engineering approved the drainage plan but then we found out that having applied for GB certification, we had to be certified before the building permit could be issued. And the GB coordinator was in learning mode and we were the lesson. I finally told him that if we were going to be delayed while he tried to figure out what to do I would pull the GB application. We got the permit that day.

So, forms are set, septic system is in place, we are waiting for a forms inspection on Monday or Tuesday and hope to start pouring concrete on Friday.

My next project is getting the website up to date.

(Aren't you glad you asked?)
Actually, yes. We still at least fantasize about building our own house, and I hang on every bit of useful information.

But that sounds extraordinarily difficult, even for home building.

Once the forms are done, how long do you figure for the walls? Are you building on-site or using pre-built? (Sorry if you explained that earlier — I have forgotten.)

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 06:19 PM   #4
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The walls will take about two weeks. We are using ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) (www.nudura.com) which are two blocks of 2 5/8" styrofoam (like an ice chest) held apart by 6" spacers. They are stacked to form the wall forms, any necessary plumbing and electrical runs are made, doors and windws are framed with lumber and the forms filled with concrete. When the concrete cures, the foam is left in place as insulation. The walls will be nearly a foot thick. Heating and cooling bills should be very low.

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 07:29 PM   #5
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Sounds like a monumental undertaking. Liz was telling us about the surveys. I didn't realize you had run into all the other snags, but it sounds like you are well on your way, now. Any idea how long to completion? I love what you are doing for your walls. I wish I could have walls like that (and lower electric bills)
Susie

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 07:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susie
I didn't realize you had run into all the other snags,
Well, I didn't mention the neighbor that spent about 2 hours a week in the city Engineers office complaining about the problems she thought she was going to have if we built on the lot. We are right behind her and our lot slopes toward hers so if we cause additional runoff, she might have a point.

Our builder finally had sit down with her and explained that instead of creating additional runoff, we would be preventingit by capturing the rainwater from the roof. We will initially have a holding capacity of 4000 gallon with room to expand to 12,000 gallons. We will use the rainwater for outside irrigation for as long as it lasts. Should save something on water bills too.

The city allows 9 months from issue of permit to final inspection. With any luck, we may get in before Christmas, but if we hit any more snags, it will probably take the full 9 months.

   
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Old 06-18-2005, 08:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
But that sounds extraordinarily difficult, even for home building.
It is Our town got caught up on the SMARTGrowth movement several years ago after the city government was taken over by a group dedicated to stopping development. They created such an intricate set of building codes and regulations that they can make it a very discouraging process to build anything--which was exactly their intent.It is a much more difficult process for a developer than an individual, though.

In the elections last year, the mayor and some of the council were voted out which left the city departments a bit unsure how difficult they are supposed to be.

   
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Old 06-19-2005, 06:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Hart
We are using ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) (www.nudura.com) which are two blocks of 2 5/8" styrofoam (like an ice chest) held apart by 6" spacers. They are stacked to form the wall forms, any necessary plumbing and electrical runs are made, doors and windws are framed with lumber and the forms filled with concrete. When the concrete cures, the foam is left in place as insulation. The walls will be nearly a foot thick. Heating and cooling bills should be very low.
That is very cool stuff. Would be useful in New England.

Those thick window spaces should be interesting. Ancient castle effect. Or a window seat for a cat.

How will changes to wiring and plumbing at some later time be accommodated? For the wires you could embed conduit, I suppose. Or run under the floor, then slit the concrete at points. (I’m always thinking of making changes; you could also do everything perfectly in the first place, I suppose.)

Are you building a cellar or on a slab?

   
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Old 06-19-2005, 06:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Hart
They created such an intricate set of building codes and regulations that they can make it a very discouraging process to build anything--which was exactly their intent.It is a much more difficult process for a developer than an individual, though.
I should imagine that was the intent, no?

Around here, zoning boards tend to have developers on them, along with slow-growth people. Makes for noisy hearings. But here, of course, there is very little available space; new houses mostly arise from tear-downs. (Most of the farms are gone.)

But you know what: If you lived on a desert island (one with adequate sources of supply, I mean), building a house would be difficult. There’s always something!

   
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Old 06-19-2005, 09:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
That is very cool stuff. Would be useful in New England.

Those thick window spaces should be interesting. Ancient castle effect. Or a window seat for a cat.

How will changes to wiring and plumbing at some later time be accommodated? For the wires you could embed conduit, I suppose. Or run under the floor, then slit the concrete at points. (I’m always thinking of making changes; you could also do everything perfectly in the first place, I suppose.)

Are you building a cellar or on a slab?
Yeah, we think the cats will like the windows. And Liz plans to grow herbs in the kitchen windows.

Electrical can be run in conduit in the concrete but channels can also be carved in the foam.for later runs. Plumbing is bit more difficult--you would need to make the added runs in interior walls.

We are building on a slab, but we are set into a hill so the garage on the lower floor is sort of a walkout basement. The upper floor will be at grade on the NE corner and the lower floor at grade on the other 3 corners. The garage is on the east side, lower floor.

   
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