House Building Progress to May 15

Our house building progress has been slow, with no physical evidence of advance. Things have been happening, though.

house building progress means getting the services dug inOur development permit required an agreement with the County, and a deposit, to insure our proper completion of a sewer extension. Of course, I was not aware of this. The papers were mailed to me, but had not arrived by the time I ran out of patience and visited the office. Once I was there, the staff was very helpful. Copies were made, signed, and as soon as I paid my deposit, I received my development permit.

Circumstances including the need for a sewer extension, staff vacations, and slow mail, made the the process over two months long. Part of the delay was my own. Snow had made it difficult locate the manhole ending the sewer line, and to take the necessary measurements. Since the situation was slightly unusual, the necessary steps for the issuing of a permit were not very clear to me. By the time we worked everything out, the delay was considerable.

Once the development permit was in hand, I could apply for the other necessary permits. I spent the weekend reviewing my drawings and filling out the application forms. It is a requirement here, to provide two sets of drawings. They must include floor plans, a cross section, drawings of all elevations, details of floor joists and supports, framing details, a description of heating and ventilation to be used and a drawing of electrical. This could vary in other jurisdictions.

A load too far
michaelhallca / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Yesterday I applied in person to IJD Inspections Ltd.. The staff was very courteous and helpful. I was able to personally meet the Building Safety Codes Officer. He was very helpful in answering questions, and addressing some concerns that I had. I left with electrical, plumbing and gas permits in hand. Building plans are reviewed before the building permit is issued, so it will take a few days before I will receive that. I left with a very good feeling.

The cost for the permits was less than I anticipated, being 1147.74 in total.

I am going to stress again, the importance of acquiring all necessary permits before beginning construction. They are for your own safety, and inspections can catch possibly dangerous errors. Inspectors are usually very helpful, and available to answer questions. Don’t be a pest, though. Do your homework. Inspectors are helpful, but they are not your teachers.

You will be required to follow national, state or provincial, and municipal building codes. These can vary considerably by jurisdiction to address local conditions. There is a lot of difference between building a house in Southern Arizona and building in Northern Alberta.

Codes change continually in an attempt to keep abreast of conditions and technology. Often they add to the cost of construction and sometimes their justification escapes me. In most cases, though, the changes add to the safety and comfort of a building.

It is nice to have copies of the code books but they are usually quite costly. Changes are usually posted on the internet but sometimes are difficult to understand out of context. Ask your inspector or other professional if there are changes you should know about. Only a portion of the codes will apply to a simple single family residence. Often, books are available, at low cost, that explain codes and practices applicable to building a house.

There may be additional permits needed, in some situations, and some subdivisions may have covenants that need to be respected. Again, do your homework and legwork.

Back to our own situation. Delays have put me about three weeks behind on my start. Not too serious, if I don’t experience other significant problems.

First meet with Cherry blossom this year!
autan / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

We have been able to use the time productively. We have found more bargains on materials and tools, and have been working on landscaping the part of the lot that won’t be disturbed during construction. We planted our first tree. An Evans cherry, which should provide us with many pies in the future.

One change has been made to our plans. I had thought to use a PWF ( preserved wood foundation) on a concrete footing. I was informed that this option would require an engineers seal on my plans, and an on site inspection by an engineer. Available engineers are apparently very busy. Since our project is in a rural community, I anticipated costs to be high and delays possible. I made an on the spot decision to use a ICF (insulated concrete form) foundation instead. Although a little more costly it takes less time and labor. It was an option I had been seriously considering anyway. The requirement for an engineer for the PWF narrowed the cost differential considerably. ICF is an easy, do it yourself method, that is being used more and more commonly. It does mean I will have to review my material list, before soliciting quotes.

I should be able to send a list for quotes to possible suppliers by tomorrow.

If my ditching and excavation contractor shows up soon, we should still be able to move in by first snowfall. If I don’t make it by then we may have to spend the winter in Arizona. Bummer!

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