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ktinkel
06-18-2005, 04:07 PM
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?

Jim Hart
06-18-2005, 04:45 PM
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?)

ktinkel
06-18-2005, 05:02 PM
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.)

Jim Hart
06-18-2005, 05:19 PM
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.

Susie
06-18-2005, 06:29 PM
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

Jim Hart
06-18-2005, 06:58 PM
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.

Jim Hart
06-18-2005, 07:08 PM
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.

ktinkel
06-19-2005, 05:16 AM
We are using ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) (www.nudura.com (http://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?

ktinkel
06-19-2005, 05:22 AM
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!

Jim Hart
06-19-2005, 08:09 AM
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.

ktinkel
06-19-2005, 10:31 AM
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.Do people generally use slabs where you are? I should think a cool basement would be useful in that climate.

BTW, I was watching This Old House last night, and they used a plastic (?) self-stick flashing around the window frames and over the sill before inserting the windows. Seemed very clever. Can’t have too much flashing, seems to me.

Jim Hart
06-19-2005, 12:27 PM
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!

Well, yeah. You would have to do all the work yourself. <g>

Jim Hart
06-19-2005, 12:45 PM
Do people generally use slabs where you are? I should think a cool basement would be useful in that climate..

Slabs or piers. I have lived in Texas all my life and only recall bein in one house with a basement. It was probably built in the 1920's.

Basements are expensive to build and seem to be more effective in colder climates. While basements were being built up north, down here, houses were built on piers and raised to allow ventilation underneath for cooling. After AC became common, so did slabs.where possible,

I say "where possible" because it is more common in this area to have unstable surface soils (expansive clay) and have to sink piers 10-40 ft to hit a stable soil strata to anchor the foundation.

Wa are lucky. The soil testing revealed 30 ft of non-expansive sand. Couldn't be a better soil for a slab.

ISTR reading that the main reason basements exist was the need for coal storage in cold climates and their utility for storing food (root cellars)

ktinkel
06-19-2005, 12:58 PM
ISTR reading that the main reason basements exist was the need for coal storage in cold climates and their utility for storing food (root cellars)Nowadays they are often finished and used as playrooms, workshops, etc.

Used to have the laundry stuff, but no one wants to schlep the stairs these days.

Jim Hart
06-19-2005, 01:15 PM
Nowadays they are often finished and used as playrooms, workshops, etc.

Used to have the laundry stuff, but no one wants to schlep the stairs these days.

Liz is from Wisconsin and the basement in her parents 100 year old house was certainly very different from the basements in her siblings' more recently built houses

I think it is a matter of different building tradistions in different parts of the country. Up north, basements seem to be traditional and expected, down here they are not. But down here most houses have brick exteriors while most of what I see up north is siding. Construction costs seem about the same so it seems that money saved here by not building basements is spent on brick while money spent on a basement up north is recouped in a less expensive exterior finish.

Susie
06-19-2005, 03:06 PM
Sounds great, and good luck.

Of course building a house never runs smoothly! But I'm pulling for you!

Sisoe

Steve Rindsberg
06-19-2005, 08:02 PM
Cats 'n deep windows: Count on it, you'll make them very happy.

Our place was originally two courses of brick with plaster inside for all the exterior walls. You could sit near any exterior wall in the winter and feel the cold air just rolling off it.

We firred it all out with 2x3, insulated, ran all new wiring and so forth, and of course had to replace all the woodwork on the windows; they're now quite deep ... deep enough to use some of them as bookshelves. And the cats love 'em.

ElyseC
06-21-2005, 09:44 AM
Cats 'n deep windows: Count on it, you'll make them very happy.Yep. Our three have never had a window sill to sit in until we moved here, to a house of 2x6 construction. They love napping on our master bedroom sills, especially when the weather's nice and we have the windows open -- they get to watch and listen to the birds in the tree right there as well as hopping on the ground.

Jonathan
06-21-2005, 01:22 PM
The city allows 9 months from issue of permit to final inspection.That seems a bit onerous. I have a building permit open at the moment, and the limit here is three years from issue of permit. I have to call for an inspection at least once every six months, but I've found that they will do "courtesy inspections" over the phone <g>.

I have another year left before my permit runs out. If I exceed that, I would have to go through the permit application (and fee) process again.

Steve Rindsberg
06-21-2005, 01:22 PM
<g>

Our crittercrew was still allowed outdoors when we built the deck. The builder thought we were a bit nuts when we insisted on 2x6 instead of the usual 2x3 to top the railing. Until we explained that it was likely to become a kitty runway. Then the light went on.

One of them still used to fall off sometimes. Or slip and end up doing a classic "Hang in there, baby" pose.

ElyseC
06-21-2005, 08:26 PM
<g>

Our crittercrew was still allowed outdoors when we built the deck. The builder thought we were a bit nuts when we insisted on 2x6 instead of the usual 2x3 to top the railing. Until we explained that it was likely to become a kitty runway. Then the light went on.

One of them still used to fall off sometimes. Or slip and end up doing a classic "Hang in there, baby" pose.I do hope you managed to capture one of those "hang in there, baby" moments on film!

Jim Hart
06-21-2005, 09:18 PM
Our 2 cats are used to going outdoors but that will change when we move as there are coyotes in the area. We hope to make it easier on them with a "cat room" We will have a large 2nd floor deck with a slab underneath on the first floor. We will screen part of that, protect the screen with 2x2 hogwire and put a double cat door through the wall so the they get have 24 hour access as they please. With some well placed shelves and a 2x6 run around the room just below the ceiling, I think they will at least like it.

ElyseC
06-22-2005, 10:01 AM
Our 2 cats are used to going outdoors but that will change when we move as there are coyotes in the area. We hope to make it easier on them with a "cat room" We will have a large 2nd floor deck with a slab underneath on the first floor. We will screen part of that, protect the screen with 2x2 hogwire and put a double cat door through the wall so the they get have 24 hour access as they please. With some well placed shelves and a 2x6 run around the room just below the ceiling, I think they will at least like it.They should indeed.

I was astounded to find out that this part of Iowa has a few (very few, but still) coyotes. I know, because my niece's husband's company has dispatched him out into our particular area a couple times in the past 10 years or so to track and "deal with" (whatever that means) a troublesome coyote. No matter to us, though, WRT our cats, because they're indoor only and have been from the start. They don't really know any different and whenever it is cold, wet and miserable out we trap all three and take them out to get wet and cold for a few minutes to reinforce the idea that the outdoors is a horrid, scary, miserable place to be. So far (14 and 15 years for the oldest cats) it has worked pretty darn well -- they start hollering immediately and try to dash out of our arms to the house when we do have to take them out (to the vet or for the miserable weather experience). <g>

marlene
06-22-2005, 11:08 AM
Believe it or not, coyotes have been spotted where I live -- Silver Spring, just a couple of miles from the D.C. line. (They've been seen in Northern Virginia, too -- also very close to D.C.)

Of course, some people think my Siberian huskies ARE coyotes (or wolves). <g>

mxh

Steve Rindsberg
06-22-2005, 06:37 PM
No such luck. Never a camera handy (and I'd have been shaking so hard with laughter it wouldn't have worked out in any case).

And if I'd captured it on film, the cat would have had to kill me.

ElyseC
06-23-2005, 12:55 PM
No such luck. Never a camera handy (and I'd have been shaking so hard with laughter it wouldn't have worked out in any case).

And if I'd captured it on film, the cat would have had to kill me.They do have their pride to think of, after all...

;-)

Steve Rindsberg
06-24-2005, 08:44 AM
[pride]

Exactly. It was bad enough having the cat realize that I'd seen her stumbl^H^H^H^H^HTHAT WAS DELIBERATE. I MEANT TO DO THAT!

Er. Yes.

Michael Rowley
06-24-2005, 03:07 PM
Steve:

It was bad enough having the cat realize that I'd seen her stumble

Are you sure your cat was quite sober? English cats don't need a 3-in rail; an inch is plenty.

ElyseC
06-25-2005, 11:47 AM
[pride]

Exactly. It was bad enough having the cat realize that I'd seen her stumbl^H^H^H^H^HTHAT WAS DELIBERATE. I MEANT TO DO THAT!

Er. Yes.Two of ours do that, but the third has given up such pretenses. If he oopses like that he either shakes his head, looks like he's sighing and continues on about his business calmly, or he shakes his head, looks disgusted with himself and grumps away. Of course he's 15 and entitled to a crotchety attitude if he wants. <g>

Franca
06-25-2005, 06:11 PM
I think they'll like it, too. I would love to a kitty room here like you've designed; I think it's a fabulous idea. Not that our cats don't find plenty of ways to entertain themselves indoors without such a luxury.... <vbg>

Ours have always been indoor cats (except when the housecleaners left the door standing wide open, aargh) so they don't know what they're missing and really don't have the urge. The housecleaners didn't latch the screen door to the porch the other day and I think Leo popped it open by mistake pouncing at a bird. I came upstairs and found him on the deck peeking into the living room. Don't know whether he'd already toured the deck and gotten bored or if I caught him still deciding whether he should really be out there or not, but when I called him he came right back inside. (The key when discovering one of your indoor cats outside is not to panic.) My cats tend to come when I call, so if I pretend nothing is out of the ordinary all is usually well.

However, one time the front door was left open for too long before anyone noticed, and Jenny was nowhere to be seen. Leo had barely gotten off the front porch and was easily convinced to return but there was no sign of Jenny even when dinnertime rolled around. I was so afraid a coyote would get her. I put Leo in the laundry room and left the front door open a crack. I slept on the couch in the living room, getting up about once an hour to call her. About 4 am I woke up with a cat kneading my stomach. Phew! She didn't seem at all traumatized, but neither has she ever shown any interest in going outside again. I was afraid her night out would have given her a taste for the out of doors but thankfully it didn't.

Jim Hart
06-30-2005, 05:31 PM
The original plan for the "kitty room" was to put screen on the outside fo the framing and protect the screen with 2" hogwire on the inside of the framing. I'm now thinking of holding off on the screening until the cats get used to being confined by the hogwire. It should make them less likely to try to get through the screen.

Of course, I'm just doing a room outdoors. I'm sure you've seen this:
http://www.thecatshouse.com/html/cathouse/ch_01.htm

Franca
06-30-2005, 06:42 PM
Of course, I'm just doing a room outdoors. I'm sure you've seen this:
http://www.thecatshouse.com/html/cathouse/ch_01.htmNo, I hadn't seen that - I've taken the complete tour and now am speechless!

Jim Hart
06-30-2005, 08:54 PM
Someone gave me a Cat House calendar for Christmas a few years ago. AIR, I had the same reaction.

(I keep the calendar hidden from the cats).

ktinkel
07-01-2005, 05:59 AM
Someone gave me a Cat House calendar for Christmas a few years ago. AIR, I had the same reaction.

(I keep the calendar hidden from the cats).Amazing.

They used to have a show on cable called Extreme Homes — one of them had a catwalk with a narrow staircase for access. But these people have certainly carried things a lot further than that!

Jim Hart
07-01-2005, 02:44 PM
Actually, The Cat's House was on an episode of Extreme Homes:
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/remodeling/article/0,,HGTV_3659_1369352,00.html

ktinkel
07-01-2005, 04:45 PM
Actually, The Cat's House was on an episode of Extreme Homes:
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/remodeling/article/0,,HGTV_3659_1369352,00.htmlAha. So I did see it before.

I love cats, but. . .