Thursday, November 19, 2009

    A tale to warm your heart

    We have spent many hours griping about the bureaucratic city permitting process, both in public and in private. Here's a two-part tale to warm your heart and brighten your day.

    Tai received a phone call from public utilities (our least favorite city department from our bruising, protracted permitting process this summer) about a week ago. The person on the other line informed him that he could now come down to their office to pick up our house plans — they were all approved and ready for a permit. This was a surprise to Tai since our house plans were approved, stamped and permitted in July...he couldn't do much but laugh at the caller's sincerity and earnest helpfulness. "Look! I'm doing YOU a FAVOR by calling to tell you that your house plans are approved! Look at how great we are!" We think that this person found an old copy of our plans laying around the public utilities office and took it upon himself to review and approve! What initiative! Five months late!

    I love bureaucracy.

    Then, we had to jump through some hoops to build a garage. We didn't think that we were going to have the budget to build a garage, so we had just put in our initial plans that we would pour a large parking pad (called a monument pad) and build one in the future. We didn't include it in our bank budget, we didn't have a design for it, and we didn't have a permit to build one. Enter Davido, who has cruised so quickly on our construction and saved us so much money along the way that we can now build that garage. It will still be really tight to fit it in the budget, but we are really used to that at this point. (Tears of joy for the frozen fingers I won't have scraping a car this winter!)

    We started to tinker with a design and in the meantime, we expanded our dimensions for the monument pad beyond what was approved in our initial plans, so as to allow for storage space in the garage (us lacking a basement, you see).

    We were getting ready to pour the pad that we showed on our original plans and assumed was approved. An inspector to the site last Friday refused to approve our concrete forms in advance of a scheduled pour. He said that he needed to see more detail. This necessitated a trip to the city where we realized that because the plan said "future garage over new monument pad" they had ignored it because of the word "future," even though it was what they told us to do in order to get our off-street parking and still be able to build a garage some day without pouring new concrete. So, we needed a permit for the pad, and since we were there and paying for new permits we might as well get a permit for a garage too. Tai had played around with a design, which is a basic shed-style building using similar siding materials as the house. He had drawn a site plan and floor plan already, and Davido took out a piece of paper and drew a framing plan and a detail on the monument pad and its footings.

    It took about 2 hours to sort through everything but at the end building and zoning stamped the plans around 4:30 p.m., and the boss at building and zoning called down to the public utilities office to make sure they would stick it out to 5 p.m. so Tai and Davido could dash down with our plan and get approval, thus allowing us to remain more or less on schedule for the concrete pour and to work around the snowstorm last weekend.

    Here's the miracle: public utilities did it. They stayed in the office when they said they would, they approved our garage plan in a matter of minutes, they gave us the green light to build this thing and were very friendly and happy about it. I'm still in awe even as I type this.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    So Tired

    I haven't updated in awhile because I have been crazy busy working on the house. I am doing most of the interior finish work so since I last posted I have spent more hours than I can count finishing the and grouting tile, installing the bamboo floor, putting up base board, installing cabinets etc etc etc... My dad has been great, putting in many late nights with me and my brothers in law were really helpful getting a lot of the bamboo down two Saturdays ago.

    The metal siding is almost done outside, most of our exterior concrete is in and most of the final grading has been done as well. We are really closing in on this.

    Here are a bunch of photos that I'm too tired to narrate, so hopefully they tell the story pretty well on their own.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Kitchen and other finishing touches

    I've been really busy working at the house. This last week I took a break from tiling to work on the kitchen. We assembled the cabinets on Saturday and Monday night I started to hang them. My dad came and helped me Monday night and we were able to hang most of the upper cabinets. Shortly after he left at 9:00 I realized that in my haste to get going, I skipped a step and we ended up hanging all the uppers about 5/8 of an inch too high. Not wanting to lose a day, I took them all down and re-hung them at the correct height. I finished around mid-night, which would set the tone for the rest of the week. Late nights. Kersten also started painting this week and got the mud room, office and master bedroom painted. If you've seen the pictures of our other places, you'll recognize some of the colors, but they work and we really like bright colors for accents. My brother Quinn came by on Saturday and helped her paint while I continued to work on the kitchen and picked up bamboo flooring. It was also nice to have some help unloading the 29 boxes of bamboo.

    The metal siding also started in earnest on Friday and by Saturday afternoon much of the south side was up. I'm really excited and think it will look great. They also started prepping for the outside concrete, starting with the sloped entrance to the front door. It will have retaining walls on the sides to keep snow melt and rain from easily making its way to our front door. We have a drain in there as well to handle any water that does make its way towards the house.

    Here are some pictures of what's happened the last week:

    Punch list

    I think we can all agree that the answer to Tai's last blog entry title is a resounding YES. But I will definitely forgive him because of all the hard work that the house has taken over the last couple of weeks.

    He has all the photos, but in the meantime, here's a brief run down of what we have left to do:

    • paint color walls
    • master shower tile
    • grout and seal all tile
    • install bamboo floor upstairs
    • buy and install kitchen appliances
    • kitchen countertop
    • clean and seal concrete floor downstairs
    • bathroom cabinets and countertops
    • figure out landscaping
    • figure out window coverings
    • resolve some differences with the bank

    This is what the contractors still have left:

    • complete mechanical (duct) work downstairs
    • finish site grading
    • start and finish site concrete (patio, sidewalks, retaining walls, etc.)
    • finish electrical work — install lighting
    • finish plumbing work
    • finish exterior metal work
    • some small finish work inside (perhaps baseboard?)

    It's not a complete list, but if you don't hear from us for a while it's because we're happily buried in house work.