pre-construction meeting, lot clearing, next steps

pre-construction meeting

We met with the architects and builder on Friday for our pre-construction meeting. Items discussed:

  • Communication among all parties is key. All parties agreed. The builder has sent us updates via email on what's going on, so we'll be seeing how that works. So far so good...
  • Will be having key progress meetings on site. After the forms are laid, after the electrical is in (but not drywalled in), and before (and during) the finishes. I also gotta imagine after the framing is done is also a critical part (as well as the plumbing). The forms get a lot of attention. The architect and engineer will carefully review the forms, and the bank requires a survey to ensure it is where it's supposed to go. 
  • Although the builder had expressed concern about advanced framing at earlier meetings, he's no longer concerned about it. He and his framer haven't done it before, although they've wanted to, so they're gonna give it a shot with this house. From our perspective, we're not advanced framing perfectionists, so we're not gonna yelp "Why the hell is this two by four here!?!?!!" Ideally a house is designed from the get-go with advanced framing in mind (making sure the windows line up with where the studs will go), but we didn't do that (not a criticism of the process, just the reality of what happened; I don't think we brought it up early enough in the process). Plus we're not sure how willing we would have been to compromise aesthetics for framing purity (sometimes things need to be the way they need to be to work well for proportions and placement, framing be damned).
  • McMansion and design leaves us with little room for error (especially with the lack of clarity of what the code means). We're pretty close to busting the McMansion envelope on the two-story side of the house, so the builder will need to be sure he doesn't give us any extra inches on that side...
  • Need more details on the baseboards. The architects will draw up more details on the baseboards we want, including how they work near doors and up the stairs. This is good news because the builder was making noises about not running floaty baseboards up and around the stairwell, which really would have been a shame. Now he's on it!
  • Need a few changes for the cubist pooper. Our pooper for the powder is a wall hanger, so the tank will go into the wall. Not only that, the drain will also be in the wall. Since this places the drain pipe very close to the edge of the foundation, we need to kick out the foundation a several inches. Not a bad thing, and it could actually be cool.
  • To sidewalk or not to sidewalk? City code requires that we put a sidewalk in front of our property if there's no sidewalk. There's no sidewalk. What's goofy about this requirement, besides obligating the landowner to do something the city should be doing anyway, is that the sidewalk requirement is oblivious to the circumstances. No one on our side of the street has a sidewalk, so the sidewalk we put in would be an orphaned sidewalk (dab your tears now). There's a city-installed sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, so it's not like you couldn't stroll the hood on a sidewalk if you're a sidewalk stroller. The city does allow you to pay them the cost of installing a sidewalk in lieu of putting in a sidewalk, but your payment comes out to twice the cost of putting in a sidewalk. That's a $1,400 bill instead of a $700 bill. We haven't decided what we will do, but I reckon we'll suck it up and write the check...
lot clearing has begun!

Hard to believe, but actual work, real groundbreaking, has begun! The builder and his boys prepped the lot, which required the removal of several trees, a bit of brush, and a couple peninsulas of fencing. He also said the work gained a lot of attention, including a 311 call to the city from a neighbor concerned about the trees (Yes, m'am, we have permits). The lot clearing got ahead of us giving the neighbors and neighborhood a heads up, but we're reaching out now (more on this later...). The builder said about eight people stopped by to ask about what was going on.

We ventured out to the lot (can we call it "building site" now?) earlier today to see the status (and feed the worms). Talked to a few of the neighbors, including a friend that lives a couple blocks down the street. She told us a harrowing tale of a sinkhole appearing in her back yard that turned out to be the abandoned septic tank from when her house was originally built. Apparently the hood wasn't originally connected to city sewer when it was built. We're wondering whether or not we have a septic surprise waiting for us when the foundation goes in...  One of the folks that stopped to visit was a sometimes architect excited that we were building a Modern house in the neighborhood (and thought that maybe we were a husband-wife architect team, probably based on our excellent taste in t-shirts and shoes). And we're excited he's excited!

next steps

One more tree needs to come down on Monday and then the foundation forms go up on Tuesday or Wednesday. Things are moving quickly now!


The house two down to the north recently sold and, if we read the paperwork out front correctly, will soon be torn down and replaced with new construction. It will be interesting to see what gets put there. Spec builders/developers are crawling all over town these days. We feel sorry for the folks living in-between us and that house. They will literally be sandwiched between construction zones. Need to dig up that chocolate chip cookie recipe...

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