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Y2K Didn't get Us


It's 2000 and the world didn't melt down which means we're still making payments on dirt apparently no closer to building a house. That's not entirely true. We know what we cannot do.

OK, scale the house back. After a few revisions, we actually got the house down to 2994 ft.2 (remember, that includes a 2 car garage, so effectively we've a 2400 ft.2 house ). We're sitting on top of the world! Nothing can go wrong, we'll be building real soon now!

We had to hire a civil engineer to do a drain plan. Part of the lot split mandated that all of the water flow off the lot onto the street to the west. The bummer part is the lowest part of the lot is on the south-east corner, and it's a lot lower. Five feet or so. That's OK, the engineer assures us with enough coaxing water really can run uphill. Not entirely. He draws up a really neat drain plan that takes all of the water, drains it to the low side, puts it into two really big pipes and takes it where it needs to go. Gravity feed, no maintenance, idiot proof. He talks to public works each step of the way to make sure he's on the right track. We also need the the soils engineer's buy in, and get it (that's two engineers with engineering degrees and everything) to buy in on it. We take it to the city. After months of being told this is exactly what we need, the public works department denies it.

It's now July. Turns out the minimal impact drain plan was denied because it would have required one ditch, 40' down the street. Since there's not a lot else we can do, we're forced to raise the lot. That means two retaining walls (140' x 6' and 20' x 5') and 650 cubic yards of dirt. No, not dirt. Dirt's free. We need ``engineered fill.'' And, of course a new drain plan. Not a problem, it's only July. We can still start by October!

While the drainage is being re-done, we work on the house in parallel. Some minor changes are needed because the house is being raised 5'. When we get the plans back there's a minor problem: we want radiant floor heat throughout the house, with radiators in the bedrooms. The house is designed for radiators throughout. Radiant heat requires light-weight concrete. Despite its name, this stuff is rather heavy. Our structural engineer (engineer #3) has to redo his drawings. Four weeks. Minimum. Next time we check the plans better before sending them off.

They're here. The plans are here! What's that? The bathrooms show vinyl flooring when we want tile. I scratch at ``vinyl'' and write in ``tile'' and figure I'm done with it. The architect just kind of looks at me funny. Because we're using engineered lumber (that's the stuff that looks like an I-beam with some dimensional lumber at the top & bottom and some plywood in the middle) we cannot just shave it down to make the floor level with the bedrooms, we're going to have to raise the floor in the bedrooms! This adds weight (who knew?) Now we're past the limit set by the structural engineer. Back to the engineer.

It's October. We've not started yet.

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