Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A big ol' pile of dirt

It's amazing how quickly things have happened. The project manager (Tom) is a great guy and he's explained that we'll see a lot of progress early on, but that once the addition is framed and under roof, things will appear to slow. Plumbing, electrical and hvac all take a long time to complete. That's okay, right now it's very exciting!

Today the excavation was largely complete. There is now a BIG hole in the backyard, stretching almost all the way back to the tree line. This is sure going to eat up most of our backyard. There's also a ditch along the side of the house (which, because we're on a corner lot faces the street we are not addressed on), and a hole near the front door where the bay window will go. Footers were poured today for all of that.

We hit our first snag, namely in where the sump pump is going to go. The original plans were going to put this under the unconditioned space under the porch, but that's not allowed or recommended because it can freeze. Since that space will (for now) be open, you just don't want the sump pump to be exposed to the elements. We've decided to move the sump pump to under the basement stairs, which are barely usable as it is because it's such a small space. We'll have access to the pump from a utility door and it'll still drain out of the side of the house. The unconditioned area will still have a floor drain to handle any rain and such.

We briefly toyed with the idea of enclosing the unconditioned area, running hvac and electrical to it, so that we could use it as an additional room, but because of the way the stairs and ramp lead out of the basement, it isn't feasible or cost effective. We're talking more architectural and engineering fees, and most significantly, delays in schedule getting the changes approved by the county. We'll leave this area unconditioned for now, though our architect has assured us that should we decide to enclose it a few years from now, it will be doable (with some accommodation for the lack of an exterior landing, which we just can't fit given the yard space).

Another snag we hit was with the drainage plan, which was added at the last minute in order to gain county approval. It turns out that this will leave two clean out access ports in the front yard, each about 8" in diameter. This is unfortunate because they'll basically be front yard artifacts that will be somewhat unsightly. Tom and Larry (the builder) have told us that once the yard is given its final grade, the drainage pipes will be shorn so that they'll be at or below grass level. Hopefully they'll be easy to hide behind some gardening. We're exploring the possibility of using a single drain, but we're doubtful that the county will either give its approval, or do so in a timely manner. We really do not want to incur delays here.

Tomorrow, we've got our first production meeting with Tom and Larry, along with Steve (our architect). We've all met before, but I think it'll be good to talk about some of these outstanding issues, establish regular meetings, get a schedule, etc. It's gonna be cold tomorrow, so we're doing it at the rental house. Yay for 7am meetings!

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