Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Cement Man Cometh

We're waaay past the point of no return now. Old house is gone, site is torn up, and dirt is everywhere. It actually looks like we're building another Hoover Dam! How is it that soil expands so much once it is dug out of the ground? The footings are done, inspected and approved, and today (6/17/10) the walls are getting poured. The foundation looks enormous and, much as we feared, seems to cover the whole site. So much for that pastoral feeling in the back yard. It is really hard to visualize the project based on how it looks right now. I can walk through the spaces and know what the rooms are, but it all seems out of scale. I sure hope this changes once the foundation is done and backfilled. We can't even see the whole site at once right now because of the pyramids of soil everywhere.

My current preoccupation is figuring out whether to vent the crawl space or not. Who knew that crawl spaces were so complex and fascinating? (sic)
The current trend seems to be NOT to vent them, but seal 'em up and circulate house air through them instead. That's supposed to prevent mold, insect, rodent, and odor issues, as well as ensure cleaner air in the living quarters. Of course it involves crawling around on the ground with rolls of a special plastic tarp and carefully laying it over the ground and up the foundation walls, then taping it with special tape for an airtight seal. Sounds like fun, no? This might be something I could help MTH with since I am otherwise useless for construction items.

So far there have been some scope changes and surprise items that are inflating the budget--erosion control supplies (we didn't even think about this...), hauling away excess soil (and more to go too), a decision to phase the excavation because there isn't enough land on-site to store all the spoils, additional cement work for a retaining wall, and some additional surveying costs. No one item is outrageous, but they all add up.

Reviewers at the City have been really easy to work with so far. A little delay in getting the building permit while the drainage plan was being revised, but all in all very quick, easy, and friendly. Now we're on to the next phase of getting all the smaller permits--drainage, boiler, plumbing, electrical, etc. We are almost ready to select the rest of our subcontractors, starting with the framer. We've got 3 lumber package bids so far in the range of $29-$35K. Framing labor will be about the same. This and the foundation are the big items, but more on this later.

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