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The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome!

As is typical fare for my house building journey, the last month or so has been a roller coaster of good, bad, and awesome!

The Good

Billy the marmot is safe!

His long term living accommodations became critical when the shipping container he was living under was cleaned out and sold. On June 6 it was shipping out and it was clear he had not read the eviction notice!  I had contacted Critter Care to come out and attempt to trap him, but it was not going to happen in time.  So, I was able to raise one end of the container at a time with Alfie, and prop up about a foot in the air.  With the whole container propped up, we were able to convince Billy to vacate.

Container carefully lifted to not squash our friend Billy
Container on its way to new owner.
Billy’s home. Interesting to note their washroom is close by!

He then took up residence in an abandoned skunk hole under my neighbour’s front entrance.  She was quite pleased about this until she came back from holidays to find he had decimated many of her vegetables.  So I was able to trap him in a live trap coaxing him with apple and carrots, before handing him off to Critter Care.  I believe they were going to transplant him to the Merrit, BC area where he can join his kin and who knows, meet someone special and start a family.

Billy enjoying his last day of freedom before he was relocated ‘out of the neighbourhood’!

No Watering Restrictions for Me 🙂

I have installed a 1000 gallon cistern beside the municipal storm connection in the front yard.  This will be filled with water being pumped up from the foundation weeping tile system, and once full will gravity drain into the municipal storm system.

Using Alfie to help assemble the two clam shells of this Graf water tank
Before cistern could be installed, Alfie had to dig a BIG hole. For scale, that sump is about three ft above the surrounding ground. Overall hole was over 7ft deep, 8ft long, and 5ft wide.
With hole dug, Alfie assists lifting cistern in place. Of course, had to come up with way to get the right rotation, so borrowed my surveying stick.
Cistern in place along with pressure pipe from deep sump (grey pipe), drain to shallow sump (white pipe) and drain from shallow sump to municipal storm sewer.

Ground water makes much more sense than capturing rain water.  Rain water requires filtering (because of all the stuff it washes off the roof at the beginning of every rain cycle) and treatment (because of all the organics in the water that can lead to algae blooms).  On the other-hand, ground water has already been filtered by the granular layer the weep tile is run through and further filtered by the settlement that occurs in the deep well that the water in the weeping tile flows into before being pumped up.  Also, ground water at my site is present all year long, even during the dry summer months, whereas rain water is absent during the exact time of year it is needed most for landscape irrigation.

I will be setting up a continuous pressure pump in the cistern to feed all of my landscaping requirements as well as providing a hose bib to both neighbours for their watering needs. I connected a temp construction pump to the 2.5″ line that will service the future duplex pump system to be installed into the deep well sump, and the 1000 gal cistern was already overflowing within an 18 hour period, so it looks like we will have lots of water to share.

As long as the water quality checks out (no heavy metals or other contaminants), I will also use this water for the toilet and washing machine cold water.

I have passed my electrical and plumbing inspections for the cistern, shallow storm sump, drain pipe, and landscaping waterlines & electrical conduit in the front yard on July 9.  On July  13, I had passed my engineering inspection of the 2.5″ Sched 80 PVC pumped pressure line that will be fed with a duplex pumping system in the deep well sump and carries the water across the front yard to the cistern.   I took a pre-backfill video (mainly for me to document location of pipes) of the work performed.

Some of the multitude of pipes and conduits servicing the front yard landscaping


Finally Restarted WRB/Exterior Insulation/Cladding

After all delays caused by the ‘Bad’ discussed below, and the three week diversion to get the cistern and sump work done, I have finally this week restarted work installing the waterproofing sheathing membrane (WRB), exterior insulation, and cladding.  When last on this task, I had just finished installing the insulation on the north elevation of the dwelling.  I know need to complete the membrane and insulation on the east and west elevations near the north wall so I can properly measure the required mitred cladding at the corners.  I hope to have most of the east wall over the garage insulated this week before moving onto the west wall.  I will then finally be able to continue on installing the siding on the north wall.  It will be phenomenal to actually finish one elevation of this dwelling in the not too distant future!

The Bad

My efficiency at site was very poor for much of May and June.  The lumbar discs in my back have been causing significant obstacles to working full days and have not been responding to my typical treatment regime.  The resulting pain has resulted in shorter work hours and several days where I just had to lay low (literally) and let things recoup.  This is at a time of year where I had hoped to put in long hours with the help of the extended daylight, so I am very disappointed.  A recent CT scan shows some significant damage to most of the lumbar discs, and I am now waiting for a surgical consult to see what options I have.

I then had an additional medical roadblock that completely side-lined me on June 6 PM when I came down with an unusual strain of Strep Throat, that landed me in the ER because it did not respond to oral antibiotics.  This basically entailed returning to the ER at least twice a day for IV antibiotics, steroids, and heavy pain killers for 4 days. The third day also involved minor surgery to locate and cut open/drain a hidden abscess at the back of the throat.  Not a fun procedure by any stretch of the imagination! On the forth day I was then discharged and put back on yet another oral antibiotics and thought the whole thing would soon be behind me.

This cool piece of tech is used to map out blood vessels for IV (especially when dehydrated). it projects the findings of an ultrasound onto the arm. Cool!

I was home for a few days recuperating and regaining strength when I took another dramatic detour.  My body decided to become allergic to the oral antibiotics.  This resulted in hives covering a large percentage of my body and then the beginnings of a constricted airways in my chest.  I drove myself back to the ER with only a few minutes to spare before I started to crash and needed some significant drugs to intervene and turn things back around.  It took another 5 days of really high doses of prednisone and antihistamines to get things under control.  It is quite unnerving to know that some medicine is the only thing keeping you breathing freely.  I can only imagine the fear that millions of asthma sufferers go through every day of their lives!

I was finally able to start lite work on site again June 25.  The silver lining is that my inactivity for close to three weeks did help the back settle somewhat!

The Awesome!

I have had two overriding stresses on my build for the last 2+ years.  Financing and Course of Construction insurance.  These were added to last December when my Landlord also decided to sell his house and we would have to wait and see if a new purchaser intended to keep a rental in the basement or take it over for their personal occupancy.  Well, I am thrilled to say that all three of these stresses have resolved themselves!!!

Suite Rental

My landlord sold the house about a month ago, for possession by the new owners in August.  We are thrilled with the new young family moving in, and that they want to keep us as renters.  It is such a relief to know we do not have to find a place to live and all the hassles of moving.  It also makes it much easier to maintain security of the job-site and the web camera network utilized by this website.

House and Course of Construction Insurance

Back in May, I got a call from our insurance company, BCAA.  For the last two years I have had to beg and plead for them to renew my course of construction insurance, and even provide mini essays explaining why construction was taking so long.  This is because it is there policy to only provide this type of insurance for about a year (the typical build duration for our region).

However this year, on a call that lasted just a couple of minutes, they asked what stage I was at, how much longer I expected to take, and stated “so I guess we need to go ahead on another term of course of construction” to which I replied “yes please”.  The paperwork showed up in the mail the following week and that was it.

Again, A HUGE stress relief because most insurance companies did not want to take over a partially constructed house, and the rates for course of construction insurance at other companies was thousands per month instead of the less than a thousand per year I was paying at BCAA.  So thank-you BCAA for your continued support!!!

Construction Mortgage

Now, to provide for the truly awesome promised by this sub- heading, we need to address the financing situation.  I have been with Royal Bank since the beginning of the build and a customer since I was 13 years old.  Again, their policy is to only offer a construction mortgage for a 12 month period (interest only is charged during this period, no principal).  They extended after the one year period with not too much coaxing, but things started getting much more difficult starting year 3.

They were monitoring my progress based on the quarterly reports produced by an appraiser.  The problem with the appraiser method is that it is based on the cost to complete the house.  So things that cost a lot of money but do not take a lot of time (think lipstick of the dwelling like water and electrical fixtures, cabinets, flooring, etc.) artificially reduce the amount of work that has been done.   This system works fine for a cash flow maintenance, but as far as a report card of progress, it sucks!

This was causing a lot of friction between me and the bank, as they would only see small gains in the percentage completion in each three month period.  In May of 2017 they started taking principal payments and this May, they advised they would not be providing more funding until I reached a significant percentage higher than I was currently at.  But of course, without the ability to make another draw (we have only had one draw to date back when the foundation was poured in May 2015), and with monies from the first draw running out, how were we to advance the build?

This was causing the kind of stress that kept me awake at night and had literally raised my blood pressure.  So I finally reached out to a broker to see what options were available.  When I first discussed with the broker last fall, there were several options from traditional lenders.  But when the mortgage rule changed Jan 1 2018, these typical lending paths dried up and the available options were more out there with rates and terms to match.

We were just about to give up and re-sign with Royal (or mortgage had come up for renewal so I resigned with a variable open, which kept our options open but came at a rate premium), when we received word through the broker that BMO were very interested in our business and basically willing to give us everything we were asking for.  Fast forward a month and a bit and we have now signed with BMO for a construction mortgage providing us interest only payments for 1 year, a prime minus 1.0 rate, and a first draw that not only payed out the Royal mortgage, but left us with enough left over monies that we will probably be able to finish the dwelling without an additional draw.  This translates into most likely not having to see an appraiser until the place is done and we are moving in!!!!  This overall is a HUGE relief and allows me once again concentrate on just the construction.

Now there is three people I would like to thank:

Tetyana Thomas, my Mortgage Specialist at The Royal Bank for her tireless efforts on my file.  She was always championing on my behalf to the ‘suits’ at the head office in Ontario.  I am so appreciative to all she has done for me.

Shawn Hawkins – Mortgage Broker @ The Mortgage Centre for helping me find a new lender and hopefully making the last year of this build more enjoyable and less stressful.

Rajinder Chaudhary – BMO Financial Services Manager for going out on a limp, throwing out the typical policies, and believing and supporting me and this project.


Well, that’s it.  You are all caught up.  Sometime this week I hope to get back onto the exterior insulation and siding application once the front yard backfilling is complete and I can once again access the siding being stored in the garage.

Thanks for visiting.

“We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world. ” —Heidi Wills  Author

“To be courageous requires no exceptional qualifications, no magic formula. It’s an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to us all and each person must look for that courage in their own soul. ” —John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) 35th Us President

2 Responses to “The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome! ”

  1. I am very interested in the ground water system you have there. Does the district consider the water source as a shallow well for use inside the house?

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for for visiting and your good question. No, this is not considered a potable water source by the District. This makes sense as it is too shallow a feed and could be easily contaminated by nearby utility or dwelling sewer leaks. The toilet circuits I am planning will all need the terminations marked ‘Non-Potable Water Do not Consume’ and routed through purple pipe.

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