At a crossroads

Yesterday, I received the baffling news from the District of North Vancouver building department that they were considering my dwelling ‘complex’ and as a result would require that I have the entire structure engineered. I wrote about the possible Death of Part 9 Construction on my blog.

This is upsetting on so many levels:

– How can a standard stick frame home with engineered floor and roof trusses be considered complex when almost every house built in the last decade has been built in the same manner (from a structural standpoint)?

– Why was I not informed of this ‘policy’ (currently appears to be unwritten) early in my design process during the numerous visits I made to the District hall?

– Why has the District outright banned Part 9 construction instead of adopting a more even handed policy similar to Burnaby’s Structural Design to resist Lateral Loads for Single and Two Family Dwellings policy that still allows a Part 9 Lateral Bracing design as long as an engineer revues the design and confirms it complies with 9.23.13?

What this means for me?

As we have already had some significant added costs that were not anticipated relating to our effort to preserve 4 large cedars on the property in close proximity to the build envelope (we need air spading to excavate the roots next to the excavation so they can be pruned and then will also need to stabilize the walls of the excavation with anchors and shotcrete near the trees where the excavation wall will need to be vertical), our contingency on the project is all but used up and we have not started the build yet. I am trying to keep the build costs well below $400K but at this point we are projecting $450K (still well below the $800k – $900K estimated build costs presented by the bank and insurance estimates).

The other issue is one of cash flow.  We have been approved for a construction mortgage, but funds will not be advanced until the foundations are complete.  The costs to get to this stage of construction are now estimated at $125K including the added engineering costs to design the lateral bracing and I am only able to come up with $100K.  So unless I can get some more sponsorship or I am able to get the bank to provide an advance, we will be short.

So, we will have a decision to make.  Do we try to absorb these added costs and continue with the project, or do we give up on a lifetime dream and pack it in.  My concern is if the current situation with the District is replicated throughout the build process, how many other roadblocks are they going to present to my finishing this dwelling.  I heard an underlining tone in the comments made by the Manager, he was not a fan of owner builders.

Building a home by yourself is challenging enough, but if the Municipality is against you doing so, is it worth the struggle?

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