Happy New Year to all my digital friends!
I for one, am thrilled to see the last of 2017. It has been a tough year that can be summed up by a phrase I recently heard on a commercial for a new TV show.
My life is like a swirling toilet that never flushes!
So, lets review the year and what made it so memorable for me, often for the wrong reasons.
- Started the Enclosure with window opening detailing. It was exciting to finally put my building science knowledge to use (www.theenclosure.ca/purpose-build-enclosure-born), but because construction was out of sequence, I was installing foil faced membrane in the middle of winter. This required use of heat gun and a LOT more hours to accomplish the same thing that could have been done in no time during summer weather.
- Installed fascias that also formed raised parapets for hidden gutter system. Again, took way too long due to the tapered back supports fabricated from stacked 2×3’s. I literally installed thousands of 4″-6″ screws. If doing these again, I would do some more research on a better way to frame the back support (I had followed RCABC recommendations).
- Winter of 2016/2017 was one of the worst for snow fall for over a decade, and I spent many days clearing snow off the top of the tarp over the winter, so that I could continue on the fascia installation.
- Finished off all high wall sheathing details around dwelling while I had a Genie lift on site.
- Installed window package (www.theenclosure.ca/soaring-new-heights-pane).
- Convert from temporary to permanent power supply to dwelling. (www.theenclosure.ca/de-energized) This should have been about 3-4 days of work, but because a vendor sold me the wrong tech cable and I did not have the experience to visually identify the error, the project took WAY longer. I had to re-excavate from the power pole to the foundation, core through the foundation, re-trench through basement and install a new teck cable. (www.theenclosure.ca/waste-plumbing-commenced)
- Installed permanent stairs between 1st & 2nd floor.
- Finished framing majority of interior walls on second floor.
- Installed ABS waste plumbing system. Installation went very well but I had some challenges during testing. (www.theenclosure.ca/stalled)
- Installed diagonal bracing that holds up rear bedroom deck. Once again, this project took way too long because the fabrication vendor did not follow instructions and welded the wrong nuts to the end of the braces. I wasted a lot of time trying to have them tapped to right thread pattern.
- Planed and ordered materials for exterior envelope including insulation, cladding, and 8″ S.S. screws to attach cladding. (www.theenclosure.ca/laboured-progress)
- Plan and started ordering materials for HRV. The 2.0 diameter radius elbows took a while to get in, but then could not be used in all areas because they take up so much extra room. SO I had to order some standard radius elbows as well.
- I was finally able to start on the exterior insulation installation. (www.theenclosure.ca/ducks-row-finally)
- Installed PV curbs on south upper roof.
- At long last – found a crew to install Soprema roofing (www.theenclosure.ca/long-b-t-served-well)
- With siding on site, all 6 sides needed to be prestained prior to installation.
- Continued installation of exterior insulation and finally started to mount siding. Every piece of siding has mitred ends, so the process takes a while. The detailing around windows is also intense and takes a lot more time than estimated.(www.theenclosure.ca/bent-out-of-shape)
October (When the toilet stopped flushing!)
- My roof was finally complete! I was now 100% waterproof and have managed to keep this structure dry during the entire build. No small feat in the rain heavy environment of South Coast BC. It has been awesome to not stress out this winter as the rains came and the snow started to fall.
- With a representative portion of the building exterior completed, I called for an interim inspection by the Municipal inspector. This went very poorly with the inspector basically stopping work on the envelope and the Municipality now requiring a building envelope engineer to formally inspect and sign off on my design. (www.theenclosure.ca/finished-lid-sides)
This brings us up to speed on what I had previously posted. Unfortunately it has only gotten worse since my last post and I am now thoroughly frustrated and more than a little furious at the situation. You see, it appears that the Municipality is using professional letters of assurance in ways not supported by APEG or the BC Building Code. As my engineer tried to work through these issues with the Municipality, they dug in and now decided they were going to require an architect to professionally oversee the project.
In my view, this is a totally illegal requirement and an abuse of Municipal authority over the Provincial Building Code. It was bad enough they were now requiring me to spend $5K-$7K for an engineering overview of the envelope. But the new requirement for an architect would now add an additional $15K – $25K to the job & 3+ months to the project schedule. None of these new requirements appear to be supported by the legal requirements of Part 9 construction in the building code. Any and all requirements for professional review must be identified BEFORE permits are issued. As long as I constructed the dwelling according with the permitted drawings (and I have), there should have been no additional requirements or concerns.
The real frustration is that this basically comes down to the inspectors not being comfortable with inspecting higher efficiency envelopes with exterior continuous insulation (even though this coming year, the building code will require degrees of what I am doing on my build). This is not about anything that I have designed or done wrong. All of my envelope details have already been well vetted by my mentors at RDH.
I have also I complied with all the extra demands they have made up to this point in time. But I have now reached my limit and will be fighting this new requirement. I have no intention of hiring an architect this late in the build. For one thing, an architect would want to redraw the architectural drawing package on their own title blocks, something that would be a total waste of time now that the place is essential completed from a framing stand point. I would also anticipate a lot of discussion around the various products already chosen for the envelope and methods I have designed for the air, water, and vapour barriers. The truth is, I have a lot more building science training than many in the architectural field, and I have no interest in defending my design that has already been well vetted by those in the building science field.
I will instead work on a political path to a compromise. I am working with some of my industry contacts to hopefully set up meeting with the political branch of the Municipality and offer to continue with RDH review of the envelope in a professional capacity, but without the letters of assurance.
Since the exterior shutdown on Oct 11, I have worked at cleaning up the job-site, and completing various small projects. I have also ordered the insulation for below basement floor slab and hope to see it by late January. In preparation for the slab pouring, I also fabricated instruments needed for the sub slab insulation lab.
I also worked at sourcing balance of the HRV custom fittings and finally started installing system in early December. I am currently installing the system in a mock-up format. Once complete, I will bring in my consultant to do a quick review before disassembling to enable sealing all joints and seams and then performing the final installation and securing of the system. I should complete the installation near the end of January and will then work toward pouring the basement floor slab.
In addition to the above building challenges, I also have been heavily stressed this last year over project financing. You see, my bank has not been comfortable with my build time-line. Even though the amount we have drawn is less than 25% of our land value (so no real risk to the bank), we do not fit neatly into the various policies they have in place. For most of the year there has been accelerated progress inspections and a constant threat to increase our interest rate 5 fold. Finally, this fall I had enough and starting investigating alternatives. Fortunately I found some that would work with us. I then had the existing mortgage terms legally reviewed and notified our bank they did not have any recourse against an extended construction duration, but that we would like to work with them to refinance early prior to our term expiration in 2018. We were initially informed they granted us an extension till Dec 2018 but then heard back this decision is being reviewed by upper management. So time will tell if this is resolved, but at least now I know I have a backup plan available.
Finally, our landlord has decided to sell. This involved doing several significant repairs during the summer and fall that I was involved with at a time consuming supervisory role for parts and actually performing some of the work on the rest. I was reminded at how poor so many contractors in the building industry are, and my motivation to do most of my own work on my own dwelling. My landlord is a very kind man and I was honoured to assist him, but it did take up lots of ‘build time’. Of course, this also adds a degree of stress as we do not know, once sold, if the new owners will still want renters in their basement, or if they will want to take over the space for themselves.
Well, there you have it. It has been a challenging and stressful year. I have worked hard to overcome many of these issues, but there are some major ones still to conquer.
Going forward, I will try to work on more regular updates focused on a specific topic to make following my progress less laborious for you readers. Lets see how well we do 🙂
Thanks for visiting!
“If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it.” — Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) New Zealand Mountaineer, Explorer, And Philanthropist.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong, because someday in your life, you will have been all of these.” —George Washington Carver (1864-1943) Botanist, Agricultural Chemist, Inventor, Educator
“Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the right stuff to turn our dream into reality.” —James Womack (born 1941) Biologist, Author, Professor