Well, we’ve made some progress. We finally got our foundation and structural plan from the engineer and our building permit has been approved. Hallelujah!
About a week after I had a firm, direct phone conversation with our structural engineer, he emailed me the completed structural plan for our house. Now, I wasn’t rude or disrespectful when I talked with him. I didn’t yell or use curse words or threats, but I was stern, and he knew by my tone that I had come to the end of my patience.
I reminded him that he had failed to meet several deadlines that he himself had set for this project. I told him that he alone was the hold up for us being able to apply for our building permit. Finally, I reiterated that I had paid my dues in time and patience and I absolutely needed him prioritize my project over his other work. No more excuses. I told him I wanted him complete the plans within a week.
He mostly just listened to me, and after I had finished speaking, he apologized for the delays. He said that designing our structural plan ended up being more complicated than he initially thought it would be, so it was taking him extra time. But he assured me that he and his assistant would work on my plans exclusively until it was complete. And this time, he kept his word. About a week after we talked, I had my structural plans.
The structural plans included the plan for the foundation and the specifications for the continuous load path. Ok, guess we should do a pop quiz here. Do you remember what a continuous load path is? We talked about a continuous load path in several episodes. Including episode 20 called “Test Your Home Building Knowledge with this Semester Exam”
Well, a continuous load path is one of the concepts I had never heard of before starting this podcast, but something I decided early on I wanted for my house. A continuous load path is a method of construction that uses a system of connectors, fasteners, bolts and screws to connect the structural frame of the house all together. The roof is connected to the walls of the second floor, the walls of second floor are connected to walls of the first floor, and the walls of the first floor are connected to the foundation.
Because a continuous load path ties the house together from the roof to the foundation, the house is more likely to stay together when ground forces like earthquakes. or high winds try to pull your home apart. A continuous load path is critical in areas prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or high winds.
Ok, back to the update. So, I finally got the structural plan from the structural engineer and put it together with the house plan from the architect and the plot plan from the civil engineer. The civil engineer had surveyed and staked the property several months ago. Remember, the survey shows the boundaries, or property lines, of the land. When surveyors stake a house, they put short, brightly colored posts in the ground. The stakes indicate the outside perimeter of the house and the exact positioning of the house on the lot. With all the information, the civil engineer creates a plot plan.
A plot plan is also called a site plan. It is a view of the entire property and everything that is, or will be, on the property. It is a basically a survey, showing the property lines, PLUS anything that is or will be built on the property, including existing structures, proposed structures (like your house), easements, setbacks, roads, retaining walls, water wells, or septic systems.
I took all those documents (the plot plan, house plan and structural plan) to my building inspectors office. The inspectors office needed just one copy of the plot plan to put on file, but required 2 copies each of the house plan and the structural plan. One copy of the house plan and structural plan will remain in their office for the entire duration of construction. The second set of plans were for the inspector to markup and give back to us.
He jotted down short notes on the plans indicating what needed to be revised in order to meet the building code. He also used a yellow highlighter on the areas of the plan that needed changes so we could easily see what we needed to address. Finally, wherever he called for a change, he noted for our reference, the specific building code number that we failed to meet, so we could see with our own eyes why he asked for revisions.
It only took about a week for the inspectors office to review and markup our plans and give us final approval for the full building permit. Remember, I live in a small city. It might take longer for approval in a larger city that has more residential projects being started.
We only have to make one little of revision to the plan. I think that’s why we got the approved for construction immediately, without having to give him a revised construction plan. If you have lots of changes to make, the building inspector may require you to submit a revised plan before approving the building permit.
Our change has to do with the height of the window sills in one of the guest bedrooms. The original house plan has the window sill at 24 inches from the floor. Code in our area requires that sills to be 22 inches from the floor. That’s because of egress reasons. Egress basically means the ability to escape the through the window in case of a fire, or some other emergency.
That’s the only revision the inspector noted. Keith, my construction manager, says that one of the advantages of having a structural engineer involved in designing your plans is that the building inspectors usually defer to the expertise of the engineer, making the inspectors less
nit-picky when reviewing plans. That’s a tiny silver lining for all time and trouble we went through dealing with that engineer.
Since the last update, we’ve also gotten bids from the foundation contractors. There was less than a 2% difference in their prices, so we’re going with the guy that Keith usually uses, who happens to be the lowest bidder. Those bids took about 3 weeks, which is longer than usual because the foundation contractors in our region are behind schedule because they lost lots of work days during this past fall and winter. The weather was usually rainy and cold.
Keith told me that unfortunately the bad weather has put most of the tradespeople way behind schedule, so bids are taking longer than usual to get back. That may also cause us to have to wait a few extra weeks for them to start on our job because they have to finish up what they couldn’t finish over the winter months. But we should be getting started on the foundation in the next week or 2. Fingers crossed.
So that’s where we are. Before we go, I want to thank wood106 from the US and an Australian listener, Nadya8, for giving the podcast such wonderful reviews. Your kind words made my week! Thank you for doing that.
If this podcast has helped you, you can help us by telling others about the show, either through reviews, by sharing your favorite episodes on your social media channels or by telling your friends and family about us.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for joining me. Come on back next week for another episode of BYHYU.