Deadlines General

Final Certificate of Occupancy Issued

Well, we did it!  I just picked up our final CO (Certificate of Occupancy). So as far as the city of Arvada is concerned, we are DONE!  No more inspections (and hopefully no more fees)! Now that does NOT mean we are completely done with the house. We have a long list of things we still need to do. So we’ll be busy for the next couple months, but at least we won’t have the city looking over our shoulders.

On a personal note, I must admit that receiving our CO was one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ve always had a dream of building a house. When I walked out of city hall with that piece of paper that proved that I’d actually fulfilled my dream, I became a little emotional. I obviously could have never done this without the amazing support and hard work of Amy. I know it was never her dream to build a house, but she put aside almost two years of her life to help me realize one of mine. I guess it’s only fair since I helped her realize one of her dreams when she met me.  🙂

I’ve been slacking on the updates lately since we’ve been dealing with this CO deadline. So I’ll try an add a few updates from the past month or so and add new ones as we move forward. Thanks for following along.

And one last note. Amy and I realize we didn’t do this alone and sincerely appreciate all the help, encouragement, and enthusiasm our friends and family have given us along the way. Can’t wait for you all to come and enjoy some time with us at our new house.


Temporary Stock and Store CO

We’ve moved out of our apartment after 2 years o n May 2nd. But, we’re not in our house yet. We were able to get a temporary “stock and store” certificate of occupancy that allows us to move our things into the house, but we are not allowed to live in the house yet. There are a couple more things we need to do. The main thing is we need our permanent stairs and railings around those stairs to be installed. We should have had those installed several weeks ago, but got screwed by our stairs contractor.

I’d been in touch with Matt Dodd many times over the past three months. Every time we talked I asked him if he was on schedule. And every time he’d respond, “I am really busy, but we’ll make it happen.” I should have found someone else right then, but he was always really nice, had been out to the house to measure and made some really nice stairs. We’d even picked out materials and styles and had a date set for the install. So about a week before our lease is up and we are about to move, I call Matt and ask if he’s ready to install our stairs this week. He responds, “I’m not going to be able to do your job. I’m just too busy with my other projects.” I of course let him have it, but what can I do… other than send someone to break a kneecap or two.

So here we were a week before we were supposed to move into our new house and we don’t have railings or stairs, so we can’t get our CO. Fortunately Amy’s sister and brother-in-law offered to let us stay in their basement. So this is where we have been the past 2 weeks. I found a new guy to build our steel stairs and I found a place to buy the timbers for our stair treads. Now I just need to get it all together. Hopefully we’ll get this taken care of this week and be able to move in. Just one more problem in the joy of home building.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been busy. I’ve spent at least 12 hours every day up there working and Amy has been coming after work on nights when she can. I tiled the guest bathroom (pictures to come) and built the kitchen cabinet bases. I also built a cabinet for the guest bathroom. We got our cooktop hooked up and the kitchen sink up and running in a temporary plywood counter. So I think we’re close. We are supposed to get Internet installed from Comcast 3 weeks ago, but that hasn’t happened either. That will hopefully be taken care of tomorrow and I can upload some pictures. Check back!

Construction Deadlines

One Year

This is not an April Fool’s joke. It has been one year since we broke ground. That’s a long time and generally a house can be built in less than 12 months. But whether it was bad general contraction on my fault, poor sub-contracting, or just bad luck I don’t know. Probably a little bit of each. For sure we had bad weather last year for excavation. Then there was the major mistake by our foundation company. Add on that the delays from our framer and you can add about 3 months to a typical schedule. With all that said, we’ve been steadily moving forward and we’re getting close now. Wish us luck!

Construction Deadlines

Passed Rough Framing Inspection

So we passed our rough framing inspection. This has to be completed after the rough electrical, rough plumbing, and rough mechanical are complete. Mainly because the plumbers (Malcolm) cut out whatever’s in their way. But, we failed the inspection initially on Wednesday, the framers came out Thursday to fix the issues, and we got re-inspected (and passed) today.

There were a couple of issues, none due to the plumbers.  The framers missed a couple of king studs, which go next to the studs supporting the headers. Fortunately these were in accessible areas so we didn’t have to tear anything out. There were a couple bolts that had come lose, and a couple nails missing, but the big thing was the structure for the landing on the stairs. Our framers had made it out of a 2×8 box that was bolted to the foundation on three sides into our bump-out stairwell. But that was not what the structural engineer has designed.

Our engineer had designed a double 2×12 beam to sit under the landing and then rest on 2 1/4″ x 4″ x 4″ angle iron brackets. Seems like a bit of overkill to me, but if we ever want to drive a tank down our stairs, we should be alright. I had a hard time finding the brackets and stopped at a metal supply yard first thing Thursday morning. They said the didn’t have anything like that, but they could fabricate it. I decided to keep looking. Our framer suggested I call a foundation supply company on the East side of town so I did. I talked to a guy on the phone and told him what I needed. He said, “Piece of cake. Do you want it primed? And do you need any holes drilled in them?” I said, “Sure, prime would be good. I’m not sure where the holes need to be so I’ll do that on site. How much will that cost?” He said, “Nothing, just come pick them up.” So I did. I drove out to the East side of town and sure enough, they were ready and waiting for me, and there was no charge. I’m sure it didn’t cost them anything, but it was still a nice sunny part of my day.

So next up is the evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) install, inspection for that, insulation installation, and then drywalling. Looks like things might be finally coming together. Now I need to get started on building my kitchen cabinets.

Construction Deadlines General

Passed Electrical Inspection

Great news!  We passed our rough electrical inspection today. This is a milestone as I wired the house. I of course did not do it alone. I had lots of help from my friend Mark who came out from Pennsylvania, my friend Scott who came out from Minnesota, and my dad who came out from Arizona. Everyone was a tremendous help and I couldn’t have done it with out all the help. Thanks guys!

So what’s the next step?  The inspector said he would notify Xcel Energy (our utility company) that we passed the inspection. Tomorrow I’ll need to call Xcel’s builder’s hotline to request they install the meter for the house and hook up our service. I’ll be able to hook up a couple outlets in the house for use during the remainder of construction. That means no more running my extension cord out the door and 40 feet (13 m) over to our temporary power pole. I think I can hook up some lights too. That will make it much easier to work. I’ll check with my electrician friend to make sure.

Hopefully more progress to report soon.

Construction Deadlines

My Water Project with Video

So we got some good news today. It looks like we’ll be drilling the piers on Thursday. The only problem is the hole has been sitting there since last Thursday. And as some of you might know, we have a small river running into our excavation. Well, river might be a stretch, but we have positive flow coming in at all times from three different spots on the east (high) side of the excavation. And when the water has no where to go, it pools and turns the ground into a nasty clay pit of mud (I’ve been calling it the Pit of Despair). I was sure the drilling rig would get stuck if I didn’t do something. So today when I heard we were indeed drilling in two days, the first thing I did was head up to the hole and see how things looked. I was pleasantly surprised.

As a boy I loved building small canals for water to flow. I’d dig for hours and the get the garden hose to see how my engineering would respond. Well, when you have to do it as an adult, it’s not quite as fun. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had fun doing this at my house project. On Sunday I’d dug a small ditch from the southeast corner down to a big pit we had the excavator dig to collect water outside of the foundation walls. It turns out this did the trick and gave the water a route to travel away from the floor of the basement. There were still a couple spots where the water wasn’t being diverted so I dug a few more trenches along the perimeter of the areas where water was coming in. I’m hoping this will collect the water and drain it to the other (low) side of the project. I’ll be heading back in the morning to pump out the two collections pits. Below is a short video of my project from Sunday and today. Check it out!

Construction Deadlines General

More #$%* Snow

may1.2013_snowAre you kidding me? It’s May 1st today and dumping snow again. We’re supposed to get 6 to 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) with a high of 33 degrees (1C) today. Not only was April one of the coldest on record, but we also got over 20 inches (50 cm) of snow, which is way above normal. What are the odds? We’ve been in a persistent drought for more than 2 years with weather so hot and dry that we’ve had record wild-fire seasons. And the week we start digging a hole to build our house, it starts snowing. And these haven’t been just little dustings. No, these have been significant day-long storms that have dropped a lot of snow. It has been snowing every week for the past month. Then by the time it melts and dries up, the excavator gets one day of work, if that, before the next storm. That’s what happened this week. He hadn’t been able to work for the past 2 weeks, then worked Monday and Tuesday and made some good progress, but there here we are Wednesday and it looks like a complete blizzard. Of course we need the moisture, but give us a break. What should have been a 3 or 4 day excavation job has turned in almost a month. I think they’ve only be able to work about 5 or 6 days total, and with all this moisture, our excavator has had to mix in dry dirt just to make sure he doesn’t get stuck. So he’s having to work much more than he normally would. I’ve been trying to be patient. After all, who can you blame? But I am officially pissed off. COME ON MOTHER NATURE!!! GIVE US A BREAK!!!

Construction Deadlines

Mother Nature Wins Again

Spring in the Rockies. Well, we’ve lost another week to Mother Nature. We had to start our entire project a week late due to a 10-inch snowfall in early April. Once that melted, and the excavation company caught up with their other jobs, they were able to start on our project. Then the next week we got another snow storm that stopped work for another 3 days. snowThen on this past Monday we got another 10-inch snowfall, warmed up a bit Tuesday and then snowed all day Wednesday. It’s been in the 50’s the past two days, but still too wet to finish up the excavation.  There is more snow/rain and cold weather forecast for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week. But then it’s supposed to get drier and be back to seasonal temperatures in the 60s (15+ C). At this rate, we might be able to start on the foundation in June. Actually, we might be able to start next week… hopefully. What can we do?  Mother Nature is hard to predict. We’ll just relax and wait for better weather. Wish us luck.

Construction Deadlines General

Building Permit Application Submitted

We’ve made it over one big hurdle this week. On Monday we submitted our application for building permits. In order to get that submitted, there were quite a few steps that needed to happen. These were all the things we needed to submit along with the app:

  • 4 – Plot plans
  • 2 – Building Plans, complete structural floor plans and elevations required
  • 2 – Foundation Plans, stamped by Colorado Registered Engineer
  • 1 – Soil report
  • 1 – Permit application
  • 1 – Subcontractor form
  • 1 – Heat calculations (Manual J and Manual D)
  • 1 – Stamped truss pack
  • 1 – Windows schedule listing all windows including fenestration, solar heat gain coefficient, sides and flashing details

So, as you can see, it’s not just about filling out an application. The Plot Plans were included with our Building Plans Kevin (our Architect/Designer) made for us. The Structural Floor Plans and Foundation Plans were provided by our structural engineer, Jerry. The Soil Report was provided by our soils engineer David. Bob our builder helped me fill out the application form and the subcontractor form which was mostly blank because we haven’t hired any subcontractors yet. We’ll fill in the subcontractors when we hire them. The heat calculations will come from our mechanical guy when we hire him. We’re waiting on bids from a couple guys now for mechanical. The Truss Pack (see our truss post) was provided by Jay at the company who will be building our trusses. I made the Window Schedule based on a couple of bids we’ve already received for all the windows.

When we checked with Kirk the Building Permit Coordinator at the city toward the end of 2012, he said they were taking between 4 and 6 weeks to go though everything and issue a permit. When I talked to him last week, he said they were 6 to 8 weeks out. Then when we applied Monday, he said it could be between 3 and 6 weeks. So I guess we will wait. Well not really. The next step is to start getting excavation bids. Our builder, Bob, has another project going on less than a mile away that is about to start excavating. We’re hoping for a bid from the excavator on that project. One big advantage of using him would be that  it looks like that project will have extra dirt, and we need some. So hopefully we can take his export and not have to pay to import soil. That should save us both some money. Then we need bids on foundation, framing, stucco, roofing… Whew! And we haven’t even broke ground yet.  OK. I’m loving it.