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"planning" Category

Behind the Shack Door

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well, although this blog has been silent lately, we have been diligently working. Ever since I got back from France I’ve been trying to get the plans approved by the city. And finally, last Thursday, they were! So after paying them a healthy, rather large, and rather unexpected large fee, we have our plans in hand and are ready to start building. But, uh, actually it’s not that simple. See, we want to put radiant floors in. And that means we need to have these special WarmBoard panels that act as both the subfloor and the holder for the tubes that keep the floor warm. They need to be ordered in special configurations that meet the layout of the house. In order to do that you have to figure out how many zones and loops you’re going to have and generally how your radiant system is going to work. The lumber had to be ordered as well. And we never poured the concrete piers for the inside of our foundation. And since we’re doing a truss roof, that needed to be configured and ordered as well. The rough plumbing, which includes the sewer lines, the waste line, and all the hot and cold water that will run under the floor all needed to be figured out and ordered. The One-and-Only-Greatly-Revered-and-Lauded George Williams was very generous with his time and drew these amazing schematics that showed how every part of our rough plumbing system would work. He then wrote up a manifest with every part we needed and got it priced for us (at a discout I might add). How awesome is that??? We owe George, big time. 

At this point, all of our construction materials are ordered and scheduled and will be delivered in a timely fashion. It’s like we’ve been laboriously pushing a big boulder up to a mountaintop and are about to let it fly down the other side. It’s a strange time to start building since it seems as though all building has stopped and since the holidays are just about to kick in to high gear, but that’s how we do. 

Last week Reggie and I installed our salvaged doors (with a super-expensive jamb added after-the-fact) into the shack. It gives the shack a certain viable presence now. Makes it feel like a real building. Also I dug holes for the piers and built forms for pouring concrete into them. I’ll get them inspected tomorrow and hopefully we can pour concrete into them on Tuesday. That will kick off the floor building spree. After the floors get built I’ll install the plumbing. Then the WarmBoard goes on, including the PEX tubing. After that the walls get built and then finally the roof trusses are tacked on top. I’m hoping to have all this done by February. Heh. Wish us luck.

The Man Approves

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just got word from our mortgage broker that our appraisal has been okay’d. That was the last hurdle between us and our loan. Apparently our appraisal was a little too optimistic considering the photos of the place. The underwriter took a deeper look and apparently judged that the value was indeed there. I guess that means that a total dump in Capitola is worth more than a five-bedroom ranch palace in Topeka. 

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve felt relief like this. Like passing the writing test to get in to grad school. It’s one of those things where a lot rides on one technicality, and even though I know that we’re gonna do good if we just get the chance, we can still get the thumbs down with little recourse. Kari has already given notice at her job; we told our landlord that we’d be out of our apartment by June 1; I’ve been slowly weening my clients off Western Freight. These are big moves for people that would be left in a major lurch without that loan money to build a house with. So, in a word, WHEW!


Monday, April 28, 2008

I’m chomping at the bit to get started on the house. I’ll be there May 1st (this Thursday) ripping out sections of the wall to see what condition the house is in. My very first permit is in my hand and allows me to do “investigative demolition” to determine the current condition of the structure and foundation. Seems weird that you’d need a permit to poke holes in your own wall. I mean, think about all the angry boyfriends who punch holes in their walls in fits of relationship stress. That’s $47.50 per jab, fellas.  

Word on the street (wall street, that is) is that we’ll get word on the loan tomorrow. This is really the big go or no-go moment. If the loan comes thru, then things will kick into really high gear. So far we’ve talked to the planning department in Capitola and they’ve given us good feedback about our plans. Now I need to draw up site, floor and landscaping plans to get the ball rolling on approval for the front addition. Additionally I need to draw up really detailed plans for the existing site modifications that we want to do. Those should get approved very quickly. The addition could take up to a six weeks to get approved. Kari and I are franticly working on different floor plans (I’ll post the finalists soon) but we need to dig into the walls and down to the foundation to check the current condition of the bones. That will determine how much gutting and replacement we’ll need to do. Reggie, aka The Pundit, our awesome contractor and quickly emerging friend, and all around nice guy, says that we’ll probably need to shore up the foundation around the perimeter in order to hold up the new roof. We may not absolutely need it, but it seems like the right thing to do for the long-term.

The Bad News Is…

Monday, April 28, 2008

The bad news is that housing prices are dropping like crazy. The bubble has burst and California housing prices are down 31 percent since their peak in April of 2007. The good news is that housing prices in Santa Cruz county are the fourth highest in twenty regions, behind South Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco Bay Area. Santa Cruz has also suffered the third smallest decline behind Santa Clara and the bay area. That tells me that state-wide, Santa Cruz is a desirable place to live. I hate to sound optimistic in this increasingly pessimistic landscape, but, well, I am. I don’t expect housing values to start climbing anytime soon, and I’m sure they’ll continue to fall as the shock wave of the credit crunch continues to propagate, but I think that of all places, Santa Cruz will be one of those more mildly shaken.

Speaking of pessimism, check out this link, where I found my data:

C.A.R. Median Home Prices Down 29% In March

One Year

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gonna rebuild the Tola house. Should take a year. Please donate.