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2007 June » Our Sustainable Home
Archive for: June, 2007

Revising architectural plans

June 9th, 2007

Today we met with the Joanne at her office in Hamilton, along with Alex and a prospective contractor.

The purpose of the meeting was to try to identify the portions of the house which were causing it to be so expensive. We made some good progress and identified the following items:

  • The ‘c’ shape of the house introduces 4 additional corners to the foundation. It would be cheaper/easier to build a rectangular foundation. This means our ‘cold room’ would be inside the foundation, but if it is well insulated from the house interior and unheated, it should provide us with nearly the same effect.
  • The stairs to the basement are quite expensive and could be added at a future date.
  • According to the energy modeling team, the radiant floors on the ground floor and 2nd floor are excessive for our needs. The house’s structure is going to be so efficient, that it simply isn’t going to take much heat to keep the house comfortably. It’s felt this amount of heat can be easily distributed through the ventilation system. Radiant floors should apparently still be used in the basement because, as Alex pointed out: we’re pouring concrete anyway. It’s hardly any extra work to put the tubing down before we do that.
  • Move Stacey’s writing garret inside the roof of the house.
  • And other smaller changes.

That last point is the hardest one on the list. We think that part ads a lot of character to the house and we’ll be quite sad if it has to go to appease the budget gods. Alex is working on an analysis of what savings we might find from each of the features taken away from the house and we’ll make our choices once we know what we’re saving for each item we’re giving up.

We still haven’t settled on a solution to resolve our parking dilemma, but have mentioned the issue to our neighbours to see if they would be interested in creating a shared laneway to the back yard for parking to be set up there. The other option we’re exploring is narrowing the ground floor to leave enough space for a full parking space at the side of the house.

There is a major difference between these approaches as the former only requires 2.2m of space between the houses, whereas the side-parking requires 2.6m of space between our house and the property line. It also leaves the 2nd floor overhanging the first floor. (I can’t say we really understand why the city wants us to make one of these choices instead of just parking in front of our house as we, and as many others on our street, do now.)

Posted by Colin
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Whatever happened with the general-contractors?

June 1st, 2007

This was very strange.

Two general-contractors were bidding on our project. One needed a little more time, and one needed a lot more time. We granted the long extension (to May 20) and the architect informed the other contractor of the new timeline. (This is not that unusual: their trades and suppliers are all very busy so getting everyone to return their quotes for the work to be done can be challenging.)

Both contractors were really nice and came across as thoroughly professional, but when it came time to turn in the bids, the contractor who needed the longer extension didn’t arrive.

He didn’t call, didn’t return our 2 phone calls or the calls from the architect over the next few days. He just disappeared. The behaviour seems so out of keeping with the fellow we met that we are a bit concerned that he’s been injured on a work-site. It just doesn’t make much sense that he couldn’t take 30 seconds to say “Sorry, I’m just too busy to take on this project” so the only other (disturbing) explanation we’re left with is that he’s unable to contact us.

The one bid we did receive was, unfortunately, well outside our anticipated budget for the project. He called us to let us know that he was keen to sit down and see where the project could be modified/simplified to reduce the budget, which was nice. We’ll probably wind up doing this once we are more certain what direction we’re going in regarding parking.

Posted by Colin
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