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

Minimal building standards

July 25th, 2007

Because of our restricted budget on this project, we plan on completing a lot of the work on our own. As such what we want the builder to complete is different from what most people would want (i.e., a finished home).

We consulted with the city’s building inspector for our area to find out what minimal building standards existed and found the following:

  • All floors must, at minimum, be 5/8″ tongue & groove plywood. No other flooring is required, in general (see below).
  • At least one bathroom must be completed with a functional toilet, sink and shower. The floor cannot be just subflooring, and must be waterproof (e.g., tile). Other bathrooms in the house can just be left at the rough-in stage.
  • The city does not actually issue an occupancy permit for single-family dwellings. They will not stop you from moving in any time. However, we do need to check with our insurance company as they may not cover us if we are living in a partially completed house.
  • He will want to meet with us to review the building plan before we begin, but after we get our construction permit from the city.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer. This is just my interpretation of what I was told. If you need the answers to these types of questions for your own project, you should definitely ask the question of your own local inspector.

I should also emphasize that while we are trying to some degree to meet minimal code requirements, this is only for what needs to be completed not how it should be completed. Those items that we are completing should significantly surpass building code standards.

Posted by Colin
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Revising tree removal documents

July 19th, 2007

Because of the complex arrangement we have regarding our neighour’s tree, Toronto’s Urban Forestry Service had to write up a legal agreement between the three of us (the city, us, and our neighbour) describing what would be happening with the tree.

After a couple of attempts at correcting the language to reflect the situation, the documents were still coming back from the UFS without an accurate description of the agreement. (In short: we will remove a tree from our neighbour’s lawn and put the replacement tree on our lawn, and be responsible for it. That wasn’t so hard, was it?)

In the end I wound up rewriting the agreement myself, using all the legalese I could muster. Hopefully this will be good enough.

Posted by Colin
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New builder on the scene

July 17th, 2007

It has been a long 5 weeks since my last post and unfortunately not much as happened as we’ve been mired in budgetary issues… until tonight!

We met with a new builder this evening and he seems to think we can bring our construction project in on budget after all. Wow!

I should mention that we did not try to mess them about. We went with the ‘cards on the table’ approach and informed them that this project was, to others who had seen it, very expensive to build, and that even an independent coster said so. On the other hand, we also did our best to illustrate the design elements that should make it much easier to build.

They need to put in a formal bid, of course, but their initial impression of the plans was that we were not, in fact, building a rocket ship; That while the materials were unique, the way in which the house went together was not all that different from traditional construction. And the house was so well thought out in its design, that it should be reasonably simple to build.

In short: they ‘got it.’

The anticipated construction time would be 6 months, and if all goes really well, we might be able to break ground in September. Here’s hoping!

One item that did concern them (and you should be aware of if you plan to build in the city) is that they were quite keen to be able to put scaffolding on our neighbour’s driveway while building the exterior walls. I hadn’t considered it before but building on a narrow lot such as ours (well, at 25′ ours is actually wide for the area), it would be very difficult to erect an exterior wall if you couldn’t put scaffolding outside the property area (unless it was a VERY narrow house).

Posted by Colin
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