Archive for: July, 2008

Civil Engineer Found

July 29th, 2008

One of the many firms I contacted about providing a grading and drainage map (after turning down the work like everyone else, of course) was good enough to spend some time flipping through their list of contacts and provided a referral.

Not only was the referred Civil Engineer interested in doing the work, he was also available to start immediately.

He made a lot of interesting points & suggestions during our conversation:

  1. I need to get to the Toronto Water department to arrange hookups for the new house immediately. The timeline for installation is going to be about 6 weeks after all the paperwork is in order and payment is received by the city, so the process should be started very shortly.
  2. The city no longer allows the installation of underground storm drainage. As such, our house will definitely need a sump pump and drain out to ground level. All eaves will have to drain to ground level as well.
  3. I need to find out the level of the sewers in front of our house to make sure the basement isn’t too deep.
  4. I should talk to Toronto Hydro about changing our overhead power lines into ‘drop lines’ (underground). The houses to the North and South have power lines running through our property’s “air space” and he suggested we look into having those turned into drop lines as well.
  5. I should get any permit application information back to the city as soon as possible. He suggested city hall is only getting busier so getting the information in for review earlier is always better. (i.e., don’t wait just so the information can all be submitted at once.)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow being a busy day!

Posted by admin

Air quality upon completion

July 25th, 2008

As I wrote that last post about the late start date I realized something else changed when we lost our May 1 start date: If the house is completed in the dead of winter, we won’t be able to leave the windows open to help clear out the construction dust.

You might recall that in a previous post I mentioned that the micro-particulate released into the air during construction acts as “sandpaper for your lungs” and takes several weeks (if not months) to settle. This is of particular concern as our newborn’s lungs would be highly susceptible to such particles (not that they’re harmless for anyone).

More research is needed here to see what can be done to clean the air — it does seem like the kind of thing one could rent a large air filter to take care of. (Since we are using radiant floor, we’ll have no central air filtration system as part of the house.)

We’ve considered leaving the house empty for a couple of weeks post-construction just to clean the air before moving in. It would be great if we could find a way to get a reading on the quantity of particulate in the air.

Posted by Colin

Civil Engineer for Grading and Drainage

July 25th, 2008

As motivated as we are to get this show on the road I have completely failed in my one major task this week: I was unable to find a Civil Engineer interested and available to build the Grading and Drainage map. Either our project was too small, or it wasn’t really the kind of work they did, or it was work they did, but only as part of the larger structural engineering aspect of the job, etc.

It was probably a mistake to try to politely avoid wasting people’s time by only phoning a couple of firms at a time and then wait for someone to get back to me. Next week I think I’m going to have to just keep phoning until we have someone signed on to do the job.

Our builder tells us we could actually start as late as  November 1 and still get the house closed in before winter, but we really don’t want to test that if we don’t have to.

Posted by Colin

We’re holding us up

July 19th, 2008

Due to an unfortunately ambiguous email exchange in regards to our permit requirements it turns out the thing that’s holding up our project at the moment is: us!

Somehow we thought someone else was going to be looking after providing a Grading & Drainage plan for the new house but it seems we were the ones who were actually intended to scout out a Civil Engineer for the task.

Apparently all the other issues have been addressed in a series of email messages referencing building codes and jargon that I confess I could not decipher. Once we have submitted all this additional information, the city may still come back with further concerns (but hopefully not).

Posted by Colin

Simple Ventilation System

July 1st, 2008

One thing that I still think is missing from our plans is a very simple air movement system.

At the very first meeting with our architect we mused about how crazy it was that no homes seemed to incorporate the very simplest idea in home cooling: a fan that draws cool air from a basement and pushes it to the upper floors of the house. The fan could even be reversed in the winter to warm up the basement with air from the upper floors.

Somehow over the course of development this idea started to seem impracticle because of the efficiency of the mechanical systems, and a lack of space for the ductwork to run. I think there might also be some building code issues that require a balance of intake and output on each floor (which would defeat the purpose, to some degree).

If I find the time, I’d like to settle once and for all if this is a practical and feasible idea.

Posted by Colin