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Permits » Our Sustainable Home
Browsing Topic: Permits

Firewall for the North wall of loft

July 8th, 2009

Just before going on strike our inspector indicated he wanted the North wall of the loft area to have a 45 minute fire assembly. (The loft is singled out since it is a stick-frame construction, not ICF like the rest of the house.)

Any walls of a house that face a neighbouring property (at a close distance) need to have a 45 minute fire rating, but this is usually just for fire that would occur inside the house. As such, putting 5/8″ drywall on those walls is sufficient.

But (as I understand it) a “45 minute assembly” needs to have that rating on EVERY side of the wall (top and bottom, too). Because we didn’t have a good way to do this, we were looking at having to drop our cool soya-based spray-foam insulation from the north wall, and use Roxul.

Roxul is a great product but it doesn’t provide the air-seal that spray-foam does. This morning, *just* before the drywall was to go up, the fellow from Ryerson who is researching our house called to say he had an engineer who could give us a letter describing a fire assembly to satisfy the city requirements!

A flurry of phone calls later, it looks like our friends at Foam Comforts can come back tomorrow to complete the air-tight seal we’d been hoping for in the loft! This is another one of those: it now feels ‘right’ moments. And more importantly the house temperature will ‘feel right’ too!

The loft area uses 4.5″ of foam (R-31) insulation on the roof and walls.

The solution, by the way, is quite simple: We just need to put 5/8″ drywall (probably concrete board for moisture protection) on the outside of the house as well. Our builder was very worried about the spray foam carrying a fire through the wall, but since each 5/8″ sheet provides 45 minutes, the flammability of the inside of the wall can be discarded (assuming it isn’t an accelerant, which I don’t think it is). Then we just add our ULC-rated cladding (hardieboard, in this case) to the outside of the house and we’re good to go!

Good save, team! 🙂

Posted by Colin
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Strike!

June 22nd, 2009

Well, this isn’t good.

Our inspector is amongst those who have gone on strike today. Before that happened he indicated a few areas that need to be changed in order for us to proceed with drywalling:

  1. The loft area needs the standard 45 minute fire rating between it and the neighbour’s house. (But that’s why we’re using 5/8″ drywall — the standard way in which a 45 minute fire rating is achieved.)
  2. The loft area is using spray foam insulation and he want to see it vented. (But it is commonly understood that 2lb, closed cell spray foam is its own vapour barrier and therefore doesn’t need venting.)
  3. Our HRV equipped bathrooms need a separate fan system. (But the HRV is a centralized fan system.)

So these are all things it would be great to talk about in case they were just misunderstandings. (I’m going to assume/hope they weren’t flagged to front-load the backlog of construction projects in the city before a probable strike.)

There may be ways around these (e.g., engineers reports) but I’m not sure. I’ll know more when our builder gets back from Cuba (he thought he could leave because drywalling was going to be starting for 3 weeks).

Posted by Colin
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Demolition Starts Tomorrow

December 28th, 2008

There has again been a lot of activity with the house but no time to blog about it with the continued need to work to pay for all this. 🙂

We’ve shut off all utilities (that was quite an adventure) and hired a great demolition company. They are one of very few who offered manual demoltion of the house. Apparently they recycle 95% of the materials in the home (which seems staggering to me). They are also happy to reclaim any materials we want.

We’ve already removed or are in the process of removing the main power panel (seems to be worth about $400 with breakers), electrical outlets, light switches, kitchen cabinets and the bathroom sink. We’ll be asking them to reclain the 100 year-old 2×6 wood joists, the brick from the foundation, the front and back doors, etc.

More details on all this in the future but since I have 14 hours until they arrive, I better get back to the house to finish moving things out!

Posted by Colin
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Plans mostly into the city

August 14th, 2008

The revised plans are into the city! Included with them were documents from the architect answering questions the city had and further technical specifications for the Durisol block and the ICF Ledger Connectors (Simpson Strong-Tie) that will be used.

With any luck I’ll be back at city hall tomorrow with the Grading & Drainage plan. (Too bad about the 1-2 hour wait that comes with each visit!)

NOTE: Many of Toronto’s libraries have free wifi access. City hall has one such library. Once you sign in with the permit office you don’t need to wait at the counter; You can leave and come back around the time you expect to be called.

Posted by Colin
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Plans partially into the city

August 13th, 2008

Unfortunately our Civil Engineer has become swamped with other projects and like many in his industry are just so busy with other things, don’t have much time for a small project like ours.

Since I couldn’t be sure when I’ll actually have the Grading & Drainage plan in my hands, I decided to take what I had down to city hall.

Unfortunately when I tried to hand in the revised drawings 4 of them were rejected because it had the wrong stamp. A set of plans can either have the architect’s seal with a space for them to sign by hand, or it can have the signature embedded as part of the seal. Mine had the former and since they had been sent electronically, weren’t signed.

I was able to submit the new Mechanical drawings (now showing the HRV lines).

I’ve now received the drawings from the architect with the digital signature, and will reprint and redeliver them to city hall in the next few days.

I should mention: when I had to get the plans printed I used Sure Print and Design. They are a little bit out of the way for me, but their pricing for 2’x3′ engineering-bond pages was significantly lower than anywhere else I found. (And they were really nice folks, too!)

Posted by Colin
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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
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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
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Permit application short on MANY counts

June 12th, 2008

We received a revised notice from the city citing many things that will need to be addressed before our plans can be approved, including:

  • More details regarding the footings
  • Many details about the ICF Support, Structure and Framing
  • Header and Trimmer joists
  • Etc.

There are 13 items in total, many of them inter-related. We’re still working out who we should be calling to get these details fleshed out to the city’s satisfaction.

Posted by Colin
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Permit application short on two counts

June 9th, 2008

We received one call and one letter letting us know that our building permit application could not be approved until we:

  1. Submitted a Grading and Drainage Diagram with our build plans (a new requirement for all new construction in the city).
  2. Submitted revised mechanical drawings that show the location of the HRV ducting. (Because our heating system is entirely radiant flooring, one has to show how the ventilation will work.

We’ve asked the Mechanical Engineer to start work on the HRV ducting but we’re not sure who will provide the Grading diagram yet.

Even though it may seem like we have lots of time with our start date being moved back to August 1, we know all too well by now everything that can be rushed, should be rushed or it will never get done.

Posted by Colin
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Plans submitted to city!

May 29th, 2008

This day has been a long time coming: we’ve finally gotten a full set of plans into the city for final approval.

Our initial PAL Review in 2007 was for a stick-frame house with a proposed forced-air heating system. The final plans call for an ICF house with a radiant floor heating system. Several key structural members were also changed in the roof truss design.

While everything has been signed off on by the appropriate professional, we won’t know for certain that the plans are approvable for 10 days. I’m especially concerned about the Plumbing form which the clerk just accepted and said “the plumbing guy will figure it out.”

In addition to our concerns about approvability, we don’t yet have the final budget numbers from the various trades and sub-trades.

At this point we are tentatively looking for places to rent during construction, but probably shouldn’t sign any leases until we receive final approval from the city and finalize the all the significant budget numbers.

Posted by Colin
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