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Engineers » Our Sustainable Home
Browsing Topic: Engineers

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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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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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
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