Browsing Topic: Survey

The return of the surveyor

February 3rd, 2009

Our surveyor from way back at the beginning of this project returned today to mark the “outsets” (I think that’s what they were called). He puts stakes around the property noting how far from each stake the house begins. This includes one marking how far down the bottom of the footings need to be.

The footing depth is absolutely critical for several reasons:

  1. If the house is too deep, the outging sewer connection will not flow properly. (It won’t be installed at all, actually.)
  2. If the house is too high, we’ll be in violation of the building code which limits the height of a house to 10m above grade at the front wall of the house.
  3. The footings must rest on undisturbed soil. There is no acceptable way to recompress the soil once it has been disturbed. If the footings did sit on disturbed soil, the house (especially one made of concrete) could tilt and/or sink.

The surveyor marked the bottom of the footings based on traditional building practices because the documenation we provided didn’t stipulate exactly what was going on beneath the surface of the basement floor.

For our project, we have some extra height requirements because our footings are 10″ deep (typically 6″), we have 2″ of insulation between the ground and our basement floor, and our floor itself is 4″ instead of 3″ thick. The net result is an extra 7″ of depth to the bottom of the footings.

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Building plans submitted to city

February 23rd, 2007

Today (which also happens to be our 1 year anniversary) we submitted our building plans to the city!

When you arrive at the Building Permits Office, you will need to put your name into a book on the counter, with the time you arrive, and why you are there. We had to wait over an hour to be seen because half the staff were on lunch at the time we went.

TIP: Builders send their interns to the Building Permit Office first thing in the morning, so it is very busy between 8am and 10am. Office staff go out for lunch in shifts between 11am and 1pm (we showed up at 11am). You could probably get seen fairly quickly if you came at 10am. Otherwise, some time after 1:30pm (when the backlog of people has started to clear) is probably best.

We weren’t actually applying for the permits today, but instead were just getting a preliminary review of our plans to have the city point out any (hopefully) minor deficiencies before our formal permit application.

There are two types of preliminary reviews one can opt for:

  1. Preliminary Project Review (PPR) at a cost of $250, which is non-refundable.
  2. Preliminary Application of Law (PAL) at a cost of 25% of projected permit fees paid in advance.

This latter review is far more detailed that the PPR but if you are fairly certain you are going ahead with the project it will save you $250 since you are really just paying a portion of your Permit fees now, instead of when you apply for the permit. (At present, permit fees are $13.10 per sq.m.)

We opted for the PAL review. With our application we also included photographs of our property with surrounding houses, and the houses across the street. This gives the Permit Office an idea about what the house will look like in relation to the rest of the neighbourhood. The package also had one set of scale drawings of the new house, and a stamped survey of the property.

Now that our plans have been submitted to the city builders will apparently now take our project much more seriously. We’re hoping to start interviewing builders as soon as we get the results of the preliminary review.

We should hear back from the office within 10 business days.

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A river ran through it?

December 18th, 2006

When I was chatting with one of our neighbours yesterday I found out some interesting hearsay history of our property. Apparently he was talking with another neighbour who’s father built the houses a few doors down from us, and her Dad told her that a river used to pass through the area where our house is now, and there is quite possibly still an underground river there.

We’ve passed this information on to Alex, of course, who is now factoring in the possible need for specialized drainage for the property, and extra insulation around the foundation.

No word yet as to whether we’ll need a geotechnical survey to confirm this.

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Collecting and blocking light

November 7th, 2006

Today I was out measuring the position of existing electrical, water and gas services, in addition to gathering more information about the trees that will shadow our house.Positioning your house and windows to best take advantage of the sun (to capture it in the winter and avoid it in the summer) is one of the easiest ways to improve the efficiency of a home.

All buildings and most trees were already on our survey, but it didn’t include unusual details such as how tall and wide the trees are. This can have a big impact on the amount of light we’ll need to avoid in the summer and somewhat reduce the sun we’ll receive in the winter.

I don’t have any tools to precisely measure tall heights so for the time being I just put a standing tape measure, extended 6′, at the base of various trees and took a photograph. I then counted the number of pixels in the photo that made up the 6′ tape measure, and compared it to the object in question.

The obvious problem with this method is that the tops of the trees are farther away than the bottoms of the trees, so the taller the tree is, the more inaccurate my measurement will be. But it should give us a good estimate.

The attached images illustrate why deciduous trees are useful to have around your property. With leaves, the trees block the sun in the summer. Without, they allow us to gather more heat through our windows.

Elevation of tree across the street Tree coverage to the south-west Elevation of power hookups

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