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Old 08-02-2013, 07:26 PM   #1
biggerboat
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biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I started this in H&F but this seems a better place for it. These are my H&F posts. A bit long-winded but hopefully entertaining. I'm sure more hilarity will ensue.

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I've been debating about doing this, and I sort of thought it might qualify as health and/or fitness so I'm gonna do it.

A little background. I have a very old house that I started to remodel about 10 years ago, then ran out of money and WIM to finish it. I gutted it completely and moved walls and did a lot of interior work. But I never did anything with the exterior.

It is sort of falling apart now. The roof leaks and a lot of the wood siding is so rotten I can stick my finger through it. It needs to be completely replaced.

I just paid the house off so I can sort of afford to completely re-side and re-roof it..............if I do it myself. Another factor is I just got out of a serious relationship and now I have way too much time on my hands. I'm going a little stir crazy.

Now to the health tie-in. The last few years I just haven't been able to do things like this. I used to be able to work sunrise to sundown. But lately I'd be good for about 2 or 3 hours and my back would just tell me to stop. However, due to this forum, my back is really feeling strong again. I think I'm up for the challenge. The other health aspect is mental. I don't feel good unless I have some sort of challenge like this. It gives me something to look forward to. I'm really needing something like this about now.

So, I think I'll sort of log this activity as well as lifting. I'll have to cut back on lifting/running some. Mostly due to time considerations. I'll be working on the house on Saturday/Sunday so no lifting/running on those days.

I haven't committed to this quite yet, but I think I'm close.
Quote:

On the house front. I went to the city website to see what permits I'll need. It was so confusing that I called, got an answering machine, and never got a call back. So, I went down to city hall to ask some very basic questions. Apparently the appropriate question answerers are only there MWF but a substitute question answerer was available. So, after waiting 1/2 hour the substitute question answerer informed me that he couldn't really answer my question so he told me to come back when the real question answerer was there.

I suspect this will not be healthy in any way.
Quote:
I tweaked my back Wednesday doing deadlifts.

The back pain has nothing on the pain the city is inflicting on me, though.

Went back to talk to someone again. I at least got the right day. The girl was really friendly and helpful. However, she seemed to not really know what all I was supposed to do. Which, as you will see, nobody could.

The first thing she did was pull up my address.

Apparently, there were 3 expired permits associated with my house. About 10 (or more) years ago, I did a big remodel. I did it mostly myself. The first permit was for an interior remodel. I had to get electrical, plumbing, framing and probably more permits. I remember having each one signed off on. However, apparently there was a final inspection that I never got. This is just conjecture based on what she said and my hazy memory. The second was for a garage. I hired a contractor to pour the slab and I framed and finished it. Apparently the slab inspection failed but the framing inspection passed. I'm not sure how this happens. I really don't recall any of this. The third one was for a bedroom addition. I never did this. I do not recall even applying for this. But, it is there. More on this later.

So I asked a lot of questions and the girl was very polite when she had to repeatedly excuse herself to ask someone else that knew the answers. From what I gathered I can do most of the work on something they call an express permit. However, if I want add a small porch roof I will need site drawings, impervious cover documents, elevation drawings, detailed framing plans and flood plain people approval. At minimum.

Back to the old permits. The girl indicated that I could fill out a form to remove the permit for the addition since I never did it. She then sent me to someone named Tony on another floor to figure out what to do with the other ones. Tony, it seems, did not have his coffee this morning. Either that or he was just an *******. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He told me they couldn't do anything about any of them since he had no idea if I even did any work or not. Which is problematic since I can't get any new permits with these on their computer. After much discussion he agreed to go back downstairs and talk to the friendly girl. Tony then came up and informed me that I needed a Life Safety for Expired Permit permit. He informed me that I needed to go back where I started (the line that I waited over an hour in) to start this process.

So, I go back to the window and explain to them what Tony said. They seemed a bit confused on exactly what a Life Safety for Expired Permit permit was. So, they suggested that what I really need to do is re-submit all three permits and get inspections on the work I did over 10 years ago. Even if I didn't do the work. They then put my name in the computer to talk to someone. However, the number of people waiting had swelled considerably and I had already been there 2 1/2 hours so I think I'll tackle this another day.
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Old 08-03-2013, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Pics of my crumbling house






This is one of several places the ceiling is ruined from my leaky roof.

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Old 08-03-2013, 05:05 PM   #3
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

that does not look like fun to me.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:52 PM   #4
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I've been doing construction stuff for a living for over 15 years. Based on what you wrote and those pictures, I really, really, really, strongly, vehemently suggest you take out a home equity loan and hire a pro. When there's that much visible water damage, there's almost certainly much worse behind it. This work needs to be done immediately, and it ain't no evening and weekend job.

Sorry if that's not what you want to hear and if it sounds harsh, but imo you can't afford to NOT hire somebody. Like, soon.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:14 AM   #5
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Yeah, I hear you and you are probably right. I haven't made my decision yet.

I will say, though, that I'll definitely hire someone to do the foundation work.

As for the other stuff, I'm sort of capable. I gutted my house and reframed the entire interior myself. I also built my detached garage myself. I worked as a roofer when I was young so that is easy (technically, not physically). So, I have some carpentry knowledge and all of the necessary tools. The biggest issue is, like you said, time. Stuff needs to be fixed asap and I work full time. I do plan on taking some vacation time to get things started. And, I'll hire day labor for helping me do heavy work but, yeah, I hear you.

Good to get some input though. Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2013, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

It's definitely the time thing more than anything else. I don't doubt your skills to get it done, it's just the usual scenario of having too much on your plate. Life has a nasty habit of creating demands that make it almost impossible to devote enough time to manage major home repairs.

Which ever route you take, I wish you the best. If you decide on the DIY, please do update with pics and stories
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Trip #3 to the city.

Today I explained my situation to another person. She seemed confused, as has everyone there.

Her first suggestion was to go talk to Tony. I explained to her that I've already tried that and that Tony was not all that happy to have me there. She seemed puzzled.

So, she said the next step is to get that Life Safety for Expired Permit permit. Which, is why I was there. I asked her what was needed to get this. She said a survey of the property and a floor plan of my house. I asked her why she needed this. She said they needed it to see what I had changed. I asked her if she had the original survey and floor plan and she said no. I asked her how they would know what I changed without that. Her answer was that I needed to bring a survey and a floor plan.

I then talked to her a bit about the situation and I indicated that the failed slab inspection was incorrect and pretty much had to be if they passed a framing inspection. She seemed to accept my logic and then told me that they had changed systems several times since then and things had gotten lost. Then she said - and I quote - "unfortunately, you have to get it all fixed".

We talked a bit more and she said, "somebody explained the Acknowledgement of Expired Permits to you, right". Well, no. She then handed me a form that acknowledges that I have expired permits but allows me to get a new permit. However, the legalese on this is both confusing and a bit scary. I read it as either 1) I can sign this and go on my merry way 2) I sign this and the inspection on the new stuff will include another inspection on the old stuff which will require the survey and floor plan as above or 3) I sign it and will be fined whatever they choose to fine me for not cleaning up the old permits. Or, all of the above. I can't really tell and I'm fairly sure nobody there can explain it to me.

I haven't decided my next course of action. Well, other than I'm pretty sure I'll be spending a lot more time at the city.
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Old 08-07-2013, 06:13 PM   #8
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Trip #4 to the city.

I finally got someone that seemed knowledgeable. Although she didn't really tell me anything the other folks didn't tell me, she explained it so I could understand.

The Acknowledgement of Expired Permits seemed to me to be a tarp. Although she didn't come out say it, I got the point. Yes, it is a tarp. I probably won't be doing this.

So, there is an 8 page form I'll need to fill out. It's going to take quite some time to research the city code to answer some questions and a lot of time measuring. As the told me before, I'll have to submit a survey, elevation pics, and a floor plan.

Although the previous person told me I could basically sketch the floor plan, this person did not approve. I handed it to her and it was like I was handing her a bug or something. I swear she said "ewwww". So, I guess I'd better do a bit more professional job.

And, I'll need that dreaded Life Safety for Expired Permit permit.

So, apparently I do all of this, then turn it in to a review committee. She couldn't tell me much more than that.

On another note. The last few months have been brutal. 3 year relationship ended. My Mom and Dad are both pretty old and I've been having to deal with stuff with my Dad. I won't go into the whole sister story, but **** be happening with that. And, **** at work too. So, this city/remodel stuff is all on top of other stuff. I've actually been able to deal with the city stuff much better than I normally would. I'm sort of in a zombie state right now and I can't even muster up any anger. I just sort of keep aimlessly walking slowly ahead with my hands in the air.
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Old 08-08-2013, 03:45 PM   #9
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

This bureaucratic misadventures read like a Kafka novel.
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Old 08-09-2013, 07:42 PM   #10
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Trip #5

Things are slowly getting better.

I spent the last 2 nights drawing nice pictures for the folks at the city to look at. I already had a survey so I had a plot picture. I also had what qualifies as elevation pics from a design contest I held last month. I just needed to get them citified.

The girl this time around was really friendly and fairly knowledgeable. However, when she pulled my file up she got that standard look of puzzlement on her face.

I showed her all of my drawings and forms I filled out and explained everything. She was a bit confused about the addition that I never did so she called over a supervisor. The supervisor explained to me (again) that it was impossible for them to know that I didn't do any work so she was ready to send me up to Tony. I explained to her that Tony would not be amused. I also pointed out that right there in her system it says "CANCELLED BY OWNER". She seemed to accept this and let us carry on.

After we went through everything it came down to the pictures. The requirement is that you have 1 copy of each picture on 8 1/2 x 11 or 8 1/2 x 14, and 2 copies each on a piece of paper at least 11 x 17. I did this by simply enlarging the smaller copies to the bigger piece of paper. This seemed logical to me. However, the pictures must be drawn to an approved scale. Unfortunately, when you blow up a pic that was drawn to an approved scale, you get a pic that isn't approved scale.

Fortunately, this particular person actually applied some common sense to the situation. She told me the small drawing were suitable since the only reason they require bigger copies is that sometimes people bring in drawings that can't be read easily. So, she said to just make the smaller copy on the bigger paper but don't re-size the picture. She even wrote on the Submittal Checklist that I need to bring back, "All small copies OK". Given what I've encountered so far, I'm shocked.

So, I think I'm really close to getting past the first line of defense. One more trip should do it. Then everything goes on to the review board.
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:23 PM   #11
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Got rid of some shrubbery to make some room.

Before



After

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Old 08-11-2013, 08:05 PM   #12
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Hi biggerboat. Would you consider yourself a logical or an emotional person?
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:26 PM   #13
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Quote:
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Hi biggerboat. Would you consider yourself a logical or an emotional person?
Hi!

I'm extreme on both sides. It's a constant internal struggle.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:57 PM   #14
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Loving the Life Safety for Expired Permit Permit. I simply can't parse it at all
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:21 PM   #15
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

A small but hard fought victory today.

The first line of city defense has been penetrated.

When the girl pulled out the official stamp I felt like I just made a 20ft. putt on 18 to win the Masters. It was glorious.

Only, I didn't win yet. I'm in a playoff.

The permits must be reviewed by somebody up the line. I'll receive word in 7 to 10 days.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:17 AM   #16
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

The first foundation contractor came to give me a bid. He crawls under the house and looks around. Then he crawls out, looks at me, and shakes his head.

$8,000

ugh.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #17
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

What's the story with the foundation? Is it sinking?
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:52 PM   #18
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

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What's the story with the foundation? Is it sinking?
Yeah, I was hoping you were still reading.

Yeah, it's sort of sinking in different places. It's off a couple of inches easy in one room. I believe that the beams are good. I've had a second opinion and both said the wood looks fine. I think the piers are spaced properly on the big beams. However, I think the span between beams is more than it should be. The house feels "loose" in some places when you walk around.

Additionally, part of the house was originally a garage so I don't think that part of the floor is supported the same as the rest of the house.

The proposal includes installing 19 spread footers. I "think" this is in addition to the ones that are there to firm everything up, but I'm not sure.

The second bid came in at $7500. This guy drew a picture. He has what I think is 7 new piers and it looks like he's trying to do the same thing - brace up the span between the old beams. Also, he wrote about the garage area "slab to be mudsacked for void fill and spread footers to lift". Not sure what that means either.

The first guy tried to explain to me how they did things. I think he said that they put angle iron beneath the beam and put the piers under the angle iron.

I got a good impression from the first guy. I'm going to talk to him again to get a better understanding of exactly what he's going to do.

I have a third company coming next week.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:47 AM   #19
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Ugh. Sounds like multiple problems compounding, but mostly just not enough support on not very good soil. idk what 'mudsacking' is exactly, but assume it's a method to fill holes under the garage slab where the soil has settled or washed away over the years, plus hopefully stopping it from happening again. Probably some sort of cement mix placed dry in a bag, then wetted to cure in place.

It's amazing how much dirt can move sometimes. I've found voids the size of a small car under foundations, and it's like, wtf? Where did the stuff GO?
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:57 PM   #20
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Got an email from the city. This is all it said:

"I have sent your application to Floodplain for review, additional comments may be made."

However, I went online to see the status. The status is "REJECTED".

FML.
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:10 PM   #21
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I replied to the email asking why it was rejected. I got back an automatic reply that says:

"I am currently working part-time temporarily for Residential Review on Wednesdays 1-5, Th/F 8-5.



If you are emailing about a Commercial site plan questions, please contact **** **** for assistance at ***-****."

So, basically someone that doesn't even do this normally was the one that reviewed and rejected my permit request.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:26 PM   #22
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I received this email from the city.

"Mr. *****,



Floodplain office staff are reviewing your building permit application for **** ***** Lane. Before we can complete this review we need some additional information from you.



Can you please submit an updated Elevation Certificate for the existing structure. Based on the research I’ve done you submitted an elevation certificate for a building permit application back in 2002 but the floodplain information has changed since then.



I have attached a copy of the 2002 Elevation Certificate and the most recent Floodplain Information Form for the property. Please have a registered professional land surveyor prepare an Elevation Certificate based on the most recent floodplain information.



Your case has been assigned to *** ****P.E. CFM for review. Please coordinate this information with Mr. **** at: ****@austintex.gov.



I hope that this information is helpful."
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:57 PM   #23
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I thought America was the land of the free. I don't know what all this permit business is about at all.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:26 PM   #24
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

OK, the guy that sent the email attached the permit. It was the frickin' permit for the addition that I CANCELLED 10 YEARS AGO!

For some reason they think I want to build an addition. I do not.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:55 PM   #25
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

OK, a brief return to the real work to be done.

I've pretty much decided to go with hardi siding. I also think I'll do stone veneer on one small area, just for accent.

I've been to both home depot (who I hate) and Lowe's (who I like) to attempt to get some samples. Neither would even attempt to help. They both said something like "hell, we can't even get them". So I emailed Hardie. Got my samples today!

That box is full of more colors.

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