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Old 03-02-2014, 02:07 PM   #426
kokiri
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

When you buy/sell a house in the uk, the mortgage lender demands you get a survey of the property to identify any potential problems/confirm that it's vaguely worth what they're lending against it (hint: no one knows). The house we're buying has come back clean, and on Thursday our ~100 y.o. house is being surveyed. We've never had any problems living here, and there's no reason to suspect that there are any, but it's really tripping my neurotic side. I keep imagining new potential disasters. Buying a house in the uk is such a nightmare.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:12 PM   #427
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokiri View Post
When you buy/sell a house in the uk, the mortgage lender demands you get a survey of the property to identify any potential problems/confirm that it's vaguely worth what they're lending against it (hint: no one knows). The house we're buying has come back clean, and on Thursday our ~100 y.o. house is being surveyed. We've never had any problems living here, and there's no reason to suspect that there are any, but it's really tripping my neurotic side. I keep imagining new potential disasters. Buying a house in the uk is such a nightmare.
It's about the same here.

I bought one house years ago that had a "garage" in the back next to an alley. It was really more a walled in carport not on a slab. They built a lot of those years ago. It wasn't the greatest structure but it was solid and would have been great to keep lawn equipment or anything you wanted under a roof.

Anyways, the powers that be deemed it unsuitable for some reason. I told them that I would sign a waiver or something to keep it. The owner obviously didn't want to pay to tear it down. But "they" wouldn't bless the deal until it got demolished and removed.

Anyways, good luck. Should be OK. Keep us posted.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:32 PM   #428
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Got my deck drawn. It's at least enough for the city to tell me what sucks about it.

Google sketchup is really cool once you sort of figure it out. The image below is 3d and can be rotated any way you want. I'll probably just write the dimensions after I print the pics. That's one drawback to sketchup is the dimensions you enter on the diagram get all wonky when you rotate the image around.

The first pic is the porch area I need to fill in. The second is what I hope to put in there. The steps are outside the roof. Sort of a wrap around kinda. The steps are 18" deep and 5 1/2" high (height of a 2x6).



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Old 03-02-2014, 07:06 PM   #429
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Went back out to do some more trash cleanup. It is 38 degrees colder than it was this morning.

I decided to really clean house. I tossed about 40 2x4 pieces away. Not sure why I hoard those. Studs are like $2.something. Got rid of a lot of other random sized pieces of lumber. Lots of leaves. And a few other things that have been taking up space. It's somewhat cathartic. Was able to hang my ladders back in my garage again.

Anyways, clean driveway! WOOT!

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Old 03-03-2014, 05:59 AM   #430
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The house we're buying has come back clean*
* and by clean, I mean more things in the 3* problem (out of 3, ldo) than no stars, and featuring phrases like 'sagging beams', and 'evidence of vermin'. Gulp.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:30 PM   #431
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

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* and by clean, I mean more things in the 3* problem (out of 3, ldo) than no stars, and featuring phrases like 'sagging beams', and 'evidence of vermin'. Gulp.
Seems standard for an old house.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:53 PM   #432
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

To day I took my wonderful deck drawing and my 8 page application to try to get a permit. As you probably recall, the city has deemed my deck replacement an "addition". More on this later.

It was brutally cold for Austin this morning so there wasn't much of a line. I didn't get the name of the guy "helping" me today. He was sort of slovenly - a humorless version of Chris Farley. So, I'll call him Chris.

I sat down and attempted to explain my situation to Chris. He pulled up my file and got the obligatory stare of confusion. He then asked me for a plat and some house drawings. I told him that I had been in last week and the person I had talked to (Juan) told me I didn't need that stuff because they already had it on file. Chris asked me who I had talked to and I couldn't remember Juan's name. Then Chris asked me if the guy I talked to gave me the yellow paper. I said no and Chris told me that he should have given me the yellow paper. I replied, well, he didn't. At this point Chris was done with me so he told me to go back out to the waiting room and another person would come get me.

So, after a bit a girl comes out and gets me. I have at some point in time dealt with her before. I remembered her not being all that helpful but you cant choose who you get.

I told her the whole story again and she (after the stare of confusion) asks who I had talked to last week. By then I remembered it was Juan so I told her. She sort of looks at me funny and says "oh". Then she starts pulling up documents in my file. After about 5 minutes she gets up and walks away. She comes back with printed copies of a bunch of stuff that I had already submitted. Then she pulls out a yellow piece of paper. Woohoo! The yellow paper. She starts stapling stuff together and writing on the yellow paper. Then she hands me two forms. The first one was a form for Austin Energy to sign. I asked why Austin Energy needed to do anything since I was just replacing a porch. She said "it's an addition". The other form was some sort of personal information form that she said I would need only she didn't say for what.

So, I go to another part of the building where the Austin Energy line is. Once again, nobody wants to do stuff in this cold weather so it didn't take too long. A guy comes out and I follow him to his desk and he asked what I was "adding". I told him a porch. He asked me to point out where it was going on the plat so I did. He then pulls out two stamps and stamps the plat and tells me I'm good.

So, back to the first line. It just so happens that I was lucky enough to get Chris again. However, I now had the yellow piece of paper which evidently was enough for Chris to give his approval. He gave me a bill and sent me to the permit center to pay said bill.

The bill was $375, significantly more than what I paid for the entire remodel. And this was just for the review. I'm assuming because it is an "addition". I still had that second form the other girl gave me and handed to the cashier but she shoved it back at me. I'm still not sure what it is for but I'm saving it just in case.

I was told that "they" would contact me via email when they reviewed it. This reminded me of that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie was all proud of his theme only to get a C+ with a note "you'll shoot your eye out". Anyways, she didn't give me any idea how long it would take so I guess I just wait now.
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Old 03-04-2014, 03:26 AM   #433
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Seems standard for an old house.
Yeah, I went through it with my step father in law who is a bit of a guru on these things and I'm much reassured. And vermin seems to mean squirrels, which is a relief.
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Old 03-08-2014, 04:24 PM   #434
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Dreary day today and rain predicted the rest of the day and tomorrow. Not really motivated to do much outside.

But, while I'm waiting on word from the city I thought I'd start planning my next project. The back deck. I built it quite a few years ago and I never sealed it or stained it or anything. It's in pretty decent shape considering. I'll need to replace some boards and I'm going to redo that lattice. I had that lattice going all the way to the deck floor and it just created this leaf dam that was impossible to clean. Gonna fix that.

Not exactly sure how I'm going to clean it. If you notice right by the french doors there's a little area that's a little cleaner. I power washed that because there was so much mold grime that it was super slippery. But I noticed that it's almost impossible to power wash it evenly. You always see marks. So, I did a little reading and it was suggested to hand scrub with a cleaner. Not looking forward to this. That's a big honkin' deck. Might have to run get a laborer to help.

Anyways, here is the before pic.

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Old 03-09-2014, 06:43 PM   #435
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Cleared all my "stuff" off of the deck.

Took down the lattice. I'm going to treat the lattice replacement as a project by itself. I have a different design planned.

Repaired the bad wood. Not really that much.

I bought some deck cleaner and tried it on some of the boards I removed. It advertises that all you do is spray, wait 5 to 10 minutes and rinse. I'm calling BS on that. Even after applying the cleaner it will take either a brush or power washing to get it clean. After thinking about it I may just go back to plan A and power wash without using cleaner. That cleaner is caustic and I really don't want to spill it all over everywhere, especially my newly painted house. Another reason to go with the power washer is there's a bunch of leaves crammed in the cracks between the boards everywhere. So, I'm gonna have to power wash no matter what. Gonna think about it some more.

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Old 03-09-2014, 07:54 PM   #436
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Given the impermanence of the 'clean state', given that it is an outdoor feature. I would just power wash and then add a coat if you want to. The imperfections of a clean might easily be mistaken for the character of the wood in any case.
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Old 03-09-2014, 08:12 PM   #437
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Give it a quick bleach scrub first imo, then power wash.
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:03 PM   #438
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

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Originally Posted by zikzak View Post
Give it a quick bleach scrub first imo, then power wash.
When you say bleach, do you mean diluted bleach or bleach? How diluted?

When you say scrub, do you mean like hands on knees scrub with brush or can you do it with a mop?

The less time I spend on my knees the better.

Also, can I apply stain with a mop, then wipe up with towels or something?
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:31 PM   #439
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

In addition to getting lumber today, I needed some floodlights for the deck. I got a couple regular ones but I've been really curious about LED lights so I got an LED floodlight. Pretty expensive but it says it would last 30,000 hours. I don't think I have that long to live.

Yowsa! That is one bright light. It's a really white light too. Very nice. I'll be buying these to replace all my others when they go out.
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:54 AM   #440
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I was thinking like a gallon of bleach diluted with water in a five gallon bucket. Mop it all over the place and let it sit for an hour or so, maybe with a quick scrub in the really nasty spots. Then just rinse it all off with the power washer.

Not really sure if that's the best course, but it would kill any mildew, and most deck cleaners I've seen contain bleach (at 10x the cost of a generic bottle).


eta: Maybe try a test run first in a less visible area.
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:34 PM   #441
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Quote:
Originally Posted by zikzak View Post
I was thinking like a gallon of bleach diluted with water in a five gallon bucket. Mop it all over the place and let it sit for an hour or so, maybe with a quick scrub in the really nasty spots. Then just rinse it all off with the power washer.

Not really sure if that's the best course, but it would kill any mildew, and most deck cleaners I've seen contain bleach (at 10x the cost of a generic bottle).


eta: Maybe try a test run first in a less visible area.
Yeah, that sounds pretty good. Thanks
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:49 PM   #442
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

This post is titled, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".

Just a brief recap of what has happened so far. In order to get the permit for the siding/foundation/roof, I had to hand over my firstborn, sign my life away, and sell my soul to Satan. However, it was all worth it when Satan assured me that my previously expired permits were taken care of forever and ever.

So....... This email comes today.

Quote:
Good afternoon,



There are expired permits for the property on xxxx Xxxxxxxx Ln:



· 2002-010093 BP- interior remodel

· 2002-010093 EP-interior remodel

· 2002-010093 PP- interior remodel

· 2002-010093 MP- interior remodel

· 2002-016901 BP- New detached garage



Before the review of the permit application for a new porch for this property can continue, these expired permits must be addressed. These can be addressed one of two ways:

1. Fill out and send in the attached Acknowledgement of Expired Permits form.

2. Roll in the expired permit to be addressed and repermitted within this residential permit application.



Please let me know how you would like to proceed.
I shouldn't really be surprised and I guess I wasn't. Livid is a better word. My reply:

Quote:
These have all been taken care of. I’ve spent countless hours getting it all straightened out.



When I got the permit for the recent (6 month ago) siding and foundation work I got all of these fixed. I had to get a life safety permit and do a bunch of other stuff.
I really wasn't expecting a reply at this point but I got one.

Quote:
These are all still showing up in city’s system as expired. If they are officially taken care of they would have a system of “void” or “final.” I am not sure who you talked to about addressing these expired permits, but they are still expired. I would recommend contacting the permit center officially if you have already addressed these.

Sending me back to the permit center was probably the worst possible thing she could have suggested. I'm not sure what word describes livid to the 10th power but that's what I was. I have a tendency to type before I cool down so that is what I did. My reply:

Quote:
This is really unbelievable. Do you just hate citizens down there or what?



I’ve been down there over 30 times, talked with over 20 people, signed forms, got inspections, drew diagrams, got passed around from person to person too many times to count – you name it. These were deemed “clean” by over 10 people once I got this done.



Tell me how the heck I got a permit just SIX MONTHS AGO, if it wasn’t clean?



That’s fine that you recommend going down to the permit center AGAIN. But that is an effort in futility because when I get there they will say it is all fine, but then when it gets to yet another person like you it will get stopped in its tracks. This has happened over and over and over ad infinitum. Every single new person that looks at this tells me no. Then I have to spend several days off going down there to straighten everything out again.



Please tell me how going to the permit center will help if they say it is ok but you say it isn’t? They’ll stamp it, it gets sent back to you, and you’ll reject it? How do I get out of that infinite loop? If your system is screwed up (and IT IS) why doesn’t someone down there fix it?



As you can tell, I am beyond frustrated about this.
After about 10 minutes I'm still stewing so I send a followup:

Quote:
It would be a breath of fresh air if once, just once, someone in your building would make even a half-hearted attempt at helping me.
And then, the angels appeared and the heavens opened up. Her reply:

Quote:
I’m sorry for all the trouble you are currently facing to have the porch remodeled. I will try to be your breath of fresh air. I talked with a senior planner here in residential review and officially had the expired building permit for the detached garage voided. Either inspections or the permit center should have updated it in the system as soon as it passed. I apologize for that and it has been corrected.



As for the other expired permits having to do with an interior remodel- I am bringing in someone for the inspections side of the planning process to see if these are officially completed and if there is anything else that you need to do. I am currently waiting to hear back from them. As soon as they get back to me I will let you know where we stand on this and if there is anything further that you or I need to do.



Again sorry for the inconvenience.
That's all I wanted. Someone to not shuffle me around. So, I sent this back.

Quote:
WONDERFUL!



Thank you so much! My apologies for venting on you. I’m a bit exasperated by now.
Her reply. There is a God.

Quote:
No worries- It’s a confusing process and you are not the only frustrated person I have encountered!



Again, as soon as I know more you will know more. Feel free to email/call me with any further questions in the meantime.
So, it's not over but maybe we are getting somewhere.
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Old 03-10-2014, 10:44 PM   #443
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It's so mine boggling that even that minimum level of helpfulness is too much for most of the people you've dealt with.
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:05 AM   #444
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

That particular government building bb is dealing with is truly unreal. In general, I lean in the direction that most government bureaucracies do make some sense in their own ****ed up way if you take the time to figure them out, but not there. 'Kafkaesque' isn't hyperbole, it's understatement.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:09 PM   #445
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Got this today.

Quote:
Good afternoon xxxxx,



I got a hold of a city inspector,xxxxxxx, this afternoon to talk about the expired permits from 2002 (2002-010093 BP, EP, MP, and PP) on this property. I have good news and bad news.



I’ll start with the bad news. It looks like the final inspection for these permits was never completed, I am not sure who told you otherwise. If you have a name of someone else I can talk to, I would be happy to call them as well to verify this. In order for these permits to be addressed properly, you will have to fill out another residential review application for that remodel that took place in 2002. I have the blank residential permit application. It will be like you are doing the remodel now, and the review is called a life safety review. You will need to turn it in during our intake hours (listed below), along with any other necessary paperwork. I have also attached the residential permit application from 2002- so you can use the same floor plans and other information from that application.



Good news- you will not have to pay any additional review fee- this life safety permit is reviewed for free. After the life safety review is complete, you will need to pick these expired permits at the permit center. I am not sure how the permit center handles issuing permits associated with a life safety review, you will have to contact them. I would recommend xxxxxxxx, she is the Permit Program Supervisor. I do not want to speak on their behalf in case I am incorrect.



Her number is xxxxxxxxxx. You can also email her at xxxxxxxx.gov.



Again, sorry for the inconvenience. I am sure this is confusing and if you have any further questions, feel free to call me or email me.
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Old 03-12-2014, 09:30 AM   #446
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Simon sent his crew out to tweak a couple foundation issues.

The front of the house by the front door sunk about 1/4 inch, causing the bedroom door not to shut. You can see the drop in the water in the fish tank. They fixed that pretty easily.

There is also a little place where the walled in driveway area meets the old house where the floor is a smidgeon higher. You can't tell unless you are barefoot but I figured if they can fix it all the better. But they couldn't. Everything they tried lifted a different area. The floor areas just never got even. He said I'd probably need to shim between the floor and subfloor. Not happening. I'll live with it.

Now, off to the city.
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:46 PM   #447
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

So, I get to the city offices and by now I'm in a pretty foul mood. The guy at the window asks what I need and I tell him I really don't know anymore. I tell him briefly what I think is going on and show him the email from the girl I've been exchanging emails with. Her name is Renee. He tells me he still doesn't know what I want and I start to get pissy and a girl walks up behind him. She says "Hi, I'm Renee". She knew it was me without me even saying my name. She escorted me directly to her desk without having to wait in the obligatory line. I show her all the stuff I have and..

Just a quick detour. One of her emails said this:

Quote:
"There are expired permits for the property on xxxxx:

· 2002-010093 BP- interior remodel
· 2002-010093 EP-interior remodel
· 2002-010093 PP- interior remodel
· 2002-010093 MP- interior remodel
· 2002-016901 BP- New detached garage"
While I was shuffling through my papers, I stumble onto the application I filled out for the roofing/siding work. On it someone from the city had written those exact words as part of the description and some sort of scribbling about remedying that or something.

I showed that to her and she was as confused as me. By then it didn't matter much because she had really taken pity on me.

She looked at some other things I had previously submitted and said "you don't need to hang around. I'll take care of this. Promise"

So, about 2 hours later I get this email:

Quote:
Good afternoon,



Your residential permit application regarding a life safety review at xxxxxxx. has been approved. The bldg. permit(s) will be available for purchase through the Permit Center (1st floor 8-3pm M-F) beginning TOMORROW. Do not arrive today-the application will not be processed.
I should probably be happy except for the facts that

1) I've been stopped at the permit center before and sent back through the system
2) I still have to get an inspection on 12 year old work by inspectors that hate people
3) I still don't have my porch permit
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Old 03-12-2014, 08:03 PM   #448
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I permit you to be pissed off (2014) - you are now fully certified to be pissed at permits.
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:04 PM   #449
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
I permit you to be pissed off (2014) - you are now fully certified to be pissed at permits.
I'm afraid I have reports of BB being pissed off in 2013 without a permit. So I'm suspending the 2014 permit for being pissed off until I see a psychiatrist report that BB was only angry and not pissed off.
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:12 PM   #450
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I think Biggerboat will have to provide affadavits from a number of witnesses to testify to the fact that he was just angry and not pissed off in 2013 before we can re-establish his 2014 pissed off permit. It just would not be safe until we see that evidence.
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