Friday, June 29, 2007

The next step, or, why I have fear and trepidation about the building inspector.

Christina's most recent post was lovely, and the addition of photos really adds a lot!

She reminded me of, the next step. Yes, what is next?

The next thing that has to happen is we cross the threshold and get a building permit.

I suppose I should have done this weeks, or even months ago. I haven't because, well, I'm different. The National Building Code, and the generally nice folk who administer and enforce it, really likes things done in cookie cutter fashion. In all fairness, that makes it easy to decide if any particular building or part therof is built "properly" and according to code.

The real rub here, is that I wish to surpass the code minimums by such an extraordinary margin, that my shop suddenly looks nothing like an ordinary home shop or pole barn or metal building, or anything else "normal". My concern is that the code enforcement people just won't know what to make of it all, and will default to, "Well, that's not how you build it. It has to be such and so." Alternatively, I could hire an engineer to make the plans and put his/her seal of approval on it. The code folks generally respect that, since it takes them off the hook in terms of liability. If the building falls down, or catches on fire, it's now the responsibility of the engineer, not the code department. The down side, is that hiring the engineer for this unorthadox building would likely double the total cost.

My last experience with the code guy went swimmingly well. Once I convinced him I really intended to exceed the code by the margin that I described, he would pretty much let me do whatever I wanted.

On the other hand, stories about code problems and do-it-yourself people abound. Oh yeah. We could also hit some unforseen zoning snag and they could just say that I can't build a shop, sorry. That would defeat the entire purpose of the purchase of a new house/property and the gigantic nuisance of moving.

Your prayers and petitions are both neccessary and appreciated.

I still sleep well every night.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tanks, excavation and the three stooges

Let’s see…time for another update from Christina. First, the propane tank has been successfully moved with the help and supervision of our propane company. It’s been a week and Troy’s line has worked flawlessly. (“Of course” he would add in the background, if he were here.) It’s not pretty sitting right beside the driveway and main entrance, but we did not have any choice. Besides when I sew and knit I know the best creations sometimes come from the worst constraints, so I will look at this as a landscaping opportunity.

Speaking of landscaping, we have added a little dirt from the shop excavation around the house in key areas where the roof overflow was soaking into the basement. Once the dirt angled away from the house instead of toward it, it was covered with plastic about 4-5 feet wide, and then covered with mulch for the sake of prettiness (and to hold the plastic in place).
Troy reports the basement is noticeable drier after it rains, and with the dehumidifiers running, he actually has the humidity below 50%, for probably the first time ever. (Ok maybe that’s not fair since it looks like they did have gutters on the house before the last re-roofing.) But certainly since we’ve been here. And I have to add that I’m sure it helps that we have not had a good rain in weeks and everything is dry! In any case, we will continue surrounding the house with dirt sloped to give our basement the best chance of staying dry and will have the added bonus of evening out the look of the landscaping around the house. We have enough mulch from all the trees to mulch the whole yard if we wanted so that is not a problem.

Troy is calling the excavation done for the shop. He has figured that it is level within 4 inches. He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it took him about 2 weeks. He is so happy to move on to the next step which is…sorry but I have no idea. I wasn’t listening well enough when he was talking to David yesterday. (Oops.)

We have also continued to work on the wood cut down by the professionals…and the walnut trees cut down by Curly, Larry and Moe. I had the “good fortune” of being home last time they came. It was an adventure just to watch them work. After the professionalism of the crew that took down the maple trees (everyone seemed to have a job to do, they stayed out of other people’s way when they had a job to do, and the job got done well and efficiently without the thought that everyone’s life was in imminent risk), the stooges were a real change. Apparently it was the job of anyone that wasn’t running the forklift, truck or other machinery to constantly yell, “HEY HEY HEY” at the guy driving the equipment. I guess in case he forgot he was driving a big piece of destruction (when handled improperly) and needed constant reminders about the overhead wires, other vehicles in the area, the garage, etc. While trying to load a big piece of trunk onto the truck, two of them had a discussion about whether it would fit that went like: “It’s not going to fit.” “Yes it will.” “no it won’t” “yes it will” “no it won’t” “yes it will”…and ended with the Yes Man trying to load it into the truck and having it fall back down onto the driveway. Yes Man then agreed with No Man and they decided to bring it back to the woods with the other last few pieces. Which means, yes, they’re coming back one more time to get the rest. Can’t wait…

And the last thing we’re spending a lot of energy on is trying to get grass to grow. Troy’s is starting to come in where he dug the trench. The area I reseeded where a maple once stood is pretty thin and patchy. Troy figures the birds got the seeds. And in the front where I tried to fill in some really bare patches, they have completely filled in with very happy looking crabgrass. I think it was just waiting to take advantage of the extra watering I was trying to give the new grass seed. I feel like we’re living a parable. (And what grass seed will you be? Or maybe you prefer to ask what soil will you be???)

I'll leave you with a couple pics of my long dead alliums. But they look so interesting I can't cut them down. Hope you agree and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Propane lines and pansies

So my husband has proven himself a loving and wonderful husband this week by…not only digging the trench for the propane line by hand (so as not to run his tractor over my yard again causing great trenches and bumpiness on the riding mower), but also filling it in beautifully today. Eschewing the plugs of grass he carefully saved while digging the trench, which had dried up pathetically, he faithfully cut new plugs from the lawn where the shop is going. The lawn over the filled in trench looks better than the area surrounding it!* How many times do you dig a ditch and end up with a better looking lawn? What a man I have found.

*Although now that I think about it, the lawn only looked so bad because he dug a trench with the backhoe last fall for the drain pipe for the one gutter that got on the house and didn’t “dress” the lawn up afterward. Hmmm.

Other news…on a car energy stand point, it has finally reached the point where it makes more sense for Troy and I to drive the truck and his Jetta (both diesels) and park my efficient yet still gas-guzzling Corolla (mpg to and from work has been running in the high 30s). I miss my car, but I am enjoying the power windows and CD player for all my audio books that the Jetta affords me.

Troy also wants you all to know that he has broken ground for the shop. This is why the propane line was being dug. The tank is scheduled to be moved next week, and then ground breaking will continue. The summer is flying by already (and it’s barely started!) and we are anxious for progress to be made.
I should also add that all the trees are down. By all, I mean seven that were on the lawn proper. The company did an amazing job in two days: there is nothing left of these massive trees but some patches of wood chips on the lawn and huge pieces of trunk neatly stacked at the back of the property. (Thanks to friends and family who have already come by to help us chop them up! The wood piles are growing nicely.) Some of the trunk pieces laying on their side were almost as tall as Troy. They were also amazingly rotten. Troy tested the hardness of one piece by poking at it with his knife: it sank easily right up to the handle. Two days after the trees were down, we had high winds and good possibility of tornadoes in the area. We were happy to be able to feel relieved instead of scared for our house, garage, and vehicles. (Oh btw, Troy got someone to tow away the car that was tree-smashed last fall too! Good things are happening.)

I will finish this brief update with some pics I took last weekend, on Troy's urging and conviction that you will enjoy them.

Someone once told me there was something wrong with me because I didn't want to have any kids. Since then, I've tried not to make those judgments on others. But really, David, there is something wrong with you for actively not liking gazanias! They are an amazing flower. (When the sun's shining.)
All for now!

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