Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Long Will It Take To Build My New Home ??

With all of the pieces falling into place your framing package can be delivered in as little as 12 weeks.  More typically though with Planning and Building and site requirements 6 months is more realistic.  We will guide you through the Building Permit process and assist with Planning Approval if required.

1 day to ???        Deciding on a Plan or Developing a Custom Design
                               Completing Contract and Plan/Deposit Payment
                            (We encourage a thorough investigation of all your needs.)

3 to 6 weeks        Geologist Report for the Design of the Foundation
                            (Not always required.)

0 to 3 months      Other department Approvals Required Before Plan Submittal
                               (ie. Environmental Health for a Septic System.)
4 weeks*             Pre-engineered Plans Ready to Submit to your Building Department

                           (No changes, site plan done and prompt contact for energy calculations    
                            and sprinkler design.)
6 weeks*             Modified Pre-Engineered Plans Ready to Submit

8 to 12 weeks*    Custom Design Plans Ready to Submit

3 to 8 weeks        Typical Plan Check Depending on Jurisdiction

4 to 6 weeks        Construction of the Foundation and Subfloor concurrent with
                            Construction and Delivery of the Framing Package

2 to 14 days        Erection of the Framing Package depending on Size

2 to 6 months     Completion of the Home

*0 to 6 months    Planning Approval depending on Jurisdiction

(This can be as simple as meeting setbacks and height restrictions to extensive Design Review requirements. We will start the site specific plans completing the floor plan and elevations and then
complete the fully engineered plans after design approval is received.)


Friday, October 16, 2015

The Cost of Failing to Get a HERS Rater (For California Projects)

(I just received this from our California Energy Analyst)


I just wanted to share a current issue with you concerning a PMHI project.


I am trying to help an owner-builder that didn't hire a HERS Rater until the Building Department reminded him they wouldn't issue the occupancy permit without the required Installation Certificates and HERS Verification Certificates.  The problem is the project is complete and owner only had a couple of weeks to get all the forms completed or pay a $4,000 penalty.


It's going to be impossible to get the Installation Certificates and HERS Verification Certificates for Quality Installation of the Insulation at this stage of the project.   This credit requires the HERS Rater be present during the framing installation and again during installation of the insulation.  The house is completely finished and ready to occupy so there is no way to document compliance on the insulation installation.  This credit is worth 10-15% of the total energy compliance credit on most projects.  This oops could easily cost the owner thousands of dollars in additional fees, construction modifications to the completed house and weeks or months of delay to occupy the house.


The project also took credit for a high EER air conditioner, but the mechanical contractor installed a system that has not been certified by AHRI (Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigerant Institute) so it will require the mechanical contractor to order a special AHRI certificate.  Based on the equipment installed I think they will easily comply, but it just more cost and more delay.


Luckily I could shift projects today and get the owner most of the paperwork they need with the help of their HERS Rater.  With any luck the building department will not penalize the owner and require upgrades, but this could have all been avoided.


Please remind your clients to hire the HERS Rater early and keep them involved throughout construction to avoid these type of painful and expensive mistakes.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rocky Fire or the Tale of Two Cottages

A year and a half ago I was able to assist the Zen Center being built in Lower Lake with two cottages that were being used to house the workers from Japan who are here to build the hand crafted cedar temple imported from Japan.
June 2015
Two weeks ago a wild land fire (the Rocky Fire) started at the same corner as the Zen Center.  At first the wind was favorable but then Friday night the fire morphed and 22,000 acres burned in 5 hours.  I was certain over the weekend that the half built temple and the cottage were gone as they were dead center in middle of the fire.

But then on Monday the Zen Center saw one of the news photos that showed the lumber being stored in the parking lot.
After the fire was under control, it turned out that a friend from Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue was involved with the engines there and sent some photos.
When the smoke cleared the grading contractor was able to go to the site to see how things were.
Temple with the fire behind it and to the right.
Road from the temple to the cottage.
Road past the cottage.
Caretaker's House and Office.
So obviously the firefighter who were on the lines here were amazing as you can see how close the fire was to all of these structures - within feet.  But almost 100 structures were lost and I also have to attribute the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) code also know as Chapter 7A that is being applied in many rural areas such as this helping with the saving of these structures. 
Non-combustible exterior materials, enclosed soffits, fire rated windows and doors and minimum 6 x 6 posts all contribute to making flying embers from spreading to these structures.  In many ways these codes that may seem expensive at the time of construction in the long run they may be a great savings.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Using a General Contractor, Acting as an Owner/Contractor or an Owner/Builder

Some of my clients use a General Contractor for the entire home building project.  Others act as an Owner/Contractor hiring and supervising their own sub-contractors.  And others do some or all of the work themselves. Some of the major influencing factors in making a decision on how to proceed are obviously skill and interest.  Time is another major factor especially in doing some of the work as an Owner/Builder.

Most of my clients do a combination using a contractor for the foundation, sub-floor and the assembly of the framing package. And plumbing and electrical require a special skill set that require a professional be hired for the job whether by the owner or the general contractor. And no one seems to want to tackle drywall, tape and texture.

And then many of my clients love to get involved in the finish work either using a hobby and skill that they already have - or learning new skills.

The following pictures were sent to me by a client building their retirement home and I love how involved they have gotten in truly making this their dream home. (And retirement here is a word I use lightly as I think they have been joyfully 'working' harder than ever!!)



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Customizing Your Framing Package

A common request that I get is to see a "model" home of one of our framing packages.  Our framing packages are actually the bones of the structure and how the home is finished is completely up to you, your needs, your personal style and your budget.

For many of my clients this new home is their dream home and frequently they add personal touches that make these homes unique and special.


Day 5 1/2 we got tile cut as far as we can go.  Tomorrow morning I'll cut in the circle to place the "Tree of Life" artwork that we hand carried from Jordan in 2008 as a side trip from Israel.  We're real happy how nice the colors complement each other.

Our deck tile took shape today, with the mosaic tile set and the 12" diamond pattern selected and cut to fit with symmetry.  I'll set the inner tile tomorrow, cover with tarp to wait until after the storms before I grout.  Brenda selects and arranges all of the tiles.  I cut them to fit and set them in place.  (This pattern with slate was a lot of work!)
This octagon shape, we learned on our Israel trip, was used for the first home Christian churches, please find a short description of S. Peter's mother-in-law's house that we also visited in 2006.  A fitting application of this shape for where we will enjoy most of our meals.
 We have a round glass table with lazy Susan to plop down in the middle of this room.

This is the first of what looks to be three days for the Taylor team to add stone to the house front.  Tahoe River Rock is the name of the cultured stone we selected for our house.  Individual stones are smeared with an ample heap of mortar and then it is squished onto the wall.  As Brenda realized today, "it's an art form" to apply these stones.

Each of my clients add those special touches to make a house a home.
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

What services for obtaining a permit are included in the sale of the framing package?

A common question especially when one is looking for property is what services are included and what services are available but at an additional charge.

"I have located a 5 acre parcel with an existing well.  Please describe to what extent you are able to assist including lot preparation, septic system, and any permits in addition to factory house and foundation."
When searching for land it is important that one works with a seasoned agent who is familiar with construction and land sales.  If you have simple specific questions I am always happy to help.
As part of the sale of the framing package the factory will prepare the fully engineered drawings wet stamped with the structural calculations, truss plan and truss calculations.  We have a consultant who will prepare the energy calculations and guide you through this process for $400.  And we will provide you with CAD files to give to your sprinkler sub so that they can prepare the sprinkler plan.
The site plan would be done by the civil engineer who is designing your septic.  If a grading and/or drainage plan is required then this person would most likely prepare that also. If there is a significant slope a topo might be required for the design of the septic and grading and this would be prepared by a surveyor.   If a geologist report is required for the design of the foundation this would have to be completed prior to our structural engineer can design the foundation.
I am a licensed architect and I work with clients on design (either changes to the pre-engineered plans or completely custom plans) and guiding clients through the entire permitting process (other than what we provide with the package as outlined above) consulting for two hours for free.  This work would normally be done after you own the lot. 
BUT this is where I normally say that you need a good real estate agent to guide you fully through the due diligence phase of the purchase process where you would determine all of the costs involved (good estimates) in developing the property and also provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis of what the property would sell for if completed the way you intend – to make sure that the new home will be competitive in the market.  In other words if it is going to cost you $600,000 to completely build the home and site work, etc. and the house would only sell for $400,000 then the lot is most likely overpriced.  Although I have worked with clients in the buying process – and my background is that I was a real estate broker also – I generally prefer to recommend that you use your agent for this process as this is why they are making the big bucks and you should not have to pay me to do their job!!
And so that you can plug a number into your spreadsheet – I typically find that most of my clients build for about $165 a square foot for medium grade finishes acting as an owner/contractor (hiring and supervising their subs) excluding the cost of the land, permits, utilities and site work (ie. driveway).  This for a level site and normal perimeter foundation.  Your will most likely have additional cost for the wild land fire code. 
I am able to assist you with the purchase of your property but I do charge for my time at a rate of $150 an hour.  And much of this work your agent should be assisting you with.
I hope that all of this information is helpful.  (And if you want to send me the link to the property I will throw my two cents into the discussion.)
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