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We visited our friends' new home that they are moving into. They are owner-builders, and told us that before we did anything else, we had to go buy this book and join the O-B community. So here we are.
Phil in McHenry, IL



Posted by Joe in Duvall, WA on 10/5/2008

Since getting kicked out of the absolute best apartment ever, due to the condo-conversion craze, we decided to move forward with building our own home. We had purchased land on the east side of King County a couple of years ago and nothing says get going on building your own house like learning that being a renter has certain, shall we say, stability issues?

The land is a beautiful five acres of rolling terrain with lots of second-growth forest. Huge fir, hemlock, and alder make it the kind of forested area that I always enjoyed as a boy. Needless to say it is very private as well, which I have come to appreciate as an adult. In addition it sports a breathtaking territorial view all along the north property line. What a surprise it was to discover this while working all summer to clear the 8 ft. tall brambles and 30 years of dead fall. 

Since pulling the trigger on the process I have been consumed with all kinds of activities to make the lot ready to build. King County has plenty of environmental codes to keep me busy. I have had a wetland consultant identify the edge of a wetland that touches one of the property corners, a geotech study to identify the type of soil, and a topographical survey that identified areas of steep slope that I need to stay 25 feet away from.

After completing these activities I worked with a good friend who just happens to be a home designer. I fed him various ideas of what I like in a home. His ability to turn a bunch of disjointed ideas into a functioning and elegant home design is remarkable. The home is stunning, at least on paper.

Armed with the above and multiple forewarnings from friends on what to expect from King County, I have applied for a building permit. Since then I've received various requests from the county for supplemental information - each one stating that if I don't provide the info, they assume I'm no longer interested in pursuing the permit...

First was an energy form that required all kinds of info on the materials that make up the home to decide how many BTU's per hour I would need. Second, a notice that my siteplan called for over 10,000 sq. ft. of impervious surface, and that was going to cost me extra in project management fees. Luckily, all I had to do was scale back the driveway a bit to stay under that magic number. The latest letter I received informed me that I need a drainage plan. This last one came with instructions and helpful examples of what I need to complete this. It only took a few hours to figure out what I needed to do with all that displaced water my project is going to cause. 

Hopefully, after turning in the drainage plan next week, I'll be very close to getting my building permit. Once I do, I'll be back with another entry to discuss the fun stuff - like bids on materials, the various subs I'm working with and that all important milestone - when I actually Break Ground!

 

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