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Posted by Mary in PA on 5/25/2010

Septic permit - done.

Next up – building permit. This requires three copies of the septic permit, building drawings, site plan, erosion-and-soil-control diagram, and the permit application. This sounds like a lot of stuff, but it was pretty straightforward and all of it, except the building drawings, were documents I created. We hadn’t picked out our contractors, yet so the zoning officer let me know I could just fill in TBD and “owner” in place of the general contractor. About 10 days later the zoning officer called to let me know the amount of the permit fee. I handed over a check and got the building permit and one copy of my paperwork back. Easy-breezy. After reading about some of the nightmares other owner-builders have experienced, I have to say that I’ve encounter nothing but helpful and very competent professionals in pursuit of our permits. And the permit fees have been under $1,000 for the septic and shop.


I’ve been getting quotes for the materials contractors - excavation, foundation, framer. The excavation, in addition to building site proper, includes finishing the rest of the driveway that we started last fall, and fixing a farm terrace. I got a good quote from the company that did the first half of the driveway and am leaning strongly toward using them again. I got foundation quotes on CMU, poured, and even DIY ICF. I want to insulate the foundation wall, and after totaling the costs of XPS rigid-foam insulation for the foundation, I got to thinking about ICF. But after seeing the minimum 15% uptick in price for an ICF (even a do-it-yourself ICF), I think we’ll be contracting for a regular ‘ol CMU plus 2” rigid-foam insulation that we do ourselves. The framers were more difficult to evaluate, because several of the recommended companies wanted to do the entire job. They were builders, in addition to framers, and wanted to be the GCs on the project. But after some looking and discussion I did find a small outfit that I think will work. He has done entire houses as a GC, but was still interested in doing our framing and siding. If his work is good, I hope I’ll be able to use him on the house next year. He came recommended by the truss company I plan to use, and we’ve had a few good conversations on the phone regarding his bid. I think over the course of the conversations he’s seen that while I’m not “in the trades”, I’m familiar with my project and working hard to make sure the details get done. He was very willing to give input on the results of my effort at sourcing for the lumber and roofing/siding and openly discussed his pricing and sources. I think we’ll be able to work together well... Fingers crossed.

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