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Any Owner-Builders in AZ (Valley of the Sun)?


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By I. Christine in Phoenix, AZ on 2/22/2004


We are seriously considering owner-building our home in AZ. This would be our first time doing this, so we are interested in hearing from others who are in the process or have completed an owner-built project. What services or any consultants did you use? Cost savings made? Any problems encountered with suppliers/subcontractors? Was/is it proving to be worthwhile? Any other help or suggestions/comments are welcome. TIA
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 3/8/2004


I am currently building a home in North Scottsdale. My consultants were a designer, a civil engineer, a structural engineer and a surveyor. Building in Phoenix is probably a little easier than Scottsdale. I have learned a lot from the date I bought the land to today (we're in the middle of framing). It has been a rewarding experience, and all estimates point towards 30% to 40% equity as soon as it's done.
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By I. Christine in Phoenix, AZ on 3/13/2004


Michael - thanks for your input. I hope you do not mind me asking you a few questions. We are currently searching for a lot in Fountain Hills and haven't been successful. We are considering north Scottsdale as long as it is not way far off, as we have school-going children. How easy was it for you to find a lot, or did you purchase it a long time ago? We are soon finding out that the land costs will far exceed the recommended 25% - 30% of budget cost, did you have a similar situation?

About the surveying, engineering etc. costs... are those mandatory in North Scottsdale or just required once one exceeds a certain square footage? I did warn you that this would be our first-time O-B and we have a lot of questions... but I will stop for now. TIA.
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 3/13/2004


Land in north Scottsdale keeps going up and up. I bought for less than $100K a year ago. Today I would be surprised to find anything in Scottsdale or Cave Creek for less than $150K. Fountain Hills has some lower cost choices, as does Phoenix, 85086 Desert Hills - New River Area. Acres are still less than $100K north of Carefree Highway.

Just talk to a real estate agent and tell him/her your budget, and about what you want to build. A good one will steer you to the right area. Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Fountain Hills all will require substantial expenditure on engineering services of various types to get through the city plan review process. Phoenix and Maricopa County are probably a little easier. Good luck with your project. If you need land for less than $80K, look to the west or southeast.
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 4/11/2004


I just purchased a one-acre lot in Desert Hills area for $75K. It was very hard to find anything around $100K that was not on a busy road, so when I saw this FSBO that was not on a major road, I jumped on it. It is tough to find a large lot under $100K without going all the way to New River or all the way west to Surprise, AZ. BTW - $75K did not include water or sewer. I am looking at this product at techblock.com as a possible substitute for framing. Anyone look into this product? We are looking to start the building process in about 6 months.
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 4/11/2004


Were you able to find a lot to build on in Fountain Hills?
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 4/11/2004


I have not bought any land for my second project yet. I looked at some in Fountain Hills and both of the pieces I liked were already in escrow. After I finish my first project, I will have more time available to look. We are starting roofing and stucco next week.
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 4/11/2004


Congratulations on your purchase. I think you did well. Most of the construction in metro Phoenix is conventionally framed. I like 2x6 framing 24" on center myself. Framing the garage in 2x4 saves a few dollars. To frame a home economically, buy the lumber from a lumberyard and find a weekend framing crew. Cruise the subdivisions and ask the foremen, "Do you know anyone who could frame a house for cash on the weekends?" The approach is not without risk, and success depends on getting the right foreman. I know very little about alternative framing systems. Masonry exterior walls are also being done on some homes in the area.
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By Robert in Chandler, AZ on 4/14/2004


Mike/Danby: The reason why conventional "stick" framing is used virtually everywhere here in AZ is quite simply, the supply and demand for framers. There are not enough of them, much less the ability to train others for alternative building materials. This said, we are using the Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS). While I have been the mortgage/construction finance business for 21 years and counting in the valley, I still wanted a superior insulation system, so in the year while designing and producing our plans I did the research on/off site on the various alt. building systems, including the now many concrete/foam/block, straw, adobe, systems etc. We will be one of the few in the valley and the only one thus far in Chandler with SIPS. Hope this helps and take care.
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By I. Christine in Phoenix, AZ on 4/14/2004


I haven't had any much luck with my search. Although we are prepared to spend up to $150K, we have not been very lucky. The few remaining lots in Fountain Hills for that price require significant site prep (i.e. rocks, hillside, cutting out dirt, lots of retaining walls, etc). We have just decided to widen our search to include north Scottsdale, and the unincorporated areas around north Scottsdale. The prices have just gone crazy lately. If you know of any lots for sale, or any FSBO lots, please let us know. We are finally getting quite desperate and exhausted with the search. TIA.
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By Byron in Glendale, AZ on 4/15/2004


Just got my permits today, so will start construction very soon. I have 2-1/4 acres in New River. There still are areas in the valley that have lots for reasonable prices, but not Scottsdale/Carefree. My wife and daughter are Realtors, so if you need help finding land, send me an email. We will be using ICFs for our house. It is very difficult to find experienced subs who want to deal with alternative materials unless you want to pay them a fortune. Getting plans approved through Maricopa County is not difficult -- just time-consuming.
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By Byron in Glendale, AZ on 4/15/2004


I am still looking for a drywall sub, stucco sub, and roofing sub. Do you have any recommendations?
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 4/16/2004


That's awesome that you are underway. Are you contemplating doing any of the work? Contract out for everything? I wish there was something I could offer you to help in trade for your knowledge. I'm still to scared to do it alone and am very tempted by the UBuildIt program. The cost would be about $16K for something that you are doing on your own. If there is anything I can offer - let me know. It will be a while before I can start building on my lot in Desert Hills. I have much to learn.

Danby

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By Robert in Chandler, AZ on 4/16/2004


Danby: Are you posting to me or Byron as this site's threads are definitely confusing.
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 4/17/2004


Hey, Robert - I was responding to Byron. Sorry for the confusion. He is actually building a new home very close to where my proposed build site is and he would be able to answer virtually all of my questions at this point due to the area he is building. Byron, you're probably having to put in a septic and well, having to deal with Maricopa County inspectors, pay the permit costs, get bids from contractors in the area, etc, etc. Ironically, these are the same questions that different companies charge thousands of dollars to answer.

Danby

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By Gerry in Phoenix, AZ on 5/2/2004


This is my first time as an owner-builder, so I am looking for your list of subcontractors you used and recommend. Also, I would like feedback from any one who has used Tech Block to build their exterior walls.

Thank you,
Gerry
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 5/3/2004


Hey Gerry, I am also seriously looking into Tech Block,  so please keep me informed on what you find. Here is another product you might be interested in: cempo.com. It is almost identical to the Tech Block system, but does not have the 3/4" OSB on the inside and is cheaper. The installed price is a bit over $9 per sqr foot minus windows and doors. Stucco also applies directly to the outside, so you save in stucco and insulation costs. I spoke with the actual installer and he is very eager to work with owner-builders. Please let me know what you find out about either product, since I will more than likely use one of these solutions.

Danby
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By Robert in Chandler, AZ on 5/3/2004


Christine: Any luck finding a lot yet? You need someone with experience in land. Email my Realtor Marsha at mks1@ox.net, she has runs her own RE brokerage for 15+ years. Her phone number is: 480857-6962. She will find what you want, where you want just like she found ours. Hope that helps.
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By Eddie in Phoenix, AZ on 7/29/2004


I'm in the Buckeye, Arizona area and looking for any in this area who are owner-builders who could give me any insight (help) in getting started. I have the land, and am now working on having a well drilled. I did the house plans myself (AutoCAD). Right now I'm could use the advice of someone who has gone through, or is going through this to help me get started.
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By Jonni in Gilbert, AZ on 8/4/2004


We plan on breaking ground in Gilbert, AZ in Oct. However, we do not have a well. I would be happy to share any knowledge and/or subs we have, although we are still in the learning process as well. Another great website is gardenweb.com. Go to Forums, and then scroll down to "That Home Site" and then click on "Building a Home".
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By Eddie in Phoenix, AZ on 8/5/2004


Thanks for the info. I'll check out the sites, and good luck with your project. I may take you up on your offer.
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By Robert in San Jose, CA on 8/7/2004


Hi, Jonni, I would love to take you up on the subs that you know. Can you P.M. me with some contact names and phone numbers of subs?
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By Robert in San Jose, CA on 8/11/2004


Hi Robert,

Do you need a general contractor license to build in Arizona as an owner-builder? I received a reply to my question here on the O-B forum a few days back as follows:

"In my locale, I was required to get a contractor's license to pull the permit. It wasn't a big deal, just some paperwork to fill out and a $22.50 fee. The license was well worth it, because it allows me to set up accounts at suppliers and negotiate better prices - they don't need to know that I am only building one house, just that I am a residential home builder. I could probably get the same prices by using many more suppliers, but suppliers get a little more serious if they think there is repeat business coming their way. An added benefit to the accounts is that I can order materials and get invoiced later when I have time to turn it into the bank for a construction draw to pay the invoice, and frequently you get a 2% discount for quick payment. Cash accounts just aren't as convenient and don't offer this 2% discount even though you pay immediately."
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By Jonni in Gilbert, AZ on 8/11/2004


P.M. me for sub info. We are breaking ground in Oct., so my list is not from firsthand experience. The list is made up of subs that other Owner-Builders are using or have used and would recommend. I am using it to get bids.
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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 8/12/2004


If you are not building for resale within one or two years, you do not need a license. For more info look at the website for the Arizona registrar of contractors.
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By Robert in Chandler, AZ on 8/13/2004


No, you do not need a GC license to O-B as an owner occupant in AZ. However, if you plan on really building a spec, then I strongly suggest you get one as the AG, ROC, DRE agencies will make you pay dearly if you don't. That goes double for my industry (22+ years) of mortgage finance where HUD and the FBI have specific task forces to combat these scams.

As to the poster who says he "...just walked in and paid a $22 fee," my answer is not in AZ did he. The requirements for a GC license are at least four years of experience, background and fingerprint checks, passing the ROC exam, posting a $5,000 bond and payment of fees. Hardly just walking in and paying a fee! However, different states have differing regulations.

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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 1/25/2006


Mary, I have heard great things about M&I Bank. Stay away from IndyMac, though - I really had a bad experience.
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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 1/25/2006


Hi everyone! My husband and I just purchased land on Gavilan Peak in New River. We are working on getting everything set up to apply for the permit. Can someone tell me what to expect? How long is the wait time for a permit?

Christine, My husband and I are O-B's, and we only sub out the time-consuming and complex tasks. My hubby works in custom new builds, so he meets many tradespeople that are willing to do a decent side job. We contract with companies, when the prices seem fair. Nevertheless, for the most part, we do it all. Being an O-B is very rewarding. It makes you feel good to see the finished product and realize, that although it took you some work, you got what you want, at a great price. (Guys, please remind me I stated this when I freak out on the Forums).


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By Mary in Phoenix, AZ on 1/25/2006


Hi Claudia,

Do you know if M&I Bank will make a loan to an owner-builder if you don't have a general contractor or a license? Also, can you recommend a loan officer at M&I who works with owner-builders? I was going to apply with IndyMac... what kind of problems did you have with them? I'm going to build in the county near Tonopah if I ever get my permit approved... it's taken over three months so far.

Thanks,

Mary
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 1/25/2006


I highly recommend Mike O'Malley at M & I Bank. He can be reached at 602-548-7201. Yes, they do owner-builder loans. Mike might have to refer you to someone closer to you. He is located in North Phoenix, and he has been very pleasant to work with. It has taken me about four months now for permitting. I'm hoping I only have two more weeks before final Maricopa County approval.


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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 1/25/2006


Hi Claudia,

I'm building a home in Desert Hills just a few miles away from you. I turned my plans into Maricopa County on September 15, '05. I got my write-ups back on December 21st. I would say that yours will most likely take even longer. It would seem that they just keep getting farther and farther behind. Feel free to send some of those tradespeople willing to do decent side job my way. I also have two friends who are owner-building in New River and are having a slew of additional problems since they are on a hillside. I'm on flat land, so I don't have to deal with it. What is the slope of your land? Do you get hit with the 15% of undisturbed land rule? I would wish you luck, but since your husband builds customs for a living, you already have a huge leg up on the rest of us. 
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By Mary in Phoenix, AZ on 1/26/2006


Thanks for the information on M&I Bank. If you find any tradesmen who will work side jobs, I would appreciate it if you would send their names to me. I have a few sources that I am still checking on and I will share any information I get with you.

I submitted my plans to the county four months ago and just got my first review results two weeks ago. The county is contracting the plan reviews out to private companies and I have talked to people who have had real problems working with them. The one I got is called Stantec. I spoke with an architect who told me there have been many problems with the reviewers at that company.

I drew my own plans and really didn't have too many problems... just needed additional details for the most part. One problem I encountered is that part of my plan has ceilings over 10 ft. tall, which require additional engineering details. If you know of any architect, draftsman, etc. who would be willing to supply details for a "lateral analysis" please let me know. I think all the reviewer needs is to see how the walls and ceilings will be braced for wind resistance.  Thanks for any information you can provide.
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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 1/26/2006


Thanks for the info! It seems I have many O-B neighbors!!! I can't tell you all how thrilled I am that we have our own local forum. It will be a great resource for us all. If you have a great resource, please share! If you see a great deal around town or online, share that with us too. I love AZ!

The framers who framed my Prescott home (roughly 5,000 under roof) for $15K, are nowhere to be found, (cellphones - ugh!!). But when I find them again, I'll let you know. Believe me, I'm looking! I need them too!

I'll get the rest of the #'s to you as soon as I can.


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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 1/26/2006


Hi Jonni, thanks for keeping the faith! The new setup for our region should be helpful. Check back with ownerbuilderbook regularly, and please share any resources you can, as you know starting up can be very difficult, it's great to have this resource!!!

I grew up in Higley, AZ - Go Gilbert Tigers!!!


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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 1/26/2006


Hi Mary:

I just turned my Stantec reviews back in to the county today. There is now a document specifying exactly how to respond to your reviews, so you might want to pick that up. I should have picked one up for you and posted it - sorry. 

I drew my own plans also, but I worked with an engineer to do all of the necessary engineering. I have 10' and 12' ceilings throughout, so I also needed wind analysis stamped by an engineer. They also did the detail and foundation drawings for me (phew).


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By Claudia in Glendale, AZ on 1/27/2006


Thanks for the, info Danby. Is the Stantec information only available at a county office? I am concerned, because I purchased a stock plan from a local designer. I believe my highest ceiling is 14'. May not fly on the hill, huh?
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By Mary in Phoenix, AZ on 1/30/2006


Hi Danby,

Can you tell me the name of the engineer who did your wind analysis for you and can you give me some idea of what they charged you? Thanks for your help.

Mary
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By Danby in Phoenix, AZ on 1/30/2006


Here's their web site. 

stantec.com/inside_stantec


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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 7/11/2006


I had a great experience owner-building in Tucson. Now we are in the process of selling that home and moving to Mesa. We already have the lot and the plans are almost done. So far, I have not been able to find a single owner-builder in the Phoenix/Mesa area. I tried emailing lots of people listed in O-B Connections, but most of those came back saying the message could not be delivered. I'm really surprised because I had no problem finding other O-Bs in Tucson, and have shared my info with several O-Bs as well. Is there anyone out there who can share some info with me on your owner-building experience?

Thanks,

Chad

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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/6/2006


Chad,

We purchased our lot and will be O-B'ing hopefully next year. We still have a few things to do before we are ready to have an architect draw up our plans, but we have used Punch Platinum and have been playing with our floor plan for a month now. Hopefully we'll have thought of every detail that is important to us before we have the architect draw it up, to reduce changes. Just found this site and it looks like a great resource.

Are you starting soon?

Justin

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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 8/11/2006


Welcome to the world of Owner-Building! I hope to start soon, but we still have to go through City of Mesa for permits. My target at this point is to start building around November.

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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/11/2006


You wouldn't be using SIPs would you? I am looking into it in fact I am going to the AZ Home show today to talk with the biiaz.com guys.

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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 8/11/2006


I am not planning on using SIPs. I'll most likely use an ICF system called Mikey Block. I just got to Mesa this week, and didn't know about a home show. I really need to go to one to get acquainted with the local suppliers and contractors. If you can give me some info before you go that would be great.

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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/11/2006


azcentral.com/ent/calendar

Starts today runs to Sunday.

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By Clyde in Phoenix, AZ on 10/9/2006


I am in the middle of building a house using the Logix ICF block system. The house is 3,000 sq ft/5,000 under roof located in Phoenix. We just finished pouring the footings for the house last Friday, and I hope to have the stem walls completed by this coming Friday. This is a new experience for me, so I can share what I know/mistakes I have made.


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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 10/9/2006


Clyde,

Thanks for posting. When you get a chance could you explain why you chose ICF block? I would like to do ICF but SIP and/or conventional seem so much less expensive. What was your bid for ICF? Do you have extra money to spend on it or do you see a value in it worth the extra cost?

We are in design right now and I had basically written ICF off because all of the estimates were much higher than SIP or conventional. I know ICF is huge in Florida with hurricanes, but in Arizona little dust devils and our monsoons don't damage conventionally framed homes let alone SIP or ICF homes. I would love to hear your reasoning.

Justin

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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 10/9/2006


I am not quite finished with my plans to send them out
for bids, so I'm just going on hearsay how the ICF
will compare with wood-framed. You can calculate your
own cost for materials at mikeyblock.com. That is
the ICF system that I plan to use.

I used a similar ICF system in my last home. I like
ICF for several reasons:

1. The look. Wood and panels don't give you that
deep-windowed 12" thick masonry look.

2. Longevity - Masonry walls seem like they will last
forever, while wood-based products seem like they could
break down.

3. Obviously energy efficiency is a huge factor, as
well as sound blocking. Of course SIPs offer the same
thing.

4. Familiarity - it seems easier to find contractors
who are familiar with ICFs than SIPs.

5. Easier to do field changes. You can change your
mind in the field about how to route electric or
plumbing in the walls. I don't think you can do that
with the pre-channeled panel systems.

6. I was a little concerned about some unknown future
chemical breakdown with SIPs - like the wood peeling
off of the foam or something - because it is a
relatively new product. If the foam all melted away
from the concrete channels in ICFs the structure would
still be sound and the house would survive. I'm not
sure that would be true of SIPs.

I really have nothing against SIPs. I was planning on
using one in my last home until I changed my mind at
the last minute to go with ICFs. Based on the
reasons above, if the cost is equal between ICF and SIP
I would choose ICF. If SIPs are cheaper I don't see a
good reason not to go with that. Good luck!

-Chad

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By Anthony in Phoenix, AZ on 12/19/2006


Hi! Brand-new O-B here. Saw your postings and noted you were new to the area, but had done an O-B in Tucson. We are relatively new to Phoenix as well and are curious how you find good subs to send out your bid requests to. I have looked online, looked up licenses etc, but that seems like throwing a dart blindfolded. Any suggestions?

Thanks.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 12/26/2006


There is some good discussion regarding costs, energy qualities, and related issues about most of the non-conventioanl construction methods in the Green Building section of the General Forums.

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By Dennis in Hidden Valley, AZ on 12/29/2006


Greetings to all the forum members! I am a new member, and my wife and I are in the process of building our home in rural Hidden Valley. The location is south of the little town of Maricopa where we have 10 acres.

We bladed roads, installed a septic system, arranged for a well, and are presently living on site in a trailer.

The home was designed by us, and permitted in '99. This may seem like a long time ongoing, but WE are the builders. No contractors allowed. So far we have become very proficient in this type of construction, and started with no infrastructure on site. 

The design is more or less an early 1900's territorial bungalow, with a stair turret and dormer upper floor windows.

30" raised stem, concrete floor, 12" Rastra (now Perform Wall) walls and central beam vaulted roof.

We are making extensive use of recycled wood in the home. The latest find was some 60 tons of 50-year old maple flooring from a high school gym in Scottsdale. This was a lot of work to remove and transport, but it will make a beautiful French country ceiling and flooring throughout. (1" thick). 

The roof beam is a large glulam, 52'x36"x 8", taken from a local warehouse demolition. Another exercise in transport as well.

We are thinking of finishing it off with a "Cotswold" type roof treatment, like that on the Willow House in central Phoenix. If anyone has knowledge of how to build up those graceful undulations simulating a thatch roof, please let us know. It seems the old technology has passed and real useful techniques are still a mystery to us.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 12/29/2006


Welcome! and good building!

Are you going to have any of that maple flooring left over? And how square feet did you get in that 60 tons?

Although am not familiar with the term "Cotswold", I'll look into the roof framing and see if I can give you any advice as to how to build it.

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By Dennis in Hidden Valley, AZ on 1/5/2007


The total square footage came out to just over 14,000. The Hidden Valley home will have all flooring and a French Country ceiling made of it.

We are also building a cabin in New Mexico, so most of it will be used.

I promise to post more pix as the project progresses.

dg

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By Dennis in Hidden Valley, AZ on 1/12/2007


Here is a shot of the maple stacks.

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By Robert in Paradise Valley, AZ on 1/18/2007


Chad,

I'm new to this site and have just purchased the lot I plan to build on. So far, this is a terrific resource. I hope I'll be able to contribute as time goes on.

Thanks,

Robert


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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 1/19/2007


Welcome, Robert. I'd be interested to hear about your lot and where you're building. Do you have any unique things planned for your project? I always like to hear what other people are doing -- it keeps my creative juices flowing. 

My project finally got started yesterday when I started the grading and pad preparation. They removed 30 trees and moved around hundreds of tons of dirt. It was awesome!

Good luck on your project!

 


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