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By Marty in Boston, MA on 7/18/2006


This is my very first post; however, I am not new to this forum.  Over the last several months I have tried to learn as much as I can about being an owner builder from the various posts and replies of others.  I have found some very detailed and helpful posts.

 

With that being said, I am preparing to build my very first home (no sooner than 1 year - so I have plenty of time to research and plan).  I have numerous questions; however, I will post a few at a time, in some type of priority order.  I own a lot in Windham, NH. The lot has already been surveyed and has an approved septic design.  I purchased Punch Software over a year ago and after many changes to the original plan, I have what I believe to be our (my wife and I) dream home.  We got our ideas from various open houses we have visited.  My dilemma is that I do not know what to do next.  Do I bring the plans to an Architect to make sure it’s structurally sound?  Do I bring it to an engineer? Do I give it to a drafter?  Do I bring the plans to a lumberyard to price out what lumber will cost?   Or do I submit it to the town’s planning board for advice?  (The last option seems least likely)

 

My lot slopes slightly from left to right and from front to back, which accommodates a walkout basement.  I know I will need to fill in the right side of the home, but who decides how the lot will be graded?  Also, I know there is ledge in the area, as many of the homes in the area required blasting.  Who determines how much ledge, if any needs to be blasted?

 

So here are my questions:

 

Who do I hire to determine if the lot needs to be blasted and do you need a permit for the testing (I know a permit is needed for blasting)?

Who do I hire to determine how the lot will be graded?

What do I do next with the plans I have drawn?

 

I know that some of these questions can be asked of the planning board; however, I want to reserve how many questions I ask them to the most technical.  I fear that asking too many questions will demonstrate to how inexperienced I am – hurting me in the long run (i.e. scrutinizing my work product more than the norm). 

 

Sorry for the long post and thank you in advance for your help.

 

Marty


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By Jon in Merrimack, NH on 7/19/2006


Martino,

I just finished my home in Merrimack NH and would be happy to help you with any of your questions (or subs if you need them). For your plans, depending on the engineering situations, you will save a lot of money by having a qualified drafter draw up your plans. The lumberyard can wait until your ready for take-offs (pricing the lumber for your house).  A site-engineer will take the foundation of your plans and draft to your slope appropriately.  He/She will be able to show where the house will sit and where fill may be needed.  Your excavator will dig and if/when you hit ledge you can either move the building site (with engineer concurrence) or you create a change order for blasting.

If you're 100% sure the foundation isn't going to be changed (no other bump outs, length/width changes, etc) then you can give your punch plans to both your draftsman and site engineer at the same time. But if your draftsman offers a change to your foundation size that you agree with, your site engineer will need to know that and that will cost you for the change.  So that being said, give your punch plan to the draftsman have them do a preliminary plan (takes about 3 weeks).  Once you sign off on the preliminary, you can give that to the site engineer and the draftsman can have a construction set developed.  Let me know if you have any other questions.  Sounds like you might.  Best of luck to you.


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By Marty in Boston, MA on 7/20/2006


Jon,

 

Thank you for your response.  Seeing that you just built in NH, I will definitely be interested in learning about your experiences.  Would you mind if I occasionally sent you an email?   

 

I am at least one year away from breaking ground; however, I started planning months ago.  I have prepared a decent draft for my future home using Punch Software.  I went so far as to include furniture so that I have an idea of what the rooms will look like furnished.  However, having no structural background, I will definitely want to run these plans by a professional for guidance – besides the largest prints I can get off my printer are “legal” sized paper.

 

 I have somewhat of a dilemma because a buddy of mine (not a very close friend, but a friend nonetheless) is an architect.  In fact, prior to purchasing the lot I consulted with him about various specifics of the lot (i.e. slope, proposed dwelling, etc.).  He told me from day one that when the day comes he will draw my plans.  What I would like to do is show him what I have drafted, ask him if it flows properly, make necessary changes and create the plans on his system.  I am assuming that his fee would be greatly reduced since I have already done most of the work.  What I don’t know is if his (anticipated) reduced fee will be less than that of a drafter.  More importantly, if the drafter’s fee is lower, how will I know if he/she is as qualified as he is?  My biggest hang-up is that I have absolutely no idea of what this service costs. 

 

Also, I spoke to the engineer that surveyed the lot (prior to me purchasing it) and he advised, just as you suggested – bringing in the foundation plan and he will revise the site-plan accordingly (the plan depicts the land’s typography and approved septic design).  Another issue that I have is that I want to move the septic system to another location, so this will require additional testing and obviously more money.  I assume that this service should also be greatly discounted since the lot has already been surveyed.  I know it will require additional pit tests for the septic, but that should be it – unless I am missing something.

 

Would you (or anyone else reading this post) know what I should expect to spend for the house plans and updated site engineering plans as described above? 

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Marty     
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By Jon in Merrimack, NH on 7/23/2006


Marty,

If there is anything that you can learn from this site is not to hire friends.  I ignored that with my siding and painting subs and they are the two subs that I regret hiring.  If you do hire your architect friend, make sure you are very clear on the costs and expectations.  Architects are costly.  They can cost around 7% of your project.  Whereas drafters will cost you about $1 - 1.50/sq ft.  Site engineer will run you between $1,000-2,500.  Sounds to me like your putting a lot of emphasis on your punch plans.  Though I don't want to discourage you, a professional plan is worth it's money.  For instance when your building your house and the framer asks specifics regarding the plan, you should be able to call your designer up right then and straighten it out (its not uncommon for typos to be made on plans).  For $1 per sq. you can't go wrong.  Your welcome to contact me anytime.  I am already starting my second building you can follow along if you would like. Feel free to PM me.


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