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Silly Comments on the "Self Sufficient" Lifestyle Choi

    • 3767 posts
    March 10, 2018 11:25 AM PST
    chilly! exciting getting the plans for the new place
    • 1124 posts
    March 13, 2018 3:22 PM PDT
    I couldn't QUITE pry the drawings out of his hands while I was with him, in Denver CO, but he emailed them last night. Lovely! I'm sure there will be changes during construction but oh well...I think I have an engineer here who can stamp them (have to be licensed in my home state) and then off to the permit guys I go ... again. I hope they are familiar with the rubble trench foundation. I bought some documents on how it works with a heavy wall.
    • 1124 posts
    March 23, 2018 11:06 AM PDT
    Had a good news/bad news day yesterday.
    Bad news: No engineer yet to sign or stamp my drawings. I've upped the ante and even asked my Dr if he knew any structural engineers. If any of y'all know someone in North Idaho or East Washington, but licensed in Idaho, I could use some names. If I get nothing in a week, I will have to resort to the phone book and fighting with people who want to change my plans.

    The good news: I took my pick up, that I bought last fall...1999 Chevy Silverado...in for an oil change. Should have done that a few months back but I don't drive it much and I was being cheap. The guys at the shop were impressed with it. Said it's in great shape for 19 years old, no rust, clean. Will need a back brake pad in a few months and has some of the auxiliary lights burned out, but none of the required ones. Since it's the first time I've had a mechanic of my own look at it (I know...should always take it to a mechanic before buying, but I didn't), I was relieved that it passed muster with them. Given how hard I am on my Subaru, I think they were surprised with the shiny truck.

    Other than that, just dealing with mud and trying to face the bureaucratic time sink of starting construction on my next place.
    • 1124 posts
    March 28, 2018 9:36 AM PDT
    I have a meeting with a structural engineer tomorrow! At last. And a lead on another one. We'll see if either can do what needs done without costing me more than I have. Of course, getting a permit is not optional and getting someone to produced signed drawings is required for that...so I guess I will have to pay what it take.

    here's hoping it goes well.
    • 1124 posts
    March 30, 2018 10:31 AM PDT
    woohoo! Good meeting with the engineer and his wife (business manager and project manager). They can do it and will get me a price shortly. Turns out we have several acquaintances in common and they needed to contact me at work but didn't know who I was.
    • 1124 posts
    April 2, 2018 9:35 AM PDT
    Well, I got the engineer's estimate. YIKES! nearly 8000$!!!! The non-standard building techniques save on construction (if i can do the walls myself that is) but apparently are difficult to get through the permit process. I need an engineer's work and stamp on this. So, I got that price on Sunday (they sent it Friday but I didn't have email until sunday). And spent the day trying to sort through the options.
    1) Give up.
    2) Make sure I know what is included (e.g. the permit fee itself or just the permit-ready stamped drawings, geotesting my soils or not, site visit or not, etc)
    3) Get another bid from another engineer.
    But, this guy is good and has the recommendation of 3 of my friends.
    4) Shave more off my living budget, and expect the build to take a year longer than I had anticipated so I have more time to save between stages.

    Any advice or encouragement welcome! (though encouraging me to "give up" is not my favorite)
    • 319 posts
    April 3, 2018 2:52 AM PDT
    Hi Maggie,

    I hear ya here sister, (re)building is so expensive that it changes your financial perspectives/ budgets/ means frequently cause new things or costs pop up.

    I thinking of a new plan to get everything sorted out here too. The draft version looks a bit like this:

    - real necessities first (replacing a roof and having a new structure build under our half raised parking spot so car or RV don't crash into neighbor's sheep below.)
    - review our household budget and prioritise necessities, cut some things out, possibly even the RV.
    - make clear plans what we want (extra room under roof? Bigger shed and keep our bedroom where it now? (Which is, in the laundry room))
    - getting good and clear quota.
    - brace ourselves and recover a few days after getting them.
    - prioritise again.
    - budget for unforseen
    - have work carried out
    - spend a couple of years finishing the rest ourselves in husbands spare time.

    Giving up however, never.

    $8000 is a lot to get a permit. Are you allowed to file the permit yourself? When you would deal with the officials and only hire him by the hour when they need something from him, wouldn't that save him time and money to you?
    You will need to file plans, drawings and an engineer needs to calculate whether your building is strong and safe and what is needed to build it safely on the soil you have.
    After that, they will have a bunch of questions. He knows there will be and calculated his hours on the safe side. What if you were the middle man?
    You receive the additional questions, bundle them, draw up an answer and only ask him the questions you need him for. You answer all their questions and attach his e-mail or letter to you as proof.

    Only thing is... Im not sure he will be happy when you suggest this. You might loose him.

    Maybe you could call him and explain you did not expect $8000 and that you are so unsure about everything now that you even consider giving up.
    Ask him if there are things that you could do yourself to save costs. Tell him.that you are no expert and that it might be a wild and weird idea spun from a mind awake at night but could you maybe take over the little admin work and time it takes to contact the officials etc???? I don't know, something like that.
    • 319 posts
    April 3, 2018 3:04 AM PDT
    P.S. We filed our permit ourselves. Husband made the plans/ drawings and wrote a nice story with it.
    We were asked to appear before the committee and husband was very low on his days off so I went alone with my todler while I had him on speaker phone. Todler was being fussy so he was only there on phone stand by for the last bit of the meeting.
    We just knew they would want us to make two windows in our living room. And tadaaa... we were right. I curbed that question too by telling we wanted that too but it would leave me with very little room for our huge 2 by 2 bookcase and we got our permit.
    Sold the bookcase before the move by the way ;-).
    • 1124 posts
    April 3, 2018 7:26 AM PDT
    Penny: Thanks for the perspective. I'm isolated at bit on this project so I forget that most people have sticker-shock at the cost of things. The deal is...this estimate is to get the drawings PERMIT READY...I still have to get the permit myself.

    I have been to the permit people twice. They won't accept the application without the drawings being signed by a licensed design professional working in our state. Eventho my friend is licensed in another state, it won't work here. So, I have to have someone here do them. I also am making a non-typical house with a unique foundation system. That requires more work that the normal foundation and design. If I did a regular house, I could just cut-and-paste the standard stuff out of the code book and turn it in with no signatures.

    I guess there is punishment for wanting something different. I just didn't know how much punishment.

    I have a call in to another engineer for another estimate. And, I emailed this engineer back and said I don't have that kind of cash beyond the building budget for the year so I need to stop and think.

    Once I can get my head around all my questions I will call any engineers I have bids from and make sure I know what is covered.
    the 8000$ is a "not to exceed" figure but still...it could go that high.

    I need to stop thinking I know things. I clearly don't. I thought this would be 1-2000$...based on no previous experience. I just didn't know.

    oh well...this is still a first-world problem.
    • 319 posts
    April 3, 2018 1:24 PM PDT
    Dear Maggie,

    You are right, we are dealing with first-world problems!

    I just asked my husband what your problem would cost in the Netherlands. He says 8% of the total cost of building a new house. But I guess new building techniques would require more work here too.
    I think it's pretty ridiculous that you need a stamp from someone licensed on your state. Not very practical when you live near the border of your state nor very 'free economy'. Another first world debate.

    Good luck pondering, planning and getting that permit.
    We have a pretty wild dream and we are considering to try and get a permit for that. We would have the first house and mill of that type in the Netherlands.
    I think we should just try to get the permit and build it when the roof is replaced anyway. Husband is in doubt, while it would be for his hobby.
    • 1124 posts
    April 4, 2018 5:13 PM PDT
    OK. I'm seeing where I can cut the budget to try to meet the expense of this or another engineer signing the drawings.

    If I drop comprehensive and collision on my car (which bluebooks at 5500$ for private sale, 2500$ for trade in...so ok, I can drop it) and the truck (similar bluebook values) I can save 430$ a year. That will help.
    9 more things that save about 400$ and I can make the difference between the expected and the real cost of getting a permit
    • 1124 posts
    April 4, 2018 5:16 PM PDT
    i could also sell one of the vehicles. Thinking that through as well.
    • 319 posts
    April 5, 2018 2:06 AM PDT
    Hi Maggie,

    My thoughts: what were the reasons you choose that type of insurance and why did you choose to have to vehicles?

    Be careful you don't save money on one side and create a problem or costs on the other.

    We traded in my husbands car the other week. Because of it's value, it was not recommended to insure it all risk.
    But I did choose that for the first year at least. I will have to write of this car in a "car fund for husband" and we won't have near enough to replace the car in that fund when something happens this year, nor am I sure how much money we will have in other savings at this moment, should something happen.
    I don't know how deep we will need to dig into our savings the next year(s) (maybe even borrow a bit) cause we are doing that rebuild. I'm not sure yet what we will do when, as husband is doing a lot himself and his time is limited. I hope we are able to save money and spend it on another project but some things are connected or urgent so you can't postpone them.
    I'm going to write the car off faster than we expect to drive it and see if I can put extras in that fund this year, so I can change the coverage next year.

    My dad and my insurance teacher taught me to insure risks you can't cover with your own money.

    Does having two cars also save money for you? How much do you save?
    • 1124 posts
    April 6, 2018 5:13 PM PDT
    Penny: Yep...I am taking all those things into consideration. The assessment I did in the fall was to carry full coverage on the car until spring. It's spring. If either vehicle gets wrecked, I will just live with the one that is left. I will start figuring out which to keep if I need to sell one.

    I went and talked to another engineer today. He hadn't answered my email. So I just went to his office with my drawings and the digital files. He apologized for not getting to my email and I apologized for just showing up...neither of us meant a word of it. He's going to give me a bid to get the drawings permit ready.
    He had different ideas about needs and how to do things than Engineee1 did, but whatever, the goal is to get the drawings stamped and move ahead. NOT to have the perfect structure. Having A structure that is the basic design I want is the main thing.

    Cripes.
    • 319 posts
    April 7, 2018 3:10 PM PDT
    Sounds good. Too bad the second engineer doesn't seem to be that committed.
    My voluntary boss told me she has issues with the city because of four poles and a very small see through panel in her garden to keep her bike dry.
    It's legal when she would take the panel away and allow overgrowth from plants. As it is... it's an illegal outbuilding and they are taking measurements. She could be slapped with big fines cause she isn't planning to do a thing, fines over a thick sheet of plastic.
    • 319 posts
    April 7, 2018 3:10 PM PDT
    Sounds good. Too bad the second engineer doesn't seem to be that committed.
    My voluntary boss told me she has issues with the city because of four poles and a very small see through panel in her garden to keep her bike dry.
    It's legal when she would take the panel away and allow overgrowth from plants. As it is... it's an illegal outbuilding and they are taking measurements. She could be slapped with big fines cause she isn't planning to do a thing, fines over a thick sheet of plastic.
    • 1124 posts
    April 9, 2018 11:19 AM PDT
    Good grief!!!! Over a dry bike!!! One county here, Kootenai, just started letting people "opt out" of building code. I see why they would. Of course developers are also "opting out" and building shoddy dangerous things in high concentrations.

    I talked to my builder this weekend and he gave me the name of the engineer they use. This guy has a motto "no job too small"...here's hoping. I emailed him and called him today. Hoping for a meeting soon. possibly this afternoon because I have to see the tax guy about 5 blocks from Engineer #3's office. I mentioned on the phone that I had a bid for 8000$ and I don't have that. I was hoping to build for 60,000$ total or less.

    Right after I sent that email I got another from Engineer #1...4000-5000$ for geotesting! IN ADDITION to the 8000$ of engineering. That's more than 20% of my building budget. I haven't told them "no" yet. I will know more when I get a couple more bids.
    • 3767 posts
    April 9, 2018 11:32 AM PDT
    geotesting for what hidden gold mine ? wow maybe they think you are soft touch
    • 1124 posts
    April 9, 2018 12:50 PM PDT
    geotesting to see if the clay is "fatty" or if it might be loess (that blown in silty dust). But really. Get a grip. I can't pay for that. that's just nuts. Or so I think now. We'll see when I get other bids.

    The new engineer is willing to meet me today so I'm heading out.
    • 3767 posts
    April 9, 2018 2:43 PM PDT
    ok sounds like a money grab. here only heard of it if known contaminated soil for building a house. here we have a piece of toxic land old brickyard or something known that the soil has to be replaced etc $$$$ so the family left it to the province to get rid of it and province gifted to the city to get rid of it . so there it sits. land prices haven't gotten high enough to make it worth some developers time. a couple million only
    This post was edited by marthamfi at April 9, 2018 2:43 PM PDT
    • 1124 posts
    April 16, 2018 9:30 AM PDT
    dang...it looks like I broke the views counter on DS.

    Anyway, Heard back from Engineer #1...he can come in at 4000$ if my friend does the drawings. My friend said he could do that and faster than the engineer's staff since my friend already knows the project.

    So...waiting on a bid from engineer #2. It seems he doesn't get stuff done in a timely fashion. that could push me over the edge.

    I tried to use the county government website to figure the cost of a permit, but the links to that were broken so I called them. The estimate is $2000! Sweet Pete that's high. Engineer#1 thought it would be 300$. I don't know what planet he lives on. Not mine.
    My tax returns will total about 2300$ so I guess I know where that is going. I'm trying to embrace uncertainty but that was never my strong point.

    I have some homework and prices to get on possible changes so i can make my choices.

    of course more expenses come up as one looks to do a big outlay of cash. Got my summer tires out of storage so I could have them swapped out (they are on rims so it's fast...or so I thought). They are bald. I totally forgot I saved money in the fall by delaying that purchase. I leave to see my aunt and get contracting guidance on Thursday so if they can't get new tires on the summer rims tomorrow, i will just run the winter tires until I get back. Don't want to run them all summer but another week or two won't kill them. And I can drive the truck. I'll call the tire guys today and see what's up. I only need the next set of summer tires to make it about 30-40,000 miles. By then, including winter mileage, my car will have 300,000miles on it and be ready for the great used car lot in the sky (or craigslist in a college town)

    I was meeting friends for coffee yesterday (I had drip coffee...no more 3$ americanos for now). they run late and I run early so I took about 20 minutes to make a list of basic tasks and questions that I've gathered in my notebook I take to all things house related. Putting things in bulleted lists made it seem more manageable. If I can get one thing ticked off per day or couple of days, it will help. The friends were encouraging too.
    Then I got a text from an elderly friend who said she was in the hospital after emergency gallbladder surgery and has to have another surgery because they sent her home the first few times she went to the ER and by the time they operated, gall stones were down the bile duct. They didn't take the bile duct during the first surgery!!! So, having money issues with tires and housing seems less painful than that certainly!

    I dropped down the insurance on my car. The blue book value is low enough it's not worth it and I have 2 rigs. If one croaks I live with the other. Kept liability of course on both and I have AAA for towing (and discounts).
    Saves 200$ on 6month premium so hopefully it can cover tires or most of tires.
    • 1124 posts
    April 26, 2018 10:28 AM PDT
    Well, I was on vacation..probably the last one for a while! While there I picked an engineer. The first one bid 8000$ plus 5000$ for soils testing. That guy eventually came down to 4000$ and skip soil testing.
    The one I picked is not as "professional" (works out of a back bedroom rather than in a stand-alone office building) and it's him and one guy...no office manager or reception person etc. That guy knows my builder and his company motto is "no project too small". his bid is 3200$. I will spend more time dogging him, but I have more time than money so I'm going that route. He's worked with the county permit office too.

    So, that's one decision down
    • 297 posts
    April 26, 2018 5:06 PM PDT
    The permits and paperwork will take longer than the actual build will. Good luck. Thanks for keeping us up to date with your journey.
    • 319 posts
    April 26, 2018 9:21 PM PDT
    Well done, $4800 saved.
    Some people get irritated or even charge €40 for making an estimate or price quote 'cause people shop arround' here. Of course we do!
    The building industry for home owners is getting arrogant, too much work available apparently.
    The ones that charge money to write a price quote should be avoided immediately for the sole reason they have probably lost business cause they were more expensive anyway.

    Our part time tiny living experience will end soon. We are selling our RV. Husband is recovering from being overworked and we think it is better to remove a time, 'worry' and financial burden from our lives. It needs a lot of work, again (water damage due to bad repair in shop).
    We'll finish the house first and then we will see.
    I joked that we would finish the house, fight for a permit for a tiny home in the garden across the road and sell this house yesterday. I was actually not kidding.
    Maybe some day!
    • 1124 posts
    May 4, 2018 11:31 AM PDT
    Thanks for the support! Yep. It all takes LONGER than one wishes.

    I've contacted my engineer once and confirmed the schedule. And resigned myself to spending lots on gas so i can drive down and badger him and the builder in person as needed. I will try to save gas again once the construction season is over.

    I'm trying to move ahead on my test build as well. mostly standing on the spot I want to put the little cordwood shed this summer and thinking about access, size, and process. Hope to get the area prepped by the end of May. The builder will prep the real homesite, I'm just doing the test shed location by hand or using a friend who has a little tractor with a blade.