An artist's rendering of what our dome will look like.
It will actually be on a different spot now (see pink zone on grading
plan), but it has trees there, so won't make for a good photo.
Tuesday 10 December, 2002
Jean wrote an email to The Supervisor's Aide:
The Supervisor Aide's Response:
Monday 9 December, 2002
This evening we took advantage of the Public Comment Period at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor's meeting. Jean, myself, "Our Nextdoor Neighbor", and my mother and Kathy (combined) all had three-minute comment periods.
I spoke first. I showed them the maps of the area as well as photographs showing how Colchester Road floods between our driveway and the Stonecrest subdivision much before our actual driveway would flood..
It took a lot of convincing before we got our main point accross - that no part of our proposed plan involves any activity inside the floodplain, and that our driveway is a pre-existing non-conforming legal use. (read: it's been here for over a hundred years - it shouldn't have to comply to a 10 year old law.)
We all spoke somewhat extemporaneously from our prepared speeches and managed to gain some favor in the eyes of the supervisors. Some of them even stayed after the comment period to learn more about our situation.
Although the main theme was that they still want us to apply for a spcial exception to a floodplain ordinance that does not even apply to our situation, they are at least willing to revisit our land use attorney's legal argument. We will go ahead and fill out the special exception packet, pay the County their $3000.00 and wait another 4-6 months. At the same time, though, we will hope that our supervisor will be able to convince the attorney and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services of the truth - that no floodplain ordinance applies to our case because we plan not to build in the floodplain.
Here's to hoping!
Sunday 1 December, 2002
We officially received the latest county rejection letter this past week (A turn-around time of just four and a half months). Same old logic, same old innane argument. We've scheduled three minutes for each of us: myself, Jean and our neighbor, so as to be able to present the entire situation in an organized manner. Wish us luck on the 9th!
Our attempt at getting some written confirmation of a rescue boat and access to a helicopter was met with bureacratic backpedaling from the Fire and Rescue Chief for Fairfax County. At first we tried skimming the surface and eventually had to explain it in depth, all the while reiterating we didn't want them to be involved in our situation, only to affirm the boat and helicopter thing. The Chief didn't recognize that at all, only kept saying he didn't know why they are blocking us and doesn't know the extent ofthe situation...
Saturday 23 November, 2002
As of this week, we have more fodder to support our argument. From VDOT:
Tuesday 12 November, 2002
So we have three minutes in front of the board on December 3rd. The latest is that the most recent County rejection letter is speedily headed our way (only took three months) with Mr. County Attorney and County Official 5 concurring on eachothers' logic.
Recent information directly from the Fire Department responsible for our neighborhood suggests the officials at the county are blowing smoke. The FD doesn't have a rescue plan involving land rescue vehicles during a 100 year flood because "we have a boat and helicopter." Also, the logic that the neighbors can walk out is ludicrous. Hopefully we can present this written information at the hearing...
Tuesday 5 November, 2002
Two years have passed, but we're not giving up just yet. Word is that the County Attorney will be returning a response (most likely negative) by next week sometime. It only took three months. What happens then? Do we have Land Use Lawyer file another letter just to be rebuked again? We don't know. We just don't know. What would you do? We will probably move out of the Phillipsons to a townhouse or apartment rental, as long as it has a yard for the pets. We won't sell the land just yet-I mean, where else can you find 13 wooded acres with a stream, 30 minutes from the city without paying a fortune? F&*k the county.
Wednesday 16 October, 2002
Land Use Lawyer is back from some time off:
Jean had written about the County Attorney's fiduciary responsibility to protect the County, but only under the law. They shouldn't be able to block our building, and we shouldn't have to fight for it.
Tuesday 1 October, 2002
Land Use Lawyer pounds away at the County, and Jean has been talking with Supervisor's Aid again:
Wednesday 28 August, 2002
Land Use Lawyer is still working diligently for us. November marches even closer.
Tuesday 20 August, 2002
An email from Land Use Lawyer:
Two months, 10 days until our drop-dead date. (D-Day)
Tuesday 6 August, 2002
Land Use Lawyer wrote another letter to the county last week asking that they respond to our first request pronto. Nothing yet.
Thursday 1 August, 2002
It's been over two weeks now, and Land Use Lawyer says that's "no time at all for what we're trying to do" (in essence, declaring their floodplain laws illegal and asking for immediate approval). She says we're going to have to wait "a while longer." Translation? I guesstimate two months more at maximum. Heck, by then it will be October. If we haven't made headway by November, we're outta here. There are some nice plots of land and some with Cedar sided prow houses already on them for under $300K out 30-45 minutes West of here...
Monday 22 July, 2002
Land Use Lawyer submitted our letter to the County over a week ago and we're all waiting for what they'll say. We've decided to scrap the deal if we can't do it through the lawyer. Based on recent meetings with the County, we don't think they'll approve the SE. It's either lawyer or bust now. Wish us luck...
Wednesday 10 July, 2002
Land Use Lawyer spoke with us and met with me at Hearthwood yesterday to get a better bearing on her argument. She has found that the County's flood plain ordinance is illegal in that if they tried to enforce it, they would be changing zones or boundries that only the National Flood Insurance Agency can change by a vote.
It would basically be like a company being started and writing by-laws that dictated only people of one race could be hired in the future. They haven't hired anyone new yet, but if they do, it will be illegal.
She wanted to make sure the drive was still in use for motor vehicles. She says we can safely count the times we've driven on it for whatever reason-trash pickup, kayak retrieval, surveying, etc. "Our Nextdoor Neighbor" also uses it to drive his Jeep back to hunt occasionally during the season.
Monday 8 July, 2002
Our meeting today with County Official 4 was not as "slam dunk" as "Our Nextdoor Neighbor" put it, as our meeting last week. Today County Official 4 explained that even though the County tries to be logical in their approximation of the law, perhaps their definition of logic is not the same as ours. This defines our relationship with the County.
Take a situation as thus: A teacher is attempting to teach physics to Briscoe County Junior, a promising young highschool student with a stubborn streak and complete lack of street knowledge (also known as common sense).
And so on.
Essentially County Official 4 nailed down all the things we need (and Civil Engineering Firm 3 needs) to submit the SE. "Our Nextdoor Neighbor" has backed out of this, so as to speed the process through and not present "increased use" to the drive in the SE package. We are still pursuing the route with Land Use Lawyer as well.
We are (again) asking ourselves, "Is Fairfax County a place we really want to live? Want our children to live? Don't first impressions count for something here?" Would you eat at a restaurant who charged you to get in on the promise that the food was great and then took two years to send out the appetizer? We're not quitters by far, but it may be time to call it a life.
Wednesday 3 July, 2002
So we have a meeting with one of the women with whom we spoke on the 1st for Monday the 8th. Our Civil Engineer, Civil Engineering Firm 3, is coming and hopefully we'll get all teh details laid out as to what we need to submit with our SE. The packet we got lays it out pretty well, but we want to make sure we do this right the first time, so we get the earliest hearing date possible.
One plus from this-no more dealings with County Official 5 ("bless his heart") or County Hydrologist Guy.
Tuesday 2 July, 2002
Two things of major import yesterday:
1. We had our meeting with County Supervisor. And County Official 3. And another guy. And a woman. And another woman. From the start they began talking "special exception." You remember, right? No? I'll refresh your memory: basically a sheet of paper saying we can do something contrary to their regulations and they are ok with it. We've been quoted anywhere from 3 months to a year and $3k-$30k for the ordeal.
While effusing warm and fuzzy goodness, they all but managed to ignore our pleas and logic that it may be the case that a special exception wasn't needed, and perhaps their underlings were being a bit over-zealous in thier enforcement of the regulations. Norm said that bringing attorneys into it would only slow things down and be more expensive, while an "SE" would be "quick." How quick? "The sooner you get it in, the faster you will get a public hearing date." When is the soonest date? "November." Gee, so quick means five months? And another building season lost.
And the cost? $2900 fee for the county, man-hours to our Civil engineer, probably another $2k. Fortunately we can have the Civil Engineer do the SE, which is less expensive than the attorney. We simply can't afford the legal fees.
Needless to say, we aren't thrilled. We're pursuing the SE anyway, concurrently with Land Use Lawyer's efforts (as the county advised us to). That leads me to point two:
2. From Land Use Lawyer on her belief that the county is enforcing the regulations a bit over-zealously:
So now we pursue this option as well. Hopefully it will be less than five months.
Now let's all step back a minute and think about this. Distilled, the County wanting us to do the SE it would mean the past two years have gone as such:
Has anyone questioned why we have to do an SE so we can USE OUR DRIVEWAY? It's not like we are adding fill, or even adding FREAKING GRAVEL!!! It's already there!!! I jog that thing EVERY DAY. The County, in its infinite wisdom and grace, is chopping my arm off with a sharp sword instead of using a rusty spoon. Thank you. So now we've got a bunch of old County officials saying "they're young, what's a few months?" It's not a few months, it will have been two years of our mid twenties. Two years we should have been hiking, gardening, HAVING KIDS, growing together, becoming local activists, having parties at OUR HOUSE, learning the joys and pitfalls of construction, unpacking our stuff that's been in storage for TWO YEARS, feeling like real people, not mooching off our parents, enjoying the turning of the seasons AT HEARTHWOOD, and LIVING AT HOME.
Jean and I have reached a new level of Zen consciousness.
Monday 1 July, 2002
So our meeting is today. Land Use Lawyer has been decent about giving us an idea of what we'll be dealing with, but it wasn't exactly a week:
"Our Nextdoor Neighbor" is coming with us. We'll let you know how it goes...
Tuesday 18 June, 2002
We have a meeting for 1 July at 3pm with County Supervisor and staff! Hopefully we can resolve the issue via Land Use Lawyer before then, but if not we have an audience with County Supervisor.
Friday 14 June, 2002
We met with Land Use Lawyer yesterday (Wednesday's meeting was preempted for a last-minute hearing) and gave her our info. She'll get back to us by next Friday on whether it's a yes, no, or maybe.
As of now she thinks we have a shot because of "legislative presumption"(?) or something to that effect. Basically it says if the County enforced a law before, it was obviously intended that way and if it didn't, then it wasn't-follow? How it applies is this: my parents built 18 years ago on the same drive across the street, albeit a bit higher (226-230ft as opposed to 220-228ft above sea level), but still with a good portion of the drive in the 100 year flood plain. The county didn't have a problem with it then (and no laws have changed since) and so shouldn't now-bada bing. Another reason is that Federal Flood Insurance laws don't require "access to the site" as County laws do AND Federal trumps County.
Benevolent Friend called and left a voice mail detailing that she was setting up a meeting with County Supervisor (County Supervisor) and staff. Apparently County Supervisor is upset that County Official 5 sent us a negative letter without first telling her. (Benevolent Friend telling her about the letter was the first she'd heard about it!). We'll let her know about Land Use Lawyer and what our plans are and hopefully County Supervisor will decide we are too much trouble to deny again and order the reviewer to approve the plan.
Becky turned 22 yesterday-how time flies!
Tuesday 11 June, 2002
Land Use Lawyer, the other woman whose name we were given is an attorney with whom we're meeting on Wednesday at 5:30. She approximates no more than 10 hours of her time to bowl the county over on this issue. She says the county has no right to restrict access to property based on flood laws and such, and that Federal laws trump state laws in all cases. She (like all others) is amazed that we have been doing this for a year and a half. Cross your fingers.
Thursday 6 June, 2002
Banker Guy 3 has let us know our loan is approved! We have only to give him a general disbursement schedule and then we can close. This brings us into a sticky situation: we don't want to sign a loan if we are putting money down and may not be able to build. On the other hand, it took us three months for this loan to go through and it's not often that one can find a lender willing to go with a self-built dome home...
So the word of the day is "time-sensitive," as in we need Benevolent Friend to get back with us by friday or we call another attorney whose name we've been given. We can only stall the bank about a week or so before we're going to have to come up with a firm close date, as much as two weeks after that.
Friday 31 May, 2002
Banker Guy 3 assures me the bank will let us know by next Tuesday at the earliest. We can then arrange a closing date to take off work so we can sign the paperwork.
An email from the Washington Post reporter:
Wednesday 29 May, 2002
Banker Guy 1 no longer works at Bank 2, but apparently they are still working on it. The bank had to go to committee, last Thursday and "Chip" let me know he just spoke with the representative working on it and he said it should be a done deal by tomorrow!
County Official 5 FINALLY sent a response letter (dated 16 May!!) to our Civil Engineers at their old address (noting our absence on the CC list infuriates me) basically stating that they couldn't find a loin cloth big enough to cover their rear and that they couldn't recommend our property for approval of the grading plan. Complete B.S. that this is going on. I am sick and tired of the county's beaurocratic antics.
Jean has just called Benevolent Friend, who is quite understandably, exhasperated like we are. She already has to meet with County Supervisor on another issue and is going to try to line up some time for Jean, Benevolent Friend and myself to meet with her directly before that. We're to get all our ducks lined up to have everything accessible before that.
Tuesday 28 May, 2002
So Supervisor's Aid says the county sent the letter to our civil engineers ("your representative") even though we were the ones leading the meeting (remember, back in April?!!). A quick call to Civil Engineering Firm 3 confirmed no letter had been received from the County, but that these can take as much as ten days in transit. Alan called the county and asked a copy to be faxed as soon as possible. He left a message with County Official 5 and has not yet received a call. If we were on Mars, we would get faster communication than this.
A recent article (this is a PDF file) in the Washington Post whose subjects are in a similar situation as ours.
Friday 24 May, 2002
Still no word from County Official 5 or Supervisor's Aid on County Official 5/Code Analysis's response. Supposedly County Official 5 sent a letter out a week ago-by snail courier perhaps? How long can this charade go on?
Thursday 16 May, 2002
Benevolent Friend called Jean today. She apologized for not being able to get in touch with us. She was hoping that we'd say "yep, it's all solved, we're building now!" No such luck of course, and she was extremely dismayed. She said she'd call Ms. Jones this afternoon. We asked her if County Official 5 sends us a letter simply saying we can't build that we would like to hire her, but she said she hopes it doesn't come to that, as it would be very expensive. This woman is extremely generous and we appreciate her efforts immensly. We'll see what tomorrow holds.
Tuesday 14 May, 2002
I called County Official 5 today and left a message to call me. He wasn't in later either.
Banker Guy 1 says the underwriter should be calling him before 5pm EST today. He will probably call tomorrow.
Friday 10 May, 2002
Sounds like County Official 5 is just like the rest: he can't face us in person. Hopefully all this means is that they have come up with a footbridge standard for us to use and are naming certain conditions we need to meet. Something tells me that may not be the case...
Wednesday 8 May, 2002
Banker Guy 1 says he should hear this afternoon from the lenders (now not Bank #1 but someone else) if they want to go with the laon and he says they probably do. Then he'll FedEx the "truth in lending" statements, (a slightly different deal of course) and we're off! We'll sign and close sometime next week hopefully!
No news yet from the county-stay tuned.
Thursday 2 May, 2002
Banker Guy 1 of Bank 2 says the underwriters of the lender they chose aren't comfortable with the comparables in the area (domes with acreage), so the appraiser has called the lenders directly and they should say yes or no by this afternoon. If no, Chesapeake will simply try another lender and Banker Guy 1 assures me that it will only take a couple of days.
Ironically enough, they are going through the wholesale division of Bank #1 which has better rates and doesn't have a problem with a self-built dome. Go figure.
So we're still at the mercy of code analysis. What really bugs us is that Supervisor's Aid is more concerned that we got the run-around for a year than the fact that we need to be able to build. All that is water under the bridge, but if the County snubs us by declaring our land unbuildable (after taxing us at buildable rates I might add), we could go bankrupt.
If you haven't seen it, check out "construction" down at the menu. It goes over the steps of construction and will of course be filled in with photos and links to videos on the movies page as we progress. This isn't really a log, but more of a help section to dome-builders-to-be.
Tuesday 30 April, 2002
An email titled "Progress" (or lack thereof):
So, what happened to last week? When we originally met with County Official 5 on 12 April, he said he would set up a meeting for the "next week" (April 13-17). Now it's for next week (May 6-10), two weeks later than originally promised, almost a full month after we spoke with County Official 5.
They may have day-to-day business which to attend, but we have lives to start.
Monday 29 April, 2002
Bank 2 should be ready for us to close our loan this week. I spoke with Banker Guy 1 last Friday and faxed him some stuff this morning.
We should also find out what County Official 5 and the County have to say this week. Will we be building a footbridge or pursuing litigation? Still no word from Benevolent Friend.
We went kayaking with an ocean kayak in the creek yesterday. It had rained for over 12 hours straight and the creek had risen at least 2 feet: check it out.
3:49PM, an email:
Upward and Onward.
Tuesday 23 April, 2002
Bank 2 just got our appraisal in yesterday and submitted it to the underwriters. They expect to have some questions, since they don't see domes everyday, but the appraisal came in high enough for our 80% loan-to-value and looks promising overall.
No word from County Official 5 or anyone else yet.
Saturday 20 April, 2002
A friend of Jean's is getting married today.
Jean called County Supervisor's (County Supervisor) office last week and spoke to a really nice fellow, County Official 2. County Official 2 handed us off to Supervisor's Aid, but not before speaking with County Official 5 and letting him know that County Supervisor would like to be "kept in the loop."
County Official 5 has set up a meeting next week (what was he doing this week?) with the Code Analysis people and he'll "do everything we can do to let you build on this property." Yay, let's see if he can find a loin-cloth big enough to cover his rear. If not, we're going in guns blazing with Benevolent Friend as our lawyer.
Friday 12 April, 2002
Where do I begin? Our meeting with County Official 5 and County Hydrologist Guy could have been better but at least they didn't flat out say "no, you can't ever build."
It basically boils down to they don't want to knowingly approve a grading plan that doesn't have "adequate" emergency access during a 100-year flood. "Adequate" is apparently not in their authority to much interpretation.
They are now going back to the Code Analysis (read lawyers) dept/whatever to see what kind of leeway we can get in using:
1. a foot-bridge from our lot to "Our Nextdoor Neighbor"'s
2. a boat
3. a helicopter
for emergency access. I have a feeling they will say footbridge if anything. I'm all tied up inside from this.
Part II: The County rejected our building plans yesterday because of a lot of nit-picky little things. Now we get to send them BACK to Oregon for a redraw (yay, more money!) and then they send them BACK to us and then we submit them again. Not like we're pressed for time or anything, because I'm sure County Official 5 and County Hydrologist Guy will take at least a month to tell us "no" and then we'll litigate. Who deserves to go through this?
Thursday 11 April, 2002
I'm dropping off the paper to go with our RLD at the county today.
We have a meeting with County Official 5 tomorrow (above County Hydrologist Guy, below County Official 1) at 10:30 and are calling on Bob Phillipson's hard-nosed attitude and hopefully on Benevolent Friend as well, to help us be more trouble than we're worth the time. Wish us luck!!!
Tuesday 9 April, 2002
I submitted the plans to Civil Engineering Firm 3 last Friday and they are in the County undergoing review as of Tuesday.
The Appraiser came out to take a look at Hearthwood today and seems like an amiable fellow, quite willing to help reasonably appraise a non-standard home like a geodesic dome.
We got the flipped plans yesterday from Oregon Dome. Now we have to go back to Home Depot to get the TJI's spec'd out again, as everything is a mirror image and the cuts are different.
County Official 1 is still incommunicado, but we haven't lost all hope yet.
Jean's Birthday is tomorrow!
Friday 5 April, 2002
We skimmed over the 148 page PDF file and blasted through the 25 question test (1 hour timed, open book) in 15 minutes last night, securing our Responsible Land Disturbers certificate.
It's yet another way the County covers its rear- it can say that we were fully informed of all practices and procedures for erosion control, so if something gets out of hand neither we nor any one else can sue the County for negligence. What a cop out. And they get money for it too: $75!!!
Wednesday 3 April, 2002
Steve Collins is now working for half of his old firm, Civil Engineering Firm 2; now "Civil Engineering Firm 3" or something. The plans should be approved by the Health Dept either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, at which time I'll go pay the fee, sign all the appropriate blocks and drop it in County Official 2's box.
The Health Dept wanted to make sure we have our RLD (we'll do it this weekend) and also commented on emergency access to the land, something they didn't mention before. County Official 2 has to write a response letter saying these things are being taken care of...
Wednesday 3 April, 2002
So County Planning Commission Guy finally called us back last night.
Hmm. Sounds suspiciously like we just got handed off. Last time we spoke to County Official 1 was in spring or summer of 2001.
Remember the telephone game? Each person garbles the message a little more, so at the end no one knows what the original message was. Each link in our telephone game knows less about the situation and can afford to be more impersonal. By now it's probably "Two people (Are they married? They don't even have the same name) want to build a house IN the floodplain, maybe even in the creek. There's a bumper sticker in the Northern Sun catalogue that would fit well on any Fairfax County vehicle: "The buck doesn't even slow down here."
Sunday 31 March, 2002
I put up a small portion of the Dome Living video we ordered from Oregon Dome. Check it out.
Friday 29 March, 2002
County Planning Commission Guy finally returned Jean's phone calls: "This is pretty complicated, we should definitely have a meeting, I'll talk with you Monday!" A master of the obvious? Yes. Will he help? Maybe.
Saturday 23 March, 2002
So still no word from County Planning Commission Guy, an elected official at the County: "I have a full time job you know, I'm not getting paid for this." Gee, that ought to be the County motto.
If he doesn't get back to us by COB Monday, we'll call Benevolent Friend again to see what her opinion is.
We had a whirlwind of a ski-trip in Beaver Creek, CO. No iMovie (it's nearly 30 minutes) but we made a DVD on our new iMac, yes, OUR NEW IMAC:) Neato. So if you're in the area, you can request a showing.
Monday 4 March, 2002
I'm in Detroit for the whole week on business and have been since Friday. Yuck. At least I get to look forward to a ski trip at the end of the week with Jeano and the Phillipsons. We'll be sure to post videos and photos when we get back!
Thursday 27 February, 2002
I found a deed at the county documenting the easment onto our land (and surrounding land) "for the purposes of ingress/egress...and all such utilities and services for the full enjoyment of said parcel." Pretty much solidifies our case for our driveway use being ok.
We're going to re-site the house so we don't have to file for a C-Bay waiver, as that's County Hydrologist Guy's leverage. That means more time and a bit more money, but nothing huge. It went through the health dept. once, it will go through again, perhaps faster this time. The view may not be as nice, but as Jean said, "I'd rather have a house on a pretty piece of land than just a pretty piece of land."
Chesapeake Investment and Mortgage looks to be the winner of our "Who Wants to Fund a Dome?" contest. They didn't balk at all when I spoke to them on the phone about a "panelized housing system wherein the manufacturer erects the custom pieces and we do the rest..." and after our meeting today showing them the letter from Fannie Mae about selling domes on the secondary Civil Engineering Firm 1 & 1/2et, the list of comparable domes in the area, the house plans, and the full-color catalogue, they seemed rather hunky-dory!
None of this "well we'll try to convince our underwriters" or anything. Just "We'll get our appraiser (or one you want) out there and see how much money we can lend you," in a very good way. And they aren't charging us an arm and a leg. Can we say, "Good-bye Bank #1" in a big loud voice now? Good.
Wednesday 27 February, 2002
Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things. And a truly good thing never dies--Andy Dufresnes, The Shawshank Redemption.
Benevolent Friend has given us that-hope. Jean, Kathy and I went to talk about our dilemna with her this afternoon. This came about on the off chance that Bob Warhurst mentioned her name when speaking with Kathy and who should be right there, but Benevolent Friend!
She used to be on the board of supervisors for Fairfax County and is now a land use Consultant for Adams & Associates. She told us "This will happen," meaning our building on Hearthwood. She told us that it was obviously a political decision that County Hydrologist Guy has made and that she would help us get through this. It just might take some time. Time we have.
Jean and I are alive again.
Thank you Kathy, for meditating or whatever you call it:)
Wednesday 27 February, 2002
Hey, I know a good strategy for making friends in the workplace. I'll do the bare minimum of work to get the job done and cover my ass instead of doing what's right. That's County Hydrologist Guy's approach. He's the County official who is the burr in our rear right now. He doesn't have to do anything to deny the right to build on our land, but to do what's right would mean some risk on his part. He would have to grant a waiver and that might come back to him some day. So it's better to hunker down, plug his ears, and pretend he isn't causing us hardship. I hope he sleeps well at night.
Thursday 21 February, 2002
Bank #1 is (once again) not returning my phone calls and our loan officer is out of the office on training this week. I can see where we fit as far as their priorities go.
In the meantime, we have two promising bank leads and neither have a problem with "partially self-built panelized housing systems where-in the manufacturer ships us the shell, erects it, and we do the rest."
Also, the County has thrown another curve ball at us-a problem soils thing. Since our house is sited within 25 feet of a problem soils area (type A), the County needs a Geo-technical soils survey (or a certified third party to vouch for the validity of a diagnosis on the soils, deeming them "non-problem," should the data be old and flawed) which would take time and money. So can you find Waldo? If you can, it would be easier than relocating the house (check out the grading plan) 25 feet from problem soils, another specified amount from the 100 year flood plain, and also out of the RPA to boot. Oh, and see if you can still give us a nice view from the deck.
Of course, all this is moot if Kyum Kahn (Chief Hydrologist of the Western District) doesn't like the fact that our existing driveway is in the floodplain, (but can't do anything about it legally) and decides to fault us on something else. That's the reason we'd resite outside of the RPA.
Do we push on or scrap it because we're going insane living with my parents (and driving them insane in the process)? Do we push the "living with your parents envelope" or sell Hearthwood in a fire-sale to the highest bidder (lunch plus air fare to the nearest state with lax building laws) and skip town? Find out in the next episode of Oh Who Cares about the Dog Pee in the Corner, I live in the Attic?
Thursday 14 February, 2002
So either we have to explain it better to Bank #1 or get a different bank, or go through a contractor for the sake of the bank. They aren't biting yet.
We've put up some more photos of Hearthwood, along with the photo illustration to the left.
Monday 11 February, 2002
Assuming the bank takes a month or so for the loan application, we're looking at a tentative ship date of 23 March for the dome kit. That means we'll need help unloading it. That's a Saturday, and since the truck is too big to come through the RxR tunnel, we'll need to unload it (I'm currently arranging where) and then load it into pickup trucks to transport to the site, some 2 miles away.
We'll be sending out an email when we find out the date for sure, so if you'd like to help and you don't get one, let us know by emailing us on the contact page.
We'll probably only need four people, but that means four all day, so if it turns out to be four who show up and can help in the morning, then four who show up later to help in the latter half of the day, so be it. We've got two pick-up trucks already, and could probably use two more.
Assuming THAT date sticks, we're also looking at a 13 April (also a Saturday) date for the dome raising. That will entail the work of six able-bodied folks to help the people from Oregon Dome, Inc., who will be assembling the dome.
For both dates, please bring a pack lunch, and we'll provide hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner, along with soda and water.
Friday 8 February, 2002
We're set to hear from the County by the 19th of February. WHEN we get approved, we'll immediately begin clearing and grading the site, as well as clear for NOVEC's electric line.
We've just about finished the budget (95%) and are submitting our loan application next Wednesday.
Friday 1 February, 2002
Triple R Construction has the septic bid. I've been studying plumbing.
I've put up Grump's 87th birthday video on the movies page.
We sent off the proper info to NOVEC for temp electric hookup, and the plat off to the Land lawyers and Walsh & Colucci for recording a deed on it.
Wednesday 23 January, 2002
I've submitted the grading plans, so now they are officially undergoing review.
The County has thrown a small curve ball at us: as of July 1, 2001, all projects require the person overseeing the land disturbance (read, building stuff) must have a certificate of compliance issued by the Dept. of Conserrvation and Recreation, the "E&S Responsible Land Developer Program."
Apparently it's not too hard to get one though, and it can be got online for $75 by answering a 25 question test. The County needs this before final approval to build can be issued.
Triple R Construction almost has a bid on the Septic tank and drainfield installation.
Ground Water, Inc. has gotten back with a bid on the Well Drilling.
Tuesday 22 January, 2002
Civil Engineering Firm2 has just called me to say I need to submit the plans to the county myself, as there are about 18 signature blocks requiring my autograph. Tomorrow I guess, b/c the County closes in 15 minutes.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Managment Agency) has approved the official update to our plat, noting that our building space is out of the floodplain, contrary to their previous map. That will help tremendously when the banks underwriters look at our loan request.
We'll probably have to get our "hold harmless" letter (letter holding the county harmless in the event of a flood, wherein the county can't get to us with their rescue vehicles) recorded in a deed and notarized. We'll wait on that until we know what, beyond what we've written, it needs to say in legalese, exactly.
We've received an estimate for the well drilling-about $11K. We're now awaiting an estimate for the septic tank and drainfield installation.
We're still looking at Mid-February for approval from the County on the plans.
A scan of the grading plan and the elevation of the dome on the plans page this evening...
Upward and Onward!
Thursday 18 January, 2002
I've just picked up the approved plans from the Health Dept, paid their fee, and dropped them at Civil Engineering Firm2's box at Plan Control. Civil Engineering Firm2 will submit them for County review tomorrow. Hopefully approval in mid-February! Yay!
A new iMovie on the movies page as well. Check it out.
Monday 14 January, 2002
Happy New Year!
Either the plans are at the Health Dept. or at the Herrity Building, having passed the Health Dept. Either way, we're running a tad late. Civil Engineering Firm2 has said mid-February for approval, so that means we dig the footers then.
Of late, we are putting together our budget for application of the construction loan. We're going with Bank #1 (the evil people-seriously! Last months payment for the land was $666.66!) even though they are a pain, b/c they don't require a General Contractor and since we took out the first loan with them, they'll be less stringent and the process will go faster. Less time and money.