House Update #2


Subject: House Update #2

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 08:28:36 -0700

From: David Barto <>

June 9, 1998

House, part 2.

Grading in the road was interesting. At about $500 per hour, it was expensive also. When the grading started, the contractor who is building the house next door, came walking down the hill, saying "Money, money, money, money." He thought it was funny, and we did laugh at the time. The bill, a little later, was not so funny.

All the time we have been walking up to the property, we have been passing a lump of rock, which was on the property line between us and Betty 'next door'. As a result, it was always called Betty's Rock. When the D6 cat got up there, it dropped its big claw at the back, pulled forward, and just stopped. After trying again from a different angle, it backed off and the operator got the D3 catapiller operator over, and they talked about it. They then used the smaller D3 to move some of the dirt from around the 'small' rock, to make it easier to move. When they had dug 12 feet down, and about 6 feet around the rock, we found that it was as big as a VW mini van. Using the D3, they broke it up into about 4 pieces, and have pushed it to a spot where we can use the parts as 'decoration'.

After getting the rock out of the way, they proceeded to finish grading the road. This involved using what is called a 'Motor Grader.' You see these things around large construction sites. They scoop up large amounts of dirt in place A, and transport it to dump it at place B. Very expensive to operate, and very interesting to watch. (I've got some video tape of operation and it is interesting to watch. I've got some pictures of the rock being un-buried, and those are interesting also.)

Right after we have smoothed out the road, and made a nice road bed, we tore up sections to put in the water pipes. 2" pipes because the fire department required them. After we got those in, we did an environmental report.

Ever hear of the gnatcatcher? This bird stops all construction between Feb 14, and August 1. We have 2 nesting pairs on the property next door. This forces the people next door to, possibly, be in the position to purchase land to augment their 5 acres in order to build. Silly huh?

Hear of El Nino? Yes, we got a lot of rain in the fall, and that delayed the paving of the road. The delayed paving allowed the rain to put large ruts in the very expensive road bed.

The gnatcatcher comes into the story here. Since we were delayed in paving the road, we couldn't build as fast as we wanted. Then the 'drop dead' date of Feb 14 happened, and we couldn't build anyway. We got time to make sure we were completely happy with everything, and were not pushed. This gave us time to get a few bucks set aside for the Water Meter.

We submitted a request for the water meter, and after the $500 application fee was taken from our hands, they said, "wait." After 4 weeks the Poway City council sat in session and approved our water meter. It cost $270 for the 1" meter required. The hookup fees are an additional $7000, and the meter will be installed in about 2 weeks.

After quite a bit of work, the house plans were completed. They have changed, in some places quite a bit from anything which had been drawn before. If you have seen the older plans, you have a pretty good idea of the final design, but more windows have been added.

All the windows in total, add up to just 25% of the wall area. (Although in one place there is more than 12 feet of continuous floor to ceiling glass, with no walls to interrupt it.) Since all the glass is concentrated on the east side of the house, we passed the California energy efficiency check, called Title 24. The tile floor, and the rock fireplace in the center of the house helped.

The house plans were setup for submission to the city, and the preliminary grading plans were drawn up to go with them. The package for the city was about 10" in height. This included 6 sets of the house plans, and 6 sets of the grading plans, because each of the city council members must have their own set. (Apparently they don't share well.) Along with that, we provided a diorama of the house, colored in, along with samples of the ledger stone for the fireplace, some of the cedar for the siding, a couple of pieces of the roof tiles, (we are using 2 tile colors mixed together), and a piece of the highlight trim, painted. All glued to a foam core board. When we presented this to the clerk at the desk in the city engineering department, she said how nice it looked. There was the unspoken, but present in her voice, quality that this was expected, but not required. I know that if we had not had one, she would have asked where it was.

Even after going over the Minor Developmental Review Application (MDRA) about 50 times, we still missed submitting in the Title Insurance policy. Katherine ran that down, and they seem happy now.

After the City Council sits in session to approve our house plans, we can then apply for the grading permit. That application can take up to 3 months to be approved, but doesn't need the City Council to approve it. In fact after the MDRA has been approved, we don't have to deal, directly at least, with the City Council again.

The worst case start date, now, is Nov 1. It could move out if the developer building next door doesn't get his act together, and get his plans in to the City Council for approval. If it moves out past Nov 1, then we are looking at the rainy season again, and that darn gnatcatcher Feb 14 date.

Things move slowly sometimes, and yet sometimes you just wonder at where the time went. We are making progress, and I'll send out another missive when more work has been done.



David Barto

From a Marketing type:

Don't give me any technical reason why something can't be done.

If you really believed in the product you'd make it work.

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