Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Field in the forest


Insert Tank Here

Wednesday June 27th

The septic field has been installed which consists of 10 concrete end-fed chambers and today the concrete holding tank will be set. We've encountered ledge in many spots but have enough cover to make the tank work. We’ll have to shift the foundation slightly to the west to miss a stubborn knob of granite near the boys’ bedrooms but we’re hopeful that will be the only ledge under the building.

I’ll be setting the height for the top of foundation wall this weekend in preparation for the concrete form-work arriving next week. We’re doing our best to marry the building with the site grading, but given the overall length of 80' it’s a challenge. We have about 38” of natural drop-off from one end of the building to the other and need to swale the water around the house to maintain proper drainage. Ideally, we would be dropping the east end of the building (the boys’ bedrooms) by a couple of feet to keep the west end from becoming a ship’s prow sticking out of the earth. Foundation contractors love dropping 8’ foundations in 4’ holes, which makes their work easier but means a lot more fill to hide the walls. It also means steps to get into the house. We’re trying to preserve the house’s connection to the land by closely tying the existing grades to the imposed order of the house and minimize the amount of fill required.

Next week, foundation. Perhaps.

Friday, June 22, 2007 the void

Driveway Entrance
Approaching the house site

Septic field ahead, Sig to left

Laying out the septic field

After signing our contract last Saturday morning, June 16th, I arrived on Tuesday evening to stack some logs to find the silt fence placed at the perimter of the building site. A phone call from our builder Wednesday morning asking for the building permit assured us they were ready to begin work.

Thursday they roughed in the driveway, grubbed out (removed the stumps) the foundation site and began prepping the septic field. The boys and I made a trip over Friday morning to watch the excavator and met Bruce and 'Duke'. I was politely told that my rather large brush piles would be in the way when they started excavating for the foundation. Coincidentally (wink-wink), Duke owns a chipper and has just enough time in his schedule on Sunday to chip up the piles. After researching how much a chipper rental would cost ($250 + fuel + my time), I decided a not-to-exceed price of $500 to chip everything was a worthy investment. His offer to trade for firewood was less than generous so I decided to keep it for our own use.

Fun with dirt

Henning ran into the forest saying, "He's coming up here, he's coming up here!" when the excavator started up, Sig just kept eating gravel.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Permit, check.

Three permits actually, building permit, driveway opening permit, and the subsurface wastewater disposal permit (septic system). There are others of course, but no more that we need to coordinate. The plumber will pull his permit when he begins work inside, no electrical permits as is typical in most locales, though the CEO (code enforcement officer) checks for basic National Electrical Code compliance. We're happy to have crossed this hurdle, having checked with the CEO prior to purchasing the land to be sure we could place the house where we wanted to place it, we assumed it was merely a formality but there was an outside chance that something was missed during the intial evaluation.

Had we chosen to let our contractor pull the building permit for us we would've spent an extra $420. The process is straightforward, if you can handle registering your car, you shouldn't have any trouble pulling a building permit, you certainly don't need any special drawing skills, napkins are even acceptable.

Step 1: Any designed septic system will be accompanied by the necessary three copies for CEO approval and will have complete information that the State of Maine requires. You'll pay between $300-400 for the septic design but this is money well spent as the requirements for this permit are specific and tedious. You'll receive the design in triplicate ready for your signature and submission.

Step 2: Building permit application. Find your tax map and lot number, the CEO can then tell you the zoning district you reside in. Each zone has different requirements for setbacks make sure you comply with every single one of these standards. Small lots are usually more problematic in this regard.

Step 3: Driveway opening permit. Fill out the fee, and they have to grant you at least one entrance permit. They'll check the road width and length and be sure you're in compliance with their standards. If your driveway is long beware, you may have to build a much wider road to allow fire vehicles passing space. Sitework is a significant expense so making a road wider by just a few feet will cost a lot of money.

If you have wetlands on your property, be sure to consult with the DEP and your local CEO. The more information you have and they have the smoother the process will go...and get absolutely everything in writing you'll need it. We had no trouble communicating wetland information to the CEO after meeting with the DEP and getting a letter from them stating the outcome of that meeting.

Our next step...sign the contract with our builder and wait for the trucks to arrive.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Blue skies

Ready for the earthwork to begin

Thanks to many hours of hard work from our friends and three weekends worth of work, we've managed to carve out enough room in the forest to place our house. Until our builder arrives and tells us that we haven't left nearly enough room for their equipment to manuever. Our thanks to Uncle John, Patrick, Gareth & Fengyun for your hours in the forest helping us get the project off and running.

Felling trees without the aid of a chainsaw is considerable work.

After one trip to the hardware store to purchase a wedge, hand axe and a handsaw and one-half hour of hand-cutting, this tree succumbed to gravity.

This doesn't need a caption.