This has been the busiest week ever. I am amazed at, and in awe of, the house building process. I am also exhausted, but strangely energized. These house building challenges have to be met, or we don’t get a house out of the deal…and we’re too far gone for that!
I have been glued to the phone for the last week, ever since Monday. There has been tears, yes, but there have been so very many wonderful contractors that I have had the pleasure of dealing with on the other end of the line…let’s just say that while this part of the home building project has a very steep learning curve, I am happy and I am rising to the challenge.
Being the type of person who has to know all aspects of a project before diving in, even the most basic task of getting a quote for a basement has been very difficult. Before you can even begin digging, you have to get a building permit. You can’t get a permit until you have architecturally stamped house plans. You then need a site plan drawn up by a surveyor. A site plan is different than a lot grade plan, which as it turns out, the city has already supplied for us. The importance of the lot grade plan is in the grading. That seems obvious, but what it means is that the city takes a damage deposit of a few thousand dollars, and if on completion the site is not graded according to the lot grade plan, the city keeps the damage deposit. There is also a fee for the building permit, but also a land drainage area charge and traffic improvements charge, to the tune of just over $7,000. And then there is the deposit for the tree and sod on the boulevard. I have to pay for the tree and sod, and for the installation, and then I get my deposit back. I am unsure if the excavators can start digging if the mortgage is still in the process of being registered with land titles, but I’m hopeful…because this all had nothing to do with getting the basement quote, but everything to do with what I did on Tuesday morning.
I had been under the impression that my home consultant/materials supplier would have a master list of contractors I could call for quotes. When this turned out not to be the case, I had a teary, hysterical, arm flailing hour (that was Monday morning.) Monday afternoon, I got my act together a little bit, and called my boss and my friend, both of whom have contacts in the business. Then I had a phone call with my Project Manager, which did or did not go well, I am still not sure. But he did send us a quote for labour costs, so that is one more document I can cross reference from. Right. (You have no idea of the snowstorm of paper that is flying around on the kitchen table right now.) Moving on to Tuesday afternoon…I must have felt invigorated by the Customer Application Information form in my posession on Tuesday morning, because I went home and promptly started calling every department in the building supply store that is supplying our materials. Electrical, Flooring, Mechanical (which covers plumbing and heating, I’ve learned). After a few calls, I was transferred to Claude in Contract Sales. Bingo.
Claude (my hero) gave me two names in every trade. He was wonderful, amazing, helpful, and just great. I started calling, not knowing in some instances (hello, basement) exactly what I was supposed to be asking for. (And contractors answer their phone with Hello. They don’t identify themselves.) How does one ask for a basement quote if one does not know how to build a basement? Chadd fielded a phone call from one contractor, and instructed me to ask for garage, piers, basement, basement floor, front steps, and tell them that it is an ICF basement. Trying to understand the elements of the quote has been interesting for every single trade, but the basement has been the most challenging. For example, there are three different kinds of piers. Concrete pounded, concrete cast in place, and steel drilled. Concrete cast in place was what the blueprints called for, but there was an error on the blueprints, and the quote came in with steel drilled instead of concrete. The (very nice) contractor later sent a very nice email stating that he also does concrete piers (also known as piles) and thought that our soil at our site was not suited to steel drilled piles, anyway. But he does not seem to supply the concrete. Since cast in place piers mean that the hole has to be drilled and then the concrete poured into the hole, I now believe that I have to find a contractor to dig the basement hole, another to drill the piers, another to provide the concrete, so that the original basement contractor can get on with the rest of the business of building the foundation so that I can have a basement. I got a quote for the concrete, but I am not sure how much I need, or how 25 MPA GU is different than 25 MPA SR, but there is an $11 difference base price per unit, and I think I need almost 26 cubic meters of concrete just to fill the ICF forms for the basement walls. Right. The piers will need approximately 20 cubic meters, but that includes the footing. The footing, (I think) is the flat piece on top of the piers. (But don’t quote me on that.) And there is more, 28 cubic meters more, because I still need concrete for the basement floor and the garage and those piers! Sheesh. I’ll have to check the plans. Maybe there is a big concrete number written in very small print that I am missing. (Oh, and I may also have to provide sand and backfill in unspecified amounts. Just because.)
After this, any Norwegian knitting pattern will seem so simple…