We finally have some tangible progress happening with the house construction. Yesterday I went out and met with the excavator with our contractor. Most of our conversation had to do with organic gardening, but the exciting new thing to show off is that our contractor and excavator marked out where the footprint of our house is going to be. Its small, but pretty wonderful to be able to go out and have a much better sense of where everything is. The big realization though is the deck location… The first floor is actually five feet above the height of our lot and because of where our deck sticks out, it pokes right in to the canopy of our Tulip Tree and will be a nice little leafy perch. Earlier in the week was the first little step though, our contractor put up the orange fence you can see on the side of our lot. Its a protection fence around the giant tulip tree that is just off the corner of our lot. When the land division was finally approved in February, one of the provisions of that is that we need to protect that tree during construction. So a few weeks ago our contractor and I met with the city’s urban forester to discuss tree protection and decided that putting up that fence roughly 20 feet from the tree (underneath the edge of the canopy) was the way to go.
There was a little missed communication in the process though. I added the temporary protection fence to our site plan and sat around for a while waiting for the forester to sign off… Finally I asked him what was going on and found out that he was expecting us to put up the fence ahead of time and was waiting for that to happen before approving anything. So anyways, easy enough, Dustin went out and put up a fence and we got approval.
Native Street Trees
The other bit of tree news is that the forester marked on our plans that near the corner along SE 17th we will need to plant a new street tree from the 6 - 8 ft without power lines list (6 - 8 feet being the width of our planting strip) and on SE Ash we will need to plant something from the 3 - 3 1/2 foot with power lines list. The 3 - 3 1/2 foot one was a relatively easy decision and we plan on going with a Black Hawthorne… The 6 - 8 foot one was a little tricky though because oddly enough, there are no native trees on the list. We were considering planing a sugar maple just so that we could tap it for syrup… But we weren’t really sold on that because maples are easily the most common street tree in our neighborhood. There aren’t really better options on the list though because everything on it is either a trademarked product, or native to the Northeastern US.
Friends of Trees has an interesting little chart on a page reminding you that street trees need to be watered during the summer. The chart shows that Portland has a very dry summer and that trees need increased water during that dry summer. This is because there are so many street trees native to places like Pennsylvania which has relatively wet summers and dry winters, trees native to Oregon however are adapted to the dry summers. In addition to more responsible water usage, there was an interesting segment on NPR’s Science Friday a few weeks ago where another point was brought up - Native plants can host many many times more animals and insects. So in effect, non native street trees provide no more food or habitat for local wildlife than pavement does. We then looked at the 8 1/2 foot street tree list, which as it turns out is full of natives, and asked if we would be able to plant an Oregon White Oak, that selection was given the go ahead so thats the plan.
More Ecoroof and Permit Updates
We got our Operations and Maintenance agreement for the ecoroofs completed and recorded with the county. BES signed off on Friday, leaving structural as the last signature that we need before permits are issued. We turned in our response to the structural checksheet early in the week, and if everything is resolved we should have permits next week… If not, it may be a few more weeks. Our other little bit of progress with the city this week was with PDC, our system development charge exemptions are in, so we are very thankful to have less in the way of permit fees.