…Is how long the process had taken before we were able to actually build. We began this whole thing in a real way on July 20th of 2008 when we put in an offer on our little piece of land, eight months later after multiple ordeals with the bank (which I’ll probably go into later) in the middle of a collapsing economy, we finally closed… And a little more than three months after that we have a building permit and will be starting construction in a matter of days.
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Passive House in the News
This week there was a rather prominent story about efficient housing. The Willamette Week’s cover story “Futurehous” is all about the Passive House standard. And more specifically about Root Design Build’s passive house that they are building this summer in Hood River. There is a small but somewhat obsessed Passive House community in Portland, Root’s house in Hood river is likely going to be the first completed in the region followed by another five or six in the next couple years with ours potentially being one of them. Read the rest of this entry »
Permits Under Way
Exciting day today. We got plans in to the permit office… So they’re now sitting around waiting to be looked at by various plans examiners. For those of you who are familiar with the process: second screen is now intake. That saved me some time. For those not familiar with the permit process in Portland, its a usually a somewhat bureaucratic process of being shuffled between desks. You check in at the first screen where they time stamp a card that tells everyone how long you’ve been waiting and then slip your card in the “A” box… There are a series of boxes for each department. A is for second screen, I think B is Planning and Zoning, and beyond that there is transportation and a couple others ending with Life Safety. When a plans examiner is free, they go check the box and call whoever has been there the longest. With most projects Second Screen will give you a permit number and tell you which people you need to talk to, then you work your way from desk to desk with your last stop at Life Safety. At that point if its a simple project like a kitchen remodel or a tenant improvement you might get a permit over the counter, but any that require engineering or anything tricky will go to intake for more careful review… Thats where our house is right now, but because they changed up the process for single family residences, I went to second screen and that was that. For the first time in months, I actually don’t have much to do on the house plans, right now its time to wait until plans examiners get back to me with check sheets asking for corrections or clarifications.
Next step is to apply for our System Development Charge (SDC) exemption. The Portland Development Commission (PDC) has a program aimed at creating affordable housing for low income individuals. For a typical residence in the city of Portland, permits can run upwards of $20,000, and about $12,000 of that are SDCs… Effectively a tax that helps pay for city infrastructure like water and parks. To help get more low income housing built, PDC has a program that can exempt you from SDCs. Primarily aimed at developers, it allows for those exemptions if the builder / developer agrees to sell only to people who earn less than median family income. We meet that criteria (especially this year) and are hoping to take full advantage of any help we can get.
New York loves our contractor and his food
In other news - the New York Times had an article this Sunday about visiting Portland on a Budget, and our contractor’s crêperie was featured in a little video and slideshow. Next time you’re biking home after a late night out, swing by 12th and Hawthorne and grab a crêpe at Perierra Crêperie.
Openning Night for Perierra Crêperie