The other day, our contractor came by to present his first draft of the contract, the official document that would legally obligate him to the work, and us to the financial obligation.
It wasn't as dauntingly legal as I thought it would be. It's pretty straightforward and there are only a couple of minor edits we'll want to make on it.
The other thing that was interesting was the payment schedule. Instead of forking over a huge wad of funds after some major milestone, like when the foundation is poured, or the framing is complete, he's suggesting a weekly payment, and at which point he'll also provide receipts for materials, and we reimburse. That seems fair.
He mentioned that he has a couple of small projects on his radar between now and our anticipated August 1st start date, but he is reserving the rest of the year to us, which he considers his top priority project. He's also turned away other work in anticipation of our job.
We also learned that there will be a fence around the property, even though previously he mentioned we wouldn't need it. This isn't so bad, since it will shield us from the rest of the neighborhood a bit, and it may even lend itself to allowing a semi-permanent black water connection to the cleanout on the driveway. Since he, and most likely his crew, will be coming over from Scotts Valley every day, he will be leaving an enclosed, lockable trailer at our job site. It will be full of his tools and other material needed for the job, and that way, he doesn't need to cart it over the summit every day. And the fence provides a bit more protection for it all.
We all hung out for over an hour and a half, going over the draft contract, but also chatting about lots of other things. Still, after this meeting, we still feel pretty good about our choice of contractor.
This past Friday, 01 June, I had a couple hours to head downtown again to the Building Department. Things went much more smoothly this time around.
I filled out the application, waited for my name to be called, then took my plans and calcs to the counter. The lady walked through them, filling out more information on the application as she went. The one small hiccup was that the additional square footage going into the garage wasn't accounted for on the Technical Information side bar. A quick call to the designer's office confirmed it was a mistake on their part, and the lady got the info she needed, and totaled up the cost. I was on my way to the cashier, and my plans were on their way through the system.
Now, the six to eight week clocks starts ticking. It's for real now. The to-do list we've been compiling HAS to get done before mid to late July. And we have a week away for Independence Day already scheduled.
Better go get busy.
UPDATE: Regarding the truss calculations, we did get our contractor's preferred truss manufacturer, an outfit out of Watsonville, and they now have our plans and should be providing the calcs real soon now. And no, this requirement didn't even come up at the Building Dept; that's probably why I was able to submit the package!
Sorry we've been away for the last couple weeks. We even got outta town for a mid-week camping trip week before last. But there's lot to catch up on.
On Monday, 21 May, I took the package down to the county. I didn't know what I was doing, and the Planning Dept and the Building Dept are right next to each other, on the seventh floor of the county office building; they practically share a counter.
Not knowing where to begin, I figured that Planning comes before Building, and the Planning counter actually had someone working it. Put my name down and waiting a few minutes for my turn. I have to say, the gentleman who worked with me was very helpful and worked hard to educate me on the process.
He wasn't too terribly creative, though, and almost sent me on a goose chase through the surveyor's and the assessor's offices. Reason for that was the book that laid out the parcel had an error, and he couldn't find my street. What he was trying to check for was if we had something called Building Site Approval. After spending a good 45 minutes working on finding our parcel, I wanted to completely understand the process he was going to send me into, so I repeated my understanding. After acknowledging I had a good grasp of my task, I made mention that the neighbors directly across the street, a couple years ago, and the neighbor directly next door, last year, both went through extensive remodels without issues.
Glad I said that!
The comment must have changed his thought pattern in his head somewhat, and he decided to take a different tact. Specifically, he decided to look in a different (older) book. And therein lied the answer! Turns out, someone had marked in that one book the correct information, exactly what he was looking for. A hurdle was overcome, and it was (mostly) smooth sailing from there.
The only issue they Planning Dept folks had was that the driveway wasn't shown on the site plan, and the measurements of the garage weren't explicitly called out. The county seems really concerned about parking. Single family residences need to have at least one covered parking spot, either garage or carport. They must be concerned about the long term health of your auto paint job. The property also must have one additional paved parking spot, which is usually the driveway.
Everything else in the plans looked good, but they recommended I go home and get the plans fixed to show the parking solutions.
But, while I was there, I might as well have someone in the Building Dept spot check my plans in case they had issues with the plans. So I moved over to the other end of the counter.
At the Building Dept side, I was helped by a guy who seemed to know what he was doing, but didn't really look like a county employee. More like a 50-something Parrothead/biker. He was willing to answer questions, though, which is good.
He pulled out his checklist and we went through it, one by one.
One: At least two copies of the plans. Check.
Two: Paper size must not be more than 24 by 36 inches. Ruler was pulled from the drawer and revealed we were dealing with 24 by FORTY TWO inches! Egads! As he pointed to a printout sign tacked up to the wall behind him repeating this requirement, he said it's a new rule and can't be broken. So that would have to get fixed before we could go further.
But, he was kind enough to walk through the rest of the plans, going down the checklist. On the list were things like a framing plan, a roof plan, electrical plan, Title 24 information, truss calculations, engineer's calculations.... Wait, truss calcs? Uh oh, another one. Put it on the list.
Let's see, we have...
- garage dimensions
- paper size
- truss calcs
But for the most part, these were the only deficiencies. The plans, they remarked, were pretty straightforward and well done, so if these relatively minor infractions could be corrected, things should sail on through the process.
Afterwards, I called the architect back, and boy, he was not happy about the paper size. Says granted, it's a custom size, but he's successfully been using it for twenty years, and for good reason: If there are two stories on the plans, both will fit on a single page while still using the same quarter inch to one foot scale. But, since we got turned down, he would have to redo them, but couldn't justify charging us for the work since it wasn't our fault.
Another week to get a new set of plans, get them signed/stamped by the engineer, then we try again.
We had a great time telling the story of being turned away by the County because of paper size. It's the perfect government bureaucracy tale, heh heh.