Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pre-Construction Part 2

May 31, 2011

A series of 'how to' pieces, by Rob Abbott, as printed in the Muskoka Sun. 

 Though Noah managed with much less, in order to get the requisite building permit, you'll need more than scribbles and shapes on a sheet of lined loose-leaf; you need a professional set of plans. These plans, the heating, ventilation, and plumbing designs and layouts also have prepared.
Photo of the Bala Build, 2010/2011

Depending on the municipality, however, you may also need to obtain other specialized designs, such as site grading and electrical layout. More importantly, these must be provided by certified designers with a specific BCIN, the acronym this refers to being something nobody ever uses.
Sometimes, one designer will be certified to provide all these designs, but that's often not the case.

 With an unlimited budget, there is always a way to put that big soaker spa tub cantilevered form the gable near the widow's walk, but most of us don't have the option of writing “make it so” on a cheque. So you need to find your certified designer(s) and ideally, heating, plumbing and electrical contractors and start the compromising and trade-offs to hone in on a design.

 Start with a Preliminary Design, showing the overall dimensions and location of the rooms. Here is where an experienced designer can really help out and save you some time and money. She or he will consider the routing of plumbing and heating lines when laying out this preliminary design. They can also advise you on things like window sizes and placement.

The current fashion is to have very large windows. While these are nice to look at and out, typical windows have a heat loss resistance (R) value of about R 2 – R 3. Wall construction has a minimum R 20. So those big, beautiful wall to wall windows are going to be letting out a lot of your heating dollars in the winter and can make you feel like a double-naught spy strapped to the focal point of a death beam in the summer.

Furniture placement within a room is something to be mindful of in the design. Where is that 2-meter-sized plasma screen going to go and are you going to be able to see it from your napping couch?

Again, an experienced designer can help you avoid fung-s*%t.

Preliminary Design
 Construction details and methods need to be worked out in this Preliminary Design, even though they aren't necessarily shown on these initial drawing, thing such as the type of foundation, how are the walls to be constructed, insulation materials and levels, are engineered trusses being used, all impact the design.
 With a Preliminary Design, you can then consult with your heating, and plumbing designers or contractors. Again, draw from their experience, they can often suggest helpful modifications. You don't want to wind up with a large heating duct or toilet trap scalping the top of your head as it ducks under a major supporting beam. It may take many iterations of the Preliminary Design before you can hone in on a plan you're satisfied with. This is where the computer trumps the drafting board. These changes, and printouts, thereof, can be made relatively quickly and easily.

 With a finalized Preliminary Design, you can now set your designer preparing a full set of Construction Plans, and your heating, ventilation and plumbing designs, that have all the necessary details to obtain a Building Permit and to build the home.

In the meantime, while your Construction Plans are being prepared, the finalized Preliminary Design can be used for discussion with other specialized trades and suppliers: electrical contractor, roofers, lumber yards, window and door suppliers, excavators and masons.

Other necessary permits, such as Entrance Permits, water, sewer and utility connections permits can be applied for at this time.

 Paper cuts, laryngitis and carpal-tunnel are the biggest hazards.

 ~Rob is a Habitat For Humanity Muskoka volunteer, director and Build Committee Chair.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pre-Construction Part 1

There is a whole lot of work that needs to be done before the first shovel gets leaned on while 4 others stand around drinking coffee and watching. In fact, I think just as much time is spent making the preparations than during physical construction. The list of preparatory tasks and details are long, but I'll try to cover some of the major and some often missed ones.

  Talk The Talk – oral foreplay leads to a good build-up. People love to talk and gossip. You know that sooner or later your project is going to be the talk of the town; you might as well talk to the Town.

Arrange to sit down and meet with the planning department. Find out what the zoning is and the setbacks and restriction imposed by those. Describe you plans for a building and they can tell you what you will need.

  Talk to the District. They are responsible for some of the roads and water and sewer connections.
  Talk to the local councillor. Find out what the sensitive issues are. Explain your plans and find out what the sensitive issues are.
  Talk to the neighbours. Not only for the juicy gossip, but for the dirt on the dirt. Your neighbours are likely to know what lies beneath. This is particularly important when building on the Canadian Shield, where what appears to be a grassy knoll is a big piece of schist or an abandoned septic tank under a Muskoka meadow (a lesson I learned the hard way on a previous build).

Inform them what your plans are. 
Learning that that vacant lot they've always known is going to turn into a semi-detached home when they receive a multi-page official re-zoning and variance application in the mail, or an excavator and dump trucks arrive at 7 am one morning, isn't very neighbourly. In our case we went door to door introducing ourselves and talking to the neighbours. We also gave a letter and invited them to contact us.

  Talk may be cheap, but it's valuable. 
With all this talking we learned:
• Our project was consistent with the planning objectives for the town
• We needed to have the lot re-zoned to allow for a semi-detached home, plus a minor variance because unless we demolished the existing garage on the lot we could be slightly over the allowable lot coverage area.
• Being on a District road, we were limited to a single shared driveway. On our lot this meant we had to shift the location of the building both back on the lot to allow room for parking.
• Because we were going to sever the property once the homes were built, we would need a new separate water and sewer connection.
 • In our case there was some major concern over a proposed higher density development in the neighbourhood. Re-zoning for a multi-unit dwelling could be a concern.
• While we would have to decommission an abandoned well, we would likely only encounter stones excavating the foundation, not bedrock.
• Some of the neighbours expressed an interest in volunteering to help with the build. With this information we were able to refine our budget and design and when it came to the Town Council for approval of our Re-Zoning and Variance, there was no opposition and unanimous approval by the councillors.

 ~Rob is a Habitat For Humanity Muskoka volunteer, director and Build Committee Chair.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity: Delta Muskoka Resorts Build

 With great excitement, Habitat for Humanity Muskoka is launching a new build. Last year’s project in Bala, these photos are from the Patty Parson’s Build, demonstrated that many hands make light work.

Many are needed for a build. From those who put hammer to nail with great flair, to those who sweep up debris. In between are many who pick up materials, deliver recyclables to the Restore.
There are other ways to help, as well. Food is delivered to the volunteers. Local restaurants and church groups donate food. There are coffee breaks, with delightful surprises for all.

Some are required to organize the volunteers, some lift hammer and nail, others help with fundraisers. The most onerous jobs are site supervisors, obtaining building permits, fencing, and the ubiquitous portapotties, then preparing daily logs, volunteer requirements, and establishing a ‘To Do’ list for each day’s work! We have been blessed with excellent site supervisors in Muskoka.

Volunteers range from those with much experience to very little. A job can be found for everyone who wishes to give back to their community.

The most fun, however, over the course of the build was seeing people from workplaces who take a day to work with one another. The YouTube videos demonstrate a lively spirit. Never mind Team Building activities - just put a group together and spend a day helping a family spend their days in a home they are helping to build. They call it ‘sweat equity’! All families are required to participate, and many find that brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers participate.

Chosen families are required to buy the homes. Their mortgage is geared to income. At the end of the build is a moving ceremony in which the recipient family accepts their home.

I visited the Patty Parsons Bala Build (2010 – 2011) almost daily, taking photos of participants and putting it into a blog. You can watch the progress of the build here, as well as the links to the videos. Final work is being done on this properties: final landscaping and outdoor work that was impossible during the winter. 
The generosity of spirit is heartwarming. Please consider donating some of your time and energy to this build. 
If you can spare it, Habitat for Humanity always accepts donations.

For more information please contact:
Ellen Frood, Executive Director
Habitat for Humanity Muskoka

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bala Build Patty Parsons Project

Construction Daily Log, Patty Parsons Build

Date: May 9, 2011

Rob Abbott reporting

On Site:
Site Supervisor: Rob Abbott
Volunteers: Super Nan, Brian McDonald, and Bill Niece.

Daily Log: The January weather and deep snow wasn't exactly conducive to yard work and landscaping at the Bala homes, so we had to postpone a number of outside jobs for this build. Howard is unavailable this week so the barrel bottom was scraped for a supervisor for the site today.
Sunburn and blackflies were the biggest hazards today.

We loaded up my trailer (with my spiffy new tow-vehicle with thrice the horsepower and even a back seat) with a quarter-ton of debris from the site, plus about the same in re-usable lumber and recyclable metal for the ReStore. We finished by 10 AM and went to Brian's home for coffee.

I then went on my usual trailer trip for the rest of the day unloading the trailer at the dump and ReStore, and loading up and delivering the sign frame to Muskoka Signs.

Action/Follow-Up Items:

  • Schedule Scott Glover to re-grade – Rob
  • Order lumber for fence – Rob
  • Source contractor to repair porches – Rob and Brian

Next Days/Week Plan:
TuesdayWed TBD – possibly re-grading by Scott
Thursday or Friday, TBD – I'll see about renting a brush saw, and clear out all those tag alders and sumacs and take them to the dump.

Volunteer Requirements: None until Scott is finished, but I may need some help dragging brush.

Materials/Tools: Rent a brush saw.

Media Advisory - Delta Muskoka Resorts Build

Habitat for Humanity Muskoka launches the public phase of a three-year, $1 Million Building Homes, Building Hope, Gravenhurst Fundraising Campaign Muskoka Ontario, May, 2011 – Habitat for Humanity Muskoka’s $1 million project for the building of affordable homes in Gravenhurst for 8 – 10 families over the next three to five years is under way.

 ...and the good news Habitat is almost half way there to the $1 million goal!

 A number of significant gifts to the Campaign to be received over the next three years were revealed at today’s Launch:
• The land valued at $120,000 is already bought and paid for by Habitat for Humanity Muskoka
• Habitat for Humanity Muskoka has designated $250,000 from its general funds and proceeds from the ReStore
• Habitat for Humanity Canada will supply $150,000 worth of building materials, appliances and fixtures
That leaves:
• $200,000 in donated labour from the people of Gravenhurst and surrounding communities
• $300,000 in cash to be raised from the community over the next three years

 Since Habitat homes are ‘sold’ not given away, 100% of mortgage revenue from homes built in Gravenhurst will be paid to Habitat for Humanity Muskoka’s revolving fund for the construction of more houses in the future. Habitat for Humanity Muskoka is truly grateful for all the outstanding leadership support received to date and we look forward to many more gifts at every level. Habitat welcomes the participation of all our friends in this Campaign to support builds in Gravenhurst.

 About Habitat for Humanity Muskoka 
Habitat for Humanity Muskoka was established as an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity Canada in 2001. Our first home was built in 2003. Habitat for Humanity Muskoka strives to eliminate poverty housing through advocacy, education and partnership with families in need, to build simple, decent affordable housing. Since 2003, ten homes have now been built by Habitat for Humanity Muskoka for families across Muskoka who may not otherwise be able to experience the joys and responsibilities of home ownership. We are excited to be building our 11th and 12th homes in Gravenhurst in 2011 and look forward to the completion of an additional six to eight homes over the next three to five years.

 Through volunteer labour, efficient management and donations of money and materials, Habitat homes are built and sold to partner families at no profit. They are financed with affordable, no interest mortgages, geared to the families' financial circumstances. Habitat for Humanity is not a give-away program. In addition to the mortgage payments, each homeowner contributes 500 hours of unpaid labour into the building of their home and other homes. This is called "Sweat Equity". Sweat equity increase pride of ownership and reduces Habitat's costs.

 Volunteers are absolutely essential to the building of Habitat homes in our community,” said Ellen Frood, executive director, Habitat for Humanity Muskoka. “Because of our volunteer’s hard work and dedication, Habitat for Humanity Muskoka has been able to transform the lives of 10 families by providing them with access to homeownership. And with the help of a small army of volunteers, we will build our new homes in Gravenhurst in the summer of 2011. Going forward this small army will contribute to the building of an additional six to eight homes.

 But in order to reach the goal we need $300,000 in cash donations from the community 

 There are many ways you can contribute to the campaign. And remember no gift is too small.
Consider some of the following:
• Challenge your co-workers to join together to raise money – bring your company out to volunteer and support an ‘Adopt A Build’ day. Seek sponsors from your contacts to support the day.
• Challenge your peers to join you in supporting the Campaign by matching your gift
• Hold a ‘Nickels for Nails’ fundraising drive (see how much spare change you can collect)
• Invite your neighbours to a community Habitat fundraising BBQ
• Challenge your book club, hockey club, dart league, walking or bike club to hold a fundraiser
• Bake pies and sell them ( a small Edmonton community of 3.000 raised $100,000 selling pies)
• Hold a golf tournament or fundraising dinner or other event...use your imagination and have fun!

 Join together – let’s all take our hats off for humanity...let’s all work together to break the cycle of poverty through the building of affordable homes, one house at a time.

 For more information on how you can help, please contact: 
Ellen Frood
Habitat for Humanity Muskoka 705-646-0106, ext. 6 or ellen@habitatmuskoka.com

Groundbreaking Part 3

Partner families for the Delta Muskoka Resorts Build - on left of sign - 
Emily and family, right side of sign - 
Jennifer, Thomas and family getting ready to "dig in" and begin work on helping to build their homes.

Left to right - HFH Muskoka Board of Directors - Paul Erb, Linda Acton-Riddle, Stan Hiseler, Jane Weiland, Jason Swain. Partner families in front of Habitat sign -  Emily and family, Jennifer and Thomas and family. Far right, Board of Directors - Rev. Paul Dempsey, Rob Abbott, Martha Coburn.

View from the air of Muskoka Beach Road (running left to right near bottom), past water tower on the left bottom corner. The building lot is visible, beside black roof of neighbouring house, right of centre of photo. Linda Acton-Riddle and her husband are our aerial photographers!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7th Groundbreaking, Part 2

Roger, Esa Paltanen, Gerry from Delta Muskoka Resorts 
express their excitement at getting involved in fundraising 
for Habitat Muskoka starting in 2009.

Norm Miller, MPP for Muskoka Parry Sound 
thanking Habitat for giving "a hand up" to families, 
these are the 11 and 12th builds in this area.

Mayor of Gravenhurst, Paisley Donaldson, speaking about the excitement of
once again having a Habitat build in Gravenhurst.

Ellen Frood, Executive Director of HFH Muskoka announcing the Adopt-A-Home Habitat Muskoka project just signed with the steering committee of Parry Sound which plan to build two homes in 2012. She also announced a million dollar campaign for a future Gravenhurst multi-plex project, and explained how through fundraising efforts, donation of construction material through Habitat Canada's Gift-in-Kind program, local donated services from donor companies, and other donations we have already raised over $750,000!

Dr. Gordon E. Riddle - photos

Delta Muskoka Resorts Build - 2011

We had our ground breaking ceremony for the "Delta Muskoka Resorts Build" on Muskoka Beach Rd., in Gravenhurst today, May 7.

 This building project will start when the excavators can get on the site - probably late May. We hope to call on our volunteers in early June.

About 50 people attended - Board members from HFH Muskoka, some staff members, Delta Muskoka resorts representatives, Gravenhurst mayor and councillors, district of Muskoka Chair, designated Habitat partner families, committee members, interested neighbours and keen volunteers. Here are some photos of the exciting event.

Rev. Paul Dempsey,
member of the Habitat Muskoka Board,
speaking about Habitat for Humanity's faith based roots.
Angel, a Habitat partner family member from Bala
 can be seen in the background on the right.
 This building project will start when the excavators can get on the site - probably late May. We hope to call on our volunteers in early June. This will be the eleventh and twelfth Habitat Muskoka homes. Allison (Administrative Assistant) and husband, Jim Merrill playing a medley of tunes on bagpipes to begin the ceremony.

Besides Rob Abbott as Chair of Building, on site we have Vince Tournour, and Mike O’Grady,
Site Supervisors; Doug Paterson, Volunteer Coordinator; and Bernene Jones, Material Manager.

John Klink, Muskoka District Chair spoke as well,
reminding us how Habitat has been so active throughout Muskoka.

Dr. Gordon E. Riddle - photos   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New build in Gravenhurst!

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY MUSKOKA is proud to announce the beginning of a new project.
Building site:
517 & 519 Muskoka Beach Road.
We are doing the groundbreaking for this build on Saturday May 7th at 1:30 p.m. on the build site. Hope you will be able to join us. 
During the ceremony the homeowners will also be officially announced. More than 10 families applied to live in the home. For more information read: Housing issues in Muskoka.

Habitat for Humanity's executive director, Ellen Frood, is proud to announce the 11th Muskoka build.
This is Habitat’s second build in Gravenhurst. Plans are being laid for the construction of a semi-detached dwelling, with two, 900-square-foot raised bungalow units.

Successful families must be deemed in need of affordable housing, be able to repay a Habitat mortgage and contribute 500 hours of sweat equity to the building of the home.

Habitat is also eager for volunteers to contribute to the build, which will take place through the spring and summer. Volunteers are fed, and given snacks by community donors.

If you can help, contact Ellen Frood, at the Habitat for Humanity office.