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.

Windows
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.

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