Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Progress on the House

Not much specific progress - meaning we haven't started on the foundation or anything, but some stuff is happening.

We have to figure out some tax issues on the mobile home at John's property.  I'm still having trouble figuring out what I need to do to solve this problem, but we cannot move the trailer until we make it legal for demolition or get someone take it off our hands. Legal for demolition - funny concept, huh?

We got our plans for the house from Shelter Kit last week. It is very exciting to see the drawings of the house. I gave a copy to John and to Randy, the contractor. I made some extra copies for me and Carlton. 

Here is the street side view of the house.
After seeing the house from this view, we will probably add a shed dormer on the front side to provide more visual interest and to improve the light upstairs. We will also probably add 1-2 more windows on this side of the house in the enclosed porch called the "Cat Porch". This area will be a conditioned space which will be as "catproof" as we can make it. "Catproof" means impervious to all the aggravating things that cats do which is clearly impossible. Probably should be renamed "Cat-Resistant".
The other thing I did was to post a question about my proposed wall assembly on my favorite website, Green Building Advisor and asked for advice about the effectiveness of the assembly in terms of R-value and humidity control. I got pretty good positive feedback. I was worried that perhaps my relatively vapor open assembly would allow humidity to be transmitted INTO the house during the humid months of the summer. And it may, but it's still going to be much better than any house I've ever seen in terms of control of heat and vapor through the walls. I posted a drawing on the design of the wall assembly in February.

Tomorrow is running around to the DMV (for help with getting a permit to be rid of the trailer) and to the Greenville County Tax office (for help with getting a permit to be rid of the trailer). Hope to actually make progress tomorrow. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting Somewhere - the Appalachian Trail and Designing an Energy Efficient House

The title actually refers to 2 different topics - my friends on the Appalachian trail and progress in building the energy efficient home.

First, the Appalachian Trail (AT). Lynn and Mike are now at the Plum Orchard Gap Shelter in Georgia with not much cell phone service so no post tonight or tomorrow on their blog "We Go Traveling". They are getting ready to cross into NC in about 4 miles. They currently are at mile 74 on the 5th day of hiking. Most days they go about 15-16 miles. I know that they hope to average about 20 miles per day so they can easily finish in June, but 15 sounds pretty good to me for starters. It has been pretty cold here in the Southeast compared to the previous 3-4 winters so this sounds like a reasonable pace for experienced hikers.

I just finished "Walking with Spring" by Earl Shaffer, the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He was a poet as well as a hiker. This is what he wrote to the designers of the trail who were having a conference about the trail as he was approaching the end of his journey:

"The flowers bloom, the songbirds sing
And though it sun or rain, 
I walk the mountaintops with Spring
From Georgia north to Maine."

Amazingly, Benton MacKaye, the person who initially conceived of the trail did not think anyone would hike the trail from end to end in one long trek. His goal was to give people all along the trail to access to wilderness. 

So Lynn and Mike are getting somewhere in the their dream to hike the AT and John and I are getting somewhere in our quest to build a decent home for John.

We went to John's bank today to get a construction loan which is something we knew nothing about and are probably seriously delinquent in getting this started. Unfortunately, his bank does not offer construction loans. We went to Greer State Bank where I had the mortgage loan for the Lenore house. They do construction loans, but that means it has to be in my name as well, which I really was trying to avoid. 

Anyway, it does look like we will be able to get a loan, just have to jump through the regular loan application hoops. 

So we are getting somewhere as well, maybe not as fast as Lynn and Mike, but somewhere nevertheless. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Where are we in the house-building process?

Well, I don't know if we have progressed much since the last post other than time passing and getting closer to the April start date. It's been a bizarrely difficult February. Work volume is remains absolutely crazy, more difficult than I ever imagined.

 I did get to do something seriously fun this week though. My friends, Lynn and Mike from Montana started their dream Appalachian trail hike this week. I took them to the start at Springer Mountain, GA. They are hiking with their 2 dogs, Lily and Sara who are great hikers as well. So far they have hiked 2 days, about 15-16 miles each day and are doing really well. Here a few photos:

At the Springer Mountain summit. It was about 30 degrees, windy with little balls of sleet coming down at times.
Lynn looks a little goofy in this photo, but Mike is smiling. 

Lynn is smiling big in this photo, but Mike is a little serious. They were very excited to be on their way.
I will drive their car to Maine sometime in June when they finish and then fly back. So I get to see them at the beginning and the end of their adventure.

Now back to house stuff.

John found out that you have to have the title to get rid of a mobile home which will probably turn into our own adventure because apparently the county doesn't know he lives in a mobile home on his property. That apparently means taxes haven't been paid on the mobile home for ELEVEN years. But it also means he has been paying property taxes at a higher rate than he should which is refundable for 2 years back. We don't really know what the situation is, but we will find out. I am unsure how long the process will take.

We have to get a construction loan and a permit to build a house as well with each thing contingent on something else. We'll figure out the process. We've got good people helping us, mostly Carlton, but Randy is available as well.

I have paid for most of the kit, only one more payment. It is to be delivered in April. I was hoping for April 8th, but that may be naive since we don't even have a title so we can move the possum-filled mobile home.

We'll figure it out.