Moving Forward Fast

I got some responses from the manufacturer of the SIP panels, with answers to my satisfaction. Premier also suggested I apply for the Los Angeles building permit now at the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), as it may take some time. I had prepared drawings for panel manufacturing, but not for submission to the LADBS. I had not made the foundation plan, nor the proper elevation plans. LADBS wants to know what type of finished will be in the interior, exterior, and roof, along with insulation levels.

It took me two weeks to get the complicated drawings prepared, and I hope i can finish the refinement to the plans in three days.

Designing with Nudura

With the new millennium, we get new technology is mobile phones, mobile internet, computers, and cars, but where technology has not touched too much is home building. If I were to tear open the walls of my house, it would expose a dimensional lumber construction style developed in the 19th century. With progress in almost everything else in the world, our built environment must take advantage of the research and materials of the 21st century. I’ve been researching these alternative materials for many years, hoping that production builders would start to use them, but so far no Home Depot or Lowes sells anything other than lumber or concrete blocks as a house building system.

The building comfort level is certainly there, but the experience and details of fine home building are lost on most. My home addition will use the latest in durable, lightweight, and super energy efficient products as a demonstration project to at least document what can be achieved with not too much extra money.

The walls, floors, and roof are compromised of Premier Building Systems structural insulated panels, and today I start my design on a Nudura insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation system. if concrete were not as environmentally taxing, you could make an entire first floor out of concrete, but the manufacture of concrete is extremely environmentally hazardous, taking over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (mining, manufacture, transportation, use). Concrete offers many advantages in seismic areas that no other material allows, so it’s OK to use, but must be use wisely.

Initially I tried getting a manufactured foundation, which is available on the east and central areas of the USA, but the west coast with earthquakes, manufacturers are hesitant to release and certify the product. The next best thing is designing the use of concrete to present its inherent strength and longevity into cavities and forms. This is what an ICF product allows. Just enough concrete for performance, but not excessive amounts, like in a typical foundation system.

More Questions on Rosales Premier Estimate

I’ve reviewed the language in the PBS estimate, and would like a few more clarifications and answers to questions.

  1. I’ve been trying to duplicate the numbers for panel square footage (wall, roof, floor) and can’t seem to get within 20% of the numbers. Does Premier use actual panel size or a fixed panel size (4 x 8, 4 x 12, 4 x 16, etc.) and charge for bulk materials? Will the PBS estimate change markedly after the shop drawings are completed?
  2. There is no mention of electrical chases in the PBS estimate. Are the custom chases in the roof and some wall panels included in the PBS estimate?
  3. I see there is a line item for a spray foam gun and cans. Who is the manufacturer of these products? This project is an attempt at a LEED qualified addition, even though LEED-H is not currently viable for remodeling. I know the mastic is a premier product, but how about the spray foam?
  4. It was not evident in the plans, but I should have requested the roof panels plumb cut at the eaves. According to the estimate, roof panels at the ridge are square cut with a ridge cap at 5:12 pitch. Does this then require a field modification to get the one side 5:12 pitch roof to match the 4:12 pitch other side?

I look forward to your answers and suggestions.

Premier Estimate

Today I got the estimate on the home addition. It falls within 10% of what I was expecting. The house is going to weigh 10,036 pounds, requiring one flatbed truck. The total project is around 400 sq. ft, so it will cost $52 or so per square foot. A typical custom addition costs $150 to $400 per square foot, so we are saving a lot.

I wrote a letter back to Premier:

Thank you for the detailed estimate. It is within the project budget. I’ll review the estimate this weekend and set up the initial shop drawing stage of the order next week. I have a few corrections and questions to the estimate and my account:

The purchaser information has the incorrect city
The project information has the wrong city and zip code. I’ll give you a mobile number I will use at the jobsite too.

My additional questions:

1. What forms of payment does Premier accept (VISA, Discover Card, direct money transfer, check, etc.)?
2. may I e-mail over the signed PBS estimate as a PDF? Or would you like it faxed over?
3. After the shop drawing stage, do I then take those to my LA Building and Safety Department to issue a permit?
4. Jumping into the future: on delivery will I be responsible to offload the panels at the jobsite from the flatbed truck (requiring the use of major material handling equipment)?
5. Do I need to provide all dimensional lumber for window and door openings, top plates, and bottom plate? That is fine since I am planning on using a engineered dimensional lumber from iLevel treated with borates.
6. I forgot to ask if you need a schedule of finishes for the project? Basically the walls will be covered in 1/2 inch gypsum panel, exterior clad in a rainscreen cement board, and roof with metal shingles. I can send you a complete list if it is required.

Let me know if you need to resend the PBS estimate with the corrections noted above. I am excited to finally build this SIP project. Thank you.

Deconstruction Begins

On the five year memorial of the Iraq invasion, I started the deconstruction of the patio. Ruth was supposed to come over to help, but she does not answer her phone. I’ve been calling her every hour since 9 AM. Using a heavy duty pavement breakers, the raised concrete platform of the former patio shower is gone, and for the first time since 1985, access to the crawlspace is visible and accessible. Mom is too frail to help me out as a construction partner, but she stands at a distance to make sure i don’t put a hole in my foot. She help me pick up the small rubble too.

Rosales Residential Addition Plans Ready for Premier Estimate

After many months of looking for products, suppliers, and vendors, my residential project planning is complete. The structure has cathedral ceilings and high windows for light. The drawings may not emphatically state it, but these are the dimensions of Premier panels I would like to use:

5-1/2″ core thickness wall SIP walls
9-1/4″ core thickness roof SIP walls
9-1/4″ core thickness floor SIP walls

I’ve included both a color and black and white drawing set in PDF format. If there are any details that are missing, let me know, and I can make corrections quickly. Aside from the floor plans and elevations, I have two drawings detailing electrical chases in the roof panels, an extra horizontal communications chase in some of the wall panels, and placement of vertical electrical chases for switches and receptacles.

I assume the standard 16 inch receptacle chases and 45 inch switch chases from floor are include where possible, but I also need a chase at 20 inches from floor for ethernet, cable TV, and telephone on certain walls. The drawing with vertical electrical chases attempt to follow a 4 foot spacing, as comes from the factory, with an exception of a switch in the bathroom mounted near a pocket door. I understand that there should be a vertical chase behind door bucks, or do I need to order those as well? If the panelization process moves the locations of the field receptacle vertical chase locations within a couple of inches, I think my electrical will have no problems wiring the walls to the stated interior dimensions, so take those measures with some flexibility.

There are several door and window openings (three skylights in the roof too), with the rough opening given for all measures taken from manufacturer specifications. The roof plan dimensions may not line up to the drawing, as my architect’s software (Nemetschek Vectorworks) handles roofs oddly, but the stated dimensions are accurate in all directions from the roof ridge.

Here is the process as i understand it going forward:

1. Release and review construction documents
2. Receive an estimate on materials from Premier
3. Approve estimate and send in cash amount to cover shop drawing and structural engineering approval
4. Take drawings and engineering stamped documents to issue building permit
5. Hope City of Los Angeles approves SIP project
6. determine premier manufacturing and delivery and final payment

As I look over the drawings, I see the foundation crawl space continuous spread footings are not well defined, as they are much related to the way the SIP floor is oriented. Perhaps the CA licensed structural engineer can assist once the estimate is done to refine some interior spot footings or additional interior continuous spread footings to support the SIP floor panels, since this project already requires a SIP engineering stamp.

I look forward to Premier’s estimate.