housewerk: permits, loan, pain


The architects heard back from permitting. Them permitters redlined the plans with some (reportedly) minor stuff for the architects to deal with, and we have to deal with a land status determination. Apparently, when the lot was developed, the lot did not line up with the original platting, which means our lot is not a legally buildable lot (our lot includes bits of two original lots). But before you (or we!) have a heart attack, we can seek a land status determination and take advantage of an exception from platting. All we need is to prepare some paperwork, write a check for $171.60 (no joke), and stand in line between 9am and noon somewhere downtown. After that, we should be in bidness.


The loan is progressing with a closing date set for August 14th. The Good Faith Estimate (what the cool kids call "The GFE!") isn't made for construction loans, so we had to talk to the banker to make sure that (1) we only paid interest on the construction money as we used it and (2) if we don't use all of the money the payment will snap to reflect what we used. We included something north of 10 percent of a contingency in the loan amount; ideally we won't need it, but in case we do, it will be there. The builder was approved by the bank (yay!), the loan approval is in process ("Shouldn't be a problem," says the banker.), and an appraisal of the project is in the works.


This part of the process has been painful (in a first world sort of way). Not horrible, mind you, because of what we have to do, but painful in the sense that: WE WANT TO GET ROLLING!!! It will start in good time.

Need to find a golden shovel...


more on that geothermal system at the guv's mansion

I expressed surprise in an older post at the reported number of boreholes drilled for the geothermal system at the newly remodeled governor's mansion here in Texas. Various sources reported between 40 to 53 boreholes between 300 to 350 feet deep.

I sent a note to the contractor that put in the system, Redding Linden Burr, Inc., who forwarded my email to the Bob Bullock History Museum. A nice fellow there responded that the guv's system has 45 wells, each 350 feet deep, spaced 20 feet on center. The system also has a fluid cooler to remove additional heat during the winter because of our unbalanced heating and cooling loads (smart).

That nice fellow noted that number of wells per square foot is higher than a modern house because of the uninsulated masonry walls, the 17-foot tall ceilings on the first floor and 13-foot tall ceilings on the second floor, and the large groups the mansion often hosts. 

In that older post, I speculated that only the debbil would need a house with a 45-ton cooling system (the debbil and that dude in "Hands On a Hard Body" who bought a Wal-Mart class AC for his doublewide). Turns out it's only one cool cat...


dancing with architecture: Charleston, South Carolina

Went out east to be a spouse at the bride's work retreat and see my mama and sister. Saw some architecture, but not much Modern (as a local architectural historian wrote, the less that is said about Modern architecture in Charleston, the better). Nonetheless, Charleston is a beautiful and romantic city (although I suggest not going in the summer months; sweat dripping from your elbows doesn't bring on the ladies). Charleston is mostly known for the Charleston single house, a multistoried house with the porches facing the side yard rather than the street.


rainwater and anger issues

Had a bidness lunch with a former colleague the other day and the chatter turned to building once the brisket and taters arrived (building a house is a great table topic: everyone has a horror story). My pal designed his own house (it can be done!) for a lot on the outskirts of town with plans of capturing rainfall for indoor and outdoor use. Once the neighbor realized that my pal would be relying on rainwater for his sole supply (and that he would be building on a long-empty lot valued as easy access to the greenbelt), the neighbor tried to rally the neighborhood association against him (everybody had their own water well). When that didn’t work, she sued.

At work, when someone threatens to sue or sues, someone will invariable yelp “They can’t sue us for that!” and my response is “Of course they can: You can be sued for anything!” However, winning a lawsuit is a totally different deal...

For my friend, there was no reason for him to be sued. No deed restrictions, covenants, or subdivision rules prevented him from relying on rainwater for his supply. Furthermore, he was burying his tanks so there were no aesthetic issues. Nonetheless, the neighbor sued alleging that relying on rainwater was going to adversely impact her property values. She withdrew the lawsuit after he showed that she had trespassed on his lot to take photos of his tanks.

He says he doesn’t get invited over for BBQs. And she doesn’t get invited over for a glass of cool, clear water...



dancing with architecture: San Antonio

Went down to San Antonio to yap about artesian wells to 500 people (yikes!) on Saturday morning and made a day (and night) of it. None of the usual architectural suspects here (well, maybe a few...). Ended the day hoofing it across town to grab a bite at Ocho where serendipitously we bumped into Ray of Son y No Son, an Austin latin dance band that played at our wedding, playing a gig to commemorate Ernest Hemingway's b-day.

A crazy night filled with crazy corners...