Journal #3 - Planning the New House (While Maintaining the Old One.)
||Jayne and I meet with Harvey Cedars architect Jay Madden to discuss his approach to design and dealing with clients. He provides us with a list of his projects on LBI. We spend the next several days touring the island to visit these homes. We like what we see,
At the #7 82nd Street house in HC, we find much to like. This house is nearly finished. We meet the owner (Mrs. Spinner) and the main carpenter/builder, Jeff Fisher. We are all-around impressed.
||Jay Madden gives us his proposed letter of agreement, fee schedule and his guide to his architectural services.
||I send Jay the signed copies of the agreement letter and a retainer check. We are now committed
||I visit the house for the first time since rental season. It appears to be in good condition, but the last upper unit visitor left the air conditioning on. It has been set to 68 degrees and running for weeks. Ouch.
My visit was prompted at this time by the forecast of Hurricane Isabel landfall on the east coast by the end of the week.. I spend about a day cleaning and storing the outdoor furniture.
The beach appears seriously eroded. A direct hit by a hurricane could be a disaster.
||Hurricane Isabel makes landfall in North Carolina and moves inland toward Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Overnight there are reports of high winds and flooding on LBI. Winds hit 50 mph.
||I visit the house. LBI doesn't show much damage from Isabel. Some homes have boarded-up windows. Damage at the house was limited to a toppled potted fir. The pot was shattered, but I replaced it.
The beach south of the Lee Ave. Jetty appears to have gained sand in the hurricane. North of the jetty things look a little worse.
The house next door has undergone a major landscaping overhaul. It looks great.
||I called Jay Madden. He is very busy, with four clients in line ahead of me. He doesn't think that we can have our first meeting before the end of October. I asked for, and received, copies of the #7 82nd Street house floor plans and elevations. I will start getting these transferred into my VectorWorks file so we can make our mods.
||After a long period of latency, I meet with Jay at his office to get the schematic design phase kicked off. We discuss aspects of both the Spinner and Orrico houses and our particular needs and preferences. We have agreed to flip the design left-to-right to better accommodate the lot location, sunlighting, etc. Jay agrees that we need to find a way to dress up the Boulevard side, which very plain as designed.
All goes well. We plan to get back together in two weeks.
At the house we have survived 3-degree temperatures with no problems. My recording thermometers tell the story. This is the coldest winter in many years.
Many other homes on LBI are suffering damage from frozen pipes that burst and leak.
||Amanda calls me from Jay's office. She is working on the rough plans and thinks that we have some leeway on the dimensions because of the 10 foot additional width of the lot compared to Spinner and our neighbors. This is good news. We need to decide how best to take advantage of this.
||Jayne and I meet with Jay. Things have progressed quickly. We are very pleased with the first drawings. We all make changes. The next meeting will be on 2/27.
I updated the Web site for first time in months.
||Amanda calls again. There are some questions re how to use the extra feet available on the length of the house. She will mail me some new sketches.
||I finally have some success in reaching the surveyor that did the property survey prior to sale last year. The 4/2003 survey has the existing house 10 feet too far back on the lot. I have checked this against my own measurements and Corkery's 2000 survey.
This was my 3rd try. The revised survey will be available at the surveyor's office in Ship Bottom on 2/27. I was also told that an additional elevation survey will be necessary before work starts.
||Jayne and I meet with Jay at his office. We discuss some new details, particularly the windows and west side balcony. Jay runs through the elevation calculations. A 9-foot ceiling on the top floor looks out of the question due to code constraints. In fact, it will be hard to keep a reasonable height for the garages. Sharper pencils are needed for this calculation, which Amanda should be able to complete by next meeting.
Jay suggests that we have a plan for interior lighting for our next meeting (3/19).
I picked up the revised survey (6 stamped copies) at Leon Tyszka's office. I still need to deliver them to the town office.
The old house has survived the worst of the very hard winter unscathed
||We meet with Jeff Fisher at the old house. A lot of ground is covered and we spend the entire morning talking about the house plans and Jeff's approach. Jeff specifically needs a "bid-level" set of plans before he can work on the estimate.
Later, I find Jeff, Jeff's father, and Tim Jones at the "canary house" on East Lee Ave. Tim has been contracted to do a major renovation on the house, which failed to sell last year. Tim believes that several houses on the block are due to be sold and probably demolished this year.
Still later, we visit with Tuckerton Lumber Company in Ship Bottom. Long discussions with very helpful people. Learned about "Royal" trim, a composite/vinyl skin product that has less thermal expansion problems than straight PVC. Picked up a ton of brochures.
Dinner at Octopus' Garden was great.
||Had a beautiful spring-like day at HC. Temps in the fifties. We walked the beach and explored a few new homes. The pace of building on LBI has not slowed.
||Spoke with Amanda today. Need to adjust next meeting start time. Also discussed her understanding of Jeff Fisher's needs in a "bid-level" set of drawings. She says that these need to include window and door schedules, lighting requirements and flooring specs, as well as other details. She says that this should be complete in the next month or so.
||I'm bleary-eyed after a 10-hour, non-stop session on the computer. I needed to get lighting & electrical plan (see 2nd floor, 1st floor and ground floor electrican plans,) and the changes from the last meeting with Jay completed for Amanda by next morning. Jayne scribbles on paper and I work on the VectorWorks model. Results are faxed to Madden's office, where they revise plans manually on a drafting table. It's a messy process with too many steps. Still, I like the fact that Madden et.al are focused on the design rather on the technology of drafting. The results are consistently great.
||I spoke with Amanda this morning. Very good news: She did a tighter calculation of the volume. With an 8-foot, fully-enclosed ground level, an 8-foot first floor and a *full 9-foot* second floor, we squeak under the town code volume limit by 150 cubic feet. To understand how close this is, consider that 150 cubic feet is equivalent to less than an inch in the width of the house. That's a sharp pencil!
||Our next meeting with Jay Madden at his office today. He confirms my suggestion that we have largely moved beyond the Design Phase and are squarely into the Construction Documents Phase. That's great, because this is what we need as the basis for Jeff Fisher and others to provide bids in May.
Jayne, Jay and I spend several hours discussing our lighting & electrical plan, the HVAC systems, and my plans for the CAT-5, Coax and central vacuum systems that I will be installing. Very few changes are made in the plans
An underground power/cable/phone connection is possible, if planned properly. I certainly want this. Maybe the ubiquitous overhead wires are part of the "charm" of Long Beach Island, but I can't wait to bury the lines.
All three of us leave with significant "homework assignments." Madden & company need to be working on the structural framing plan. Jayne will be digging into products and I'll be working on the first eight divisions of the specifications. These eight include:
- General Requirements (Drawings, Manuals, Insurance, Testing, Permits, etc.)
- Site Work (Survey, Piles, Grading, Service Connections, Paving, Landscaping, etc.)
- Wood and Plastics
- Thermal (Insulation) and Moisture Protection
- Doors and Windows
The sample I have of an earlier specification document is about 80 pages. The first eight divisions is about half of the document.
||Jayne and I met Jessica Wilkins of Palermo Plumbing in Manahawkin. They have a great selection of fixtures, including the Panasonic exhaust fans that we heard about as an alternative to NuTone.
We also searched lighting. Coastal salt air corrosion is the big issue for lighting fixtures, especially on the outside. Fortunately, there is now a wide range of plastic and polycarbonate outside fixtures. Prices vary greatly. We visited Good Friend Electric in Toms River - Good selection, but prices tended high compared to alternative sources.
Jayne is researching garage doors. Steel doors rust. Aluminum doors get dented. Vinyl? Who knows?
||I met with Jay for almost 4 hours today to cover Divisions 1 through 8 of the Specification document. We covered A LOT of ground, much too much to summarize here.
A few significant gaps remain:
- The choice of garage doors (steel, vinyl or aluminum) is still up in the air. Steel, originally at the bottom of the list due to possible rust, is looking better because of it's superior strength and much lower (replacement) costs. The vinyl is a very expensive alternative and is said to be prone to breakage. I have yet to see a sample of an aluminum overhead door. I need to find one before the 4/19 meeting.
- The window specs are close to final, but some gaps remain. Jayne is much more up to speed than either Jay or me on the Anderson book, and will be needed to finish this off.
- Some decisions remain on the exterior trim. I am firmly committed to fiber-cement trim boards (HardiTrim), which are a departure from the vinyl composite (PermaTrim) or cedar which are more typically used near the ocean. Issues remain about cutting the fiber-cement, particularly the curved cuts needed under the front decks. There is probably some reluctance to use it among subs. I will do some tests with my rotary cutter to see if this is practical as a way of cutting the curves.
- Along with the trim issues, we still need to decide how to finish the ground level exterior walls. I have been less than thrilled at the outcome at another house recently built on the Boulevard (see photo), where the wall was finished with cedar panels, as currentlt spec'ed for us. I am leaning toward running the cedar shingles all the way down to the bottom cement board on the west (Boulevard) side.
Our next meeting will be 4/16 at 10:00am
||I visited Toms River Window and Door to see and discuss garage doors. The sales guy really pushes Gadco steel, but also sells Gadco vinyl for about twice the price. I am no closer to deciding.
||I met with Amanda to review spec and plan items before tomorrow's meeting with Jay
The structural design is nearing completion. Amanda offers the possibility that the 2nd floor ceiling beam could be a wood/steel flitch beam. This is an extremely critical element as it supports the upper deck. With the flitch ("One of several planks, smaller timbers, or iron plates, which are secured together, side by side, to make a large girder or built beam."), we may be able to have a ceiling that transitions from cathedral to flat sections without protruding below the flat ceiling line.
Later I took better pictures of the Orico house details, including the arch surfaces on the lower level.
||Surveyors were seen working on East Lee Ave this morning. I think that the town is preparing to repave our street.
3+ hour meeting with Jay:
I give up on selecting between corner boards and weaving the shingles to make the exterior corner edges. We will get both estimated as alternatives.
I stick with the cement board trim. Jay says that the local builders are getting more comfortable with them. Their main complaint has been the wear on cutting blades. The main advantage to me having a paintable permanent surface. The PVC trim that is so popular on LBI is eternaly white and also has thermal expansion problems.
The windows and doors are 96% selected. The kicthen dormer windows are still not final. Jayne is concerned about how the window lines will fit with the cabinets. Windows were added to the east side ground level.
I am asking for a grey-tone composite railing for the upper deck. The white, as used on the lower decks, calls too much attention to the lack of a roof peak in the north section.
The stairs are spec'ed as white oak treads with white oak risers.
We'll have a complete list of plumbing fixtures by 4/22 meeting.
I am no closer to selecting a garage door material.
Much more than I can include here.
||Met with Amanda to go over minor changes in the electrical plan. We also reviewed recent refinements to the structural plan, including the possible flitch beam in the main living area ceiling.
||Meeting with Jay. We cover the remaining items of the specification in under two hours. I provided Jay with a complete list of the bathroom fixtures. I specified prefinished white window interiors and white Metro window hardware. The gas hot water heater will be direct (through the wall) vented.
The ball is now with Jay, who needs to get the document cleaned up and printed. He proposes to call me within two weeks to go over any remaining issues.
I still need to:
Pick garage doors.
Contact Lois Cohen re her dumbwaiter.
Size & spec the in-line exhaust blowers.
Determine whom (landscaper or builder) will be responsible for rear composite sidewalk.
||I have not heard from Jay. I call Amanda to ask where the specification document might be. She says that Jay has been away, but will be back tomorrow. I ask her to gentiy ask him where the specification doc is.
||Arrived in Harvey Cedars for three days of preparation. Bought Beach badges, photo-inventoried contents, set up grilles, etc. Revised Renters' Manuals for 2004.
||Jayne & Jackie drive to Harvey Cedars and begin deploying deck and patio furniture, cleaning windows and screens.
||Ausin and I make the drive down.
||We begin powerwashing of foundation, concrete shirt, front walkway, outdoor shower, etc. Jayne weeds the yard.
||Jayne & I visit with Lois and Sid Cohen to see their "Silent Servent" rope-driven dumbwaiter. It looks perfect for our application.
||Jayne, Jackie & Austin return home,
I meet with neighbors regarding a possible winter rental.
||I meet with Jay Madden for two hours. Just some details remain among Jay's questions. I need to talk to Jeff Fisher re visiting AJ Stairs. Jay promises specification document and revised drawings will be in my hands by Saturday.
Bought and filled new propane tank for Weber grille.
I spoke with surveyor whom was getting grade topo for #7 East Lee. Their demolition will follow shortly.
||I finish up final cleaning and packing. Turned on studio refrigerator.
Visited with John Fitzsimmons of Storage USA (SUSA) in Toms River. John assures me that he will have the climate-controlled space available for me when I need it. He gave me a price list for 10x15, 10x20 and 10x30 spaces. I still need to estimate my requirements.
||We receive Jay Madden's revised specs and drawings. They are in very good shape.
||Faxed spec comments to Jay Madden's office.
||Faxed drawing comments to Amanda Jay Madden's office.
||Learned that Jay and Amanda have been out of town all week and will return on 6/14.
I spoke with Jeff to let him know that we are finished with specs and drawings. I also described the dumbwaiter we saw.
||Amanda reports that they will have Jeff's bid package to him today or early tomorrow.
||Upper unit tenant reported minor issues. A plug is broken off in the outlet near the phone (turned out to be vacuum cleaner plug broken by cleaners). The gate on the deck has been broken. Tenant thought that freezer was leaking, but apparently there was just some water left on the floor.
||I speak with Jeff regarding the bid package. He suggests copper for the diverters, barge board and widow flashing.
Jeff sees issues with the flitch beam. Steel plates are only stiff in one direction and can be difficult to hoist into position. Would prefer some other approach, like Microlams. We also need to discuss locating air return duct along center beam.
The HandiTrim is now available in 5/4" size, so packing out the trim will not be necessary.
Jeff wants us to order the dumbwaiter and arrange vendor installation.
Jeff wants to use ply sheathing on the entire stair tower to add stiffness to the structure.
Joe Roberts is HVAC sub that Jeff wants. Joe normally uses the corrosion resistant condenser units for which we requested alternate pricing.
Jeff says that he plans to cut HardiTrim radius curves with a small-diameter circular saw.
Jeff wants to use clear stock trim instead of finger jointed.
||Jeff reports that the fineline (internal) grilles are not available for the Anderson Stormwatch windows, a real disappointment. Perhaps this will change before we order them.
Re Aluminum vs, Copper flashing: It looks like $140 roll of Al compares to $600 Cu. We go with Cu.
He thinks that he needs another week to complete his bid.
Will be using Iocovelli stairs.
Needs to use an allowance for the WeatherBest Crystal White railings as he has not been able to find a dealer with the materials in stock.. Later, Jayne shares this:
WeatherBest rates their dealers by how extensive the product line that they carry in stock. The "platinum" level (most stuff) is a dealer in Toms River as follows:
Builders General Supply, 893 Hwy 37 W, Toms River, NJ, 08755
Phone: 732-473-0303 Status: Platinum
The next best level is "gold" which is Tuckerton Lumber in Tuckerton (not on the island), the one in Barnegat is only a silver so few parts.
In the bid package I had left Jeff with the choice of 2x lumber or engineered joists. Jeff does not want to use engineered joists as they require more labor in his experience. Also, he is uncertain of engineered joist longevity in the coastal environment.
Jeff hasn't been able to get a price for the "coastal grade" AC compressors. This was requested mainly out of curiousity (I think that Jay wanted to see the cost). I plan to use the plain vanilla units in any case.
Jeff agrees with me that sheetrock absolutely needs a primer coat.
||Jeff calls. He will meet with us at 3:00 at the Studio unit on Saturday 7/24 to deliver the bid.
|At last I get an opportunity to practice what I learned in my three credits of Contract Negotition at Lally. Jeff and I grapple with the best way get a good, solid contract. In the end we agree on using the AIA A107 standard contract used by Jay and most other architects. It is long, but well tested and very thorough. Amanda is very helpful in this process. Jeff, Jay. Mel and I each get signed copies.
Jayne, Austin and I vacation in Loveladies 8/7 through 8/28.
||** Construction Phase Begins.**