Daily Archives: January 31, 2015

project addition: week three

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Exciting news – we have the site survey!

When we last left off, we were ready to move forward with one of the three surveyors that we had contacted about doing a boundary survey and a topographic survey of our property. I contacted the company first thing the next morning, and they told us they could have a crew there the next day. Then earlier this week they had the drawings done, so they sent them over – a PDF of the property as well as a CAD drawing, both formatted in several different sheet sizes. I printed one copy out on 11×17 paper at work and brought it home to show everyone. F wasn’t super interested in it, but E loved looking at the drawing and marveling at how skinny the lot is, and how much more backyard we have than she originally pictured from just looking out the back window.

The surveyor took a lot of spot elevations around the property, and laid out the topo lines in the rear year (each curved line represents a vertical change in elevation from an established benchmark – in our case it’s at 100.00 at the front door sill). They didn’t layout out the topos in the front yard, so I emailed them back and asked for that additional information to be added and the drawings resent to us. The front yard isn’t critical for the addition work we’re doing, but we do plan to do some work out there at some point (including a new sidewalk) and anyway, a full topographic survey was in our contract with them.

Some interesting things we found on the survey:

1.  I’m familiar with various markers being found to mark property boundaries – iron pipes or crosses in a street or sidewalk or retaining wall. Property boundaries can be measured from those markers. In newer developments more temporary stakes might be used, but in old neighborhoods like ours there are all kinds of different markers. One corner is marked with an embedded cotton picker spindle in the alley, where we still have the original brick paving. Kind of cool.

2.  The white picket fence on one side and the rear of our yard was installed by the previous owners just prior to selling the property. It was never a particularly lovely fence, but it’s slowly deteriorated over the last fifteen years. Last year several of the panels fell over. M and the girls patched them together temporarily with some 2x4s so that we wouldn’t get cited by the city. It’s a great look. We all cracked up because the survey actually documents how crooked and tippy that fence is. I will relish swinging the demolition hammer at that fence when this gets started!

And something interesting we learned as well:

3. There is an eight foot + drop in elevation from our finished floor level to the alley level. This is going to be really nice for the design of the garage because the floor level of the garage will be just above the alley level, but the rear garage wall – the one we can see from the house – will act as a retaining wall for our courtyard, and only a few feet of that wall will be visible from the house. That means that we can build a 1.5 story garage that can house an in-law suite or studio/office space (or both) and the height won’t be overwhelming to the yard. If we put an exterior stair access to that upper level from the courtyard it won’t be a very tall stair at all, because that lower level (the garage level) will really be half a story in the ground.

So now we have a lot of information to work with. I’ve been organizing the Sketchup model of the existing house, and today I purchased some cardboard and chip board to work on the physical model some. We’ve got an interesting idea for the new stair that I’m excited to test out with the real elevations. Rumor has it there’s some sort of big game tomorrow, so I’m hoping to spend a nice chunk of time in the late afternoon / evening working on the project with the sound of football and commercials in the background. If it’s not too late a night, I’ll try to post how things are going.

Meeting adjourned.