How much time does it take to complete the design and engineering for a remodel of an old home?

Seven months and counting.

Over the last year, the Going Queen project has moved painfully slow.  We spent the first half of the year working with a general contractor.  If you read any of my earlier posts you know how that turned out.  We’ve spent the second half of the year trying to figure out how best to move forward and to get the necessary design & engineering work completed for the permitting process and the estimating done for financing the project.

In my mind, here’s how I see the project phases:

 

Phase 1: Design, engineering and permitting

Phase 2: Structural, waterproofing and drainage

Phase 3: Exterior construction

Phase 4: Landscaping

Phase 5: Interior construction, plumbing and electrical

Phase 6: Finish carpentry and equipment & fixture installation

 

While working with a General Contractor, I thought this might be an eighteen month project.  Once I became the GC, I figured it would be more like two years to account for my ignorance.

I thought the design and engineering work would take a couple months.  Instead, as I write this, it is still ongoing.  We are now seven months into this phase and are still working with our architect and engineer.  We have not started the permitting process.

We’ve had a few false starts.  This summer, we were working with the architect on a design to convert the garage to an ADU with the plan of living there while the work was being completed on the Going Queen.

Our plan was to have both architect and engineer get plans ready to submit to the building department for the ADU conversion.  Once those permits were approved, we’d start construction on the ADU and then we’d turn our focus to the Going Queen.

 Here are the failed ADU plans.

Here are the failed ADU plans.

We were at the finish line with these plans when the architect identified a problem with the parking.  After the ADU designs were complete he brought to our attention that we had to allocate a legal parking space for both the main house and the ADU.  The area the architect originally identified for the required parking space (shown in the drawings) turned out to not be in compliance.  We had room for two vehicles in the driveway, but apparently you can’t count the first 10’ feet or so of a driveway as parking because that 10’ is within the property line ‘set back’.  Therefore we had to create another parking space where we had planned on putting a garden.

Nope, not giving up the garden.

We abandoned our plans for converting the garage to an ADU and decided we’d just find a rental nearby instead (which we are now living in).  We then asked the architect and engineer to just focus on the Going Queen and get plans and engineering ready to submit to the building department for permitting.  We are now waiting for those plans to be complete.

So why is it taking seven months?  I have no idea.  My architect was trying to explain to me how it was all my fault but I was having trouble hearing what he saying because I was yelling at him.

I’ll admit to you that I got very angry at my architect a few weeks ago.  I used the f-word and the s-word and may have taken the lord's name in some seriously vain ways.  Maybe dozens of times for all I know.  I’d recently returned from a business trip in Rhode Island where, on the long plane ride back,  counted email messages between myself, the architect and the engineer.  I counted 107 emails since April.  I felt that 107 should be enough communication for the Manhattan Project.  I started looking at some of my communications with them and this repeating theme of “I need a date” and “I want to be at the permitting office by Monday”.  No dates were given.  Here is an example email that I sent to the engineer after several attempts to get an answer:

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I think what triggered me was that I had just met with a company that specializes in foundations and they'd provided me, what I felt was, a very clear and direct proposal.  I forwarded that to the architect and he proceeded to pick apart the minutiae of the proposal.  To explain how my call with him went using memes from the movie The Big Lebowski, I intended to be like this:

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But somehow, once I started talking, it went more like this:

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So, gentle neighbors, I’m sorry the house is just sitting there looking shitty.  You probably think I’ve abandoned it.  I’ve also not been making regular updates to the blog because, frankly, it’s hard to keep reporting the same thing… waiting on the mother focaccian drawings.

While I’ve been waiting, I have interviewed and received estimates from a dozen sub-contractors.  I’m going to share all of those with you, what we’ve selected and why.  That will be fun, right?  On December 6th, right after I yelled obscenities at the architect he created a folder in the file share service we are using to share drawings labeled ‘Permit Drawings’ and in it he placed this one drawing…

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This is for the basement.  That was sixteen days ago.  I don't know what this is but it looks promising.  It has way more lines and words on it than the other drawings and looks super legit.

Now I need the first, second and third floor.  I have to go give the architect a call!