Building Update: June 15, 2021

Even though I am a bit behind in disecting this on here, I want to always remain open and honest about our whole building process, and be able to shine a light on the “secrets” of building a custom home. If you would like to know more about the specs of our build, click here. If there isn’t a link yet, I’ll have it up soon! So here we go:

About two months ago, we were extremely excited to announce on our Instagram that we had submitted our building plans for permitting. This had been the second time we have submitted so we felt confident that we would be breaking ground very soon. .Unfortunately, this was not the case.

In case I haven’t mentioned it here before, we are within the city limits of Arlington, TX. We have learned that building codes are extremely strict, and I hate to say that we have hit red tape over and over again when dealing with the city. Problem one has been lack of communication from the city planners. I have a feeling that COVID has played a huge part in this problem, as I believe pre-pandemic you would schedule a in-person meeting with a city planner and disect your project requirements in person. Even though we have been in “contact” with the city since early November, we are constantly redirected to the website when asking direct and specific questions. . However, our inability to meet with anyone caused problems when we first submitted our plans in January, since the website was not specific about the submittal requirements for our specific lot.

It then took us 3 more months to gather all the required documents the city asked us to include in the permit application which I have listed below for those who are curious. While we had included a majority of the required documents, the missing ones had to be completed by several different parties, forcing us into a “hurry up and wait” game that continues to this day.

  • Site Plan
  • Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Door and Window Schedule
  • Wall/Wind Bracing Method
  • Energy Compliance
  • Engineered Fondation
  • Water Utilities Application
  • Park and Roadway Impact Fee

Fast forward to April 28th, and we were finally back in Permit Review. This time I thought we had checked all the boxes and crossed all our T’s. Our walls were engineered to withstand wind, our foundation and basement had been engineered perfectly, and we had all the other paperwork filled out. We combined all the files into one PDF file as requested, and submitted them into the online portal. We waited. For 5 days we checked back in routinely to watch the status of each requirement change from “pending” to “complete”. Until one day, everything stopped updating and we got an email from the lady who was coordinating our plan reviews.

She informed us our plans needed corrections. Seven pages of corrections…yes, you read that right…7 pages.

Some we saw coming, however originally we were told that we could apply for those portions later. Now they were telling us we needed everything upfront before they wou;d approve the project at all. So what was in these correction requirements?

  • Full extent of driveway shown and material indicated from public street
  • Missing an engineer stamp on our framing plans
  • Missing engineer letter for foundation plans (this was included…)
  • Energy Compliance review missed one back window specs
  • Manufacture information wanted on the polymer waterproofing for the basement
  • Need egress from the basement
  • Private fire hydrant plans needed and required to meet codes that include fire lane specifications OR sprinkler system plans
    • This actually was 3/7 pages outlining fire hydrant requirements and codes…I’m not going into all that…
  • Floorplan lay in a hypotheical easment that isn’t even approved offiically yet
  • Missing Grading Plan with drainage flow plan
  • Elevation certificate prior to inspection
  • Fire Marshall needs to approve fire hydrant plans
  • 3 way contract provided for said fire hydrant required at permit application date.

Okie. So, that is the gist of our 7 page correction report that the lovely city of Arlington threw in our laps. Many of these issues could have been avoided had we been informed correctly of the actual application document requirements, so honeslty reading through the comments was extremely frustrating. As far as that fire hyrdant issue….so the story is that since the house will lay more than 150′ from the main road, we are required to install a private fire hydrant OR install sprinklers in the house. We originally were going to intall a fire hydrant, but then realized that the city is going to require 4″ ,12-foot-wide concrete as a fire lane all the way back to the house. Thats easily 400′ to the other side of the pond, and that amount of concrete definetly is not in the budget.

So, where are we now? We have opted to install a concealed sprinkler system instead of a hydrant since we are under the impression that this option does not require the “fire lane” of a driveway. We have made all the changes and are only waiting for a civil engineer to get us our plans back with drainage and required elevations. Again, it is a hurry up and wait game. We are hoping to be able to resubmit soon and break ground before the summer is over.

I do want to point out that while the past couple of months have been annoying, there have been some disguised blessings through all this, one of the biggest ones being that we are thankful to not have started digging our basement with all the rain that Texas has had recently. I don’t even want to think about how long all the water would have taken to dry out.

That’s all for now, but I hope to have another update soon.

Talk soon,

xx, Lanna

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