Monthly Archives: June 2013

Bids and stuff


Posted on June 25, 2013 by

Progress update

While prepping for bidding, I did casually notice a few issues with the architects “Final Drawings“, but nothing that will stop us from building.  We have paid our architect and engineer the final payment.  I put that in bold because it is momentous!   It doesn’t mean the relationship is over, but it does mean that we can move on to the next phase and that feels good, and stressful at the same time.   I might try to pick up some print outs tomorrow, one of which would be for the architectural committee.

I have forwarded a digital copy of the plans to the neighborhood architectural committee for approval.   Hopefully we can setup a meeting to get that going relatively quickly.   My wife, Sherri, is still working on the landscaping plan that the committee requires.  The architectural committee has a month to review the plans and get back to us, hopefully they can approve it more quickly than that, but I worry that the real bottleneck will be how quickly I can get all the bids.

The first problem is that the bank requires bids to cover every detail (including the kitchen sink) before I can even start with the proper loan application.  This is all part of the dreaded “sworn statement” (cost breakdown) the bank requires as part of my due diligence.  Of course, we also need to do this to know who is actually building our house, so I would have to do it anyway.

The second problem is that contractors are terrible about getting back to you with a quote.  For instance, it  has been 2 weeks, 3 phone calls and an email and I am still waiting on the cost of concrete from a particular supplier, and this is a supplier with a “dedicated” sales person who doesn’t have any other duties.   She always promises to get it out to me by the end of the day.  Today she said, “Oh, didn’t I send that?  I will check tomorrow!”  Other contractors are actually out working for a living, so I can better understand why they don’t focus on the paperwork.  I know a couple of them rely on their wives to help with the estimating.  I have spoken to two of these helpmates already and I hope their husbands appreciate them.  Other quotes are coming together though and during conversations I am asking for references on other contractors they like to work with.  For instance, I got my excavator contractors to recommend concrete guys and I got my concrete contractors to recommend excavators… Now if only I could get either group to actually send in a quote.

One of the more interesting components to find quotes for is the steel arches that form the skeleton of the home.   Due to the way things work, I need to get separate quotes for the steel, which would then be shipped to the “roll-benders”, who would form it and then send those pieces to the metal fabricator to be cut to size or welded together.  This has involved quite a large number of phone calls because I am trying to keep to the three bid rule and because my job is beyond the capabilities of many companies.  I am very glad that I pushed the engineer to change his initial 3D curved design to a simpler 2D bend.  No one I have talked to so far would have had the capability to build it.  I am also finding that many are recommending that I change the small round tube to square tube which will actually be stronger in the direction I need it to be.   So far I am only working on the steel arches and curved steel headers.  I have not talked to anyone about creating the aluminum supports for the concrete sunshade.


Eye Candy

I am always keeping my eye open for “earth shelter” related things and I have actually had some tabs up on my desktop for weeks while I wait to have time to read them or fully digest them.  For instance, there is a guy looking to build a neighborhood of earth sheltered homes on a golf course in Australia, I see that he has over come many objections, but have not had time to read what they all were.  I also have a collection of “Vertical” garden buildings that I found along with the Park Royal Hotel in Singapore, but I have not had time to get into why or how they do it.  I included one of those pics this week, but will save the rest for other pages and posts.

In terms of more practical idea gathering, I have also long wanted to create some sort of koi pond mosaic in the rotunda space of the home.  On Sunday night I got some pics of other examples (4 included here) along with other stone and tile mosaic images.

Since the non-earth covered portion of my roof is so small (less than 600 sqft), I can afford to go with a more interesting and long lasting material.  I plan to use copper.  This means I should also go with copper gutters and down spouts.  Paying someone to fabricate and install curved copper gutters can cost over 100$ per linear foot, so I am thinking to use large diameter copper tube, cut open to collect water (that idea is not fully formed).  For downspouts, I like the idea of copper chains and I included some examples here also.



Park Royal Tower, Singapore


Posted on June 21, 2013 by

This building is very different from the Magic Mountain in Chile.  Clearly, the people working at WOHA Architects are much more serious group of people…  This recently finished hotel features 15000 square meters (161400 sf) of green space, much of which is disguising the above ground parking decks.   The concrete building gets top marks for environmentalism with its solar panels and reclaimed water, etc.  You can google search it for more info, or book your stay for less than $250US, but here are some pretty pics.

First, some artist renderings…

Another artist rendering, most of the 15000 square meters of green space disguise the parking decks

Another artist rendering, most of the 15000 square meters of green space disguise the parking decks

A view from the top, not the water features...

A view from the top, not the water features…

An artist rendering of the terraces at the Park Royal hotel

An artist rendering of the terraces at the Park Royal hotel


And then a pic of the final construction…  It is not fully grown in, but it is on its way.

The actual hotel, recently completed and not yet as overgrown as the artist renderings...

The actual hotel, recently completed and not yet as overgrown as the artist renderings…




Posted on June 20, 2013 by

You know that feeling when you are about to do something that you think may be a bit unusual or even slightly crazy and then someone just jumps in and totally tops any craziness you could have thought of?  Well, that is how I feel about the Montana Magica Lodge in Chile.

The Magic Mountain Lodge in Chile.  Check out their web page for more pics.

The Magic Mountain Lodge in Chile. Check out their web page for more pics.

Someone down there in Hulio-Huio said, “lets make an earth sheltered hotel.”  And someone else said, “Yea, but lets put a great big waterfall on top of it.”  And instead of calming them down,  someone else in the room said, “that’s a great idea, and lets use a rope bridge to get to it.”  

And they did; and you can book a suite for $300 US per night…   



The site doesn’t provide specific information on the construction of the mountain, but I did read a general statement that the buildings were constructed of wood.  It it has a wood frame, it looks like it was also covered in waterproofing and rock before plants and perhaps a very small amount of soil were added.

A look at one of the suites

A look at one of the suites


And this is just one of a number of really strange buildings they have done there at Hulio~Hulio…

Anyway, point is, if anyone thinks I am a bit crazy, I can just show them this and point out how at least I resisted the urge to build a magic mountain with a waterfall and a rope bridge…