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The following headings are developed briefly:
Building Codes S By-Laws Financing Estimates; Framing F Drywall Site Layout and Flanning Building Permits Miscel 1 aneous Charges
Temporary Services Sub-contracting Schedules Work Undertaken by Owner Site Clean-Up Lumber
Framing Payments, the Mechanic's Lien Material Quantities Heavy Equipment Damage Prevent ion of Vandal i m Innovat ions (1) Drawings Good drawings arc v i t a l to a successful house building operation and usually form the main contract document because written specificatisns are seldom prepared when only one house is involved. The drawings should be accurately and adequately dimensioned and show at least one full section through the house, preferably at a Larger scale than is normal for the floor plans and elevations, There is often a need for separate foundation plan to show clearly any change in the height of the foundation and openings for doors, windows, piping or other service entry. The anchor bolt layout should be shown clearly on this foundation drawing which can also be valuable for estimating the concrete quantities and designing
the forms for the concrete.
(21 Building Codes and By-Laws The administrative section of mast municipal by-laws contains a statement similar to the one following, quoted from Part 2 Administration of the 1977 National Building Code of Canada. Subsection 2,4.17. states, in
"The granting of a permit, the kpproval of the drawings and specifications or inspectians made by the authority having jurisdiction, shall not in any way relieve the owner af a building from f u l l responsibility for
carrying out the work or having the work carried out in -accordance with the requirements of t h i s By-la~,~' etc. This makes it important that the owner-builder become familiar with the municipal by-laws wirR respect to t h e location of the house on the lot, property drainage, permissible changes in lot elevation, the need for sump pumps, etc. The owner should also obtain a copy of the Building Code in force in the municipality where the house i s to be built. The National Building Code of Canada is a set of minimum standards and in some instances it may be desirable to exceed its requirements. For example, where the floor joists selected am. at their maximum allowable span, undesirable springiness m y be the result when heavyset persons
across the floor. Another exmple would be the decision to use 2-in. x
&in. studs rather than the permissible 2-in. x 4-in. ones in the exterior walls in order to utilize the larger stud space for additional insulation,
Codes also rcgulatc the grades of lumber used for different purposes, but in some instances it may be desirable to use higher grades for ease of
workability or appearance.
The interest on mortgage money starts from day one on the t o t a l
amount committed to the project by a lending agency even though the larger
of money will normally m l y be required near the end of the building operation. FOT instance a $45,000 mortgage at 10% per annum costs $12.52
in interest per day. Therefore because owner builders usually take longer to ~6mplete a house than the regular builder, it may be advisable to arrange for interim financing, leaving the conventional mortgage applieatimz until later in the project. The decision, however, can be difficult because mortgage money is usually more readily available during the threemonth period December to February, sometimes becoming more difficult to obtain and more expensive as interest rates rise due ta increased building activity during the s m r months. For either the interim financing or the conventional mortgage, detailed c o ~ t estimates are usually required, along wiah evidence that you have the necessary expertise to undertake the project. Also in the case of interim financing it will be necessary ta s k a w that you have sufficient equity ro support the interim loan. (4) Estimates; Framing and Jkywal l Framing. - The cost of a framing cantract is usually calculated on the basis of a unit price per square foot of finished floor area, and is based on labour only. The estimazing ;end purchase of lumber and all materials are the resp~nsibility of the owner. An estimate for the framing contract is usually based on the extensive use of labour saving meth-ads such as sheat materials for all sheathing and the use of roof trusses wherever possible. Extras are added for complicated i n t e r i or stair details, porches, exterior stairs, carports, garages, and for a roof design where trusses are not called far. It is smetimes difficult to gat a framer to consider the use of shiplap floor or wall sheathing because of the extra labour involved.
Drywall. This estimate is usually based on the number of full sheets of marerial required, the amount af comer bead, the number of door openings and application problems if high ceilings and cathedral entrances are involved. Extra thick insulation, which may bulge beyond the face of the studs on t h e walls or sag an the ckilings, will cause the estimator to adjust the charges to allow far these details that make installation of the hoard and joint finishing difficult. Details like those just mentioned would result in an increase in the estimates for lath and plaster finish
also. (5) Site Layout and Planning The owner should make cestain that the property has been surveyed recently and that the corner pests have been located. These are usually 1/Z-in. sqwrc metal rods whose locations arc 1a;irketl by trloodcn stakes, 12 legal survey will be required by tllc Mu~~ieipality before a building l t c ~ ~ u i t is issucd. There are text books that describe methods for laying out the foundations for a simple residential building and these usually describe the use of batter bards and string lines as well as the use of tsiangulation ta ensure that the laymx i s quare and accurate. Setbacks and sideyard clearances should also be checked and if at all possible a small margin for emor should be added to these minimum dimensions. A t this critical stage in planning the owner should verify that these aspects of the project are correct. When the foms are in place the municipality usually mquires that the location of the forms be confirmed by a drawing from a registered surveyor. In spite of this the owner should again check to scc that everything is i n order with regard to the required zetback and side yard clearances. The measurements af the formed foundation should also be checked again for accuracy. The forms should be well braced and all accidental openings blocked. (61 Building Permits Although the, basic permits are Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Sewer and Occupancy, larger municipalities may add such items as, kalrh, Development, Gas, Oil, Fireplace Flue, Sidewalk Grassing, and Damage Daposit, etc. In some large municipalities building permits account for a significant cash outlay early in the project. (7) Miscellaneous Charges There are many charges to be bore by the project and these include, building permits, permanent service connections, fire insurance, provision for temporary electrical service, charges for water and electrical consumption, and heating if construction extends into the cold seasons. Thcrc are often costs associated w i t h accidental damage Qr vandalism and the possibility of theft because af large quantities of materials left in
t l ~ u ollcn without constant supervision. The owner-builder should also allply for Workmcnvs Compcnsatian in case of injury to a worker at the site. If workcrs are employed by the owner-builder directly (and not as a subcontract) and if t h y are employed cmtinuous~y for a specified number of days it may be necessary far the employer to pay Canada Pension as well as Unmploymcnt Insurance premiums. (8) Tenprary Services In many instances the owner or contractor is expected to provide temp~rary electrical services to t h e subtrades. This is often supplied through an arrangement with an adjacent property owner, but there
be problems sueh as overloading circuits and the need for heavy duty extension cords where long distances are involved- The situation can be aggravated by lack of consideration for the property of the person supplying the power on the part of some of the tradesmen. Portable gasoline powered generators ape available but these are expensive to purchase and daily rental charges are.high. Temporary hydro service is usually available from 9;he provincial hydro company. A drawing for this purpose should be available from the hydro office and the total cost of the pole and temporary service will be approximately $150, (9) Sub-C~ntract ing Most residential construction projects use the sub-contracling method of building, normally under the direction of an experienced general contractor or developerThe awnex-builder usually lacks on-site experience and should be aware of the following: [I) The work of the various sub-contractors must be scheduled and co-ordinated. (2) Most sub-contracts are undertaken with a minimum of written specifications or detailed drawings. ( 3 Different trades work independently af one another, therefore the owner-builder must try ta anticipate those areas where the work of one trade may interfere with that of the trades to fallow. Problems arise because each trade will have a tendency to proceed in a manner that will expedite their
particular part of the work, The situation is aggravated because there are seldom detailed drawings showing the layout of plumbing or ductwork to help define where problems might occur. (4) Competitive bidding among sub-contractors can result in some tr:ldcs sul~rnitting bids slightLy lower than they would like. 'rherofore if for any reason the job takes more time than csrimatcd it can cause a poor attitude to prevail at the end of that phase of the sub-contract work. (53 Insulation and vapour barrier installation procedures may leave a build up of materials an the stud faces if the tabs on the insulation are not installed smoothly and each staple driven properly. This cushion effect can makc it very difficult for the boardmen to install gypsum board. Thick ceiling insulation may sag between the ceiling or roof j o i s t s , and the drywall applicator may push the insulation up into the space between the joists to relieve the pressure an the gypsum board. The spaces formed between the insulation and the gypsum board could have an adverse effect on the performance of t h e insulation. The owner should be awafe of these problems and be prepared to discuss them with the sub-cl-rntractors. (10) Schedules It is often difficult to maintain the proper' sequence of construction. Trades may be brought in before their proper place in the schedule just to use them when they are available; i . e . , the finish coat of stucco should not go on until after the drywall because the amount of hammering involved in drywall application could cause cracking in the stucco f i n ish coat. The roughed in plluuhing has to be in place and inspected prior to the house being insulated. There is always a strong tendency to try and find work for the owncr or site supervisor, such as the early installation of perimeter drain tile. This wuld result i n the tile being damaged or the levels disturbed by oEher workmen because the t i l e must be left without the protection of stone and earth cover until the installation has been inspected. (1 11 Work Undertaken by Owner Quite frequently owner-builders will undertake the actual placing sf thc concrete in the forms, and the new delivery equipment encourages
this trcnd. It is risky t o do t h i s , however, unless at least one crew member has had same experience with placing concrete. If the site is reasonably accessiblc the trucks can provide a fairly long reach with their chutes to keep thc use of wheelbarrows to a minimum. The concrete suppliers allow the placers a few minutes of the trucks idle time per ton before an extra charge is made against the purchase price. Where site accessibility is d i f f i c u l t , a concrete pumper may be required; this equipment has a long boom and flexible trunk which can greatly simplify the placing operation. Where there is any doubt about zha site, the supplier should be asked to send a representative to assess the bearing capacity of the site and confirm its ability to support heavily loaded vehicles, It should also be remembered that if the trucks get
their downtime may be charged to the project. Trucks have been known to get bagged down on a relatively go~d site where the ground became muddy due to an unexpected rain, The placing of anchor bolts seems like a simple operation but they must be placed quickly when the concrete is at the right stage of set. The location of the anchor bolts should be marked on the special foundation drawing mentioned under "Drawings" (page 1). The National Building Code of Canada calls for anchor bolts at a maximum of eight ft on centre, but accomplishing this is not as simple as it sounds, For instance it i s usually desirable to have bolts near the corners in
direction and at least t w o bolts even in a fairly short section ~f wall. Furthermare a narrow plate is sometimes located to one s i d e on a section sf a wide foundation wall, a detail cbmon lo brick veneer construction. When this detail is used, the bolts must be accurately located off centre to match with the wall plate location. It can be seen readily that there may have to be morq bolts provided than would be estimated by simply dividing the total length of the foundation walls by eight. It should also be remembered that the placing of an additional anchor balt after the concrete has set up is an extremely difficult ta5.k. Concrete foundation placement is one task that should not be started on Friday afternoon because it is always desirable to complete this phase of tbc operation without interruption to avoid pour lines, Wen deep foundat ions cantairring large quatititics of co~lcrcte :Ire
used the placement should be left to an experienced crcn who c;m evnlurttc the adequacy of the formwork and thus avoid form failure. (12). Site Clean-Up Unlike a regular contractor the owner-builder cannot use the power of persuasion generated by the possibility of additional contracts. He will therefore seldom have much success in ab'taining the necessary subcontractors if any serious attempt is made to have each of the trades agree to clean up the site on completion of their phase of the work. It can be asswncd therefore that considerable labour will be required after cach sub-contract operation to keep the building site clear of scrap material. The drywall contractor, far instance, will often leave a great deal of scrap gypsum board to be disposed of. The drywall finishers often splatter the joint-filler mate~ials on the sub-floors and t h i s has to be scraped off. Window sills are usually in place prior to t h e joint filling and they must be protected or cleaned after this operation is completed. Sanding of the joints generates a great deal of dust which must also be removed. Extensive clean-up may also be required after any rosfing operation and this can extend to adjacent properties when narraw side yards are involved. Some types of stuccs application will splatter window glass and frames. These, along with drips and splatters from exterior painting, can be difficult to remove. There is a wide variety in lumber grades and quality and it may be difficult for an inexperienced person to make the right selection. For example, lumber that has been sawn green and stacked can look very sound and straight but may warp or twist when air dried. Unless a higher grade is required for a special purpose mast lumber used for the structural frame of houses is classified in the following two main categories; Stud Grades for wall framing and Structural Grades for floor, ceiling or roof joists and rafters. Except for stud grades or special orders, the framing lumber for shipments to building sites is normally referred to as number two or better structural, in the species
of lumber most common to the area, Wood -shrinks on drying and may warp or twist. To minimize these problems the 1977 National. Building Code of Canada requires that the moisture content of lumber shall not be greater than 19 per cent at the time of installation in a building. Roof trusses are very popular and one reason has been that many suppliers arc highly selective in their choice af lumber for the trusses, Where long spans are involved, it would be difficult to achieve the same result using conventional on-site roof-framing methods unless the lumber was carefully selected, Because every house building project requires a varying number af short lengths of 2 x 4'5, savings are possible through the use of 2 x 4 lumber known as "shorts1'. The term "shortsi' is used to refer to ends that are left aftex a mill has cut a series of standard lengths. These are very often of good quality and considerably less expensive than the regular lengths. These, short pieces can he used for stakes, blacking, formwork, roof-rafter lookouts and soffit supports. High quality workmanship on the part of the framer is essential
to the success of wood-frame house constructidn. He should be able
to offer inspection of some of the other completed framing projects for
evaluation. The framing sub-contract usually starts with the const~uction of the footing and foundation forms. The ngad for accuracy with respect to squareness and level cannot be over emphasized. It also takes an experienced tradesman to know when forms are adequately tied and braced to resist the weight, of the concrete. The framer will be anxious to remaire the foundation forma the day following< the placing af the concrete so ellat tIic main laouse framing can proceed. In thc case of the foorings and f~untiat ior~ walls, saiw gutllorities suggest that thc forms sl~ould bu left in place for t i t l k a s t twentyfour Iiours, but that this period should be extended if the weatl~er is hat and sunny. During cold weather, the forms should not be removed w h i l e the concrete is still warm, as rapzd cooling of the surface will cause checkgng and surface crack-s. Stripping of the forms should be done carefully because comer5 and thin sections of t h e green eancrete are easily damaged by rough fanaval p$ the farm boards . The fallowing are sane examples af framsng procedures that may require special attention :
To avoid problems when f i t t i n g door and window frames, obtain accurate actual dimensions for the frames so t h z the rdugh openings may h~ adjusted accordingly. Otherwisd the framer w i l l probably leave rough openings slightly larger than necessary knowing that the openings can be blocked out to suit the door or window frames, A lnrgc scale drawing sl~owing the window and dsqr installation details should be available frnm the suppliers to assis in establishing the proper cloarnrrces. It is also imyortarlt that tlle finish floor thickness be estimated at each door opening so that it can be taken into account when establishing the height af the rough openings for the interior doors. The rough op.ening sizes are of particular COTIC~TII where top hung closct doors al*e used and the-return of the gypsum bomd fenlaces the use of a wood frame. It is also important thiit the lumber used for framing the rough openings be selected carefu1J.y so as to minimize, the possibility of warping because it is d-iffTcult to install the da6r frames and t r i m if warping occurs. Lintels: framers may use heavier linxels than necessary unless a l l sizes are noted on the drawings. This is sometimes done tp expedite the framing operatian by eliminating th& variatien in length of the short studs between the lintel and the top plates when lintels of different sizes c a l d be used. The lintel suppo- studs should be, tightly f i t t e d because the lintel will usually shrink slightly and latex when the load comes on the structure the slightest downward movement of the l i n t e l may add to the possibility of a crack forming in the wall finish above the corners of the door and window openings, Dimensions for ceiling drops above kitchen cupboards are seldom detailed clearly and it is advisable to determine how much projection is desirable and see that the dimension is uniform above a l l cupboards. Fire stowing of the stud spaces around the framing for the ceiling drops shauld be installed before the ceiling drops are put in place ( F i ~ u r e 1). This is another detail seldom shown on plans and the proposed meThod QE accomplishing the fire stopping should be broughr to the attention of the huilding inspection department. Drains from toilets, bathtubs and showers often occur directly over floor joists making extensive modifications necessary. This can ba avoided by preparing drawings to show a joist layout in relation to the bathroom fixtures (153 Payments, the Mechanicsf Lien
Because sub-cantracts for small projects in residential construction are undertaken with a minimum of written specifications, misunderstandings can easily develop. If a difference of opinion betmen the owner and subcontractor cannot be resolved, the owner may have no alternative but to hold back part of the final payment. The sub-contractor may then use the ultimate weapon and threaten the project with a Mechanics1 Lien- The implication being that this will shut down the project. However, this is not necessarily the case. Rather than comment further on t h i s legal procedure, the nutllar would strongly recommend that builders and tradesmen become familiar wit11 the law relating to Mechanics' Lien through reference books from a Public Library, and if necessary by discussing the solution with a solicitor.
Material Quantities It is difficult to check on the quantities of bulk Materials such as cnncrcto, sand, gravel or s o i l when it is delivered to the site. The quantities sl~ould be based on estimates taken from the plans but in many instances tllc estimates are low, The reasons given are often that the gratlc was uneven, grade levels are seldom measured accurately and compaction of the hase material. With concrete quantities the forms might be slightly oversize or have bulged, and there may be sorne leakage of concrete from the forms. To avoid additional delivery charges lumber is often ordered in large loads, and because the lumber is slid from the truck in a compact bundle the pile would have to be taken apmt and restacked for an accurate check to be niade. (173 Heavy Equipment Darnage In subdivZsions where roads, sidewalks and services are in place before building commences, there is the possibility that these new Ea~iXities will be damaged by heavy equipment, and that the repair costs will be charged to the owner. The heaviest equipment is usually the truck that delivers the concrete. When these trucks ga over new curbs or sidewalks there is great potential for damage. The size of the
vehicles and the fact that the concrete materials must be used once chey are mixed makes it possible far inexperienced persons to be intimidated by the operators of the trucks. For these and other Ireavily loaded vehicles, care should be taken to clearly mark entry routes, whenever it is possible, to avoid crossing curbs nr sidewalks. Otherwi~e ramps should be prepared. Underground services should be clearly marked
that accidental damage by trucks, excavating or back-filling equipment can be avoided. Whenever heavy equipment is working on the site an owner's representative should be present to ensure that the operator stays clear of the building, even if this means some extra close-in work by
hand. [18) Prevention of Vandalism Minor theft and damage to building sites has always been a problem because a partially completed house has a particular fascinatiw~ for inquisitive children. A t various stages each site can have large quantities of unguarded and valuable materials, much of it vulnerable to damage. The builder therefore has had to depend heavily on the inhcrent honesty of the public to have a successful operation. UnfbTtunatcly public moral attitudes are changing to the point where theft and serious malicious damage to building sites is common. The builder to-day, tl~creforc, musr either plan for the cost of a security patrol or risk llcavy monetary loss. Undcr these circumsrances it is always advisable to bring the house to the lockup stage as quickly as possible. This w i l l require careful co-ordination to get the doors and windows delivered at the proper time. A door with a temporary lock becomes advisable so that keys can be given to the various trades when necessary. Picture windows and sliding glass doors should be protected with sheet materials whenever possible. (19) Innovations The trades and manufacturers have developed ingenious methods of keeping on-site labkur costs down. Perhaps the foremost af these was the development of gypsun drywall as well as t h e new pre-finished shcct materials and pre-finished exterior sidings. Plywood and other com~rosirio~~ boards
for sheathing have also been responsible far reducing on-site labour, Baseboards have been eliminated in many areas in houses by bringing the drywall ta within 12 m of the floor so that the remaining j o i n t can be covered by thick carpet and underlay. Most of the extruded metal window frames have a wide flange around the perimeter to permit rapid maunting of ehe window from the exterior. Drywall is often returned at the windows and a plastic cap has been developed to minimize damage to the drywall frm condensation that might form an the metal window frame. There are, bowcvcr, some p o t e n t i a l problems with these window details. A narrow space is left between -the metal frame and the rough opening frame. This is seldom packed with insulation and there is a danger of air fr~m the house entering this space and condensing an the mter metal frame. I t is extremely difficult to extend the airjvapour barrier to the metal window frame at: this point. Considerablc time can also be requircd to blo~-k out around the rough opening so that the drywall and plastic bead will lap the metal window evenly all arou~~d (Figure 23. Gypsum board returns around closet doors, like those at windows, substitute for the usual wood frame and trim. The gypsum board extends 12 mm beyond the opening and is capped with a metal cap. This projection hides the sides, top and hottom of bifold closet doors (Figure 3). Designers are also eliminating the returns ar0un.d closet doors (Figure 4 )
Ceiling height interior doors have been tried f r o m rime to t i m e . Tlre metric house built by HUDAC at Habitat in Vancouver in 1976
featured a ceiling height set of sliding doors to enclose a closet wall. These were prefinished sliding doors of hardboard with the edges capped with simple plastic moulding. Metal capped gypsum valance boards are very popular, but. they are often backed with heavies than necessary 2 in. material because it is usually available on the site and provides a solid backing. Some builders use special metal brackots to reduce the amount of wood used and t h e brackets also make the insulation, drywall and air barrier easier to install, because they are placed over the gypsum board. Wood or gypsum valances can bc used on the heavy woad frame backing or the metal brackets (Figure 51- Folding closet doors and hardware as well as the interior shcfving rods and hardware have also been designed to minimize
installation t i m c . Spray produced textured ceiling finishes afe widely used as they minimize the d i f f i c u l t y of hiding the drywall seams. It is necessary to clearly specify those areas where the spray is not desirable. such as
in kitchens and bathrams. Prefinished vinyl doors are available and if acceptable Is the owner are a significant saving aver other finishes. For instance a standard 30-in. vinyl prefinished door costs only slightly more than a select grade mahogany door ready for staining! It should be noted, however, that the prefinished vinyl door is difficult to repair if the vinyl is damaged. Prehung prefinished doors are popular. The split jamb is expensive but it includes the prefitted door trim and it is adjustable to minor variations in wall thickness. There is strong competition among manufacturers of kitchen and bathroom cabinets and counter tops. This gives the owner the advantage of high quality factory finishes and a wide selection at competitive prices. Plastic plumbing for drain, waste, and vent pipe is widely used in single-family housing and aids in keeping dawn the price of plumbing installations through reduced on-site labour. Factory produced roof trusses certainly speed the on-site operation, however, the job scheduling must be precise in order t o have the fiame complete to the point where the truck delivering the trusses can use irs hydraulic boom to place the Trusses on the home. Qtherwise they will simply be left at the site and it can be a difficult task getting them on the house by hand. Further useful information is available from Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Montreal Road, Ottawa, Ontario KIA OP7 in their publication entitled Canadian Wood-Frame House Cclilstruction (Order no. NHA 5031, Price $1.00).
STOPPED WITH GYPSUM BOARD BEFORE FRAME I S NAILED IN PLACE F IRE STOP FIGURE I CEILING DROP
EXTERIOR BLOCKING: A I R BARRIER' TO HERE CAP FIGMRE 2 WINDOW JAMB
DRYWALL METAL CAP] - DOORS FIGURE 3 TOP AND SIDES OF CLOSETS
FIGURE 4 DESIGNERS EL IAI INATE RETURNS FIGURE 5 VALANCES
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