Chronicles of the Design & Construction of Two Waterfront Hurricane Proof Dry Stack Modular Green Custom Homes
1. Villa Lagoon, Wilder Italian Style Home
2. Nasello Italian Style Home

Laying Out Location of the Building

April 2007

The surveyors have been out and re-marked the corners of the property. Dan (builder) says that they will be returning for additional information this week. Seems that the local building permit/inspection office is now requiring quite a bit more in the way of official surveys than when the original Phase I part of this project was built. Part 1 was built before both Ivan and Katrina. I have heard from many people that since the property damage was so severe here on the coast, that there are plenty of new codes.

house site surveyors site plan surveyors

Our structural engineer did not have his drawings or calculations done last week. Dan has spoken to him and he said that it would be the 'end of the month'...to which Dan replied that was not acceptable. I have emailed the engineer myself, stressing the importance of us getting started. I know another person waiting on work from him as well, so I am not sure how quickly he will get my stuff done. The engineer asked for a 2 grand 'deposit' originally and I gave it to him. I wish now that I had not and then maybe I could find another engineer who could knock out the info that we need quickly.

The fellow that Dan wants to use as our block man is to go up to Grenada, MS to have a look and inventory my blocks. It is about a 7 hour drive up, but my friend, Jerry Nasello wants 8 column blocks to make gate posts on either side of his drive, so the trip up to inspect the blocks might be combined with bringing some column blocks back for Jerry. This will be great, as the expenses for the block layer to go up to Granada would be covered by his bring Jerry's blocks back.

An Epson Oversized Printer for Plans

I went to a local print shop to get a pdf file of my plans printed out on paper large enough to read the small numbers...they couldn't do it and sent me down the street to a plans printing place. No one does old style Diazio (blueprint) printing anymore it seems.

For one set of about a dozen pages on the full size paper, they wanted $45 bucks. The next size down was $35 so that is what I went for. Then Epson sent me an email about clearance and rebate on their oversized large format Epson 1280 printers for $199. Free shipping. I could see how that expense could easily be re-captured. I ordered the printer and it was here in a couple days. It will print 13 1/2 in x 26 inches or you can mount a roll of paper for longer banners. I will still have to print on two sheets and tape them to get the largest typical blueprint sized house plans, but big deal. Dan Z., my builder thinks it was a good idea to get the printer. he knows that in order to make this project happen, I am all about saving money. Also, many scrapbookers print 12 in x 12 in background papers, so now Heather and I are making our sets in that size too and this printer will help us evaluate the files we create. I checked before I ordered it and cheap generic cartridges are available for this model.

Epson 1280 large format printer

Printer Delivery

Today, April 13th, I ordered 46 two bulb electric wall sconces and 4 solid brass exterior light fixtures from a guy that I found on eBay. He owns a eBay drop-off shop (they sell on your behalf for a commission) in Florida and must have bought a ton of these discontinued Thomas Kincaid lighting fixtures. Thomas Kincaid is that guy who paints overly-sentimental cottage illustrations but this lighting manufacturer got him to stick his name on a line of lights. I was just looking for a bargain on lots of plain 2 arm wall sconces and I don't care if they are called Michael Jackson fixtures. I plan to use them with out the glass shades, so I Photoshopped the glass away to show how they should look.

Thomas Kincaid sconce electric wall sconce lighting fixture

I am BIG on sconces. So much better than dim overhead lights and scattered table lamps with cords to trip over. Especially on stair cases, where standing on a ladder is scary to change bulbs.  I just love sconces. You see them in photos of all the grand old houses, in entranceways, halls, staircases, ballrooms... I do not know why builders ever got away from using them. Even if I go to those coil twisty energy saver bulbs, mine will look cool.

The big brass exterior lights will go on the garage and the front doors.

Brass exterior lighting fixture

I paid $19 bucks each for the sconces and $79 for the exterior lights, plus freight. I went ahead and ordered a couple extra sconces, as I bet end up needing them. I did a good bit of web searching before I mailed the guy a check today to be sure I couldn't find a better deal. Lighting fixtures are one of the most marked-up things imaginable, so even when I did find some cheaper on an auction site, there were usually only two, or four at most. I was just lucky the first time around (Phase I) to run into some Pottery Barn rejects for $2.99 each. But there were only about 8 or so. Believe it or not, the MSR price for the ones I ordered today was like $100 for the sconces and get this.. .$411 for the exterior ones. I am totally ready to go into the lighting fixture business if anyone wants to partner up with me to do it. Anyway...all together the total with freight was about $1400 for all these fixtures. Dan thought it was a great deal. I had to get 'em while the gettin' was good.

I suppose I will have to squeeze them into my mini-storage when they come. Luckily, Dave helped me all one recent afternoon to throw out a bunch of old stuff and re-organize the mini-storage. Good timing.

I got a shock last night. It was the first time that I did the math and figured out the sq footage of this Phase II. Up until now, I have been thinking in terms of number of rooms...not many. But the square footage is way more than I expected and with the tall ceilings, it should have a very grand feeling inside. Anyway, short ceilings in a DAC-ART house look oppressive (like ancient jail cell) whereas, high ceilings are the opposite ...fabulous. This lot is so wonderful and not many places like this are left, it deserves a really nice structure.  I am not worried about the HVAC aspects of the sq footage as DAC-ART stays cool well into the day and I will mostly live on the top floor and can have the floors zoned, so when no guests are here, I wont care what temp the middle floor is.  I do wonder if property tax is figured on what you spent or the sq footage...I might need to have a chat with the assessor just so I'd know what I was in store for. Waterfront property is taxed way higher than inland.

And...Speaking of lights....

I was in Wal-Mart this week when I spotted some clearanced-out lights that had been on the isle with the hip-chick decor. They do this gradual color change thing with LED lights. These 12 in flat square lights had been $28 something but they were marked 10 bucks. I bought all of them. Here is my plan. I think they would be oh so cool to do all 12 together on the wall of the powder room. I will have some regular lighting in there too of course, but I showed them to Dan today and we talked about making a recess between the studs in the powder room for an electric outlet and having it on a wall switch so when guest went into the half bath off the living room/kitchen, they could get this cool artsy lighting effect. Imagine all 12 of them on one wall, three across and four units tall. Maybe I can get a blue glass sink...black toilet...that would be fitting...These lights would be cycling thru their myriad of gradual color changes in unison. They are very similar to the Ice Block color change radio that Google sent me for Christmas two years ago. Everyone who got one of those thought they were way cool. Now here it is 2 years later and Wal-Mart has the same (basically) LED toys for cheap.

In the photos below, notice how only one square in each shot is color changed. I took multiple shots a few seconds apart, I tried to capture the gradual effect. This is one light only and it lets off a ton of LED light, I think 12 of them in a small half bath would be sensational and they should last 40 to 60 years...hurricanes aside ! Unlike the photos below, all 12 of the lights would cycle thru the same colors if they are all on one switch. I predict that everyone will want to go to the bathroom in my house !!! Well the fun people anyway !

LED color change lightLED color change lightLED color change light
LED color change lightLED color change lightLED color change light
LED color change lightLED color change lightLED color change light

April 18, 2007

The surveyors came back this morning and put in some stakes marking the rough outline of the new house construction location so we can have the necessary trees removed. It is a shame to lose these trees as we lost so many down here in the storms due to the heavy dose of salt they received.

May 2, 2007

Still waiting on the engineer's (Anil Badve) drawings....got a call from my builder, Dan, this morning, he says Anil promises to have them ready this week for sure. Everything is slow, slow, slow. BUT... my life is so crammed with stuff to do that I hardly notice. I went to Memphis this past weekend to help my parents and always come home to stacked up email, mail, phone messages, more email, etc...

Got an email from Abbie Colbert in Calif who is preparing to begin a DAC-ART house project on the coast there. She and her husband visited me here a year or two ago. She told me about video on YouTube of the large DAC ART house going up in Naples, FL. The builder has made numerous sequential videos, so I will now make a section on this site to add links to them in order.

Move on to the foundation plans and 'sorta' final plans that were submitted for building permit.