Thursday, September 23, 2010

The West Virginia Prefab Cottage House Kit foundation is completed!

The West Virginia Prefab Cottage House Kit foundation is completed!

After considerable delay because of rain and scheduling problems with our block crew we finally got our foundation completed yesterday. They had a crew of 9, but that shrunk to 8 when one was whooped by the heat. It was 93 degrees on 9/22, the first (partial) day of fall!

They laid up 988 block in about 5 1/2 hours. Very efficient operation.
Amazing when you're paying for something by the piece rather than the hour how quickly things get done.

We'll have the termite treatment done today or tomorrow. The sub-floor package is supposed to arrive today or tomorrow and we'll be installing that next week, weather permitting. Then comes the part I've really been looking forward to, putting the SIP's up. So far everything we've done has been familiar territory for our gang.

SIP's will be something new for all of us. Gotta rent an extendable boom fork lift at $530 a day. Hope we get the hang of it quickly, for obvious reasons. Fortunately Richard from the SIPs plant affiliated with Green Cottage Kits has promised to come down to coach us through the process. Should be a great help considering his experience.

Time to get windows and doors ordered also. You gotta be careful here because you can pay a heck of a lot of money for these items. The trick is to strike a balance between quality and cost, with energy conservation being one of your main considerations.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dug and Poured Footers For The Prefab Cottage House Kit In West Virginia!

We dug and poured the footers for the West Virginia prefab cottage house kit this week.

Fascinating to watch the West Virginia cottage house kit footprint evolve, and the skills of the people involved laying out, digging, and pouring should not be underestimated. Whatever building you may be sitting in now, from a little house to a big office building, it took a heck of a lot of work to just get the foundation in right.

Fortunately the rain held off here until late this morning, so we were able to get the cottage footers marked for the guys who will be laying about a thousand cinder blocks tomorrow.

West Virginia Prefab Cottage
Construction Video From 2010-09-15

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A prefab cottage in West Virginia: The Beginning.

My name is Mike Cavender and I live in Elkview, West Virginia.
A cottage from Green Cottage Kits.
The one we are building is the one story Midway.
I must be nuts.  I recently quit my job with my employer of 28 years to go into the home building business. Based on how the economy is going, I've awakened many a night at 2 or 3 a.m. wondering what the heck I've done. I've always loved building and architecture, and believe that there is a real need for residential builders that concentrate on energy efficiency. That is what led me to Copeland Casati of the prefabs Green Cottage KitsGreen Modern Kits and the SIP construction system. Anyway, I pulled the trigger and we are about to build our first home.

Passive design cottage : Midway by Green Cottage Kits
Right now I am not a licensed contractor, although I will pursue that. I do have personal building experience, having built our first home 25 years ago (out of green lumber, white oak and hickory, which is quite a story in itself). I also acted as the general contractor on our second residence, a package log kit home. 

In addition I have 2 brothers, Joe and Rusty, that are contractors for many many years, with all manner of construction under their belts. I wouldn't have gone into this if they hadn't agreed to do it with me. I'm supplying the moolah and business management and they are supplying the expertise, skill and site management. SIP building is new to them too, with the exception of a bunch of refrigerator/freezer units that they put together for our county school system several years ago. The fact that these were constructed of SIP's ought to tell you something!

Passive solar prefab cottage house kit, Midway.
So, quit my job, jumped through the hoops to set up a business, and started determining which house we wanted to build first, as a spec house, using a considerable chunk of our savings. My wife Angie, who after the initial shock of hearing what I wanted to do, has been quite supportive and a great help. Then one day she comes home and tells me that her mom has decided that she wants to sell the house she's lived in for 50 years and build something smaller. Angie said "Mom, that's great, Mike is getting into home building and you can be his first customer." Thank you honey! 

Cardinal Building Systems of Winchester, VA is one of the plants that produces Green Modern Kits and provides technical and engineering help to Green Cottage Kits / Green Modern Kits customers. 

When I told Richard Lloyd of CBS that my first house would be built for my mother-in-law he told me I was a brave man. 

The foundation is laid out and tomorrow the digging starts. Hope everything goes smoothly, but of course, from prior experience, I know it won't. That just comes with the territory. The biggest hassle so far has been getting the utilities to ID their underground lines. Start early on this if you are managing your construction.

I've included a few pictures and will provide more as we progress.

My mother-in-law. Looks like a very sweet lady, doesn't she. Well, she is.

The unmarked lot from below. It is amazing how much rise there actually is versus what it looks like to the naked eye.

A picture of the tape measure showing distance to the sewer line ID'ed by the sanitation authority. Document this stuff because they are often wrong, and if they are you need a record.

The lot from above, laid out for digging.

We order the prefab cottage house kit this week.  More to come, soon.