downright civil

Maxine, having read the last entry, writes, "Okay, all that harshness on the inside towards the city (that you’ve screamed over and over again inside your head) absolutely wasn’t heard in your latest blog entry. Downright civil actually."

I'm pleased, I think.

Another friend writes at his surprise at the $26,000 permit fee. I was wrong. It turned out to be $29,000 and change. This DOES NOT include the fees for additional third party testing of concrete (two site visits), soils compaction and erosion engineer (multiple site visits,) and a variety of other soon to be revealed fees and costs, having nothing to do with the cost of building, nor do they count the costs of the additional staff and engineering time to prep or then administer, including delays. In rural New York, we might see an inspector twice, and no more than 4 times. Here in Portland, the average home reguires 30-40 site inspections. We're not sure, but we think we'll be seeing between 60 and 80!

There is a joke among the builders and architects I am meeting in OR that Portland is the city that talks about change and innovation and then stops you from doing it. Certainly we are blessed with being able to push forward through this grist. How many can? My sense is that the city has so far cost us our solar PV array, at least . We'll see.

The money wasted has to come from somewhere. For most, it results in vinyl windows, lesser insulation, shallower craft. Asphalt composite shingles replace early goals of metal, (recyclable), and items like sustainably harvested wood products and higher efficiency appliances give way to lower cost models. The architectural process is deemed a budget casualty and builders offer stock and lowest-common-denominator plans to overwhelmed clients.

Maxine and yet another pleasant (i mean that) Portland bureaucrat.

My libertarian friends are having their way with me right now, and even I find it hard to stay in bounds of my good-government belief structure. Like so many things that started out to right an obvious problem, building and zoning codes are necessary. And like so many institutions, this one has grown out of sync as it matures into a series of mindsets based on fear.

So now it's midnight somewhere as I fly over the heartland from a great week in NY to home, ready to fondle my stamped plans, lick my wounds and build. Tomorrow I give a seminar at the Everything Green Oregon conference on salvaged wood in construction, and next week we'll be setting silt fences, starting the driveway, and interviewing renewable energy partners. I'm pretty excited to discuss our domestic hot water ideas, soon.

I'm also pretty excited to wake up to my little family on Valentine's Day. A happy one to you, also.