Plans Submitted to City, and Other Updates

A few days ago, Build submitted the official architectural plans to the City of Seattle for approval. There are still some details outstanding like the placement of an extra door, some railing specifics related to the upper stairs, and of course all of the interior details, but apparently unless the outstanding items are significant from a structural or safety standpoint, it’s ok to change them later. We ending up using Sw√©nson Say Faget as our structural engineering consultants and their fee was $2915 (Kevin at Build also has a structural engineering background so it was good to know there were two sets of eyes at work). The non-refundable cost to apply for the demolition and construction permits ended up being $5460.75 and was based on the estimated construction cost of the house. In other words, the more expensive the house, the more the permits are. I’ve been advised that the permitting process takes about six weeks, but since no one in their right mind is building now, it could be quicker.

After initially inspecting the property (at a cost to me of $116.25), the City also required me to submit a full, written geotech report with my application. You may remember that I already paid $350 for a “verbal” geotech report before I bought the property, but I guess when you ask them to write something official up, it’s much more expensive. I used Icicle Creek Engineers this time and the charge was $2700.

Other matters

I don’t have a whole lot of new renderings to display, but here’s one of a proposed ceiling treatment for the living room:

I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but it — or something like it — will be necessary in order to dampen the echo caused by the vaulted ceilings. The idea is to put something visually nice on the ceiling and pad the area above it with a sound-dampening material.

Also, I’m getting to the point where I need to start thinking about sinks, lighting, appliances, and other interior details. Does anyone have any recommendations as to where the best places to shop online for that stuff is? I’m interested in sites which showcase hardware, lighting, and appliance design as well as retailers where you can actually buy the stuff.

Costs accrued during this stage:

Miscellaneous expenses$223.00
City of Seattle initial site inspection$116.00
Written Geotech inspection$2,700.00
City of Seattle Demolition and Building Permits (Deposit)$5,460.00
Structural engineering services$2,915.00

21 Responses to “Plans Submitted to City, and Other Updates”

  1. Daryn Says:

    Thanks again for the filling in the details on the process!

    I really like the ceiling treatment. There are some pretty interesting track light systems that could look sexy up there, and for the pendants, I think some nelson ball or saucer bubbles would fit in well. They’ve got a bunch of the different ones on display at the Velocity Art & Design showroom (my wife works there) across from the big REI.

  2. Michael Says:

    Mike, have you ever seen that show on HGTV called “Beyond the Box”? Some pretty creative uses of inexpensive materials that allowed individuals to create their dream homes for a fraction of the cost. Here is the link:

  3. John B Says:

    I’m not sure if there’s a better alternative, but I can imagine that the ceiling treatment would get pretty dusty after a year or two, and it’s not exactly easy to clean.

    It looks nice while it is clean though.

  4. Lou M. Says:

    Just curious, what was the final square footage of the house (not including deck or garage). Just wondering how the city calculates the building permit and if you received any discount from them for green building, etc. Also, wouldn’t the architect (Build) provide you with the resource for lighting and fixtures?

    When do you plan on breaking ground?

  5. Nic Says:

    I’m a mind reader: These are the showerheads you are looking for.

  6. Jack Says:

    Has all the snow changed your plans at all? (In terms of schedules or even design decisions?)

  7. KP Says:

    For our project, JP and I spent most of our time searching online (sites like ) and bookmarking things we liked. Also spent time searching manufacturers websites, after perusing a ton of magazines. For appliances we ended up visiting Albert Lee (but based on past experiences — our own and friends — didn’t buy from them). It was helpful to be able to touch and feel the appliances. We purchased most of the appliances at Crossroads Appliance after getting our shopping list together from our online searches.

    On the ceiling treatment – I like the look. However, I don’t know if this will have a large enough effect on the acoustics for this purpose (I suppose the pads you mention are the key element there) and I wonder if cobwebs will become a nuisance with the lattice.

    In response to Lou M., Build LLC did provide their recommendations in all of these areas, but we found it helpful to have our own basis for either accepting their recommendations or proposing an alternative for their feedback. This back and forth went quite smoothly from our standpoint.

  8. Mike D. Says:

    Daryn: Thanks! Will check out Velocity as soon as the snow clears.

    Michael: Thanks for the link. I haven’t seen that show. I did watch “Dream House” though and it’s a total disaster so far! :)

    Lou: It’s about 3000 square feet. I’ll have to doublecheck but I don’t think the fee is based directly on square footage. Just “cost of construction”. As for lighting and fixtures, yeah, Build provides a lot of guidance there but I’m the type of person who likes to know everything that’s out there. The current plan is to look at breaking ground in the spring, but I may end up delaying if the economic picture isn’t clearer by then. If housing and the economy are about to drop another 50%, it probably doesn’t make sense to make such big expenditures right now.

    Nic: Oh yes. Those are probably going in. I’m bitter because the water pressure at my current place is not even high enough to support them. My current shower is basically a watering can.

    Jack: I would say no. I haven’t even been able to make it up to the house since the snow to check it out. The roads are bad and my car isn’t exactly snow worthy.

    KP: Thanks for chiming in. KP has a beautiful house extensively remodeled by Build and finished up just days ago. It’s really nice and makes me all the more optimistic about this process.

  9. Cara Says:

    For bathroom fixtures, lighting and cabinet/door hardware, I love Restoration Hardware. They have a brick and mortar store in Pacific Place in downtown Seattle and in U Villiage.

  10. marc Says:

    The best online place for contemporary lighting is I’m not sure about the ceiling echo damper… looks too much like the 70’s to me! How about some neutral sound dampening material directly applied to the ceiling (kinda like a ceiling carpet)?

  11. Lou Says:

    Thx Mike. Definitely agree with your sentiments on the economy. We are in the beginning phase of a similar style project but are taking cautious steps and trying to pay as much out of pocket as possible instead of going after a huge loan. Look forward to hearing more about your project and good luck!

  12. Lou M Says:

    Thanks KP for the feedback on the resourcing of materials. Good to know. Can’t wait to see the final renderings of the house and of course, actual photos once its all done up.

  13. Vince Says:

    I have found lots of great ideas at the Cool Hunter

  14. nick Says:


    We’re remodeling our bathrooms and I’ve found the following to be solid:

    The coolest sinks and showers ever designed:

    An awesome resource for tiling and stone:

    Clean lines and reasonably priced bathroom stuff (see Philippe Starck range)

    Also, if memory serves, there’s a Waterworks store down on First Avenue.



  15. Benjy Says:

    I don’t mean to be self-promotional, but another good resource for modern lighting is Lightology. In the interest of full disclosure, I work for the company as web marketing manager, but am recommending it because we do have a large selection of lighting in the styles and price points you are likely considering for you house.

    I am a longtime reader of your personal blog, and given my interest in architecture, etc. I have really been enjoying the chance to live vicariously through you on this undertaking.

  16. Mike D. Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Lots of good stuff to look at. Benjy, no worries.

  17. Bridget Mc. Says:

    John B. is right. Seriously think about how you are going to clean, dust and replace light bulbs. As someone with a 25′ vaulted ceiling and no way to get up there without buildinng scaffolding (seriously, dude) I know of which I speak.

    Cool design though! Love your blogs.

  18. JB Says:

    Great Blog! We are living a similar life and are about to submit our plans to the City of Seattle for permitting. I read that your Permit Intake was Dec 21, but don’t see a follow-up indicating that you’ve received your permits yet. Are you still waiting? If not, what was the turn around time?

  19. Mike D. Says:

    JB: Nope, no permits yet. They are still wrangling with the architects on details. My guess is that the amount of scrutiny the city thrusts upon you (high) is inversely related to the amount of permit requests coming in (low).

  20. Cheryl Says:

    Re: interior fittings and finishes, I don’t have one specific site to refer you to, just some general advice based on how I approach the same task. (Like you, I also like to know what all the options are, so tend to do exhaustive research on everything! It works for me…)

    1. Google extensively and save good sites to a well organized set of folders; e.g. Bathroom fixtures, Carpets, Window Coverings, etc.

    2. Read/scan a LOT of design magazines, including foreign ones and tear out the pages with stuff on it that you like–put those “clippings” into folders similar to the headings for your online resources. If you choose not to buy the magazines, review ones at the library and jot down the websites or other reference info for items you like, then look them up at home.

    3. Make some “compare and contrast” sheets–I cut and paste computer images of, say, my top 5-10 sinks (or refrigerators or…) so I can see them side by side, along with dimension notes. I find it easier to make decisions within a context vs. looking at one sink (or whatever) in isolation. I just line up the images on a Word document, but I’m sure there more sophisticated ways to do it!

    4. Make some design boards for yourself. If you hire an interior designer, this is essentially what they will do for you too, but I do my own by cutting and pasting computer images of objects (fixtures, furniture, tile, etc.) along with actual paint chips, fabric samples, etc. on a large sheet of white foamcore. Pin it up on a wall and stare at it over a period of a few weeks and see if you still like the colors, forms, and general “mood” of the assemblage! Closest thing to a dry run of the actual objects. Plus it is good to see how the design elements of each room or space look next to each other, and decide whether you want the spaces to all flow together or to contrast with one another…

    5. Don’t make any sudden decisions–I find that what I think I like the most, often evolves and changes as I put all the parts together. The whole package or assemblage is more important than any one single object.

    Your blog is totally awesome. You’re doing a fabulous job of documenting the whole process. We are building new too, but still in design phase. Your comments are really helpful to us!

  21. nick Says:

    Ran across these the other day: