Friday, June 29, 2007

The meeting of the engineers

Yesterday I was messing around on the city’s website and discovered there’s been a complaint filed about the condition of our yard. Oh dear. Well, I concede that we don’t cut the grass as often as we could, and the contractors haven’t been very meticulous about containing the debris into tidy piles. However, this program is intended for people to report abandoned and neglected properties, which is obviously not the case with our house. It seems that about a dozen houses on our street have been written up for similar problems - mostly uncut grass and weeds - and really our street is not one that is notable for nuisance properties. I imagine one of the neighbors is putting in the complaints as a gentle nudge to remind everyone to clean up their yards. Meh. It worked though - we had the yard guy over today to give a thorough buzz to all the growing things, and got the contractor clean up the scattered debris.

Our bigger issue, that I wouldn’t fault my next-door neighbor at all for complaining about, is the chimney that has sagged about 6 inches since the house got lifted. It hasn’t been properly supported, and is just suspended on the side of the house right now. The fireplace is non-functional anyway, probably since the last big hurricane blew through, so we want to just take the whole thing off, unless it’s cheaper to shore it up and fill in the gap with masonry. Evidently there will be a meeting of the engineers today to decide how to proceed. Each of the contractors and the architect have engineers on the job, so you’d think we’d have avoided the sagging chimney to begin with. I keep telling them I don’t care what they do with it, I just want it done before the whole thing falls on my neighbor’s driveway, or even worse on his car or house.

The meeting of the engineers is also going to discuss the columns supporting the center of the house. The specs from the architect’s engineer called for 8x8 wood columns and laminated wood beams running the length of the house. Mr. Nola, the contractor, and I would like to see something more substantial given the insane weight of the house and the tenacity of local termites. We’d feel better about concrete columns and steel beams - but then we’re not engineers so they ought to tell us the best materials to use. I realize wood has some properties that make it stronger than steel in some applications, so maybe it’s just psychological, but then again I really don’t want to replace a column in five years because some formosan termites have taken up residence in it.


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