Marc Alan Goodman’s Building Strange Weather Blog — The Joys of Home Ownership

Latest in the “Building Strange Weather Blog” series by producer/engineer and studio owner Marc Alan Goodman. Click to start at Step 1: Finding A New Home; Step 2: Design; Step 3: Waiting For Permits (Part 1) and Step 4: (Part 2); and Step 5: Stops & Starts, Step 6: Demolition, Step 7: The Structural Work.

So the last tree in the backyard came up and with it, a whole series of problems.

Marc Alan Goodman's Strange Weather is a recording studio currently located in East Williamsburg pending the new build-out in Williamsburg proper.

Our next-door neighbor had a wooden post in her yard with her clothesline mounted on it. When we started to take our tree down, it immediately fell over, demonstrating that it wasn’t attached to the ground at all, it was just hanging from our tree.

So the woman immediately calls her son, who shows up at our site waving his arms and screaming, getting in the crew’s face. Nick, the GC, is cool as a cucumber and didn’t even flinch at the guy (hell, why would he, he’s got like seven guys behind him) but it almost came to blows.

After the guy blew off, Nick did him a solid and hung the clothesline from the corner of our building. If you swing by the photoblog you can see a picture of how rotten the thing was. Completely ridiculous.

To top it off I’ve still seen no sign of the money my other neighbor promised me for taking the tree down, which I didn’t want to do in the first place. I only agreed because she threatened to call the Department of Buildings (DoB).

To top that off, she DID complain to the DoB. They showed up due to a complaint from “someone in the community” that there were no permits posted. The permits were posted, but on the glass door which was behind a metal shutter when the site was closed.

The inspector couldn’t see them but also couldn’t get into the site so she left us a warning. However this had me panicked because we were still waiting for the final permits for the second floor, which we were supposed to have months ago. The DoB is slowed to almost a stop and I’m starting to question what my expediter has been doing this whole time.

After receiving the inspection notice I really kicked things into gear in order to make the second floor legit. I called the expediter and they informed me that there was paperwork that myself and my architect (Hannah) needed to get signed. So they sent it to Hannah, she signed it and got it notarized, then sent it to me. When I got it I noticed that my name was wrong, so they had to send me a new one which I signed and had notarized, then sent it to Hannah in Connecticut where she signed it, got it notarized, and sent it to the expediter.

Post tree removal, Strange Weather backyard / soon-to-be awesome outdoor lounge

Two days later I hear through Hannah that I put the wrong amount on one of the checks. Apparently what they meant by “I put the wrong amount” was that they wrote the wrong amount in the cover letter they sent me. So I had to get them another check.

Two days later I call again to check in and they informed me that my asbestos report from about a year ago was no longer valid, and the person who performed the inspection is no longer certified. So they sent over their guy to do a new inspection, as if we’d added new asbestos in the last year that we now wanted to remove.

The guy was scheduled to arrive at 2 pm but showed up early at noon when both Nick (contractor) and I were out to lunch. He walked in, didn’t explain who he was, and walked back out. I called the expediter to find out if he’d gotten what he needed and they said yes. Two days later I called back and they told me that no, he didn’t get it. So he came back again. However this time he took one look at the second floor, which has been gutted for weeks, and says “There are no walls to test, so I suggest he take a sample from the hallway. I asked if it had to be the second floor hallway and he said no, so he just took it from the first.

Five days after that the test results came back and I heard from the expediter that they were not valid because he wrote that they were from the first floor. So he had to come back again to take some from the second floor hallway. Two days after that we FINALLY had a valid asbestos report and could finish the second floor filings.

Which brings us to yesterday, when the filings were approved, meaning that we could pull the building permit as early as today. Of course today is the first day of the GC’s vacation.

And, of course, the inspector shows up today. She sees the permits out front, makes a note, and then says “Hey, while I’m here let me see the plans.” Somehow, by some stroke of luck, she doesn’t even notice that the second floor plans aren’t there, but she does notice that the engineer’s structural drawings of the joist work are not stamped and approved.

Both the architect and expediter have been telling me from the beginning that we shouldn’t need those, but the inspector wasn’t having it. She’s given us one more chance to get them together before shutting us down, so now we have to drum those up fast, which I’m in the process of figuring out how to do.

One of the two giant HVAC units for the studio

So that’s been my job. While I’ve been doing that the guys have finished sistering all the joists, moved the chimney, finished up the rear structure, fixed some of the floors to the basements, and cleaned up all of what’s going to be the exposed brick.

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