Thursday, March 30, 2017

red tape and other follies.

I'm still trying to go through this required course for owner builders.

Why is it taking me so long? After all I only look dumber than rocks, and, um have 7 years of post school study in a demanding field of science. I graduated rather well, actually. Is it hard math, calculations of what you need to know to build? No - it contains absolutely zero of this kind of valuable information that I'd be eager to study.

Does it teach the use of the materials or methods possible, and the limits on these? No: there is no real substantive building information in it all.

Does it walk you through costings and quantity calculations? Nope. All it says is that I am too dumb to do this and should hire professionals. This may be true - but it's of no value to me because I'm doing this because I can't afford to hire professionals.
So why is taking me so long?

Well, partly because it is 90 pages long and so far my record is 3 pages before shutting it down in a fury. It's 90 pages of red tape and 'don't do this: hire an architect, hire a builder, borrow money to pay the literally at least 400% extra costs for no benefit we impose'. Most of which is inapplicable, of no or negligible value to the owner-builder, all of which is written SO badly that, if it were subject to the same standards as they impose on me, it would have to be destroyed by specialists in haz-mat suits operating robots from 10 miles off, the ground scraped to 100 feet into bedrock, and the entire mess buried in a lead casket encased in six feet of concrete in a disused salt mine.

And the cherry on the top? As an owner builder you pay an extra tax to pay for producing this appalling drekk and 'improving' the rules. Yes, they tax you to make your life far more expensive and more complicated. AND tax you to support training in the building industry - to train people to do work you can't afford because they've made the process so expensive. I'm an owner builder because I must be. I enjoy actual building, but, realistically, I will be slow and less good than a skilled tradesman (well, I may not be less good - because it is mine and I care more - but the same job will take much longer.) But seriously, I have little choice but to do it myself because of cost. So: logically I must be taxed to pay to train more people I can't afford to employ.

On a different tangent I was ordering bugle head inset hex screws. I use these a lot in most large construction and they're solid. I tend to break or strip screws ;-/ - but not these. I used to do most construction with 10mm bolts (I'm that sort of guy) but these are pretty good. I made an interesting discovery - it's cheaper to order these by the 500, than the 1000 - while the base cost per screw goes down nicely with volume, the shipping goes up dramatically. 2 boxes of 500 cost $10 less than 1 box of 1000. You've got to watch that postage.

Chainsaw follies. I'm trying to switch over my 445 Husky to 3/8 chain (and bar). I'm tempted to spend money on a larger saw for timber-milling, but... it is a pricy exercise. And seeing the red-tape manufacturers are dead-set on taking every cent - or stopping the process, it's hard to justify spending that. I'd love to at least do some of the 'trim' (window ledges, doors, kitchen units, cupboards, out of my own timber - a sort of psychological joy, if not a vast saving.) but well the 'levy' for training building tradies I can't afford, is more important. And of course paying politicians to make more laws to impede and increase costs to home-builders, vital.

Plans are also afoot to take Jamie's old tractor out to the farm to start work on the site and track. It's got a digger-digger on the front and I must admit I can't wait. Mind you I might have to wrestle Barbara out of the driving seat to get a turn. Yes, we're both SO grown up :-).


  1. "destroyed by specialists in haz-mat suits operating robots from 10 miles off, the ground scraped to 100 feet into bedrock, and the entire mess buried in a lead casket encased in six feet of concrete in a disused salt mine." This is now my go-to phrase as an example of an amazingly articulate outburst without needing to swear. Swearing, compared to this seems somehow limp and flabby.

    1. eh, good thing I didn't really tell folk how I feel :-)

  2. Geez. And I thought that Michigan was imposing a lot of red tape. Here, as an owner-builder, I can do all the work I want to; in fact, the local building inspector, at last conversation, was encouraging me to do the bits I don't trust myself to do (such as natural gas lines).

    1. I WISH. I can't even touch gas, electrical or plumbing. Look when it comes to electrics I CAN do it (not legally so I can't) but in practice I have the knowledge and understanding. I would not choose to. But every other thing I can do - or carry the consequences of. I always over-engineer everything. I'm an ex-fishfarmer. I had to do some very 'interesting' plumbing on an industrial scale. I do have some grasp on which direction water runs, and that it ain't all water.

  3. It's good to see you posting again, I realised I missed your stories from the island.
    I'm looking forward to reading about and seeing pictures of your new house as it gets built. I would also been interested to see photos of the hazmat team working the dozers as they clear the 100 foot thick layer of bed rock. (That would make one wicked basement)

  4. Can understand your complaints whole heartedly. I used to live in Tassie and mov d over to mainland in 2004 - oh my! The extra rules and regs - enough to drive you batty.
    Anyway, I’m pretty sure the barter economy will come into effect, or even if you do all the cable runs etc, then get them to check it out and sign off.