Access-A-Hut's Blog

October 26, 2009

Living Privacy fences

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 9:22 pm

I think I want something that doesn’t exist. I want raised gardens so I can sit in my chair and garden. I want plants around all of the fences for a living privacy fence. But I want to have a double row of fence, basically. The outer would be 6′ high and the inner, a foot away, would be 4′ high. Dirt would be between them, and the plants would start at the 4′ high level. Has anyone done this? How to handle drainage? floods? watering? ????

See a living privacy fence…tutorial.–not quite right as they are starting at ground level and I want to start at the 4′ level…

MaJe likes rose of sharon. and hibiscus.

“Intermediate Flowering Bushes for a Privacy Screen: Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a flowering shrub, also known as althea, that can reach a height of 8′-10′ with a spread of 4′-6′. These bushes profit from pruning. Blooms can be red, pink, blue, purple or white. Rose of sharon works well in shrub borders, because of its upright form. A row of these shrubs standing shoulder-to-shoulder forms a colorful privacy screen. Zones 5-9. For more information, please consult my plant profile on rose of sharon. ”

We are zone 5.
This tutorial does not show any drainage. How do you get “new dirt” or nutrients in?

This tutorial also does not address a long term, 4 foot high bed…but I think that using recycled plastic would be the best…


October 25, 2009

Art in the neighborhood

Filed under: Art,Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 1:54 pm

So this place is in a neighborhood we can afford–an eclectic sort of place. And there is a middle school right across the street. There has been tagging, but not recently. We want to promote art and give back to the community. So… we work with the school to get them to paint a teacher-approved design on our 8 foot high back fence. We host a pizza and paint Saturday and provide the materials to paint with and the pizza and pop. This way, kids can see a pretty art piece in the alley and can take pride in their neighborhood.

We then figure out zoning and building and permits to see what we can do in the front yard. IF we can do it, then we get the school/boys and girls club to do a mural for the front, which overlooks the school. Kids could then point to it and say “we did that.”

We would ask the school and the local boys and girls club to host an art mural contest and the winning design gets put on that front fence. We ask someone at the Denver Art Museum, someone in the local arts culture, and teachers at the school and the boys and girls club to judge the art contest. We put all entries into a really nice book or a gallery in a local art gallery or… so that all the kids who participate can see their artwork shown somewhere.

We can have 3 sections–one for each grade of the school, and do this on a regular basis–every year, every 3 years…

This would help get the kids interested in art, give them self-esteem, and promote pride in the neighborhood.

New directions–

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 12:12 pm

Ok. So we have now found and discarded a few options:

Mobile tumbleweed/house in Denver: Zoning restrictions and city laws basically prevent this. We are talking to council people and will go to the meetings on the new zoning code, but we are both pretty weak and can not take on a new political challenge.

Small plot of land/build stationary in Denver: The “hidden” elephant in the room for this option is the costs to prepare land: about $25,000 if the property does not have ready done taps for water and sewer (this includes the $2,000 for the first inspection round, the $4,000 for the second inspection, the $15,000 for both permits and building sewer and water, and the foundation, electric, etc. This is a low estimate, actually).

And then we figured out that no sane doctor/pt would agree to let the pair of us live alone without someone on the property who can drive and take care of us–for lots of complex reasons.

So, MaJe’s friend came across a lovely, perfect house in Denver. It is going to cost something over 3 times as much as we figured on spending when we first started this project.

There is a lot yet to figure out, but we’re excited. There will be ADA work needed, but it’s pretty minimal. It’s hard to find a house in Denver without multiple stairs. But this place has only one. We’ll need to renovate the bathroom a bit, and replace the gravel drive with concrete or some such thing. Gravel is just to unstable for Deena to walk on on good days, and impossible to move on during wheelchair days.

And we are still staying pretty true to the tiny house ideal: it will be 5 people in 900 sf place…

October 18, 2009

Swine flu and practice

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 9:18 am

We are down and out for the count with swine flu.

But we have been forced to rearrange our existing house–the bedroom is basically unusable now as 1) oxygen tubes don’t work with heaters and 2) our funky layout does not let the bedroom be heated without a heater–basically.

So we are taking advantage of the situation and practicing living entirely in our 15 by 15 living room.

October 15, 2009

Calculator for mortgages

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 9:16 pm

Use our 20 Mortgage calculators to calculate your payments

October 11, 2009

Any architecture students want to help out?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 12:24 pm

There is a prize for designing a community for sustainable housing from the International Association for Humane Habitat.

But the community should be for 1,000 people and you need to be an architecture student…

October 10, 2009

The three costs of a house

Filed under: Land costs,Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 11:02 am

If you build on new land in a city, there are actually three sets of costs involved. This is assuming you have cash on hand and does not include finance and interest charges:

Purchase price of land:

  • Land itself
  • Taxes
  • Closing costs
  • Inspection costs
  • Buyer’s commission
  • Seller’s commission

Preparing the land

  • Environmental Assessments (at least a Phase 1, which searches the history of the lot, and then a Phase 2, which tests the soils and determines the physical characteristics)
  • Building permits (electrical, mechanical, plumbing, construction)
  • Utility permits (Water, sewer)
  • Utilities themselves (Water, sewer, electric)

Building the house

  • Design costs
  • Zoning costs
  • Foundation preparation
  • Foundation and walls
  • House (plumbing, electricity as well)
  • Fence
  • Ramps
  • Driveway
  • Gutters

The land and the house costs are somewhat determined by the size of the house. But that middle category stays the same, no matter how small the project.

The economics here are like the cost calculations in buying a shirt. You take the price of the shirt and divide it by how many times you wear the shirt to get a relative cost per wearing. This allows you to compare thrift store clothes ($5 for 10 wearings = 50 cents a wear) vs new clothes ($50 for 50 wearings = $1 a wear). You could take the price of the land prep and divide it by the number of houses ($40,000 for 1 house = $40,000 a house) vs ($40,000 for 10 houses = $4,000 a house).

So… maybe our fantasy of getting a big lot and dividing it into little houses is not so far fetched as it seems. Instead of just building and designing for ourselves, we could build and design a whole community–say 6 houses on a 6,000 sf lot.

We don’t have the money, but I have good credit and could leverage this. And if we are doing accessible housing, we might be able to get a grant or something.

October 8, 2009

Wow permits cost

Filed under: Land costs,Zoning and laws — by accessahut @ 12:29 pm

Ok. We would have to have an electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and construction permit. Then we would need a boundary survey and a soils report. Then we go to building, get denied, and go to zoning.

Soil classification?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by accessahut @ 11:17 am

We are going to have to ask Denver Building Permits if we need a soil classification or can we just assume the worst and say that these are swelling soils? Apparently, the smaller the building, the bigger the impact of swelling soils.

Wow land costs more!

Filed under: Land costs — by accessahut @ 10:58 am

To get a sewer hookup in Denver, call Wastewater Management at 303-446-3500.

In 2009, the $2,730 “tap fee” is for residential sewer tap + $100 permit fee.

You can reactivate a sewer pretty easily– just $90: “A Reactivation Charge of $90.00 per SFRE for sewer connections that have been inactive for ten (10) years or more will be assessed.” You can cut off the old plug and put in a new one and that would issue a credit, which would offset the cost of the sewer tap–so there would not be a tap fee.

To get the sewer from the street to the residence, we’d have to hire a sewer contractor to tap into the street line and that costs extra–the fee and the pipe extension are two different entities.

Blue Sky Plumbing & Heating – (303) 674-2442 – has very nice reviews. So that sounds good. We have no idea how they really are… so caveat emptor. They estimate $6,000 to connect the water and sewer to the house (40 feet).

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