Feedback on Inspection Schedule

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We are taking the Seed Eco-Home to product release next year. We are doing a major campaign with a goal of getting 2000 built over 2 years. The promise is a 1000 sf home for $50k that you can build with a friend in one week. That's a significant offer, and we think we can do it. The trick is: people build and stash modules, then have a week-long build with, at minimum, one other person.

There is one outstanding issue that we are negotiating: the joint between panels. I thought I might ask if you have insights on this. It is critical - as it's what allows all the walls to be done, from prepared panels - in about 4 hours for a 1000 sf house. We used tongue-and groove exterior panels in our last build, and built the walls in less than a day, including building panels. You can see more pictures of the stellar product after 4 years at

That is 1400 sf. We're planning on 1000 sf and flat roof for the product release.

For the product release, we'll use plain exterior treated plywood panels to simplify the joint. Please take a look at the doc and comment on - whether the 2 routes proposed can be negotiated through codes and existing inspection schedules. Which one would you suggest? Do you have another solution?

We're planning a large scale collaborative design event next year where we publish an open enterprise model. We plan on training 100 entrepreneurs to do the builds, and a number of one week on-site training for owner-builders where we build an entire house in each event. So essentially, really taking it to prime time - it's all working and we want to solve housing as promised.

Houston Area

Okay, the money side seems clear enough. Teh pinch is code compliance and inspections.

When I was a gen. contractor had to go to the Regional office and pay like $100 for GM license, filed the names of subs and details of project—drawings etc.

First inspection was me calling to say we are ready to start work. Some guy showed up and looked around, asked the owner questions measured some off-sets to wires, trees etc. He signed the paper and nailed a sign to the nearest permanent wall or whatever that we were not allowed to touch. We had to have a dumpster on site from start—no junk blowing around or for little kids to get into.

Basic structure was up and we had to call for #1 inspect. Which got signed off on and authority to continue posted in the building—usually by electrical inlet area. I called sub who showed up, write his license # down for me and then went to work. He called for inspection when he was done. Any failures were re-done at his cost. Most subs wanted 50% in cash when they showed up. I never paid that until the first day work was done or they would walk away and not show up.

Anyhow, that is how it goes and the inspector is god. I would expect at least 6 inspections for a big remodels I did, And more if a slab was in the plan. They then come for site, again for pour and set and then take a slump sample.

Most GM’s know the inspectors and subs and they all get along well in one area. They ALL resented me coming in from outside and taking work away from them. The GM will bid just under 10% of total cost for his piece of the pie. He will then dun the subs for 10% of their pie. That’s his profit over cost. When I worked in Houston it was strictly pay to play and pay all the way. I hated it and worked with a woman who was a good lawyer who stopped all the extortion. Let’s go to lunch and sort this out, then I would call her to join us for that lunch and save my bacon. Not fun.

Anyways, on the technical side of the build and the way to get a perfect joint that is durable and easy, I say skip the fold and the caulk/stuffing on Solution 2. Your siding is very likely to be tongue and groove or lap and gap. I you go long way, horizontally with the joints you cannot make them staggered up the side, so that’s out. Covering the joint with 1x2 or even a 1x4 is an invitation to a crack and death and bugs and complaints.

My solution (#3) is to leave a 6” gap of siding on both sides of the 4x8’ panel, not just one side. Although tit will add some funky pieces to add, it will allow you to finish the inside and also to fill all gaps with foam/insulation.

You nail all the panels together just like a Frame house. You can raise a whole wall in minutes, rack it to square and brace it so the windows fit perfectly. Then glue and screw the 12” piece to all joints and shoot the screw shanked nails to hold it. Once painted you will not see that joint. Yes, it add 2 extra 2x4” to the panel, so that’s not nothing, but you get a completely permanent patch over a potential problem. Since you are custom making these panels in a work shop, the 12” piece can be made into a lap joint on both side that just slaps over both existing panels—voila no cracks. I can get you one or perhaps 2 extra 2x4’s you are already using by pulling them from the U joints where interior wall connects to the exterior wall. Usually that requires 3 studs. If you use foam, then take the two side studs and move them to the approbate edges to handle the siding patch.

Of course the inside if it is Sheetrock or paneling just gets taped and floated at the wall joints... The problem that I see arising from only one exterior lapped joint is that the builder has to label and sort the panels for left and right hand side. Siding guys automatically do this but a first time builder will have a hell of a time getting this right. I don’t know what your experiences but that would worry me.

Hope that gives you something to think about. The country and the world need good sized homes that they own from there get go…so good luck and let me know if there is anything else I can comment on. I love to know what you decide.