In the Beginning...
We had planned to begin building in May of 1999. We took our architectural blueprints to the El
Paso County Regional Building Department. The initial response was "well, at least it's not drawn on
a napkin." After a quick review, the plan check official sent us to get the building approved by a
professional engineer. The engineering took much longer than we had anticipated: a total of 8
weeks. Once we had engineering stamps we took the plans back to regional. It was almost July.
The 3-week long plan review at regional took 5 weeks. At the end of which we thought that we would
get the building permit. Nope. We were then informed that before the building permit could be
issued, we had to obtain both a driveway permit and a septic permit. Both of which we could have
done while waiting for the regional to check the plans. Now its almost August. The septic permit
would have been easy, except that we had record rainfall this year and the ground water was very
high. We also wanted to use a non-conventional grey and black water treatment system. More
engineering. Our soils engineer toiled over how to avoid a "mounded" septic system, which would
cost more and look bad too. Meanwhile we had to have two 8 foot deep pits dug in the ground to
monitor that crazy groundwater situation. All of this for a septic system that we hope to never use.
While the backhoe was out there digging the pits, we decided to have the land excavated. Once the
land was excavated (late September) we went to pick up our first load of tires.
You can fit about 150 tires in a 14 foot
Uhaul. If you are lucky, someone who
knows what they are doing will help you
load them. If not, you might only fit 75.
Thank you to Gerrardo and Dave from
the Tire Broker in Colorado Springs.
They gave us the tires for free. The
first tire dump I called wanted almost a
dollar a tire.
The tires were free, the Uhaul cost us
We didn't have a permit, but we had tires and a hole
in the ground. We were sure that the permit would
come through any day, so we started "practicing."
There is a real skill in pounding a tire. It isn't brain
surgery, but you can mess it up. Essentially, you fill
the tire with dirt, hit it with a sledge hammer; more
dirt, more hammering, dirt, hammer, dirt, hammer.
The dirt gets very well compacted and the tire starts
to swell up. It's finished when there are no soft spots
in the casing: about 3 wheelbarrows full of dirt.
On the left, Ellen is pounding our
first tire. We just used the dirt
from the site excavation. Above
the first finished tire. Once the
tire is hard, it is leveled and the
center is tamped. (Get a tamper
that does not have a wooden
handle! We've broken 5!)
We pounded tires every weekend for a month. Still no permit.
One day someone attached an anonymous note to our sign
post. The note talked about the covenents of the area (as you
can see we are in a rural sub-division). Ultimately it
threatened a law suit if "the problems" continued. We had
cleared our home through the home owners association, but we
decided to quit pounding tires until we actually had our permit.
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