Sweetfern Update: All for the want of a dryer vent
I can’t even begin to tell you about the weeks leading up to our final move to Sweetfern.
It’s all a blur — the frantic construction, the thousands of details, appliances that wouldn’t cooperate, deliveries that didn’t get delivered — a veritable plethora of last-minute crises all piled up against an endless outflow of cash and the impending deadline of our scheduled move-in date.
We had given notice to our condo landlord. Everything we owned was in boxes. The movers were booked for the morning of Friday November 13. We just needed an occupancy permit.
So, inspection was scheduled for the week prior to give the builders plenty of time to remedy any gaps. Not that we were expecting gaps. An enormous amount of work had gone into making this house not only meet code, but exceed it.
Still, on her first visit the inspector found a few outstanding things that hadn’t quite been done in the rush to completion. Mike and his crew fixed the issues and we scheduled the final inspection for the following Monday — the week of our move.
Monday: The inspector does a walk-through. Takes notes. Confirms the work she asked for is complete. Goes away.
Tuesday: No permit.
Wednesday: No permit. She asks for the engineering reports. Reports we provided 8 months ago. Reports she has on file in her office. Our paperwork is all in boxes. Our architects scramble to send the reports…again.
Thursday: No permit. The town Building Department is closed because all the staff are at a development seminar.
Friday Moving Day!
9:30 – Movers arrive and start loading the truck.
10:00 – We get news. Permit denied.
Grounds? Code requires a dryer vent. We don’t have one.
And here’s why: We have a ventless dryer.
Remember all that effort we put into sealing our house? The amazing .59 ACH we achieved? Well you don’t undo all that by cutting a 4″ diameter hole in your wall to vent heat (heat you can use!) from your house.
Now what? We won’t– can’t– install a dryer vent today. We try to explain the dryer does not require a vent. Tom, our architect, calls her. But there is no getting around it. She won’t budge.
The code is the code, common sense be damned.
She tells us that if we remove the dryer she’ll give us a provisional permit. It turns out, even if we have no dryer, we’d need a dryer vent. For future people who might buy our house she explains.
The illogic is killing us.
But we suck it up and agree to uninstall the dryer. Of course, we can’t just tell her we removed it or even send her a photo of it standing in the garage and a picture of the empty space. She says she has to inspect it in person.
She’ll get there when she can.
So Mike gets to work removing the offending dryer. And washer, because they are stacked and fastened together.
1:00 — Movers finish packing the truck. We hit the road. It’s 3 hours (plus a grocery stop, gas, and lunch) to Sweetfern.
3:30 – We’re at a rest stop an hour from Sweetfern. Movers are about an hour behind us. Mike texts to say that the building inspector has arrived. We get back on the road.
The phone is silent.
4:15 – Done!
Forty-five minutes later, we arrive. Home at last.
We did end up installing a dryer vent. First Tom wrote a well-argued letter outlining the various arguments against installing one. Aside from the obvious fact that our dryer was ventless, he also argued that since the building code does not require a dryer, it can’t (or shouldn’t) require a vent.
But we all realized that the fight would have to with someone higher up the bureaucratic food chain than our inspector — probably challenging the building code itself. Lacking the budget or stomach for that, we stood down.
Tom and Jered designed an elegant solution, putting the exterior vent up in the soffit instead of sticking through the wall on the front of our house. And Mike made sure the house seal wasn’t compromised during installation.
And now, we can finally focus on turning this place into home…