Author: Jason Bush
We have some pretty good news for this week’s update, however, before delving into that, it might be a good idea to recapture what this project is all about, what befell the Southmayd family, and how I became involved. Back in February 2019 during the unusual snow, the Southmayd family was abruptly awakened in the middle of the night when four big oak tree branches broke off their trees and came crashing down upon the roof, smashing clear through the ceiling in two areas. After many months of negotiations with their insurance company to no avail, they hired a local contractor that attended their church to repair the home. He was licensed as a general contractor, but failed to get any permits. He also performed complete electrical and plumbing installations with unlicensed and unqualified individuals, with little to no experience. The Southmayds were forced to move 11 times in the 14 months it took to get the project to the sheetrock stage, at which point communications broke down and the contractor walked off the job. The original bid was for $94,500, and the contractor subsequently tried to charge them $160,000. They had friends and family help them paint the plywood subfloor, build 2×8 Doug Fir counters, install the plumbing fixtures, and throw up some particle board cabinets in the kitchen. They were finally able to move back in on Easter of 2020. That’s when they started noticing things that didn’t seem right, and it wasn’t long until their nightmares brought them to the point of almost hopelessness. By chance they obtained my contact number and after a week of brooding over the situation, decided to call me. That was July 6, 2020. After going by the site and seeing the condition of the home, I was under the impression it could be repaired, however, after sharing this story with contractors, inspectors, and other building officials, and then meeting at the site for a thorough inspection, it was determined that it was not salvageable. They still owe about $90,000 on the mortgage, so you can imagine when someone tells you your newly repaired home most likely will not withstand a hard Oregon winter, it is quite devastating to say the least!
I could not leave this family in their current situation as I was fairly certain that there would not be anyone that could help them with the situation on the level they needed. So, after discussing it with my son, the city of Cottage Grove, and other construction professionals, I decided to take on the job of rebuilding the family a home that would be safe, secure, and designed around Jayson’s current level of disabilities, as well as the possibility of eventually being rendered to a wheel chair.
The typical update starts with the status of the existing home as it relates to an official evaluation of the extent of damage to repair, as well as the overall structural integrity. Randy Van Camp, of Van Camp Construction has attempted to provide a specific and detailed report for the needed repairs to make the house safe and livable. He spent almost three full days going through everything only to determine that it is indeed a total loss, and would significantly cost more to repair than to rebuild. He started to itemize the work, but soon realized that it would simply not be feasible.
Likewise, Robert Johnson, P.E. of Johnson Broderick Engineers, visited the site on Thursday and the Southmayds and myself walked him through the existing home. He will be producing an official report on the structural conditions for the Southmayds, and they can present it to their lawyer, insurance company, and mortgage company as they see fit in order to bring them up to date of the current situation. His initial assessment is that it is a total loss and would cost more to attempt to repair or rehabilitate.
I stopped by Parr Lumber to complete the coordination of shipping and receiving from suppliers, to their yard, and then to our job-site. All the lumber from Frank Lumber and Rosboro is in process of being delivered to the Truss Company, so that they can fabricate our trusses. Tim at Conrad Forest Products is completing the cost analysis for the pressure treated sill plate material to determine what they will be able to do to help.
Perry Vos of Farwest Steel’s Reinforcing Division got back to me and indicated that they do have about 100 sticks of 20’ rebar. Some #4’s and some #5’s. He also said he can give us the tie-wire as well. That leaves us needing about another 30 sticks, which I indicated that we would be happy to buy from them so that I don’t have to try and find it somewhere else, and then try to get it shipped separately, and then subsequently having to repackage it up together for job-site delivery.
After securing the 125 sheets of plywood for the shear walls from Eagle Plywood Specialties, I recontacted Steve Swanson of the Swanson Group, who immediately agreed to donating the remaining 220 sheets of plywood for the roof. Thank you, Steve.
Brett Reckamp, Co-Anchor of Portland’s Morning News, FM News 101 KXL, Alpha Media USA, contacted me on Friday, January 15th indicating that he would be happy to visit with us and see about getting the story on the air. He said he works closely with Lars Larson, but cannot speak for him, but will speak with him. Brett said he anchors the news, does stories, and has a weekend show that allows for long term interviews and airs on all of their seven stations. He interviewed the Southmayds on Thursday, the 21st, and I discussed the situation with him the day before. I will be checking in with him early next week to get a status, and to see if there is any follow up needed.
George, with HD Fowler seemed to be having a difficult time getting approval from his chain of command, and we were just not able to wait any longer, so I got ahold of Lon Miller, Operations Manager-Pacific Northwest Waterworks, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. Thanks to George for all his effort. Lon stated that they and some of their vendors will provide all the supplies needed for a new drain field and has taken the lead of coordinating the materials delivery with Ken Eastlick of McKenzie Excavation and Paving, as they have worked with him previously. Ken had volunteered back on Veterans Day to perform the installation. Dan Wilson Construction and Excavation had also volunteered to help with the septic tank and drain field replacement, so were in good hands!
I spent an hour on the phone with Andrew Lourake, Lt Col, USAF (ret) who is the Veteran Outreach Director of Operation Second Chance’s Tampa Chapter. As they go through the motions of setting up our website, the City of Cottage Groves website should be linked to theirs through the weekly update if I understood him correctly. They will also be editing, enhancing, and integrating the update with jobsite pictures, maybe quotes or comments as the project rises from the ground, and other informative information. I will check to see if we can do something similar with the City of Creswell’s website. Andrew said that they work closely with Sinclair Broadcasting who they will see about involving. He also needlessly expressed his apologies for not having this done sooner as hoped, but he has been inundated with aircraft accident investigations this past week. One of the things we’re dwelling on is a URL name which should be as short as possible, but descriptive as possible. Trying to keep it to four words, it may be “Veteran Southmayd Home construction” or something very close.
Another aspect of the new website will be a sponsor’s page that will have everyone’s logos displayed. Andrew indicated that all the companies that have a hand in this project should send us their business logos for them to upload. They prefer a high-resolution vector business image. So, please get those to us! Also, please forward your company invoices documenting the cost, so that we can run those through Operation Second Chance, which will allow for a 501(C)3 tax credit. Please remember to drop off your job-site construction signs at your most opportune time.
In discussing timelines of the septic tank and drain field installation with Ken Eastlick, it is usually done after the foundation has been placed, but can be secondary. Considerations are the weather, the county sanitation inspector, and supplies, as well as which materials and which contractors will be ready to mobilize first. I think we should all be prepared for our first jobsite contractors meeting in the next few weeks to determine what’s best for all in the coordination of the foundation set-up, septic tank and drain field installation, getting power to the home from EPUD and to the septic tank pump, elevations, job-site conditions and access, and other possible challenges that may arise in typical project management–something I have little experience in. I’m hopeful that Jerry Valencia and Bob Buss of Bridgeway Contracting will be relieving me of some of the aspects of project management.
I think that pretty much wraps up our status. If I left something or someone out, please forgive me, and do not hesitate to contact me for any thoughts, ideas, or questions.
Yours in Building Safety, “and” Guarding Our Veterans!