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Part VI: The Contractor, the Engineer, the Architect, and the Dead Cow

Welcome to Curbed's original series Homeward Bound, in which long-affirmed city dweller and design journalist Karrie Jacobs documents her process as a first-time home builder. Jacobs, a professional observer of the man-made landscape, was the founding editor of Dwell magazine and the author of The Perfect $100,000 House: A Trip Across America and Back in Pursuit of a Place to Call Home (Viking, 2006). This eight-part series is a continuation of Jacobs's pursuit to solve the puzzle of modest, modern, and regional domestic architecture, using a recently-acquired parcel in upstate New York as a first-person case study.

Just when all is ready, another curve ball! The Andes building inspector is in Cooperstown hospital with a broken leg! As luck would have it I left him a phone message yesterday and he returned a call from the hospital bed. His wife will pick up the application from the office tomorrow and deliver it to him and he will issue the permit. Inspections have been coordinated with the inspector in Margaretville. Where else but here? So says the email I get from Stephen Walker, owner of Beaverdam Builders, our general contractor, as I'm sitting on the tarmac in Newark Liberty Airport in early August, about to depart for Oslo. The construction of our house in Andes has been in a holding pattern for months. We'd been hoping to get a building permit late spring or early summer 2015 so we could get the house framed and enclosed before winter. But before we could do that the engineer, a local guy named Paul Gossen, had to provide a design for the septic system and plans for the foundation and superstructure. He's been working on it at a snail's pace since April. By August, we're pretty sure that the plans are finally ready and that the foundation will be poured any minute. Except that now, the town official who issues building permits has been sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Pouring the foundation come hell or high water >>