Make your own free website on
The HOUSE We're Building

The following are the steps I have found (thus far) necessary to building a house on James Island. There will be more, I am sure, and the sequence has not followed in order. However, we are getting there.


Every purchase requires female analysis.
Every color requires changing 3 times.
Every sub-contract requires multiple bids.

Buy a lot. (1)
Obtain a deed.
Clear it.
Arrange for a Perk Test
Obtain Perk Certificate. (2)
County comes to tell you where to put septic tank.
Arrange for survey.
Obtain Certificate of Elevation. (3)
Sub-Contract to dig/build septic tank.
Apply for building permit.
County reviews blueprints.
County talks with you to see if you know what you are doing.
Obtain Building Permit.
Obtain flood insurance.(4)
Apply for building loan.
Close and obtain building line of credit.
Dig foundation.
Lay steel for foundation and pylons.
County comes to inspect the work.
Order workpole power.
County comes to say power pole is ok.
Build pylons with concrete blocks.
Pour concrete for foundation, pylons, slab.
Order water from county.
Order driveway permit from state.
Purchase and install new mail box.
Notify Post Office.
Obtain framing permit.
Sub-contract framing (BIG JOB, EXPENSIVE)
Obtain Electrical Permit.
Obtain Plumbing Permit.
Obtain Gas Permit.
Order gas line to be run.
Purchase shingles.
Sub-contract Roofing.
Purchase and install windows.
Purchase and install external doors.
Purchase and install locks and handles.
Purchase and paint exterior trim (latex, mildew resistant)
Obtain final survey of floor level.
County inspects framing.
Sub-contract siding and shutters.
Purchase and install air/heat units.
Purchase and install lift.
Sub-contract electrical work.
Purchase and install bathroom fixtures.
Sub-contract plumbing.
Purchase and install water heater.
Sub-contract gas work.
Purchase and install interior doors.
Purchase and install kitchen cabinets.
Purchase and install kitchen appliances.
County comes to inspect electrical and gas.
Dig conduits from the street.
Order new electrical service.
Order new gas service.
Order new cable service.
Sub-contract drywall.
Purchase and install lighting.
Purchase interior paint.
Sub-contract interior painting.
Obtain Engineer's Statement of V Zone Compliance
Obtain Engineers's Certification of Breakaway Wall Compliance
County inspects to give Certificate of Occupancy.
Close building loan, open home loan.
Purchase and install flooring, tile, carpet.
Purchase and install fencing for the dog.
Have mail forwarded.
Purchase and install bushes and grass.
Sub-contract brick work under house.
Sub-contract stuck-o fill in under house.
Purchase and install exterior lighting.

etc. etc.

to Home options

(1) First you buy a lot. On James Island, lots are measured in feet, NOT acres. Prices vary somewhat. Let's use the size of our lot as an example, 100' by 150'. There two types of lots on the water. Tide water lots can range from $90,000 to $120,000 and Stagnate water lots range from $50,000 to $70,000. There are two other types of lots. A Jungle lot ranges from $20,000 to $40,000 and Swampland runs from $10,000 to $25,000. BUT, you can have all the pluff mud land you want for free. We chose Jungle.

back to list

(2) The area of James Island we will live in does not have city sewer (but they do have digital cable and cable connection to the Internet). So, to build there you have to find out if your lot will 'perk' before you can start. That means you have to have the land tested to see if a septic tank will drain properly into the ground, a 'perk test'. We passed. The county said our shit would dissolve and not become floaters in the ocean.

back to list

(3) After the county agrees that your shit will flow downhill, you have to get a company to survey your lot, boundaries and its height above sea level. They issue a Certificate of Elevation. On it you see the lowest level of your property in relation to the ocean at high tide and the required height of you house's first floor. Our lot is dry so we are above water, by 8.7 feet. So the key for us is the second number on the Certificate, or the required height of the first floor of the house. It seems after hurricane Hugo the county revised their elevation requirements. They went back in the records and calculated the highest documented tidal surge over the past 300 years. For our lot, that means the first floor has to be 15 feet above sea level or 6.3 feet off the ground. OK, we built on pillions and put in an elevator.

back to list

(4) If our lot is dry and we are building above the maximum recorded tidal surge, everything should be fine, but it opens a can of worms. It puts us into a V zone which requires additional 'help' from the county.

We were lucky(?), one company would write it based upon the Certificate of Elevation, for $2000 a year!

Hel-loooow! Ringy, ding, ding, ding.

Turns out that insurance companies use that second number on the Certificate, minimum height of first floor for max tidal surge, in our case 15 feet, to determine your rates in a V zone. Insurance interpreted that number such that our house would be zero feet about maximum tidal surge.

Above I stated that the lowest point of our lot was 8.7 feet above normal high tide, that was the first number on the Certificate. The house would set on pillions 8 feet above that, or 16.7 feet, or 1.7 feet above maximum tidal surge. So, you get the Certificate's second number changed to 16.7 feet. That 1.7 feet difference saved us $1500 a year in insurance. Can you believe this????

back to list