The grade beams are ready to be poured.  Prior to pouring the beams, the city requires an inspection.  My contractor called the inspector, and we were given a 12 hour window in which he might show up at any point.  Since there was no work to be done on site other than pouring the beams, this was an inconvenience for Russell (the builder’s site supervisor).  When the inspector came he said, “you need formwork, call me when you have some formwork in place.”  This caught us off guard.  The International Building Code is a standard building code used throughout the country.  Local jurisdictions make amendments, but it is pretty much a national standard.  Im not sure if it was a local rule or not, but apparently we are required to install “formwork.”  To explain, our plan was to dig the earth as precisely as possible, using the earth as the formwork for the grade beams.  Apparently this is not allowed.  After making multiple calls over 2 or 3 days, my contractor was able to find out that if we simply put up dummy formwork (2×4’s nailed to stakes lying the edges of our trenches) then the inspector could give us the “ok” without breaking the rules.  This was a setback in time, cost, and ultimately threw the whole schedule off.  The framer who would’ve been on site in the following week, went and took another job,  I believe this process ultimately cost us 2-3 weeks.

As an aside, building in the summer in New Orleans is pretty much a bad idea. I knew this going into the project, but I have been planning this house for too long, and became too eager.  The summer is very rainy, very hot, and if you time it wrong, you may have a half-built house just as a hurricane comes along.  In my case, I am carrying the builder’s risk insurance personally (as opposed to the builder who usually takes care of this).  There is a 10,000 dollar deductible.  If a storm comes along in August or September, we may have a tricky time boarding up the building in time, and I will ultimately eat the cost of any damage.  So, the goal was to start construction on June 3rd, and have a weathered-in “shell” by September 3rd.  This meant that July and August were a risky time, but that we would at least avoid some of the hurricane season (September and October).