Friday, February 26, 2010

Running with a wheelbarrow uphill, backwards!

Some of you may wonder what I have been up to for the last few weeks. Well, I have been dealing with lien's, design adjustments, budget, and taking over most of the work of general contracting on my home.

Newt informed me at the beginning of February, that Fortress Homes was liquidating. They had some cash flow problems, and were not able to continue as a company. Other fallout from this, is that some of the subcontractors whom I had been told had been paid, hadn't been. Newt informed me, and the loan officer agreed, that because of the way the paperwork was handled, I wasn't under a legal obligation to pay the subcontractors. So I have been dealing with getting liens placed against the house, and negotiating with the subs. Newt is going to negotiate with a couple of them. Once these subcontractors are taken care of, then I will be proceeding with the house construction, and will be taking care of all the management of the subcontractors and their payment.

I have been continuing to refine items in the design, and I talked to the plumbing inspector, and found out that one of the things I wanted to do, couldn't be done the way I had planned. It looks like I will have to put a hole in my roof waterproofing. I had wanted to avoid that, but the inspector insisted that this one vent, had to go out the roof.

I have been looking over the electrical, ventilation, and plumbing to figure out exactly how it will all run. I am thinking that I am going to use a drop ceiling throughout most of the house. I have found some tiles that have nice character, and are fairly reasonable in price. Since I am running all the utilities over the ceiling, and I don't have an attic, it will be useful having a ceiling that can be removed easily to allow access for fixing/expanding the various lines.

Hopefully in the next couple weeks, I will be able to get the insulation and waterproofing for the roof put on. That will allow other work to proceed. Work can then continue on things on the inside, even if the weather isn't vary cooperative.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why couldn't the snow wait?

Well there hasn't been much progress. I am working on learning how to do the electrical and plumbing myself (with my dad's help). That should allow me to save quite a bit off the original budget, or make some further enhancements to the character of the house. My dad is working on a design for the air intake that will bring fresh air into the home. Newt and I are still working to get the materials to insulate and waterproof the roof lined up. The weather is not cooperating on that front either. We got more snow. I went out today, to see how things were looking. I didn't have any trouble, till I got onto the road where my house is. They had plowed, but it was basically snow covered and slick in spots. I put it in four wheel drive the rest of the way. The snow on my driveway was pretty deep, but I didn't have any trouble climbing up it. I only had a problem, when I tried to get fairly close to the home. It looks like there was a layer of almost solid ice. So then the truck slid sideways and got stuck.

I got out to survey the situation before I tried anything. The tires left tread impressions in the snow up to a point. Then there were no more tread impressions. It was packed solid, and darn slippery. So I got back in the truck, and decided this was as good a place as any to learn how to get myself unstuck, using an automatic transmission. I managed to rock the truck, and get it turning toward the woods and down hill a bit. That let me get off the hard packed snow and regain some traction.

I made quite a mess of the snow!

I got unstuck and turned around.

I measured the snow in some spots, and it was about 6 inches deep. With the snow covering the roof, the home looks pretty much like it will when we get the insulation on top.

Then ends are nicely wrapped in a snow blanket.

The thickness of insulation on top, will be similar to the thickness of snow that is up there right now.

Things got overcast again, so I didn't take the time to go down to the creek to take more photos. Sorry.

I did take a look around inside though. I had another inspector stop by. This one was much smaller. The prints looked to be from four feet, and it looked like a hopping type of gait. I didn't see any evidence of a tail (but then if I had a tail, I would try to keep from dragging it through the snow). I am guessing this was a mouse.

 Mouse, or something else, in my house?

I want to get the insulation and waterproofing on the roof as soon as possible. However, the current arrangement, does make for some pretty decorations.

The steel and wood offer a very organized geometric visual, then the ice comes along to add flowing natural touches. 

Well, they are predicting cold temperatures and more snow. I guess we will just have to wait on making any more progress at the home. I am working on wiring up parts for the solar power system, and I am doing lots of reading. I am going to be paying the concrete guys for the work they have done, and I talked to Doug about the piers that will be needed for mounting the solar panel racks. We can't pour the floor in the garage, or put in the piers for the racks, until the ground thaws. I am planning to talk to the building inspector about some questions I have on the wiring and the plumbing. Hopefully that goes well.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The snow returns

We had a decsent little snow storm roll through the area. Time to take more photos!!

I think I drove up my driveway, but I just sort of aimed for where it should have been.

 Snow as roof insulation?

Snow backfill? Not so good.

Icicles on the inside.

It is interesting to note, that while it was just at freezing, some of the snow was melting and dripping down between the steel sheets. It was overcast, but perhaps the floor had gotten warmed enough to add enough heat to the roof to get it above freezing in spots.

Looking toward the west, out the front doorway.

I looked things over and talked to Newt about what we want to do for the waterproofing of the roof, which is one of the next things that needs to be done. He had a bid for the roofer to put down a protective layer of fiberglass sheeting, and then lay down a rubber membrane over that. Although the waterproofing is critical, I had felt that the price seemed high. In researching earth sheltered houses, I had seen other methods used. Among them, is using a self adhesive ice and water proofing material, that is normally installed under shingles to protect against damage from ice dams. I also asked Newt to check what the cost would be for the waterproofing material that Nudura offers for waterproofing the walls. I asked him to check with them if they thought it would work on a roof type installation. The self adhesive material I was looking at, weighs 33 pounds for each roll, which covers about 100 square feet. That won't be too difficult to get onto the roof. Besides potentially saving quite a bit of money, by going with a self installed material, I can also take a little extra time to keep from harming the insulation as the waterproofing is installed.

I didn't wonder down to the creek today. So just some pictures of the woods on my property, and how the snow painted them. Click on them for the full size images.