Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big blue earth worms!

Today was a good day to dig! We had very nice weather for working outside. While we waited for the septic tank and leach line to show up, Adam and John used the excavator to do some other earth moving that was going to be needed. We continued to wait, and they decided to continue digging out the leach line trenches.

Digging the second trench

Then the truck showed up. The leach lines that they used don't require gravel in the trenches. The pipes are surrounded by Styrofoam peanuts in a netting. This will take the place of the gravel that would be used in a traditional system. The leach line sections, looked like giant blue earthworms stacked on the back of the truck.

The concrete box on the front is my septic tank, and the stack of blue tubes, is the leach line.

Leach line sections

To install the septic tank, the driver backed the truck up to the hole, and used a hoist that extends beyond the back of the truck to set the tank down.

John watches as the hoist picks up the tank, and moves it toward the back of the truck.

As the tank moves back, the driver adjusts the position of the hoist, to put the tank in the right spot over the hole.

In it goes

John checks to make sure the tank is sitting level

The tank has rubber covering the openings which can be used for inlets and outlets. John cut an opening in one of the covers, and put the line from the house into it.

It will all flow in through this pipe

Then John checked for proper slope on the rest of the pipe.

Making sure the pipe slopes down toward the tank

Now a brief intermission...

I had some of these in the field last year, they are quite pretty.

So as it got finished up, here is a tour of the system. For my own reference, and for those who will be asking me questions about how my system is installed :-)

Start at the house, and head west
Over to the tank
In one end...
...and out the other.
Through a diverter to one half of the field or the other.
With enough usage, the water will flow from one section of leach line, over a small rise, and down into the next section

Tomorrow, it gets inspected, and if all goes well, it will be all covered before we get rain this weekend.

Next week, we are going to try to get the concrete work finished on the house. Then I will be able to park in my garage!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Renting big (expensive) toys

Today we started on the septic system. To put in a septic system, I needed a couple things (besides a lot of pipe and a tank). I needed a tool to dig a lot of dirt, and I needed someone who could operate it effectively.

Adam and John do excavation work, and have done a number of septic systems in the past. They went with me to a rental place today, and we got an excavator to do the digging.

They had their Bobcat there, so when they needed to push around a lot of dirt, they could use that. They got started by digging down to lay the pipe between the house, and where the septic tank will go.

Adam dug the trench, and John checked to make sure the pipe was going where it needed to.

John, and his son digging the hole for the septic tank.

They got done digging for the septic tank, and there I had another hole in the ground.
Pipe from the house to the hole for the tank

This hole is bigger than it looks

With that done, they were ready for the septic tank delivery tomorrow. Since we still had plenty of daylight, they went ahead and started digging the leach field lines. Since the ground has a slope (actually there is a sort of ridge running up through the field), and the leach lines need to be level, they had to run them with curves in them.

John checking to see that they are keeping the trench level

They will need to run six trenches that are each 100 feet long for my system. They got the first one done tonight.

John used a tape measure to see when they had 100 feet. Here you can also see it curving.

No straight trenches in this leach field!

If all goes well tomorrow, by the end of the day I will have a septic system, ready to be inspected.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


These are four words, you do not want to hear from the gentlemen installing the windows on your house.

Yesterday was very productive, and very long, so this post needed to wait until today.

I headed out to the property yesterday morning to meet Junior (the framer, and the one installing the windows) and the delivery truck from Pella, with my windows. It was a bad time of morning, I got delayed by two school zones. But I had started out a little early, so I figured I would be there before the delivery (no one is ever on time with a delivery when you are waiting for it). Then I found that they were doing construction on the next the last road to get to my house! They had it down to one lane, and were making traffic take turns. I had to wait for my turn. Then they were doing maintenance on the road where my property is. I had to maneuver my truck between their truck, and a concrete culvert. I was waiting for a loud KTHUNK as I figured for sure one of my tires would hit the concrete. I got through though without any bumps. I got out to the house, and there was the truck from Pella, waiting! He apparently had even more fun getting there than I did, and had gotten there just before I did. So at least I didn't make him wait much. We started unloading the windows and the fire doors which were also in my order. The fire doors are to slow the spread of a fire, if there is one in the garage. Junior showed up in time to help with the master bedroom window. It took all three of us to manage the dining room window.

After I paid the driver, he left and I talked to Junior about the schedule for the day. He said that his helper - Rod - was working on another job, and wouldn't be available until going on lunch time. So we walked through, and looked over any remaining interior framing items. He wanted to add another top plate on the pantry to make it really sturdy, and he verified with me that I was going with standard height doors through the center wall. He had been out the other day, and had added furring strips to the garage wall to even it out with the concrete, and he had gotten all the wall heights adjusted to where they needed to be. After we discussed the remaining framing items, he went to run some errands, and so did I.

I ran my errands, and had an early lunch. On my way back, I decided to stop by a nearby landscaping business, since they mentioned retaining walls on their signs. I talked to a fellow named Scott. I asked if they took care of the large retaining walls, or just the small garden ones. He said they could do big ones. So I described to him what I was looking at, and we scheduled to meet out at the home on Thursday so he could get a real idea of what was going to be needed.

I took a slightly different way back to the property, and avoided most of the construction delay. When I got there, Junior and Rod were working on the rest of the framing, cutting studs, and driving nails.

As I looked at some of the framing they were adding to lower the top of the doorways, to match up with the doors that will be put in, I had a thought.

What if I put small windows in those openings?

I thought, it might work nice to put some small windows in those openings, and then light could come through from different rooms. Junior thought that might work well.

Junior finished up the pantry. This should be a sturdy little room.

Two top plates on a corner pantry.

Rod started getting the wrappings off the windows so we could get started on the install.

Not a present, but a lot of unwrapping to do none the less.

That is a big window.

I decided, that I would let them do their work, and not hover over them. So I went and checked out the wild flowers that are coming up.

Some lovely little flowers just growing where they like.

I found a spot, where my phone got a decent signal, and sat down. I looked over the email that had come in to see if there was anything I could take care of remotely. As I was responding to one of the emails, I heard words that made me chuckle, and cringe in terror at the same time: "We'll make it fit!". I thought, uh oh, I better check on this, because it can't be good, and I want to have a say in what the fix is.

They were working on installing the big window, and found that when they leaned it up to put it in, it wouldn't fit! Upon careful inspection, there were two things that went wrong. The bottom Vbuck, had been bulged up slightly by the concrete, so it was no longer flat, and was higher in the middle than at the sides. The second thing, was that the Vbuck on top, had not gone in the hole centered, so it was low on one side, and the curved Vbuck, had a bow in it from center to outside edges. So the hole was a little smaller than it was supposed to be. Junior explained that there was a strip of wood along the top edge of the window that he could try trimming to see if he could get enough off, to make if fit in the hole in the wall. Well, he started that, but quickly concluded that he wasn't going to be able to safely trim enough to make if fit. Ok, well, if you can't trim the block down to fit in the hole, then you are only left with making the hole bigger. The Vbuck is hollow, and we checked, and it sounded like the outside edge was still hollow on the top, so Junior got out the saws-all, and started surgery.

Not a smooth cut, but it all gets covered, and shouldn't effect how well the window is fastened.

It still took a couple tries, and I helped on the final attempt, when we put the top in first, then slid the bottom of the window in. That finally allowed the window to go in. It was actually a good fit at that point then, just enough play for them to get it leveled up.

A tight fit on the upper left, but if finally went.

The other windows went in fairly easily. It is finally starting to come together and look like what I want to call home.

The windows are in!

After that adventure, I went down to my folks place, and we went and got materials to start building the structure that will be attached to the overhang to provide a place to attach the facade to. We did some cutting until late evening when I went home.

Fabricating furring strips from composite deck material.

We are making the furring strips from Trex. This is a mix of recycled grocery bags, and sawdust from mills. The boards are not as stiff as wood, but they should provide a good material to attach to with screws, and they are insect and rot resistant.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thar she blows!

Well, the weather on Tuesday was quite nice, and it was pretty good today as well. However, it has been windy. Mom and dad came up to my place this morning, and we went out to try to finish securing the tarps. We worked this morning at getting the rest of the furring strips on. That was some kind of challenge, since the excavation has collapsed quite a bit on the north east corner, and on the east side. That was where we still needed to put the furring strips on.

As we got started, I spotted a couple things that I wanted a picture of. First, we had a visitor to the site this morning...

The toad pays a visit

Then I spotted that some of the wild flowers have started to bloom. So I took some photos...

Lovely purple flowers

We secured the north east corner, and then also secured the seams running down the north wall.

We didn't take time to trim the furring strips down for where we secured the seams.

We also added a bit more to the south west corner, to better secure it, and to keep is from flapping in the wind.

Another furring strip on the south west

In the afternoon, my dad and I worked on redistributing the sand bags, and adding more stuff to hold the tarps down on top. We also put boards along the seams, in an attempt to keep the wind from getting to the seams.

Large boards got added onto the roof, to try to keep the tarps from billowing so much.

It was a constant battle with the wind. I need the dirt for my roof! That would hold the tarps down.

The last thing we did, was to redo the ties on the south side, to try to pull the tarp in closer to the bottom of the overhang, and hopefully reduce the flapping there.

Tarps pulled up away from the windows.

Now I need to figure out the coordination on all the work that needs to be done, so the roof can be burried.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The storm approaches

Well, I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine had a little upsetting news.

Saturday morning, we had some strong winds blowing through. I was a bit worried about the tarps, but it wasn't like I could go out and hold them down. Marcus gave me a call Saturday evening. He had gone by and checked on the house. The tarps had come loose from the walls, and were pushing sand bags off the roof! His son went up, and got the tarps straightened out some. My dad and I decided, we were going to have to go back to the original plan, and put the furring strips on the edges, so they would be better secured. Sunday, we picked up a bunch of 1x3s at Lowe's and headed up to the home to see what it was like. Nails were pulled out of place, some had been pulled completely out, and then there were the places where the nails held against the wind, and the grommets pulled out of the tarps!

So I had a bunch of loose ends to try to tie up. We went up, and got the tarps back about where they were supposed to be. Then we started securing the west end of the tarps. We got the west end secured, and got started along the south side, when mom and dad had to leave for a prior commitment. Matt helped me straighten things up, get some of the sand bags re-arranged, and then we left, to go join mom and dad.

Looking at the weather forecast, they were predicting gusting winds again on Tuesday. I wanted desperately to try to properly secure the tarps before those winds came in. So we went out this evening after everyone got off work, and worked like crazy to try to get the furring strips in place. To better secure the south edge, and the north edge, we rolled the tarp around the furring strip then secured the furring strip to the wall. We managed to get the first tarp finished up, when we started to hear thunder rumbling from close by. We scrambled and managed to get the north side of the middle tarp secured before the rain started. All we could do before it was a downpour was to re-arrange the sand bags the best we could. Dad and I re-tensioned a couple of the ropes holding the south side of the third tarp. The third tarp is unsecured on two sides, however the storms are coming in from the south or west, and it is the east and north sides that are unsecured. I am hoping it will stay in place.

I managed to get a couple photos before the storms hit.

Tarp secured on the west
West tarp, south side, secured

After leaving the property, I drove through some hail, and the weather radio has been reporting severe thunderstorms, with associated hail, throughout the evening. I am hoping that it misses my uncompleted roof, as the hail might tear through the tarps, and damage the foam.

The good news, is that I got reports, that everyone who came out to help, made it home safely.