Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You want how many bags?

How to get dirt on the roof. This has been a quandary for a while now. My dad mentioned that there was a company in the area that had slingers. These are basically hydraulically positioned conveyor belts mounted on the back of the dump trucks. With them they can take a load of gravel, or soil, and sling it out a good distance from the truck. When I talked to the company about this, they mentioned that some of the soil would fall off the conveyor, and not make it on the roof. I was also concerned about the dirt hitting the drainage material with enough force that it might shift it and leave a gap. While I was contemplating this, I saw that they could blow top soil, with the same trucks that are used for putting down mulch. Hmmm, this sounded like it would allow a bit better control over where the dirt went, and how hard it hit the drainage material. This option sounded like what I needed, but it was expensive to get the dirt delivered that way. I put in an order anyway.

When Adam and John came over to help my dad and I get the roof material weighted down, I talked to Adam about what I was doing for the dirt. When he heard how much it was going to cost, he said "I could wheelbarrow it for less than that!". When I filled my dad in on what we had done after he and mom left, I mentioned what Adam had said. He had a thought. He asked what it would cost to go buy bags of soil, and have Adam put those on the roof. We found some cheap top soil at Lowe's. We looked in a bag that had broken open, and it looked to be just what I needed for the roof. Some clay, and sand, and not a lot of compost which would break down. I could buy the bags for a lot less than what it would cost to have soil blown on the roof. This was going to be a lot of bags.

I called the local Lowe's, and explained what I was looking for and why. Bill checked, and they had enough bags on hand to fill my order. He could deliver it the following day. I had not expected that quick a delivery. I arranged for the delivery to be this afternoon. Then I got a call, just after I got to work this morning. The first part of the delivery was on its way! Oops, time to let Marcus know I won't be in the office today.

They showed up with the first 6 pallets, and asked where I wanted them. I had the bags put up as close to where they were going to be carried on the roof as possible. I decided while I waited for them to come back with the next load, I would go ahead and try to start shifting the drainage material to where it needed to go, and start putting bags of soil on the roof.

The drainage can hang off this end much more, it would have to be cut off on the garage end.

I started moving weights out of the way, and sliding the drainage material toward the east. Since I was by myself, I didn't want it to get away from me if a breeze came up, so I just kept shifting the extra across the roof, as I moved the weights.

Here is the extra length, being moved down the roof.

Once I got the extra moved away from the garage end, I started hauling bags of dirt.

Starting in one corner, I started to fill the drainage sheet.

Now the extra is draped down the east wall.

After I got the corner well weighted, I ran a single row across the back.

I got a full row across the back and about half way through a second row, before I finished the first pallet.

First pallet emptied!

That was 65, 40 pound bags. 2600 pounds laid on my roof. I have 23 more pallets that will be getting loaded on the roof. It was good exercise, but I am going to get some help to move the rest.

They weren't able to deliver all the bags today. Tomorrow morning, just after 7, the rest should show up. I'm going to bed!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What is calm weather?

Wednesday night, I went shopping. I wanted to get some concrete edging. Most people use these around their gardens to keep the well manicured lawn, and their gardens separated. I wanted to put them on my roof! Eventually they will be used along the roof edges where the walls are not buried to help retain the soil on top of the roof. However, for right now I wanted to have them for extra weight to hold down the roofing layers until the soil gets put on top. I bought enough to stretch 60 feet. I was a little concerned about how much weight I was putting in the truck, but it handled it fine. That was the first load that went to the property and got dropped off.

Just one layer but the truck was down on the back springs pretty well.

50 edging blocks, ready to move on the roof.

Then I went and got the drainage layer rolls from the storage unit and brought those over and put them up beside the house. These rolls are each 80 pounds and 8 feet long. They definitely qualify as big and bulky.

6 rolls of drainage material, ready to go.

We had been having quite a bit of rain, and Wednesday, the ground was still quite muddy in spots. I made use of the 4 wheel drive on the truck.

Hmmm, the tires are a little dirty.

I also got all the rolls of plastic for the waterproofing over to the property. I left them in their boxes in the garage. Now we were set to get an early start on Thursday.

Thursday morning, mom and dad showed up early and we headed out to the property. It was foggy, but there was very little wind, which was important for two people trying to spread 20 foot by 100 foot sheets of plastic over a house. We got out to the property and I looked in the neighbor's field. It was just after dawn, and there was quite a sight.

Dead weeds from last year were glowing in the sun.

Looking closer, we saw that these were all webs of some sort. We didn't see any spiders, so we weren't sure what made them. But with dew on the webs, they were quite lovely, as you saw in my previous post.

We started by sweeping and blowing off some of the stuff that had landed on the tarps since they were put in place. We also measured off 10 foot increments and marked the tarps, so we knew where to put the plastic sheeting (at least where we were going to try to put the plastic).

Measuring and marking 10 foot increments.

We had to move all the bags of sand and other materials we were using to weight down the tarps, out of the way so we could work. So it all got moved to the front of the roof. We cut the grommets off the edges of the tarps, so they wouldn't push through the plastic sheeting in the future.

When you have scissors, make sure to walk, and carry them to your side ;-)

Then we started laying plastic sheeting. We left it folded up as much as possible, and taped the one edge down to the tarp. The tape helped hold the plastic in place somewhat.

First one laid out. How many of these do we have?

We laid out the second one before we spread out the first one. We wanted to lay out as many as we could before we started to spread them out.

Laying the second plastic sheet.

The first problem we encountered was that the blue tarp got pretty hot in the sun, and we were having to kneel and run our hands right over it to get the plastic laid out. We were getting a little hot. Then as we started to get layers of plastic laid out, we found it was getting even hotter. It was acting as a solar collector with additional layers of glass being laid over it, holding more and more heat in. It became painful. We kept working and got both full layers of plastic laid down on the first 10 feet of the roof. It was now time to start getting drainage material up there. Moving these things onto the roof was a challenge.

No, this was not fun!

As we continued into the afternoon, trying to get to a stopping point so we could go get lunch, the wind started to gust. It would be very calm for a bit, we would cook up on the roof, but get plastic laid. Then we would get a gust, and it would throw the plastic, or the drainage layer we were working on, and we would have to chase it, and get it back in position. This became quite frustrating and we were getting exhausted. We finally got enough stuff in place, and put weights across it all so we could leave for lunch. While we were at lunch, I called Adam, and my brother and asked them to come out and help us get the roof to a point where we could leave it for the day. Adam and John showed up, and helped us finish getting the first four drainage sheets in place. That covered the plastic sheets we had managed to lay down. They also helped move the sand bags, concrete edging and other materials for weighting things down, into place. I hoped we had enough to keep things in place. Matt showed up just as we finished with the roof. After Adam and John left, Matt helped me get the frames off the piers for the solar array. Now they look like this.

Ready for the racks to be installed.

I set up my camera at the beginning of the day to take photos of how this progressed:

We still have to get the rest of the plastic and drainage materials on the roof before the top soil is put up there. Now we are watching the weather forecasts to see when the next opportunity will be to try to finish this up.

We had thunderstorms and tornadoes come through the area last night. I was worried about what might have happended, but there was nothing I could do about it. Marcus was nice enough to make a stop by the house today, and reported that everything looked to still be in place. I was quite relieved.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Its not done yet...

Well, it was a good day, and a disappointing day. The weather was descent. The wind kept gusting though, which made it difficult for just two people to lay large sheets of plastic on a roof. We did not get all of it done, but we got it to a point where I think it will be OK to sit until we can get another good day of weather. I will post a better entry about the adventures we had, but tonight I am going to bed early. However, for your enjoyment:

Click on this to see it larger, for the detail.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You changed the design again??

With any luck, my dad and I will be getting the waterproofing on the roof this Thursday. It has been raining most days for the last week, and I checked on things yesterday. I have pools of water, and very wet framing. I don't like having all this framing wet, not one bit. The dirt for covering the roof will still have to wait a couple weeks, but I can't let the roof go any longer, it needs to be covered, so the inside can dry out.

This is all going much slower than I intended. On the upside, when you are going slow with a construction project you may as well take the time to re-evaluate your options. I have been looking at the outside design I had, and I keep morphing it. I have now removed the stone, and filled in more detail. Here is the latest version of what I want to do with the outside.

 Tudor style, earth sheltered home version

I'm still playing with options on the garage side, but it is coming along.

The garage side still needs something...

I will have to see what it looks like when I make the garage door look like what I really want. The drawing package does not have much variety when it comes to garage doors.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Another 10 yards of concrete

Well, this week was quite an adventure. Thursday and Friday were two very long days. I met Doug and David out at the property on Thursday morning, to get the piers dug for the solar array, and for them to finish prepping the garage for the pour on Friday. Then Friday we poured concrete. Warning, this is a long post, but hopefully you will enjoy.


We started at about 8:30am. David worked on getting the pier locations marked out so Doug would have a good target to hit with the auger.

David marked with paint where my dad and I had left markers

Then Doug got the Bobcat setup with the auger.

Now that should make a hole!
Are we deep enough yet?
Not yet, keep going.
Ah, that looks good.

After Doug made a hole, David and I put in the tube, and got it in its proper position, and pushed some of the dirt back into the hole around it. This held it in place while we continued to work. We continued working our way down the line. David and I checked the depths, and made sure that each pair of piers matched up. Each rack will be independent of the others, so we wanted to end up with each set of 4 piers having the same height. The pier on the high ground of the set, was to be about 4 inches out of the ground. The result was that the sets of piers step down the hill.

Doug continues to dig holes
The front set is done, now we set up for the back set.
Almost done with the holes.

It took all morning, but we got all of them dug. To make sure they were lined up where we wanted them, we used one of the templates that my dad and I had fabricated. This template has L bolts attached in the positions where they will need to be to mount the base of the aluminum racks. We got them all lined up.

28 holes in the ground

That was the morning work. Then it was on to prep the garage. Over the winter, people had been walking through on the gravel, some of it had been moved to put in the foam, and the plastic had gotten pushed around. Doug and David worked on getting it back into a state where it was ready for concrete. They also had to get the Nudura forms at the front of the garage back into position. They had gotten pushed and squished over the winter, and needed to be pulled back apart to the proper width. They put in additional spacers to hold the foam where they wanted it, until they started the pour. They put chalk lines on the walls to mark where the concrete was supposed to come up to, and they put stakes in the ground, with nails through them to mark where the concrete was to come up to in the middle of the floor.

Evening up the gravel
Plastic, chalk lines, and stakes are in place

Now I have told people that I want to avoid wood on the outside of the home, because we have at least three insects in this part of the country that like to make a home in wood. Carpenter ants, termites, and carpenter bees. Carpenter bees at least, do not care if the wood is treated or not. They started boring into a treated lumber handrail on my dad's deck, less than a week after he built it. Well, the carpenter bees were checking out the temporary wood bracing on Thursday, although this one apparently wasn't finding a spot that it liked.

Looking for a piece of wood to call home

Before they left, Doug and David put gravel in and around the tubes so they would stay in position when they poured concrete in them. I had to go pick up the drainage material from the same place that Newt had gotten the Nudura forms. I had not gone to this place before so I had a bit of an adventure finding it, even with a map. Then I had to get these rolls of material over to the storage unit. The rolls are 8 feet long, and I did not want to drive on the interstate with the rolls hanging out of the back, even though they were well secured. So it was a challenge to wind my way along roads that I have not driven before, and try to find my way back. I eventually made it.

They weren't that heavy, just bulky!

I went down to my folks place to pick up the rest of the templates which we were going to use to position the L bolts in the concrete. It was late by the time I got down there, and we were getting up at 5am on Friday. So we had dinner and went to bed.


Doug had the concrete scheduled to show up at 7:30am, so my folks and I got up at 5am, and headed up to the property. I picked up a few items from the storage unit, then headed to the property. We got there first, and I just drove the truck up around the back of the house to unload the templates. I just left it parked there, since it was out of everyone elses way. Doug and David showed up with Mark. Mark was there so they had enough people to get the garage floor worked properly.

Ten yards of concrete, ready to pour
Pouring the foundation wall, that sits on top of the footer, and under the front edge of the garage floor
Mark layed down plastic on top of the foundation wall, so if I ever have to take out the garage floor, I don't have to take out the foundation as well.
Doug started by pouring the area where the batteries will go, and making that level (the rest of the floor slopes toward the garage door)

Then they went on to pour the rest of the garage floor...

Meanwhile, dad was getting all the L bolts put into our templates.

They finished the pour, and got the garage floor screeded, so it was at the proper slope. Then they had to wait for it to set up a little, so they could finish it. While it was getting its initial set, they went and poured the piers. They had a bit of trouble getting the concrete truck over there. I don't want to think what would have happened if they had tried to drive it over when it was completely full.

Pouring the tubes, and leveling the top
Starting to set the frames while they continue to pour
After they finished pouring, we straightened up all the templates
Here you can see the stepped piers

While the piers were being poured, Doug went back over and used a bull float on the garage floor to give it a fairly smooth surface. Then we sat down and waited.

A smooth wet floor

Once it had set up for a while, Doug used another tool to make a groove in the concrete. If the slab cracks, it will hopefully crack in this groove, which will hide the crack pretty much.

Then they used another tool to make the groove look nicer. David also went and made a crosswise groove, so the floor was divided into 4 parts.

Mark touched up the first groove
David made a second groove, crossing the first

Doug used a bevel float to make a steeper slope at the garage lip, to help keep water from coming in under the door. He had to dig out concrete, then he used the bevel float to put in the slope.

Taking out extra concrete
Making a smooth lip on the garage floor with the bevel float

After they put the gooves in, they started working the whole floor with the floats for the first time.

Firt time working the concrete

There was quite a breeze, and as they were working the concrete we had some flowers falling from the trees come fluttering in on the concrete. I also spotted some other fine white stuff fluttering down on the lip of the slab. It took a minute, but I located where it was coming from. Remember the carpenter bee that was looking for a home on Thursday?

The bees will be evicted when the temporary support is taken down.

They went over the slab a second time with the floats. Then my folks and I went for some lunch. When we got back, David was the only one still there. He went over the whole slab a third time before he left. I now have my piers for the solar array, and I have my garage slab. Time to talk to someone about a front door, and a garage door, so I can really get the house closed in.