Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mud wrestling a house

Sorry for the lack of updates, but the work on the house has gotten in the way of documenting the work on the house.

Things have been progressing quite well. We needed to get the drainage material and the rest of the buffer boards in place, so Adam could start backfilling, and so Scott could start building my retaining walls. I talked to the inspector, and found, that I needed to put filter fabric over the gravel, that was over the drain tile. Not a problem on the south or west sides. On the north side, I knew I would have to dig out some dirt that had fallen in. The east side was a completely different story. I knew a lot of dirt had fallen in on top of the gravel, so it was going to call for getting some equipment in, and someone who could operate it. Adam, its time to rent the excavator again. I got a two for one deal from the rental place, I rented on Saturday the 17th, and only payed for a one day rental, but didn't have to have it back until Monday morning.

I drove the excavator in while Adam parked his truck.

Adam and my dad discuss how we will dig out the east side.

Adam worked along, excavating down to the footer, where the gravel came up to. I watched, and removed the dirt clods and mud that remained, that I thought might be a problem for drainage. Adam did not like having the excavator up on a somewhat unstable piece of ground next to my house. He did an excellent job though.

When we finished, the trench looked pretty good.

Adam also dug the trenches for the daylight drain for the foundation drain, and the trenches for the ventilation, solar, and well connections. He also put more gravel around on the south and west sides so they would have proper drainage.

After Adam left, we worked on getting the waterproofing straightened out on the north side. We still had furring strips up holding the blue tarp on.

Dad removing the furring strips

We lifted the waterproofing out of the way, then removed the furring strips, then put the waterproofing back down.

Sunday the 18th, Adam and I started pretty early. He worked on loosening up and moving some of the dirt around, that was originally excavated out for my house, so it would be ready for use in backfilling. He also worked on getting the ground dug down, where the retaining walls will go.
I worked on getting the filter fabric laid down on the east side, so we could put more gravel on top.

Filter fabric in place.

Then I started unrolling the drainage material in the trench against the wall. There wasn't much room to work with it, and it was bulky. Imagine yourself wrapped in a tortilla and set in the oven. I got it mostly in position, before my dad got there. I went for lunch, and he and Adam got the drainage sheet in place. We fastened it to the wall, it took all three of us to man handle it until we got it partially attached. We anchored it with long screws through Trex blocks. Once it was in position, Adam started dumping gravel in the trench.

Backfilling the bottom with gravel.

At that point, we had a bunch of mounds of gravel in the trench. So Monday the 19th, I went out, and smoothed it out.

Smoothed out, ready for inspection, and backfill.

Then I went out, measured, cut and drilled the Trex for the buffer boards on the south east corner. Dad and Matt helped me that Thursday the 22nd with getting fresh plastic in place for the waterproofing, getting the buffer boards put up, and getting the drainage material hung on that corner.


Well after dark, we had it all done.

Now we had to get the north side finished up for the drain tile inspection on Monday the 26th. This proved to be a battle with mud. 60 feet of mud, and concrete chunks with rebar in them, and then hauling gravel in. All of it by hand, since Adam had not been able to reach this area safely with the excavator. 60 feet of mud, sweat and tears.

Finally, mud, and concrete are out, and gravel is in.

I went out Monday afternoon, before the inspection and worked on laying down the filter fabric and putting more gravel on top. The inspector was satisfied with what I had done, and I passed inspection. Time to start backfilling. Adam, what are you doing Monday night? Backfilling a house.

Now I can walk onto my roof!

Starting to come together.

Now the retaining walls should be getting started today, and tomorrow, if all goes well, I will have the garage and front door installed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Solar equipment, and buffer boards

Well, I guess it is about time I fill everyone in on the goings on at the Hobbit Hole. We have been having some very good weather for doing outside work. I have been taking advantage of that, and have been getting a lot done, using all the hours of daylight I can get.

I got a number of things delivered, the front door, Hardie panel, Trex, and pipes for the fresh air intakes. My garage got quite a bit put in it, and the rest was out on the driveway. I worked through the week to drill more holes in the roof, and I trimmed down a path around the house, through the plants that have been growing like weeds ;-)

Some places had quite a bit of water!

I needed to get the gravel dug out from beside the footers, around where the retaining walls would meet the house. I needed to do this so that we could set the Trex boards all the way down to the footer and protect the foam for the whole wall height. I started on the north west corner, where mud has filled in over the drainage. The mud that has washed over from the excavation, made it quite challenge. I also decided it was time for the concrete in front of the garage to be "cleaned up". This made for a good work out.

Dig out gravel under the waste concrete, then hit the concrete with a hammer to break it up. Rinse and repeat.

Concrete chunks will probably just end up in the backfill.

Front of the garage is cleared.

July 4th weekend was very productive. First we worked on the parts of my battery box. We are constructing it out of wood which will get painted to protect it from any battery acid that gets on it. This will enclose my batteries and protect them and protect people from them.

One of the ends of the battery box.

July 4th, we installed the first solar equipment...

We needed to dry some clothes, well may as well use the sun and wind.

Although it is a convenient location, I am not sure that the clothes line will stay in my front yard.

My dad helped me, and we got some of the Hardie panel (that stuff is heavy) and Trex boards moved over into the kitchen area, out of the weather for now, and closer to where they will be installed.

Dad noticed that my green roof was already starting to sprout.

A rooftop volunteer. Although the roof isn't quite ready for residents.

We spent the afternoon getting foam boards cut and attached on top of the front wall. The area above the concrete walls, and between the joists had been open up to this point. We had the blue tarp covering it, and keeping the weather out, but we needed something more solid to put the waterproofing and drainage material over. This will eventually be buried, so it needed some good support. We attached pieces of the Nudura ICF that was left over from building the forms for the walls. Then we added another sheet of foam board that was left from other insulation that had been ordered for insulating under the floor.

Adding Nudura blocks to the top of the wall.

On the way back to mom and dad's home, we saw fireworks light up the sky all around as we drove.

July 5th, we got a whole day to work. We were working on the west side of the south west corner. We needed to cut Trex boards to fit in next to the window, then install the Trex boards that would protect the foam where the retaining wall would sit, and finally we needed to attach the drainage layer material over the waterproofing.

Dad trimming the Trex to fit.

First buffer board (as we decided to call them) being installed.
The two buffer boards were installed, now we were working on securing the top drainage layer.

Dad and I didn't have as many hands as we needed. The drainage material was stiff, and trying to secure the pieces of Trex to hold it in place, required more than two hands. I pushed against the Trex with a board, while dad put a screw into the wall to hold it in place.

We got the top layer secured.

We needed to attach a second piece under that one so we would have a drainage layer all the way down to the gravel around the footer. We worked until it was quite late. As I drove home, I got to see quite a fireworks display, put on by one of the local cities. I was driving through just as people were leaving to head home. It was like rush hour. The next evening I got this photo showing what we had done.

Its pretty well secured to the wall, and then we put some boards up agains it just to add some insurance.

Through the week, I got more gravel dug away from the foundation. I moved a number of the Trex boards on my own. Then the next day, I asked Marcus for some help moving them. Marcus came over and helped me move a bunch of the Trex. Adam started working on getting the driveway by the garage graded down to the proper level, helped me move some more Trex, and bush hogged the field.

Last weekend my dad and I continued to work on the waterproofing and drainage for the south west corner. This time on the south side.

Additional layers of plastic were put in place and attached.
A second piece of drainage material was attached under the top one coming down from the roof.

Last Saturday it was very late when we left. We set up work lights so we could work until well after dark.

We got the buffer boards up, and put a piece of Trex in next to the window.

We secured a bottom piece of drainage material. On the top edge and on the vertical corner, we also put some heavy waterproofing tape that is normally used around windows. It is fairly thick and I wanted some extra protection for those corners as they get buried. The south west corner is now ready for the retaining walls to start being constructed. We still have the other two locations where the retaining walls will be installed that we have to do before Scott can start building them. I am hoping that by the end of this next weekend, we will be ready for the retaining walls to be built.