Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Hole has doors!

Last Thursday, Mike came out to install my garage door and front door. I was finally going to be able to close the place up. This will keep out the larger animals that tend to wander through.

Scott's crew started to work on the retaining walls as well. This looks like it may be a drawn out saga.

I took a day off of work, so I would be there in case there were any questions. When I got out to the property, Scott and his guys were there. He was still having issues getting the proper blocks delivered in the quantity he needs for my wall. They had some of a block with a straight front. We were going to use blocks that have an angular cut across the front. Scott said that he could use the straight block on the first couple courses which will be buried when final grading is done, and I put in my gardens. So they were going to start using the blocks he had. That way they didn't have to delay starting my walls any longer. Meanwhile, he was telling the block company they better have the blocks that they promised delivered by today.

The blocks they are supposed to use, you can see how the side on the left has a beveled front, rather than going straight across.

Scott and I went around to the buffer boards and looked things over for each wall. He had already marked the height where each course should come to. Now he wanted me to decide where the front of the walls should be. These walls will be almost completely vertical, so we just needed to mark on the boards where the front face of the wall was supposed to be (this is an important detail for later). We marked each set of boards. The ones by the garage had some flexibility. However the ones at the ends of the overhang, have to be out far enough, that I can get the ends of the overhang properly finished, and have a little space left between the overhang and the walls.

The landscapers spent the morning getting materials and equipment set up. Around lunch time Mike and his son made it out to start on the doors. We looked over the selection of wood that I still had available from all the framing lumber. We found that all the pieces that were needed for the garage door were on hand. However as Mike looked over the situation, he saw that he was going to need some serious anchors to tie the wood to the concrete in the wall. He gave me a couple options to look for. He felt that he already had screws (Tap-cons) that would be long enough to attach the front door. I went and had some lunch and then went to Lowe's to see what they had for anchoring the wood, and to look for a lock set for the front door. I found a lock set that I thought would fit well with the rest of my design. Then I went to look at the anchors. I saw some anchors that looked like what Mike was asking for. So I got checked out, and headed back. I was almost back when the phone rang. It was Mike. He asked if I was still at Lowe's. I told him I was almost back to the property. He told me we would talk once I got there. Well, it sounded like we hit another snag.

When I got back, I saw that the landscapers had been busy. They had gotten the trenches dug for the walls beside the driveway. They will put in stone chips and dust in the bottom of the trenches for the wall blocks to sit on.

The trench to the left of the garage.

I showed Mike the concrete anchors I had gotten. We did some figuring and decided they were not going to go into the concrete far enough. OK, so I would need to go back and get longer anchors. Mike then told me about the other problems. The front door couldn't be set quite where we had talked, because he wasn't going to be able to put an anchor far enough back from the surface of the concrete to be sure it would have a good hold. So the door was going to have to sit back into the opening further than we intended. OK, that can be dealt with by doing a bit more trim work. The other problem, was that the Tap-cons that Mike had were not going to be long enough to properly anchor it. He didn't want to anchor it just to the V-Buck which wraps the opening, and is embedded in the concrete behind it. He wanted to go through that and tie directly into the concrete, but the V-Buck was thicker than he had thought, so the fasteners weren't long enough to reach through it, and secure into the concrete. We needed longer fasteners for this as well. Well, I was already headed back to Lowe's to exchange the concrete anchors for the garage, and thought I had seen longer Tap-cons as well. So while they worked on getting the garage door parts prepped for the install, I went shopping again.

I looked over what they had, and was concerned that Mike wouldn't have the right drills to secure them, so I called him to check. I needed to get a bit to drill into the concrete because the anchors were larger than the bits that he had. The Tap-cons came with their own bit, so I didn't need to buy one for them. I headed back with my new purchases, hoping there wouldn't be any more complications. Mike and his son worked to get the front door installed. They still had a problem that the bit that came with the Tap-cons almost wasn't long enough to make the proper depth hole. It seems that building a highly insulated concrete walled home, presents all sorts of unexpected little challenges to typical house construction techniques. The screw heads were a little large for the hinges, so they don't quite sit flush, but the hinges were made with a bit of extra space, so they fit OK. They got the front door in, and its frame is anchored to the concrete in the walls, so it should be quite secure.

Mike drilling holes to anchor the hinges to the concrete.

They got the door mounted, and then they used spray foam to seal all around the opening. It should be very good at keeping air from leaking around it.

A front door on the house. Yes!!

It was getting too late to get the garage door done that day, and Mike didn't want to leave it only part way done. So he told me he would come out the next day and get it installed. I was going to a couple family reunions over an extended weekend, so I was hoping there weren't any questions on the garage door, since I wouldn't be there to look over the situation.

Scott was going to have his crew also working on Friday and Monday when I couldn't check in. While I was traveling with my mom and dad, I couldn't even be sure I would have decent coverage for my phone.

Scott called me on Friday, as were headed to the first reunion. Well, the ran into a snag. When we marked the location of the wall to the left of the garage, we hadn't taken into account where the drain was coming out of the foundation and tying in. We had the blocks sitting on top of that which was not going to work. He needed to move the wall location back a bit, and wanted to know if I wanted to do something about the marks we had made on the buffer board with permanent marker, as that was now going to be exposed. I told him to just move the wall, and not worry about the marks. I was pretty sure they would wear off over time.

Scott called me on Monday, asking how I wanted to handle an issue with the drain tile. He had found that the tile that runs from the front of the house, was lower than the tile in front of the garage, and so water was going to have to run up hill to get over to the daylight drain. We decided to run a second drain line out behind the retaining wall, and it will need to be taken over to drain out to daylight with the other drain line that we installed previously.

Since we were driving near the property on our way home to my folks place, we decided to stop, to see how things turned out. The garage door turned out very nice.

The door looks good, it still needs trim work around the opening.

The landscapers had started building the walls on the front of the house. So we took a look. My dad and I noticed that the walls weren't quite lined up with the lines that Scott and I had marked. It was getting late, and it had been a long day, so I didn't try to reach Scott, but thought it might be good to do so.

Today, Marcus and I went out and I took a better look. The walls were off by a few inches, and I was not going to have enough room for insulation and the siding materials on the sides of the overhang. Marcus was wondering if the wall was going to tilt back so that by the top of it would be over enough. I remembered that Scott said that with these blocks the walls would be vertical and not tilted.

The board in the middle, is marked with a line, and a note "Front of Block"

I called Scott to ask him about them. I told him what I had seen, and my concerns. He said he would head out there to check them. Later he called back and said they were going to have to move the walls! I am glad I went out at lunch to check on things.

Well, at least the doors are on. It looks like the retaining walls are going to be a battle to the very end.

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