Monday, April 18, 2011

That's not a weed, that's my lawn!

I have been having some trouble with the dirt washing out from behind the retaining walls. The retaining walls are not as long as I wanted them, so the dirt has to come down at a steeper slope than it should. I had talked to Adam the last time he was over, about how I might go about extending the bottoms of the retaining walls out further from the house. We discussed different options for extending them.

Last week, I still hadn't found the time to contact anyone about getting timbers, railroad ties, or rock to add to the end of the walls. All options that Adam and I discussed. Adam called me up last Wednesday, and told me he was doing some clearing work for the person who had sold me the property originally, and had some rock that I might be interested in. The old farm house on her property had burned to the ground, and she had built a new house. The old fireplaces were still standing, and she wanted to get them out of the middle of her lawn. They were made of stone, and brick. She had asked Adam to just push the rocks back into her woods. He called me up to see if I would like them for my retaining walls. I went out and took a look at them, and then Adam and I looked over my situation again. I told him I would take it all, and would find uses for the rocks and the bricks.

Last Thursday night, I had a new delivery of materials.

That is quite a pile of rock for the front walls.

A smaller pile to add to the walls on the garage side.

I haven't decided for sure how the bricks will be used.

Last weekend we only got a few hours out at the house on Sunday, but Matt was able to join us. That helped us get work done faster. We cut sheets of plywood into 3" wide strips to go at the bottom of the walls. This is an odd item. The ICF blocks won't hold nails, so if you want to put in baseboards, you either have to attach the baseboards with screws or you have to attach wood to the ICF with screws, and then nail the baseboards to the wood. We decided that adding a strip of plywood at the bottom of the walls, and then nailing into that would work best. Dad cut the sheets in half first with the circular saw, then we ran each piece through the table saw to make pieces just a little less than 3" wide. I am going to work on attaching those to the ICF walls since that is a pretty easy one man job. We also rough cut more 2x6 for the center wall draft blocks. Dad and Matt worked on cutting them, and I placed them next to the wall, so they are handy when we get to work on putting them in.

With a cloud of dust, another piece of lumber is reduced to wooden blocks.

We were going to work on finishing the garage opening, but after we started looking at it, we realized there were still some things to think about before we start attaching materials. The top of the garage door is down below the top of the opening, when it is closed. So we need to put in some material to lower the top gasket so it meets the door at the correct place. We got an idea of the situation so we can think about the options, and then we switched to another task.

With three of us there and nice weather, I decided to do some work on the trim boards. A number of the boards are too cumbersome for one or two people to install very effectively. So while we still had light, we cut the longer base pieces for the front, and got them installed.

The pieces running between the bedroom windows, and the front door are now on.

Tonight the weather was still holding, so I went out and touched up the caulk on the top trim board on the garage side and added a piece of Trex to cover some plastic that was showing at the top were I didn't want it to. Then I worked on adding some trim pieces on the front. On the front I am going to have gardens and the bottom trim board will be covered, along with the portion that has just plastic sheeting. However, over by the door, I needed to take the Trex down further, as that will be exposed between the door, and the walls for the garden.

That block is not what I will use for the garden walls, but it gives an idea of where they will be.

Those pieces required some trimming to fit around where the board under the threshold was not equal on both sides. Took a little while to get a good fit. Then I worked on the board that goes between the west retaining wall, and the master bedroom window.

Now things have been popping around the house with spring actually arriving. I have a variety of green things sprouting. Some would be regarded as weeds on most property. Right now, I can't plant what I want to have, since Adam still has dirt to move around, but the plants help reduce the amount of dirt that runs downhill with each storm, so if it will grow, I'll let it live (at least for now).

 Front "lawn"

Good to have some things starting to grow on those hills.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A special visitor arrives to inspect progress

This weekend started on Friday afternoon. Mom and dad came out, and we got the rest of the panels up on the front side of the house.

We also got the first part of the support for the soffit panels put up. Matt was going to be able to join us on Saturday, so we were hoping to get some good progress made on installing the soffit panels.

Saturday, we got out there fairly early, and started putting up the top trim piece on the wall. This will also provide support for the soffit material on the house wall. We got that all put up in the morning, and it was looking like a productive day.

The top Trex trim board runs just under the overhang.

After lunch we were going to start hanging the soffit panels. We got the first one out to cut it to fit, and we started thinking about all the pieces and how they would have to go together, and realized we had a couple things that were going to conflict with one another. The vent pipes, were centered roughly where the front and back panels would meet, and where they would need support installed. Hmmm, the supports would have to run right through the vents. We batted various ideas around, including cutting the panels into short pieces, and running them from front to back, rather than side to side. We burned up some good weather trying to figure that out. Another lesson. When you have good weather, and come to an impasse, take photos and measurements so you can think about the issue when the weather isn't good, and switch to working on something else that needs good weather. Then the rain showers started to come through. We didn't finish nearly as much as I had hoped.

This afternoon, mom, dad and I went out again. The weather was good. We ran string through the conduit runs that will get wires put in them for the solar and generator, and also measured the lengths, so I know how much wire to buy. We put the string in, to pull rope in at later date. The rope will be used to pull the wires through the conduits.

My niece showed up to inspect the progress on the house. She was accompanied by her parents of course. She took multiple tours of the inside, walked across the roof, and seemed to think that looking down from there was pretty neat. She also did some earth moving.

Ooh, lots of rocks and dirt to play with.

Then she sat down to a gourmet dinner (I believe it was three courses) as sunset approached. She had exclusive seating, and looked to thoroughly enjoy the ambiance of the dining experience.

Fruit, PB&J and cottage cheese.

Dad and I worked on the panels to go in the garage opening. We had to fit the end panels for the top of the garage opening so they would go where we wanted them. The end panels to go on the sides have a tapered bottom to follow the garage floor and they needed to have a cut out to match how the trim work will fit with them on the outside of the wall. This took a little while to cut, but they are now ready to have primer put on the cut edges, and then be attached to the V-Buck.

Dad is trimming the bottom, so it will follow the contour of the garage floor at the doorway.

After we got those pieces cut, we worked on the draft-blocking for the center wall. The center wall will have ducts, wiring, gas pipe, and plumbing that will need to run through it between the front and back of the house. So, I don't want to have the drywall go all the way to the roof, with holes that have to be sealed up. However, code requires that if the drywall doesn't go to the top of the wall, then draft-blocking needs to be put in. So we are putting in blocks so that the drywall only has to go up the wall most of the way, and above this, the utilities can be run through without worrying about the drywall. But the space between the studs in this wall is narrow, so that complicates trying to fasten blocks in place. Each block is being fastened with pocket screws, which allow us to put the fasteners in without having to get a tool in between the studs.

Well, it was a productive weekend. We got a lot done, but I had hoped to get further on a couple of the items than we did.