Building day 4 – 7

Wanda took Tuesday to Friday off to help me, and she loved it, I think she has the building fever now. There’s not much progress to show by pictures. Since all the walls that we built are stacked it just looks like a tall stack of pizza boxes, there are ten left to stand. Wanda and I built two wall sections a day and finished and are now finished all the walls. Unfortunately they are very heavy and we will probably require a crane to make them stand safely. The first few that we did with lots of helpers were rather scary. I’m looking for a crane or a zoom boom for Saturday to stand walls with.

We finished all the walls and only used one box of paslode framing nails, the box only cost $40, it was a lot cheaper than I would have thought. It was also very cold out there, as you can see in the pictures, there are no trees for miles, and that snow gets into everything. But I would still rather build in winter than in summer, those mosquitoes and hot humid days are horrible.

I’ll add some pictures in the near future.

Building day 3

There were no helpers today, and it was very hard to get going, I was super tired and sore everywhere. I wasn’t just sore, I was really sore and I felt sick in my stomach. I had no plan of what I was going to do when I got to the site. I was driving there at 8:00 am eating a bagel with cream cheese, I was sick.

I got there and it was a nice day.  I looked around, wished I brought a radio, then started cleaning; the place was a mess.  Following that I built a ladder for the miter saw; I should have built it days ago, it makes cutting so much easier.

Around lunch An anonymous helper came to give me a hand, together we framed 32 linear feet of wall.

So far we have 88 linear feet of wall framed out of 176 so we’re %50 there, then comes the roof.

Building day 2

Today we had My dad (Bryan), Ken, Gordie (sorry if I spelt that wrong), Wanda, Jen, Tre, and Myself working.

Wanda made us Bagels, Coffee, Tea, and Toast for breakfast. Then followed it up with Spaghetti and Meat sauce. It was the best spaghetti I’ve ever had. Wanda also built herself a cooking shelter, with attached dining area, she’s amazing.

Gordie brought his hammer drills and started boring into the cement to install wall anchors. I got 5.5 inch anchors and they were too short to use. He managed to avoid the camera the whole time he was there, but he did lots of work.

We finished the first wall (south) and stood up one more section, it was getting rather scary standing up the walls as the ground froze and the tractor couldn’t do any pulling, and couldn’t get close to the wall at all, it was crappy.  Those walls are tall, I was at the top of them untying ropes, it sucks but I’ll get used to it.

If you are wondering why we have so many windows on the south wall, it’s because I want to use the sun for solar heating. We should get heat in the winter, and the windows will be shaded by the roof overhang in the summer (the sun is higher in the sky in summer), I hope it works well.

If you’re wondering if it’s cold building in the winter the answer is no, it seems like a great time to build. it can snow all it wants and I don’t have to worry about it warping the wood, nothing is sinking into the mud, easy to book vacation, and no heat stroke. If I could I’d do it again in winter.

As always it was a race against the sun, but we finished the south wall today then went home early to watch the superbowl.

Building day 1

We started building our house today, and it was a rough start. We had a hard time getting a carpenter to work with us, a few were too expensive for us, one cancelled five days ago with family obligations, and the one who was going to help today couldn’t show up until tomorrow. As the story goes I knew it was going to be hard to find someone to help us so I bought a book, and I’m glad I did because it had all the knowledge that we needed to build. Ken and I laid out the first wall early in the morning and we all started building. I have to say we had a super crew, John from my work came, as well as my dad (Bryan), Ken (brought his tractor), Larry (Ken’s friend), Wanda, Jen, Tre, and Myself.

Everyone fell into place doing the job that fit them.

Wanda did the most of the cooking, We had coffee, tea, muffins, doughnuts, as a morning snack; followed by cheddar smokies, hamburgers, and homemade chili for afternoon lunch, and a third meal that I skipped the most of.

Ken worked alongside me, double checking my measurements and guiding me where I needed it, he did the framing, plus lot leveling, wall hoisting, and general laibor.

John and Larry worked the saw, they did an excellent job. I would bark out some measurements of what I wanted and they would cut or fabricate as necessary. I would say something like ” I need four headers 8 foot 6 inches long, built with 3  2X10’s spaced out to be flush when set into a 5.5 inch wall” and within a matter of minutes these fabricated parts would start showing up. These guys were great to work with, they produced quality stuff and I didn’t have to supervise them, just make a shopping list and they produces.

Jen helped Wanda with the food preparation, plus she helped bring and line up the lumber for nailing, she can do just as much as anyone else working today.

Tre kept us all happy, I’m sure he was cold and bored, but he was there with us the whole time. He got his hands on a hammer and he built himself a small helicopter out of wood, good doings Tre.

My dad brought us doughnuts, and most importantly drove back to our apartment to get the air nailer that I forgot. He’s an excellent help to have around, he did a bit of everything today, I had him standing walls, bringing lumber, setting up ladders, stabilizing walls. I asked him if he ever wished he built himself a house, after looking at the 18 foot tall wall he said, “no.” I don’t think the building fever has bit him yet, or maybe the 18 foot walls are too overwhelming.

Actually the 18 foot walls are overwhelming, the top of the grade beam is about five feet above ground level, that makes the top of the walls come to 23 feet high. To tell the truth, I’m scared to put the rafters up, it’s going to be stupid. We got half of the south wall (56 foot) built and standing today. Many thanks to all who helped today.

Grade beam finished

The grade beam is done, and we are waiting for the roof trusses to be ready. It seems I’ll be doing this build myself with a few friends, so I bought myself a new saw and a good book with pictures. Actually a few saws, and concrete anchors, squares, levels, chalk line, more air hose, paslode oil, staples, nails, lots and lots of expanding foam insulation, new gloves, jerry cans,  gasoline, sawhorse brackets, wood chisels, tarps, ratchet straps, and a large case of coca-cola cans. It’s going to be fun.

Broke a spindle

Our concrete guy is building the base of the building up to grade with cement wash. Cement wash is the unused cement that is left in the mixers at the end of the day, they water it down and dump it into a pile, after it cures they break it up then haul it to our place. The stuff packs really nice.

We went to look at the building site today, and had a talk with our concrete guy, he mentioned that we should spread some more 3/4″ down on the driveway. So I did some spreading while Wanda, Jen, and Tre cooked some hotdogs over a campfire. I just about finished the driveway, and I took too much wet rock and sand in the bucket at once, turned too sharp while backing up the driveway, and broke the left front spindle off the tractor. In layman’s terms, I broke the left front tire off. Well this one may turn expensive, I have to find a new spindle before winter, or I’ll have lots of snow to shovel.

Too much water

The stupid well we have has gone artesian on us. What that means is there is enough pressure in the earth to push the water out of the well and all over the place, the just of it is that I had to buy a temporary plug for $211 and put in ten feet into the well.

To plug the well I got a 4-6″ test plug, a length of hose, and a ten foot long 1″ pipe. The pipe had to be cut to fit into the car, but it had a flare on one end so that we could fit it together again. I put the test plug on the hose, then fed the hose through the pipe. I pushed the plug 10 feet down the well casing with the pipe then I inflated the plug with compressed air.

After inflated the plug will not move in the casing and the water from the well stops flowing. I bought a bilge pump and some nylon hose, we hooked the pump to a 12V car battery and sent it down the casing, it pumped the water out of the casing to below the frost level so that it won’t freeze.

The well is now fixed, so far. The next step is to install a snappy, and trench it to the house below the frost line. Following that we will install a submersible pump, permanent plug (because it’s artesian extra $400), and wire it to the house. Inside the house it gets a pressure switch and an expansion tank. I was quoted $2150 for this from a well place, I think I’m going to do it myself with the concrete guy.

Piles and rock

We have a driveway now, it has clay and fill covered with 6″ crushed limestone, covered with 3/4″ down. It is holding up really well. Our concrete guy has been hauling cement wash with a tandem dump truck, I think it’s weight is around 50-60 thousand pounds it’s near the legal road weight limit. The driveway is happy with it, it’s well packed and will handle cement trucks. We got the piles for our house drilled and poured, they’re 19-20 feet deep and 16″ across. they would have been deeper but at the 21 foot mark there is silt, it’s all clay up to that point, so the piles are drilled two feet above the silt.

The piles support the building, they are made by drilling into the ground and filling the hole with rebar and concrete they support the building two ways, first they support by friction (the friction between the pile’s wall and the clay in the earth), second they have the end sitting on solid clay. The piles that I have will support 30,000 pounds each, I think we have 22 piles, 16 on the outside and the rest in the middle.