Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well, but no water - but we do have walls in the basement and a flooring system for the main level

Today brought the bad news that we'd hit the magic mark for a well depth without finding sufficient water to use.  They drilled through a large amount of slate and some other softer rock but throughout that period, they were only able to find about 1 quart per minute flow rates.  The magic number we reached was just over 600 feet which is much greater than any of the other houses in the neighborhood drilled and they have flow rates from 4 GPM to over 25 GPM.  We now have to determine the next steps which may include fracking the well to see if that breaks enough rock to get a decent flow. Our other option is to use this well for ground source heat pump (geothermal) and drill another well elsewhere on the property  We're waiting for the fracking expert to provide an assessment and cost details before we make the decision.  What the fracking process does is blast pressure into the well at set intervals to attempt to break the rock and open channels for the water to flow into the well.  This is not the fracking that uses chemical solutions to extract natural gas from the shale and has raised a huge level of discussion here in Chatham county. (in other words this is not the same as the controversial version of fracking)

On the bright side we now have a flooring system throughout the house and they also put the entire main floor system on this morning.  Once that was done the wall braces were removed opening the house up.  Tomorrow we should take delivery of the next installment of lumber which will be sued for the stud-walls and roofing system for the house.  That will be a welcome thing since the heat wave has continued.  It's hard to imagine but standing inside a styrofoam cooler on a bright sunny day that is also over 100 degrees simply intensifies that heat.  We've been providing water and Gatorade for the framing crew to ensure none of them drop due to heat exhaustion.

The business end of the drilling rig - note the purple water which signifies shale.
This was the state of the system yesterday morning - most of the basement walls were up but the floor joists had yet to be installed

This is the view fromt he basement after the floor sheathing had been installed on 1/2 the house

The view from the front door - there will be a wall about where the seam  on the wall panels is to the right of the large window.

This is the view from the top of the staircase - most of the dirt you see will be  gone since it's the backfill for the  overdig so it will be a clean view of the woods behind the house.
Here's the view from the family room window wall.

This is the last time you'll see these bracing poles on the house.  Shortly after this picture was taken the flooring system was complete allowing the braces to come down.

This is the same view without the bracing and with all the sub-floor installed.  The missing squares of foam will be replaced in the morning before they start on the stud-wall that will again lap around the inside of these walls.

This shows that you can get a lot of bvehicles on this particular site - we had the drilling rig, the support vehicle, the grouting truck, the crane, the flatbed a pickup, a van and a sedan all on site at this instant.  All that was missing was the portable toilet service truck that showed up a short while later!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Framing and Well Drilling day

Today the framing crew started work on the interior stud walls in the basement - They framed out the spare bedroom, workout room, office, bathroom, mech room, wine cellar, and then a workshop area in the storage half of the basement.  They also installed a triple-wide LVL to carry the load from the central wall to the West wall which will have custom-fit 4" steel posts to support the load.  The only wall left in the basement is the load-bearing wall that will support the clerestory section.

The framing att the start of the day 

Here's the faming at about noon
The majority of the framing complete in the basement.

This is the three 39-foot  LVLs on the fork being moved into the door on the West end, main floor for later installation.
Sliding the LVLs into position.
The first LVL is in position and ready to secure.  Temp posts installed pending arrival of the custom-measured steel support posts.

Can you hear me now?  AT&T reception at the sight is a bit spotty - Kevin found this to be the best  way to get a "reliable" signal (thought still dropping calls).  I noticed there was a crane lifting an antenna onto the cell tower 1/2 mile from the house sight.  Maybe that will help!
 The well drilling rig showed up at 8:30 this morning and after a short delay for mechanical failure they started about 10:00.  They hit rock at about 10 feet, and then installed 68' of sleeve.  After that they hit hard slate/shale.  They had not hit water yet at about 5:00 when they departed - they had drilled to a depth of about 300' at that point in time.  Averages (which mean little) around this area are apparently 240' to 340' so we're hoping to hit water within the next 10-50 feet.  You'll see in the picture that the water (used to keep the drilling dust down) is purple in color which is how the rig operator made the assessment it was shale they were drilling.

Here's the well drilling rig - it's amazing how high they jack the front to level the rig!

More of the drilling rig

This is the water flowing from the drilling operation - the purple color is due to the  slate/shale rock. The water is added to keep the dust down.
A different perspective of the well rig on it's jack stands - this is at about 5:30 after the crew left (for the day?) with the water buffalo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The start of the framing

Today the Rodriguez Builders crew started working on the framing for the basement walls which will also support the flooring for the main floor.  We had a slight delay due to finding mold on a rack of studs - Kevin made a quick run to Lowes to get enough to keep the crew working pending the replacement from the supply house.  They got the entire East end of house lapped with the 2x4 stud wall and were working on the load-bearing walls and interior walls when I left at about 2:45.  Once again the thunderstorms were broiling around the site - no rain by the time I left but it was threatening and it did rain with some pretty heavy thunder when I stopped at Lowes on the way home - which is about 10 miles from the site.

Here's what it looked like at the start of the day - Burlap is still on the slab to allow it to dry. 
This is the stud wall on the North and East walls.  

This and the next photo provide proof that this house is due south facing.  Note the shadows on those lugs for the deck - they're  nearly vertical and only because it's 1:19 are they slightly off.  I also like this picture because it shows the family room door and window wall that will be our view to the woods and intermittent stream to the south of the house.

More proof of Southerly orientation of the majority of the glass.  

I took this picture because I liked the perspective it provides from the South East corner of the clearing.   The dirt pile I'm standing on while taking this picture will be used for backfill of the foundation once the flooring system is installed.  

This is another picture of the South wall of the house - note the LVLs and TJIs stacked ready for the flooring to be installed in the next couple of days.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Watering the concrete to cure, not dry it

Here's a shot of our watering effort where you can see the Burlap on the slab.  We have a gas-powered pump on a water tank we rented from SunBelt.  We pumped upwards of 150 gallons of water onto the slab this morning and another 150 this evening to keep it from drying out in this 100 degree heat.   Two more days of watering and then they start on the flooring system.

"So I add 500 gallons of water and the house grows, right? (anonymous)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And then there was a slab

Today started early - the concrete pump truck arrived precisely at 0530 and the crew shortly thereafter.  The first concrete truck arrived at just about 6:00 - sunrise was not far behind.  The crew first filled the large strip footing and then worked their way from the SouthEast corner of the slab in a counterclockwise moved finishing at the center door on the South of the basement.  The job took just over 55 yards of concrete - 6 loads at 9 yards each and then 1 1/2 yard load.  All the concrete was poured by 9:00 and they first hand screed it, floated it with a bull float, and then, as it set, a pair or power-trowels were used to finish it.  Hand work is still a premium here as they finished all the edges and around pipes with hand trowels.  Water applied during the "polishing" phase - not really polished concrete but a very smooth, hard finish for the whole thing.

  The amazing thing to a newbie is that they were walking on the surface of the concrete within 4 hours and it was hard enough that a power saw was used to cut the control joints within about 8 hours.  Clayton's crew was another of those well-oiled machines with each going about their business without having to be told what was next.  Testing the hardness was done with a shoe - they knew when it was ready for each phase by the depression left (or not) when the concrete was stepped on.  After the control joints were cut, the crew laid burlap on the surface to allow us to wet the concrete down over the next few days and allow proper curing rather than drying.

Another day on the job when the thunderstorms rolled in as the crew was finishing and the rain dropped the temperature by about 15 degrees which was a welcome relief. High temps today hit 100 plus degrees and the walls held  the heat inside another 10-15 degrees higher.  We had two 5 gallon coolers of water and the crew went through most of that.

Friday is scheduled for the delivery of the supplies for the stud walls in the basement and the flooring for the main floor.  Monday the crew should start installing the walls/floor and we'll remove the braces by the end of the week.  After that the main floor stud walls and roof will go on.

5:30 and all is quiest

First light - that's the vapor barrier covering the high-density, termite-resistant foam.   5" in all but the strip footing and post support areas which are 3" higher density foam.  Wire mess is covering all the plastic and the rebar ties from the wall system are bent down so they will be encased in the concrete poured later today.

6:13 and the first concrete hits the foam and vapor barrier

They're pulling the wire grid up into the concrete so it is embedded on all sides.  At several points it looked like the concrete was about to go over the top of their boots but I didn't see anyone have to dump a boot out.  One did have to change to taller boots though!  David, in the orange shirt, is the pump operator controlling the flow of concrete and position of the boom bia a remote on a belt at his waist.

This is the end of the first truckload of concrete - that's an 8' wide strip footing that runs 2/3 the length of the hosue.

This is the business end of the concrete - concrete truck backs up to the pumper, pours the concrete into the hopper and it's pumped up and through the tube. Operator has a remote control that allows him to run the truck from the application end without seeing the truck.  A horn sounds when concrete starts to flow and stops.  Two beeps signifies that the concrete truck is empty.

8:50 and the last concrete is pumped

10:25 and already the hand troweling and power troweling are well under way. Note the footprints in the concrete at this point

12:23 and putting the finishing touches on the surface - at this point they're squirting water down and applying that "polish" to the surface.  

1:15 and the control joins are being cut.  They first marked chalk-lines on the concrete and then Clayton followed them with a dry concrete saw (other than when the rain came and knocked the dust down (thankfully!).  Crew packed up and I left at about 2:30. Before we left the crew put a layer of burlap down - picture of that tomorrow.
While this was a day that had period of "watching concrete cure" it was interesting to see the precision these guys worked with as they poured the concrete and worked it into the flat floor that will be our basement.  These guys were on the road at 3:45 this morning heading to the job site and departed after 2:30 with about 1 hour and 45 minutes drive ahead of them.  I have to tip my hat to their professionalism and drive - the only "complaint" I heard all day was that it was hot and I have to say, that was a real understatement to say the least.  I think the heat index was over 110 and had to be higher inside that wall system. It's pretty amazing how all that foam intensifies that heat and increases the temp. Oh, and add the humidity of the curing concrete to all that.  Kudos to the whole team for the great work they did today!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Band-Board for the main floor installed, foam for the slab insulation

The end of the week was marked by the completion of the "band-board" attached to the ICFVLs (using ICFVL-CWs) at the level of the first floor.  This job took about 4 1/2 hours to complete most of which was spent setting the lines at level for the flooring and making sure that once the finished floor is installed we have the proper clearance for the doors.

The view from the NorthWest corner of the house with the LVLs installed - main living floor joists will attach and finished floors will be 1/2" below the door openings (door to deck is at right of this picture).

This is the view from the SouthWest corner of the basement.  The 5" foam you see on the gravel was used to protect the work Clayton's team did leveling the gravel.  There will be wire mesh and rebar as well as a 6 mil vapor barrier and then 4" of concrete to form the slab. There will be higher density 3" foam under those areas of the concrete that will be strip footers for the load-bearing walls.
Again, the view from the NorthEast which is how you will approach the house from the driveway.

The front of the house from the NorthWest. Garage will attach between the door on the right and the window to the left of that and run to the WestWall.  You may just be able to see the waterproofing applied to the sub-grade concrete (Thoroseal). You may be able to tell these pictures were taken in the morning before they installed the LVLs for the main floor. 
 This week should bring the final installation of the sub-slab insulation and wire mesh/rebar, the inspection by the county, and then the pour of the slab.  We'll let that slab set up for the weekend and then the guys will go at the flooring system in earnest.  Following the installation of the flooring system, the supports you see on the inside will be removed and they'll raise the roof.

  We're already working on the flooring material selections since that will ensure we know what the flooring system depth in each room will need to be so there are no "steps" between the different rooms.  We also need to order the skylight (for the entrance hall) and two solar tubes (one for the laundry room and one for the guest bath).    This is where is starts to get fast and furious - selecting materials and ordering them in time for the installers to do their jobs.  We do have a head start with some plumbing fixtures, a vanity sink base, a range hood, and several other things neatly stored in our family room and spare bedroom not to mention the range and dishwasher the retail store is storing for us. It pays to hit the home improvement stores (Lowes and Home Depot here in NC) and find their special-order returns or clearance items that fit your need.  We've saved 50% on the plywood-box vanity and range hood as well as high quality plumbing fixtures. We saved about 30% on the range - it was one that was ordered with four burners and a griddle instead of the 6 burners the buyer wanted and since it is LP, there is limited demand due to LNG being available in Durham and Raleigh.

 Our overall goal is to stay within the budget but by buying these items at a deep discount we can upgrade the overall fixtures in the house.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waterproofing, pre-slab prep and underslab rough-in for plumbing.

It's been a busy week - Ideal set the replacement panel yesterday afternoon so all the walls are now in place.  Kevin and I spent the better part of yesterday and part of this morning caulking the seams in preparation for the slab pour.

The plumber was on site yesterday laying out the pipes for the downstairs bathroom (shower drain and toilet) so we had to have specific information for him including the toilet rough-in size (10", 12" or 14") and where the drain would be in the shower.   We were prepared so that wasn't any surprise - and the plumbers ran their test water column in prep for the inspection by the county today.

Today the concrete slab crew showed up to the do the gravel work in prep for setting the foam insulation, rebar, and vapor barrier.  This is another awesome crew - you can tell by the look of the gravel when they left the site today, they do extraordinary work.  We had a small glitch when the supplier called today saying they can't get our high density foam until Tuesday.  What that means is our pour will now be scheduled for Thursday to allow time for the final work on the pre-slab and the inspection prior to the pour.

I spent the day waterproofing the sub-grade parts of the panels 6 50# sacks of Thoroseal mixed and applied with a roller.

The front of the house which faces due Nortn

East side of the house

The cracked panel comes out

and the new one swings into place

That's 14,000 pounds of panel!

Here's what it looks like in prep for the foam and rebar - Clayton's team worked that gravel into a carpet!

The black "bucket" in the gravel is the waste lift station for the basement bath - drains for shower and toilet are the white PVC to the right of it

Just for perspective this is the house from overhead - looking East to West.

Friday, July 8, 2011

We Have WALLS!

Today we set the last of the wall panels.  Yesterdays' thunderstorms continued until after 4:00 so the crews called it a wrap and returned to the site today at 6:30.  By very local reports over 2" of rain fell on the work site yesterday and when I arrive this morning, the silt fence was doing it's job very well - silt had been trapped and formed a loose "quick-sand" like muck about 2' deep at the fence.  When we cleared the mud build-up the drainage pipes from the gravel bed were flowing with clear water which was a great sight.  All in all it worked well, no huge cave-ins of the dirt onto the gravel meaning the set was not delayed.  The "lap pool" was again filled partially with muddy water when I arrived but throughout the day it drained.  Rain began falling again about 3:15 and didn't let up before I left the site.  The good news was no lightening today so they could get the final panels set - albeit a bit wetter than they'd have liked.

 The crew began setting the first panel just after 7:00 AM and set the final section (the "beam" over the window opening for the family room) just before 4:00.  I left the site at about that 4:30 but the crews were still closing down their equipment and packing up the cranes to move them off the site.  I got about 2 miles up the road and it was dry and sunny!  

The site at 6:30 AM - 6 panels installed yesterday, 19 to go today

Minor collapse of walls due to 2" of rain.  The drain tiles did their job keeping the  water flowing away from the gravel base.

Here's how you get two trailers back to the plant with one cab

You set one on the other and drive them away strapped together!

9 Panels up at this point

Wall walking at it's best.  That "string" you see is the measuring tape used to check square of the panels.  9/16" off at this point on the diagonal which equates to about 9/32" side to side over 36".   If you zoom in on the photo you can see the metal ICFVL (insulated concrete form vertical lateral) plates spaced between the windows - they're the gemstone shaped plates (3 of them) just above that bottom window opening.  Those are where the floor system will attach to the walls with LVLs (laminated veneered lumber) attached in a band around the walls.

Looking through the East window to the wall-set team on the man-lift

13 Panels up at this point - and the sun is shining bright at this point!

Getting the man-lift out of the site - since it has no suspension it has no traction on uneven ground and couldn't get out of the hole under it's own power..  

The North Wall completely set

Looking though the front door entrance and out the South side 6' wide by 11 1/2' tall stairwell window.  That soil you see will be used on the backfill so it will be out of the picture.  What you can't see is the two specimen white oak tress you see from this position and the rain-swollen intermittent creek you can see from the "deck" position.  
The last panel on the south side - minus the beam that goes over the 12' wide by 7'6" tall window panels in the family room.

Joe Don's nerves are starting to build - two panels left to install and this one is in the bag!

The last panel on the way

Setting the last panel in place - it's still on the crane but it's already clear this is going to be a perfect fit!  That's the french door to the deck and the lugs (blocks on the sides of the walls) are the supports for the deck.  Backfill will come up to within about 3' of the deck once complete.  

This is the last piece of the puzzle - it's the over-window beam and....

It's a PERFECT FIT!  That's the door to the deck on the right, the 7'6" tall by 12' wide window opening on the left and the French Door to the patio you see through the window opening.

Jeff taking a bit of a break before making final adjustments to the walls for plumb.  This is the due-South facing back wall of the house.
This is that final "tweak" to get the panels plumb and level on the West wall of the house.  What you can't really see in the picture is the skies opened up again and it seemed like another inch of rain fell in the 45 minutes I stayed on site.  They had to pack up their gear in the rain and get two cranes and their gear all off site.

We have to extend our sincere thanks to the crews that set manufactured, transported and set these walls.  The operators who swung these 14,000 pound panels into position like they were Lego blocks and the entire crew who prepped the site, set the walls, attached them and cross-braced them and made this look easy.  It's hard to believe that only last Friday the first walls were being poured at the Ideal Precast site in Durham and today we were done setting the walls.  By my rough calculations they set somewhere between 250,000 pounds and 320,000 pounds of walls in two days!!  This has been an amazing process to watch and be a part of!

Footnote:  During the scramble to avoid the lightning and winds during yesterdays thunderstoms, one panel was set back on the flatbed face-down and it experienced some cracking (due in large part to flexing the panel against the designed stress direction and also since concrete isn't completely cured for much longer than the 7 days since this panel was poured).  Due to the location of the panel, it was set in place to allow the rest of the panels to be set.  Ideal is making a new panel today and the crane will be on site to replace that panel on Monday at 10:00. Talk about a great company to do business with!!  Absolutely no impact to the project progress - we had a planned down day on Monday before we start pre-slab rough-in and slab-prep work on Tuesday.  We'll also do the code-mandated waterproof coating on the below grade panels on Monday and Tuesday.