Sunday, August 14, 2011

Transformation of the site - and Window/door delivery scheduled

The end of this week showed a significant transformation of the site - the framing crew finished one gable end, the junction between the gable roof and Clerestory section, the framing for the skylight box, and a large number of the interior walls.  Saturday was planned to be a roof sheathing day but mother nature had other plans - it started raining early and continued heavily for most of the morning.  We will now attempt for dry-in on Monday which is also rough-in for plumbing and close on the heels will be HVAC and then electrical.  Lots of decisions needed in rapid fire succession to keep the construction moving out.

  We received the confirmed delivery date for our windows set this week - it's now scheduled for 13 Sept.  Because we are getting our windows shipped at the same time as one other project Anchorage is working on, we saved a significant amount on shipping but until we get the final bill we won't know.  Part of the uncertainty is what the world Markets have been doing and the exchange rates that could impact those costs.  We did order the German tape systems so this will be an interesting experience.  I will try to photograph and video all the installations so folks see how different the installation is than typical US nailing flange installation.  As you've seen in most pictures our the window and door "framing" is concrete vice the typical lumber frames used in the US.  One thing we do have to remember is that our delivery date is based on normal customs processing - there are stories of folks who had to wait a long duration due to someone adding a gift to the container of a case of alcoholic beverages which wasn't declared on the customs form.  Now that's the epitome on the Law of Unintended Consequences!

The other change that happened was the Wilkerson crew returned with a dozer and dump truck and loader and they moved lots of earth, backfilling the house, grading the cleared area, and finishing the carving out of the East side walk-out where we'll be building a retaining wall.  We are currently waiting for an engineered solution (over 4 foot height requires that) and cost estimate for the block - we're looking at VersaLok standard size block in a mottled color (Canyon from Johnson Concrete in Willow Spring NC) that matches the soft rock colors very well.  Hopefully we'll be able to start that wall this week - and maybe get a large part of it completed.  The challenge will be placing the block, geogrid (mesh that extends 5 - 6 feet back into the ground from the wall), and backfill all by hand.  Each block weighs about 80 pounds and I expect we'll need about 750 of them!  Recommendations from the engineer were to use washed rock for the backfill and in addition we are required to have drainage installed every 25' of wall.  The interesting part of this discussion was that the wall will "flex" a bit over time - it's designed that way to prevent complete failure and the geogrid/backfill allow for drainage and flex without collapse.

The finished gable end and a view of the near-final grading from the  East edge of the cleared area.  Hard to see in this picture is the 8' drop between the camera and house.

View from the SouthWest corner of the cleared area after near-final grading. Note the "raised" deck now looks much closer to the final grade than it has in the past pictures.

View from the West edge of the cleared area - this photo shows the multiple roof lines that will be present.  Missing from the structure at this point is the garage which will attach on the left hand (viewed from this angle) corner of the house and extend North (left).

A view from the East.

View from the SouthEast.

This shows a better picture of the walk-out to the retaining walled area  from the South.  That wall at the far side is about 8' tall for perspective.

The finished framing for the skylight.  That house wrap is there to protect the beams from inclement weather and was reattached after this picture.

Looking down the front (North) wall of the house at near-final grade.  That dirt piled up is our topsoil that will go down near the end of the project.

This is the house viewed from the driveway (NorthEast).

A view from nearly due South of the entire back of the house - hard to tell in this picture but there's about 2' of drop between the house and where I'm standing to take this picture.
The next thing that happened was we decided on a geothermal contractor who will use our dry well for part of the requirement and will drill one more well for the geothermal heating.  The well driller will also drill for water for us - we've moved locations on the lot and upon further investigation, it looks like into another soil type.  The county soil survey shows 3 different types of soil on our property which may be a good thing or may be a bad thing.  The well location for our neighboring houses all seem to be in the same soil type so that may change the location of our potential well but we have to discuss with the well driller to see what he thinks.  There's always a dowser option but we have yet to find one in the area.  The unfortunate thing is they put casing in the 606' well down to 67' which means that part of the well is less efficient for geothermal.  Drilling out that casing is costly and risks losing valuable equipment and maybe use of the well.  The contractor will fill in part of the well with gravel and only use the top 350' or so. This is due in part to the standard geothermal well pumps only being good up to that depth.  We'll drill another well near (25' separation) the old well and then the water well will go elsewhere. Right now we anticipate the well drilling operation to be late in the week.  The good news is there seems to be a break in the high temp days and we may "struggle" to hit 90 degrees this week.  That's really good news because it has been insufferable for the last couple of weeks.

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