Fine Times at Our House

It’s been a while since I posted, and we got a lot done, although it may not look like it, but we finished the first floor, insulated it, decked it, installed the under-floor utilities, poured the front porch, and screwed down the “bottom plates”. I put the bottom plates in quotes because they are actually 3×6″ and 3 x4’s that were milled. Because we are going to pour a finished concrete floor , we need to hold the walls up to the finished height and that is what the 3×6’s do. Here are the progress pictures:

Framed floor with insulation installed.

You can see all the water and sewer pipes sticking up through, as well as any hold-down bolts.

Decking off the floor with 1 1/8" tongue and groove plywood.

The 1 1/8″ plywood and 12″ floor joists should provide a pretty stout subfloor for the concrete to pour over.

Here is the floor decked over. The 3" material marks out where the walls will set. Beside raising the walls to the finish height, they provide scree boards for pouring the concrete floor.

We put in about 12 square feet of vents for subfloor ventilation, and installed an attic fan in the crawlspace for moving the air around so it will stay as dry as possible in the future.

Subfloor with ventilation installed.

We also had some of the finish grading started, especially between the existing garage and the new structure, we want to get it leveled off and any drainage put in before it rains.  Speaking of which, we are pretty anxious to get to setting the panels in place, but  for better of worse decided to pour the concrete floor first, just so it will be easier to access and finish. As soon as it is hard enough to walk on, we will cover it with plywood to protect it and then frame the interior walls.

We also had the front porch poured.

This is the front porch, the blocked out area is where Ariane will build a fountain.

Ok…concrete floor here we go!

Floor framed.

We finished framing in the floor.

All framed and blocked and the vents installed.

And now the installation of the utilities under the floor space.

All the sewer and drainpipe installed. Next the water, gas, and electrical

Cutting and fitting conduit for the electrical service

I hope I have this set in right, but I am sure the electrician will let me know!.. and yes I do miss the old basement.

So we have the plumber, electrician and the HVAC all coming this week, trying to get everything we can think of installed before we deck off the floor, because we are pouring a concrete floor on top of all this, we are trying to be as precise as possible for obvious reasons. Soon as the utilities are buttoned up, we insulate the floor and nail off the decking.

I am getting nervous,   there is a lot to do and we have got to start standing walls,  I am worried about having a rainy fall……..

Well, quite a bit has happened since the last posting. Having stripped the foundation, we spent some time shooting in the elevations and cleaning up the foundation walls. Simultaneously, we installed a new septic system and received the shipment of SIPS panels. Here is a picture of the tank installation and following will be some about the SIPS…. I have a bit to say about that……

Dropping the tank into the hole...

While this was going on, we spent time getting the foundation ready for the sill plates, shooting all the locations of the anchor bolts and determining high and low spots. Because the walls are already pre-cut we have to take extra time making sure things are dead on square and level, and time taken at this point getting it right will pay off big when we start standing and framing walls.

Are you sure that is where the wall is going to be?

With the walls located and the perimeter lines snapped on the foundation, we laid the sill plates. Then set the rim joists, again being very careful to make them square, level and to the exterior dimensions of the walls, using a sheet provided by the panel company (Pacific Post and Beam) that gave exact outside measurements.

Setting rim joists using timberstrand engineered lumber.

And then the panels arrived!….. oh boy, did they arrive! Two truck loads and a day full of frustration and danger.

First truck full of wall panels...8:10 in the a.m.

Once the panels are unstrapped, do not for any reason move the truck!…I can not emphasize this enough!  The panels are lightweight and very slippery as you will soon see……

This gives new meaning to having the panels "dropped off". I am sure my neighbor was pleased to have these lying in the driveway!

By the way, you would think that there would be a reasonable effort to loading the panels on the truck in sequential order….that would seem to make sense …. but who said things have to make sense?

W stands for wall, check out the numbering!....W8 on top of W38, oh yeah, slide in W73 between W45 and W33. If you ask yourself,"what were they thinking?" ...better to answer..."sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits..."

So we get that truck unloaded, and wait for the next load….and wait, and wait……. finally around 2 in afternoon it rolls in looking like this….

As you can plainly see, this load has shifted during transit and is dangerously listing to the right. This called for some very careful unloading.

We had to re-band the lower layers and remove the top layers by hand, coming down both sides evenly. Throw in a stiff afternoon wind, and it was a dicey couple of hours.

So now we have a giant game of 52 pickup in our yard, only the cards are much larger and there are at least two decks. This is something we are going to have to straighten out because you can’t just shuffle through the panels to find the wall panel you need. Either way, this cost money….

Hand me panel 23 will you?

So while all that remains to be done, we got after framing the first floor and we should be done with that this coming Monday.

You gotta love a girl who can drive a backhoe and swing a framing hammer!

It’s been busy since the last post. We got the foundation formed and poured. Andy DeVillers and his construction crew have been doing all the dirt work and foundation work and we highly recommend them for any work you may need doing, they work hard and get it done right! They got the skills to pay the bills.

Certain of the SIPS panels will be shearwalls. Here we are setting straps to tie the 4x6 splines to the foundation.

Andy, Randy, Zach and Matt gettin' it done

Once it was all formed and the steel laid in, we got it inspected, made a few minor changes and then on to pouring the foundation.

Getting set up for the pour.

Wetting down the footers

The pour kept everyone busy until 47 yards were put down!  Of course it kept getting hotter and everyone was jamming to get it vibrated and smoothed off. No time for pictures!

Ariane finishing off around the foundation bolts.

All done.

Much deserved beers, in a pocket of shade

Once everything was done we got a lesson in operating the excavator. It is similar to operating the ladder truck.

Do not let this person anywhere near your building!

Been all around the world with a backhoe driving girl!

So here is the end result, and the first load of lumber is due to arrive today..it’s on!

Ready for first floor framing! yeah!


Fox News

We have a family of foxes that come to the site every day. They are very bold. Here are some pictures of one.

Pretty relaxed fox.

checking out some deer

They sure make a lot of noise at night!

With the ok of the pad for compaction and water density, it was finally time to start digging the footers.

Footer location laid out and ready to dig.

And the first bite!

Forming the stem walls.

The shape of the foundation is taking place with the completion of the perimeter walls.

View where the front entry will be, we had to over excavate in the corner where a post will be. That is the big hole in front

We “accidentally” found an abandoned tank in the back corner where the excavator is located and we have to remove part of that and fill the rest up….bummer.

A view of the site from high atop the Terry mansion!

Now if all goes well, we might be able to pour this by next Wednesday, which would be quite exciting! We are scheduled for the delivery of the SIPS  panels on July 29th, so once this is poured, we are going to have to get busy framing the floor. We are pretty much ready to be done with all the digging and excavating, and the constant dust settling on everything. When we get the floor framed and decked we are having a big old barn dance!





Yay! We got the solar array installed and just need the the inspector to ok the installation, then PG&E will change out the meter (no more “smart meter”) and we will have full solar power! We are pretty excited about that. As for the grading, we should have that completed today and can lay out and start digging the footers. It is sure nice to have those dirt piles disappear.

tomatoes, blackberries and electricity!

Solar array...a thing of beauty!

The site looks a lot  better without the piles to climb over. 

Continued filling and tamping to compact the hole, should be finished by tomorrow….









    almost there,  still have to get rid of that big pile of fill in the background. In the meantime, they began installing our solar array today! The system will be pretty trick and supply us with all the electricity we need. It includes what is called a Tigo system that allows you to monitor the output of each panel via your computer. So we will have a solar-powered hole in the ground, but in reality, we will  be supplying all our own building and housing electricity and should be able to sell the surplus back to the power co. Nice!….

that metal roof is pretty slick, so they roped off.

WTF? where is my house??






Some more pictures to show the place coming down.

Getting started

The Bobcat made pretty quick work of the front,  and it ate up the house pretty quick.

piling all the material in the basement

Didn't know about the lovely checkerboard pattern linoleum!











now it looks like this

Guess there is no going back now!

Now it is time to fill in and compact the hole. The green machine in the rear of the picture is the crusher, we were able to crush all the concrete from the foundation and basement to use for material.

Well, the time has finally come. I have to take some time off from banjo building to build a new house. Our old house was a 1920’s farmhouse that we liked a lot but it was unfortunately starting to come apart at the seams. It had been remodeled and cut up, full of termites and dry rot, had suffered an electrical fire, and was damaged in a couple of earthquakes. After we assessed all the things we would have to do to make it livable it became apparent that starting over would be the most cost effective. One large obstacle was a basement that was constantly filling with groundwater. Originally there was a drainage system built in to it, but it was clogged with roots and who knows what. The concrete was cracked, there was no steel in the foundation, no anchor bolts to hold the house on the foundation. We core tested the foundation and it failed at half the rated compression, so it was unsuitable for a new structure. Once we decided to remove the basement, the project became more feasible. So finally, after all the design and plodding through the permit process we started this week with the teardown. Previous to that we had removed and recycled everything we could from the structure.

The house from the front

East side

The house had really nice clear fir flooring which we removed. I am hoping to laminate and mill it and make the interior doors.

Good reusable doug fir!

We pulled it all up and the floor looked like this after. Plus a nice view into the basement area.

We cut off the back patio cover and made it into a deck for the trailer we are living in on the site…..ah trailer living!

Patio cover converted to a deck

This looks like it will fit right here!

Setting on some deck boards

Next thing you know… we have a “deck”. Which helps with all the dirt and dust.

ah....the salad days!

You have to admit, it is kind of fun to tear up a building…must be left over from fire department days.

If the door isn't large enough... make it bigger!

So with everything salvageable either removed or recycled to Habitat for Humanity, Ariane contacted the local fire department and we opened the house up to them for some training. It is invaluable to be able to cut up and work on actual houses so when they have to do it during a fire they can work efficiently and safely. After a hard day of training, the house was ready to come down.

Rescuing the injured from the basement, hot, dirty and hardwork!

roof cuts for ventilation

RIT training for firefighter rescue