Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finishing the ICF walls - Gigacrete

Now that the ICF walls are complete we are starting to turn our attention to how we are going to finish them both inside and outside and when.

We are using two products by a company called Gigarete for our finished interior and exterior surface. As we are not fans of drywall we jumped through hoops to avoid it but as with many alternative building materials we found that most options were not available in the U.S. and shipping from Europe (where most alternatives were manufactured) was ridiculously costly and defeated the mission of our "green" house. We also needed both coverings to meet the CA Building Code fire standard, again not easy to find.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Challenging 3-D World

I guess it is a miracle I am able to walk, sit, function at all in a 3-dimensional world. Apparently 3-D is very challenging to me and having made it to the ripe old age of 32 (shut up to those who know better), must be merely a result of amazing luck on my part.

Since the Olympics so sadly came to an end I have been spending the dark hours before bed trying to draw a plan in Google SketchUp for our propane tank pad to include measurements, gas line placements and where the generator and solar hot water panels will be placed. This is my second voyage into Google SketchUp, the first being at the beginning of this house building process when I tried to recreate the house plan in 3-D - needless to say I got no further than figuring out how to get rid of "Susan" and making a box.

So figuring I had bitten off more than I could chew, since I have NO experience in any kind of 3-D software applications, I bought Google SketchUp for Dummies and hoped that Aidan Chopra could lead me through the maze of extruded piping, red axes and push/pull options that this program is riddled with. And trying my hand at drawing a simple pad with walls, some posts, a propane tank, box to represent the generator and a pipe or two, I was bound to succeed this time.couldn't fail.

After being glued to the TV for the Olympic Closing Ceremonies and with the Spice Girls still ringing in my ears, I made my second foray into the world of orbit, pan and zoom to create my masterpiece for Kyle to then take to the County for approval (Yeh, no pressure there for preciseness).

Today is August 25, which is 13 days and more hours than I care to admit of cursing Aidan Chopra (self proclaimed SketchUp Product Evangelist at Google) and damming the entire program as being worse than any Microsoft creation, who thought it could get worse than MS Project. I got further than my box and actually was pretty excited to have created something that actually looks like what it was supposed to be.

Uh, NO! There are gaps between my posts.

The generator is apparently hollow.

There is no back wall on my wall and a hole in my pipe.

And the biggest kicker is when I tried to preview the model in Google Earth I can't get it off a roof top of The West End Tavern on Pearl St in Boulder, CO and it is crooked making half the pad sink into their roof - Guess I could claim it is good for drainage.

Ugh, so I am about to hang up my .skp files and call it good. I was just made for a 2-D world and I am learning to be okay with that. I think it is good to know your limitations and when you can't even make head nor tail of the "For Dummies" book, you know you are in trouble.

So the County will have to use their imagination, picture the pad and tank in CA not CO and straight, presume that we aren't that stupid as to put a hole in our gas line and that our wall will be 6" thick and not .5mm.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Calm AFTER the Storm

After the walls were poured we gave them a day to settle and cure and then the Evans crew came back and with Kyle they pulled down all the supports, removed all the sandbags and plastic and returned our house back to something that resembled a spacious home.

Wow, what a difference it has made getting all those supports, the space feels lovely now. 

Kyle even set up our chairs and little spool tables and we brought in the grill and had our first dinner IN our house. 

And there is my over-worked, underpaid love of my life. Yeh, I married that face.

It feels so cool to walk around the house now as it feels not only like a house but OUR house. I love it.

We get to see where the sun hits through the windows now and how things will fit into the space.

You can see all the bolts in place in the wall, just awaiting the roof.

We cleaned up all the leftover ICF pieces by cutting out the center plastic pieces and recycling the foam and the plastic centers. We were also able to empty all the sandbags and sent them home with Mike along with all those screws that went in to the shoring so he can re-use them on the next job.

So this week is getting the piping buried in the back and getting all the supplies for Justin to start on the roof.
We are also already started on another project which includes the southwest wall you see in the above picture and involves tearing all the ICF off the wall. Hehehe, yeh, you think we are crazy, we just put it up. Just wait and see!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

We Got 'er Done!

Finally ready for the last pour with all the top blocks in the living room in place.

Blocks and shoring in place and we got our roofing framer, Justin Anderson, to swing by and snap some guide lines for the south wall gable roof so we know we are on track and won't throw any hammers into the work when he gets here to start the framing.

These top walls are pretty high with the side walls at almost 18' and the center gable peak at almost 22'. We had Pumper Dude come by to see what he thought about using rig to pump the concrete. We had a sneaking suspicion the walls had gone too high but it has been so great working with Ed and Robert we wanted to make sure we wouldn't be able to use him this time around. He agreed it was too high and we would need a boom truck for this pump. 

So enter Tri-County Concrete Pumper and Trey and his VERY large boom truck. 

Trey was fantastic to work with and made the whole, nerve wracking process go smoothly. And of course we had the full Evans Construction crew on board.

And Ron and Georgetown Precast were concrete providers of choice once again and we got what we hope will test to be super duper, extra-strength concrete in them there walls.

Of course, concrete pour day dawned early and with the old butterflies in the tummy. It is a nerve wracking process and you are on the edge of your seat just hoping that all goes according to plan and there are no fuggled moments.

The 90' boom had no problem reaching over the house to the far side and made the entire pump go really fast.

Mike was on duty as Boom Pump Master for the day.

Tom was initially helping Dustin with the vibrator but then ended up running around adding little pieces of shoring here and there to ensure there was no concrete sculptures protruding out of the side of our house.

Bolts went in on the top course of ICF like in the spare bedroom to hold the roof beams when they are installed. All 32 bolts, goo times!

The boom went smoothly but you definitely have less control over the flow pour with the concrete and the handler (Mike) has to be proactive and anticipate the flow in order to tell the control (Trey) to cut it off before he needs or else the concrete overflows - yeh, more clean-up for Hannah.;-)

All in all the day went very smoothly. Jasper from Youngdahl came out again to take concrete samples for our 28-day concrete CRUSH test. And now no wolf can blow our house down. 

Kyle has been working his hiney off in this 100+ degree weather, I can't believe how much work he gets done in a day and how much he knows about every little aspect of this project. This house is his baby and really will be his pride and joy once it is complete. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Almost there - ICF

This next part of the ICF, the last part, is taking a little longer than expected. Mostly due to working at height and the guys had to move all the supports up to the next level. That was no easy feat.

Once the supports were in they could install the scaffolding, or walkway to allow access around the walls. 

You can see the plywood walkway above. There are a lot of supports in a tight space, it makes the house feel really small.

Kyle installed a railing and we will be putting another row below that - SAFETY FIRST!

Yeh, I look like I actually did some of this work. It was another hot week as well so not easy to stand next to blinding white Styrofoam in 98 degrees, I worry the guys and Kyle might be snow blind.

A few things that Kyle installed prior to the last pour that were REALLY smart to think about beforehand were all the attachments for the exterior lights around the house. Not having to cut through concrete and rebar later on will make a huge difference, Smart Boy!!

He also installed bolts to fasten the chimney to the wall once that goes up, again smart.

More light fixtures on the back, west, wall. He also installed bolts on the inside for the mantel that will go on the fireplace wall. 

This is one of the pockets for the roof glue-lams that will go in to hold the peak of the roof. We make pockets out of wood to look and measure the same as the end of one of these beams. Then I wrapped theim in plastic so they would come out easily after the concrete was poured and they did! WooHoo!

A shot from the back, the west wall, we ummed and ahhhed over the height of those upper windows as they all had to be the same all the way round. Finally got it sorted, but phew - these little issues that crop up all the time.

The front of the house and then there are two more windows on the south wall that looks out over the roof of the spare bedroom. These windows will be key to our cooling the house as they will all open and allow hot air to escape.

The Boss, need I say more. 

Signing off for tonight. The guys come back to put on the last few blocks on Tuesday and then hoping for an inspection on Wednesday, not sure if we will be able to pour on Thursday, we will see.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creative Container Co-Op

Another container project just wrapped up in Texas and it is home to a new and innovative software company. It is comprised of 11 shipping containers and they made great re-use of the extra materials in other areas of the build like their outdoor kitchen.

Check out more at Inhabitat with lots more pictures here - I don't know who put wood flooring in that container but they did a fabulous job, that is a lot of close and tricky cuts.

There are some great features and colors used in this structure that are giving me all kinds of ideas for our place, it is pretty exciting, though I might not go with the fire engine red, much to Kyle's dismay.