Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ahh..Canadian Winter...

Well, shortly after the last post we joined the many thousands without power due to ice laden trees falling on electrical wires. Crews from out of province worked long hours to restore the power but it was 6 long days and nights without.
It was interesting that just as in a third world country without the basics, people naturally gathered at the community watering hole, in our case a roadside springfed hose just outside of the village.There news and gossip was traded and coping skills shared. We were most thankful for our old fashioned coffee percolator and our wood stove which produced quite a magnificent Christmas dinner for ourselves and some neighbors. Future survival purchases will be a hand pump to access water from our well and enough solar panel/battery storage to run one light bulb for reading without eye strain.
We have some broken trees and everything is coated in a thick layer of ice, but with the power finally back on we feel immensely cheerful, even with the next storm bearing down on us as I write. 25 or more centimeters expected today and overnight, turning into freezing rain at some point. There's never been a winter like this one, I'm sure.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ice and more ice...

We're now on day 4 of continual freezing rain and counting our blessings such as having power, where thousands from Ontario to the Atlantic provinces are without. We look out gloomily at the stalled building project and say, Thank God all this wasn't snow....
Many trees are bent over to the ground with their weight of ice and wont be able to carry much more without snapping.
I'm lucky to have a workshop, cosy with a wood fire, to get on with projects for the house.
I have been building this frame to hold this piece of glass I sent away for, which arrived last week. The glass is actually made to be a sidelight in a vertical position alongside an entrance door, but what I have in mind is to install this arrangement horizontally high in the mudroom wall above the coat cubbies. (None of which is built yet.) I looked a long time to find a glass design that is agreeable to the inside door that will go from mudroom to new living room.
Which is this one, presently serving as a side door in the kitchen of the old part of the cottage. When it is taken out, the hole will be filled in and become the new home of the fridge.
Another nasty weather project has been this decorative bit, to go on top of the door frame for the basement door.
The green color is the exact green of the steel roofing, to be. All the little triangles are off cuts from making around 500 pointy shingles, to continue the design around the house that was started on the old cottage. The frame is cedar to blend in with the cedar shingles that will butt to it.

For readers who celebrate Christmas (or not) all the best wishes go your way for a peaceful and warm time with lots of good friends, good food and family.
All the best from our coop to yours!
(Freckles is put out and sulking because she didn't get to be the angel..)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Here comes the Christmas deadline..

It's been a 2 steps forward -one step back kind of week (or maybe the other way around) with really nasty weather, snow load upon snow load and constant digging out and driveway clearing with worries like "Is that building supply truck going to make it up the driveway ?"
The main floor wall forms are almost finished, so on monday the openings will be cut out for the windows, the bucks installed to keep the concrete in place, wall bracing the final pour can be done just before the cement company's deadline of tuesday noon. That is if anyone can get to the site after the next 30 hours of freezing rain and ice pellets!
Christmas has almost taken a back seat here with all the building busyness, but sometimes you have to leave the worries alone and do something fun and silly...
Like dress up your chickens for Christmas !

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Concrete in the basement walls..

We've been in a deep freeze the last few days, miserably bone chilling cold with a high of -15 but they managed to get the basement walls filled with concrete. The Bay out there is soooo cold there is frozen mist rising off it.
 First the guys filled the sections under the basement windows.
Adam came behind trowelling the cement off level..

With the floor frame in it was easy to walk around filling up the walls with the big hose from overhead. The other guy in the pictures is operating some sort of remote control that controls the rate of flow of the cement.

I took a picture looking down inside the forms of the back basement wall. You can see where the L bolts are sticking through from both sides. Some are holding the ledger 2x12 in place that supports the floor frame and from the opposite side those are the bolts through the LVL beam that was holding up the old part of the cottage. So when the form gets filled with concrete all these L bolts are in there solid and tight, binding together the old and new parts of the house .

Those pipes will allow heating and ventilating systems to pass through.
Tonight we are waiting to get slammed by our first major snowstorm with high winds and 35mm of snow...bad timing with us ready for backfill and grading and septic tank work. Well whatever comes we'll just have to work around it somehow....
Oh, and those snowflakes falling in the first picture above....I have NO idea how that happened !

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ready for concrete..

There's so many details to look after before the basement walls are poured. The guys have put the rest of the floor frame in place and the big beams to define the stairwell, and have carefully straightened and braced the wall forms plumb and level. Everything that has to be bolted into or passed through the concrete has to be planned for at this point.There are vent pipes for the air exchanger and future heat pump, conduits for outside electrical, outside water tap, and anything to be bolted on later needs its bolts in place now. Above, the guys are lining up the roof parts for over the basement door in order to mark the spots on the foam where the L bolts will go through into the concrete. These are the roof supports I was building in the workshop back near the beginning of this blog.
Because the grade level will be just under the front basement windows we will need retaining walls to contain the gravel and dirt away from the door. I'm recycling some of the pressure treated decking and 2x8's taken off the old cottage, into low walls for this purpose.
Ryn is always there to offer encouragement and to be in the way...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here comes the floor frame...

The walls are dead level, the 2x12 ledger boards are attached, joist hangers nailed on with a gazillion stubby hanger nails, floor trusses cut to the exact length and are now being installed in the joist hangers. These web trusses are a great idea as ducting, electrical and plumbing can pass right thru the webs without having to drill holes.

Tomorrow they'll be putting on the subfloor so there is somewhere to stand to steer the next load of concrete into the walls. Before that happens all the passages through the concrete have to be thought of and accomodated. There will be conduit passing through for outside electrical connections for lights, pvc for an outside water tap, and galvanised vent pipe for the future heat pump and air exchanger. Easier to plan these now than drill through concrete and steel rebar later.
    The weather has been erratic as usual with 2 miserable rainy days  this week and another coming tomorrow, but yesterday was glorious and calling us to walk down to the beach..
Last weeks wild storm has brought in a deep layer of sand, covering most of the smooth shiny pebbles.
Hole-in-the-rock was half buried in new sand, which we'll likely have til the next storm takes it somewhere else.
How blessed we are to have all this beauty a short stroll away...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gale force winds....

and wild rain sent us a temporary hiccup last week.
...but the guys had it back to rights pretty quickly.

Here's where they left off friday, so the next thing will be to attach the ledger 2x12's which the floor frame will rest on. Hoping the weather doesn't get too messy this week..

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here comes the basement..

Now things are really moving along ! Mike from down the road stopped by to help and the three guys got these forms up in no time. Mike is gaining experience for his ICF project in the future and friends are dropping by to check on progress, with their own ICF home building in mind for the spring. This energy efficient process is getting more popular all the time.
Ben and Adam are figuring out the window and door spacing in the front wall. Easy to make adjustments at this stage..If a window seems to high, just cut the form down.

The back corner, showing the old drain attached to the new and a post formed under the old footing that will fill when the walls are filled with concrete. I took this pic before the foam walls were leveled and braced. The forms are now snugged up tight to the front LVL beam.
Bracing is in place and todays work will be under cover, probably insulating the old basement walls as we have a major storm coming with 50 to 100 mm of rain forecast. We could well get an unwanted swimming pool in the new basement...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Drainage Accomplished

Lots of work on the drainage system yesterday, more hand digging behind the back footing to get the pipes low enough and connected to the original house drain pipe.

Truckloads of gravel came to cover the pipes all round and the guys were glad to see the end of hand shovelling at the back footing for a while. The way this will work is that the back wall will rise to touch the LVL support beam with the outside foam layer. At that point there will be huge L bolts driven thru the forms into the beam so that when the cement is poured it encases the bolts, tying the two buildings together tightly and supporting the weight of the front of the old part of the house.

Jimmy was promoted to Sanitary Engineer ( he preferred Chief Sh*t Shoveller) and tasked with cleaning out the remnants of the septic tank gunk. In the photo he is yelling "Hurry up and take the damn picture, There's sh*t running down to my glove !
The floor was levelled with the addition of gravel and a tamping machine.

So here's how we are today, ready for walls to rise on monday..

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Agree, Snoopy !

Well that was fun to watch...I was amazed at the concrete pumping process. In came a machine looking like it was from War of The Worlds with an arm long enough to reach right over a house, soon to be followed by a regular cement truck. The ICF footing forms were quickly filled from overhead with the cement being pumped through what looked like an oversized elephant trunk. Ben just had to steer the hose along the footing course as the cement glopped out. Adam followed with a 2x4 screeding the stuff level.
There is rebar sticking up all along the course that will tie the wall pour to the footings. Next they get to assemble the lego blocks to form the walls, excited to see this project taking shape...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The ICF Footings are in.... and The Law Of Building and Renovating

 Massive amounts of dirt have been re-arranged and an extra ditch out the front seemed a good idea seeing as how much water flows under and around the house site. John advised getting solid white perforated drainpipe rather than the old flexible black snakey stuff, to avoid the possibility of crushing under the weight of the backfill...oh my ! what a shock the price of that was, but we got it and I will remember fondly how pretty it is after it's buried out of sight.
Yesterday we had extra help to assemble the footing forms
which was much appreciated.
There is a Law of Building Stuff that says: Unexpected snags are bound to happen. Everything will cost more than you think it will. Things will take longer to do than you think they will. Well it's not really a Law but it should be because it's nearly always true.
The first time I saw this Law in action I was about 12 and Dad had just laid up the concrete wall for our house, and my brother who was just learning to drive, accidently backed up the truck and flattened the wall...Growing up to build things all my life I've seen this Law in action many times.
So late yesterday it became apparent that the corner
where the footings began was a few inches too high and of course that had to be the shale rock corner not the softer corner so today our valiant crew did a lot of pickaxe and shovel work and have now got the whole business lowered and leveled. Tomorrows challenge will be to engineer the step footing for the basement front door.
Yesterdays beautiful sunset here...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Excavating begins..

The laminated beam is in place and fits perfectly, resting on 8" corners left at the ends of the concrete wall. What followed was a lot more jackhammering to have the wall fall out later in chunks.
But first the septic tank had to be dug out as it was sitting in the man cave-to-be and very much in the way.
With some careful lassoing and lifting with the backhoe, out she came. Nicely..all in one piece (phew).
After some careful digging we can now imagine the shape of the man cave and the art studio above. John worked on this corner first to get the water draining away down a natural ditch.
 The moment we were all waiting for... with a bit more digging, and a nudge from the bucket, the concrete wall falls out neatly. A thump from the bucket breaks it up in managaeable pieces. Big sighs of relief all round as the house stays put !
Next week the footings go in and then the walls should go up fairly quickly...