Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ready For Walls

The first of four loads of Logix ICF blocks have been delivered.

ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) are basically made up of two pieces of styrofoam separated by plastic webs, and they get put together somewhat like Lego blocks. Once the walls have been erected, they get filled with concrete.

ICF-built houses are very energy efficient, they will withstand very high winds, and they are much more fire-resistant than wood-framed buildings.

They will add about 10% to the total cost of the house.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Clearing Brush For The Septic Tank

I spent all day today cutting down trees and clearing out a space for the septic tank behind the building site. Because the septic system is such a critical part of the project, the actual installation of the tank has to be done by a certified installer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pouring The Footings

I called the concrete supplier yesterday afternoon to book a time to have the footings poured. They said "How about tomorrow morning?" Quite a surprise, I thought I'd have to book a week or more in advance.

They showed up bright and early this morning with two concrete trucks and a pump truck.
Some of the footings were a bit deeper than called for, and the form-bag expanded a bit more than expected, so my calculations for the amount of concrete we needed were a bit off. By the time we were half done I realized we were going to be short, and I had to order a third truckload of concrete at the last minute.

Props to the guys at Priority Concrete Pumping and West K Concrete. Excellent Service!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Turn On The Lights

My diamond-encrusted power pole arrived today.
All those wires... just to run my electric toothbrush.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Building Inspection Passed

The building inspector came today and passed the footing forms. Apparently the rock protrusion isn't a problem and I can just pour the footings right over top. Now if weren't for the rain delay and the injury delay, I could get on with it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Trouble With Rebar Benders

The only way to bend rebar properly is with a reber bender/cutter, so I rented one from a tool rental place in Trail. If you've never seen a rebar bender, it looks like a giant pair of pliers with 5-foot long handles. One of the long handles is attached to a plank, and plank sits on the ground so that the other handle sticks up into the air.

To use it, you put the rebar in the jaws to cut it, or inbetween two "knobs" (for lack of a better term) to bend it. Once the rebar is in place, you just pull down on the handle and... presto!... you're job is done. Sounds simple, but the act of "pulling down on the handle" is easier said than done. It takes an awful lot of force to cut through 5/8" steel.

So, as I was pulling down on the handle, I leaned across it with my chest to add some extra weight. I heard a pop, and now I have a cracked or dislocated rib. This ought to be good for at least a week's delay.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Finishing Up The Forms

Once all the frame-up work was done, I started placing the FastFoot form-bag into place. Once the form-bag is in place, then the top cross braces are attached and two rows of 1/2" rebar are suspended from the cross braces using standard tie-wire.

The two rows of rebar are suspended about 12" apart and approximately 6" below the top of the form. The ends of adjoining pieces are overlapped at least 2' where possible and tied together using 8" plastic zip ties. The cross braces are drilled out to accept the 5/8" rebar dowels that will tie the ICF walls to the footings. By having the dowels protrude from the center of the cross brace, rather than from beside it, they won't be in the way when it comes time to screed the concrete.

In one corner of the site, there is some bedrock that I wasn't able to remove with the Betonamit. It is protruding up as high as 6" into the footing area and I'm concerned that the building inspector will make me step up the forms over it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Footing Forms

The area towards the front of the building site is full of rock, so I wasn't able to drive stakes into the ground to hold the forms. I got creative and put the stakes where they would go; in the unexcavated walls at the front of the site or in the ground beyond the rock back towards the middle of the basement. Once I had some solid stakes to work from, I then built the form framework back towards where the forms needed to be. It used up a lot of lumber, but I had to do what I had to do.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Building The Footing Forms

I started building the forms today. They'll be 24" wide and 12" deep, and will be built using FastFoot form-bags. This means that I only have to build the top level of the form, not the sides.

The forms start off with 2x4's being attached horizontally to 1x4 stakes driven into the ground. The 2x4's are attached to the stakes with screws so that they can be removed after the concrete has been poured.

I tried and tried, but I just couldn't drive this stake through a rock.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rhymes With Dynamite

I ran into lots of rock at the front of building site during the basement excavation. There was no alternative but to move it. As some of it was bedrock, it wasn't possible to dig it out; so I had to find another solution.

Enter Betonamit. Cool stuff. It works like this:

  • First you drill holes in the rock you want to break. This requires a rock drill. A rock drill is basically a 60 lb jack-hammer with a big carbide bit on it that spins as it hammers. It's powered by a big diesel powered compressor. When you turn it on you have to hang on with everything you've got because it bounces and kicks and jumps like crazy. It's great though... drills a one-and-one-half inch diameter hole 12 inches deep in solid rock in about 7 minutes.
  • Then you mix the Betonamit (it's a fine powder... looks like cement) with water and fill up the holes.
  • Now you go away and come back the next day. This stuff expands as it hardens, and exerts 12000 lbs/sq. in. pressure as it does. That's a huge amount of pressure. It cracks the rocks like eggs.

Oh yeah... it's $80 a bag, and I used three bags. Cool stuff, but expensive.