Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Installing The Floor

Now that the basement walls are up I can start putting up the ledger boards and floor joists. The ledger boards are attached to the walls by means of two-piece steel brackets manufactured by Simpson Strong-Tie.

The inside bracket piece is the octagonal shaped one. It has two fins that were poked through the ICFs before the concrete was poured. The fins extend through the ICFs about four inches and are embedded solidly into the concrete. The ledger board is then sandwiched between the inside and outside brackets, and the everything is held together with eight - 3" bolts.

Once the ledger boards have been attached to the walls, the joist hangers can be attached to the ledger boards, and then the floor joists are set down inside the joist hangers.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wall Bracing Removed

All the wall bracing has been removed and I've cleaned up most of the loose bits of styrofoam and lumber. The blue scaffolding has to stay for now as it's the only way in and out of the basement until the main floor and basement stairs are installed.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I've spent the past couple of days taking down all the wall-bracing and scaffolding. It's a big job, as everything has to go up and over top the walls... much more difficult than it was bringing it all in.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


This is the first time in days that the sun has been out. Good thing too; because we're pouring the concrete for the basement today, and it would be a nasty job to do in the rain. The guys from Priority Concrete Pumping pumped 27 cubic meters (72 tons) of concrete into the ICFs... and except for one minor problem... everything went incredibly well.

The concrete was laid down in three lifts (layers); one four feet thick, one three feet thick, and the last one two feet thick. By pouring it in lifts, it minimizes the pressure on the ICFs. If you were to pour all nine feet at once, the wet concrete could exert enough pressure to blow out the bottoms of the ICFs.

The guys ran the pumps and the hose and I followed behind with the vibrator.

The only problem we encountered was when one of the corner blocks lifted a bit after the pour was finished. Apparently it might have been prevented if I had taped up the corners with fiberglass reinforced tape. It's not really a serious problem though, as I can fix it by trimming the bottom off of a couple of the ICF blocks for the main floor - which go on top of these. When the house is finished, it'll be like it never happened.

Other than that, the walls are square and plumb... everything turned out well. Now I just have to clean up the mess of all the bits and pieces of styrofoam and wood.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Seven Rows Done

That's it! All the ICF blocks are up for the basement. The bracing and scaffolding is all in place. I'm ready for concrete!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Building The Septic Field

After they cleared away a bunch of trees, they dug the trenches, installed the pipe, covered the pipe with crushed rock, covered the crushed rock with landscape fabric, then finally covered the landscape fabric with soil.

The two white pipes sticking up out of the ground (one in the foreground, one in the background... barely visible) indicate the ends of the septic field. They're about 130 feet apart.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Septic Tank Installation

The guys from Edgar's Mini Backhoe Services came yesterday to start installing the septic system. As septic systems are such a critical part of a house project, they are regulated by the BC government; and only certified installers can install them.

The septic system is gravity fed, so the tank has to be lower than the house. Fortunately the back of the property slopes down away from the house, so they were able to install the tank quite easily. All they had to do was dig a big hole and drop the tank into the hole.

The main septic tank is 1000 gallons. There will also be a secondary tank installed beside it. The secondary tank will contain a pump system that pumps the effluent out to the septic field.

Trench from the septic tank to the house.
These pipes go from the septic tank down to the septic field, which is about 400 feet down the road. Normally the septic field would be closer to the house, but in my case I had to go quite a distance in order to find soil that was more suitable for drainage. The pipes will be buried about 4 feet under the roadway.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another Brick In The Wall

We've had a couple of fabulous days weatherwise. It certainly beats working in the rain, although working in the rain still beats working in the office, although I have to admit that working in the office is beats a poke in the eye with a hot stick... but not by much.

Oh... shhh... If you listen carefully, you can hear Pink Floyd playing in the background.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big White Box

Now I'm making progress! Four of the seven rows of ICF blocks for the basement walls are up, and the wall braces were delivered today. Once they're installed we can pour the concrete. Nothing to it, eh?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Back On Track

Whew. I've finished re-leveling the first course of ICF blocks and everything is back on track again. Even the weather is cooperating today... it's sunny and 17.

Closeup shot of how everything is tied together inside the hollow. The corner blocks are tied to the adjoining blocks and all the rebars are tied together. No wire required. Zip ties rule!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Fall Colors

It's chilly and raining, but the fall colors still look nice.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

That Sinking Feeling

All the rain has proven to be more problematic than I thought. As a result of all the water, the footings at the 'wet end' of the house have sunk about an inch.

Before the footings were poured, the forms were level to within 1/4 of an inch all around the perimeter. After installing the first course of ICF blocks, I've discovered that there is now a difference of one and one-half inches from the west side of the house (the wet end) to the east side. This means removing about 75% of the blocks and trimming them down until everything is level again.

The lesson learned? I shouldn't have assumed that the footings were level after the concrete was poured just because the forms were level before the concrete was poured; especially after all the rain. I should have confirmed it. It won't happen again. I hate rework.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Real Construction Site

Ahhh... this is more like it. A construction site isn't a real construction site until it's full of mud! It's been raining relentlessly for several days. However, I did manage to get the first course of ICFs laid out and most of the foundation drain pipe installed. Things are going to be progressing pretty slowly until the rain lets up. I'm used to lots of delays in big projects though... I worked for a big company for years!