Monday, December 31, 2007

Putting Up Floor Joists

I've started putting up the floor joists in the kitchen area. In the photo below, you can also see one joist on the other side of the beam. That one will provide some lateral support while I'm installing all the joists on this side.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Planning Early For The Roof

The house will have open ceilings, with a large ridge girder supporting the entire roof structure for the main part of the house. Of course this means that the walls that support each end of the ridge girder will have to be strong enough to support that weight.

At one end of the house the ridge girder is supported by an outside wall, which is concrete, so support isn't an issue. However, at the other end of the girder, the support will have to come from interior walls only, which are not made of concrete. In order for those interior walls to carry that weight, we need to go right down to the basement pad footings with a big column.

To build the column - which also supports one end of the main floor beam - I've started with two 2x10s with a 3/4" plywood spacer between them. That gives me a column that's 3 - 3/4" wide; the same width as the main floor beam. Then I added two more 2x10s to the outside of the column. (This gives me the equivalent of an 8x10 column that - according to lumber specs - will support 40,000 pounds.) This second pair of 2x10s extend up beside the main floor beam as well. This makes a nice saddle for the beam to sit in, and also gives me the large bearing area I need to continue with similar columns on the main and second floors. On the main and second floors, the columns will be part of the walls, so they won't be visible as stand-alone columns.

When I'm all done, the weight of one end of the ridge girder will basically be supported by one "virtual" column that goes all the way down to the pad footings in the basement.

On one side of the main floor beam I've also padded out the width of the beam with double layers of 3/4" plywood; so that I could attach the side-by-side joist hangers for the double joists required to support the wall above.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Merry Christmas.

Back in a week or so.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Snow & Beams

Its been snowing like crazy so I spent most of the morning on the tractor. I did manage to get another beam up in the afternoon though, and also got the joist hangers installed on the last piece, so it's ready to go up too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Installing The Main Floor Beam

The main floor beam is made up of four pieces; each piece 16' long and 2" thick. Two pieces go back to back for each half of the house, so the entire beam size is 32' long and 4" thick.

I've installed temporary support posts that will only be used until I get the beam up. Once the beam is up and I have some joists attached to it, I'll install the permanent teleposts and remove the temporary ones.

I attached the joist hangers to the beam before I put it up... it's just easier to install them when the beam is flat on the ground.

The beam is a bit cumbersome for one person to handle, so I put some temporary stirrups on the posts so that I could lift the beam up on to them first. Once the beam was resting on them, it was much easier to lift it up the rest of the way.

Friday, December 14, 2007

All Ledger Boards Up

I installed the last of the ledger boards today. I've been using a laser level to ensure that everything is straight and true. During the daylight hours, the laser will show up fine when you are within about 12 feet of a wall. The problem with that is, when you are that close to the wall, the laser line isn't wide enough to extend the entire width of the basement. But, if you move the laser farther away from the wall, it becomes impossible to see. The solution is to wait until it starts to get dark. This picture was taken about 4:15 in the afternoon. By that time, it's dark enough to see the laser all the way around the basement; and I can get a much better idea of how level everything is.

You can see the laser line at the top of the ledger boards. It's important to check the level and alignment at the top of the board, rather than the bottom, because the boards can vary in width by up to 3/16". If you align them at the bottom, they may not line up at the top. (I learned that lesson the hard way.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Installing Long Ledger Boards

I'm back to installing the ledger boards again. I've started with the two longest ones first so that I can get them out of the way. They're not overly heavy... maybe 120 lbs... but because they are 27' and 30' long, they're very cumbersome to move around.

My plan is to lift them up on to the top edge of the basement wall, then lower them down into place just below the top of the wall.

I started by getting one end of the ledger up on the edge of the wall. I've placed a scrap of aluminum C-channel on the top of the wall for the ledger to sit in. This will protect the top of the ICF and will also allow the ledger to slide easier.

Now it's just a matter of sliding the ledger all the way along the top of the wall. The rebar that's sticking out of the top of the wall prevents the ledger from falling to the outside, and I've got 2x4 braces attached to the inside of the wall to prevent it from falling into the basement. The braces also provide a base for the ledger to sit on until it's attached to the wall with the steel brackets.

Once it was in the right spot, I just stood on the outside of the wall and gave the ledger a little shove at the bottom with a 2x4. Amazingly enough, it fell into place with a thunderous crash! (Actually more of an anti-climactic thud.)

Now that it's in place, all I have to do is shim it to level and attach it to the wall permanently.

This is the other long ledger... at the front of the house. The steel brackets are partially installed.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Foundation Waterproofing Finished

Time to celebrate! The foundation waterproofing is done. Yay!!!!

(Okay... celebration's over. On to the next project.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Drainage Rock

There's 12 cubic yards in a load of drainage rock and I'm just about at the end of this load. I've got two spots where I can get the tractor fairly close to the basement excavation, so I load up the bucket and dump the rock over the edge into the hole, then I shovel it into three-gallon pails and dump it where it's needed.

I've got about 12" of rock over top of the pipes here. Another 6" to go.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Shovel Gravel Shovel Gravel Shovel Gravel

That's all I've been doing the past couple of days.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Another six inches of snow arrived today. This is so much fun!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Conduit And Gravel

I had someone come out a few weeks ago to put in the electrical and water lines to the well. I wanted to get that work done before freeze-up because they had to dig trench from the house to the well. If I didn't do that work now, I'd have had to wait until spring. Now, once the house is enclosed, all they have to do is lower the submersible pump down into the well and hook up the controls in the basement... and I'll have running water. That work can be done anytime of the year, it's not weather-dependent.

When I poured the basement, I had put in wall penetrations just above the footing to accommodate the power and water lines to the well. Now I've run a conduit for the electrical line from the basement to where the wires begin to run underground to the well-head. The connection where the conduit is attached to the wall penetration has been thoroughly sealed up with waterproof caulking. The water line (on the right; below) has yet to be sealed up. When the rest of the drain rock is put here, the waterproof membrane will sit flat on top of the lines... like their own private little roof.

I also did a bit more work on the gravel bed around the foundation drainage pipe. I cleared away the snow, then put gravel underneath and around the pipe as explained a few days ago.