Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well, well, well


Monday the well drilling rig arrived, although it was too wet to get started.  On Tuesday, they got started and got one well drilled.  Yesterday they got another drilled and today, well number three was drilled.  Three down and Four to go.


The guys ran into a spot of trouble with the grout.  You see, for the geothermal wells, they now have to fill the wells up with grout after they put the tubes in.  This machine mixes the grout and forces it through a tube to the bottom of the well until the well is filled.P1120932

The sand that had been delivered to them had rocks in it and the rocks were clogging the machine.  But they took it apart, removed the rocks and soon had the well filled up:


Doesn’t look like much does it?  Hard to believe that a messy patch of goo and a loop of tube will replace a furnace and a condenser unit.


A Concrete Example


This became a familiar sight on the site last week.  I almost started chanting “U-S-A", but I thought someone might hear me and think I was strange.


The first order of business was to pour the retaining walls on either side of the lower driveway. 


The truck had all these attachments (don’t you just love attachments?) to extend the chute so that a pumper truck wasn’t needed.


The wall crew came back out to manage the flow into these last two walls.  I think the fellow in the overalls was the one who revealed a bit too much of himself in my previous post.  I think the overalls are an improvement.

Then it was time to bring in the slab crew and go horizontal.


They worked in patchwork bits, according to what needed to set first.  Here you see them smoothing out the bottom of the elevator shaft.  This will be the pit for the mechanicals if we ever put an elevator.


But before they did the elevator pit, they had poured the garage floor.  Each level: basement, garage, and then carport, has a slight change in elevation to keep the water out of the house.


Then while those bits set up, they moved all the way over to the edge and started pouring and raking and smoothing.


As I was admiring their work, I noticed one of the fellows making marks in the wet concrete:


I let my mind run with it for a while.  Something from the da Vinci Code?  Where they buried the guy who didn’t chip in for donuts?  X marks the spot…

Then I asked them.  The truth was a little less fantastic.  Those mark the places of bits of rebar that stick up to show the elevation.  They are the guidelines for keeping everything level and square with the world.

In other places, they took pains to not have things level.  Here in the garage, they put wood in the concrete and carefully sloped the garage door opening down so that water would run out and not in.


Meanwhile, as their shadows grew longer, they worked away at the basement slab, taking pains to smooth it.


Builder Gary arrived just in time to supervise the placement of the steel supports for the “moment frame” that will make the pretty brick arches in carport/party pavilion structurally sound.


The garage floor is now solid enough to remove the framing and let it flow into the carport, where the steel is now wearing concrete shoes.


Then just when you didn’t think these concrete guys could have any more fun, they pull out the whirly machine!


A few final touches with the hand smoothers and the job is all done!


And a few days later…


the upper slab is done also. The walls are backfilled and gravel is on the lower driveway.  A concrete example of a job well done.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rocking Out


It all started with this.

Actually, it all started with moving the mulch pile and revealing the drop off next to my soon to be next door neighbors driveway.

Then we bought this boulder and others for a temporary barrier, thinking we could use them later in landscaping – maybe even a fabulous wall like those I saw while visiting an amazing garden in Alabama:


So, this is probably where it all began.

Then Gary saw this:


What’s a girl to do? If you want a rock wall and a rock yard is having a 50% off sale, it’s time for a field trip!

Happily one of my favorite rock experts came along to guide me. If you are ever in this situation and you have a friend who buys herself boulders for her birthday, you know who to take on the field trip. Gary stopped by to approve our selections (and add a few tons to the pile) and before we knew it, we had a flat bed truck bringing boulders!


It was so exciting!

Then it was time to unload and start making a wall.

Heath got the fork lift and unloaded.P1120821

And Gary got his bobcat and start positioning them.


And my favorite rock star supervised:


She looks diminutive among all those boulders, but believe me, this lady really rocks! I am so fortunate to have her help in this endeavor.


By the end of the day, we had placed about as many rocks as we could without fetching the last load from the rock yard.


Using the forklift and the bobcat, each rock was wrestled over to the wall and nestled into position.


Can you see where we’re headed with it?


By the time we back fill and grade the bank down to the rocks, get ferns growing in the cracks and moss on the surface, with cascading plants spilling over the top, it might even look like this:

crop of rock wall copy

At least that’s the inspiration for all this craziness.

I guess it remains to be seen if the final product rocks or if it’s totally stoned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Slab to Drab–or How to Dress Your Dirt


One of the things Jason did when he finished up the grading last week was to spread a nice clean layer of gravel over the foundation. It looked so pure and nice, and you could see the outline of where the house was going to be.


Then they brought it the extreme makeover crew and changed the look dramatically!


First they dug trenches where the load bearing walls will go, then they draped the gravel strewn dirt with sleek black plastic.


Then to accessorize the look , they added rebar on those nifty little wire gizmos, which I have learned are called “rod chairs.”

Don’t you wish you had thought up “rod chairs?” What a nifty and ubiquitous gadget. Just think. Everywhere a rebar reinforced slab or footer is poured, “rod chairs” are used. Meanwhile the inventor is sitting in his arm chair feeling pretty darn smug about those rod chairs.


Here’s a shot that shows a good before and after. The bedroom slab has not had it’s plastic surgery, and beyond is the transformed basement. What do you think? Is it an improvement?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Farewell to a Friend


Jason’s trac hoe has been on our lot for so long that I started to consider it part of the landscape. I even thought about planting some pansies in the bucket now that the frog eggs have hatched.

But last Saturday, they finished up carving out the space for the master suite, smoothing and grading, and they packed up the trac hoe to take it back to the mountains.


You know it’s time to say goodbye when they put the “WIDE LOAD” sign up.


I guess the guys sensed my sadness and thought to brighten my day by giving me another yellow focal point.


Yes, gentle blog reader, they wrestled the canary colored crapper (sorry, I had a great alliteration going there) out of its resting place under the oak and relocated it.


They don’t have a ride like this at Six Flags. I think they’re missing something. Look how much fun Jason is having. He hasn’t had this much fun since he was loading 5 gallon buckets with mulch.

Oh, well. All in a day’s work.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Window Shopping


When you are building a house, window shopping becomes a literal thing.  We’ve been working on this for months: looking at windows, getting bids, poring over the bids and studying the window schedule on the plans.

Finally, we had it narrowed down to two lines, and I had to do a “speed dating” window run.  I really needed to see the windows back to back to make up my mind.


I compared the insides,


the outsides,


and all the latches and catches.

I think I’ve made up my mind, but I’m trying to stay open until I see the final bids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Tinker's Dam

When I went to the lot early last week, I saw the trac hoe going and the bobcat racing around, smoothing out dirt. The trac hoe was taking extra dirt and filling behind the big retaining wall, making some terraces for gardening. As the bucket banged down on the dirt, packing it in, I thought I saw hair swinging back and forth. I had to come closer to look and I got my first glimpse of "Tink."

Now if you are like me and grew up with Sunday nights devoted to the Wonderful World of Disney, "Tink" is a girly fairy with a green miniskirt and wings. Right?


Meet Tink.

No, come closer and really meet Tink, the trac hoe operator.

Later I was formally introduced to him as Tinker. Before I could remember my manners, I said to him, "Your name is Tinker? Then your mother must be a Tinker's dam. I've always heard the expression and wondered what it was. Now I know."

Unfortunately the retaining wall crew was there marking where Tinker was supposed to dig next. They all fell out laughing and Gary said it would be all over Jasper before nightfall. I was incredulous that no one had ever mentioned it before. After all, haven't you always wondered what on earth a Tinker's dam was?

I suppose another option is this:

an earth work made by a fellow named Tinker could also be termed a Tinker's dam.

Now that we know what one is, I think everyone is going to want one, don't you?