Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Day at the Stud Farm


There were studs all over the place on the job site today.

Just look at all those studs!


Of course my favorites were the ones who came and tidied up the lot.


I might even let them have a drumstick tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I’ve Been Framed!

It’s so exciting to see the house spring up above the ground!

Yesterday morning, while I was making breakfast and lunches and getting everyone launched, Jason came down and cleaned up the lot, hauling away the tree trunks we didn’t need for firewood, tidying up the dirt piles, and spreading gravel. And the floor joists or trusses arrived. It was all done by the time I made it down to the lot.


Consulting their plan, the framers made short work of putting the trusses in place.


I was reminded of the Exploratorium packet that I did with my oldest many years ago called “Surprising Structures". One of the experiments was called “Tricky Triangles” and was focused on teaching kids that a triangle is the strongest structure.


I hope that means that our floors won’t bounce when my 6’4” boy bounces up and down when supper is ready.


The trusses looked so awesome spanning the first floor.


They were all labeled according to where they go in the house, and were labeled front, top, and so forth. I wonder what happens if they put one upside down? Let’s not find out!


They had real assembly line system going and the floor just grew as I watched. It was amazing!


By the end of the day, they were all trussed out and ready for:


When I arrived this morning, I was totally floored. Quite literally. They had the subfloor down and were getting their marching orders for the walls on the second floor.


I couldn’t resist walking out on it when they had their lunch break and checking out the view from the living room window. So pretty! I’m really glad we kept that big hickory.


And I’m glad I can look down from the breakfast area and check on things in the Band Room. Gotta keep an eye on those musicians!


While I was walking around, I noticed a creaky floorboard. I bounced around on it, scrutinized it, purposefully walked on every single sheet of subfloor, came back to it, studied it some more and frowned. I think the framing crew, whom I couldn’t make understand yesterday that I had brought them donuts, understood that, because later in the day, it was fixed.


And look! There’s our front door! Actually you can see right through the front door and out the living roomwindow to the back. It’s almost like we planned it that way!

They got a little more done today, but I didn’t get photos before it started bucketing down rain. I can’t wait to get down there tomorrow and see their progress.

Stay tuned!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumped Up!


This, ladies and gentlemen, is a well pump. It doesn’t look like much, but it sits down in the well at 390 feet deep and pumps water at a maximum flow of 15 gpm. We ended up a little deeper and with a little more flow in our well, because #77 here didn’t get the memo that we wanted to stop drilling.


They got all the wires hooked up to a long cord and then sealed the connection by blow torching the plastic protectors until they were snug. I guess that is the big brother to shrink wrap, huh?

Now to run the pump, we also need electricity, don’t we?

No problem.


Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

The pump was lowered down with the cable on the drilling rig. That way everything stayed out of the mud and nice and clean.


Next step was to lay pipes to connect the pump to the house.


The guys left a little branch for the irrigation system to hook to later. I did ask them to close the valve before they buried it.


Our front yard is going to be a minefield! Utilities, geothermal, water pipes… what else can we bury? Oh, and don’t tell, but the crew let me have a turn on the bobcat! I got to bury a section of the pipe. I didn’t do too much, because I want a professional job, but it sure was fun.


Meanwhile the pressure it on! We have a few sunny days before it rains again, so it is time for…









It’s starting to look like a house! And look; someone is already walking around on the main floor.


Yikes! Someone make him get down from there!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leaving Well Enough Alone

I’m pouting.


Bottom lip poked out.

I really wanted to start framing tomorrow.  But Builder Gary says it is too wet.  He says the lumber truck will get stuck in the mud and we have to wait until Thursday.

I also wanted to celebrate the beginning of framing by  blowing out the well with dry ice.  You see many moons ago, in a lifetime far, far away, I was witness to a well blowing.

It was a mystical experience.

First of all the dowser who dowsed the well was a small man with Frankenstein boots.  And he was literally bipolar. He had at one time grabbed onto a high voltage power line and blown his toes off.  It must have polarized every cell into his body and turned him into a human magnet, because that man could flat out find water.  And downed airplanes.  He was a magician with a pair of dowsing rods.  He could even tell you how many gallons per minute you would get if he drilled right where he told you.

Problem was that once the well was drilled, it didn’t have the yield needed by the well owner or predicted by the dowser.  The dowser grumbled that the drilling rig had clogged up all the veins so that the well couldn’t produce.  That’s when someone came in with a magazine – Farm Journal or something like that – with an article about increasing your well flow with dry ice.

So, as outlined in the article, they took two sections of down spout, filled them with cut-to-fit bricks of dry ice, tied them together, weighted it, tied a rope on it to get it back out of the well and dropped the whole business down the well. 

For a while nothing happened.  In fact, I got bored and wandered up to the mouth of the well.  Then I heard a deep and disturbing rumbling that touched some primal place in me.  I didn’t know whether to run or sacrifice a goat.  Being thoroughly modern and somewhat of a city slicker, I ran. 

When I turned around, the well was overflowing.  As the column of water still in the well decreased in volume and weight, the height of the water coming out of the well increased until it was a fountain about 10 feet high.  Then without warning, the carbon dioxide gas in the well blew the water sky high along with rocks and mud and  bits of dry ice.  It was amazing.  A man made geyser. So much fun!

The theory was that the vacuum created by the escaping gas sucked out the clogged veins.  Theory or no theory it worked.  The well then produced the volume predicted by the dowser.  However, there was one part missing.

In the magazine article, the folks immediately dropped the pump back down in the well and got out the scotch.  After all, how many times do you have soda water in your well?  The folks whose well I witnessed being blown out didn’t do that part. 

I was ready to make amends for that.  I had the party all figured out.  Guest list, lawn chairs, plastic cups, scotch, man made geysers…

But Builder Gary and the folks who drilled the well said that it might mess up the casing.  In fact, it might mess up the water flow.  You know what they said.

“Leave well enough alone.”

Party poopers.

At least I have a bottle of scotch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tearing up the Pea Patch


One of the guys from Geothermal Solutions  made a crack that there was one corner of the front yard that they hadn’t dug up and made a mess of. 


He offered to rectify the situation, but we turned him down.


It’s been fun, though, watching the system come together.  Here they have about half of the tubing in that ties all the loops together.


They dug up the old power line, which gave them a moments pause.


They also dug down and drilled holes into the foundation wall to put the loop into the mechanical room.


Because they are nice guys, they drilled three extra holes for electric and water to come into the house.


I was asked if I wanted to keep the concrete cores they drilled out.  I’m really not very crafty.  Anyone else have a need for concrete cylinders?


I noticed that these holes are not labeled “in” and “out” like the septic tank.  I suppose its not as critical in this situation.


They wrestled the pipes around and cleaned up the bottom edges of the trenches out so that the pipes would fit nice and flat on the bottom.


By this morning, it was all done and they were ready to bury it back in the ground.


They tried out a few bobcat stunts when they were scooping the dirt back in.  Don’t try this at home, kids.


When they got the trenches about half way filled and whacker packered down, they let Cory hold the “dumb” end of the tape measure while the other guys measured and made me a treasure map of my front yard.



Meanwhile, a little closer to the street, the drilling rig was back at it.


This time the goal was a water well and I suddenly realized that each rod that disappeared into the ground represented about $200.


Rod after rod went down, but after 25 feet, they hit rock, which was a good sign. 

When I came back in the afternoon, I saw what I wanted to see:


At 240 feet, they hit water.  They drilled another 100 feet and I think we are done. We should have plenty of water for irrigation with what we have.

Now we can tidy up the front yard and get down to framing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can you dig it?



Arriving at the lot today, I noticed how beautiful the leaves looked.  Then I saw a pile of dirt and caution tape.  Am I the only one who hears the siren song of caution tape?  It beckons me to see what I am supposed to be cautious of.



In this case the geothermal guys had dug connecting trenches to tie together the loops for the system.



Each well was excavated so that the whole grid is buried well below the reach of beagles and ambitious gardeners.


Tomorrow they will be drilling a hole through this basement wall to bring it all back into the mechanical room.



Meanwhile at the back of the lot, Nathan and Allan had dug out the hickory tree and started making the tree well.



By the time it was finished and got a sprinkling of hay on top, I thought it looked really great.  Can I say it?  Oh, why not? You can’t hit me through the computer…. It was *well* done.



Now in the day late and a dollar short department, AT&T finally sent out a crew to bury my esteemed neighbors’ phone lines.  I couldn’t imagine why it took them 6 months to come out until I took this shot.

They were waiting until the leaves matched their safety vests.

Yeah, I can dig it.