Sunday, December 28, 2008

Walls, Lazy Sleepy Walls

December 27, 2008
Kathleen is still on days off but her brave and daring family have taken up the sand moving task. Bob has already spent a couple of days re-distributing and, today, was joined by Ian and Coreen. My happy, little elves have almost all the sand work done. I just have to crawl under the trusses and move a little bit along footings.

Bob spotted a vole in the sand... the poor thing probably fell into the basement and, as there is no way out, I expect to find a body when I get back. Sand, sand everywhere and not a drop to drink or eat or anything. Starvation due to stupidity!

Meantime, back up on the main floor, Jim and Rob have been busy building walls and getting ready to stand them up.

The Sun, The Sand and Floor Trusses

It was the day before Christmas and all through the basement not a creature was stirring as Kathleen took the day off. C'mon! I had to get ready for Christmas. After shoveling the snow out of the basement, I distributed sand over the clay. As it was a windy day, Jim and Rob put some of the floor trusses in the basement and managed to stay out of the wind.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sun dogs and Smoke Signals

December 19, 2008's another chilly one in the cow pasture. This morning started out at -30 but rocketed up to -28 by the afternoon. The ice fog created some amazing sun dogs and some very slippery highways. The locals love to practice ice dancing with their cars and lots of them were entering the ditches at very artistic angles. The farmer in the pasture next to us finally took pity on his cows and moved them. I am sure he has taken them off to the sunny south for a Christmas vacation. That or the feed lot next door. As the wind chill made working on the main floor uncomfortable, we worked in the basement. Jim had to drill into the concrete and set in anchor bolts to hold the basement floor trusses, securely. I continued with my snow removal and when I tired of that, I moved over and chipped ice off of the beams in preparation for truss placement. After I left to return the rented hammer drill, Jim and Rob finished the snow removal and began spreading the sand that is only part of the preparation of the ground that's underneath the wooden basement floor. We still have insulation, poly and washed rock to put down before the floor can go on permanently.

Telus assures us that we will have a phone line in the next 18 months to 2 years. We've fooled them...we're sending smoke signals!

Does This Mean Cows Can Read?

Wednesday December 17, 2008
Leduc County has sent some poor soul around in the cold to place address markers at each of the lots in the subdivision. One wonders what he did wrong to have to work in the sub-zero temperatures with metal posts and signs. He was followed by the local contractors putting their advertisements up on the posts. Curtis Ryll, who owns ARC, asked for our permission, which we gladly gave, as he has been a great help to us with all the dirt work and septic installation.

I worked in the basement shoveling the snow out for most of the day. Jim and Rob worked "upstairs" getting the rest of the main floor down. Rob answered an ad for "help" that we left at the local Co-op. He has been a great help to Jim as he can carry heavy stuff and is pretty handy with the tools. Hopefully, he will stick with us until we can get the old hacienda all closed in. by the end of the day, he and Jim had the main floor all down. I still had nearly half the basement to shovel out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cleavage is Everything!

We have managed to get at least half of the main floor decking down. Jim hauled the plywood over, cut any pieces that needed to be cut, put the adhesive on the joists and placed the plywood. I had the tremendously, difficult job of standing on the plywood while he pounded the tongue and groove part together. Then, with increasing skill, I screwed the plywood in place using a rented floor screw gun. At the start of the day, I had a few misses as the screw gun was finicky but by the end of the day, I could claim several sheets as perfect screws. No comments!! The trick is to hold the trigger in your left hand and firmly jam it between your boobs. When you bend over to set the next screw, you and the screw gun are perfectly perpendicular and the screws go in just dandy.

Check out my new Ryobi cordless drill! Jim got me my Christmas present early as we were putting down the flooring and needed the extra cordless. This gives us two Ryobi drills so we can share battery packs. And yes...I asked for it. Next Christmas, I'm thinking diamonds but this is the perfect gift for this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

David with the Strong Back

As much as yesterday was challenging, weather wise, today is lovely. It's been made even more so by the arrival of Jim's brother, David. The sun is shining, the wind has dropped and the temperature is above zero. David spent the day helping Jim finish off the truss placement, haul the floor trusses for the basement floor around to the back of the house and placing the strong backs in the trusses. Strong backs are 2x6's laid end to end and designed to stiffen the floor and reduce vibration. They are placed under the top rail of the truss and nailed into place.

Big Brave Jim and the Nasty Weather

Here it is December 9 and the world, as we know it, is about to freeze over. It's -17C with a nasty southeast wind and snow off and on. This is our first real taste of winter this year and according to the weather broadcasts it isn't going to get any better until April. I run out of the warm truck to help Jim carry another truss and run back and hide out of the wind while he secures it in place. There's Jim waving bravely as I go to fetch his glove which has fallen into the basement. Unfortunately, this is the last day for our rental truck but as the much loved Ford 4x4 is in the process of being reassembled, it shouldn't be too long before we have all the Farrell wheels back on the road.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Handsome Fellas

Poor Allan was suffering from a dreadful cold but donned Dad's quilted coveralls and hauled washed rock to cover weeping tile in the freezing rain. What a guy! Both he and I noted all the ruckus coming from the cow pasture next to us...Jim didn't have his hearing aids in so he missed it. The cows, obviously, don't like freezing rain any more than we do. They were mooing up quite a chorus.

Jim and Allan posed for a photo just before we had to call it a day. Handsome even in their work wear.

Dry Wells

Jim has put extra insulation over the weeping tile to ensure that the basement wall will be the warmest possible. As our house is built on a hill and the back is much lower than where the house is sited, we can avoid installing a sump pump by having the weeping tile drain to the low area in the back...essentially, a dry well. When the back filling continues next week, this will all be filled in.

Mud, Mud Everywhere

December 5 and the wood package has arrived. Star Building has provided all the wood, etc. required to get the floors down and do the framing. This was only the first part of the package and we will get the rest a little later as we didn't want all of it out in the winter weather. There is another house being built down the road from us and concrete was being delivered to them today. We needed a little bit to fill a piling that will support the front veranda, so we asked the concrete people if they could off-load any left-overs into our waiting sonotube. Sure enough, a little while later the truck was backing into our yard and one more job is finished. Although it was quite cloudy all day, it was very warm and all that dirt that you see was actually mud. We managed to drag a fair bit back to the condo in Beaumont. Yippee...more work.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Frig, It's Cold!

December 1 was +6. Yesterday, although it was -1, was one of those big, bright, blue-sky days that we prairie people take for granted. Then today, December 4, dawned dreary and -15. Winter seems to be here to stay. We can't complain (though we will anyway) as we've had a very long, warm fall.

Regardless, it was a banner day as the back filling has begun. This makes moving the floor trusses on to the wall much easier, not to mention, safer. It also may act as an enticement for Bob to come back as he won't have to work in the "trenches".

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The incredible end of November weather and cement

Early on the morning of Monday, November 24, we arrived to find the crane in place and the welders hard at work installing the steel beams for the basement floor and the main level floor. (They will be back later when we are ready for the last of the beams for the loft floor.) Jim carried out some much needed site clean-up while Kathleen enjoyed a day off. The next day, Jim got the weeping tile placed and following that we shoveled washed rock into the wheel barrow and Jim dumped it in the appropriate spots. He figures that he shoveled the best part of 20 tons of stone but because of his hard work and bowed back we are ready for our first inspection.

Mother Nature has been very generous this fall and, as the temperature was +7 Celsius by noon on Saturday November 29, we were able to do the follow-up cement work that needed to be done before the floor joists are put in place. We had to fill in under the teleposts and create a "cement" washer in the areas of the walls that will carry the floor joists.

Bob and the sticky membrane

On November 16, Bob and Jim continued to take down bracing and the next day, rented a cube van to take all the bracing and turn buckles back to IC Forming (the company that supplied the materials for the basement). On the 18th all three of us began putting the vapour barrier over the blocks. This process was hampered by a couple of cold, windy days. The membrane was quite sticky and adhered to the walls well in the warmer temperatures but refused to stick in the cold. We bought a small propane heater to pre-heat the areas we were working on and that helped but mother nature kicked in towards the end of the week and provided lovely warm days to finish off.
After Bob had left for home, the insurance adjuster called and authorized us to rent a replacement vehicle for at least part of the 3 weeks that we would be without the much-loved Ford.

The replacement GM is a much more basic unit but gets the job done.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

November 15, 2008 Demolition Derby Day

It's Saturday, November 15 and Ian has come to help put on the sill plate and take down the bracing and turnbuckles. It was a beautiful, sunny day but again, quite windy. It was a good day as Jim and Ian accomplished a lot, Bob arrived from Regina to lend a hand and Allan and Ben joined all of us for supper. We had lots to talk about as on the way home from the cow pasture a large buck jumped out in front of the truck and our much loved Ford F150
4x4 had to be towed to the auto body shop.
No, Buck didn't suffer...he didn't even know what hit him. Jim and Ian were was just the truck and the buck that didn't fare so well.

November 13, 2008 we get concrete

It started out as a very windy, cold, gloomy day and stayed that way but still no snow. The cement trucks eventually delivered 63 meters of concrete to the pumper truck. As the walls filled with concrete Jim and Wes English screted. We are so very grateful that Wes gave up curling and drove in from Cold Lake to help. The pouring started at around 12:30PM and we were done by about 4:30PM.

Yee-Haw, we're ready for concrete

Finally, after 2 weeks of solid, intensive work we are ready for concrete to be poured into the waiting forms. Yee-Haw!!

The well, septic mound and Kathleen's pants

Here is Kathleen modeling her construction wear. The pants are heavily quilted, work, overalls that are very stiff and, because the crotch is a little low, make her walk like a penguin. However, they are very warm and need only be topped with a polar fleece jacket for the fall weather. She is also smiling because we now have a well with what is promised to be good water.

The yellow caution tape is surrounding the septic mound. The fluids from the septic tank flow into the mound and once every 3 years, or so, the solids will have to be pumped out of the tank. As the mound is constantly being fed by the tank, the grass will always be greener there. Good to know if we ever enter a grass growing contest.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Homage to Allan and bracing

OK...OK...I forgot to take a picture of Allan when he came out to help put up blocks but I managed to take this very artistic photo of his gloves. Better luck next time. Thank heavens both of our boys are composed of a little bit of mountain goat as the scaffolding and bracing made it difficult to construct. The walls ended up being 13 feet high in some places to accommodate our raised basement floor and 9 foot basement ceilings.

The braces were screwed to the blocks and turnbuckles were attached to them to provide support for the concrete and ensure a straight wall. Scaffolding was then placed at the top of the turnbuckles so that the wall could be built higher.

Jim's happy as he has managed to get the window and patio door bucks in place. This is on the back (south-facing) of the house where we will have a walk out basement.

Footings and ICF blocks

On October 28, the footings were poured and the insulated concrete form blocks, for the basement walls, arrived two days later. The blocks made building the walls much like playing with giant Lego. It took us two weeks of stacking blocks, tying them together and laying rebar before we were ready for the concrete to be poured into the hollow centres of the blocks.

We have a road and septic tank

Look at the lovely backhoe! We were ecstatic when the digging began and it was only a few days later that we were the proud owners of a hole, a road and a septic tank.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Start

In the beginning, there was cow pasture. Then it was subdivided and we bought this heavenly little piece of terra firma on which to build our new home. That was back in August. We submitted our development permit and building permit to Leduc County and waited for their timely(?) response. Finally, toward the end of October, we were granted permission to start construction. Our beautiful, warm, dry fall was almost over and we now had to hustle to get the basement in before freeze-up.

Jim is not one to waste time, though and decided to build a shed ... our little house on the prairie. It is vital to the build as it not only houses tools and materials but also my porta-potty. I must admit that there have been days when the cold temperatures have made using said potty challenging, but it's far better that the bucket with a garbage bag in it that had been suggested.