Thursday, May 24, 2012

We Have Footings

Thursday, May 24
We went up to the lot this afternoon to meet Jesse, our build supervisor.  He seems like he will be a nice guy to work with and reassured us that our presence was always welcome on the site, as was our input. 

When we got there the footing forms were all in place and the pumper truck showed up and got situated for the first concrete pour.   It was pretty impressive to watch the pipe extend from the truck. There was just a minute where the truck bucked a little bit and Jesse said he'd been on a job where the ground was too soft and the driver hadn't set his bracing properly and when the crane and pipe extended out in front of the truck the balance and weight were off and the truck tipped over.  That would have been crazy to see and I'm glad the driver today did everything correctly.

The forms were ready and the pumper truck was ready and in place so we just needed to wait for the concrete trucks to show up. 

We only stayed to watch them pour the first few feet of footings.  The driver of the pumper truck wore a remote control unit around his neck and controlled the flow of concrete and even moved the crane with the joystick controls on the box.  See kids, playing video games can prove helpful in your job as an adult! 

We came back after running to Home Depot to order 61 sheets of extruded polystyrene boards that we will be laying down in a week and a half.  Luckily, HD will deliver them right to the lot for us so we don't have to figure out how to transport them and where to store them.  We'd love a little help laying down the foam boards (and getting them cut to fit around the plumbing and monolithic footings) and then getting our pex tubing laid down and fastened to the boards.  As of right now we are shooting for Tuesday, June 5th through Thursday, June 7th.  Those days are a little flexible depending on weather and subs.  We are already about a day and a half behind the "original schedule", but what happens on a spreadsheet doesn't always translate perfectly to real life.

Seeing the forms and concrete laid out like this really help us get a feel for the house.  Of course, it helps that I've been designing the hydronic heating plan on Visio and Rob's been designing the wiring plan so we both have the floorplan pretty well memorized. 

I LOVE seeing our trees peeking into the picture.  I LOVE that we have trees!

What can I say?  It's wet concrete.  It's our house.  It's inevitable.  This will be under the front door for ever.  After I drew it in, Rob started getting second thoughts about ruining the integrity of the finish so I smoothed it over a little with my finger.

Here we are standing at the footings to the front door of our house.  The garage wall is the long wall to the right in the picture.  All of these footings are going to support our house and keep it stable and safe.
Jesse said they will let the footings cure for a couple of days and then get the forms in for the foundation.  I'm excited to see those go in because then it will really start to look like a house.
We have a dumpster parked right in front of our lot.  Literally.  I hope I don't have to spend too much time going around cleaning up after the subs.  Today we found a beer can, the crust of someone's sandwich and this uneaten lunch. 

The Dig

Visionary Homes  staked out the house on Monday, May 21 and started the dig on Tuesday, May 22.  We were flying back from Florida, so Grandma and Granddad H went up to get a couple of quick pictures for us.  By the time we got home it was close to 11pm so we went up to the lot first thing Wednesday morning.

This was the view we saw as we entered the subdivision.  That's our hole and our dirt!  If you look at the top of the picture you can see the sunlight moving towards the mountains.  We were there about 7:30 am.  We didn't feel like it was dark up there, but you can see we actually were in the morning shadow.

They started later in the day on Tuesday than they had originally planned so they didn't quite get the hole finished.  Here Rob is standing at the back corner of the single car garage.

This image gives you a pretty good idea of the slope on our lot.  The front corner (near the backhoe) will be the guest bedroom and bathroom.  This lot really will provide a very nice walk-out basement for us.  The deepest edge of the hole will be the tv wall and sitting area for the family room. 

Here Rob is standing in the sitting area of the basement family room at the back of the house.  You get a really good feel for the slope here.  We weren't sure why there were different levels of soil dug out.  I guess we'll understand better when we go back to see the footings poured.

This is a good shot of the hole.  We are standing at the northeast corner of the house.  I've added a very simplified layout so you can get a feel for the flow of rooms.  The family room is in the bottom corner closest to where I was standing to take the picture.  There will be one bedroom and a small laundry in between the office and the south bedroom (thanks to Brian for the idea of adding a laundry to our basement).

Granddad sent a text saying we had good topsoil.  I was excited to see for myself.  From walking the lot before the dig, I was afraid it would be super rocky.  I'm going to have to watch closely to make sure they don't cart too much of this good stuff away.  Our builder was saying he might push some of it over to the neighboring lot to our west.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hydronic Heating 101

I've been spending a lot of my time working on the hydronic heating plan for the basement (and I haven’t even started looking at the main floor layout yet). I feel like I'm taking a self-taught remedial course and wish I had just a little more concrete information available to me.  Luckily, Ray gave us a thorough heat-loss calc so I can figure out how much tubing to run in each room and each zone.

We have to insulate under the slab. I can’t find an answer as to which is the best way to go - extruded polystyrene foam boards or bubble foil bubble?  The boards are easy to tie the PEX tubes down to, but can shift during the concrete pour which would created in a weaker floor.  The bubble is super easy to lay down exactly where it is needed and simplifies the concrete pour, but we’d have to lay down rebar on top of it and tie the PEX down with zip ties which would then have to be cut and cleaned up so the ends don’t float around in the finished floor (and it appears to be more expensive).

IF we go with the foam boards where do we rent or borrow a staple gun so we can easily tie the tubes to the boards? And how do we cut them? Rob wants to use a hot wire knife. We don't have one. We can use a razor knife, but that way is very messy and dulls the blades quickly.

We have to make sure we don’t put insulation where there are going to be monolithic footings.  I am pretty sure I have those dimensions on our floor plan so I can adjust the insulation and tubing layout but what does that do to the concrete pour?  And how do I get the PEX where it needs to go while avoiding those footings?

Do we heat the closets or not?  Do we insulate under the storage areas?  How do I keep the little hallway where all the tubes come in and out of the boiler room from overheating?  What if I read the dimensions wrong and run the tubes under the wall instead of under the door?  Do we have to do a pressure test for leaks?  If so, How?!?  Rob is finding all kinds of clever little "helps" online, but each of them adds to the bottom line so we have to determine how necessary they really are.

Everything I've read says this is one of the easiest DIY projects to undertake so why am I stressing so much about this?  Why isn't there more specific information available for the beginning DIYer so I can have these questions answered?

We are meeting with our GC next week to review our layout and  because we have to be ready to go install as soon as the rough plumbing is finished and the gravel is compacted. 

So, Here is our first plea for help.  If you are available and willing we can use help laying out insulation and PEX tubing sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Let me know.  We will feed and hydrate you and give you our unending thanks and gratitude.

We Have A Dig Date!

We heard from Visionary last night.  They are going to dig Tuesday, May 22!

I'm a little disappointed that it isn't one day later as we will be traveling home that day.  We will miss being able to watch them stake out the house (they had said if we were there we'd have a little control over the direction of the front door).  It also would have been cool to be there when they start digging for the foundation and the footings.

If any of you are around and want to drive by the lot to see if the house is staked out we'd love some pictures. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Snapshots before Digging

We closed on our lot on Friday, May 11.  We were very glad they could get us in and closed before we left to take Alaina to Florida. 

Now we are waiting for permits to come back from North Logan City and then the big dig will begin. 

We kind of hope that even though we closed on the construction loan a week early the dig will wait until we are back in town.

Following are some of my favorite images from visits to our lot and why we are excited to build here.

I love these trees! 
Rob calls them Scrub Maple but I don't care.  They are mature and lovely and add character and privacy to our lot.  I'm looking forward to seeing them change with the seasons out the kitchen window and as we sit on our deck.

We still have a nice view of the valley and the Wellsville's.  This view will be from the front yard instead of the kitchen window and the back deck, but I'm happy with that. 

This is the view from the west side of our property.  This may change as we get neighbors, but for now it is lovely, peaceful and pastoral.  We aren't close enough to actually visit the horses, unless we go for a walk down the hill, but they will be pretty to look at.

Rob is down in the gully facing south.  Look at the natural rock formation behind him.  We would have had to spend a fortune to recreate that in Illinois, and here mother nature did it for us.

 This view is standing in the gully looking east. The trees are growing at the edge of the gully and have created a small grove of trees in that area.   

 These are actually two different wildflowers.  The orange ones above were blooming near the end of April and the bright yellow ones below were blooming in mid-May.  It was a wonderful surprise for me to see them growing.  One more small "nod of approval" and a happy welcome sign.