This blog is solely about the start-to-finish construction of a house.
It is recommended to start at the earliest post and proceed chronologically.

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June 30, 2014

Concrete Pour: Garage Slab, Retaining Wall, & Column Footings

How did those trucks get up the driveway?
The first of two back-to-back days of concrete.  My poor neighbors.  6:30 am and these rigs are sitting outside their windows with giant diesel engines chugging.  We need to do something nice for them.

Radiant Tubing

Temporary Coupling for Pressurization
Radiant Tubing is installed.

June 26, 2014

Ready for Radiant Tubes

Fluorescent Floor Plan
Tomorrow the radiant tubing is installed, to be cast into the concrete slab.  Concrete pour is scheduled for Monday (edit: now Tuesday, thanks Mother Nature).

June 25, 2014

More Soakage Trench

A Lisa-Deep Trench
The soakage trench diagram from the "Drainage" post earlier seems reasonable enough in concept.  But when you translate that into reality the result is kind of stunning.

This trench is enormous. 

Overheard on the Jobsite

"Good work...some of you!"

June 24, 2014

Living Next Door

Did I mention that we live next door?

June 23, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite

"No disrespect to Bonnie Raitt, but what the hell is she doing on my 'all Journey' station?"

June 19, 2014

Underslab Insulation

The underslab insulation arrived, and is going into place. 

Two layers of 3" EPS, seams staggered; gaps foamed.

Over this will be the vapor barrier and the concrete slab (with all that goes inside it).

June 18, 2014

Garage Stem Wall and Retaining Wall

Add caption
The garage stem wall has been poured, as well as half of the formwork for the East retaining wall (visible in the rear).


Hope the neighbors don't mind this in the street for a few days.
This rather large pile of drain-rock has just arrived, ready for distribution around the building site.

All about this rock and where it goes below.

June 13, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite: Music Edition

Have any of you ever heard Portishead on a jobsite before?

Roads by Portishead on Grooveshark
Didn't think so.

(I always thought there was a law or something requiring Classic Rock on construction sites)


Our first real scheduling delay. 
The supplier delivered the wrong under-slab insulation; XPS instead of EPS.
Supplier doesn't have what we need on hand, so it pushes our slab pour out a week.

We want to use EPS to avoid using a nasty chemical blowing agent that is used in the XPS manufacture.  But since the XPS was onsite, we had a tough choice to make; do we use it instead?  What is the negative value compared to the positive value of increased R-value and years of energy savings? Hard position to be in.

Turns out the supplier was charging us a couple grand more for the XPS, so it made sticking to our morals easy.  If only the market always rewarded doing the right thing...

June 10, 2014

All Your Base

Progress shot: 
- Perimeter insulation in place.
- Gravel base layer going down, and will be compacted.
- Underslab insulation next.

Floor Plans

Ground Floor
Posting these floor plans for all to see feels like standing naked in public.

June 05, 2014

Got Gravel?

Mt. Gravelpile
It is time for the under-slab prep.

June 02, 2014

Board-formed Concrete: The Results

And we got what we were hoping for. 
Good solid concrete with wood grain, and horizontal raised lines.

Despite our issues during the pour, things look great.

A view of a wall, standing back a bit.  The impression is much more subtle than the close-up view might imply. 
Those metal tabs sticking out will be snapped off flush to the face of the wall.

This corner has a good bit more height than will be ultimately visible - the excavator got a bit carried away when roughing-out the driveway.

The concrete did have a couple trouble spots - both of which were at the places where I added inserts to create a depression at door openings. 

The idea is that a door sill is recessed a bit lower than the floor level, so that its thickness is closer to level with the floor. 

Normally, the concrete would flow under the insert and fill beneath it nicely.  Our overly-stiff concrete mix did not quite do so, and left voids in the middle. 

Luckily, these locations are not highly visible - both have concrete steps poured in front of them, which will help to conceal the blemish when patched. 

Overall the stem walls are a success, and we are very happy with them.
Now if the we can just get the next big hurdle, the slab (our finished floor!), to turn out well...

June 01, 2014

Overheard on the Jobsite

(in a muffled voice)
"I have too many sunflower seeds in my mouth"