Building a Good Foundation

hard-workThe last time I posted the block layers were suppose to arrive and install the block. Well, they came on Friday, September 27, and worked and worked.

Block installers

Block installers

Mortar sand and concrete

Mortar sand and concrete

Laying out the blocks

Laying out the blocks

Put it over there

Put it over there

The end of day one of block laying

Towards the end of day one of block laying

Sewer pipe

Sewer pipe

After the block layers left around 2:30, Bill went to work. No one wanted to apply the mastic (tar) on the blocks. It was even noted on the block layers contract with JQM Construction that their work did not include applying mastic. Bill even asked the workers if anyone wanted to do the job that day and they all said, “NO!” The purpose of applying the mastic coating is to restrain the entrance of moisture into foundation walls. It was a dirty job. Poor Bill took on the task. He worked until dark applying that yucky stuff with a brush. He wore throw-away clothes and shoes.

Bill after a long day

Bill after a long day

Bill and his mastic bucket

Bill and his mastic bucket

One wall with mastic

Westย  wall with mastic

See the exterior door into the crawl space above? I will never be crawling in there. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Back wall with mastic

Back wall with mastic

More blocks

More blocks

IMG_2355

Garage area on the left and Laundry and Kitchen area on the right

Front view of the house

Front view of the house

The block layers came back and worked on Saturday to lay more blocks. Then, they gave Bill the news that they needed more blocks. Like 185 more blocks! They worked until they used up all the blocks. Bill had to call and order more blocks and had to be at the block supplier early Monday morning to pick them up. The guys said they would be back Monday to finish up. Bill ended up having to make two trips to get block as he borrowed Jim’s parents’ Expedition and their 16 foot trailer. Those blocks were heavy. At least he didn’t have to load and unload the blocks. ๐Ÿ˜• Well, he did end up picking up a bunch of them this week when he was cleaning up.

Monday the block layers finished their job. The top one or two rows of block that will show above the ground are cutface blocks. Bill did not apply mastic on those. They look really nice and we can paint them to match the house. The back doesn’t have any of those blocks because we don’t have any that will show – most of the back of the house will be a very large long patio.

IMG_2453

IMG_2442

IMG_2361

More mastic to apply

More mastic to apply

IMG_2448

As you can see from the photos above, we had some rain, but as Jim said, at least the rain did not prevent us getting the foundation laid – which is always a concern at this time of year. Bill tried to get the rest of the mastic applied on Monday before more rain headed our way. He thought he was done at the end of that day. But, Jim and Bill had to re-evaluate where the ground was going to meet the blocks, so he had to apply mastic on more rows of block today. Bill says he done with that messy job! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_2410

See the cutface blocks on this picture?

IMG_2411

IMG_2414

View of the front of the house foundation

View of the front of the house foundation

This is what they left behind

This is what they left behind

Look what else was delivered this week!

Dumpster

Dumpster

Bill spent a lot of time this week trying to build a table for his saw as he got rid of his old one when we moved. He’s getting there. And, he also installed a light (running off the generator) so he would have some light in the back of the workshop.

Making a new saw table

Making a new saw table

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

And to let you know that you can never have enough clamps (Bill’s favorite saying), here are pictures of all his clamps.

New Clamp rack

New Clamp rack

Rack Bill made that he outgrew.

Rack Bill made that he outgrew.

And just a funny . . .

Shark jaws mounted on his soon to be half-bath walls.

Shark jaws mounted on his soon to be half-bath walls.

Bill also made lots of phone calls this week making arrangements for electric, gas and plumbing services. He finally got word that Vectren will be able to install the correct transformer on a new pole at the end of our driveway. Bill also made arrangements for a saw post to be installed 75 ft up from the new pole. That will give temporary electricity for any of the contractors needing some power. Of course, that also means we’ll be getting an electric bill soon. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Last Saturday we bought our fireplace. Firemaster was having a big sale so we decided to see if we could get a better price than our original quote. Turns out they had given us a really good deal but brought it down even more for us. We ended up getting to meet the Enerzone sales representative and he was very helpful and gave Bill a free wood moisture tester. Yahoo! And, you might know that when we were looking at the model we were buying the top grate was different from the one I had used to design our fireplace. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Turns out we had originally ordered the better grate. So, of course, I had to redesign that fireplace yet again. It’s not too much different from before, but it changed.

Fireplace before I knew grate was different

Fireplace before I knew grate was different

Fireplace design with new grate

Fireplace design with new grate

Bill is taking this design down to the stone guy next week. I’m done with this – I hope! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jim text Bill today that he heard from the framer and he will be able to start on our house in about 1-1/2 weeks. Oh goodie! I’ll be back from my trip then. However, we need to order our windows and doors tomorrow before I leave!

I’ll leave you this time with some pictures of the chickens that live next door at Jim and Joan’s. The chickens are laying 3 eggs a day. So we have plenty of free eggs now!

Two of the roosters from the first batch that Maggie didn't kill. And, they are mean.

Two of the roosters from the first batch that Maggie didn’t kill. And, they are mean.

Five laying chickens and one rooster from the second batch

Five laying chickens and one rooster from the second batch

They fly on top of the coop

They fly on top of the coop

If you look really hard you can see a brown egg on the right in the tray

If you look really hard you can see a brown egg on the right in the tray

I hope things aren’t too crazy for Bill while I’m gone. I hope he gets to finish up his workshop and get started on those cabinets. Soon I hope to post pictures of house framing and cabinet building!

And so we begin!

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney

We hit the ground running after I posted on Saturday morning. I went down to help Bill while he staked off a huge section of the front yard so no one would drive on it. Basically, I only held the stake straight until Bill pounded it down into the ground.

Stake Pounding

Stake Pounding

Yard staked out

Yard staked out

Then, I got called off the survey staking committee and Jill put me on chauffeur duty to pick up Jack from a Boys Scout event. It takes a village to do all the work on the compound. ๐Ÿ™‚ Joan took Megan shopping at the school’s marketplace and shopping for birthday ideas. Jill cleaned house.ย  Jim, Jim, Sr., and Bill did the staking for the house. We had to get everything done before Jack’s 2:30 football game.

Not sure if you can see or not, but there are red survey flags in those piles of mud. The flags mark the four outer corners of the house so the foundation guys can pour the footers in the right place.

Survey flags

Survey flags

IMG_2285

IMG_2284

Sunday Bill went shopping to buy all the electrical components to hook up his cabinet making equipment to a generator. He had tested starting the different pieces of equipment with the generator. Some had better results than others. But, everything eventually started and it seems that he will be able to run his equipment off the generator since we have no electricity in the pole barn yet. Bill’s pole barn “open house” has been delayed a week because of his construction duties. However, Bill has made great strides in getting the workshop almost ready for duty. He would only let me take a couple of photos until he has his open house. Wonder if he’s going to serve refreshments? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back workbench with raw mahogany wood stored above

Back workbench with raw mahogany wood stored above

Sunday, I spent a lot of time measuring Jill’s fireplace and windows again. Unfortunately, when Bill and I discussed the window seats on each side of the fireplace and window and window seat measurements, we discovered we needed to make our fireplace larger than was drawn on our house plans! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ The fireplace and windows are gonna be the death of me yet! I was dreading breaking the news to Jim that we needed to make more changes. However, it is better to find out these mistakes before we start framing and before we order the windows. And, Bill and I looked again about how we would extend the fireplace stone up to the ceiling and it just wasn’t going to work either. Grrrr.

We had a construction meeting with Jim on Sunday evening (Sept. 22). He gave us a lot of homework to do on Monday. The three of us each had our to-do lists.

  • Jim worked with our vendor for Hardiboard siding and trim; updated house plans; made phone calls and arranged for permits; and lots of other behind the scene things he does – like discover that our bid for trusses was not for attic trusses.
  • Bill arranged for a porta potty and dumpster; called another company to compare block prices; called vendor we planned to use for block material and had them resubmit their bid with updated information and arranged for them to deliver block on Wednesday; called another roofing material vendor and inquired about pricing; both of us visited vendor and picked out shingles and got a quote; called lumber company and had them resubmit their bid with attic trusses; ordered sand; and called Vectren to ask about electricity and gas hookups; cut our grass; moved the trailer to the side of the pole barn; arranged a hose hookup from Jim, Sr’s water-spout down by the lake; and found spots where the porta potty and dumpster could be stored during construction. Whew! He was a busy guy.
  • I had to re-work all our windows and re-design our fireplace. I also had my household chores of 5 loads of laundry, unloaded and loaded dishwasher, picked up kids from bus stop, wrapped Megan’s birthday gift, took Jack to football practice, and helped Jill prepare Megan’s birthday dinner.
Jim, Bill and I shared lots of phone calls that day. Jim found out that the Health Department said we needed to add more soil over the area where we were having the septic installed. Saturday when we were talking with our septic installer (same guy who did our excavation for pole barn and our driveway and who will also be doing our final grading), he said he could get top soil for a cheap price per dump truck if we’d like it. Bill wanted to get a couple of loads for grading and had made arrangements for him to bring that on Monday. Well, when we found out we needed more soil for the front area, Jim told him to just bring it, too. I think we ended up with two loads in the back and four loads in the front. It’s really nice soil.
Top soil for final grading

Top soil for final grading

Soil for covering the septic area

Soil for covering the septic area

While I was re-working the window schedule, I asked Bill if he thought our windows for the front bedrooms would be down too low. We measured everything again! I called the window guy and asked him what the next size window height down would be. We would have to go down from 56″ to 48″ in height. Where I loved the taller windows, I really wanted the tops of the windows and the doors to match across the exterior of the house. But, if I wanted to keep the 56″ height and still have them higher from the floor board, I would have to raise the top height. Again, Bill went outside to measure where that would take our windows. It ended up they would be up so high that they would be one board down from our trim board. That just wasn’t gonna look right. I ended up using our Home Architect 3D software again and changed all the window sizes to get a better look. Bill and I made the decision to go with 48″ heights in the bedrooms and in the laundry room. We left the two window seats at 56″ because those windows will be lower to the floor. Of course, then I had to call the window guy back and ask him to give us a new quote. Brother!

I played with the fireplace and came up with a new design. Here’s what it might look like.

Fireplace with border

Fireplace with border

Early Tuesday morning Bill went down to the pole barn – what is now being called our construction headquarters. The first thing to arrive was important. ๐Ÿ˜€

Porta Potty!

Porta Potty!

By the time I left to go to water aerobics around 10:15, this guy was running this bobcat back and forth trying to smooth out the area where the footers would be dug and poured.

Bob cat busy

Bobcat busy

It wasn’t long and the dumpster guy came to assess the area for the dumpster. Bill decided to put it to the right of the turnaround rock in pic below. The guy said it should be delivered sometime this week.

IMG_2295

I ran errands after water aerobics (even got my flu shot) and got home just in time to pick up the grandkids from the bus stop. Jill and Jim’s yard to the west of their driveway was lined with trucks and there was a wheeled digger with a backhoe digging those trenches for the footers.

Wheeled digger with backhoe

Wheeled digger with backhoe

While I was parked at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus, some guy drove his car into the grass to the east of where I was sitting and sped around me and parked off the driveway near the construction. He slowly got out of his car and I noticed he was a big guy. Didn’t look like he was part of the construction crew to me. I mentioned him to Jim and Bill that evening and they weren’t sure who he was. It turns out he was probably the county concrete footing inspector cause we got an email the next day that he had been out and approved it. Yay!

Bill held down the fort at the construction site and I took the grandkids up to the house. The foundation crew worked until about 5:00-5:30. Here are some photos of the afternoon adventures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wednesday I went to bible study and ran more errands. Since we live out a ways, we try to combine our trips into town. Jill warned us that our gas bill would go up and it has! So, while I was gone, Bill had another busy day at the construction site. First up was the mortar sand delivery for the block installers.

Sand delivery

Sand delivery

On Monday Bill had called the plumber to see if he needed to come out before the block guys came. So, he came Wednesday morning. We had one plumber do the radiant heat and the rough-in for the half-bath in the pole barn. We were using another plumber for the house and the completion of the pole barn stuff. It appears that the first plumber may not have roughed-in the half-bath the way the second plumber would have liked it. ๐Ÿ˜ณ We hope he can come up with a remedy. What we do know is that we cannot use the toilet that Jim’s parents were giving us. And, there’s something about a grinder pump thing-a-ma-jig. The plumber also put some pipes down to approximate areas where he would need plumbing access. Bill said the block guys would put them in the proper place.

Vectren came out in the early afternoon to assess the situation for temporary and permanent electrical service. The gas guy called Bill earlier in the day and said instead of him coming out, he would just get with the electric guy afterwards. Bill talked to him about transformers and whether we need one now or later. We will need a new one on the pole at the end of our driveway. They talked about if we wanted temporary electric we could run it from Jim & Jill’s transformer at the end of their driveway. But, they would have to go up 18 feet for the wires to be pulled over and Bill said that wouldn’t work with the large trucks coming in and out. If we put a transformer on our pole now, it would be a 200 amp one. However, since the house will be 400 amp, we’d have to have another transformer installed when the permanent service was needed. The Vectren guy told Bill he needed to call Vectren marketing and get a price for what the transformers might cost. We also will need to fill out a form with a checklist of any possible equipment in the house and pole barn that we might be running in the future. They have some sort of 3-year deal where they assess what revenue will be generated on what you will use and that is what they base the cost of how much we’ll pay for the transformer. Sounds complicated to me! ๐Ÿ™„ Anyway, the Vectren guy left Bill a voice-mail message late yesterday that they could get us temporary electrical service by January 2014! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ That’s not gonna work. Bill will be calling the Vectren guy back today.

The block delivery arrived around 2:00.

Block delivery

Block delivery

Heavy crane to lift the block

Heavy crane to lift the block

Today someone from the foundation crew will be back to remove all the ground around the footers to make the ground level with the footers. You can see from the pic below what I’m talking about.

Ground to be leveled

Ground to be leveled

The block installers are scheduled to arrive Friday to install our block.

When Jim started to call subs over the weekend to schedule them he found out our framer would not be available for another 3 weeks! He checked on our second choice framer and he was 4-5 weeks out from being available. So, we are going to wait for our first choice guy. Actually, I’m kind of glad we will have a delay because I’m taking a trip and I don’t want to miss the framing of our house. I want a front-row seat. Don’t get me wrong, the footers and block are exciting! However, I think the framing is the best part in the beginning. It finally brings all these months and years of planning from a flat or 3D rendering to an actual structure that we can stand in and walk through.

It is Bill’s hope that he will be able to start working on cabinets in the next two weeks.

Until then . . .