Archive for the ‘Building a drystack cement block house’ Category

A New Year and new challenges

March 15, 2011

I took a bit of a holiday from the house building business, and spent a month including Christmas and New Year in Newfoundland catching up with friends and family and enjoying the “fleshpots” of the Newfoundland holiday season.   I had got my radiant heating system up and running on the backup heat source with the natural gas tankless heater heating the water in my 80 gallon solar storage tank.  The plumbers had finished most of the copper plumbing in the attic connecting the manifolds of the solar panels on the roof, but ran out of acetylene which they needed to do the silver solder on the copper pipes and there were two joints that would not hold pressure.   I had arranged to have my friend Ron of the strawbale house down the street, keep an eye on my radiant heating system which was still in start-up mode.   Since he had gone through similar setup with his house not long ago, was well adapted to overseeing it.   Just after  I got on the plane to NL, there was a major dump of snow here in Ontario,  and Ron complained by email of having to slog through the drifts.  Fortunately with  a little tweaking on his part the heating worked quite nicely and reached equilibrium a few days after I left.

When I got back from Newfoundland on January 11,  all that snow had melted, but in another couple days there was again snow on the ground and the roof.   I was able to schedule plumbers to come and finish the solar panel plumbing and it then passed muster holding pressure.   We also  re-organized the loop from the tank-less heater which was doing weird things and got air locked regularly.   Had been taking water from the middle of  of the storage tank and feeding it back into the top after heating.   Now take water from the middle, and feed it in at the bottom.   The system is much happier!    At that point the plumbing was compete to the solar panels, but the roof was loaded with ice and snow, so no prospect of installing the evacuated tubes in the panel manifolds.

There was a really cold spell during my absence, and unfortunately the battery on my VW Jetta  ran down because of issues I had with an ignition switch frozen in accessory position.  Net result a wrecked battery which had frozen.   I also had the final insult to the blower motor of the propane furnace of my trailer. I thought I had left the furnace turned down really low and had an electric heater to keep the interior from getting really cold,  but apparently had left the furnace thermostat set higher than intended.  Net result, exhausted the propane tank, and the dumb furnace controller runs the fan forever when there is no propane, you have to turn the furnace off to at the thermostat to get it to stop.  The fan motor bearings were on their last legs, would make noise on startup, but running indefinitely pushed them over the edge and the motor was non-functional when I got back.

Since I had two ceramic heaters I was able to make the trailer temps livable since I have it winterized with plexiglass storm windows and an insulating skirt, but set about finding a replacement motor.  By far the best price I could find was at RVParts.com which is part of Wild Tangent Ventures Inc. in Tuscon, AZ.   I had a bit of trouble getting their online ordering system to work, and they saw my incomplete order and contacted me by email.  When I tried again, I got the order and was astounded at the low shipping cost.  It turns out there was a glitch in the program, and it undercharged me for shipping, but they shipped at that price anyway.  GOOD PEOPLE! They also ship by USPost which avoids the exorbitant brokerage fee with FedX or UPS for coming across the border.  It got here in good time, and with a bit of fiddling and cold hands got the furnace up and running again.

Just to make my life even more interesting, my MacBook laptop, not quite a year in my hands, had the hard drive crash at the end of January.  It was really close but it was still in warranty, and I had been using the Time Machine backup system so in theory everything was backed up on an external drive.  I got the new hard-drive for free, but  getting  a really complete restoration of everything was so complicated I had to pay the Mac technician to get it done.  Painful, but money well spent because I had wasted an entire weekend trying unsuccessfully to do it myself.

In the meantime, I was  working away at preparing my floors for staining.   This was a multiple step process.  1. thoroughly scrub floor with soap and water.  2. Treat with an etching chemical to prepare surface for  staining.  3. REALLY scrub the surface to remove the treatment product and leave the surface ready for stain  4. Stain the floors    5. Apply sealer.       I have chosen to use a set of water based chemicals which are rated much less toxic (to me and the environment) than the acid stain process and epoxy sealers which have been in common use for many years.   I had seen a demo of these products at the Form and Build shop which supplies a wide variety of tools and finshes/chemicals for doing concrete construction, and liked the reduced hazard and “green” features.  I started out doing the scrubbing  with rubber gloves and a scrub brush,  followed by the wet vac to pick up the dirt and water.   Quickly found that was not doing good things to my back and other joints, so rented a commercial floor scrubber from Home Depot.   Thought I could finish the prep work in two days, but figured out after two 14 hour days alternating between scrubber and wet vac, that it would take four days to get the job done.   I was one tired puppy by the time I brought the scrubber back the Home Depot at the end of the 4th day.    I sort of empathized with the guy in the joke who was banging his head against the wall.  When asked why he was doing it, answered “because it feels so good when I stop “:)  After a day of recovery  I started working on the staining.  First go was the walk-in closet in the master BR, quickly determined the dilution factor was too dark, and tried to remove some stain with a roller.   Final result was not happy, very streaky.  Had to do another coat, darker than I really wanted but more uniform.  Final dilution ratio was 12 to 1 distilled H2O to stain.

In the second week in February the weather warmed up and snow melted including all the snow and ice on the roof.   At that point I connected with my friend Ron and Ken Cochrane another of my close neighbors came over to help and we installed the evacuated tubes in the solar panels.  D-Day  was Feb 18 and we  had an assembly line.   Ken was in the house unpacking the tubes and greasing the end of the heat pipe with silicone. He  passed them out the door to Ron who was on the scaffold,  from there to me on the roof  where I inserted each one into the manifold and Ron screwed in the retainer cap to hold the tube from sliding out.  Went lickety split, done with all 60 tubes in a little over 2 hours.   It was almost 5 pm when we were finished but already the panels were hot enough that the controller computer turned on the pump and we collecting heat from the tubes.   It has not been a particularly sunny winter, lots of snow and full or partial overcast.  On the first really bright sunny day,  the solar panels brought the temp in the storage tank up to 180 F, the max the controller would allow, and then shut off the pump so the water drained back into the reservoir.  The collector temperature under the stagnant conditions with no water in the manifold, rose to 409F .   My strategy now on sunny days is to turn up the thermostat so I’m pulling heat out of the tank at the same time as panels are putting heat in.   Maximizes the heat I can capture and store in the water tank and the floor and don’t get tank temp so high that the pump shuts off and I stop collecting calories.

February 18, Evacuated tubes installed in the solar panels.

February 21, Snow again!

Snow partially cleared from the panels.

Snow brushed off the solar panels.

All three panels cleared of snow.

Part of my life and engagement with the community is a continuation of my passion for choral music. As a consequence I sing in two choirs, plus a church choir. In my near community this is the Glencoe community choir called Voiceprints, as well as the London-based London Pro Musica an auditioned high level choir with a long history of excellence. Net result is that I have rehearsals pretty much every Monday and Tuesday evening, the Monday rehearsal of course taking me to London. I usually try to combine the Monday trip with errands I may need to run in relation to stuff I need for the house project, and one place I regularly check out is the Sears outlet store, which is just down the street from another of my regular haunts, the Costco store. On one of my visits I noticed an mahogany armoire with a small scratch on its finish that was price reduced by almost 70% and was a perfect fit for the space in my bedroom hallway were I was planning to build a movable linen cabinet. It is real wood, and the price was right so I made it mine, and a couple days later my friend Don helped me bring it home with his pickup.

My new linen closet/ armoire for the bedroom hallway.

A major commitment of LPM for the winter season was to travel to Kingston, ON on March 5 for a joint concert with the Cantabile choir directed by Mark Sirett. As warmup of repertoire and presentation to our local audience we did a joint concert with the choirs from Medway High School, which also has a long history of choral excellence, on Feb 26. Since I have a daughter who lives in Montreal I have not visited in a while, I chose to drive to Kingston rather than taking the bus which the choir had hired.

The weather was not entirely cooperative, had pouring rain for the trip to Kingston on Saturday, where the rehearsal and concert went swimmingly :)

March 5, Rehearsal in St George's Anglican church of Cantabile choir.

Had a full house at St. Georges Anglican Cathedral, more than 600 people who were enthusiastically appreciative. That night it snowed, significantly :( Sang an additional engagement at the service of the Chalmers United Church Sunday morning and then it was hit the road to Montreal.

First 100 km was dicey, snow-packed occasionally icy spots on the road, and some drivers with death wishes who insisted on driving far faster than conditions warranted. After I got away from the lake effect snow coming off Lake Ontario, the road improved and I made it into Montreal before dark. That night MORE snow, about 20cm, so I had to dig out my car the next morning. Montreal has very good snow clearing, so major streets were open right away, but enough snow so parking areas took a while to open up. Did a bit of out and about around town, traffic was light, I gather it was a school snow day. When we decided to go to a movie on Monday night, at a huge multiplex in the old hockey temple the Forum, we had a private screening, just the two of us in the theater. Tuesday morning headed back home to the country, once I got outside Montreal the highway was clear and dry. Made it back in time for choir practice with my other choir :)

Stained sealed floor in dining room area.

Windows and other stuff.

September 30, 2010

As I was finishing the stucco including a 3rd coat on the east, north and west walls of the garage/workshop, I was finalizing my list for ordering windows. Got the final decisions made and order in to Northstar on the Tuesday after Labor Day, and they were scheduled to arrive on Sept 28. So I set about getting the window frames ready removing the strapping and screws on the outside which were there to make them relatively airtight over the winter and removing plastic and staples on the inside panel of vinyl. Also a bit of work with the right angle grinder and diamond wheel to even out the edge of stucco where it joins the window frame. Anyway, got it mostly done by midday of the 27th and made my weekly trip into London for choir practice with London Pro Musica, and visits to the tool repair place to order a replacement part for my compressor, as well as to get a box of light fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs to get some real lights hooked up and usable.

I had been warned that the truck from Northstar would be arriving at the crack of dawn (actually before dawn) and was up and waiting at 6 AM, they arrived at 6:15 and had all the windows in my garage in just under 20 minutes. I had arranged to have Adam Kaufman, who did my drywall, come and help me install windows on Wednesday, so I tied up the loose ends on prepping the window frames on Tuesday, and got a good supply of deck screws, shingle shims, caulk and low expansion foam for the installation exercise. It rained off and on all day, and at supper time Adam called to delay the help till Thursday, which was not a problem for me. So Wednesday, more prep work on frames, and cut up a half sheet of 1/4 inch plywood to make base shims to lift the bottom of the window off the bottom of the framed opening to be able to spray the foam in and seal all the gaps. I then set about installing the first two windows, the two smallest ones, that I could manage alone. Pictures below of the windows in the garage, and the two installed windows in the kitchen overlooking the screen porch and breezeway.

September 28, Looking at the really big windows, nearest the camera 68 inches tall, by 76 inches triple glazed. The slightly smaller ones nearer the garage door are only 68 x 52.

The long stack are the small windows 44x28, the tall ones are 68x28

Looking at the small big windows, two pictures, and three picture over awning windows for ventilation.

September 29, the initial two windows installed in the kitchen.

Thursday September 30 I was out removing plastic film and staples from window frames in preparation for the arrival of Adam Kaufman and his helper Kieran. A little after 8 AM they showed up and a very busy day began.The two biggest windows are in the garage and workshop, and those were the first to go in. They then completed the rest of the south wall of the garage and went on to put in all the smaller windows on the east, west and north walls.

All windows on south side of garage/workshop installed.

WIndows on north side of garage installed.

Adam and Kieran putting the last of the big windows into the kitchen/dining room window frame.

Positioning the window over the shims.

Now check the level and centering and screw it to the frame.

Fastening the window in place.

The last set of windows to be installed, frames ready.

Kieran placing the shims and checking for a level base.

Installing the last window, in the solar chimney. Kieran on the roof and Adam inside.

The chimney window in place.

Checking level and centering the window.

Fastening the screws.

Looking out the Dining room windows.

Looking out the master bedroom windows.

Panaromic view of house with windows from the north side.

Looking at the installed windows from the southwest.

 

Stucco, stucco stucco, playing in the mud on the outer walls.

July 22, 2010

On Wednesday July 14, I had a dental appointment in London and got myself another 5 gallons of drywall primer as well.  The following 2 days let me finish up the priming in the garage/workshop drywall and then I spent a day getting all my mortar mixing gear ready for the stucco application.   On July 17, I put the first stucco to wall on the southeast corner of the the garage.   The following day all of the the south wall was completed, and the next day the west wall around the corner to the north face.   I then took a day to get more portland cement for making up my stucco mix.

July 17, the whiter cured stucco on the corner was applied, the darker grey in back applied the day after.

The rest of the south wall stucco applied for the first coat.

July 19, west wall stucco scratch coat done.

Northwest corner of garage, scratch coat done.

I had an odyssey tracking down my preferred brand of cement.   In the work last summer on the surface-bonding cement I discovered that one brand  Essroc made in Picton, ON was notably lighter in color when it was cured.  This was a definite desired factor in the final visible surface.   I got that batch of cement quite by accident at the TSC store in Strathroy, ON when my usual source in Lambeth was running out at the end of the summer.  Normally the TSC stores supply Quickcrete products, but their supplier couldn’t keep up with demand and they had a few pallets of the Essroc brand.   When I went back to try and get more this Spring, it was a black hole, nobody knew  “nuttin”.   So I called the manufacturer, who told me they supply  Lowes stores, but after calling the three stores closest to me, they all only had Quickcrete.    So I chased the manufacturer again, and after harassing the rep’s voice mail a couple times finally got a real line on a relatively near location that had their product, the Timbr Mart in Wyoming, ON.   So on a Saturday morning  July 10, I called them just to make sure they had a good stock, which they did.   Then I planned a looping trip to pick up 20 bags of my preferred Essroc for the finish coat, and 12 bags of Quickcrete from the TSC in Strathroy, which was $2.00/bag cheaper, and quite OK for the scratch coat.    I was astounded to find that the store closed at noon on Saturday,  and figured I would just continue and now get 20 bags of TSC product.   Just to show how perverse the universe is, TSC only had 9 bags in stock, so I got a raincheck for the extra 11 bags I wanted.   About a week later they called to say new stock had come in, so on Tuesday Jul20, I took a rest day and did the loop again, this time successfully 21 bags of Essroc and 11 bags of Quickcrete.   Got home and loaded it all (2816 lbs)  onto pallets in the garage bay to keep it dry so not a real rest day :)

Wednesday  July 21. another good day on the stucco sprayer, completed the north wall of the garage and around the corner to where the meter panel lives.   That will be a painful bit of work to do the stucco behind the panel, but I expect that wall will be finished by Thursday night, and then it will be on to put up all the stucco mesh on the house in preparation for the scratch coat there.

July 21, north face of garage scratch coat done.

Around the corner to the meter panel.

Just a comment about working with stucco/surface bonding cement.   Because the mixture has a relatively high lime content, which is necessary for its waterproof nature,  it is quite corrosive before it cures.   I wear long sleeves and nitrile gloves followed by rubber gloves with gauntlets, safety glasses and a respiration mask.   I still end up getting some of the stuff on my wrists, mostly the right one which is the hand I use most for  cleaning the mixer blades, or any other intervention which is likely to open a gap between glove and sleeve.   Leaves a nasty “burn” especially if you don’t notice it immediately and don’t wash it off quickly.  If it is partially “cured”  on the skin I find it takes a hand scrubbing brush and soap to really get the stuff off, and then polysporin and lanolin to get it to heal quickly.   The best thing is NOT to get it on your skin.  In spite of the protection, still get some splatter in my beard and hair, which makes for some less than pleasant activity to remove it when it is partially cured.

As predicted, the scratch coat on the garage was finished on Thursday, although because that was the sunny side in the morning I didn’t start till about 3 pm, so the last mixer load was applied in near darkness after 9 pm.

Finished! The east wall of garage has its scratch coat done.

I had a flakeout day after finishing the scratch coat on the garage, and then went at the preparation for stucco screen on the house. I had learned from my experience on the garage walls that the flatter the foam base the easier it is to get good stucco penetration of the mesh and bonding to the foam. So I set about doing a more rigorous job of shaving off the lumps and bumps of the foam. Also then put up my fastening rail at the top of the wall made of of 1×3 strips of treated wood, screwed through the foam at the top to the nailing plate just under the butts of the trusses. A dirty job with the shaving, using a right angle grinder with a 4 inch diamond blade previously used for cutting concrete blocks. May seem counter-intuitive, but of all the cutting discs and wire wheels I tried this seemed to give the cleanest even shaving and less blowoff than the alternatives. Still a dust mask, safety glasses, and long sleeves sort of job.

Any way after a couple days of this sort of work I had all the wall except the screen porch prepared, and got to actually hanging the mesh. Like the garage the entire south face is covered with diamond mesh steel stucco lath between the window and door frames. By Friday July 30 early afternoon I had the whole south face and a good start around the corner on the west face with the mesh in place. Since I needed to get more lime and diamond mesh to finish the job, I made an excursion into London to resupply. Called my lime supplier Complete Building Supply because I remembered from last summer that on holiday weekends they would close at 4 PM and lucky I did because the were due to close, but waited for me get there about 4:10PM. The got my diamond mesh Home Depot, and as usual checked Costco when I was getting my propane tanks refilled. They had a really nice Moen bathroom vanity faucet at an incredibly good price and I bought one. I didn’t realize how good the price was till I checked a comparable Moen product at Home Depot then went back and got 2 more so have the faucets for all the bathroom vanities.

Saturday I worked onward on the west wall and by quitting time had the mesh done up to the northwest corner.

July 29, Stucco mesh on south wall of house complete.

July 30, around the corner a start on the west wall stucco mesh.

July 31, Stucco mesh on west complete to northwest corner.

As I was working away diligently on the stucco mesh, I was checking on my back-ordered water heater vent, and put in an order for more of the PVA fiber which use for the stucco mix which is only available in the USA. I had been waiting for months for the replacement part for my cement mixer, I had worn out the ring gear stamped into the bottom half of the mixer barrel. It had to be ordered from supplier in China so took a long time to arrive (Think “a slow boat from China” with music :) ) The folks at Harbor Freight were less than completely informative about the shipping details even though I harassed them a couple times. Anyway, I also harassed the plumbing supplier, about when the back order was coming and wonder of wonders, that morning it was shipped, so I was tracking the UPS progress of the packages, which arrived at the Blue Water Ferry in Marine CIty, MI on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and about an hour after there was confirmed delivery of the second package headed off to the border in Sombra, ON. The ferry there has a package receiving service, they accept them on the US side and bring them across for $5 per package, where you pick it up and take it through customs and pay the tax and duty if there is any. When I got there and got the two packages I expected, the deck hand grumbled that I had another package that had been there almost a month. It turned out to be my cement mixer part, which I could have used much earlier, since I am using a borrowed machine in the meantime. All in all a productive trip. Got back in time to still do useful work on the stucco mesh. The end result was that by Friday night the whole house was covered with mesh and it was time to get to work on making up the stucco mix I would need for the scratch coat on the house. Pictures below of the final walls of mesh.

August 4, complete mesh on the north wall.

August 5 , entry door and wall mesh complete.

August 6, the circle is complete, the last walls in the screen porch have stucco mesh done.

After finishing the mesh installation, I set about mixing the dry stucco ingredients and with a few days work had 77 batches made up. I took a day to run into London to get some cement color pigment and settled on iron oxide, ocher to tint the final coat of stucco. I also picked up a 20 gallon air tank to hook in series with my compressor to increase the volume of air I can expel when using my stucco sprayer. On Thursday morning August 12 I was ready to go. I put in three good days, was planning on getting more brick sand from my aggregate supplier early on Saturday, but discovered they are not open all weekend, so ran out of sand by the end of the day. An enforced holiday on Sunday, to give a little time for the stucco burn on my right forearm to heal :( Monday morning will get a trailer load of sand and be back at it.

August 12, House stucco begun, part of south wall complete scratch coat.

South wall scratch coat complete.

Around the corner to the west bedroom window.

Scratch coat complete on the west wall.

Around the corner to the north wall.

Experiments in putting varying amounts of red oxide colour into a mixer load of the stucco. One measure (from my whey protein powder package) These panels will be covered by the final finish coat. Use this colour ratio to have a pink house :)

Half a measure of red oxide, not quite so pink.

One third measure. This one has the least cure time, so need another day to see what the colour will really be. This looks pretty close to what I would like the stucco to look like, just a hint of red, not the hard grey.

August 16 ,Monday morning I got my trailer load of sand, and got a good start on the north wall. Took most of Tuesday morning to make up stucco batches with the one bag of white portland I had from last fall when I was coating the interior walls of the house to get the white plaster effect. This let me make up 3 mixer loads of pure white portland, and 3 loads of 50/50 white/grey portland. One mixer of each of those groups also had 1 teaspoon of red oxide in the mix. The remainder of the pure grey portland on the rest of the scratch coat had 1 teaspoon of red oxide in the mix. The result is my wall of many colours, which as it now has been decided will be covered with the pure white portland mix for the finish coat. I had a short section that was completed on Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday finished the north wall. Took the day on Thursday to clean the screen porch area where I was mixing stucco batches, and tarped the floor to protect it from the fallout from the stucco process. Andrew from Hamilton arrived at noon to have a look at the house, especially the Wakefield Bridge shingles. He also gave me hand the rest of the clearing out the tarps in the house and sweeping up the fallout from the drywall operation. Friday was a long day, but got the last section entry door and screen porch wall scratch coat done. My poor compressor started to “fatigue” as the end was in sight. The thermal cut-off would shut it down and after a cool-down would run for a while again shorter and shorter till it just wouldn’t reset. Finally went down the street to my neighbor Ron who just finished building his strawbale house and borrowed his compressor to finish the last 4 mixers of stucco.

Below are pictures of the last stage of the scratch coat.

North wall of house scratch coat, with color test sections.

North wall with additional cure time, closer to real color of stucco.

Thursday August 19, East end of the north wall, detail of corner.

Details of the entry door.

Scratch coat complete on screen porch walls.

August 22, Longest cure time on the scratch coat of garage/workshop.

August 22, longest cure time on south wall of house scratch coat.

After finishing the scratch coat and evaluating the color samples, I made a trip into London and purchased 20 bags of white portland cement. I also called the Timbr-Mart folks and found I could return the 18 bags of Essroc portland which turned out to not be as white as I had perceived last summer when doing the SBC coats. Then I set about mixing up the dry formula for the stucco as shown below.

Stucco dry formula mixing area on the screen porch with scales and measuring cup.

The "dry" mix, cement mixer used to blend the white portland, PVA fiber, and mason's lime, which was then bagged in double plastic kitchen catcher bags.

Stockpiled mixer batches in the garage bay.

Looking out the garage door, stockpiled batches and remaining white portland for future mixing.

Saturday morning, August 27, I started putting the finish coat on the west wall of the garage/workshop working from the edge of the most southerly window to the north. That day I completed the finish coat along the north wall to the edge of the garage door.

Saturday August 27, FIrst wall on garage workshop with finish coat. Tarp hung to protect against sun to control curing speed.

Looking back behind the tarp on the west wall of workshop.

North wall also finished on Saturday, no direct sun so no tarp.

The east and south walls presented a problem because they catch direct sun throughout the morning, and on the south for a good part of the afternoon. As a consequence I delayed application till I could work in the shade. This was for my own protection as well as the stucco, since temperatures were in excess of 30C with a humidex in excess of 40C, and I had to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as a mask and safety glasses to protect myself from the stucco splatter. The net result was that work finished on the east wall at 10 pm on Sunday with a work light, and at 9 pm on Monday with the south wall which I started at about 4:30pm.

Sunday finished east wall, and tarped because of direct sun all morning.

Monday, finished south wall and tarped to protect from sun.

Northeast corner of garage/workshop with a few days of cure time.

South wall with a couple days of cure time.

North wall with 4 days of cure time.

I determined after finishing the garage/workshop using 34 mixer loads that I would need at least 60 mixer loads for the house based on the ratio I had with the scratch coat. So to be safe ran into London and got 2 more bags of white portland and another bucket of Acryl 60. The weather has be truly evil with the high temp and humidity, so I took a day on Wednesday Sept 1 to go to Port Huron, MI to shop for doors and windows. I came back with good bargains on a patio door for the house to screen porch boundary and a door for the living room to patio/deck exit. Am awaiting price quotes on custom windows, but not optimistic, preliminary calcs seemed indicate they are cheaper only with stock items in standard sizes which they purchase in large lots. For example Lowes had 32 and 36 inch door of interest but could have used a 34 inch door which would be special ordered. Special order for the same spec door almost doubled the price. The curious thing is that the two doors I purchased are actually manufactured in Canada, but I can get them much cheaper even with the currency exchange than I can at my local building supply.

Patio door from my excursion to Port Huron.

Living room door to patio/deck next to its opening.

West side of garage/workshop with 1 week of cure.

North side of garage/workshop stucco with 1 week of cure.

East side of garage/workshop one week of cure in the morning sunshine.

The day after my return from Port Huron, I spent the next 2 days preparing the walls on the west and south sides of the house for stucco, using a diamond wheel in my right angle grinder. This was to trim down and excessively large sharp trowel marks i the scratch coat and to clean up around the window frames so the finish coat will make clean match to the frames. On Sunday stuccoed the West wall, used my corn broom to texture the surface and blend the edges between mixer batches. On Monday, Labor Day, I finished the South wall, and on Tuesday took a “slack” day to prepare walls and window frames on the north and east walls. This was also to protect myself from the heat as the temp was again over 30C. On Wednesday things had cooled down and I finished the walls in the screen porch around the corner to the top north side of the entry door.

On Thursday worked on the long north wall with help from my neighbor Ron of the strawbale house. I mixed and sprayed stucco, and troweled the top third of each section on the ladder. He troweled the bottom 2/3 and “broomed” it all. We started at about 9AM and worked continuously to finish the wall by 3:15PM. Cleaned up the tools and went to our respective homes eat and recover.

Sept 7, West side of house finish coat of stucco with 2 days of cure.

Labor Day labors, south side of house finished, behind the tarp to control cure rate.

September 8, completed finish coat on screen porch walls.

September 9, the circle is complete with finish coat on the north wall.

Corner by the entry door, where the last section made contact with the rest of the finish coat.

September 21, South face of the house with more cure time.

Southwest corner of the house with more cure time.

North side of the house with more cure time, getting whiter and more uniform.

New entry door to the workshop from the breezeway. The old one is now between the garage and workshop.

French doors to the screen porch from the outside.

Garage door installed. Plywood mask still in place because more stucco is likely here.

French doors to screen porch from inside.

Great room door to patio installed.

Natural gas manifold installed and pressure checked for stove, water heater, and dryer.

Ceilings and more

May 30, 2010

After getting past my electrical inspection, and hatching the birdies :)   I pressed forward with putting the strapping on the bottom of the trusses for installing drywall for the ceilings.   The sequence will be to install strapping, install and tape the ceiling drywall, spray the polyurethane foam in the ceiling.    Then and/or at the same time the stucco lathe and plastic mesh will be installed on the outer wall, and the first coat of stucco sprayed and troweled to seal in the insulation and protect it from the sun.
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Spring has sprung!

April 16, 2010

The unseasonal warmth has persisted with brief interludes of more typical early Spring temperatures for the region. The result is that I have been able to finish the putting the steel shingles on my roof. The last part of that was shingling the top of the solar chimney. I delayed going up there after discovering that all the pollen, and leaf bud fallout from the big trees around my lot rendered the roof quite slippy, which was a significant deterrent. After a couple good rains, the traction on the roof was acceptable, and I had at it. I had also been ruminating about a safe way to get from the roof ridge up onto the top of the solar chimney, and the final successful plan was to screw 3 2×4 pieces to the corner of the chimney to form a sort of ladder so I could climb up onto the flat top. It worked well, and I got the shingles on, and caulked around the edges and back down as it was getting to quitting time. So I left my ladder in place, knowing I would need to remove it later. I decided it would be fun to get pictures of me up there at the top turret of my castle, so got my neighbor down the street to come and photograph me as I was up there to take down the ladder steps. Below are pix showing the roof finished status and me on top.

April 15, On the roof, to remove the temporary ladder.

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In the bleak midwinter

February 26, 2010

After getting the two big surfaces of the roof shingled, the weather became more persistently winter-like in spite of the local reputation for being the “banana belt” of Ontario.  I worked at getting the plywood skirt on the heels of the trusses.  This has two functions,  1) to provide additional secure attachment (hurricane ties) of the trusses to the nailing plate which is bolted into the reinforced concrete bond beam at the top of the wall and 2) to reduce the wind infiltration over the top of the wall.  In the long term, a space must remain for air circulation in the attic up to the ridge vent on the peak of the roof, but I had enough scrap plywood from the roof deck process that I put temporary closures of the space between the top chords of the trusses held in place with a single short deck screw.

January 11, Plywood skirt on the truss heels south side of the house, air gap at top between top chords.

West face of house, plywood skirt plus temporary covers of the air gap.

North face of house, boundary between finished plywood skirt with temp panels, and fully open section.

February 6, first wall frame section for garage/ workshop bathroom in place and plumb. Next section being assembled.

The long section of garage/workshop wall with door opening a 6 inch plumbing wall ready to erect.

4 inch framing of bathroom walls in place.

The entire framed bathroom walls.

Edge of bathroom walls to left and rest of workshop/garage wall and door.

Bridging the trusses, so all firring strips for drywall go in the same direction.

In January I discovered that there was some cracking of the concrete slab floors in both garage and house. On the advice of my cement contractor I guessed it was due to freezing under the slab stressing the concrete by lifting on it. It was recommended that I use heaters to keep the floor from freezing deep, to prevent more cracking and I had purchased a multi-fuel (kerosene/diesel fuel) space heater from my neighbor Ron, down the street who is finishing a strawbale house, and was loaned another by my plumbing electrical contractor. Now whenever the temperature went substantially below freezing I run the heaters to keep the floor temp above zero. When we had our really cold spell, I had not finished closing in the top of the wall so the wind whistled through, and I added a second layer of poly film on my windows. That also helps to keep the interior warmer, even without insulation or real heating. The cement guys assessment is that the cracks will largely disappear when I stain and polish the floors.

I continue plugging along at the interior framing, now working on the walls in the main house.

February 10, Floor cracks.

Floor crack and kerosene/diesel fuel space heater.

February 19, North wall of master bedroom with entry door and door to walk-in closet framing complete.

Looking down the hall at bedroom walls and closet framing.

February 23, West wall of master bathroom with closet door of guest bedroom.

Framing for master bathroom walls complete.

Complete framing of Master bathroom walls, and machinery room wall.

February 25, Framing of half-bath and Washer-Dryer alcove complete.

February 26, Beginning to frame the kitchen wall dividing it from the entry hall.

Kitchen wall framing complete, with door to the entry hallway.

Looking up the hall from the front door, to the half-bath and entry door to the great-room on the left.

March 2, Entry closet framing finished.

Guest bedroom closet bulge into master bath, framing finished.

March 3, Pillar to ceiling for support of cabinet island and power and switch feeds.

Outer shell of the cabinet complex dividing kitchen from great room.

March 4, framing for cabinet structure complete, pantry/closet on nearest end.

Framing on the east kitchen wall, provision for plumbing, electrical, and vents.

On the weekend of March 7-8, the weather began to get very Springlike, and I began to prepare for roof work again. On Monday got to it seriously finishing the prep work screwing partial shingles to top the roof to where the roof vents were to be attached. Then finished the second layer of flashing on the solar chimney and installed the ridge vents on either side of it. Then went on to finish the final shingles of the west face of the house roof and installed the flashing at the junction to the wall of the gable.

The weather continued spectacular all week with temps 15-18C, and I went on to install the valley flashings on the breezeway and installing the shingles on the east face of the house roof. If the weather holds, will be able to finish all the steel shingles in a few more days.

March 11, solar chimney flashing, ridge vents, and west roof face and flashing complete.

View from the north showing ridge vents and flashing on solar chimney.

Valley flashing on garage end of breezeway in place.

Valley flashing on house end of breezeway and partial completion of east face shingles on house roof.

March 17, Shingles on east face of house roof complete and joined to valley flashing.

March 19, West face of garage, shingles complete flashing installed on gable.

Friday, March 19 was the end of the early Spring record high temps through the region. I completed the east face of the garage/workshop roof and called it a day. Saturday it was back down to near freezing with a brisk northerly breeze. Tried to get on the roof and continue, but I had gotten soft with a week of balmy weather and decided it wasn’t worth the pain. Supposed to be back to similar temps next week, so maybe finish the breezeway roof then.

March 26, South face of breezeway most shingles in place.

Drip edge and first two courses of shingles on north face of breezeway.

Another day and 3 more courses of shingles. Slow going blending to the flashing and ridge trim.

April 1, no fooling, all shingles on the breezeway and on the roof surfaces except for the top of the solar chimney. South face pointing at the garage.

South face of breezeway looking toward the house.

North face of breezeway looking complete.

Beginning interior framing, temporary windows, and shingles, shingles, shingles.

November 14, 2009

On Wednesday November 11 the framing crew finished what I had contracted them to do. The deck was complete on the breezeway, and interior framing of the solar chimney and the ends of the cathedral ceiling was complete. I had started the shingle preparation, putting the starter edge on the south face of the garage roof, installing the ridge caps for the hips on its edges, and putting the EaveGuard on the south edge of the roof. Then began screw shingles into place. Slow process as I am learning the procedure and with expensive materials don’t want to make mistakes. Pretty much every morning has been a slow start for roof work this week, with frost or dew on the roof that has to dry off before it is safe to be on the surface, and with the short daylight hours too dark to work safely past 5:30PM.

By Friday shutdown time I had nearly completed the shingles on the south face of the garage, and had starter edge on the east roof face and the EaveGuard in place too. More sunny days forecast, so hoping to move right along, and pick up speed as my confidence in managing the steel shingles builds.

The interior of the house is now starting to look and feel like a house. I am very pleased that sun patterns are happening exactly as designed. FIrst light in late Fall winter comes into the dining area, and warms up the whole great room all the way to where the back wall will be. The solar chimney has been framed inside, and has plywood panels in place defining how it will bring light into the back of the great room, and exhaust hot air in summer. Pictures below show light patterns early morning, and again about noon.

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Dining room, great room sun at 8:00 AM.

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Master bedroom, sun at 8:00 AM

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Great room, sun at about noon. Note the solar chimney above the sweeper.

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East face of garage roof, starter edge and EaveGuard in place.

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Friday, November 13, South face of garage shingles nearly complete.

I continued to work systematically whenever the roof was safe, to install the shingles. Unfortunately the occurrence of either frost or dew on most mornings, meant that I could not be on the roof till near noon and some real rain also slowed things down. With the short days, the effective work day was cut in half. In the mornings when the roof was not accessible I put my plastic window substitutes in place, to keep the wind and weather out of of the interior. Now have all except the entry door in the house, and the two doors in the garage covered tightly. The lower temperatures also take their toll on my hands and joints, hot showers help but summer is much more fun!

November 23, Garage roof south, east, and north faces complete, ridge vent installed.

View of roof from the north, garage roof shingles and breezeway underlayment.

FIrst shingles on the house roof, west face of roof begun.

Still working away as the weather permits on the shingles, a good day’s output after the roof drys off, is three courses before it is too dark. The set of pictures below are status completed just before the snow and rain came through on December 8 and the cold and wind set upon me. I have continued to work at getting the garage door framing completed for installation of the insulated overhead door, and reframing the small garage door so it will accommodate a 36 inch door. Praying for a warming trend with sun and low wind :)

December 8, South face of house roof. This side dries off fastest in the morning, so it is where most progress is made.

Shingle status on the north face of the house roof.

Looking past the NE corner of the house at the breezeway and garage. Note the plywood sheets keeping snow out of the garage bay.

Shingle status on the west face of the house roof.

Continued to plug away, at roof when it was dry and to hang the entry doors to the house and garage. The overhead door will wait till after New Year. I now have the south face of the roof complete except for the last course of shingles from the solar chimney to the east. This is because I have flashing to install around the chimney base, then the last of those shingles will go on. Yesterday (December 18) I got a good session in the afternoon on the north face of the roof. Unfortunately overnight there was light snow so waiting for melting and drying to see when I get on the roof again. Pictures of progress below.

December 19, South face of house roof complete to the ridge except for one course from solar chimney to the east end.

Entry door to the house, hung and sealed.

Looking down the breezeway at the garage entry door, hung and sealed.

North face of house roof, shingles up to the top of the hip on the east end.

I was offered a good price on a kerosene construction heater by my friend Ron who built the strawbale house just down the street from me. I fired it up in hopes that the heat would warm the roof and speed the melting and drying. Unfortunately the efficacy was minimal, but the sun came out and I systematically used a broom with an extension handle to brush the snow off. The sun then did its thing, and I was able first to get more shingles on West face, which got direct sunlight. The north face dried and the humidity was such that Wednesday morning December 23, it was safe to get on the roof before 10 AM. so I got a lot of shingles on. Christmas Eve day was similarly good conditions and I was on the roof by 9 AM, and finished (with suitable breaks for food and warmth) a 5:30PM when it was too dark to be safe and accurate. Driving rain and wind overnight and all day on Christmas, a dusting of snow by Boxing Day morning. Pictures of the progress below.

December 23, South face of house roof complete to the ridge.

More progress on the west face of the roof.

North face of roof, shingles up to the top of hip on the East end, most of the overnight snow swept of to let the shingles dry off.

December 24, progress mid-day when I broke to warm up and have lunch.

Status at end of daylight on Christmas Eve, finished to ridge on the East end, 6 courses from top on the West end.

I continued to pick away at the west face of the roof when the snow melted, but kept getting more to torment me. Yesterday December 29, was dry and sunny, but very cold and windy. I brushed off snow with my extension broom, and let things dry off. Today it was dry, warmer and much less wind. I got on the roof for several hours and finished the north face of the roof to the ridge all the way to the west end, and all but one course of shingles on the west face up to the gable face. Will see what the weather brings tomorrow, supposed to be mild, but likely snow :( Pictures below of the latest status of north and west faces.

December 30, North face of roof finished to the ridge completely.

West face of house roof, one course left to the gable face.

Installing house trusses and finishing the roofs.

November 6, 2009

I picked up the Triflex roofing underlayment and Eavguard ice shield on Halloween, expecting I might be able to prepare the roof on the garage for the steel shingles which were ordered on Tuesday, and maybe arriving on following Tuesday. Then went over the installation manual from Wakefield Bridge, and it was not clear the sequence of applying Triflex and Eaveguard. So had to wait till Monday to get clarification from the roofing guy before moving ahead. It turns out that the Triflex is installed first, then the starter shingles, and over that the Eaveguard. So set up my ladders and scaffolds around the garage, peeled off the tarpaulin and started putting on the Triflex. My neighbor across the street Richard, came over and gave me a hand, and we got the north and south faces of the roof covered and then the rains came chasing us wet and bedraggled off the roof.

Tuesday morning, Nov 3 the crew to intall the trusses arrived, but the big crane was not available that day, so they put the master truss in place by hand, aligned it vertically as the reference plane, installed the hips and jacks on the west end of the house, and put the plywood deck on that small section of the roof. Then we went to the east end of the house and set about construction the beam array which will support the roof over the screen porch. This consisted of 4 6×6 treated wood posts supporting firbrolam beams that are the base for the jacks which form the corner and eastern edge of the roof. The engineered beams are enormously strong, but also very heavy, the long one weighed nearly 400 lbs. We got it finished and properly braced, and the rains arrived again and the crew dispersed, but with the promise to be there at 7 AM with the crane to put up the rest of the big trusses.

A point of pride; Tom Ritchie the framer complimented me on my wall and nailing plate alignments. The north and west wall were less than 1/16 inch out of perfect square on the long diagonal. As we did the whole set of big trusses, the heels were within 1/4″ of aligning perfectly to the edge of the nailing plate on the 30 foot span, so all my attention to detail in building the wall paid off.

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November 3, Lifting the master truss into place on the nailing plate.

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Bracing the master truss in the true vertical position, all the rest are referenced to this truss.

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Finishing up the alignment of the master truss.

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Setting and nailing the "jacks" on the west side of the master truss.

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Jacks and hips in place, starting the plywood deck.

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More work on the deck.

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Most of the deck in place.

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Deck and the fascia on the gable complete.

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Fibrolam beams and 6x6 posts set in place and braced on the screen porch slab, ready for the jacks to complete the roof profile.

Wednesday, November 4, The crane arrived minutes before 7 AM, set up and the crew was at it at full speed. Since the crane gets $200/hr, it was very useful that the trusses were going into place virtually perfectly with no need for any fiddles to make them right. When they were all in place and minimally cross-braced, the crane packed up and left and the crew set about getting the more permanent bracing in place and putting the plywood deck on the north face of the roof. Things were going great guns, until about 10:30 AM, when the rains descended upon us again. It was dangerous to be on the roof, and the crew had a job down the street, that was inside, so they went there, hoping the weather would break, but it was not to be.

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Wednesday, November 4, Picking up the first truss of the day.

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Headed for the nailing plate.

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Putting the first one in place.

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Set on the nailing plates.

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Moving along with the trusses.

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The last big truss in place, disconnecting the cable.

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Tying in the last truss, and the crane getting ready to go away.

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A bit of a curve in the bottom chord of the last truss, some adjustment required.

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My neighbor Lloyd surveying the work.

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Looking up at the cathedral trusses.

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November 5, Putting on the roof deck on the south face of the roof.

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Working on the deck, jacks over screen porch still visible.

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Gable on the west end of the roof complete.

Thursday morning dawned grey and threatening more rain, but by 10 AM it cleared and the crew showed up and went to work. They first installed the jacks over the east end of the house and built out the hips. Then they set about putting the deck on the south face of the roof. Not all done by the time they quit around 5 PM, but not much left to do. I worked through the morning measuring and cutting firring strips to attach 6 mil clear plastic over windows. This is to protect against overspraying of the polyurethane foam into the house and on the floor, and also to keep the wind and weather out. After lunch the wind was down a bit, so I was up onto the garage roof applying Triflex to the uncovered surfaces. Had to run over to McNaughtons and get more since I ran out, and now have enough to at least get a good start on the house roof as well. Finished the garage roof as it was getting dark, about 6PM. Good weather predicted for the next 3 days, so hopefully will get the Triflex on the house roof to keep the water out, and get a good start on the shingles for the garage.

Friday morning dawned cold and sunny. Frost on the ground, and on the roof. The crew arrived bright and early and set about putting deck on over the screen porch and working on the gable above it where they could put dry plywood. After the sun had been out a while they were able to finish the upper east end of the north face of the roof. When that was done they went at building the solar chimney, which which will give passive ventilation in the summer. They finished about 3 PM and I got started on putting the triflex on the north face of the deck.

All day lots folks driving past VERY slowly looking and wondering. Tom decided to pull peoples chain a little, asked if he could put a cross on the back of the chimney, and I suggested, put a phony machine gun on top. The final result was a silhouette of a soldier with a rifle, and a label “Lest we forget” since it is Remembrance Day this weekend.

When the crew dispersed, I headed up on the roof and before dark got Triflex on the first 12 ft of the north face. Good weather predicted tomorrow so maybe get the whole roof done if all goes well. Shingles for the garage will be delivered tomorrow, so maybe as start on them too. Need to work when the sun shines!

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Friday, November 6, most of the east end of the house has deck complete.

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Filling in the last bit of deck on the trusses.

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The last section of the deck going on.

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Putting the last piece of plywood in place.

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Laying the foundation for the solar chimney.

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Setting the corners on the framing of the chimney.

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The temporary bracing on the south side to keep the corners true.

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Putting the plywood deck on the top of the solar chimney.

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The framing of the chimney from the northeast corner.

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Nearing completion, putting the plywood fascia in place.

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FInished solar chimney viewed from the north, note the outline of soldier and gun on top.

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View of solar chimney from the south, with the window frame which will allow hot air to be vented.

Saturday was a mild sunny day and I got in a long day applying Triflex. Finished three of the four faces of the roof by dark, and was ready to rest my weary bones. Sunday morning was sunny but started with a thick ground fog which took a while to burn off. Headed off to church, and came back in the afternoon to dry roof and mild sunny weather again. Got up on the roof and by dark finished the remaining face of the roof. Was hearing the bagpiper playing down the street at the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the cenotaph.

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Sunday November 8, FInished putting Triflex underlayment on house roof view from the north side.

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View from the south side of the house.

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Remembrance Day recognition on the solar chimney.

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View from the north, house and garage with Triflex in place.

Monday morning bright and early the crew showed up and started work on the breezeway beam structure. A lot of thinking and discussion since only the rough outlines were on the truss plan. Really glad I had a person in charge with a lot of experience and a sense of pride in doing a good job.

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Monday, November 9, the first fibrolam beam in place for the covered walkway between house and garage.

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Second beam of breezeway in place.

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Setting the trusses on the breezeway.

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Attaching the fascia to the truss tails.

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Doing the creative framing to blend the two roofs gracefully.

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Putting the first plywood sheet on the breezeway.

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Much of the deck in place, the crew gone for the day.

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View from the south, most of plywood in place on the breezeway.

September 8, Wall building; the last stage begins.

September 10, 2009

I spent the Labour Day weekend, labouring and finished filling the remaining reinforcement cores on the West wall. On Monday began stacking the columns for the south wall of windows, forming them to the 6 course level above the bottom sill and putting in the rebar. On Tuesday, when I finished the forming and steel, thought I would finish pouring and vibrating the cement in the “half columns”, but ran out of “gas” (me, not the cement mixer) at about 9:45PM with 3 columns to go. Wednesday morning Tom Ritchie and two helpers arrived to put up the trusses on the garage. Tom is a a local framer, who for many years lived on the lot next door and had his water supply from what is now my well.

I was up an at it before they arrived hoping to be able to mix the last cement and get it in the columns while they were doing trusses, but it turned out they and the boom truck occupied the work area by the gravel pile pretty completely all morning so did other things to prepare. I had moved 75 blocks to another pallet out of the path where I have the masonry wall planned to divide the living room and master bedroom. Ended the day with the remaining cores poured, the base course of the bedroom wall set, and with excess mortar a lot of the chips and gaps on the east wall of the house filled.

Picture below show the benchmarks of the day.

The first truss being placed.

The first truss being placed.

Truss braced and forming the reference plane for the roof.

Truss braced and forming the reference plane for the roof.

Another truss in place.

Another truss in place.

Truss assembly complete, looking from the house entry door.

Truss assembly complete, looking from the house entry door.

Garage trusses complete, looking from the end of the driveway.

Garage trusses complete, looking from the end of the driveway.

Half columns of the south wall, southeast corner dining area.

Half columns of the south wall, southeast corner dining area.

Looking down the south wall from the inside.

Looking down the south wall from the inside.

Looking down the south wall from the outside.

Looking down the south wall from the outside.

Base course of blocks and rebar for the bedroom wall.

Base course of blocks and rebar for the bedroom wall.

Thursday, Sept. 10, installing the roof decking.

Thursday, Sept. 10, installing the roof decking.

Finishing nailing the last few pieces of roof decking.

Finishing nailing the last few pieces of roof decking.

My garage roof wearing a shower cap :)

My garage roof wearing a shower cap :)

Sunday morning, Sept 13, the end of block stacking is in sight!

Sunday morning, Sept 13, the end of block stacking is in sight!

A gift from my Perry MacDonald, my excavator, free, real dirt.

A gift from Perry MacDonald, my excavator, free, real dirt.

With the last cement pour, I figure out a foolproof way to cover the "keyholes" for rebar tying;   The next house :)

With the last cement pour, I figure out a foolproof way to cover the keyholes for rebar tying :( The next house :)

Sunday evening, wall stacked and rebarred to the edge of the master bedroom.

Sunday evening, wall stacked and rebarred to the edge of the master bedroom.

I took 6 days off from construction to help my son Rafael and his family move to Winnipeg from Toronto. Drove up and helped load the UHaul on Monday, and hit the road early Tuesday morning. Three days of shared driving with the truck and an auto carrier with their car. Did some unloading on Thursday night, but the bulk on Friday. Friday afternoon, his wife Meran arrived by plane with Sam the 3 year-old and Anastasia the new baby (4 weeks). Did some more unpacking on Saturday morning, and I was put on the plane back to Toronto mid afternoon, where I picked up my car and drove back to Newbury. I was back at it on Sunday, and on Monday finished the blocks in the south wall. Tuesday I finished stacking the interior masonry wall and did all the rebar insertions in preparation for the last cement pour for the wall columns. Pictures of the stacked walls Tuesday night September 22.

Tuesday Sept. 22, Stacking and rebar complete on South wall

Tuesday Sept. 22, Stacking and rebar complete on South wall

Stacking and Steel complete on interior masonry wall separating great room and master bedroom.

Stacking and Steel complete on interior masonry wall separating great room and master bedroom.

Looking at the walls and window of the master bedroom.

Looking at the walls and window of the master bedroom.

As usual my estimate as to how long it would take to do the cement pour was too optimistic. I finished the actual wall structure on Saturday Sept 26 with a rain interlude.

Saturday August 8, Starting the House Walls

August 12, 2009

After finishing the primary wall work on the garage/workshop, I did a bit of cleanup and and moved the remaining few blocks out and over to the house slab to begin constructing the major wall (the north wall) of the house. It became clear as I stretched my mason’s line that there were some adjustments needed to bring the wall coming off the foundation to a truly straight and level condition. This involved grinding up to a 1/2 inch off some blocks and shimming others to get things up to snuff. Was a tedious and dusty business, with all the cement dust flying and wearing my dust mask to keep the bad stuff out of my lungs. Summer also really arrived with temperatures 33-35C and the humidex of over 40C. Drank lots of water and produced lots of sweat! By 7 PM Tuesday the north wall had been fixed and two full courses of block above the base course were in place as shown below.

August 11, Tuesday night north house wall stacked two courses above base and ready for more rapid stacking.

August 11, Tuesday night north house wall stacked two courses above base and ready for more rapid stacking.

West wall at window sill level.Thursday, August 13, North and west walls stacked to window sill level, and part of the east wall is now at 2 courses above the base course.

West wall at window sill level.

West wall at window sill level.

North and West walls at window sill level, ready for rebar and cement in window sills.

North and West walls at window sill level, ready for rebar and cement in window sills.

Beginning of the east wall of the house.

Beginning of the east wall of the house.

This week, Monday August 17, I had another volunteer helping me. Nik Mueller a grade 10 student was an extra set of hands on Monday for putting up the nailing plates and header on the garage, and on Wednesday did yeoman duty cutting “half-blocks” for the window borders of the west wall. Next week will be here again for a couple days

Friday August 20, West Wall window sills poured, stacked to top of windows.

Friday August 20, West Wall window sills poured, stacked to top of windows.

Looking across the north wall at the west wall and scaffolds in place.

Looking across the north wall at the west wall and scaffolds in place.

Looking across the house from the east, all window sills poured.

Looking across the house from the east, all window sills poured.

Garage with garage door header and truss nailing plates in place.

Garage with garage door header and truss nailing plates in place.

Saturday, August 22, west wall and NW corner to first window, blocks to the top of window ready for framing.

Saturday, August 22, west wall and NW corner to first window, blocks to the top of window ready for framing.

Looking west along the north wall, blocks to top of window from entry door frame to first window.

Looking west along the north wall, blocks to top of window from entry door frame to first window.

Sunday August 23, north wall all halfway to top of window frames

Sunday August 23, north wall all halfway to top of window frames

Monday August 24, north wall to top of window, ready for frames, only 3 more courses for the east wall to the same level.

Monday August 24, north wall to top of window, ready for frames, only 3 more courses for the east wall to the same level.

Tuesday afternoon Aug 25, finished stacking east, west, and north walls to top of window frames. Beginning to really look like a house.

Tuesday afternoon Aug 25, finished stacking east, west, and north walls to top of window frames. Beginning to really look like a house.

Looking along the north wall.

Looking along the north wall.

The garage roof trusses arrived as well just as we were nearing completion on the house wall.

The garage roof trusses arrived as well just as we were nearing completion on the house wall.

Looking east out the entry door.

Looking east out the entry door.

August 29, Sunday, West wall stacked, all window frames in 3 walls, East end and West end of North wall stacked to top

August 29, Sunday, West wall stacked, all window frames in 3 walls, East end and West end of North wall stacked to top

Monday night August 31, North wall complete to top.

Monday night August 31, North wall complete to top.

East wall complete to top except for one course on top of entry wall. Tomorrow the door frame and rebar into the wall columns.

East wall complete to top except for one course on top of entry wall. Tomorrow the door frame and rebar into the wall columns.

Tuesday we finished the block stacking to the top of all three walls, and the door frame and lintel blocks on the entry door. Got started on cutting and bending the rebar for the vertical columns. Wednesday morning, the last day for my helper Nik Mueller who is back to school next week, we finished up inserting the rebar, including the horizontal bond beam, and tied all the connections with wire ties. He did the top on the bond beam while I did my “keyhole surgery” tying the vertical rebar into the stubs in the foundation. That afternoon we started the cement pouring into the vertical columns, lintels and bond beam. Started on the south end of the east wall, and by Thursday night had the entire east wall poured with attachment studs for the nailing plate in the bond beam as shown in the pictures below. Friday morning I start down the north wall.

Thursday Sept 3, East wall of the house stacked, cement in columns and lintels.

Thursday Sept 3, East wall of the house stacked, cement in columns and lintels.

Looking from the entry door down the north wall, next in the cement pour exercise.

Looking from the entry door down the north wall, next in the cement pour exercise.


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