Friday, February 26, 2010

Once Around The Block(ing)

     The first of several lumber deliveries came early one morning. There is so much lumber to this project that there isn't room to stack it all, so Ed has it divided up into sections. The first delivery included the rim joists for the basement, glue lams and floor joists for the first floor, and the OSB for the first floor...floor. The driver shows up with this stuff and decides where he wants to drop it. Now the OSB is on the bottom, and the longest floor joists were 37' long, and on the top. I think they do it that way because when you're building, the joists go in before the OSB goes on, so you work your way through the stack, top to bottom. Makes sense....
     The driver had a tilt bed on his truck. Ed says "How are you gonna unload that?"
     The driver says, "I just tilt it until I feel it start to slide, pop the clutch, and go like Hell."   I smiled because I thought he was kidding. He got in the truck, tilted the bed, stuff started to slide, he popped the clutch and hit the gas. Lumber hit the ground just like butter off a hot knife...and except for that horrible crunching sound, it all looked good.  Ed and I exchanged of  those Tracy/Hepburn glances. The driver jumped out of the truck, and as he ran to the back he says "Oh, that didn't sound good."

We looked it over as best we could, considering it was still tied together, and didn't think any more about it.
    Our neighbor, Rick has been working with Ed on this portion of the building. The next morning they started putting up the gluelams. Once again, the tractor earned it's keep.It picked up those gluelams as easy as anything, and lifted them into place. With Ed on the tractor and Rick on the ladder,it looked so easy!
Once the gluelams were in place, they framed in the stairs going from the first floor into the basement, and started putting the rim joists in.

First of all let me say, house plans don't come with a manual. I mean, there isn't anything that says "Do this step first. Don't forget to (fill in the blank). How do they know what comes next? It's a mystery.
Anyway, Rick and Ed lifted those rim joists up, carried them up the ladder and then stood them up on the edge. And it has to be straight.  And level.

At this point the whole goal for Ed is to get the OSB on and covered with vinyl sheeting before it rains, and he's working like a madman. The problem is that the cement work we had contracted is so badly out of level, that the basement now fills with about 100 gallons of water every time it rains. No, really...100 gallons. the basement floor was supposed to be sloped out the back door. That is now the highest point in the basement.
You've heard the term "pushing water uphill"? Two adults with pushbrooms can actually do it, but it takes an hour and a half. Ed is not happy. As soon as we get the building sealed up a bit more it will cease to be a problem, but in the meantime, every time it rains we spend alot of time just prepping to do the day's work.
Once the rim joists were up, the floor joists could go down. This was about the point where we realized that dropping lumber off a truck is probably not the best idea. The OSB is tongue and groove. And some of those grooves had lost their mojo. About a third of them had damage. Some of that could be used on perimeter of the building, but not all.

 And one of the floor joists was all chewed up as well. Ed thought he could use most of it as blocking, but it slowed him down when he really needed to plow ahead  at full speed.
It was a little creepy watching those guys hang the floor joists. They balance on the gluelams, with a 9' drop to solid cement (ok, 2" of rainwater and solid cement) and nail those things in. I decided to go inside the house and find something to do.

Once the floor joists were all in, they started cutting blocking. I think it was about 160 pieces of blocking, and nailed them in. Just the blocking took a day and a half. This wasn't one of those really fun jobs, like say...framing walls. The weather was changing, a storm was coming, and the OSB may not get down in time.
Ed re-read the instructions on the glue for the OSB. It says "May be used in water or frost." Cool! We're covered!

The next morning, it's raining pretty steadily. The wood is as slick as vaseline in the rain, but Ed and Rick decide to try to get some down anyway. They haul some OSB up there, get the nailgun out, and start pumping the glue onto the floor joists.  It laid there like a slug on a wet sidewalk. The rain picked up, and two things became apparent. #1. The glue wouldn't work with this much rain. #2. It was too darned slippery to work safely. Ed called it for the day and Rick went home.  Thursday morning  was a lot drier. Ed and Rick worked frantically all day to try to get it done. By 1:00 they had about 2/3 of it done. By 6:00, it was getting dark, the rain was starting up,
and they were soooo close to being finished. But they were too tired to work safely, and they still wouldn't get it all finished. Ed threw in the towel and realized the rain was just going to get inside once again.
It rained all day today . It is, after all, Washington. Tomorrow we should have some clearing. With any luck, Ed will be able to finish tomorrow, and we can get it covered in plastic. Monday we leave for a long-overdue  vacation, and the project will be on hold for several weeks. How will Ed stand it?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sand, Cement, and Swans

Once Ed and his helper got the darned ICF wrap to stick he wanted to make sure it stayed stuck, so he got some kind of tar-goop (a technical term) and painted all the seams. That stuff isn't going anywhere now! It is water sealed at the bottom, tacked at the top, and ready for the exterior perimeter drain.

The drain is a big perforated tube, covered by a fabric sock, that should let the water in, but keep the dirt out. Over the drain goes gravel, then another sheet of filter fabric. Once that filter fabric is on, there shouldn't be much that gets through but water.

We had a crew come in to deliver the rock and dump it in over the drain. The kid on the skiploader was fearless. Doesn't he know the edge of that dig is just waiting to crumble in? Apparently not because he whizzed around like a kid on a skateboard. But whiz he did, and they got rock all around. Ed got the fabric on top of that and they were ready to start loading sand into the inside of the basement for the floor.

   Ed decided to put the same type of drain down in the inside of the basement to vent any possible radon gas or other nasties. Radon is not common in this area, but it's not unheard of. Since the basement has no windows we thought it was easier to just cover all the bases now. If we found a problem after construction, it would be a monster job to fix. The sand they brought in is dredge sand from the shipping channel in the Columbia River, and it is very clean.. Ed did happen to spot and retrieve a very nice yellow agate though.

Once all the sand was loaded into the basement, they moved a cat inside and began moving it around. They compacted it down and screeded (is that a verb?) it level, and their job was done.

Wednesday, Ed got inside and put down water barrier plastic,  and with his helper, got the screed boards for the cement down. By the time they were done with that, evening was becoming night.
     The cement guys were due first thing in the morning, and darned if they weren't on time.  The basement floor took 26 yards of cement. That took a pumper truck, and two and a half cement trucks. We had locked up the cats in the barn, and Abby, the dog was subjected to a leash. The worst thing that could have happened was a squished pet, but the cement guys wouldn't have been very happy with a  cement covered dog. Frankly, I wouldn't have been thrilled either.  They worked on the finish until about 5:00 p.m., a hard day's work. Now if the rain will just  hold off for a few days...  Rain now will make the finish go all wonky.
     Ed says. " I need to sweep the debris off the top and tighten down those j bolts."
    "Ok," I replied, oblivious, "I've got some stuff to do inside the house." I was inside hearing the sound
of debris hitting cement. "Wow," I thought to myself, "He's really energetic about that sweeping."

  Then I looked. Sometimes it's just better not to. With the Grand Canyon on one side and Devil's Slide on the other, he's humming and as happy as a pig in mud.

  At this point there is the feeling that the immediate pressure is off. Ed and I took a day and drove over to the coast. We've been able to cast our eyes in a different direction and focus on the beauty around us. Sometimes the process of building can get so consuming that we forget to enjoy this wonderful place where we live. I saw wild swans for the first time. We're a little further from family than I would prefer, and we still have a lot of building to do, but we couldn't have found a more beautiful place to do it in.