Monday, July 13, 2009

Here's a look at the footer forms (perfectly square and level, yay!). This is looking down on the house from the north. Just some small additions/supports in a few joins this weekend, and we will see the concrete poured on Monday. Pray it doesn't rain!

We have broken ground!

I (Cory) have finally started building the house. It has been a productive couple of weeks. I was starting to feel a little disheartened that nothing construction-wise had happened in 2 months of being here. Then it all seemed to happen at once... I rented a backhoe to dig site drainage and house foundation, received 90 tons of gravel, put together a storage shed for straw, and stacked 300 bales of wheat straw that were baled specifically (dry and very tight) by an Amish farmer for our purposes. Carrie found some beautiful brand new kitchen cabinetry, kitchen and bathroom faucets, granite vanity top, toilet, sink, fixtures, a multitude of electrical plates and switches, as well as plumbing bits and bobs - all at a random warehouse sale of a kitchen and bath showroom that had gone out of business. And all of that happened in just one day!! Needless to say it's been all go since then, and we are very excited, and finally feel like we are actually doing it! To start with, I experimented with an idea I had to square the house. I simply drew the house perimeter (a rectangle) to scale on some plywood, then drew the diagonals out to the corners and pinned the board to the ground with a pin marking the center. Then I took a 26.5 foot tape and held it at the center pin. My brother walked to each corner until the tape lined up with my line and staked it down. We had it perfectly square in half an hour! The backhoe work, which took four days all up, was heaps of fun! I (with the help of a good family friend with 30 years experience on a backhoe) dug a 250 foot drainage ditch to keep the building site dry. As we are making a rubble trench foundation, I dug an 18 inch wide two foot deep trench around the perimeter of the house. I laid a few inches of gravel, then a 4 inch perforated pipe/french drain. Then I filled the trench in with gravel to ground level. So far, three walls have been filled. The fourth wall will need the water line, power, and drainage run under it before it can be filled. Once that's done I can start building up! In the pictures the foundation is actually straight, but dirt has gotten knocked around the edges and makes it look squiggly. I spent two days last week pulling nails out of my recycled 2x4's. I spent the next day cutting all the boards to length that I would need for building my bucks. Bucks are basically 2x4 ladders that create the walls for the house. I stacked my bales up and measured how tall and wide the bucks need to be. I decided to bolt the saw down and put blocks up to the correct measurement. That way I didn't have to measure each individual board. I just slid it up to the block and cut - 80 long boards and 200 short boards in one day. Yesterday, I built all the bucks needed for the exterior (and 2 interior) walls of the house. I was expecting this to take up to two weeks, but I made a template by building one buck and getting it square. Then I laid that down and screwed 2x4's along the edges to make a template. This way, as with the cutting, I didn't have to measure each board. Each buck fit together tightly like a puzzle. I borrowed my brothers nail gun and left over nails, and built all the bucks in six hours. I'm pleased to say they are all exactly the same. Pretty sweet. I really look forward to finishing off the foundation now so I can get all the walls up. Next step then... laying out the plumbing, and filling in the last side of the foundation.