Archive for December, 2006

These walls are SOLID!

December 29, 2006

This update spans 12/23 – 12/28, and consists of 3 separate visits to the house – one of the most rewarding things about being a teacher is the time off! Because of this, I will separate it by date during the blog, so you can see the progression.

12/23: The walls are still hollow, but are now braced both inside and along the top of the walls. Two overviews of the house:

In the photos above & the one coming up, you will notice that the builders (Classic Structures, Inc.) use many 2×4’s. Woody said that he uses more 2×4’s than most other builders, for two reasons. First, these reinforce the walls to avoid blowouts once they start pouring. Second, bracing the walls ensures that we will have straighter walls. Here is an interior view of all the braces:

On this visit, we also noticed that we now have an electricity meter. More progress – huzzah!

We noticed that the window braces had holes in the bottom of them. At this point, we didn’t know what the holes were for, so we decided to take a picture and ask later. We thought that they might use these holes for pumping concrete into the part of the wall below the window. That, however, was not the case.

It turns out that these holes are used to release air, so that we don’t have air bubbles trapped inside our walls, and are also used for the builder to tell how the concrete is setting up once he begins pouring. He didn’t need to pour through the holes, because the kind of concrete that he used to fill our walls was made of very tiny gravel. The tiny gravel allowed the concrete to flow around the rebar and fill up the walls evenly. I will post photos of this later in this same post. Without further ado, the photo of the window holes:

We had passed yet another inspection, the lintel inspection, and the construction site had received a new delivery, of the 2nd floor trusses:


My father was in town for a visit, and Woody kindly agreed to let us watch him and his crew pouring the concrete in the walls. This was a red-letter day, as we finally now have a structure that even a hurricane would have difficulty knocking down.

When Woody was pouring, he held the tube from which concrete issued (the tube was operated by the pump operator), and he basically walked around and around the top of the house, filling in the walls evenly. Initially, the concrete was a bit wet, so the Eco Blocks started to bulge, but they remedied this problem without incident – no blowouts!

The concrete came from – where else – a concrete truck!

And it was pumped by a pump truck, through a very high boom, then down through the tube that Woody was holding.

Pump truck:

The boom from the concrete truck:

The liquid from the concrete was oozing a bit through the cracks in the blocks, so I captured that on film:

The concrete itself did not ooze between the blocks, so the cracks between these blocks were fine. When they were finished pouring, the truck driver washed the concrete out of the concrete truck:


We returned to check out the finished product: filled walls and dried concrete. While we were here, my father pointed out the spot to me where the concrete truck had washed off. Here, you can clearly see the difference between the concrete that was used to pour our floor & the concrete that was used to fill our walls. The concrete for the walls had to have very small gravel, so that it would spread out under the bay window & evenly fill in the walls around the rebar.

Here is the concrete used to pour the floor – notice the large pieces of rock:

Here is the concrete used to fill our walls – notice the much finer gravel:

We – and by we, I mean my father, since you are not getting me to climb up a ladder – took photos from the top of the walls. Here is one of the top of our walls; notice the hurricane clips for tying the roof down:

In this second photo, you can see the rebar which will be used to connect the 2nd floor with our first floor. The silver octagons are going to be used for the 2nd floor trusses, to help build our 2nd floor.

And here is one of that window hole, after pouring. The concrete has bubbled through a bit, but it can easily be knocked off with a hammer:

Woody told us that the next step now is attaching the 2nd floor trusses, so that they can continue raising our walls. Part of our house will be 2 story, and part will only be 1 story, which is why some of the walls have hurricane clips already, and some have rebar for the 2nd floor.

These Hollow Walls

December 17, 2006

We now have hollow walls, approximately 8-9 feet tall. It’s exciting to watch the house grow, so I will jump right to the good stuff: the photos!

First, an overall view of the house & the lot:

A closer view, so you can see the bay window (my favorite aesthetic feature):

An even closer view of the bay window:

And a view of the inside of the house, with scaffolding visible:

And, finally, a view of the electric box & inspection papers:

We do have yet another question about construction. I will consult the expert & post the answer as soon as I have it. Some of the Eco Blocks appear to be worn, with foam missing from parts, or corners worn down. In some cases, we can see right through the wall. My question is twofold: Will our insulation be of lesser quality, since it appears to be disintegrating? And how will the Eco Blocks contain the concrete, since they seem to be so fragile that they small styrofoam balls are blown away on the breeze? Pictures follow:

On our rambles around our subdivision this Saturday, we were lucky enough to catch sight of two gopher tortoises, the endangered species that had 4 empty burrows on our lot. Of course, being the doofus that I am, I closed my car door which caused both turtles to shoot down their hole. My husband was quick enough to catch a picture of the turtles’ departure, though:

And we have (very short) walls!

December 10, 2006

Can you call it a “house” when it’s only a floor & 2-foot high walls? My husband are in a dispute about this. He says, “Let’s go see the lot,” and I say, “Let’s go see the house.” He believes that to call it a house, when it only consists of a floor and partial walls is to give the building too much credit. I say that to call it a lot, when it clearly has a floor and partial walls, is to give the lot too much credit. Once it has a roof, we will both be calling it a house, so I guess until then, we will have this question of semantics.

The big news this week is that our walls have begun going up. They’ve not been poured yet, but the builders are laying out the ICF forms (Eco Blocks) in the shape of the walls. Here is an overview of the house:

You can see in these photos below that the blocks are being joined together, both with plastic ties and with rebar, in order to shape the walls of the house:

Before laying out the Eco Blocks, the builders needed to build models of all of the doors and windows. These models will allow them to construct the walls around the areas where these openings should be located, so that they don’t pour us one solid concrete structure with no way in or out.

Below is the model of the garage door:

And the model of the sliding glass back doors in the great room:

And the back door from the library:

Here you can see the forms for other windows, to be added later:

This wall is different from the others, because we will have a bay window here in the future guest room:

We also had some family visitors, and here they are using our “back door.”

The Scoop on the Rebar & the Puddles

December 3, 2006

OK, have checked with my father.  Apparently even a perfectly flat concrete slab can have up to 1/4″ puddles, because water doesn’t dry evenly on concrete slabs.  This is news to me, but he would know.

As for the rebar, it will be used to attach the soon-to-be-poured walls to the concrete floor.

Ladies & Gentlemen, We Have a Floor!

December 2, 2006

Well, a floor of sorts – it’s pretty much just a concrete slab, reinforced with rebar around the edges, but it’s the first actual, permanent, no-going-back step to construction of the house. This week, the floor was poured, and the foam blocks were delivered to the site. Woody says that now the longest part of construction is beginning: the pouring of our concrete walls into the foam blocks.

Photo of the slab from a distance, with foam blocks visible in blue & green wrappers:

Here is another photo of our slab. We’re somewhat concerned about the wet spots. Do they mean that the slab was poured unevenly? Will this cause problems down the line? Stay tuned for our next installment in which all of your questions will be answered (i.e. I will ask my father and then report back on his answers).

Here is a close-up of the rebar, which is jutting from the concrete at crazy angles. I’m not sure why this is, so, again, will check with my father and report back in the next installment.

Here is a close-up of the foam blocks, followed by a closeup of the label on the blue-wrapped packages of foam. As you can see, we are using Eco-Blocks, which are manufactured in Texas. This was our builder’s choice for the wall system, and we followed his advice.

Here are some nifty-difty labels and inspection sheets, from inside the dock box. First, two sheets for the pest control. Our foundation area (1700 sq. feet) was treated with 170 gallons of Demon Max, in order to prevent problems with termites or other nasty little pests. To me, 170 gallons of pesticide to cover 1700 sq. feet sounds like our area was thoroughly doused & drenched with chemicals, so I am not worried about future termite problems. That, and the fact that our walls will be made of concrete and foam, keep that worry from being anywhere near the top of my list of concerns.

As well as a copy of the county inspection sheet, showing that, thus far, we have passed a grand total of two – count ’em, two – inspections. Huzzah!

I am hoping that, next time I post, we will have the beginnings of our walls. I realize that this part of the process is the most time-consuming, but I am excited nonetheless!