Not there to see the walls go up

So I got back to California on Friday night, but Brian is still up in Washington.  At 7:30 this morning, he took me on a Facetime tour of the building and I saw that they had two more walls up and more on the way.

He says he took 20 pictures today and will send them.  They never came in the email, but he texted 17 pictures Wednesday morning.  Here are some of them.

House Elevations July.

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I am adding the pictures of the house design and original floor plan so that you may be able to get an idea of what you are looking at.  Floor plans JulyWhen I look at it, I know where everything is…imagine what it is like looking through bedroom or living room windows. Note that on the plans, north is on the bottom.

Just verifying measurements

Friday, June 21, was my last day before heading back to California for awhile. I was hoping to see some of the walls go up before heading to the airport at 3:30.

However, most of the morning was spent calculating where measurements were off and how they could be fixed.  There definitely were some differences between how the plans showed measurements and the actual house corner wall pieces that had been sent.  For instance, the plans show that not all the corner sections are exactly two feet wide but the ones we received were. Doug led the effort on wanting to adjust things as close to equal as at all possible, primarily working with Dan. Gab was not there Thursday or Friday as he had another gig.

Finally, I shared with Randy that I really would like to see a wall up before I left.  He agreed to move one in and felt it would be a good test of how the process would go.  Dan had to leave shortly after 1:00 as he had already put in his 40 hours for the week.  He only has one more week on the job and then he has taken a job at Power Trip, the solar company we are planning to use.  I hope he gets to work on our project when that happens.

acrossmeadowSince only Randy and Doug were left, that gave us a greater opportunity to help Randy, though had been doing little tasks all week.  We got to help unpack the first wall segment from the bundle and get it onto the forklift moving it from the area near one of the roads into the property, to the house site. approaching
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When he got to the site, he took the wall off the forks and changed it to hang from the folks instead.

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markingboltholesBrian then helped Randy get it into place.

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And we have a house with one wall…eventually there will be 14 on the octagons (not counting the two foot corner sections)….plus the two walls on the entry way and the three walls on the laundry/mudroom. finallyplacedThey anticipate getting those walls up on Monday and Tuesday while they still have that big machine rented….I wonder what it costs each day.  They also hope to get the roof panels on the octagons up in those two days. Then they will continue with the onsite framing.

Reaching for the sky: 16 roof beams went up, and up, and up….

Today was probably the most exciting day so far.  It started slow, as an observer, as Randy and his team are epitome of “measure twice, cut once”.  There was really nothing to cut, but they wanted to make sure all the measurements and angles were correct as the roof beams were placed between the center posts and the corner wall sections.

It is a pleasure watching how they work together.  They are kind and respectful.  They consult with each other and make most decisions by consensus while at the same time recognizing that Randy is ultimately the final voice and responsible for the job site.

droppingarockWhile they were working on bringing in and placing the roof beams, Ian Carter was back with his excavator to back fill all the moats around the building with the piles of dirt that had been removed in the first place.  readyforrockgardenexpansionHe was also picking out medium and large size rocks for later use and then smoothing and leveling.  He lifted rocks with the excavator like you would lift a piece of fruit on a spoon.  It was amazing watching him move the soil around like the excavator was an extension of his hand.  I don’t know whether all heavy equipment operators are this talented and careful.

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1beamsoverheadFirst Randy brought over one bundle of eight roof beams to be raised in the first octagon using a very large forklift that could extend way into the building.  Then they began setting the beams using a smaller motorized lift called a divot.  2beamdone 3placingbeamIt could easily be moved around the inside of the octagon and was able to lift the beam sufficiently that it could be swung into place on top of the center pole and then bolted down while the other end was placed in the opening on the top of the corner wall.

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For the last three beams which were more easily accessed from the outside of the building, they went back to using the large forklift.  This made the job go much faster.

Back again, multiple activities today

Because of getting involved with gardening, we were late for our 9pm flight….but because of weather in Chicago, the plane wasn’t there and they didn’t expect to go out until 1am. We rushed over to a 9:40 flight and got in it. We caught the last light rail at 12:10am and then the last ferry at 1:45am and I was in bed by 3:15 am. 

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The crew started arriving at 8:30. When I finally got up and went out, they were covering the slab to protect it from the gravel that they expected later this morning. IMG_6524It was also interesting looking into the cutout of where the center posts will go and realizing that I could see all the layers.IMG_6537
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IMG_6529They had begun shuttling loads of the house from the staging area near the road to near the house site, picking up with fork lift, placing it on a rented flat bed truck, driving it over, IMG_6533unloading it with the rented fork lift and trying to find places to put it that would not be in the way of the gravel coming in today and the excavator….who unfortunately can’t come until Thursday.IMG_6554
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IMG_6548Close to noon, the shooter truck arrived with gravel to cover drainage pipes in ditches around the house. The gravel truck was doing its thing with two of the Blue Heron crew, Dan and Gab.IMG_6551
house:greenhoujse.Meanwhile Randy was using the fork lift to bring the pieces along with Ryan Charrier. (Ryan is the son of a friend of ours Randy Charrier….and grew up doing all this construction stuff.) He finished about 3 and Ryan left and then they all were involved with placing the gravel and then cleaning up. IMG_6559
The planned next step was to get the excavator to push soil back in on top of the gravel filling the trench that is all around the house. They expected to do that before beginning the actual house construction, but since the excavator is delayed, tomorrow they will place the center posts and the two foot wall sections and posts.  They need to be able to brace them to the outside before they can do more.  They are hoping the excavator will come in early on Thursday so that they can proceed putting up the roof beams and perhaps some wall sections.  
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So the process began with the excavator on April 25 and here it is just short of two months later and the excavator returns for the final phase before the house construction actually happens.  When Topsider said that one of these homes could be built in two weeks, were they not counting all the prep work that goes into the foundation before you can even build. 

There is an animation from Topsider showing all the steps of construction for a single octagon on a slab
Friday they can continue, but I will be leaving by 3:30 to take a flight back to SFO.  Brian will stay here and I will come back in about 10 days.
Now all I have to do is add the photos…..
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The day the concrete pad was poured

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IMG_6446At 8am this past Friday morning, the concrete pumper and then the first concrete truck showed up.  There were a total of three truckloads and they were threw pouring by 10am.  I thought it was done and perhaps we could head to the airport earlier than planned.
IMG_6453But in watching the process, it took over four more hours of incredible teamwork on the part of Sound Concrete to finish preparing the pad.  IMG_6470I learned that when I saw them smoothing the concrete, they were not just improving the look but releasing water and heat from the concrete.  IMG_6483They did it over and over, first by hand, and then with an interesting machine.  They started talking about it being just too hot to have poured concrete….and it was only 70°

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I have lots and lots of pictures to post and may put them together as a video and post it on YouTube.  After all, how many people I know have got to witness that amazing process.

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We left the farm, getting a ride from Michael, just after 3:30 and barely made the 4:35 ferry, with unexpected traffic.  A leisurely light rail ride and made it to the airport at 6:10 and to the gate just before the started loading for a 7:10 flight.  We arrive in San Francisco at 9:30, for a total of six hours of travel.  We didn’t have to do the two buses and all the connections were tight and just right, so it is not going to get any less than that.