The Straw House Blog


Foam and Wire

Sunday we were back at the land. This time we were laying the foam underlayment for the slab, and the wire that goes above it. The radiant in-floor heating coils will be tied to the wire mesh which will be in the centre of the slab. How do they get the wire mesh into the centre of the slab? They have poles with hooks and while they’re pouring they hook the wire and pull it up.

Ian and Tiffany came out to help as well as my parents. Tiff was sporting some seriously snazzy new workboots. We don’t have pictures of the boots but we have lots of others.

The dogs always find interesting shady spots to watch the work.



Preparing for the Slab

We put in the forms for the slab today. We’re hoping it can get poured late next week. We still have to put insulation under it, plus rough in the plumbing and lay the pipes for the radiant in-floor heating system.

Today we had Rene out helping us, plus the usual suspects: Dad, Mom, Joanne, Mike (the builder), and myself. Rene is a native of the small town nearby, and a real hard worker. The day before Joanne’s parents came out for a visit and to check out our progress, we took them up to the top of the hill to check out the tower site and the view - which they had never seen.

I think we made a great choice in our builder (Mike Cooper) he can’t be there as much as he (or we) would like but his care and attention to detail is fantastic. We checked our dimensions today and over the entire foundation so far we have only a very very small variance from the plans. Damn impressive. He’s always in good humour, no matter how frustrating the work, and he’s out there at 8am on a Saturday ready to go. There’s no way we could have done this much alone, let alone done it this well. Unfortunately (for everyone else) we’re probably his last freelance house as he’s taken a full-time job. Lucky us though!

As you can see from the pictures Gator has developed a real fascination for manual labour. As I hammered in the stakes for the bracing with the sledge hammer he followed me from stake to stake watching in the most fascinated manner. Unfortunately when you’re done you have to prevent him from trying to pull the stakes back out!

Did we take pictures? Of course we did.



Filling in the Forms

We started filling in the forms today, leveling the ground up to prepare for the slab going in, hopefully next week. Before that happens we have to put in the rough plumbing, insulation and the piping for the radiant in-floor heating.

We also spent a good part of the day pulling nails from our form bracing so that we could reuse the wood as bracing for the timber-frame and the plywood to build forms for our tower anchors.

That’s Eric driving the backhoe, Bob driving the compactor, and Ian pulling nails. Not unusually Gator found a way to get very very dirty.



Adventures with Concrete

So we filled the forms today. Four truckloads of concrete - about 30 cubic metres, and we had a pumper truck to fill the forms with. After the concrete comes out of the pumper - and boy does it come out fast - I went around and tamped it down to make sure that the concrete got all the way to the bottom of the forms. Almost all of the wooden forms in centre of the house burst from the pressure and emergency repairs had to be effected. Then the forms had to be refilled by hand - being the youngest I got to do that - I don’t feel very young anymore.

The hero of the day was Super Bob, who came out on very short notice to help us with the pour. Many thanks have to go to the guys with the pumper (Wuis Brothers) who stuck around, were very patient with us, and offered a great deal of valuable help.

We have also sent off a sample of our water off to be tested, here’s hoping it’s OK, since I drank about a litre of it today!



Ready to Pour

Scratch another alternative career from the list. Foundation work, especially in 30 degree heat is NOT fun. I don’t need to do that again. We worked all day Friday, and Saturday. Joanne, my dad, and I went back today to finish up, we worked until 10am just finishing up a few things that were missed and tying the rebar in the wooden forms. But the forms are done and we’re ready for the concrete to get poured either Monday or Tuesday.

After we finished that up we took the truck and drove it to the top of the back hill. If you’ve never been out to the land this is a big hill, about 90 metres tall, and quite steep. The wind tower is going to be located at the top of the hill on an 25m tower, and we needed to see make sure that we could get all of our equipment to the site. It was a heck of a lot of fun as well!        


A Bracing Day

These guys can work! We started today at 9:00am, and finished at 8:00pm, Mike and Dale (his helper) were there even earlier. My dad came down after lunch, and stayed to the end. We were setting up the forms for the concrete foundation walls. The walls also need to be braced, that’s what all of the 2x4’s are stretched out from the walls in the pictures.

Looks like we’ll be working all day tomorrow as well. The inspector is coming at 7:00am, we need to make a good impression so that we can do our pour on Tuesday.

Another weekend

Not much to report this weekend. We fixed a hole in the fence that had been reopened (for the second time!) by some goofs riding 4x4’s around our land. Simon loaned us a pump and some batteries to we now have running water - thanks Simon! Next week we’ll get the water tested, though it tasted fine to us. Next week the forms go up for the foundation walls.



Real Progress!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Concrete has been poured. Hoo-ray! Excuse me while I do my happy dance.



Ohhhh, more holes…

Alas, no concrete today, but the forms are in and the inspector will be inspecting tonight. I have been assured that the concrete will flow tomorrow. My father said he’ll go down to take pictures (holes with concrete!!)


We also met with the fine fellows from Generation Solar (Simon & JP) as well as our plumber (Andrew), they sync’ed up on the hot water stuff which was good. Then Simon and JP measured from the top of the back hill to the house 215m (670’). So it looks like we’ll be putting the wind tower at the back of the big hill. The only drawback is digging the 215m trench for the electrical conduit.



More Pictures of Holes

Well we went up on Friday hoping to see concrete being poured, but unfortunately all we got to see were holes. Now they were pretty exciting holes, since they were dug to take the concrete forms for the footings, so we are moving forward. We’re heading up again on Monday, hopefully we’ll see concrete pouring then.