Thursday, September 27, 2012

Foundation is up!

The last week was spent pouring the foundation!  

First, they set up forms and then they used a giant pump to fill the forms.  
The tops were leveled by hand.  

It was crazy to see our little plot looking like a construction site!  

We decided that the east (back) wall of the house will be a 6ft short wall and the rest of the basement (foundation walls) will be a standard 9ft.  This will allow us to have a 3ft deck off the back porch and eliminate as many stairs as possible.  This should also hopefully keep the slope in the back yard to a minimum.  

Egress window well on south side
We had the option to do a 3ft east wall and turn it into a daylight basement.  However, that would have meant having a 6ft high deck.  We just couldn't be okay with that.  So, we made a split second decision and decided to keep the traditional basement with a lower deck.  

Another change that had to be made was moving the root cellar.  It could no longer be in the NE corner as it would have framing/siding along the top three ft of the east side.  So, the stable temperature would be effected.  Our concrete contractor suggested that we use the front porch area as a safe room.  Instead of backfilling with gravel and pouring the porch over that, we had an engineer draw up a plan that would allow the concrete porch to also be a ceiling for the room below.  We will have a steel door and that space will be a root cellar/wine cellar/hidey hole!  In other words, if we are in the path of a tornado, don't worry about us- we will be safe, stuffed, and drunk!
Vent pipe sleeves for root cellar.  These are 3" sleeves, 
but one of them is partially painted over with waterproofing.

You can see the door into the safe room here.

So, once the concrete set in the forms over the weekend, they peeled off the forms, waterproofed the walls, put in the tile drain (foundation drain), and the plumber installed the floor drain.  

The tile drain goes around the perimeter of the foundation and is a perforated flexi-tube.  It feeds into the sump pump and will pump excess moisture out to a field.  

 Gravel poured over the tile drain.

Sleeved pipe for sewage removal to septic.

The floor drain leads from the water tank to the sump pump.  Should the water heater overflow, it will not flood the basement.  

Floor drain

Now, we will allow 18 days for cure time before the framer starts.  The time spent framing does count in the cure time, so that will take us to about 28 days cure time for the concrete.  

While we are waiting for the framer, I will get the electric company to come out and set our transformer box, the electrician will come set a temporary power pole, we will have the dirt backfilled around the basement, the flatwork will be done in the floor of the basement, and we will install the septic system.

 Garden is doing well, I think!

Trying to scale the wall.  
There is just something about a hole in the ground.  
I can't keep either of them out of it!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Footings, Cows, and Plants!

Lots going on around here!  I had a meeting with our concrete contractor, followed by a phone call from our excavator.  

Apparently he hit rock and seeing as how we live across the HWY from a Quarry, he didn't suggest we try to blast through.  So, the bottom of our basement is level but the top is higher in the front than back. So, I got to make some quick decision making.  The North, West, and South basement walls will be 9' and the East wall will be 6'.  We will have the framer frame and side down an extra 3' on the back wall of the house.  Shouldn't really change much.  It will mean that we will have a 3' drop out of our back door and we will have to have a deck.  Decks are cool.  Outdoor entertaining is cool.  Unfortunately, we really wanted to avoid too many stairs on this house as we would like to get old and retire there.  Oh well, 4 stairs won't be too bad.  

So, fast forward to Thursday.  I was under the impression that they wouldn't be able to pour the footing until Friday or Monday.  Turns out they were working fast!  They built forms and poured concrete in one day!  They intend to put up walls and pour the foundation on Friday!  Wow!  

Here is the footing:

You can see a green tube on the left edge.  That is the 'sleeve' for the sewage pipe.  Out plumber met me out there as the workers were putting the forms together.  He sleeved out where the water will come in and where the sewage will go out.  He also had something to do with the black sump bucket in the bottom left corner.  We will have a tile (foundation) drain around the footing that will feed into the sump pump.  The pump will push the water out a pipe and into a pipe that is stubbed out into a field.  Or maybe it goes into the septic.  Not sure.  

While we were waiting for the plumber, Paisley and I went visiting.  This neighbor was particularly friendly.  She got to pet her nose about 10 times.  I was so surprised!  Paisley would squeal each time she touched her nose and the cow would bob her head back in surprise, but she never walked away! She seemed genuinely curious about Paisley and I!

My Garden is growing!!!

John was such a trooper.  He carried water all the way across the farm for me 
so that I could water the garden!

Paisley and I couldn't keep up.  

Here is a bonus picture of Paisley pointing to her nose.  
She occasionally points to body parts and tries to say the name.  
Without fail, her finger migrates knuckle deep into her nose.  

We may live in Kansas, but...
Enjoy the game this weekend! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Expanding the gardens!

I knew that I wanted to prepare several more garden beds for the spring.  

On our Saturday morning walk, we went by the garden center and asked about bulk compost.  The owner told us about the annual Lawrence compost sale.  Our city has yard waste pick up every monday morning.  It is a great feature.  They compost the yard waste and sell it for $10/truck load.  It is a great deal!

So, we immediately grabbed our shovels and gloves and headed for the biggest compost pile you have ever seen.

We loaded up the truck and then went home so that Paisley could take a 3 hour nap.

Once she was back up, we bought 4 more straw bales and headed out to the farm!

John unloaded the compost into a pile and then backed the truck up to a pile of top soil from digging the basement.  We did about a 50/50 mix of top soil and compost.  We worked for about 2 hours and everyone had a blast!  Well, John was doing the hard work of shoveling, but I think he had a *little* fun!

We got 4 more beds done with the lasagna method.  We did a cardboard weed barrier, dirt/compost mix, straw, dirt/compost mix, straw.  The idea with the cardboard is that it will smother and kill the grass/weeds below it.  The cardboard will eventually decompose.  Since we do not plan to till the land under, the dormant weed and grass seeds will not be exposed to light and air so they will never germinate.  So the cardboard is temporary, but its benefits are long term.  Or so they say.

 Here, I am standing at the back corner of the house.  I tried to keep the beds close to the house so that they will be in reach of a garden hose.  We ended up moving the closest bed over to the other end of the row.

Here is a close up.  The beds are laid out.  You can see on the far left is our 30 gallon water tank and hose. Then there are 4 leftover bags of peat that I added to the top layer of each new bed.  The black pile is the compost.  It looked like a lot more when it was in the truck!  Fortunately, it was exactly the perfect amount for 4 beds!  On the right are the 4 straw bales that we were robbed for.   Seriously- $9 a bale!?  The feed store was $7/bale, but an extra 20 minute drive.  Yikes.

My helper!

Final product!  #4 is the planted bed from last week.
#3 has 7 chunks of over achieving sweet potatoes that were growing limbs in our kitchen cabinet.
I figured I would give them a chance to make something of themselves!

So, we might have a few veggies this fall, and if nothing else, we will have some beautiful soil for planting in the spring!  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Accessory building!

We applied for the accessory building to be piggybacked on our building permit.  We finally got the drawings turned in Friday morning!  Yay!

We had our excavator do the site prep.  It has since rained (of course) and who knows if he will have to come back out to fix things.  It doesn't need to be perfectly level, but within one foot of level.  So, maybe the rain was OK?  It was a slow drizzle all day.  I don't really want to think about what the basement and garage pad look like right now. Sigh.  

Here are some pictures:
Garage pad

 Garage pad on right, basement hole on left.  

Looking a little more left at the basement hole

Going down into the finished basement.  
The dig out 3 extra feet around the measured house and then add a ramp.  

Family picture!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Garden and Rocks

I have been itching to plant something since we bought the land this spring.  

I even started compost pile.  John made me abandon ship when we started getting fruit flies in the house because we couldn't always take the tupperware out to the land every weekend.  Sad.  

I am no expert on gardening.  I am very hopeful that I can get things to grow in the near future.  I have a ficus tree that I have kept alive for more than 3 years and an orchid that is 11 months old.  Plus that baby.  She seems to be doing alright.  But she points to her mouth and says "maw!" when she is hungry.  Plants don't do that.  

This all being said, I enlisted the advice of our birth class instructor and gardener extraordinaire- Amber!  

She has an awesome blog.  Her family also has 40 acres in our town and they are gardening it and building a house.  They are doing it the 'handy' way.  Literally- they are building a straw bale house by hand and using materials they are sourcing from their land and their families lands.  Really awesome.    

Anyhow, I asked her what she would do in our situation.  I want to get a few beds started right now to be ready for spring.  Plus I might want to plant some fall veggies.  

She recommended the lasagna method.  This is basically just layering organic materials to form a bed.  It will break down over the winter and be perfect soil for planting in the spring.  This is good for the earth as you don't have to till anything.  No-till gardening is becoming quite a thing.  When you till, you disturb the soils natural make up and destroy the habitat of little microbes and bugs that help make your soil rich.  Plus, you rip up root structures that aid in keeping soil in place and also help retain water.  Plus, tilling exposes weed seeds to the light and thus causes them to sprout.  

Now, I know nothing about gardening.  So, I could be spouting a bunch of hooey.  However, I've seen Amber's garden and it is awesome.  Her family produced something like 1200 pounds of food from their 1/4 acre plot per year.  I believe her when she tells me something works. 

So, Paisley and I armed ourselves with 160 pounds of cow manure compost and peat.  Plus a bale of straw and a few cardboard boxes.  

First, I put down a cardboard box to be my weed barrier.  Then I dumped some compost and peat on the box and Paisley helped spread it around.  She LOVED getting her hands dirty!  

Then we did a layer of straw...

and another layer of dirt.

Then I went to the store and bought another 800 pounds of dirt and picked up more boxes.  We made the bed WAY bigger and then planted seeds in the top layer of dirt.  

So, it went cardboard, dirt, straw, dirt, straw, dirt, seeds!

I planted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and diakon radish.  I'll let you know how it goes in about 60 days...

 Here are some cool rocks I found in the basement hole.  The first one has rings that look very planetary.  The second one is just super cool.  Crazy to think that the last time these rocks saw light they weren't rocks at all.  Seeing the rings was a neat way to grasp how they were formed.  I wonder how old these rocks are?

Friday, September 14, 2012

We have a basement!

We have a basement!!!

  I can't believe they got this much done in less than 7 hours!!!

I loved seeing the color changes along the 'walls'.  Amazing to think that this dirt has never been disturbed before.  The last time it saw the light of day could have been tens of thousands of years ago.  

I wish I had gotten out to stand next to it for scale.  I think the top tread on the 'tire' was about shoulder height to me.  So, like knee high to John.  Kidding!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stake Out!

I got a phone call from our excavator on Friday asking if we were set to start digging on Monday.  I had to explain that we were still waiting on the permits.  He let me know that you don't need to wait for the permits to start digging, but you have to have them before you pour the footing.  Great news!  

He asked me to stake out the house this weekend and then we agreed to meet out at the land on Monday morning!

I called up home depot to see if they carried survey stakes.  The doofus who answered the phone was quite confused as to why I had asked for SURVEYING stakes.  They did carry stakes in several sizes, but he didn't know if surveyor stakes were the same thing.  I just said "thank you" and hung up.  If you will allow, I have a rant about Home Depot.  Something I learned recently that was confirmed by several different contractors in several different areas of expertise is that Home Depot is considered a 'seconds' store.  If a manufacturer has a toilet that isn't quite level at the base, they sell it to Home Depot.  They figure a DIYer will assume it was their mistake and just caulk the heck out of it until it is level.  A plumber won't shop there to begin with.  A manufacturer of a faucet will have a specific style of faucet.  For a distributor like Ferguson, the insides will be made of metal with high quality gaskets.  For home depot, the insides will be make of plastic.  With cabinets, the same thing applies.  Their brand, KraftMaid, can be purchased other places.  Home Depot gets the second quality cast offs.  In most cases, the cost savings is NOT passed on to you.  In some cases it is.  The faucets I wanted were $100 cheaper EACH from Home Depot.  That tells me that a major component is different.  The metal the faucet is made from could even be different.  So, as much as we disliked Home Depot before, we have even more reason to stay away now.  They are basically the Dollar General of building supplies.  If you need building materials, go somewhere like McCray, ProBuild, or Menards.  Get your fixtures, sinks, ect from a place like Ferguson.  Believe it or not, custom cabinets made by hand from solid wood are LESS expensive than Home Depot Cabinets.  I'll do a post on Cabinets in the future.

Anyhow, this post isn't supposed to be about Home Depot.  It is about staking out the house!

John, Paisley, Charley, and I arrived with stakes, a hammer, pink nylon string, and a movie box to use as a square.  Oh, we had a set of plans with us as well.

We picked the front left corner of the house and drove in a stake.  We then measured off the rest of the walls with only minor difficulty.

Here is the first stake and you can see the string going east.  This is the north wall of the house and will be Paisley's room, the shared bath, and the room for the twinkle in John's eye.  

 Here is the bay window in our bedroom.  If you look closely, you can see a cow pie right in the middle.  Some day we will be laying in bed and we will remember this day and how there was once a cow pie where we are now laying.

Have a haiku:

Mindless bovine poop
Permanent?  Impermanent?
Below where we sleep 

Speaking of poop.  Here is our porta pot!  John didn't think it would be quite enough to provide each crew with a spade and a roll of TP. 

Here is the shot of the whole house.  John is at the far left corner and the far right corner is near the right of the screen.  You may be able to see more if you can enlarge the picture.  But, this will be the front view of the house.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

House Style

Something unexpected came up as we were looking at styles of houses and decor.  John and I have VERY different tastes in homes.  We were quite surprised to find this!  We are so compatible in so many ways that we were quite shocked at how passionately the other felt about some "small" details!  

John likes a very clean, modern look while I prefer a more soft, cozy county look.  We tried to find balance in things we agreed on.  No clutter.  No decor for the sake of being decor.  We both like clean and simple.  I felt like his style was cold.  He felt like mine was too country.    

Suddenly, we came upon something we both loved.  This discovery saved our house! Haha!  

The Craftsman style.  This is a very popular style from the early 1900's that started in Northern California and Oregon.  It is described as generally being a 1 story house with a low hipped roof, large porch, and exposed beam details.  The goal of the craftsman style was to bring nature indoors by using natural materials and colors.  

So, John and I are going more traditionally craftsman with the exterior and doing a clean craftsman interpretation on the interior.  The exterior colors will be green with canvas trim and ox blood accents. Here is a link to a good example of the colors we want. 

For the interior, we are going to stay true to the wide baseboards and header over the doors.  but we will paint them white.  For windows and walkways, we will have drywall returns (no trim) with bull nose corners (rounded).  This should give us the craftsman feel with a modern touch.  

We will be going with a white kitchen.  We will have an extra set of upper cabinets with glass fronts, which is very craftsman.  A craftsman kitchen was often white as it was easier to clean.  We will be going more modern with the granite tops as well as by painting the interior of the glass front cabinets.  
We will have hickory flooring throughout the main living area.  I just love the movement you get from the color variations.  

I think that about sums up the style we are going for.  We will be using a more modern lighting scheme.    Traditional craftsman would call for bronze lighting, which is so dark and heavy.  So we have tried to find a style that is craftsman but in a brushed nickel.  Right now we are thinking of the Kichler Truett line from

However, on the exterior, we will go totally craftsman with something like this from

So, that about sums up our style.  Of course, all of this stuff happens in the last 4-8 weeks of the build process.  The first 4 months is all digging, concrete, and lumber!  I can't wait to post pictures as the process moves along!