Addition Construction Resumes

Well, shortly after my post on Monday, trucks began arriving, delivering the ICF units that will be used for our foundation/basement walls. There are a lot of them piled up all over.

ICF forms in the back yard, as seen looking down from the upper veranda

ICF forms in the back yard, as seen looking down from the upper veranda

More ICF forms in the side yard and along the lower driveway. You can also see one of our Japanese beetle traps in the foreground, they've been fierce this year.

More ICF forms in the side yard and along the lower driveway. You can also see one of our Japanese beetle traps in the foreground, they’ve been fierce this year.

Monday they also put in the front foundation drain and tidied up the grade inside the foundation. Yesterday was rainy and therefore contractor-free. Today more gravel is being delivered for use as backfill and under the basement floor.

Plus, the windows we had ordered from Lowe’s arrived on Saturday, they have been stored in the cellar (with the large patio door under the veranda.)

Oh, and I ordered the two garage doors (one 8′ wide and one 6′ wide) today from Home Depot, they were 15% off, and the Lowe’s doors did not allow windows in the narrower 6′ door, among other things.

Escape Artist

[Optional musical accompaniment to this post]

There is no construction news, things have been on a hiatus as the footers cure and we await engineering of the ICF concrete floor. I have used the time to refine and adjust my design drawings.

bershebaMeanwhile, our dog Bersheba is a sweet dog, always eager to help us around the farm. Her very favorite way to help keep us busy is to show us weaknesses in our fencing. Every. Single. Weakness.
escape_artist

She loves to dig under the fence. Anywhere the ground is a little soft or a little low, and she is off to the races. The tractor comes in handy — I keep blocking her escape routes with rocks and shale.

New Addition Footers Poured

More big trucks began arriving today at 7am.

More big trucks began arriving today at 7am.

Took about 4 hours to get the footers poured, using about 13 yards of concrete.

Took about 4 hours to get the footers poured, using about 13 yards of concrete.

New Addition Ready for Concrete

Yesterday the foundation was cleaned up and rebar was placed. Today the inspector gave it the OK. Tomorrow the concrete truck arrives.

Yesterday the foundation was cleaned up and rebar was placed. Today the inspector gave it the OK. Tomorrow the concrete truck arrives.

New Addition Week 2 (15-18 July 2014)

The week started with these two pieces of equipment being dropped off. Note that they both have rubber treads -- best for mobility over wet soil.

The week started with these two pieces of equipment being dropped off. Note that they both have rubber treads — best for mobility over wet soil.

The next day the digging began with the trench for drainage pipes. He started down at the spring house and worked his way back up, marveling, as we have for years, at the volume of water coming out of the ground.

The next day the digging began with the trench for drainage pipes. He started down at the spring house and worked his way back up, marveling, as we have for years, at the volume of water coming out of the ground.

The trench has four pipes: two 4" slotted (one for the foundation drains and one for surface French drains), a 3" PVC conduit (for water pipes and electrical cables for micro hydro and/or ram pump and/or anything else we think of), and a 2" PVC pipe for the well overflow (our artesian well was overflowing at a rate of 30 gpm when it was drilled back in September 1994 and the 1: overflow pipe that was installed then can only handle about 12 gpm.).

The trench has four pipes: two 4″ slotted (one for the foundation drains and one for surface French drains), a 3″ PVC conduit (for water pipes and electrical cables for micro hydro and/or ram pump and/or anything else we think of), and a 2″ PVC pipe for the well overflow (our artesian well was overflowing at a rate of 30 gpm when it was drilled back in September 1994 and the 1″ overflow pipe that was installed then can only handle about 12 gpm).

Back up at the well, you can see one of the slotted pipes (destined to continue as the foundation drain) and the white 2" overflow pipe (currently still being fed by the 1" pipe in the well casing. We will be making a 2" hole in the casing at some point so hopefully our well will never again overflow.)

Back up at the well, you can see one of the slotted pipes (destined to continue as the foundation drain) and the white 2″ overflow pipe (currently still being fed by the 1″ pipe in the well casing. We will be making a 2″ hole in the casing at some point so hopefully our well will never again overflow).

The week ended with the rough digging for the foundation.

The week ended with the rough digging for the foundation.

Dusty Yard

And, as a “bonus” we now have a dirt bike racetrack where our side and back yards used to be! The BobCat was running back-and-forth from the front yard where the gravel for the drainage ditch had been dumped. Our soil is mostly Atkins Silt Loam; when it is dry it is very fine and dusty, and when it is wet it is like quicksand.

New Addition Week 1 (7-9 July 2014)

All that remains of our old addition is this pile of stones from the foundation.

All that remains of our old addition is this pile of stones from the foundation.

Well, the old addition came down and the remnants were hauled off on Monday.

Check out the “best of” video highlights below.

Here is the temporary on-the-ground well pipe snaking in under the old cellar door.

Here is the temporary on-the-ground well pipe snaking in under the old cellar door.


On Tuesday, The Beast did the rough digging for the new addition walk-out basement. We knew that we would have to deal with our well pipe, and sure enough, it went down early. We were without water for most of the day until they got a temporary pipe installed.

NewPond

Along the way a small underground spring began reveling in the daylight and created a small pond.

So here is what we ended up with. Note the 7-foot high pile of dirt on the right behind the well.

So here is what we ended up with. Note the 7-foot high pile of dirt on the right behind the well.

On Wednesday the contractor brought in a small tractor-backhoe and dug a temporary drainage ditch to dry up the pond. All has been quiet since then as we wait for things to dry up. Work is expected to resume tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on the weather (storms are expected both days.) The next step is digging the footers.

All of this digging was done on the basis of this drawing I did.

All of this digging was done on the basis of this drawing I did.

Demolition Day

Well, I spent the entire 3-day holiday weekend prepping the old addition for its demolition, mainly doing everything I could to disengage the addition from the main house as much as possible, putting plywood up over the old doors, removing copper pipes, cutting out drain pipes in the wall shared with the main house, etc.

The old addition at 8 am this morning, awaiting its demise

The old addition at 8 am this morning, awaiting its demise

The demo crew arrived at 8:30, and by 9:30 the chicken shed was gone. Then they started in on additional proper.

The demo crew arrived at 8:30, and by 9:30 the chicken shed was gone. Then they started in on additional proper.

A mere one-half hour later, 10am., It came away from the old house (and even more importantly, the new verandas!) pretty cleanly. You can see the plywood I put to protect the doors into the old house -- which came in handy since falling/swinging debris punched two holes in lower right plywood that was protecting a glass door.

A mere one-half hour later, 10am., It came away from the old house (and even more importantly, the new verandas!) pretty cleanly. You can see the plywood I put to protect the doors into the old house — which came in handy since falling/swinging debris punched two holes in lower right plywood that was protecting a glass door.

The view from the Upper Veranda (UV)

The view from the Upper Veranda (UV)

All that's left as of 3pm, looking down from the UV

All that’s left as of 3pm, looking down from the UV

Done for the at 5pm. Quite an interesting patchwork of colors and textures. The Beast is resting up for tomorrow's chore of digging the new basement. Hopefully we'll keep our water -- the well pipe runs from the well in the foreground and comes up just to the left of the chimney. They hope to dig around it and leave it laying on the ground. Thus far they've been, well, delicate in their use of such big machinery.

Done for the at 5pm. Quite an interesting patchwork of colors and textures. The Beast is resting up for tomorrow’s chore of digging the new basement. Hopefully we’ll keep our water — the well pipe runs from the well in the foreground and comes up just to the left of the chimney. They hope to dig around it and leave it laying on the ground. Thus far they’ve been, well, delicate in their use of such big machinery.

Sleeping Dragon

sleepingdragonOn Thursday our contractor dropped off this beast so they can start work bright and early Monday on the demolition portion of our new addition project. This thing is big — I paced off the tread width at about 12 feet, which is just a little less than the width of our lower driveway as it passes between the goat shed and the apothedairy, and, coincidentally, the width of the lower drive as it goes past our front porch.

We are told that our 20×25 foot 2-story addition will be gone in a day. How is this possible? It has a thumb, hydraulically operated, that lets it grab and rip and tear.

Yes, Monday is going to be VERY interesting around here! Now, I am off to keep prepping the old addition to make the tearing off process go as smoothly as possible.

A BIG Project

This past winter was pretty brutal, and about halfway through it we started getting serious with some vague plans that we have been mulling over for a number of years. Here is what I wrote in an email back in January:

Man, this last cold snap was worse that the last one — we’ve been below zero twice (last night was minus 2.5) — and under 20 for what seems like forever. Bedroom has been hovering around 50. Kitchen and living room struggle to stay in the 60s. It got down to 50 in the kitchen last Wed nite when I put the stoves and me to bed for 6 hours since the power had gone out so there was no internet to keep me company (power was out for 12 hours after which, by the way, the fridge was 10 degrees warmer than the unheated addition.)

We could, instead of this, shut off water to and abandon the main house and move into the back 40 with its electric baseboard heat. But that would feel mighty claustrophobic and even more siege-like, what with the small rooms and 7-foot ceilings and lack of kitchen, so we’ll just tough it out.

We have known from the get-go that our wood-stove-heat paradigm was not sustainable as we age towards our 60s, and over the years we have tossed around a number of ideas for the future — including various ideas about upgrading the heating system here to something else. But this winter has been saying loud and clear that the future is now! So we have been amusing ourselves with an extended-arctic-weather-induced dream of easier and more comfortable living here at Riversdell by planning for a new addition on the house to replace the current addition.

Yes, that’s right, we are tearing down the century-old addition on the house and replacing it with something much better. The new addition will be a cathedral-ceilinged great room with a loft on the west (street) side with a bathroom, bedroom, and galley under the loft. The east (river) side will have a large bay window. A focal highlight of the space is the existing 7-1/2 foot wide stone chimney. Oh, and underfloor hot-water heat, powered by some still-being-decided combination of rooftop solar hot water, LP (propane) H2O heater, and geothermal water-to-water heat pump. PV solar will supply some (most? all?) of the electricity for the heat and water.

A more complete description and detailed drawings are available at the 2014 Addition Project link at the upper right.

We have our demolition and construction permits in hand, have our general contractor lined up, and are now almost done with the salvage-old-materials portion of the demolition. Here is what the kid’s old bedrooms and bathroom now look like:

bare_bones
The walls were all tongue-and-groove pine which we have saved for reuse as flooring in the new loft. We also saved the vinyl replacement windows we had installed when we moved in 16 years ago — we will reuse them in the new vestibule. And, no, there was no insulation in these walls, no sheathing either, just 3/4″ poplar clapboards on the exterior and 5/8″ T/G pine on the interior.

And here is the view into the old addition from our lower veranda:

split_level

The old addition floors were several steps down and ceilings were lower — that’s the old guest room below and the kid’s bathroom above. In the new addition this view will be a sliding glass door into the great room.

Side Garden Terracing

Side_Garden_TerraceWell, we finally dealt with the 3 pallets of concrete block that have been sitting the side yard since November. Early last autumn while we were getting the gardens ready for winter, we started brainstorming on a better way to user our side garden area. It was a long, sloped garden that always seemed to get away from us over the course of the growing season. We decided to break it up into a series of level lots by terracing. We looked at several more attractive options, but the cost seemed out of whack, so went went with our tried-and-true dry-stacked grey concrete blocks (aka “cinder blocks” or CMUs), capped with red concrete pavers. We (somewhat optimistically) went ahead and ordered the blocks in November, hoping that we would get our usual periods of decent weather in December and January, but that did not happen.

We just got the plots done over last weekend, and I spent Monday hauling compost from the compost into them, and moving piles of compost-to-be (aka cleaning out the goat shed.) Compost_PilesWe have a system that works well for us. In the picture to the right you see that I ended the day with two compost piles, the darker one on the left and the lighter one on the right. The lighter one is the bedding that I pushed out of the goat shed — a year’s worth of uneaten hay and goat berries. This started composting in place, giving the goats underfloor heating all winter. It has now been stirred, and the goats (and dogs) will play on it and trample it down. Next spring (or maybe in the fall, depending on conditions) I will move it over to the side for a second round of stirring and trampling — the dark pile you see is last year’s cleanout. The previous second-year pile is what I just put on the new garden plots.

This coming weekend I am going to plant the 12 tomato plants I bought a month ago and have been nursing in little pots, hardening them off. I will get them in the ground this weekend (only a few days our May 15th frost date), using my new and improved cattle panel trellising system.

Freeze-Thaw Damage

freeze_thawAll of the snows we’ve had all winter kept the ground pretty saturated. Combined with the periodic bitter cold snaps, frost heave was inevitable. This portion of our front stone wall will need some TLC after spring mud season ends (before which this relentless winter needs to end!)

GGTV

We have a couple of bird feeders out front that attract a menagerie. Our cat Gigi likes to sit at the window and watch them. There is one wren in particular that likes to taunt her. She can easily spend a hour or more a day watching this tailor-made program. And, like any good entertainment service, there is a second channel.

GGTV 1

GGTV 1

GGTV 2

GGTV 2

Caprine Chorus

The goats always notice the start of feeding time, especially in the winter.

The Big Digout

The snowstorm ended overnight Thursday. We stayed at 16″ of accumulation — the last few inches were offset by melting/compaction since the temp rose into the mid 30s. Friday was clear and bright, a perfect day for digging out.

No way to avoid using a shovel on the stone steps up from the house to the upper driveway.

No way to avoid using a shovel on the stone steps up from the house to the upper driveway.

But the tractor awaits in the garage, after a 100-foot trudge.

But the tractor awaits in the garage, after a 100-foot trudge.

Now that's what I call a show shovel! Note that snow and dirt are still frozen onto the bucket from the last several digouts this winter

Now that’s what I call a show shovel! Note that snow and dirt are still frozen onto the bucket from the last several digouts this winter

BTW, here is our 50-gallon diesel tank that we got along with the PTO-powered electric generator that you can see in the previous picture on the left behind the sawhorses.

BTW, here is our 50-gallon diesel tank that we got along with the PTO-powered electric generator that you can see in the previous picture on the left behind the sawhorses.

With this season's earlier snows I could mostly push the snow ahead and to the side. But this one is deep enough that I had to repeatedly scoop then back up and dump off to the side.

With this season’s earlier snows I could mostly push the snow ahead and to the side. But this one is deep enough that I had to repeatedly scoop then back up and dump off to the side.

Well, that 100 feet took about an hour. After another half-hour of manual digging around the car I took a coffee break.

Well, that 100 feet took about an hour. After another half-hour of manual digging around the car I took a coffee break.

After the break I moved on to the lower driveway. This was much trickier, for two reasons. First, the drive tilts as it comes down off the dirt road, as you can see in this picture. That caused a lot of sideways sliding. Second, this portion is also pretty narrow as it passes between the apothedairy and the goat shed, which meant I had to do a lot of backing up this slanted slope to dump the snow. I got stuck twice sliding sideways, had to use the loader to lift/push backwards to get unstuck.

After the break I moved on to the lower driveway. This was much trickier, for two reasons. First, the drive tilts as it comes down off the dirt road, as you can see in this picture. That caused a lot of sideways sliding. Second, this portion is also pretty narrow as it passes between the apothedairy and the goat shed, which meant I had to do a lot of backing up this slanted slope to dump the snow. I got stuck twice sliding sideways, had to use the loader to lift/push backwards to get unstuck.

The lower driveway goes all the way past the front door to the woodshed.  It took 2 hours to get to here, time for a lunch break.

The lower driveway goes all the way past the front door to the woodshed. It took 2 hours to get to here, time for a lunch break.

After another couple of hours around the woodshed and the upper driveway and mailbox, the job's done and the tractor's back in the garage. The poultry shed path can wait until tomorrow -- they had a full feeder and they have a light-activated door so they can get to the snow for their water.

After another couple of hours around the woodshed and the upper driveway and mailbox, the job’s done and the tractor’s back in the garage. The poultry shed path can wait until tomorrow — they had a full feeder and they have a light-activated door so they can get to the snow for their water.

Major Snowstorm Barn Chores

Like most of the US East Coast we are in the midst of a major winter storm. This has been a very cold, snowy winter so far from the first arctic blast in early December through this current storm-in-progress. 16″ on the ground with more on the way.

Here is a 10-minute video of our barn chores this morning. Once they plow our road I can get the tractor out to plow the upper driveway followed by the lower driveway we are trudging on in this video.