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Finally Some Pictures

July 19, 2011

It is hotter than all get out here right now. Last night Mr. B and I moved some wood, sweated profusely, and then decided to spend several hours drinking margaritas in an air conditioned space. Like I said, sometimes you need some time off. It is still weird to be back in the world. I keep thinking about something we should do in the morning, and then realize that we’ll be at work. C’est la vie.

Looking at these pictures makes me realize how much progress we did make in the week and a half the family was here. Our radiant floor system passed inspection yesterday, and we are finally scheduled to have our floor poured on Thursday/Friday. If you think of the house as three parts (floor, walls, roof), then the concrete floor will signal that we are a 1/3 of the way through the project. These parts are in no way equal thirds, which defeats the comparison, but it is still a comforting thought.

Let the photos begin!

Here is a reminder of where we were before the family got here:

Day 1

Most of the week was spent installing the floor. We are using 16 foot 2×12 (really heavy). This means that each joist is two pieces of lumber. We also have cantilevered bump-outs for the the beds, so each of those also got another piece of lumber sistered to it. That is a lot of wood.

Brothers: Day 2

Sometimes your nail gun just won't work

Because we are pouring a 3 inch floor over our joists, our engineer recommended that we add extra blocking in the floor. The picture below shows the required blocking over the pony wall, plus the two extra rows of blocking on either side. This also took a really long time to do. We had precut all the blocking but many of the joists ended up not being exactly 14.5 inches apart. This meant a lot of joist shifting, blocking recutting, and floor box re-measuring. In the end though, we have a really solid floor.

Strongest floor ever

We decided to install the insulation before we put down the OSB. Even having the floor open didn’t stop this from being a hot, itchy job. The insulation is fiberglass, so we were quickly covered in tiny bits of fiberglass. It was too hot to wear long sleeves, and we hadn’t thought to buy face masks. Everyone was wearing wet t-shirts over their faces, which sort of helped with breathing. Note to readers: if you are going to install insulation, get a face mask.

This was awful

Finally, we got a floor. Installing the OSB ended up taking about a day and a half (instead of the two hours we assumed). The rim joists were not perfectly straight and the first row of OSB ended up not being square. We fought against that for another row, cutting each piece to be square against the joists, until Mr. B got the great idea to chalk a straight line, cut the OSB along that line, and then install the next row. Note to readers: make sure your first row of OSB is straight and square my stringing a line between the two corners. This would still have taken us a long time, but it would have been less tedious.

Putting down sheeting

That brings us to Wednesday (we had also installed the exterior and interior toe ups, and the plastic on the floor). This was the day when we all sort of lost it. The previous Thursday, Mr. B (in a fit of optimism) scheduled the concrete floor to be poured on Monday/Tuesday, and the ceiling trusses to be delivered on Friday. Sunday came and we still weren’t even done putting down the OSB, so we rescheduled the floor to be poured Tuesday/Wednesday. We worked hard all day Monday, but still didn’t have the toe ups done, or the radiant floor down. Tuesday was also Mr. E’s (Mr. B’s brother) last day in town, and everyone wanted to take a day off. We rescheduled again for Wednesday/Monday, but that also was going to be impossible. Our concrete contractor told us he wouldn’t be available again for a month. We also had to postpone the delivery of our trusses.

Even if you tell yourself that everything is fine and delay is natural, this sort of thing is still dispiriting. I feel like trying to estimate these times is like an Agatha Christie novel. The murderer is always the person you least expect, but there is always a character who you are supposed to think is the person you would least expect, as well as the person who is “obviously” guilty. When estimating times there is the “no-brainer” time (if you were a seasoned professional and everything went perfectly), and this is the time you will never make. There is the “optimistic but realistic” time, but you are unlikely to make that time either. Finally, there is the time that you never expected because you never believed it would take you this long to do something that seems so simple.

And then it rained. So much. Even with the plastic down over the OSB, a ton of water leaked through, soaking the floor, the insulation underneath the floor, and the crawl space. After calling several people, we found out that the OSB being wet is not a problem – it is a product designed to get wet during the building process and then dry out again. No, the problem was that our crawl space and insulation were now wet and prone to molding. We used a push broom to get most of the water off the plastic, installed a large fan in the crawl space and drilled some holes in the rim joist. It has rained a few more times since then, and everything down there is still wet, as far as I know. Note to readers: install the insulation after you have a roof.

We pushed on though, and installed the radiant floor tubing:

Nothing like a stack of lumber for a nap

Mr. B soldered  the manifold together. There were a few leaks in the connections, but everything eventually ended up air tight and we were able to hold the 100 psi needed to pass the inspection. I am so glad we didn’t have to check 2000 feet of tubing for a tiny leak.

Radiant heating manifold

Mr. B’s father painted the entire foundation with tar to get it ready for back filling.

On Sunday afternoon, the first corner post went up. Huzzah! We have all the corner posts up now (and square), and are planning to frame three of the walls pre-pour.

First corner post

So there you have it readers, a week and a half worth of work. Lessons learned: always wear PPE, don’t install anything that can’t get wet, even 80 feels hot if you are working outside, and things will take 5 times longer than you expect. You are still making progress though.

Tomorrow: all about radiant floor systems for the self-builder.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sue permalink
    July 19, 2011 12:48 pm

    having your family there is the next best thing to a good old amish barn raising.

  2. Beth permalink
    July 19, 2011 7:47 pm

    Hooray! It’s so exciting to see it come along!

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