Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That's Dennis standing in front with his tool belt on. I have one similar, but his is a bit more worn. This was taken on July 23 after our inspection. I think it is looking pretty good. The roof is complete and the windows are all in except for the back window that we still need out so we can get on the roof easier. Have I mentioned that it is a VERY steep roof. I am nervous when on it. Anyway, the project is coming along. We can now start insulation and siding. One more inspection and we can start drywall. Now I need to figure out how to do stucco.

This was early in the morning (about 6:30 a.m.) on July 22, 2008. This is the backside. The roof is complete! Our 4-way and sheeting inspections was scheduled for July 23. That means all the framing has to be ready as well as the rough electrical. We actually passed the sheeting inspection, but there were a few things on the framing and electrical that the inspector asked us to do. No problem; I wasn't really expecting to pass that inspection the first time.

This is the backside on June 26, 2008.

This was taken on June 26, 2008. We had mostly framed the front two dormers. The sheetrock is stacked in the right door and the insulation (blow-in) is in the left). Most of the framing at that point was being done upstairs, so we would pass the lumber (stacked on the concrete) up through the left dormer. I still can't get over how much wood is used to build this garage/shop. I underestimated by over half.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hornet's nest

Yesterday morning I got up and started to lay out the electrical boxes in the shop. I started nailing some of the boxes into the studs and pretty quickly there were a couple of small wasps buzzing around my head. I got to looking around and realized that there was a hornets nest on the bottom of the top plate of the ground floor. The nest was the size of a softball. So it wasn't huge, but it was decent size. It was clearly new because all the hornets were small in size. But when I got within a few yards, they started buzzing at me. They were clearly aggressive in nature. So I got some hornet/wasp killer spray, the kind that shoots a foam stream for 30+ feet. Wben I read the directions it said that I should not spray it at a hornets nest until night. The can said that hornets like this are highly aggressive and even if I think I have killed all the hornets, I should spray the entire can - and only do it at night or early in the morning before the hornets are active.

I determined to do it that night. So I told Dennis about the nest and said that he shouldn't work near that side of the garage that day - there was plenty to do elsewhere. I talked to Dennis at about lunch and he said that even though he was working on the second floor about 25 feet away, the hornets kept buzzing him. I guess the nail gun was still making their nest vibrate. And Dennis works on a 10/12 pitch roof (about 39.2 degrees - that is VERY steep for a roof). So Dennis took a shovel in one hand and the spray can in another and smashed the nest while spraying the nest down. I told him he was crazy, but he said that they didn't bother him again after that.

I guess hornets and wasps love construction sites because they make their paper nests out of the fine sawdust that is everywhere.

Monday, June 23, 2008


After the excavation, the concrete company poured the footings. They essentially just poured the footings in the hole that was dug. It needed to be a minimum of 30 inches below ground to be below the frost line. Otherwise when the ground freezes during the winter, it would heave the building to and fro. The footings were a minimum of 18 inches wide and 12 inches thick.

A few days after the footings were poured, they formed the foundation wall and then poured the foundation wall. The wall was about 24 inches high so it would be about 6 inches above the ground.

After the foundation wall we had to prepare the ground for the slab. The slab only needs to be 4 inches thick and I don't want to pay for more concrete, so I ordered a bunch of gravel for structural fill to bring it up to grade. My first order of gravel I ordered 5 yards. I must have underestimated by quite a bit, so a couple days later I ordered 6 more yards (the delivery truck holds a maximum of 6 yards). Something was wrong, though, because we got more than twice the amount of gravel on the second order than the first. I told them that, but they insisted they gave me the proper amounts. Oh well. It would be nearly impossible (and highly inconvenient) to prove for about $80-$100. So I dropped it.

In the woodshop portion of the addition I am putting in-floor radiant heat. That meant that it had to be ready for the slab pour. So I ordered several 4'x8' panels of "blueboard." That is 2" thick styrofoam panels meant for insulation. I couldn't believe how sturdy those boards are. I could easily walk on it without it tearing or denting. The foam is to ensure that the heat from the radiant tubes doesn't go into the ground, but instead is directed up toward the room. On top of the blueboard we put some wire mesh (about 10 guage - too thick for wire snippers to cut). We then tied the radiant tubes back and forth all over the wire mesh. The wire mesh is really just meant to hold the tubes in place during the concrete pour. Because the tubes are filled with air, they could float to the surface if not tied down. Then we raised the wire mesh off of the blueboard with some cut pieces of brick. We really want the radiant tubes suspended in the middle of the slab, not the bottom.

The radiant tubing ends in a manifold that was encased in a wooden box in the concrete. None of the copper of the manifold is supposed to touch the concrete because the concrete would corrode the copper. Later I need to hook up the manifold to a pump in the house and an extra hot water heater. Because this is an outside application, I will need to have an anti-freeze solution in the tubing and hot water heater. Some radiant systems just use the hot water from the existing hot water heater, but that doesn't work for outside applications.

As a side note, at work we recently met with someone who built a very nice home on a hill overlooking Salt Lake Valley. The builder has not finished the home. Three weeks ago he promised us that he would have it done in two weeks. (He has been promising this for months, I guess.) The last major thing he has to do is his driveway, and he is putting in radiant heat in the driveway so he doesn't have to shovel the steep 150 foot driveway. He started telling me the costs of putting radiant heat in the driveway. He said it would cost a minimum of $50,000. Good thing I had just priced this out. In fact it would only cost about $15,000, even if you had a pro install it. If he did it himself, it would cost about half that. It was nice to be able to call him out. Unfortunately, the bank will probably own that nice radiant-heat system.

Well the concrete worked out pretty well. We actually has started framing prior to the slab pour, but once the slab was in, it was much easier to work there.

I built this staircase without even Dennis' help! It took a lot of thought for my first staircase. I didn't want to have to make up any rise at the end. And cutting the stairs took quite a bit of time.