Sunday, July 21, 2013


In between building spurts, there is work to be done - Rodney to the slope and me at Victory.  There's a lot of catching up on paperwork to do in between!  The Victory parking lot:

They fill the water truck  and spray down the roads when it gets really dry.  It helps keep down the dust.   

There are only two more weeks of camp left this summer.  I feel like I've missed most of it this year.  Every so often though, I'll catch a glimpse that makes my heart happy.  Like this:

But on to the building project!  The basement will be what they call a daylight basement.  Three sides will be back-filled when we are done but the south facing side will look out onto the driveway.  The door and two windows face south.  The small room off to the west will be cold storage/root cellar.  There is no heat in the floor there and there will be insulation above that room to help keep it cool, but not freezing.  There will be an exterior door between the basement and the cold storage room.  On the main floor (above the cold storage) that room will be the arctic entry - an entry with doors going to the outside and into the house that helps keep out cold air.  You enter through one door and then after that door has closed you can enter into the main building. 

We're using Amvic insulated concrete forms to build the basement and main floor.  In addition to being very energy efficient, Amvic is mold resistant (great for my allergies), fire resistant (did you read the last post?), insect resistant, generally doesn't require a lot of upkeep and they are made with 60% recycled material.  A good choice all around.   The other benefit for us is that Rodney and I can put up the structure ourselves. You just lay the block and tie to the rebar that was set in the foundation.  Ok, so maybe there's a little more to it than that, but not much.  Concrete is later poured in all those spaces between the foam though, so you'd better make sure you've left room for windows, doors and other perforations BEFORE you pour your concrete!  That meant a lot of trips to town to finalize those decisions before we got too far laying block!

That reminds me, I need to post some pictures of everyone's favorite - Long Lake.  There have been a LOT of rocks sliding down that hill!  A lot of BIG rocks!

It seems like every time I go through, there is less road and more rocks.  There are plenty on the other side as well:

But Lion's Head always takes my breath away whenever I get up that direction:

And the clouds overhead one morning were amazing too.

But there was a lot of work to be done, so not much time for gawking.  The next delivery of Amvic was waiting to be moved.

So there was a lot of cutting of Amvic:

And a lot of cutting of rebar.

Measure twice, cut once.  And write measurements on whatever is handy.

And some overheating by me from trying to work in the heat.  So I laid on the cool concrete and noticed the pretty clouds overhead.

But after overheating again the next day, I figured out that the rebar cutting could be done in the shade and was relatively stationary work, so I took that over to help cut down on the overheating and allow Rodney to focus more on laying block.  But after hours of cutting rebar with a grinder, my arms were getting rather sore.  We decided to see if we could borrow Dan's saw to do that job.  I was immediately in love.

It may not be pretty, but it cuts through that rebar like...  well, not like butter, but it does go a LOT faster than the grinder!  Ooooo, baby, yes, I am in love! 

The job went much faster that day.  It's amazing what one good tool can do. 

And no overheating for me.  :)   If those walls seem a little blindingly white, they are.  Literally!  There were times you'd have to close your eyes to rest them from the whiteness.  

And finally done laying Amvic for the basement!

But still plenty of work to be done - foam glue along the inside and outside bottom edge to help secure the Amvic to the slab and prevent blow-outs, bracing the windows and doors, bracing the corners inside and out, and around the top edge outside, inside under the bolts for the ceiling/floor, and perforations for utilities...  Thankfully Chuck showed up early the day of the pour to help finish some of those details.  

The next day was the pour.  One LARGE pump truck and 4 or so concrete trucks pumped 31 yards of concrete into those walls.  That's a lot of concrete!  The concrete trucks backed up to the pumper and dumped their loads into the back of the pumper which then pumped it up and through the hose to wherever it was needed.  They pumped it to about 2-3' high the first time around and by that time it had set up enough at the beginning to go back over and pump it to the next level.  They went all around the house about three times.  I think.  Not sure I actually counted.  It was pretty busy.

Fortunately we had Sergei here to help that day too, so it was Chuck and Caleb running the hose, Sergei and Rodney pushing the scaffold (and at times one pair in each room) and the guy running the boom.  I tried to stay out of the way ;) and run and get anything they needed.  Oh yeah, and take pictures for all of you!

It was a bit worrisome when the water started seeping under and through the walls.  It was VERY nice to have Chuck there to run the pour since he has done this before.  He didn't seem too worried which put me at ease!  

When the pour was all done, the guys went around checking to be sure the walls were all straight and made minor adjustments to the supports.

And that was it for the pour!  Then it was just a matter of waiting.  The next day we came back to check out our handiwork and then remembered that we still had some work to do.  We'll have to lay the next layer of block on top of this, so anywhere that there was concrete that interfered with the next block, it had to be removed.  Not too bad at this corner, but there was plenty of work in a couple of spots, especially where they had to go over the edge of the wall to get to the other wall.  It wasn't too big a job, just a little slow and tedious, but it's all done now and ready for the next layer!  Now we just need to catch up on other work and rest up for the next go around.  Thankfully both of our jobs are relatively sedentary so we can physically rest.  We'll see you back in about another month with the next level!


I've gotten a bit of flack recently for the lack of building updates here.  I've been keeping up somewhat with pictures on Facebook, but this always seems like it needs to be more edited, more "correct" so I always hesitate to sit down and do it.  Maybe I should just wing it in favor of keeping up.  We did start work on building the house starting in June.  Our summer was pretty late in coming this year, but once it came, it came fast and hot!  The first thing that needed to be done was to get supplies and start work on the site preparation.  Rodney started work on the North Slope (oil) so he works two weeks on, two weeks off.  I'll have him post details on that later.  It has a huge impact on the work on the house though because everything is intense for two weeks, then the project comes to a halt for two weeks.  You can probably guess where we are in that cycle right now.   

Picking up supplies:

Dan and Rodney doing additional site preparation:

The man-hole alongside the well to provide access in case there is a need to work on the line.

The water line from the well to the house.  The nice thing about digging in the spring after a winter like this is that they could see exactly where the frost line was and dig down below it.  Insulation over the pipe helps ensure that it won't freeze below that point.

The building pad after the pipes were all put in.  Moose walking through the woods as I took the picture.  

HOT!!!  This is ALASKA in the mountains, not far from the ocean, not interior Alaska or New York!

Rodney and Dan did most of the site preparation work, but when it came time to set the foundation forms, Doug Maxwell came in along with Ryan Beachy and Jesse Lee.  If Doug is in charge of the pour, he wants it done right and wants to be there to be certain that it is done right.  Sounds good to me!  This is a gifted group of men!  Might as well have good help if you're going to have help!  Doug is in the plaid shirt giving directions.

While the other guys were working on the foundation, Jared Thiessen was cutting trees for the electric line.  He's in there if you look closely.

Not sure how I feel about being able to see the road, but electricity is a good thing.  It's not right next to the house at any rate.  The shop will be over near this site eventually.  

This is how the site looked at the end of the day.  Plastic, then foam insulation, pex on top of that and wire mesh over the top to reinforce the concrete.  

Even hotter yet.  *shaking head*  This is NOT supposed to happen here!

That night strong winds blew in smoke from a forest fire a few hours away.  You could hardly see the mountains around us.  We'd been too hot and too dry for too long.  

We were supposed to pour the foundation the next morning, but we got a call around midnight that Ryan Beachy had struck a moose on his motorcycle and died.  His girlfriend, Tracy, was with him and is still recovering from the crash.  The pour was called off and we, along with the rest of the community were left in a state of complete shock.  When someone dies, people always seem to say good things about that person, like all of them were good people (how can that be?), but with Ryan it really was true.  Ryan was a builder and a fisherman, not a person you'd think would have a huge impact in the world today.  The big difference was that Ryan poured his life into the lives of others around him and that made a world of difference.  His loss has hit hard all across the state.  While a senior in high school, Ryan wrote this mission statement.  He certainly accomplished it to perfection!  

My mission, if I choose to accept it,
is to become a funnier person,
And to be more generous,
And more  outgoing,
And to be known as an overall nice person.
I will be more hardworking
And optimistic.
I will be more fun to be with,
And a good friend to everybody.

Guys being guys, sitting around can be way too much time thinking.  They decided to go ahead with the pour a few days later.  It really was a good thing, I think.  Concrete work is intense activity followed by a great deal of waiting for it to harden.  There was a lot of talking and sharing and laughing and tears shared over a slab of concrete.  It seemed a fitting way to mourn.  

L-shaped rebar were inserted into the concrete along the outside edge of the foundation to tie the foundation in to the wall.  We'll see that the next time around!

Chuck Gerwig running the machine that does the final smoothing of the concrete.

Morning commute

Morning commute