Archives for category: Construction progress

Actually they’re not sexy. I just put that in the title to try and attract some web traffic. I could have been a bit more explicit though, calling this post something like, “Sexy a$$ grade beams,” but that would be too much.

OK so anyway…we’re ready for concrete. Again! And yes, we hoped to pour this past Tuesday, but needed to wait for our special order clips and ties to arrive so the forms wouldn’t fall apart when we poured concrete. Then we were going to pour today (Friday), but the county building department was closed so we couldn’t get our inspection done.

So Monday is our day. In fact it’s probably better for Mikel since it gives him an extra day or two to get things tight.

Check out the pictures below–these are primarily of our grade beams, hence today’s sexy title. Grade beams are a concrete connection between the house and the platforms our roof support posts will sit on. Without killing you with a bunch of engineering that I would likely get wrong anyway, the idea is that it’s important (in our case) to create a strong, rigid connection between the house and posts, so that on, say, a windy day, the roof won’t start shifting the walls, or the posts, or both. With the grade beam, everything is connected. Or something.

Here’s what’s amazing to me. See the middle picture? This is the grade beam. It holds a sexy a$$load of concrete. But except for about 18 inches, the entire thing will be underground. This is one of those factors that help answer the question, “why is it so expensive to build a house?”

Check the title. The first 60. And yes, this means the first 60 yards of concrete. That’s a lot of concrete.

Last week I mentioned that I had blocked out how much concrete we’d use in this project. Well, I can’t avoid it anymore. So for those readers that relate to yards of concrete, and judging by the number of visitors coming here from the link on Build blog (thanks Andrew!), many of you will, we’ll use 325 yards of concrete. That’s a buttload (technical term) of concrete.

Misha and his merry band, with Carrie’s oversight, made tremendous progress today. And they worked very, very hard. I stopped by after work this evening, around 6, and Misha was still at it, and visibly more tired than at noon. I included a couple of pics of Misha today. Hard work, but good morale.

Carrie’s dog, Sambuca, was the only sad looking one on site, clearly unhappy that she was stuck on a leash while everyone else scrambled around.

Overall everything went well, although I was greeted by Carrie with the quote of the day: “Hi. So they had to bring the biggest pump truck they had to get a boom long enough, so we pretty much blew through our entire pump truck budget during the first pour.”  Not good, but not disasterous in the big scheme of things.

Up next are the rest of the house walls, then it’s on to the big-boy retaining walls next week. Good fun.

Lots of pics today. Enjoy.

We didn’t realize how heavily waiting for the permit was weighing on us. But we definitely felt a lift today when we finally got the good news. It almost felt good to write the check to the county. Two checks, actually–one for the permit and one for our septic field.

So our forms are schedule for inspection Tuesday, and our first of a few concrete pours will happen Wednesday. Good timing in a way, though. It rained all day Monday. It’s supposed to rain all day Tuesday. Then Wednesday the weather is (in theroy) supposed to clear up.

In any case, I think Misha and Carrie are excited to fill the giant forms. There are a couple of other pictures here too. One of K & L climbing on the rock. And another of Sacha rubbing in turkey poo. At least she didn’t eat it. This time. Dogs…


I realize it’s been a week since we last posted. There’s good stuff to show–progress on site–but mostly we’ve been busy waiting for our building permit. We’re building the house from SIPS, or structural insulated panels. SIPS have some fantastic qualities. They’re strong (much stronger than a typical framed wall), provide amazing energy efficiency (we’ll be a bit north of R-50 for the roof), and because the panels are manufactured off site, in theory the house will go together very quickly (4-5 days from the beginning of installation until the walls and roof are complete.

But alas, not all is perfect. Although things are going relatively well, because the panels are pre-fabricated, all of the engineering and layout needs to be dialed before we pull the proverbial trigger. So, Matt has undertaken a heroic amount of coordination between engineers and R-Control. The short version of how this works, is Matt sends over our final building plans. Then R-Control’s panel layout engineer converts this into a SIPS layout (see the screen capture below). Then a structural engineer and panel engineer examine this work, in conjunction with Matt and to a lesser extent our builder, Carrie. Then the feedback loop begins. It’s all healthy, but time consuming.

So our final “permit set” is now with the county, and we’re waiting for our building permit to be approved, which we need before we pour concrete and fill the forms that are being finished up. Ordinarily we might have waited to start form work until we had the permit in hand, but we’re racing winter.

Last night I ran into a friend that runs a big architectural firm. He asked how construction was going and I showed him the picture below on my phone. His response? “That’s a big footing. Are you building a bridge?”

No, just some giant concrete walls. In the background you can see Misha and his fantastic crew of “concrete guys.” Amazing work they’re doing, and they show a huge amount of pride in the job they’re doing. Great stuff.

One door closes, another opens. No, I’m not going to get too philosophical here, but the first part of excavation is coming to a close. And the first part of building the forms that will become a house and retaining walls is now beginning. So yes, progress continues. We’re having a hiccup here and there, mostly related to the four, yes, four sets of engineers that continue to ply their trade. This is time-consuming, but necessary if we want a building permit. Nothing to get too worried about though, and things will all be finalized within the next couple of days.

In the meantime, here are a couple of cellphone pics that show a bit of progress. It’s a beautiful day in Spokane today. When I popped up to the site at lunchtime, Stefane (sp?), who is helping to create the forms, was enjoying his meal in the sun. Not a bad place to be.