Monthly Archives: January 2015

In the trenches

January 27, 2015

The last few days have seen lots of progress – unfortunately lots has been for the second or third time.

It finally was dry enough Saturday to finish the sand overfill of the teck cable. As I had a morning back treatment and Saturdays construction hours finish at 5 – it was a shorter day but the work on the cable was complete and both I am my back were happy the sand bucket activities were complete.

Yours truly at my daily "stretch".  A harness attaches around my waste and is attached to the bed above my head.  This is the restraint.  A second harness attaches around my hip lined up with the disc in question and is attached to the computer.  The computer strap pulls at a very specific angle (15 degrees for my target disc) and applies tension in cycles.  I am up to 118 lbs of pulling force.  So far, I have been very impressed with the results.

Yours truly at my daily “stretch”. A harness attaches around my waste and is attached to the bed above my head. This is the restraint. A second harness attaches around my hip lined up with the disc in question and is attached to the computer. The computer strap pulls at a very specific angle (15 degrees for my target disc) and applies tension in cycles. I am up to 118 lbs of pulling force. So far, I have been very impressed with the results.

Sunday is typically an office day, but my father-in-law had found an opportunity to get a large volume of free wood of longer dimensions. A friend of his was a ‘collector’, but had been ordered by the city of Vancouver to clean up his yard.  So I headed off with my trailer and came home with a lot of 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, & 2×12 in lengths ranging from 10 – 16ft.  I will use these for the supports for the ICF as it goes up as well as the scaffolding needed around the perimeter to allow pouring.   Most of the wood had been sitting wet for some time and some surface staining fungi was present.  There are also a small qty of pieces with 6″ or so on the end that is rotted and needs to be cut off.  But while this would not be suitable to build into a house, it will make excellent scaffold including scaffold planks for the duration of this project. Again, my back was happy when the day was over but at least we survived.

Monday AM, I redid the below footing plumbing pipes.  The inspector was generally happy with my work but wanted the 90 elbows at the bottom of the stacks replaced with double 45’s.  So I dug up each pipe, redid the elbows, this time added a much longer vertical stub to ensure I was wall above the wall floor plate that would be installed above during framing.  I then repositioned and buried the revised assemblies below gravel.

I then started working on the one pad footing I have in the basement (see PDF) and quickly realized that I had screwed up when sketching the footing assemblies in AutoCAD. My drawing package was correct, but for a lot of components, I had drawn up a side view to use for measurements during construction (I am working straight from AutoCAD while at site – not paper drawings – this allows me to get very accurate measurements for all tasks).  For some reason I had drawn the pad footing at only 12″ instead of 16″.  The problem with making it 16″ was that  my newly installed teck cable was only 3″ below, not the needed 4″.  I really did not want to have to dig up the teck cable and lower it or relocate it.  I was really tired of bucketing sand!  Fortunately my engineer (Nathan at Tacoma) saved the day by adding some minor reinforcing bars to the pad so that I could stay at the 12″ depth.  I was so relieved.   As I started to prepare the raised gravel beds for the strip footings on each side of the pad, I also realized I had drawn the strip footings at only 6″ instead of 8″ (not sure what I was thinking the day I original drew these sketches).  SO this meant I had to rake 2″ off the raised gravel beds I had previously prepared.  But this was for another day. I ended the day off by finishing the rigid foam box that will act as the stay in place form work for the pad footing.

Today I started the day raking 2″ off the gravel pad to the south of the pad footing and then built the rigid foam form for the strip footing.  I am using XPS (see why) rigid foam below the slabs and also will be wrapping the internal footings to prevent a thermal bridge.  Based on the engineer’s calcs, I needed a 60 PSI material for below the footings and am using Owens Corning™ FOAMULAR® 600.   You can use any strength for below the floor slab and I will be using Foamular 200 which is a 20 PSI product.  I am also using the 200 for the sides of the footing forms. I finished the strip footing form to the south of the pad footing and then started on the north strip footing.  This is about the time I realized my footing height screw-up also meant my plumbing pipes would be too high.  So for the third time, these were dug up, and now I had to actually trench into virgin soil to get them deep enough to clear the footings and insulation below the footing.  At that point, my neighbor called me for lunch and I was thrilled.  After lunch I finished dropping two of the pipes and laying out the bottom of the foam box for the north half of the strip footing.  I was thrilled when the hole I cut for the downstairs bathroom lavatory stack fit perfectly over the installed pipe.  I will have some picks of all of this in the next post.

Tomorrow I hope to finish the current strip footing and then also complete the strip footing to the west leaving only the short (and straight) strip footing off the garage wall to complete.

Thanks for visiting.


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January 23, 2015

Well today was a wash.  Nothing like 3″ of rain to ruin your plans for the day.

Instead of finishing the sand fill over the teck cable and starting on the internal footings, I spent the day on emergency storm water duty.  I awoke this morning to a friend, who after looking at my webcams, sent an email stating I better have hip waiters.  While it was not that deep, the water had crested above the gravel in all of the low spots including about 8″ over the teck cable trench.

I also had a LOT of water coming down the ramp from the driveway again, with the concerning part being that a lot of this water was below the plastic and saturating the ramp dirt once more. So one of the emergency tasks was to dig a trench at the top of the ramp and line with plastic that went from the trench and overlapped the existing plastic on the ramp.  Once the trench was back filled, this forced all surface water to once again flow over, instead of under the plastic.

I also had to re-activate two pumps so that all three were operational.  While the problem did not get any worse than this morning (I continuously was checking the time lapse for movement in the water levels), I did not see any significant draining occur until about 4PM and the day was a bust.

Obviously I could not fill a trench that was under water, but the repeated visits to site to adjust, or check on the pumps, also prevented any meaningful office work getting done (not to mention soaked every piece of clothing I had). Fortunately, they are only calling for another 1.5″ before it starts to clear up.

What is a bit concerning is the number of times things happen after I speculate or gloat about them.  No sooner had I asked for the rain instead of snow stating that I had the rain and wind beat – we had a massive wind storm that took the tarp  out.  And this week I had jokingly mentioned to my wife and neighbor, “If the pit ever floods I am going to go swimming in it”.  It is almost like the ghost busters movie where you were not supposed to think of anything bad and the fellow thinks of a giant marshmallow ghost, and guess what appears.  I am going to have to keep my mouth shut.

Lets see what tomorrow brings. Thanks for visiting.

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Day by Day

January 22, 2015

Day by day, I am making progress, granted not the progress even a small crew would make, but I am after all 1 man. And if I am sick, injured, needing to do office work, or diverted to any of life’s other requirements on my time, I am obviously not going to make progress at the site.  I am learning to accept this as part of this process.

But this week, real progress has been made in spite of everything!

Tuesday AM was my first visit to They basically use a modern and computer controlled version of a medieval torture rack to  target very specific vertebrae and create a negative pressure in the spinal column in an attempt to  ‘suck back in’ a herniated disk.  Tonight was my third visit and as I sit here writing this entry, I can say I am just about pain free, for the first time in several months. So, so far I am impressed and remain hopeful with this process.

But after Tuesday’s treatment, I was advised to take it easy and was feeling pretty poor anyway after a night without a lot of sleep, so I took the doctors advise and spent most of the day napping and resting.  To ease my conscience, I did get out at the end of the day and bought the plumbing materials I needed for the waste piping that is running under the footings.

Wednesday, I was pretty sore but managed to glue up and place the plumbing pipes.  I also had hired Andrew from Embers who hustled and dug a drainage trench from the location where I was collecting and pumping water at the south end of the pit, and connected this to the north end of the pit where the other pit pump is located and where the permanent sump is also located.  This will now ensure that most if not all of the pit drains to the NE corner where the sump is located.  I also had a visit from the Geotech who needed to inspect the banks for stability, as a pit is not normally left open this long.  While he was there, he also inspected about 80% of what was needed for the forms inspection, both from a Geo-technical point of view, as well as the sizes from a structural point of view.  The Geotech has agreed to do the structural inspection on the footings saving me the cost of bringing the structural engineer in from Victoria.  Then I was off to appointment #2 at the back clinic.


Today is when things really moved.  Last night I researched 9 places I was going to contact to get pricing on the 100ft #2 Three Conductor Tech cable needed for my 200A service – yes 9, my background as a professional purchaser is always just below the surface :-). Boy am I glad I shopped around, I could not believe the variance of pricing depending on the wholesaler. The following lists the pricing from lowest to highest:

Texcan: $18.20/m
Eecol: $22.87/m
Westburne: $24.00/m
Nedco: $24.56/m
Gescan: $25.00/m
EB Horseman: $26.07/m
Ameleco: $39.88/m
Torbram: $49.00/m
Southwire: Never answered phone

Can you believe Torbram at $49/m! I double checked the spec to make sure they quoted the right thing and when I told them they were over double the competition they stated “well, this pricing helps protect contractors”. To all of them, I stated I did not have an account but was just starting to build a house as an owner builder, and would be basing my total material supply based on the pricing provided for the teck.

So I hoofed it out to Texcan on Annacis Island this morning and picked up a 32m roll. Now, it was a heavy spool like this that screwed up my back for the first time back in August (the tarp cable reel).  And I generally have been on high alert looking for ways to use mechanical advantage where ever possible to save my back.  Fortunately, I was able to roll the spool right off their loading dock into the truck and then off the truck onto the ground.  I then put a steel bar through the spool and used Alfie to hoist it into the air (it is situation like this that inspired me to buy Alfie instead of renting – I would never rent just for a task like this, but when you have a tractor on site, you find all kinds of good uses for it).    From here it was a relatively easy process to pull the cable off the spool, down the pit ramp, and into the trench dug last Monday by Thomas from Embers.

Alfie lends a hand to un-spool #2 teck cable

Alfie lends a hand to un-spool #2 teck cable

I then headed off to get 3/4 yard of fill sand, which I hauled by bucket from the trailer to the top of the plywood chute leading into the pit.  I then filled a bucket at the bottom from the chute and placed the required 3″ bed below the teck cable.  This was a task I was sure would set off the back, but I was thrilled that I was able to move about 75 buckets all while having a back pain level hovering at 4/10.  It was a very good day.  By the end of the day I had the cable in place over the bed of sand and the warning label laid out.  I contacted the electrical inspector and provided photos of the progress and was given authorization to proceed on covering over the cable with the 3″ top coat of sand.

Filling up the bucket brigade from my very own sand chute - cool

Filling up the bucket brigade from my very own sand chute – cool

Teck cable placed on 3" sand bed with warning tape ready

Teck cable placed on 3″ sand bed with warning tape ready

But wait, I also had my friendly Plumbing inspector (Al Stewart) come by at noon to inspect the partially-installed-below-slab-plumbing. Although he has never done this before (inspect a partial system), he approved the concept and just asked me to change the 90º elbows at the base of the stacks to double 45º elbows.  Based on my commitment to get this work done, he approved me proceeding with burring these pipes.  Woo-Hoo!!

We had a great discussion where I clarified some outstanding questions I had as well as discussing aspects of the project in general.  I do find it odd however that he had never inspected a partial piping installation or it appears also has never inspected pipes run under the footings.  When I asked how the plumbers get to the stacks in bearing walls, he was not able to give me a straightforward answer and it sounds like a lot of times, the floor plate is hacked out and the pipes are run under the slab but above the footings or at times the footings are blocked out around the openings.  None of these seem suitable in my mind and he did see the merit in what I was doing.

So, I have passed through three critical milestones (plumbing, electrical, and geotech inspections) and am that much closer to getting my footings poured.  I will spend Friday and Saturday finishing the sand covering of the teck, re-leveling the gravel under the footing zones, and starting to build the internal footing rigid foam form work.  Hopefully I will finish the foam forms on Monday and be able to call for the District inspection on Tuesday. If everything goes well, I will try to pour on Thursday.

I will leave you with some inspiration.  I signed up for daily quotes from  Some of my favorites have been:
“If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.” —Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” —Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Thanks for visiting.

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Alfie is free!

January 19, 2015

Today Alfie finally gained his freedom from the pit.  I hired Payless Towing to assist in Alfie’s extraction from the pit.  It only took about 5 minutes but was a very tense time.  The ramp slope was one thing, but with half the ramp washed out, it was now slightly too narrow and there was a strong urge for Alfie to tip sideways into the pit.  About halfway up, I could tell that things were getting precarious (I was inside ‘driving’ it up) and had the tow operator hold up and attach a second cable to the window jamb of the cab to prevent Alfie and I from tipping over.   A few minutes later and we were both safe and sound.

Alfie at the most precarious position while climbing the ramp

Alfie at the most precarious position while climbing the ramp.

The rest of the day was spent installing more of the bag footings.  Along with last Thursday (Friday was an all day seminar), I now have the footing bags installed on all exterior footings except at the bottom of the ramp.  I also hired a labourer today to dig the trench for the 200A teck cable that will feed my main panel (my main panel will be in the centre of the house so that my circuit runs are generally as short as possible.  I will place a personal power pole near the property line and install the meter on this pole.  The teck will run from the meter right to the panel in the basement).

Tomorrow after a visit to a back clinic, I will pick up the plumbing materials needed to install the sub-slab drainage that will be below or incorporated into the footings.  Once I get this and the teck cable installation inspected, I will then start work on fabricating the foam forms for the internal footings.  Hopefully this will all be done in time for Friday’s engineering inspection.

Thanks for visiting.

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Time Lapse

January 14, 2015

As feared, I succumbed yet again to illness. This has been a very unusual time for me.  I have not been sick like this since the mid 90’s and even then I would only get sick once and not back to back like this.  It is clear my immune system is very week which I attribute to living in a basement suite with carpet (the old house did not have any carpet – neither will the new one) and possibly hidden mould. I started to go down on Friday and by Saturday afternoon I was thoroughly hooped. This time it was a more pronounced chest cough and a throat that felt like I there was a thousand razor blades every time I swallowed.  This along with the new back pain pills produced very little sleep all weekend.

I did force some production on Saturday AM and went out to Surrey to pick up the XPS I need for below the internal footings. I also forced some time on Sunday and worked on creating plumbing plans needed to apply for the permit. I finished the plans by Monday afternoon before heading of to the doc.

One positive outcome of the docs visit was that I had permission to start and stop the back meds at will, so I stopped both and actually had a reasonable sleep Monday night. I will now wait a few days before taking one of the two pills to find out which one is keeping me awake at night and then hopefully find an alternative.

Tuesday AM, I went down and got the plumbing permit.  The inspector said he would approve me doing the work (and therefor me getting the permit) but that when he told me to change something I was not to argue.  Gee – do you think I have a reputation at District hall or something :-).  While at the hall I also clarified with the electrical inspector that the buried tech cable below the slab has to be below the granular layer in a bed of sand. That about did me in and I spent the rest of the day resting and sleeping.  My throat was still raging soar but the cough had settled down a bit.

Today the stress of things not getting down overcome my need for rest and I worked most of the day at the pit.  I started attaching the bag footings to the bottom of the ICF blocks.  This is fairly straight forward and did not take much time once I figured out the right lines printed on the fabric to align to (it was not intuitive and I had to start over the first section).  The process of taping the seems while each side of the seam is attached to the blocks proved very time consuming and after doing the first few seems that way, I graduated to taping the seams before I placed and attached the FabForm to the ICF.   This method was aided even further by stapling the ends of the seams to a stick first providing a flat surface to get a really good tape bond. As this has to be a waterproof system, taking the extra time now is worth the effort.  I am only seeming at corners and Tee intersections.  Routing the fabric form under the ICF modules was made more difficult by the structure holding the ICF in place, but there really was no other way to do this.  I would have had to lay out the fabric before pounding in the stakes to make it at all easier and back then it would have been very hard to get the right dimensions.

Stapling the seams to a stick greatly increased productivity and the quality of the tape job.

Stapling the seams to a stick greatly increased productivity and the quality of the tape job.

Of course today was sans any significant meds and I REALLY felt my angry back and I contorted to all kinds of positions to staple the fabric on.  Hopefully I can endure and find a med and treatment regime that keeps me maintain reasonable pain levels going forward.

I am pleased to annonce that I have FINALLY have the first of what will be many time lapse videos documenting my project.  The first video is from May 2014 from the perspective of the roving cam.  May 2014 Video

Thanks for visiting.

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The good, the bad, and the ugly.

January 9, 2015

Well this week has presented the full gambit of emotions and experiences.

Middle internal Footing - Gravel Bed

Middle internal Footing – Gravel Bed

West internal Footing - Gravel Bed

West internal Footing – Gravel Bed

Wednesday was productive in that I got a lot of small but important things done.  Ted came by for a visit while I finished preparing the gravel beds for the internal footings. He also helped me tweak the string lines for the internal footings so that they are ready to go once I get the XPS on site. After lunch and a trip to the lumber store for some 1×2, we then moved to finally hooking up the electrical to the shop out back so that I could get my drill press and compressor going.

Later in the afternoon I cut and started drilling the 1×2 that I am using to suspend the rebar footing dowels at the proper height. I thought of various methods to suspend the dowel in the form work. I actually had problems finding any examples on the net of how to do this. In the end I felt a 1×2 stapled to the top of the ICF with a whole the size of the rebar would be the easiest method. I then just wrapped some rebar wire around the bar at the required height so that the bar could no longer slide through the hole. I also tied a continuous string to the top of each bar to lock them into a vertical orientation.

Thursday, I finished drilling the blocks, stapling them into place and hanging the rebar.


Easy way to hang rebar dowel in form work

I then started the plastic covers over the ICF modules before calling it a day.

Covering footings with plastic to allow ICF blocks to dry out and then protect from rain after pour

Covering footings with plastic to allow ICF blocks to dry out and then protect from rain after pour

Unfortunately, my escapades from Wednesday night meant my back was really bad on Thursday.  I had screwed up and it almost got really bad.  As regular readers will know, I burn used Waste Vegetable Oil in my truck.  This is one way I am reducing my carbon footprint.  When burning WVO in colder climates, you must purge the oil out of the engine before shutting down, by switching back to diesel,  or the oil will gel once cold inside the injector pump.  I have forgotten to do this a few times in the warmer months, and the truck is really hard to start.  I have never done it when it is cold out and the truck would not start before the battery went dead.  Of course this was happening just as I was needing to get to an appointment.  I tried to jump with a jump pack, but the battery on it was also not strong enough.  So then I asked to borrow Ron’s older Caddy but Gail needed it for the night.  So I tried to use it to jump start, but once getting it in place I opened the hood and remembered there is no battery in the engine bay, it is under the back seat! Fortunately at that moment my wife got back from work and I was able to get to my blood donation appointment only a few minutes late. On my return, I tried to use the car to jump start but my battery was too dead and I could not get enough juice.

That’s where it all went south (or west in this case).  A reasonable approach would have been to call BCAA. But I am building a house by myself – do I appear to be a reasonable person 🙂

I decided to push the truck from the road into my driveway so that I could hook up a battery charger overnight.  This of course is not a wise thing to do with a back disc issue.  I manoeuvred the truck so it was lined up with the driveway but could not get the front tires to crest the curb. So then, against the inner voice in my head that was screaming NOOOOOOOOO, I used my wife’s car to carefully nudge the truck so that the front wheels crested the curb.  It was a very slow and gentle nudge and initially the truck stopped at that position.  As I was backing the car off the road, I observed that the truck had started rolling again and was picking up speed.  I jumped out of the car and ran like a banshee to catch the truck, because at the end of the driveway is the ramp into the pit. I jumped in, frantically searched for the brake pedal in the dark, and got the truck stopped about 4 ft from the top of the ramp.  What a night. In reality, it probably would have run into a very large rock I have at the top of the ramp to protect for just this occasion.  But I was stressed and had further injured the back.  How stupid!

My next adventure started on Thursday as I had started a new medicine regime the back surgeon gave me for the disc injury.  The night time pill is supposed to also make me drowsy, but the result for me was a night without even an hour’s sleep.  Today was a very tough day but I still made some progress.  During the night I started thinking ahead in the build and remembered I need to run plumbing both below and through some of the internal footings. So I got up early and started working on a plumbing plan that I will need to submit to get a permit.

In the afternoon I was back at the job site and was having difficulty confirming some of the ICF elevations.   I believe I was measuring from the wrong spot due to my sleep deprived state.  But I got to a point where I just did not trust my laser level so went out and rented another.  In the end, my laser and the rented unit agreed 100% and both showed that my ICF was at a very consistent elevation. The only adjustments needed was some gravel levels below the footings, so that there was a consistent 8″ gap between the bottom of the ICF and the gravel.  This was completed by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, it now looks like I am getting another flue and appear to not be able to win this week.

I had booked an engineering inspection for the 19th, but had requested this morning that this be delayed till the 23 now that I have the extra work of running some of the plumbing. Now that I am sick, even the delayed date may be in jeopardy.

Lets see what the next week brings.  Thanks for visiting.

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So far so good

January 6, 2015

Progress has continued at a reasonable to even a good pace.

Saturday saw the balance of the garage south wall and most of the west wall ICF modules placed. Ted had come by in the afternoon which was fortuitous as it led to a conversation about door openings. I realized I had not allowed for one on the west wall of the garage when laying out the ICF modules (which is needed to access the ‘cold’ room under the garage), and more importantly, that I had not allowed enough room to account for the door frames on the door I had already laid out on the north wall. It was dark and cold and so we called it a day.

Sunday was not a ‘work’ day but I did work on the project. I am now much closer to having time lapse videos from the roving cam from the beginning and will try to finish these and post by the end of the week. The Street and Shed cam videos will take a bit longer. On the camera front, the replacement shed cam left Ontario (I believe) today and I should;d also have the container cam back up by the weekend.

Monday saw the adjustment of the garage west wall to now include the needed doorway, the adjustment of the north wall doorway to accommodate the door frame thickness, and the final blocks placed on the east wall near the bottom of ramp (except for a gap that will allow Alfie to escape in the next week or so. He will get a tow up the ramp as soon as I am sure he is not needed in the pit any longer).

Today saw the start of laying out the internal footings (see drawing if interested). This involved roughly identifying location with marking paint and then using Alfie to scrape up enough gravel from the surrounding areas to build up the pads that the footings will lay on to the correct elevations. I finished levelling the gravel for the west interior footing and got about 50% of the middle interior footing.  I should finish this and the east footing some time tomorrow.  I then need to build the footing forms out of XPS which I do not have on site yet (I will have an announcement soon regarding the XPS supply).

While waiting for the XPS I will proceed on the exterior footings. I need to attach the bag footings to the bottom of the ICF module and also mark the location where the dowels will be placed.  I may also try to find a way to suspend these in place prior to pouring to save the work needed during pouring.  Anyone have any ideas on an easy way to do this. Finally I also need plastic covers over the ICF modules to protect from rain (so blocks dry out before placing concrete and to keep water pooling in forms once I install the bag footings).

If all goes well and I can secure the XPS, we will have finished footing forms by early next week.

Thanks for visiting.

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Reboot Complete!

January 2, 2015

I am pleased to advise that I have ended 2014 and started 2015 with progress.

On the 29th Ted dropped by for the morning and we worked on rechecking all of the previously laid out ICF modules for both elevation and alignment. I was pleased that only very minor adjustments were needed to the ICF modules. A few had settled and need to be jacked up. This had nothing to do with the storm and was because I had stacked three rows of ICF block on top for temp storage thinking I would be back the next day. I had not counted on being away from site for the better part of three weeks with both illness and then Christmas events. Fortunately, with the design of the ICF suspended supports, this was an easy fix.

The string lines for the areas I had not yet laid out the modules in were a different storey. 1 set of batter boards had been completely pulled out by the tarp when it was hauled to the topside, and three others had been damaged and shifted both by the tarp flapping in the wind, and the process of pulling the tarp out of the pit.

Before starting on their repair, I dug out the mud that had sloughed off the pit ramp – There was about 6 full Alfie buckets. There was no sense hauling this out of the pit with buckets (just to dump back in during back filling) so I placed some geo-textile above the gravel back-fill at the base of the sump and then dumped the mud on top. This will allow the soil to drain and dry out over time.

The reset ended up being a good thing. We were having problems getting string lines to square up and be at the right distances. So after lunch I went back and started from the first corner again and re-measured EVERYTHING. I ended up tweaking a few lines a 1/8″ here and there, but the main mistake found was that the south wall of placed ICF modules was 1/2″ too long. I believe that this was caused by the fact that I was using a fibreglass tape back when I did this wall and as previously mentioned – THEY STRETCH! (I now have a 100ft steel tape that is great)

I finished the day by trimming the last block by the needed 1/2″, completed the replacing/repairing of all batter boards, and then re-running all but the last two string lines. I ended up will all tolerances withing 1/8″ which is good enough for me and represents tighter tolerances than the ICF blocks in some cases.

The 30th was generally occupied with lunches and dinners with family and friends, but I did manage to lay out some new plastic along the east bank to protect the soil I had stock piled behind the sump. The 31st saw the reboot complete as I laid out the final 2 string lines and then placed modules of ICF along the garage east wall. I was finally moving forward for the first time since Dec 8.

As Jan 1 was a stat, I could not really make any construction noise so I completed a job that really needed to get done but that I had been putting off. When the floor truss package was delivered, the support structure I built for it had been knocked around while moving the long 22ft skids into place. As a result it was no longer level from either side to side or length to length. In fact the north end had completely collapsed into the mud. I did not want to leave the package in this state any longer than I already had, for fear that they would start twisting and warping. Three and a half hours later and I had jacked up the entire package so that it was 8-10 inches off the ground and generally level in both directions. Another 30 minutes had the next ICF module all laid out ready for the next days work in the pit.

Today saw ICF modules placed along half of the garage south wall before heading off to an extended lunch with some family members. It was a particularly difficult section due to there being a corner involved and also the need to slide under a batter board where there will be a ‘T’ intersection.

It feels really good to be progressing forward again and I have a renewed optimism and determination for the project. The ‘New Years’ has allowed me to mentally say good by to all the crap of the last 6 months and start again, this time hopefully on a more productive and professional schedule. My back has been tolerable. I take lots of meds in the morning and get through most of the day without severe discomfort. The evenings are a different storey and some days I cannot really walk anymore. I anticipate it being this seesaw at least until the foundations are complete and I do not need to lift 45+ Lb blocks all day. I hope to finish laying out the exterior footings, incorporation the first row of ICF, within the next week. I then need to form the internal footings with XPS rigid foam and will hopefully be ready for all the inspections and surveys I need by the 29th. There is a small chance we will pour in Jan but should be fore sure the first week of Feb.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the ride!

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