Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sky-bridge open for traffic

February 27, 2015

This week ended up being ALL about scaffold.  I anticipated it would only take a couple of days, and 80% of it was finished by Tuesday PM.  But then I got into the cold room under the garage and the ‘tower’ I needed to build to get out of the pit, as I will loose my existing ladder by the time I place the next ICF row (and I really did not have a place to put the ladder on the outboard side of the foundation that would be accessible and had an appropriate landing spot at the top).

SO, I spent the time building the tower, including stairs and a ‘sky-bridge’ over to the mainland, as this will be my primary means of entry and egress from the pit for the next several months (until 1st storey floor assembly has been framed and back-fill is complete).

The basic tower, and the surrounding ICF placing scaffold in the cold room, took all of Wednesday. Thursday was a very short day as I had a seminar to attend at Buildex in the afternoon and received a shipment of Waste Veg Oil in the morning for the truck. But in the 2 hours I had left, I constructed the basic sky-bridge.

Today, I thought I would quickly slap on the guard rails and raise the bridge into place using the scaffold pulley I bought. Boy was I wrong! The guards took forEVER to attach (mainly because the bolts I bought were 1/4″ too short, so it was difficult to get the nuts started), and then the lifting of the bridge into place was much more difficult than anticipated.

This was one of those days where it would have been nice to have another set of strong hands on site, but I often cannot anticipate when these occurrences will take place and therefore cannot plan for temp labour.

I debated waiting till Saturday and trying to line up some help, but then switched to the working smarter not harder mind set and remembered I have a cum-o-long.  With the tractor pushing and pulling on the top side, and the cum-o-long on the pit side pulling the bridge up, I was able to lift this behemoth into place, but it took a couple of hours.

The day finished off with securing the bridge to the tower and then installing the guards around the top of the tower platform.  The ICF placing scaffold is now essentially complete and I will now be able to pickup the ICF block by the side of the road with the dolly,  go across the bridge, down the stairs, and around the entire perimeter of the ICF placing scaffold to bring it right to where is needed.

The placing scaffold was generally built with the donated lumber from Bert and lumber I had salvaged from the house.  It has been built so that it can easily (relatively) be raised to the final height needed for the crew that will pour the foundation. Worksafe requires the pouring scaffold to be 20″ wide and 36″ below the top of the foundation wall (I will also have to install guard rails to the pouring scaffold once raised).

So, it took a lot longer than I would have liked, but with the short Thursday, and the fact that this will now be the primary way to get in and out of the pit, it was worth the extra effort.  Only problem is that with the 50+ times I estimated I have climbed up to the top of the tower today alone, my legs have clamped up like steel and are KILLING me.  Oh well, at least the back did not hurt to much today!

PS: Now my cat – Blackberry – will also have a way to get into the pit and will be most pleased.  Poor guy has been prone to sitting at the top of the excavation and just crying until I come up and pay some attention to him. Now he will be able to come visit.

Sky-Bridge Open for Business!

Sky-Bridge Open for Business!

Quite the chasm below! Tower constructed from salvaged lumber and recently purchase scaffold frames.

Quite the chasm below!
Tower constructed from salvaged lumber and recently purchase scaffold frames.

Stairs are very shallow to allow easy passing of dolly wheels.  I originally was going to build a ramp but decided it was far too steep.  I just eyeballed the stairs (first set I ever built), and they turned out pretty good.  Only issue is top step is off as I did not visually interaction with top platform properly).

Stairs are very shallow to allow easy passing of dolly wheels. I originally was going to build a ramp but decided it was far too steep. I just eyeballed the stairs (first set I ever built), and they turned out pretty good. Only issue is top step is off as I did not visually interaction with top platform properly).

South side ICF placing scaffold (will be raised to provide pouring scaffold surface).

South side ICF placing scaffold (will be raised to provide pouring scaffold surface).

North ICF Placing Scaffold (will also be raised later prior to pour)

North ICF Placing Scaffold (will also be raised later prior to pour)

I leave you with some of my favourite quotes that have been on an email subscription I am getting. These all have great relevance to my current activities or the reason I am building this style of house in the first place.

“If my mind can conceive it, my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it!”
—Jesse Jackson (born 1941) Politician, Civil Rights Activist

“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”
—Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) Novelist

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
—John Muir (1838-1914) Naturalist, Author

Thanks for visiting.

 

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ICF Rising

February 21, 2015

The last week has seen some great progress at the site.  By last weekend, I had all the forms stripped, all the form wood sorted and stacked, and had started the second row of ICF.

Form lumber ready for next use as scaffold.

Form lumber ready for next use as scaffold.

Monday was a light day on site as I assisted Anna and also grieved for the loss of her mother.  It was quite a shock and very sad. It will take some time to get used to the fact she is gone.

In the afternoon I resumed my plans to pick up some new scaffold up at Scaffold Depot as I really needed some time alone anyway to process the mornings events.  Scaffold Depot was selling off 78″ x 60″ Arch Frames for $25 ea.  This is a fraction of the reg cost.  These were new frames that had been sitting in the yard for some time.  They are a bit taller than normal which will both help and be a problem depending on what task I am using them for.  I bought enough to do a double layer along any of the four elevations of the house.  Once the house is complete, I should be able to sell for the same or even more than I paid (used frames were more expensive on Craigslist).  I needed a two frame tall tower in order to create a way to get out of the pit once the ICF wall is too high to access the existing ladder.  I will need to build a sky bridge from the top of the pit wall over to the tower.  I may also use the scaffolding to provide part of the walk surface that will be needed for pouring.

Tuesday, I had a cornucopia of help.  My Father-In-Law came by and brought a friend – Bert, who was also the fellow who donated all of the longer lumber I brought home a few weeks back.  Ted also came by and in 3.5 hours, the three of them and moved about 100 of the ICF blocks from the stockpile at the north end of the site, so that they were all stacked around the perimeter of the foundation.  This made progressing on the next few rows of ICF easy and also reduced the strain on my back.  As I had only had about 4 hours of sleep (got up at 5 AM to take my wife to air port) and had a back appointment in a few hours anyway, I took them all to lunch and called it quits, but not before finishing the second row of ICF and erecting the scaffold tower.

Wed & Thursday saw the third course of ICF installed, and Friday saw the 4th course in place.  I also picked up a Colphene 3000 sample from James Kelly at Soprema, that I am testing for adhesion to the ICF and bag footing, as this is planned as the primary waterproofing barrier on the foundation.

This is a good segue to discuss the latest roadblock from the District.  A full 9 months after approving my drawing package that made it clear what I was using for a foundation wall (Durisol ICF), and the fact that I was using a self adhered membrane as my primary waterproofing solution, they in their infinite wisdom have changed their mind and are now forcing me to have the waterproofing plan approved by a building envelope engineer.  The logic used was because Durisol is not made from foam (the only ICF specifically approved in the building code), then not only do I need to have the structure of the foundation wall professionally design (I had already done this), but I now also could not use a Part 9 waterproofing approach and would need to have the system designed under Part 5 and signed off by an engineer.  Is there one iota of the code language that supports this jump in logic? No!  There is nothing that links the structural design of a foundation to the waterproofing of the foundation.  They are two different tasks not mutually dependent.

And in fact the Durisol ICF block does have Part 9 approval by means this letter of approval issued by the Ontario Building Materials Evaluation Commission.  The only reason I had my wall engineered, was that I had a higher unsupported wall than was approved by Part 9.  But facts do not seem to matter in this District, and I suspect the manager did not even review the literature I provided them when the concern was first raised.  SO now I am wasting more money and time to jump through their bureaucratic hoops.  I cannot say enough positive about the inspectors and staff.  They have been great and very supportive.  It is the Manager that I have a beef with as it is always his way or the highway, and his way at least appears to be whatever leads to the lowest level of liability or effort by the District.  Revisions to the Municipal Over-site of the code cannot come soon enough!

Fortunately, I know the system works as it already has been reviewed by my mentors in the building science field, and I have a large number of building envelope specialists I can draw from and have passed the request onto a engineer I know from the BC Building Envelope council.  He has been too busy to get to it this week, but I hope we can wrap this up by next week.

Today I gave my back a bit of a break (it has been doing remarkably well thanks to the Vancouver Spinal Decompression Centre) and only spent a few hours on site cleaning up some of my outstanding tasks.  I also picked up some plywood that will be used for the sky bridge and bought some Roxul Comfortbatt that I used to fill two of the ICF bays in each course to create a thermal break between the main dwelling and the room under the garage.  With the structural engineer’s blessing, these bays will have no concrete or rebar penetrating them.  This will allow the thermal barrier to be continuous around the entire outboard perimeter of the main dwelling.  I started out with spray foam, but it was expensive and even the contractors sized can (that needs the applicator gun) did not do more than about half a block high.  These thermal breaks will require extra vertical reinforcement at the bay on the garage side of the column, but this is worth the extra $10 or so.

Thermal Break being created between main dwelling and cold room under garage (dwg states capillary break in error instead of thermal break)

Thermal Break being created between main dwelling and cold room under garage (dwg states capillary break in error instead of thermal break)

Roxul filled 'insulation column' that will prevent thermal bridging therough the concrete and rebar from the main dwelling into the cold room under garage.

Roxul filled ‘insulation column’ that will prevent thermal bridging through the concrete and rebar from the main dwelling into the cold room under garage.

I also re-positioned the roving cam to the top of the pit wall as a few of you had advised that the view from it was very restricted.  The new vantage point allows you to see most of the pit and will not be blocked out as the wall rises.

Next week will slow down a bit as once I finish the 5th row, I will need to build scaffold around the site to complete rows 6 through 9 and form up the top curb.  I am aiming for the foundation ICF and form-work to be complete by second week of March.  I will then need a structural inspection and a District inspection (but not before I have letters of authorization and assurance from the Building Envelope engineer).

Thanks for visiting!

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Goodbye

February 16, 2015

This morning I said goodbye to a kind and dear neighbour.  Joan had been with us for 92 years and right to the end was full of life, generosity, and a kind spirit.  She had a great sense of humour and was always welcoming to me and my wife over the last 16 years I have had the honour of being her neighbour. Joan unexpectedly passed during the night, quickly and without suffering.

Joan, you were loved and will be missed!

“There are those whose lives affect all others around them. Quietly touching one heart, who in turn, touches another. Reaching out to ends further than they would ever know.”

—William Bradfield

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Stripping

February 11, 2015

This week is all about stripping – the forms that is!

Ted came by yesterday and we got a good start on pulling up the rental stakes and I was able to return 100 at lunch time.  After lunch we continued pulling up the stakes and got all done except for those used on the batter boards.

I continued today and finished delivering the final 74 to EMC Form Rentals.  EMC have been awesome! One of the owners even came back after hours on a Friday night to put out the final 20 stakes I needed to finish the internal footings.  If they had not done so, I would not have been able to work through the weekend and then pour last week!

I also stopped in to see Happy at Fwd Engineering today.  Happy is designing my perimeter water pump up system for the sump. I will have the conventional 4″ perforated perimeter drain system, but I wall also be draining the thick granular layer that sits below all of this which will not only enable me to keep the water table much further below the slab, but also provide for a HUGE reservoir to store the water should a pump cut out (I would imagine I would have over a day’s storage capacity during the wettest season of the year, but it may end up being even more.

By the end of today, I had finished stripping over 85% of the forms and should easily finish the strip by tomorrow.  Tomorrow I will also pick up the rebar I need for the ICF foundation.  I am getting this from Heritage Steel Sales who have excellent prices. Not only are their base steel prices the best I could find, but their labour costs are next to free.  I ordered 90pcs – 10M x 24” x 24” 90° Hooked Corner Bends, 16pcs – 10M x 180° Hooked Stirrups, and 8 pcs – 15M x 9ft and the labour costs to form and cut these is only $18.  Renting the cutter and bender is close to $100 per day!  Anyone who is building in the Lower Mainland and who does not give Heritage a chance to quote has money to burn!

By the end of the week I hope to get the site cleaned up (forming lumber stacked) and 1 if not 2 rows of ICF placed.  I have 9 rows total, so should be able to get all the ICF in placed over the next 2 weeks.  Onward and upward!

One does not realize how much wood goes into form work until it is all sitting in piles at the end of the strip.

One does not realize how much wood goes into form work until it is all sitting in piles at the end of the strip.

Thanks for visiting.

 

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Thankful!

February 9, 2015

Several of you have been hounding me asking “So – How did it go?”.   I am thrilled to advise it went quite well and I am thankful for those that helped me get there!

So let’s catch you up from your last visit.  On Monday I got the sign off from the Geotech for the bearing below the footings as well as the conformance of the footings to the Structural drawings.  I was able to use the Geotech for both of these tasks on the approval of the Structural engineer. I also finished bracing all of the internal footings and also added the bottom cleat to most of the exterior ICF modules that clamped on the bag footing. That night I finished the soldering for the moisture sensors I installed in the footing and first course of ICF as the first part of a foundation building science lab.

On Tuesday I went down to the District hall and  booked the footing inspection with the Building inspector. I also spoke with the plumbing inspector about the floor drain trap priming requirements and made sure things were good with the Electrical inspector regarding the Teck cable I had installed the week before. I also finished the ICF modules at the base of the ramp, removed the water from all of the bag footings and centered them under the ICF modules.

Wednesday saw the final touches to the footing at the base of the ramp, the building permit inspection, detailing of the door opening in the basement (I blocked out these ICF bays so that concrete cannot flow into them as they will need to receive special rebar that goes around all openings).  I also did a general pit floor cleanup so that I would not be tripping over things on pour day and then installed geotextile under the street storm basin grates.  That night I finished up shrink wrapping the 12 moisture sensors that were to be  embedded into the footings.  I was ready for the pour!

Thursday AM, I decided to test the 12 instruments and was very happy I did.  5 of the 12 had a bad connection to the temp sensor.  So, the shrink wrap was cut off and the connections were re-soldered.  Then when I got to site, I found the plastic had blew off the footing modules at the base of the ramp and the bag had about 4″ of water in it.  Fast thinking saved me an hour of work, I dug a depression in the gravel below, made a ‘sump’ in the bag footing and placed a pump in.  The footing was dry about 5 minutes later!

Ted came by around 11 AM and I was basically ready to go.  The pumper showed up at 12:30 to set up.  They suggested I make a 4’x4′ box from 2×6 to dump the concrete from the hopper that cannot be pumped at the end – a couple of minutes saw this task dispatched.  About this time my ‘cleanup crew’ arrived.  Ron and Gail (north neighbors) and Anna (south neighbors).  Along with Ted, we were ready to go.

Pumping commenced pretty much exactly at 1 PM and the first truck of 6.4 m was empty a brisk 30 minutes later.  We then had a 30 minute pause till the next truck which gave me and my crew some time to clean up.  The internal footings needed to be reasonably smooth and the curb on top of them needed to be very smooth (finished surface that the walls will sit on). We were also cleaning the concrete off the form work and the tops of the ICF including the cross webs, as I will have rebar sitting on these.

The next load of 6 m3 started pumping at 1:55 PM and was away by 2:25 PM.  It was all over except for the cleanup. As we got caught up, the crew started peeling off to go get warm and dry.  Ted and I finished up at just after 4pm so I could go off to my back clinic appointment.

In the end, everything turned out great – but I was quite concerned on Thursday PM.  One section of the bag footing had somehow shifted and I had not noticed until it was too late and already filled with concrete.  The end result was that it was off center by a lot!  I also had two very minor blowouts but was not worried about those as they were not in the way of anything and just meant I had a bit bigger footing than I needed.  Fortunately, the Structural engineer informed me the misalignment was in a fairly light loaded area and did not represent a structural concern.  I was over the moon as a repair would have been a lot more work and more delays.  I had actually pulled this off which was rewarding as I had never operated the business end of a concrete pumper crane before.

As the concrete needed a little extra time to set in this cold weather and I had a HUGE amount of office work to do (not to mention house cleaning), the site has sat generally vacant since Thursday.  Over the weekend I cleaned off my desk, did 11 loads of laundry, cleaned the suite, did a bunch of finances, and even watched some TV!

Today was design day, and I put a full day into drawing up the perimeter and storm water drainage system. This week will be about stripping the forms, and starting the perimeter drainage once I meet with the engineer (needed because I have a pump up system).

12 moisture and temp Sensors ready to imbed in the footings and first row if ICF in the 'test lab'

12 moisture and temp Sensors ready to imbed in the footings and first row if ICF in the ‘test lab’

 

Two levels of sensors installed. In all, there will be 7 rows and 3 columns of sensors installed in both of the two testing areas.

Two levels of sensors installed. In all, there will be 7 rows and 3 columns of sensors installed in both of the two testing areas.

Last minute preparations under way

Last minute preparations under way

The crew ready to go (Ted is taking photo)

The crew ready to go (Ted is taking photo)

The pour is under way!

The pour is under way!

The crew works behind me to cleanup and smooth out concrete.

The crew works behind me to cleanup and smooth out concrete.

Pour well under way - no idle hands.

Pour well under way – no idle hands.

Misaligned footing - so thankful not in a structurally crucial location.

Misaligned footing – so thankful not in a structurally crucial location.

First of minor blowouts

First of minor blowouts resulted in a bit wider of a footing.

Second minor blowout

Second minor blowout

These 2x4's were held into the durisol block with 3" construction screws on about a 15" spacing.

These 2×4’s were held into the Durisol block with 3″ construction screws on about a 15″ spacing.

My Desk at the beginning of the weekend!

My Desk at the beginning of the weekend!

I am very thankful to the following parties that got me to this point:

1) The Good Man Above for giving me the strength, endurance, and Intelligence to progress to this stage.

2) Nathan Proper at Tacoma Engineering for rushing out his structural field report in time for the building inspectors visit. Nathan was responding to emails at 11:30 PM Ontario time!

3) Ben Davies of Davies Geotechnical.  Ben was also very available and responding well into the evening to get me ready for the inspector’s visit.

4) Richard Dohmeier of the District of North Vancouver.  Richard is a valuable member of my team and worked hard to navigate between the code requirements and the somewhat unique products and methods I am employing on this build.

5) Kyle Gosling of Lafarge for convincing me to go with the extra meter of concrete, recommending a mix with less SCM’s (Supplementary Cementitious Materials) so that the concrete would set up in this cold weather, and finally for recommending F&F Concrete Pumping.

6) Jason Teetaert at SMT for his guidance in getting my instruments ready.

7) Dr. Ali Akhavan for giving me the back in a very short number of weeks that could handle this type of activity.

8)  But most importantly, I am very thankful to Ron & Gail, Anna, and Ted for their help last Thursday.  Without their help, I would not have made it.  They allowed me to concentrate on placing the concrete, while they made sure everything was squared away behind me as I progressed through the site.  They were all a blessing and I am very grateful!

Thanks for visiting.

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The Big Day has arrived – Tomorrow we pour.

February 4, 2015

I am far too tired to give a lengthy update and still have some instruments to finish preparing tonight that will be imbedded into the concrete, but I am pleased to say the day I thought would never arrive is just around the corner.

Tomorrow, I finally pour concrete!

At 1 PM the first of two trucks will arrive and together with a boom pumper I will proceed to pour the footings.  Today I passed the District Building Permit Inspection and we are good to go. Of course Mother Nature will accompany me with her own ‘Pour’.  Can you say poor!

So feel free to tune in and watch the proceedings and I will talk to you again on Friday.

Thanks for visiting.

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Footing Forms

February 1, 2015

This week has been all about getting the footing forms finished so I can have inspected and pour this coming week.  Wednesday and Thursday saw the basic XPS forms in place for the internal strip and pad footings. Friday I lined the forms with Poly (rising damp barrier and air barrier) and started installing the lumber bracing for the XPS foam forms.  Saturday saw the end of the bracing and the majority of the curb forms built and leveled.  Today I even snuck in a ‘quite’ couple of hours to finish the basic curb forms in time for engineering inspection tomorrow. I also placed most of the 2×4’s I will use as cleats at the bottom of the ICF blocks to hold the fabric footing forms in place.

I am forming the internal footings with XPS foam to remove the thermal bridge that they would otherwise represent.  Placing foam under the footings was preferable from a structural point of view over sandwiching it between the footing and the slab. A load supporting curb will also be poured at the same time as the footing for engineering reasons and to allow the constrcution of the basement walls before the basement slab is placed.

I am forming the internal footings with XPS foam to remove the thermal bridge that they would otherwise represent. Placing foam under the footings was preferable from a structural point of view over sandwiching it between the footing and the slab. A load supporting curb will also be poured at the same time as the footing for engineering reasons and to allow the construction of the basement walls before the basement slab is placed.

All internal footing forms are complete!

All internal footing forms are complete!

Plumbing Penetration through fitting sealed to poly with R-Guard Joint and Seam

Plumbing Penetration through fitting sealed to poly with R-Guard Joint and Seam

Very Efficient use of XPS - I ended up with very little scrap that would only fill up a kids beach pail.

Very Efficient use of XPS – I ended up with very little scrap that would only fill up a kids beach pail.

This week I hope to pour Thursday, but will be more likely Friday if I cannot get the District inspection setup for Tuesday.

If you have not had a chance, check out the Time Lapse Videos on my YouTube ‘Roving Cam – Time Lapse’ channel. I have now processed from the very beginning of the tear down to the end of Jan 2015 and posted these on a monthly basis. Each video has a description of the major activities that took place that month.

Thanks for visiting.

 

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