Monthly Archives: July 2015

Drained

July 28, 2015

The last week has proceeded well and of this afternoon I have finished installing a perimeter drain field.  All runs have been routed and tied into the deep pump-up sump.  I was lucky, about 40% of the pipe was above the gravel fill in the bottom of the pit and only had to be back filled with gravel.  Another 40% was dug into the granular layer and also went fairly quickly.  Only the final 20% had to be dug down into the virgin glacial till.

Here I thought I would never see that stuff again after I covered it over with gravel last November.  I wish now I had spent a little bit more time prepping the perimeter with Alfie last fall before starting the footings, but an extra day or so of digging now was not too bad. Carrying the gravel around the perimeter, two buckets at a time, was not fun but I got it done.  I had slung in extra gravel into the interior of the foundation before placing the floor, so at least I did not have to bring it down ladders as well. All together the system took me about 45 hours to install including installing the pipe, digging the trenches (including the deep one at the sump to drain the granular field), and back-filling with gravel. Quite a bit longer than I had hoped.  One key factor was the bag footing system, once again it was in the way and I had to be super careful when digging the trenches so that I did not damage the fabric.  I figured that this probably added about 25% of the time to the job. The other issue was the deep pipe invert into the sump.  The dug out hole kept collapsing, so I would have to regroup, change the plywood guards and re-dig. This added at least a day to the whole procedure. The final issue was that I had no storage capacity when digging the deep invert.  So I would have to run the pump, quickly pull it out and dig some more before bringing back the pump to evacuate more ground water.  Sure wish I had though of all of this last fall and dug it out with Alfie before slinging in the gravel!

Digging through virgin glacial till would have been easier with Alfie last fall, C'est la Vie

Digging through virgin glacial till would have been easier with Alfie last fall, C’est la Vie

Every couple of minutes, I would have to stop trenching and evacuate the water.

Every couple of minutes, I would have to stop trenching and evacuate the water.

Drain box for exterior walk up stairwell. Stanbdard practice is to dump bag of concrete in base to seal off.  I wanted to preserve as much of a setiment trap as possible, so I glued a concrete slab to bottom and then sealed joints with mortar.

Drain box for exterior walk up stairwell. Standard practice is to dump bag of concrete in base to seal off. I wanted to preserve as much of a sediment trap as possible, so I glued a concrete slab to bottom and then sealed joints with mortar.

Drain pipe is oriented with holes at 5:00 and 7:00 and bedded in at least 3" of gravel.  This prevents fines from entering pipe

Drain pipe is oriented with holes at 5:00 and 7:00 and bedded in at least 3″ of gravel. This prevents fines from entering pipe. Additional gravel will be added above pipe after inspection.

I used a rotary hammer drill and core bit to tie into the sump.  This produces a much cleaner hole that is easier to seal with grout.

I used a rotary hammer drill and core bit to tie into the sump. This produces a much cleaner hole that is easier to seal with grout.

All pipes tied into sump and joints grouted.

All pipes tied into sump and joints grouted. Notice the much deeper invert from the granular layer. This deeper circuit also services the drain box on the walk-up stairs.

Drain box installed at finished height of slab.

Drain box installed at finished height of slab.

Inside of drain box has dry fit 90º elbow.  This allows for removal during cleaning of line.  Elbow prevents floating debris from entering system.

Inside of drain box has dry fit 90º elbow. This allows for removal during cleaning of line. Elbow prevents floating debris from entering system. Extra outlet is grouted closed.

The sump itself will not be outfitted until much later in the build process.  I need to have the rough in electrical done in the dwelling before the sump pump and controls can be inspected.  In the meantime, I will just keep use my existing construction pit pump and move it to the sump interior.

On that note, I placed a spare pump in the sump early last week and connected to a garden house that Gail is now using to water the plants in her front yard. I also let Anna know (neighbour on other side) that I will be able to fill up her rain barrels when they go dry.  As of this last Monday, our watering restrictions stepped up a notch and all lawn watering is now banned, as well as pressure washing, car washing, rinsing of hardscapes, etc.  We can hand water plant and vegetable gardens only.  The next step will be an all out ban of using potable water for any non potable use including all landscaping/gardens, commercial car washes, and golf courses.  Should this occur, I will be in good shape to provide ground water to both my neighbours and could even look at filling up others barrels if they can get them to my yard.  Instead of a lemonade stand, I may set up a non-potable water stand and sell for $1 a bucket 🙂  Fortunately we did get some rain today, so hopefully, this will delay the final restriction stage a while longer.  But either way I am now ready with an endless supply of ground water should our dry weather continue.

I am using my deep well sump as a temporary cistern to provide ground water to neighbours for irrigation

I am using my deep well sump as a temporary cistern to provide ground water to neighbours for irrigation

Gail - watering her front garden with my captured ground water.

Gail – watering her front garden with my captured ground water.

I should have the drainage system inspected tomorrow and will start on installing the continuous exterior insulation onto the foundation walls. I also need to change out the blue tarp.  It was a freebie from Freecycle.org and although it does not have a lot of holes, the water is actually flowing right through the fabric, so parts of my deck on the north side are getting pretty wet.  I reconfigured the white tarp on Friday to better drain and it has been working well with everything nice and dry below.

Blackberry keeping an eye on progress and offering the odd suggestion.

Blackberry keeping an eye on progress and offering the odd suggestion.

He is much happier now that I have built his cat ladder right down to the basement floor.

He is much happier now that I have built his cat ladder right down to the basement floor.

Thanks for visiting.

“Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” —Asha Tyson (born 1970) Writer, Public Speaker

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Torched

July 20, 2015

Quick housekeeping: I have been asked by one viewer to be a bit more consistent and post my entries on the same day each week so they do not have to constantly check.  Good news, you can now subscribe (just enter your email to the top right), and you will be automatically notified when I post.  I cannot keep to a specific schedule as there is times I am waiting for a task to be finished before reporting and other times I am quite frankly too tired to put any more time into the day creating my post.

It has been another reasonably productive week although I did not finish the perimeter drainage yet.

Cory came last Sunday for 4 hours and then a couple of hours on both Tuesday/Wednesday evening and then 5 hours this last Sat and Sunday.  In that time he was able to install the torch on for the majority of the foundation.  The only part left is 4-5 strips on the North Wall in the area of the basement walkout (this surface does not need to be done for many months), and it was decided not to carry the membrane up over the formed stub portion at the top of the foundation wall due to the number of corners and curves and the relative stiffness of the Colphene Torch’N Stick membrane.  This area will be done when the back-fill is close to complete so that we can work from ‘grade’ near the top instead of on 12′ ladders.  By the time the remaining membrane needs to be installed, I will probably have enough motion in my shoulder that I can do it myself.  The downside to not covering over this interface is that it has left the top edge of the ICF exposed, so I will have to keep it covered with plastic so water does not drain down the ICF and fill up between the poured curb and membrane.  In reality this cannot really happen as the blocks have connective webs to the inside of the wall and everything would just drain, but their is no sense maintaining this wall in a soaked condition.  I was able to assist Cory last Sunday and this weekend including doing some torching on the lower half of some of the sheets where it was too tight for Cory to come down off the scaffold.

I spent a lot of the week preparing for each of Cory’s visits including priming the walls with Elastocol 500, cutting membrane strips (it is installed vertically), and building scaffold for each area he was going to work next.

I also started the perimeter drainage.  One of the tougher parts of this system was to dig down to the lower invert, I am going to have in the pump-up sump, to drain the granular field below the slab.   This is going to be the primary drainage of the ground water.  Because I have such a healthy granular field below the slab, it did not make sense to force the water to build up in this layer till the point that it could flow into the base of foundation perimeter piping.  So instead, I should end up with a pipe entering the sump a full 2′ below the perimeter drainage system.  This extends horizontally about 4′ into the granular field in a deeper area of the excavation that was dug out to place the sump as well as to get rid of the storm water and resulting mud last October. I should have dug this pipe during the sump placement, but I did not have the storm system designed at that point and so I had to do it now that I have 2ft of gravel.  Ever tried to dig a deep trench in gravel???  It is not fun, but I got it done.

Drain pipe will provide secondary drainage plane as we will be draining the thick granular field as our primary.

Drain pipe will provide secondary drainage plane as we will be draining the thick granular field as our primary. This allows us to use the whole granular field as a reservoir instead of just the internal space of the sump

Trying to trench donw 2.5 ft through gravel.  I would dig down just below level of plywood and then use a sledge to further embed the plywood.

Trying to trench down 2.5 ft through gravel. I would dig down just below level of plywood and then use a sledge to further embed the plywood and then dig further down and repeat process.  Took about 4 hours.

The benefits of this type of system include energy efficiency and greater safety during power failures.  As we can let the water buildup to just below the drain pipe entry, we now have a massive reservoir that can be used to reduce the cycling times of the sump pump and downsize the sump pump speed. In the case of a power outage, as this is just ground water with a constant but moderate flow, we will probably end up with at least a days storage capacity before the water level built-up to the point where it would make contact with the underside of the slab. The key to sizing the pump is to not ‘over draw’ so that the drainage from the gravel field can keep up to the pump’s flow and not allow it to suck air as this creates cavitation and damage to the pump.  This has been a bit of a hard sell to the sump engineer but he has accepted the concept as has the Geotech.

Another green feature I am looking at with the storm water system is to capture the pumped up water in a cistern for the use of irrigation and the dwellings purple pipe system used to flush toilets.  There is many benefits to using ground water for these non-potable needs vs. the more traditional grey water or rain water capture.  The ground water is typically much cleaner than either grey or storm water and will not require any filtering.  It therefore only requires the addition of a cistern to capture the water.  Like all systems it would require a pump to transport the captured water to the irrigation system or toilets, but it would not require the complex filtering that is needed on grey and storm water.  The storm water can get especially complex in areas with trees, as you then need the logic built into the system to flush away the first 30 minutes or so of water that comes off a roof to discard all of the leaves and needles that would otherwise be present.

It appears that I may be one of the first to try this capture method as I have not found evidence of such a system in my research on the net, and a post to a linked in group has not turned up anyone who has experience with such a system.  The only problem would be if the water was not the right PH and I will be taking the water in for testing in the upcoming weeks.  Otherwise, it should be full of minerals and metals that plants just love and I will be able to fully irrigate my landscaping with impunity of any District watering restrictions.

In addition to the trench for the deep sump invert, I also placed the south wall perimeter drain and embedded in gravel.  If have 3″-5″ of drain rock below the pipe with the holes facing down (5:00 and 7:00).  The pipe is laid at a .5% slope.  I am using a 7′ level with a 2′ digital level. Now the the foundation membrane is complete, I hope to concentrate in this system during the week and have it ready for inspection by Monday.

Perforated Drain Pipe bedded in min 3" of gravel.  Piles of gravel over pipe is to hold pipe in place during grading as otehrwise as you lift the work end, the parts you have already levelled will move.  Pipe has to be left exposed for inspection.

Perforated Drain Pipe bedded in min 3″ of gravel. Piles of gravel over pipe is to hold pipe in place during grading as otherwise as you lift the work end, the parts you have already levelled will move. Pipe has to be left exposed for inspection.

I learned this from a builder friend of my neighbour Ron.  It provides directional cleanout of both perimeter runs but ties the runs together so they are continuous.  Could also be done at an inside corner or on a straight wall.

I learned this from a builder friend of my neighbour Ron. It provides directional clean-out of both perimeter runs but ties the runs together so they are continuous. Could also be done at an inside corner or on a straight wall.

If you were watching the video feeds today, you will see that I now have B.A.T. Jr. 3.0 in place.  While the plastic stapled to the deck did keep off the majority of water, some of the pooling water did seep through tears and staple holes resulting in a mild wetting of the deck.  This in itself was fine, but as the plastic was now in intimate contact with the deck, there was no air flow and the plywood would have just started to mould.  So I stripped the plastic off during last weeks heat and allowed the deck to dry.  Today I installed a new tarp on 2×4 stringers.  3rd time a charm?? Time will tell.

While most of deck was dry, some areas got damp.

While most of deck was dry, some areas got damp.

You can see the very beginnings of fungo growth that would have got much worse if I left the plastic in place.

You can see the very beginnings of fungi growth that would have got much worse if I left the plastic in place.

Tarp draped across 2x4 stringers and stapled in place

Tarp draped across 2×4 stringers and stapled in place

All ready for upcoming rains

B.A.T. Jr. 3.0 All ready for upcoming rains.

The final excitement to the week transpired on Sunday morning when I had a new species of visitor to the site. This is the first deer that I have seen and both my neighbours have been there since at least the 70’s and it was their first as well.  The list of major species that have been seen in my yard since I moved in (in order of frequency) comprises of the following: Humans, Cats, Raccoons, Squirrels, Crows, Skunks, Bats, Black Bear, Dogs, Hawk, Blue Heron, Mallards, Coyote, and Deer.

Two young deer visited the site.

Two young deer visited the site.

“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.” —Ronnie Oldham

Thanks for visiting to both the deer and you the reader 🙂

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Transition

July 11, 2015

It actually has been a productive week despite my continued exhaustion (I have not slept through the night since breaking my shoulder 7 weeks ago). I finished repairing the bag footings by Tuesday (ahead of the schedule I had set at the beginning of the week) and then started cleaning up to prepare for the main membrane installation.

One of the outstanding tasks was to pressure wash the ICF wall at the base of the ramp due to the fines embedded into the pours of the ICF after I had a load of gravel delivered by the Tupper Landscaping stone slinger. I have to say, that I was rather furious by the end of the cleanup process, at the extra work that this company had caused me. It was not bad enough that the gravel had not been properly spread out (something you are already paying extra for when you order a stone slinger), and that it took me two days to rake out what should have been done by the time they left.  Then the gravel was very sharp and difficult to shovel or rake.  Finally there was the 1/4″ – 1/2″ of fines that were deposited all over the scaffold, ramp, and worst of all, my porous ICF wall. Fines that turned to a mortar like consistency when dry and a black sludge when wet. Apparently the rock is Basalt that they crush themselves from their stockpile in Squamish.  The decision to use Tupper was a very bad one and I hope this entry helps others avoid my pain.

With the ICF cleanup up, I moved on to installing the transitional membrane.  I am using Soprema’s Flam Stick, which allows for a Peel and Stick application to the substrate that you can then torch a membrane onto itself.  This allows for the transition from the main Torch’N Stick membrane to the Fastfoot bag footings.

I will talk more about the Fastfoot on my blog in the near future, but I am now thoroughly against the use of this product.  Any savings of time and materials that this product represents in the footing process is more than eaten up by the need to protect it throughout the rest of the build.  It would be better to have a traditional square formed footing that you then apply a membrane to the top surface prior to pouring the foundation.  This would be more effective at stopping rising damp and be much easier to detail. But I digress.

The transition membrane was installed by Thursday and the last prep needed prior to membrane installation to the ICF was to drill out the rim boards where ever I had formed in a pipe penetration through the foundation.  Friday was occupied with a material run to pick up the torch on membrane and the perimeter and storm drain piping. I finished the day creating B.A.T. Jr. 2.0 as the first version quickly tore off.  This time I stapled the plastic to the deck and just in time as we had quite a bit of rain today. The system is not perfect and the plywood is still getting wet, it just does not have pounding water sitting on it and saturating.  I cannot wait to get the back-fill complete so I can install a new main tarp.

Today I primed a portion of the ICF with Elastocol 500 and cut some 8’7″ strips of membrane ready for torch on.  I realized a couple of days ago that I had no possibility of doing the torch on myself as I cannot raise my left arm above about chest height (a big improvement from a week ago where I could not raise above waste height).  SO I reached out to a colleague who has hooked me up with a Red Seal roofer named Cory Couture.  Cory’s ‘day’ job currently is at RDH, but he has a long history of torch on experience. He will be installing the system for me and I will be as helpful as I can throughout the process.  He will mainly be working on weekends and we we start at the bottom of the ramp and then along the south wall so that I can start backfill in these locations.  I need to get the south side filled in so that I can move the tractor to the back yard where the main fill stockpile is located.

During the week, I will start on the perimeter drainage.  By the end of the week, I hope to have the drain pipe inspected and be ready to back-fill by Monday the 20th.

Fastfoot Fabric Footing Bag are repaired and trimmed so only a couple of inches remains attached to ICF

Fastfoot Fabric Footing Bag are repaired and trimmed so only a couple of inches remains attached to ICF

Transition Membrane is the attached to bag footing

Transition Membrane is the attached to bag footing

Attempt 1 to cut roll of membrane down to 13" widths. It worked and end result was acceptable, but there was a better way.

Attempt 1 to cut roll of membrane down to 13″ widths. It worked and end result was acceptable, but there was a better way.

Better Option: Roll membrane out onto deck and cut into strips.

Better Option: Roll membrane out onto deck and cut into strips.

I peel down the silicon release film a few inches and tacked the top edge of the membrane to the ICF at teh required elevated. This allows for adjustments if needed (as long as you do not 'seat' the entire top edge). Once I had assured a level attachment, I peeled the rest of the backer away on a diaganol and then adheared first to the ICF and then to the bag footing. The prevented too much bridging between the perpendicular surfaces.

I peel down the silicon release film a few inches and tacked the top edge of the membrane to the ICF at the required elevated. This allows for adjustments if needed (as long as you do not ‘seat’ the entire top edge). Once I had assured a level attachment, I peeled the rest of the backer away on a diagonal and then adhered first to the ICF and then to the bag footing. The prevented too much bridging between the perpendicular surfaces.

Of course you should always use a rubber roller to 'seat' the membrane. Even after I had used my hand to seat, the roller still made a lot of difference.

Of course you should always use a rubber roller to ‘seat’ the membrane. Even after I had used my hand to seat, the roller still made a lot of difference.

Becarefull of the roller material for the primer applicaiton. This foam roller just disintigrated in about 5 monutes.

Be careful of the roller material for the primer application. This foam roller just disintegrated in about 5 minutes.

Nicely sealed up outside corner. Remember to torch off the TOP surface release film on the Flam Stick before trying to adhere it to itself.

Nicely sealed up outside corner. Remember to torch off the TOP surface release film on the Flam Stick before trying to adhere it to itself.

ICF wall primed with Elasticol 500 in preparation for the Torch'N Stick

ICF wall primed with Elasticol 500 in preparation for the Torch’N Stick

I used a neighbors driveway to roll out the torch on membrane and cut to lengths. I used a square to make accurate end cuts. This will allow Corry to allign the top edge with teh top row of ICF and ensure a perfectly plumb installation.

I used a neighbours driveway to roll out the torch on membrane and cut to lengths. I used a square to make accurate end cuts. This will allow Cory to align the top edge with the top row of ICF and ensure a perfectly plumb installation.

Picking up the membrane at Convoy. I new I was in a good place when I was greeted with a floor to ceiling stack of Roxul!

Picking up the membrane at Convoy. I new I was in a good place when I was greeted with a floor to ceiling stack of Roxul!

I was asked why I was rolling up plastic to staple my poly down. This meathods provides a LOT more tear resistance to even realatively flimsley 'heavy poly'

I was asked why I was rolling up plastic to staple my poly down. This method provides a LOT more tear resistance to even relatively flimsy ‘heavy poly’

Some of the mess the fines from the Tupper gravel created. This was caked onto the bag footings.

Some of the mess the fines from the Tupper gravel created. This was caked onto the bag footings. I chipped it away with a masons hammer.

This was the cakes left on the poly all up and down the ramp. The problem was that if I did not clean up, these fines would wash down and plug the drain tile gravel.

This was the cakes left on the poly all up and down the ramp. The problem was that if I did not clean up, these fines would wash down and plug the drain tile gravel.

This stuff was RIGID. Fortunately, the vast majority of the fines fell out of the gravel stream before it actually got to the interior of the foundation or I would have had an even bigger mess to clean up.

This stuff was RIGID. Fortunately, the vast majority of the fines fell out of the gravel stream before it actually got to the interior of the foundation or I would have had an even bigger mess to clean up.

B.A.T. Jr. 2.0. Poly is stapled right to deck and I have added a skirt to protect the foundation walls from getting wet.

B.A.T. Jr. 2.0. Poly is stapled right to deck and I have added a skirt to protect the foundation walls from getting wet.

Thanks for visiting.

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ShedCam Time-lapse Videos Complete – Finally

July 5, 2015

I finally put aside some time today (was too smokey to go outside due to the forest fires in the region) to start going through 10’s of thousands of time-lapse images I have been collecting from the various webcams.  My Roving cam was fairly up-to-date, but I had not started the Shed or Tree cams. So I spent the day on the shed cam and have uploaded the following to my YouTube Chanel.

I have to admit that the review today was a bit depressing.  I really struggled last October and November with storm water management and my desperation to cover the job site with a tarp.

Watching all of this over again, has given me an appreciation for how far I have come and also a realization of the many mistakes I have made along the way.

Can’t say I am anything if not persistent!

Enjoy the videos and thanks for visiting.

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B.A.T. Jr.

July 4, 2015

Well it is not the glory of last falls B.A.T., but b.a.t. Jr. should due the trick until I have the back fill complete and am ready to put up a new main tarp.

Offspring of last falls Big Ass Tarp (B.A.T.)

Offspring of last falls Big Ass Tarp (B.A.T.)

As I will be at least a month waterproofing the foundation and back-filling, I figured its got to rain eventually, so I took a couple of hours today to get the deck buttoned up.

Floor Deck is Complete!

I will start cleaning up/repairing the exterior side of the bag footings around the perimeter of the foundation and then installing the SOPRALENE Flam Stick transition membrane that will transition from the plastic bag footing to the main foundation waterproofing – Colphene Torch’N Stick.

Once I get the Flam Stick installed, I will switch gears and install the perimeter ground water drain and tie into the sump before returning to finish the foundation waterproofing and insulation.  I will then be ready to finally start back-fill.

The June Roving Cam time-lapse is up

Here are some of the more memorably quotes that came past my desk in the last week:

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” —Mario Andretti (born 1940) Italian American World Champion Racing Driver

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” —Ken Blanchard

“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying, ”Here comes number seventy-one!”” —Richard DeVos (born 1926)
American Businessman

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” —Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Artist, Inventor, Scientist

Thanks for visiting.

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Floor Installation – ✔

July 3, 2015

Steady progress has been made over the last week and a half, and I now have 95% of the first storey floor installed.  This has been quite the struggle with one usable shoulder and the unbearable afternoon heat, but I pushed forward each day as best I could.

The process started with this impressive delivery by Standard Building Supplies.

I needed the delivery anyway as there was no way I was going to carry this load in my trailer, and the delivery and crane to deck only cost me just over $100.  It would have cost me way more than this to hire two labourers for even half a day to move this from the driveway to the deck.  Only thing I would do differently next time is rotate the pile so the tongue and groove are oriented to the direction they will be installed to reduce the handling required of the sheet (a bigger deal for a temp cripple like me).

On a side note, I have found Standard to be an excellent supplier of construction materials.  I started out at Dicks and found that the account managers at Dicks just were not treating me like a serious builder and the pricing reflected that.  After 6 months, I still did not have any appreciable discount associated with my account and it took 4 months to get the account set up with ANY discount.  I went out for some pricing on my Basement lumber BOM and received a quote from Dicks at $2310 + Tax and only $2055 + Tax from Standard.  A 11% savings.  My account rep at Standard (Dave Snowden) seems to ALWAYS be available by email – day or night, which is not something I need, but sure does ease the stress in planning when I know my request has been actioned and I can move on to the next task.  They seem to almost always have what I need in stock and both the yard and the contractor desk crew are professional and very helpful.

With the sheathing delivered to the deck, I proceeded on decking over the floor.  This was only interrupted by the need to finish the beam and truss layout below, or the intense afternoon heat.  I also needed to install the strong-backs and a long run of HRV piping before getting too far ahead on the truss and sheathing installation.

2x8 and 2x4 stong-backs were slid into the south truss bundles before the north bundles were placed

2×8 and 2×4 stongbacks were slid into the south truss bundles before the north bundles were placed.  Notice also that all the truss labels are facing down as required.

The strongbacks are not yet complete, they will need vertical 2×4 ties to the top and bottom chords of the truss per the next photo from the TriForce installation guide.

Strongback installation guide.  I will be using method 2

Strongback installation guide. I will be using method 2

Strongbacks help strengthen the truss pack and make it act as a single diaphragm.  This reduces deflection and also vibration.  I am using 3 rows of 2×8 strongbacks on the longest span trusses and a 2×4 on a mid span truss pack as per TriForce instructions. Even without these being secured yet, the floor system is very stiff.  For strongbacks that needed to be installed on the north side, I slid them into the south truss pack before placing the north trusses.  Otherwise, there would be no way to install these strongbacks in a dropped floor assembly that hangs off the side of the foundation.

In addition to the stongbacks, I also needed to install any longer lengths of ABS drainage pipe of rigid metal HRV duct into the truss packs as they were being placed.  This prevents the typical practice of many short length of pipe being used and couple together.  I did not have any ABS lengths perpendicular to the trusses in the basement but did have a 4″ HRV supply run.

4" HRV duct run into truss pack during truss placement to allopw long length duct to be installed reducing labour and leak points.

4″ HRV duct run into truss pack during truss placement to allow long length duct to be installed reducing labour and leak points. I ensured the lengthwise seam was facing up as I slid in the pipe so that I would not damage the mastic seal.

Of course I will be installing my own HRV ducting and was provided a great primer from Patrick Sommer.  The key to ensuring a HRV (or any air driven HVAC system) operates as close to possible as the designed conditions, is to ensure all ducting is air tight.  Patrick advise that the best way of accomplishing this is to use long lengths that reduce the number of joints, and to first tape, then screw, then seal all joints with mastic. By using long lengths of duct and doing this sealing work prior to installation, you are assured a quality-air-tight-assembly.

Step 1 - Apply high quality HVAC Foil tap to all seams.  I used the back end of a plastic brush handle to flatten out the tape and ensure well adhered.  Notice also the the lengthwise seams to the left and right of the joint have been sealed.

Step 1 – Apply high quality HVAC Foil tap to all seams. I used the back end of a plastic brush handle to flatten out the tape and ensure well adhered. Notice also the the lengthwise seams to the left and right of the joint have been sealed.

Step 2 - Secure joints with at least three duct screws equally spaced around perimeter.  By placing screws second, the screw holes are sealed by the tape and you eliminate the risk of the tape ripping on the top of the screw head.

Step 2 – Secure joints with at least three duct screws equally spaced around perimeter. By placing screws second, the screw holes are sealed by the tape and you eliminate the risk of the tape ripping on the top of the screw head.

Step 3 - seal all joints with a quality duct sealing mastic.

Step 3 – seal all joints with a quality duct sealing mastic.

With the strongback and HRV duct installation complete, I turned my attention to the north side of the floor assembly and the various beams needed in this area to provide support to the floor trusses, stairwell opening, and point loads from above.  The first to address was a dropped truss (BB5a from S2).  I had framed the bearing wall below with a pocket to accept this beam.  But as this pocket interrupts the top wall plates, you are required to install a metal strap to tie the plates on each side of the pocket together.

Top plates on each side of dropped beam pocket tied together with Simpson strap.  (I trimmed length of bottom beam flush with wall after installation)

Top plates on each side of dropped beam pocket tied together with Simpson strap.  Strap is attached with 16D nails into plates and beam.  I left the bottom top plate short to allow for beam placement adjustments and then snugged up top plate double once final location was set.  (I trimmed length of bottom beam flush with wall after installation)

I then turned attention to the beams around the stair opening.  And I have to say, things sometimes have a way of working themselves out.  Both of the perpendicular beams that frame out the ends of the stair opening were supposed to rest in pockets on the north foundation. But because of the stair opening rebar placement conflicting with the dropped beam that would be placed at the west side of the opening, a pocket was replaced with a hanger with concrete fasteners.  As I was starting to lay out these beams for installation, I realized (very fortunately) that I had a deeper basement than originally planned and so my original stair rise and run would be off.  As my risers would now need to be 8″ if I kept the same number of treads, I was going to need to make the opening a bit longer to accommodate 1 more step.  If I had a pocket formed for the beam, I would have had to abandon it and either cut in a new pocket or have a hanger engineered.

This was the good news (I remembered the need for the edit and moving the hanger would be easy). The bad news was that the bearing surface for the hanger was not smooth.  You may remember that this was the one wall were I had a form blowout (see Blowout Blues).  I had hamer-drilled the excess concrete off previously, but now needed to grind the backing of the beam hanger very flat so that I would have proper bite from the fasteners.  As I inherently do not trust attachments to concrete (much prefer hangers attached to wood), I wanted to make sure that I installed this as professionally as possible.  (Between you, me, and the lamp post, I will probably frame a post below as well just in case)

Beam hanger attached to the concrete foundation with this bitty Titan hex screws.  As a result, I made sure the surface was very smooth before drilling and attaching hanger so each screw would have max holding power.

Beam hanger attached to the concrete foundation with these itty-bitty Titan hex screws. As a result, I made sure the surface was very smooth before drilling and attaching hanger so each screw would have max holding power.

With the hanger in place I was able to place the beam and turn my attention to the flush beam at the other end of the stair opening.  Now, I had already had some joy on this beam as the first one I prepared was 2″ too short (due to slight changes in the actual  poured foundation and resulting layout changes in drawings), and I had ordered a replacement.  (original one to be used on second floor).  But as I went to install into the pocket, I realized I had made the pocket for a 9.25″ beam instead of 11-7/8″.  SO – I had to get out the pneumatic chisel and enlarge the pocket ensuring the bottom surface was flat and had a 3.5″ bearing surface.

While not as nice as a formed pocket, this will meet the need.

While not as nice as a formed pocket, this will meet the need.

With these roadblocks out of the way, I was able to finish the framing of the stair opening and proceed with decking the floor.  The scaffold I build to erect the wall has been extremely useful for erecting the floor assembly and I would recommend taking the time to make scaffold to all builders as it will cut down overall installation time.  I also used the railing of the scaffold and other temp installed 2x bracing to slide these heavy beams into place on my own.

With all trusses and beams in place around stair, decking can proceed.

With all trusses and beams in place around stair, decking can proceed.

While the Triforce trusses have stood up well, there has been some twisting of a small number of trusses during their storage over the last year.  I used strapping to true these up prior to installing the deck.

I used the metal strapping used to deliver lumber as a method of truing up the top end of the trusses if they had any twist of warp to them.  A bar clamp assists in truing the truss before fastening the strap.

I used the metal strapping used to deliver lumber as a method of truing up the top end of the trusses if they had any twist of warp to them. A bar clamp assists in truing the truss before fastening the strap.

Just make sure that each end of the strap is anchored so the whole assembly stays true.  Once the deck is on, I trimmed off this end of the strap near the top of the beam so it would not be in the way of utilities later.

Just make sure that each end of the strap is anchored so the whole assembly stays true. Once the deck is on, I trimmed off this end of the strap near the top of the beam so it would not be in the way of utilities later.

I was also caught on several occasions where my trimmed truss did not fit.  I finally threw a square onto the unit to find my problem.

Do not assume that the truss has square ends.  I found that the bottom chord was often a hair longer.

Do not assume that the truss has square ends. I found that the bottom chord was often a hair longer.

Before closing up the edge of the walls parallel to the truss packs, I installed blocking at 48" intervals.  This provides lateral strength to the foundation to resist back fill pressures and also resistance to earthquake forces.  This blocking is to be installed through the first two bays in from the wall.  I will do the second bay from below at a later time when I also install all of the bracing required for point loads on the trusses.

Before closing up the edge of the walls parallel to the truss packs, I installed blocking at 48″ intervals. This provides lateral strength to the foundation to resist back fill pressures and also resistance to earthquake forces. This blocking is to be installed through the first two bays in from the wall. I will do the second bay from below at a later time when I also install all of the bracing required for point loads on the trusses.

On may days, this was the only reasonable task to accomplish during the 30º+ afternoons.

On many days, this was the only reasonable task to accomplish during the 30º+ afternoons.  This is in the basement but at the time the space had only been decked over the day before and as a result the gravel and foundation were still radiating heat sources.

I often talk about Blackberry's dedication to site safety and security, bu Midnight has an important roll as office administrator as well.

I often talk about Blackberry’s dedication to site safety and security, bu Midnight has an important roll as office administrator as well.

Finally, I would like to introduce you to George Jr.  George will be helping me in all my numerous compaction needs.  I bough George from Sabre Rentals in Whistler (where I also bought Alfie).

George Jr.

George Jr. – Plate Compactor

The decking is basically complete (have a couple small panels to install once some plumbing and services are routed), and I will now move on to preparing the foundation for back-fill.  In some ways this is a welcome task as I will be able to generally stay out of the sun, but the tasks also require the use of both arms, and as I received the sign off today from the surgeon from a bone healing standpoint, my arm is far from functional and will require several months of painful Physio to get back to shape.

Thanks for visiting.

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