Monthly Archives: December 2015

Website Update

December 21, 2015

Just a short note to let everyone know that I have finally uploaded a couple hundred images to the photo gallery.  I completed the demolition folder and also brought the foundation folder up to current (except for photos of garage slab pour).  There is also a few photos under framing to cover the basement bearing walls.

You will also find the November Roving Cam time-lapse uploaded to my YouTube channel.

Enjoy!

 

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Disappointment

December 21, 2015

Disappointment is the emotion most prevalent over the last week.  Now that all the floor assemblies are installed over the basement, it is dark – really dark.  So last Thursday I finally installed some construction lighting in the basement and I had quite a shock when I turned them on.

MOULD! Or more specifically staining fungi.

All of my engineered beams have fungi stains all over them.  One has gotten wet from a leak in the tarp above, but the majority of them have never seen any form of bulk water.  After all of the time and money I have put into keeping this place dry during construction, this was a huge disappointment for me and was quite puzzling until I looked into it a bit deeper.

A nasty surprise was waiting for me when I turned on the lights for the first time

A nasty surprise was waiting for me when I turned on the lights for the first time

I got out my professional moisture meter and I was seeing wood moisture readings as high as 30-50%  in the beams (higher on the beam that has seen actual liquid water) and only 15-20% on the ‘real wood’ structures. I then got out the Psychrometer and it registered a whopping 84.5% RH at 5.7 C.  What was worse was that the dewpoint was around 4 C (it is currently 3C as I write this).

Beam with 30% WM

Beam with 30% WM

'Real Wood' only inches away from beam is only 16% WM

‘Real Wood’ only inches away from beam is only 16% WM

84.5% Humidity at 5.7 C with a dewpoint of 4 C

84.5% Humidity at 5.7 C with a dewpoint of 4 C

So it appears that the offender is below and not above and this caught me completely by surprise.  I have spent all this time trying to keep the rain off, I paid no attention at all to the monster lurking just below the surface of the gravel.  You see, the dwelling is built over a large shallow lake, at least that is how the water sitting in the gravel drainage plane acts.  And of course last weeks power issues, caused by a pump that was shorting out, did not help things.  I ended up with 4″-8″ of sitting water depending on what thickness of gravel was present (not a problem directly as only in contact with gravel, concrete or ICF, but contributed to even higher humidity I am sure).  Took the rest of the day to pump out once the pump was replaced.  It is the humidity caused by all this sitting water that I am fairly confident is wetting up the beams.

A surprise was waiting for me last week when a electrical circuit was tripped by a malfunctioning pump. Took many hours to pump this all down.

A surprise was waiting for me last week when a electrical circuit was tripped by a malfunctioning pump. Took many hours to pump this all down.

So why is the real wood drier?  Good question, and one I do not have all the answers to yet.  For one, the real wood is a lot more permeable, so it would dry much faster than the beams (that are basically wood chips pressed into a rectangle and held tight with glue).  But beyond this, I am just not 100% sure (but will try to find out).  Unfortunately, the glue which not only makes the beams less permeable, also is an excellent food source for fungi.

While this has absolutely no effect on the bearing capacity of the beams (would need rot fungi over years for structural capacity to be effected or for the wood to become 100% saturated for months until the physical binds of the glue break down), and in most homes under construction this would just be typically ignored or at the most painted over, I have fungi allergies and really do not want this stuff in my home.  So I will first remove the staining and then apply a product to kill the mould and prevent re-growth.  I was passed on a recommendation to use Concrobium Mold Stain Remover.  This is not the consumer stuff you find at the Big Box Stores, but a professional product I purchased from Sycorp Environmental.  I have also bought Concrobium Mold Control.

While I wait for their arrival, I am also going to try and attack the problem at the source and combat the high humidity in the basement.  Ultimately this is controlled by the concrete slab and sub slab poly, but these are many months away from being installed (I have to first complete the basement plumbing).  So I am going to look at putting down a temp poly sheet over most of the gravel surface.  To prevent the poly from being destroyed by the gravel, I am going to pick up some free coir mats that come from a company that recycles beds.  I should be able to get enough to cover the gravel and then again cover the plastic once put down.  This will protect the plastic from both sides and hopefully allow the poly to be used again in the final installation below the concrete slab. Not only should this dramatically lower the RH% in the basement, it should also reduce the build-up of condensation under the tarp.  I can then look at mechanical humidification if I still have a problem would would not be economical or effective if I did not first substantially reduce the humidity load.

Otherwise it has been pretty slow at the site over the last week.  I just cannot get motivated enough to go over on the wet/cold days and as luck would have it have had appointments and Christmas meal engagements with friends on days that have been clear.  But I have forced myself to get there a few hours here and there and have now installed construction lighting in basement, removed the curb forming around the garage south and east walls, started to clean up the floor deck, done a lot of tarp patching to reduce the puddles I get scattered about, and today started building the supports needed to rehang the tarp over the garage so I can dry out the foundation walls and finish the water proofing.

I will get the garage tarp put up and a bit more cleanup done this week but will then take some time off for Christmas.  In the week between Christmas and New years I will concentrate on taking down the shoring under the suspended concrete slab and returning to vendor and then if dry enough, applying the torch on membrane to the top of the foundation walls along the south and east garage walls.

With that I would like to wish you all a Blessed Christmas and New Years. Hope you are surrounded with joy, peace and family love!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Thanks for visiting

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Suspended Concrete Slab – Complete

December 10, 2015

The suspended concrete slab for the garage has been poured!

As hoped, I was able to push up the date and we poured at 11 AM on Monday.  Hi Def Concrete and F&F Pumping did a bang up job and by 12:45 the pumping was done and by 2 PM the fat lady had sung and everyone had gone home.

In the heat of battle - a new dance craze called Concrete Mash

In the heat of battle – a new dance craze called The Concrete Mash

suspended concrete garage slab

A beautifully finished surface that I will later coat with a two part epoxy.

Confirmation of slope was not too far in waiting

Confirmation of slope was not too far in waiting

Everyone was thrilled to be working below tarps and plastic covered awnings as mother nature let go.  The rain fall at the site over the last week I am sure will be record breaking.  The original plan was to take down the tarp over the garage and put back up as soon as the concrete was poured, but the pumper truck driver stated leave it up and he would just run a longer hose.  The placing crew were very happy with this decision!

We also poured the hefty 30′ x 6′ 10″ footing for the basement walkup stairs foundation/landing.

This massive footing provides the support for the foundation wall that will encompass the basement walk-up stairs.

This massive footing provides the support for the foundation wall that will encompass the basement walk-up stairs.

Something that was a surprise is how warm the concrete gets as it is setting up.  I new it got ‘warm’ but this 35 Mpa got really warm.  Remember is is only 5-7 C out during the day.  The top surface was 19.5 C (even when being flooded by cold water) and the bottom surface was 22.5 C.  That is pretty incredible.  My legs attest to how chemically hot the mix was.  I have significant chemical burns on both legs as a band around where the top of my boots were rubbing my legs.

Bottom surface of shoring supporting concrete slab.

Bottom surface of shoring supporting concrete slab.

Irony - All this time trying to keep the place dry and I am out shopping for a soaker hose on Tuesday so I can 'water' my house.

Irony – All this time trying to keep the place dry and I am out shopping for a soaker hose on Tuesday so I can ‘water’ my house.

Best practice for a concrete slab include hydrating the concrete for at least three days after the pour. It allows the concrete to develop maximum strength and especially helps harden the surface of the concrete to make it more durable.  The burlap works well for this as it captures the water and makes it available to the cement molecules on a continuous basis. The only downside is that it can stain the concrete, but as I am applying a epoxy paint later anyway, this was not a concern, and so far it does not look like it stained anyway.  I found the burlap at a very economical price at Burnaby Bag and Burlap.  There cost for the 7 oz 5′ wide roll was $0.09 a yard.  This is less than half the cost from Richform.

This completes the floor surfaces for the first storey and is a great milestone from a psychological point of view. It is thrilling to know I will not have to be climbing around on the jungle gym of a scaffold anymore. I will now start trying to dry things out so that I can finish the foundation waterproofing and backfill at the front of the garage if the weather cooperates. In the meantime I will spend some time catching up on more office chores and cleaning up at the job site including stripping the top forms.  The shoring below will have to stay in place for three weeks.

For those who missed Monday’s excitement, her is the time-lapse video of the events:   https://youtu.be/l5gYZslDTwY

I also did a site visit video providing an update prior to the pour: https://youtu.be/1MY6K8sgdhA

Finally check out the new Roving Cam – Interior Feed that will be used to capture indoor activities up close and personal as I progress through the build.  I have removed the Container camera feed from this site as it is now dedicated to security and is pointed away from the build.

Thanks for visiting.

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Huff and Puff

December 3, 2015

Well, I survived yet another wind storm but this one was close.

I repeatedly cringed as I heard the tarp fill up with air and then I heard the sound I dread, staples popping off and looked up to see about 8ft of the seam between the north and south tarps open up.  If I was not there at that exact minute to immediately grab hold and refasten down, I would have lost the works.  Pretty good all in all, I never really expected the tarps to make it through MAJOR wind storms and so far I have made it through three. Then the rains came and things started to settle down.

Last nights rain was unfortunate as I lost power due to too many things on one 20A breaker (I was trying to run two pumps and a 1500 Watt heater), and I got to the job-site with visible water above the gravel.  Problem was that it pushed up the rigid foam under the exterior stair landing and the rebar above.  It took a couple of hours to pump everything out and re-bed the foam and check all rebar elevations.  Poor! (or is that Pour).

By this afternoon’s rains, I had the power redistributed and all was good except for several soakings I received.

Not fun when you are at the bottom receiving end of one of these.  I had the unpleasure of 3 showers today!

Not fun when you are at the bottom receiving end of one of these. I had the unpleasure of 3 showers today!

I had and passed my structural inspection of the forms and rebar yesterday and will have my District inspection tomorrow.  I plan to pour Tuesday but may try to push up to Monday as it is scheduled to be a better weather day. In the meantime, I am crossing off the myriad of outstanding tasks.

Thanks for visiting.

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