Monthly Archives: October 2019

More to come

October 28, 2019

Many of you will have noticed that my progress postings for much of the last couple of years have suffered on frequency.

As I have mentioned a lot lately, the longevity of this project has burned through my energy stores, and I just do not have the ability to sit down at night and type out an update like I used to. It is hard enough to do the product research needed to keep my material ordering on track to not delay construction.

I am however still committed to documenting this build and sharing these updates with you.

So I will attempt to solve two problems, improve my update schedule and at the same time improve the quality of the site visit videos I post, as I have been left unsatisfied at how shaky they have been.

I have just bought a small wearable high definition video stabilized camera. I hoping to use the camera to provide more of the status updates and less typed out posts. I will still supplement the posts with annotated photos. Who knows, I may even do a ‘Day in the life of’ video some times.

While this puppy can do true 4K, the video stabilization only works in 1080P

If there is a specific assembly or component you would like more information on, please drop me a line and I will work it into a future posting.

I want to thank all of you for taking this long journey with me. Knowing that you are out there keeps me accountable and motivated on a daily basis.

As always, thanks for visiting!

“Don’t be afraid to expand yourself, to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where the joy and the adventure lie.” —Herbie Hancock (born 1940) Musician

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen. ” —Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) Architect

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Ocean’s Plastics – The time has come for real achievable soluctions

October 26, 2019

Those that know me well, know that I  have worked hard to divert the plastics accumulated in my build and daily life, away from the landfills, and into the recycle stream, to do my part to better use these resources and to keep the plastics out of our oceans.

Over the last year I have been following The Ocean Cleanup team as they develop successful technologies to extract the plastic accumulating in our Ocean’s Gyres. Earlier this month they advised their first successful capture of ocean plastic in the Pacific.

Today, during a live press conference, they announced a three year secret side project that involved studying the worlds worst polluting rivers (the source of the Ocean’s plastics) and developing technologies to clean it up before it enters the ocean.  Today they introduced their new fully autonomous barge, The Interceptor,  that will be deployed in rivers throughout the world that will clean-up virtually all of the plastic flowing past it.   This is phenomenal work!


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This and That

October 6, 2019

While some of the promised updates are involved and will require their own detailed posts, I will try to take care of some of the others here.

Alfie Broken Wrist

A couple of days after wrangling the remains of the tree stump out of the ground (see timber!), I was using Alfie to start processing through the stockpiled soil I had in the front yard.  I went to use the arm, to swing around my undercarriage, when I felt a weird sensation and realized that Alfie’s bucket was not pointing the right direction. After a bit of investigation, it found that his main bucket link had shattered. It looked like one of the pin clips had fallen off allowing the pin to pull out and a twisting torque on the link.  I approached the local Bobcat dealer and they wanted $1250 for the part (and over $3500 for all the parts I wanted).  Fortunately in the UK came through for me.  The link was only £226.60.  I was able to get all of the parts needed (including all of the bushings needed to rebuild the arm – something that needed to be done from the time I purchased the machine) for only CAD$ 1350 and now Alfie is as strong as ever!

Poor Alfie not in the mood to dig anything today!

Alfie is feeling much better now!

South Elevation

Over the summer, I was able to button up the soffits on the south upper roof and also the final coats of stain on the south elevation.  I also completed the siding window returns on the first storey (except for some trim pieces at top).  As the walls were now water and UV proof, I was able to take down the tarp and scaffolding on the south elevation, much to the delight of my southern neighbour who was having her annual senior’s tea party.

Window trims pretty close to being buttoned up

South Elevation is now 95% complete. The hanging beams will be for a sunshade to protect the first storey windows.

Prior to taking the scaffold down, I also installed the CSA approved version of the LED strip lighting that is providing my soffit lighting.  The continuous LED strips, that are dimmable, provide a nice soft glow along the backside of the fascia, illuminating the soffit and walls below. Even at only 12% power, there is plenty of light to navigate the exterior of the house at night and at 100%, the place glows!  Later on, when the facias are clad, there will be a custom flashing that will prevent the LED strips from being viewable from below or the street formed into the fascia drip edge. I mounted the LED strips with a silicone bead. This is the best way to mount on an exterior surface.  The included peel and stick tape is not up to the task.

The CSA LED light strips are marked with a CSA or cETL label. I attached these with a smear of silicone on the wood service before utilizing the built in peel & stick on strip.  These strips can be trimmed every 6″ and are also dimmable.

Upper Roof LED Soffit strips complete

Geberit Wall Hung Toilets

I took an opportunity to install the wall hung Geberit toilet frames on a particular nasty weather day.  These allow for more space in the room and a easier cleaning of the floor beneath the toilet. The ‘guts’ of the toilet are accessible via a removable wall plate that contains the flush levers.

Toilet frames are available for 2×4 or 2×5 construction and are easily installed.

Ground Water Sump – Duplex Station

I have also now finally installed the Duplex Pump station that pumps up the ground water collected from around the foundation and under the floor slab.  This is a system that even a municipality would be proud of as my Storm Engineer only specifies best practice and high quality pumps.

The Plan

Zoeller 280 Series Cast Iron pumps are suitable for dewatering and wastewater applications. I should get many years of dependable service from the pair of pumps installed. The small 3/16″ hole in grey pressure pipe is required by manufacturer to prevent air-locking.


These pumps with all of the extra accessories and pipe are HEAVY. A tripod and electric winch were required to lower the assembly into the 15.5ft deep sump!


Each pump requires a check valve, shutoff valve, and union. However, do not install in order shown here. There was a mistake on the drawings from the engineer. The union should be installed BELOW the shutoff valve allowing for the isolation of the circuit when the pump is taken out of service. When I next need to service these, I may change out the order.


Pump operation is controlled by three floats. The lowest one tells the controller when the sump has been pumped out and pumping should cease (before pump runs dry). The middle one indicated sump is full and pumping should commence. The highest float indicates water has risen above a safety point and activates both pumps and an alarm in the dwelling to warn occupants.


Everything is controlled by a Duplex station designed by Engineered Pump Systems using Northwest Tech-Con control box. The control panel alternates between the two pumps on every cycle to allow even wearing of the equipment.


The Brain!

I designed the ground water system to utilize the granular fill below the dwelling as part of its ‘sump’.  This allows a much larger volume of water to safely build-up before requiring pump out.  This should reduce the number of pump cycles required (saving energy) and also provide a large safety buffer in case of power failure.  There is at least 8″ of gravel below the dwelling and as we work towards the deep well sump at the NE corner of the dwelling, that thickness increased to about 48″ closest to the sump.

One key design consideration for this type of system is ensuring that the built up water flows fast enough to the pump, through the granular fill, to provide an efficient pumping cycle.  The attached video shows how well the water is pouring out of the granular fill into the sump, through the bottom drain, during the pump cycle.


Irrigation Water

The above ground water collected around the dwellings foundation is typically just pumped into the Municipal sewer.  But for our dwelling, we have decided to store this water in a 1000 gal cistern to provide a source or irrigation during the summer watering restrictions.  (see Good Bad Awesome for cistern instlation).  Prior to this summers restrictions, I installed the Grundfos SBA3-45 booster pump that will be used to provide a presure line out of the cistern to all of the exterior irrigation for my yard and my two neighbours, as well as for my interior toilet circuit.  The pump has a pressure sensor that turns the pump on each time one of more taps are turned on.  It was used all summer by the three dwellings without any indication we will run out of water.  The tank can be filled from empty in under 24 hours (we have a lot of ground water flowing into the site at  about the 9ft below grade depth on the north (uphill) elevation.

Front Yard ‘Valve Box’ contains all of the piping for the non-potable cistern water circuit. Later the south of driveway irrigation valves will also be installed in this box (stub off at top left of photo). The 4″ uncapped PVC pipe is a underground shuoff for the potable water pipe that runs to a near by tap.

Cistern irrigation circuit for back yard. It is hard to see in this photo, but note the downward facing tee between the shutoff valve and hose bib. This is an auto vent that drains the water in the circuit once the pressure has been relieved.

I have used this method of freeze protecting my outdoor pipes for decades with no problems. Prior to first frost, the underground valve (below frost line) and the tap are opened.  This drains the line and prevents freeze up. This is a much cheaper option that having to hire a company every winter to blow out your lines with a compressor. It is not imperative that the below grade lines are sloped to drain, only that they are below the frost line and that a valve is placed somewhere along the circuit to remove the pressure on the auto-drain and allow for the water in the risers going above grade, to drain.  This also worked for my lawn sprinkler system.  I have never once had a cracked pipe.

The final step for this system was to run the power from the house out to the valve box.  This will feed the cistern pump as well as all of the garden and Christmas lights in the areas.  The below video shows my easy way (usually!) of pulling a set of conductors through a conduit.


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