Saturday, April 30, 2011

4 fish and a snake

Went down to the site to wait for the walls to arrive this morning, but problems with a trailer meant their departure was delayed. I used the time to go fishing for the first time in a while and it was the most successful stint I've had here, catching 4- all sunfish, I think.

Also saw the first live snake on the land, it swam out across the pond as I was fishing. It was about 5 feet long, possibly a Glossy Crayfish Snake or a Red-bellied Water Snake.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All set

The foundation is all set for the wall panels to be bolted on Saturday. Material for the interior walls also being delivered tomorrow. Despite the record number of tornados moving through the area last night when we went down to the site this morning it was actually drier than the night before. The slab looks great and is nice and high as well, offering a bit more protection from runoff which tends to collect behind the west side after rains. 

View from corner of second bedroom.

We drove down after dinner to catch the evening view over the pond - the photos below were taken at 7:20pm.

The grass is growing incredibly fast - some sections have a grown more than a foot in the last week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pourin' the slab

The foundation slab was poured today - we caught a lucky break with the weather, a nice dry weekend and no rain today, though it will roll in tonight. The building inspector was early as well, which helped, and things got rolling at about 9:45am. You could walk on it by 1:00pm. We had 5 and a half loads (58 cubic yards) of fiber concrete at 3000 p.s.i. - which means it's one hefty slab, hence the AC/DC soundtrack. Enjoy the iPhoto slideshow:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Water lines in

The plumber finished up and put the water lines into where the slab will be poured. It's been interesting to see work on site progress from very general positioning in regards to the house pad and grading, down to individual feet for house placement and now to inches with the placement of pipes and water lines. 

Plumbing for the washing machines (closest), double sinks, shower and toilet for the master bath. 
Plumbing for 2nd bathroom

Weather forecast is sunny and dry for the weekend, inspector will come first thing Monday morning and hopefully slab will be poured! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Yet more rain keeps pushing things back; plumber Jerry just got his drains in today, plumbing lines will go in tomorrow. It rained heavily this morning and the trenches were filled up again, but Jerry's assistant Pepe dug a neat trench which drained them 80%, which should help them dry out before Monday when the inspection and concrete pour will take place - the building inspection office is closed this Good Friday. Fingers crossed for a dry weekend. 

The rain is really making things muddy on site.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So close yet so far...

We've got the boards up on the foundation giving a definitive footprint of the house. Rebar has also been cut, bent, tied and put on chairs (to raise it a couple of inches within the concrete when it is poured.

We had gravel spread across the slab areas(i.e. not in the footings) and are now waiting on the plumber/electrician to get his pipes etc in place before we can get the whole thing inspected and finally poured. Unfortunately we had a very heavy rainstorm and it looks like we'll be delaying the pour till at least Friday, maybe Saturday.

This would give us just enough time (7 days) for the slab to cure to a decent the walls arrive next Saturday (30th)!!!! They'll be erected over the weekend with the roof trusses in the week and hopefully the roof will be relatively water tight by the 7thish? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mud moving

Too tired to write much, but basically we had to shovel the mud left after the rains out of 260 feet of footing trenches. Achey bodies, blisters and mud everywhere - but it felt good to get it all out and for work on the footing forms to finally begin (final photos). 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Vanessa and I drove down to the land to see what we could do about the footing trenches that had filled up with rainwater on friday. Using buckets we began the mucky process of bailing out the water and made surprisingly good progress. It's so great to have a wife who's eager and able to get stuck in with the unglamourous side of housebuilding!
It was quite tough as you had to squat right down to get the bucket lip as deep into the trench as possible while keeping the bucket just below horizontal while at the same time making sure to stand back from the edge to prevent any soil collapsing into the ditch.
Then the very unnatural action of hurling the bucket contents as far away from the trench as possible all add up to some very strange aches.

We thought we'd celebrate our effort by busting out our brand new aerobie action in the sun - cut to 5 throws later and SPLASH! The aerobie lands in the pond and slowly sinks away into the murky depths - I saw this as the perfect time to make my case that we need to invest in getting the pond aerated, clear...and well-stocked with fish of course :)

Was also good to get a phone call (mid-Skype call with my Mum) from Ray the concrete guy this morning (Sunday morning, Southern USA?) saying he'd gone down yesterday (Saturday) to dig a ditch to drain off the water, and to generally check in. Hopefully things will have dried up enough to get the form work done/started tomorrow!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Whole Lotta Rain

It rained a lot last night and I found the footing trenches were about half filled (6" or so) when I got down to the site this evening. Spent a manic 20 mins before the sunset trying to scoop out as much water as I could, but will have to head down early tomorrow to finish in order to help it dry out, ready for form building on Monday. Fingers crossed...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Into the trenches!

View from NW - the trenches inside are for the roof truss load bearing walls.
We had some major backhoe action today, footings dug and the main water line too.

I was again impressed by the operator's skill (Gene), handling the powerful machine with finesse. He lined the machine up with great precision, using a practice swing (like in golf) to ensure each scoop followed the lines true. At one point towards the end of the session he used the bucket and supporting legs to walk insect-like over one of the trenches he'd dug in order to keep the large wheels from collapsing the sides of the trench. He was at it for 3 and a half hours non-stop and was more than happy to dig the water line from the pump to the back of  the house after the footings had been done.

He says he's been driving bulldozers/backhoes for 30 years and it shows. He took over the business from his father like many other of the family-run businesses in the area and these guys have been superb to work with - very dependable, on time, always willing to give their advice (often about how to stock the pond with fish!) and genuinely friendly guys to boot.

First footing trench dug
Steam rises from newly excavated soil.
The worst people to work with so far have been the biggest company - Georgia Power- impossible to get them to commit to specific times/days - luckily we've finished with them for a while.

We're expecting rain tomorrow afternoon, hopefully not too much and the trenches will have time to dry out over the weekend ready for the forms to be built and rebar put in prior to inspection then pouring mid-next week.

Steam rising from the pond in the early morning

View from across the pond.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Footprint

So the house footprint was laid out and the key lines sprayed ready for the backhoe to come in to dig the footings early tomorrow morning. I have to admit I got quite excited when I saw the lines all join up and the familiar step/zig-zag outline appeared on the pad.

Plan (Stepped side faces south)

View from the South West

View from the North West

As always seems to be the case with floor plans/walls when I walked it, it seemed a lot smaller than 2000 sqft, but I just have to keep telling myself thats an illusion. But why does that happen? I've stared at the design and the 3d rendering for hours while designing it, but it's still quite a jump from floor plan to the real thing. Weird.

Oh and in case you were wondering why the boards seem a bit wonky (as I did), its because they are used to pull right angled triangles off (see below), thus speeding up the squaring process and are leveled to act as guides for the top edge of the slab. Luckily I twigged to this before I marched up and told them they were blind, incompetent fools  :)  (they did a great job)

Fingers crossed the weather holds out and we can get the forms built, rebar in and concrete poured in the next couple of days. Progress!

Starting the foundation

After a beautiful and eerie start to the morning (see pics below), the foundation guys got started on laying out the dimensions on the pad.

Nice sunrise setting off...

...then the fog rolls in...

...and settles over the lot.

I made a fuss about getting the south side to face true south and after much pivoting and square rooting, the first walls were fixed. It's been a while since I used Pythagora's rule but it came in useful to check everything was square. Hopefully all the dimensions will be set and boards up by the end of the day, with the backhoe coming in to dig the footings sometime tomorrow.

Back kitchen corner set.

The Oak is greening nicely :)

Have also finalized the patio doors - i)3-panel, 12'x7'; ii)4-panel 12'7', iii) 2 panel 6x7 from Andersen. They are all low-e double paned to increase energy efficiency.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Final house design

Here are the updated sketch-up drawings taking into account the higher ceilings allowed by the utilization of two interior structural walls.

Progress so far...

So far we have (in reverse order of completion)...

15. Decided on Bamboo floors and Cedar Tongue and Groove siding from BuildDirect.

Bamboo flooring
Cedar Tongue and Groove Siding

14. Finalized and paid for roof trusses from Truss Pros Inc, Tallapoosa, GA.

One of the trusses that will create the vaulted ceiling in the living room.

13. Organized slab construction to begin next wednesday (13th).

12. Finalized the IKEA kitchen layout - we actually went way too early in terms of our timeline - they can ship within 3 days to our lot but can't hold items longer than that, we figured 3 weeks. SO we have to go back closer to when we need it, but not later than the end of April as their 20% off deal ends May 1st.
IKEA kitchen plan using the online planner

11. Soil compaction test done on the foundation pad by Cody of GeoServices of Cleveland, TN.

Moisture content determiner (radioactive!)

10. Gravel laid by Gary Sitton Trucking.
Instant driveway! Very skilled gravel layer just tips his bucket up and drives.

9. Underground power lines, transformer installed and temporary power pole connected to transformer by Georgia Power.

8. Underground power trench dug by Carnes Construction.

7. Septic system installed by Gene Carnes and Rick Jones.

2 1000 Gallon tanks

Distribution box at top of slope

4 lines and water line from tanks

One of the 4 100' lines 

6. House foundation pad built and compacted (6' high), selected lot trees cleared by Gene Carnes Construction.
Foundation Pad construction
Foundation pad in profile.

5. Well drilled (240 feet, 20 Gallons/minute) by Jeffords Well Drilling and pump installed by Calhoun Pump Sales. (Note to self: still need to hook it up and run it for a couple days to get it flowing cleanly and tested/treated).
Jeffords Drilling Rig

Well pump and tank

4. Basic house plans confirmed with Kokoon, building permit approved ($550).

basic houseplan

3. Soil test done for the septic system (by Eric at Cohutta Land Company) and septic permit applied for/received ($225).

2. The land bush-hogged (cleared) of many years worth of overgrowth (apparently there have been 5-6 previous owners who had never been able to follow through on their plans for the land - hopefully we'll not fall victim to this curse!)
Post bush hogging

1. Survey done and boundaries marked (pink+ blue ribbons in the photos).
Our lot from the air (thanks google maps)