….. the Top Steel Begins….Let’s Just Go Over the Specific Properties of Water Shall We

 

Welcome back! I hope the Hobbit fans out there have checked out the new trailer that came out last week. The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies. I think it comes out December 17. Looking forward to it.  But let’s get started with what’s at hand shall we? Okay people there’s a lot of ground to cover this week so we’re going to have to dispense with the niceties and just get right into it.

I hate to say it but we’ve got to go back before we can go forward. Unfortunately my sons and physics just don’t mix very well. We had another hot water incident Sunday morning while we were trying to finish up the top steel. Same situation, different son.  Saturday I filled up the water cooler and threw a bag of ice in it and it was ice cold all day. The editor actually said at one point: “Wow!This is almost too cold to drink!” Need I say more? Sunday, on the other hand, I go to get a drink of water from the cooler and it’s lukewarm at best. I’m like “Who filled up the water cooler?!!!!? Of course Terence yelps out: “Jude did!” He did add:  “I saw him put ice in it.” The hot water in the cooler trick is really starting to get on my nerves people. In a related incident it turns out that number one son, Ethan doesn’t realize that water expands when it freezes. Another property of water. Something that all builders of fine Hobbit homes should be aware of. He put my water bottle in the freezer so it would get…”Nice and cold”. This is what I found Sunday morning in our freezer.

Freeze till it bursts!
Freeze till it bursts!

Well there goes the water bottle I got for free after my colonoscopy. A sweet memento from a lovely day. Nothing like an ice cold glass of water, right? What are they teaching in the schools about the laws of physics?

I’m not going to spiral down here  people I promise. There’s just too much stuff to talk about.

Just real quick. Here’s a picture of the crane coming down at Rego Park this past week. I thought it might interest a few of you out there.

Crane jack down at Rego Park.
Crane jack down at Rego Park.

So the plan is pour the Hobbit House roof next weekend. We have a real good shot at getting it done. Jude and Terence worked a lot this  week and got us into a position where I think we can do it if we push hard this upcoming week. Hmmm….that’s quite a big “if.”I’m paying these guys to work and look what I find when I get there this weekend.

What's this? Arts and crafts day at the Hobbit House!!!!
What’s this? Arts and crafts day at the Hobbit House!!!!

This is supposed to be a serious project! Things are going to get really ugly if I start finding a lot more of this kind of highjinx at the house!

Bear with me here cause I know I’m going to be jumping around quite a bit. There’s just too many things.  I took Frank’s advice and added a couple of conduits into the slab. Just to play it safe. It really is true. A simple conduit can make life so much easier if you want to add something later. I added one at the chimney and another at the top of the stair landing. Not sure we’ll need them but they are there if we get a good idea later or if I need another wire for something I didn’t think about. I ran them to the panel box in the mechanical room.Check it out.

Added conduit through the slab. Thanks Frank!
Added conduit through the slab. Thanks Frank!

There were a bunch of things we needed to do before we could start top steel. One of which was finish locking up the retaining wall curbs. I had a little problem with one corner…getting it into the right place. Enter friendly neighborhood banding wire. It’s like having an old friend show up just when you need him to.Anyway I couldn’t hold this panel in place and nail it so I got my banding machine and set it up to pull this panel down right to where I needed it. Then I could just nail away. It truly was a thing of beauty. I guess you have to be a carpenter to appreciate that. Check it out.

Banding wire to the rescue!
Banding wire to the rescue!

We had to build some scaffolding, also. Before we can start the tops we need a place that’s safe to work from. This scaffold is also going to come in handy when we pour the concrete. Especially when we start. It will give us a nice place to stand and work from.Now I know we’ve been doing a lot of rebar work the last few weeks but the brothers sure  could have used a refresher course in how to bang nails. You want to see pathetic you need only watch these two try to drive a 16 penny double through a 2×4. They missed so many times I almost went to the store and bought frying pans. Pathetic, I tell you. Here’s the two of them wondering how we actually put this scaffold together. Completely lost they were.

What's this for Pa?
What’s this for Pa?

Just quick: I banded 4×4’s to the walers so they wouldn’t slide and then added a jack (which you can see if you look close) to give it some serious support.

Two other items the boys finished during the week were the steel for the retaining wall curb and the tie in steel for the spandrel. First the retaining wall curb. I detailed this to be a single faced curb with a J hook at the top. It was pretty easy to install. We tied a runner to the snap ties and then tied all the J-hooks in place. After that we just pulled the top bar into the J and tied it. 1-2-3 done!

Retaining wall curb steel detail.
Retaining wall curb steel detail.

So the spandrel tie back is really important so pay attention will ya. And stop fidgeting. So the spandrel is basically isolated from the main slab of the Hobbit house by the Syrofoam thermal barrier. It is self supporting and all but I wanted to tie it back into the slab so there would be no separation between it and the main slab. This reinforcement ties the two together. I was worried about separation over time and this way I know we won’t get any. Separation could mean a gap forming there and the potential for water to get in between the two slabs and said water going through a freeze thaw cycle over time. We all know what happens to water when it freezes don’t we now. When water freezes it winds up breaking that free water bottle you got after you had your colonoscopy. Right? Right….and we don’t want that to happen ever again. The only drawback is that this rebar creates a thermal bridge into the main slab. So the rebar in the spandrel is going to get hot or cold, depending on the weather, and transfer it’s temperature through the rebar and into the main slab. I really don’t know how this is going to effect the Hobbit houses thermal performance. We shall  see. There are about 64 # 5 bars through the slab with a total cross sectional area of 19.84 square inches. I guess I would need an engineer learned in the ways of thermodynamics to break that all down for me. I forgot to call him though. Let me show you a couple of pictures of what we are talking about to help you out. Lord only knows my editor needs a picture now because we all know she’s completely lost.

Spandrel tie back steel.
Spandrel tie back steel.
Spandrel tie back steel being installed at 24 inches on center.
Spandrel tie back steel being installed at 24 inches on center.

It really was pretty simple. Drill a 5/8’s hole through the Styrofoam and push the rebar through the hole. I hope you sort of kind of got what we did.

A couple of quick electrical items we took care of as well. I tied off all the connectors to the high hats with a tie wire wrap and I had the editor open up all the octagonal boxes and stuff a bagged newspaper in the box. This way if concrete wants to seep in there it won’t take up much space. We’ll just pull the bag out after we strip the forms. (Editors note: Oh my Gosh. I did NOT put newspaper in the bag! I just put the bag in!!!! You did NOT say to put newspaper in!) Reply: You didn’t listen to instructions editor…pay attention next time would you please! It’s all in the little details!

Tie back on the hi-hat connector.
Tie back on the hi-hat connector.

We also taped the connector as well.

Editor stuffing octagonal boxes.
Editor stuffing octagonal boxes.

The next order of business was to clean the deck off. I brought a back pack blower from work and had Terence start the work. The editor winds up muscling in on him and took over. And I quote,”I can do that!” she later complained of back pain! Geez.

Editor clearing the deck!
Editor clearing the deck!

There’s no mysteries to the top steel. It’s just really hard work. Once we got the system down and everybody knew their task it went really smooth.  The sequence: Drop first way bars on the slab, bend a couple of verticals down and tie them to the bottom slab, tie up all the first way bottoms to the verticals you just bent down, bend the rest of the verticals into the slab and tie them off. It took us about 6 hours to do all the verticals. Here’s a few pictures.

Working the tops.
Working the tops.
It really is back breaking work.
It really is back breaking work.

 

The injured.
The injured.

 

Looking good for next Saturday!
Looking good for next Saturday!

Don’t get me wrong.  We still  have quite a bit to do. It’s going to be a challenging week ahead but I think we just have to push through it and get it done. Might have to bring in the halogen lights for some night work. We’ll see.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot we had a tree frog pay us a visit! It’s a bit blurry but maybe our Radagast the Brown, Sally H. can help with the proper identification.

Tree frog.
Tree frog.

It’s going to be really hard to find this guy and get him off the premises the day of the pour. He might wind up with a couple of little concrete shoes!

Well that’s it for now free folk of Middle earth. Enjoy your work week and with any luck we’ll be pouring a real Hobbit House roof next weekend! Remember: water expands when it freezes, okay boys???!!!! Oh yeah, and hot water melts ice!!!!

Till we meet again!

Jim

4 thoughts on “….. the Top Steel Begins….Let’s Just Go Over the Specific Properties of Water Shall We

  1. Hi Jim,

    Just wanted to say Hi from NZ (since you’re a Hobbit fan). I discovered your blog a month ago and got hooked – I had to go right back to the beginning of your journey – and its a great read.

    We’re looking at building an underground house at some point although probably not a hobbit one. So many benefits versus a standard build but when we do it I want to make sure we do it right. Your blog is part of my self education 🙂

    Keep up the good work,

    AJ

    • Aj: Thanks for writing! I’m glad you found my construction blog. It’s always nice to get a little feedback once in a while. It’s good for morale.

      Earth sheltered homes! Who knew Hobbits were so far ahead of the curve? If you get a chance pick up Rob Roy’s book on Earth Sheltered homes. He has a lot of good stuff in there.

      I’m glad you’re on board for the journey. It’s going to take a while but it will be really interesting to see how everything turns out….and how it will perform as well.

      Good luck with your project as well! Don’t rush it. Take your time.

      Oh yeah and if you bump into Peter Jackson tell him Hobbit Hollow Jim sends his regards!

      Take care!
      Jim

  2. Tree frogs come in several different colors – some are brown, some are shiny green, yours seems to be a sort of mottled green. But they are all color blind, so they can’t tell if they are green or brown or whatever. So why would they go to all the trouble to be different colors if they themselves can’t tell?

    It’s for daytime camouflage. Most tree frog species are active at night, when, even with vision that can see them, colors are muted. They find each other, and differentiate species, by sound, not sight. They spend their daytimes up against plants that match their coloring — brown frogs on trees, green frogs on grasses, yours on….(what is nearby and that color?)

    They like to stay near wet, (they lay their eggs in water and tadpoles need some in-water time to grow) so if your build site dries out, your frog will most likely leave before he gets cement shoes.

    • Sally: It’s nice to know we can always count on you for your expertise! Thanks again. Sorry it took so long to respond. Another busy week at work and I was working at the Hobbit house after work as well. Trying to make a weekend pour. There was a little too much to get done so I had to cancel the pour. We’ll be ready next week hook or by crook.

      Just gotta hope for good weather.

      Thanks again!
      Jim

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