Alas my friends all good things cannot last forever, can they. My lovely holiday season with my wife and children is coming to an end and it is with heavy heart that I must accept this fact.
Jude and Georgia left today. Jude back to Sienna College and Georgia back to North Adams, Mass to start a job as a substitute teacher. They will be missed. Ethan has two weeks of vacation left before heading back to SUNY Cortland though so we will relish his presence while he is with us. They have to leave I know…..I will miss them…..every day.
Their great adventure is just begining and in a sense ours is always continuing.
I’m looking forward to getting back to work and getting our slab pour all in order. I’m glad you will be with me in spirit.
“We travel light…..Let’s hunt some Orc!”…. Aragorn after the breaking of the Fellowship and realizing there is still much they can do together as a team.
I’m looking forward to continuing our journey together!
Ah yes, Free Folk of Middle Earth it’s good to see you back again! Thanks for stopping by. The holidays in the middle of the week is weird. At least for me anyway. Had a half day Wednesday, New Years Eve and Thursday off. Had to go into work Friday though. It wasn’t bad. Traffic was light. I got hurt at work though. Not too badly. One of those metal post shore jacks fell on the back of my leg while I was holding something. It really hurt. Got a pretty nasty scrape/cut from the thing right through my Carhart pants though, and the back of my leg swelled up quite a bit. I could walk though so it was okay. Good thing the jack didn’t hit me in the head….I might still be sleeping.
My New Years Eve days are over. The kids were all out for the night so me and the missus watched CNN coverage with Anderson Copper and Kathy Griffen. It was pretty funny. Entertaining. I was going to stay up but at like 11:30 I hit the wall and couldn’t handle it so we went to bed. Happy New Year!
New Years Day we had my wife’s family over for an early dinner around 1PM. Very relaxed, baked ziti, meatballs, gravy or sauce (depending on which part of Italy you’re from). Watched the college football games. (Where do they grow these huge kids?) We got to talking about Super Bowl Pools. For those of you who live in another country or under a rock, the Super Bowl is the most heavily bet sporting event in the world. So my father-in-law comes up with this crazy family pool so that everyone in the family can make a wager and sort of get into the action. It went along these lines…Pair up everyone in the room and then they get to pick two of the playoff teams out of a hat. Whoever gets the winning team wins the money. So this is kind of a long term pool here because the playoffs have just started. But…and I know what you’re thinking…there are certain teams that have a lot better chance of winning than others. Like Green Bay and New England for instance. So as the hat goes around and around guess who winds up with New England and Green Bay…..My father-in-law and his partner. What a coincidence, right? It had nothing to do with the fact that my father-in-law cut up and placed all the teams in the hat. Nooooo! It’s the children I worry about though. They’re being disenfranchised. By their own grandparent nonetheless! Amazing! Not only that but nobody liked who they were paired up with or who they picked out of the hat…except me and my wife. (What a great pair!)
Oh yeah the construction blog, I almost forgot!
So like I was saying I had a half day Wednesday so I headed up to the Hobbit House to meet Jude and Ethan. I was thinking we might be able to finish leveling and tamping the gravel base in an hour or so. What I was thinking I don’t know. It must be the perpetual optimist in me. Anyway I started showing them how to fine tune the gravel base and as soon as I started I realized this is a pretty big job. To get it right is at least a full days work. I had them pick up a tamper so that was a waste of $70. Anywho as I was telling them it is pretty critical we get this right. You’re not going to get it perfect but it should be within a quarter inch plus or minus. The main thing though is to get the gravel bed flat…that is really the critical part. You want the Styrofoam to lay on a flat gravel bed. If there are voids underneath the Styrofoam this could lead to settling of the slab which could lead to cracks in the slab. If the cracks occur where we put tile down this could transfer to and crack the tile as well. We don’t want this to happen. So I would rather spend an extra day or more making sure the base is flat.
Other than going over that with the boys that was the extent of our work on Hobbit Hollow this week. Hopefully the weather will stay in our favor and we should get back to work in the next week or two.
This Friday I met the Editor down at Grand Central Station and went to see the play “Discraced” at the Lyceum Theatre on 45th street. It was really good. Not for everybody but I really enjoyed it. Very thought provoking and quite controversial on a lot of levels, as well. Without getting too into it it was all about varying degrees of racisim and your own perspective as far as racism is concerned. It’s deeper than that but it was very entertaining. We stayed right next to the job I am currently working at on 31st street and 6th avenue at the Hampton Inn. It was great because we were able to walk to the theatre. We had a great night.
We went to the Museum of Modern Art the next day to go see a special exhibit by Henri Matisse. It was a zoo though. I mean I think it must have been the holiday tourists. I’ve never seen so many people at a museum before. It was ridiculous. It was like you were being pushed along by a mob. People weren’t even looking at the art! We left early without seeing the exhibit we wanted to see. We still enjoyed the time we spent at the museum though.
I hope the holidays were good to you and here’s wishing everyone a wonderful 2015!
I think our cat is related to the Romans somehow. I guess over the years people have brought cats and pets from all over the world with them to their new homes in foreign lands. Our cat Tuco is definitely related to the Romans somehow.(Tuco…a strange name for a cat you say? ….Tuco was named after the ugly guy from the movie “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” starring Clint Eastwood. One of my all time favorite movies.) You remember the Romans and who they were at the height of their prominence back in the day. I hope your high school history senses are tingling. Anyhoo we all know the Romans got a little to full of themselves at one point and would have these huge parties where they would just eat and eat and eat and eat. And when they could not eat anymore they would ….well…you know what they would do. This is what our cat does every day. It’s fun having pets isn’t it? This cat is going to drive me to drink.
Do Hobbits have pets?
Well back to building a Hobbit house. I wasn’t able to do any work this weekend. For good reasons of course. My son Terence got confirmed in the church this Saturday. We were pretty busy all morning getting ready. After confirmation ( which was a really wonderful ceremony) we had my mother and that battle ax of a mother in law of mine over to the house for lunch. Jude had a football game after that and then we had a little dinner get together after the game with family. It was fun.I don’t have Columbus day off either like I usually have so that was a bust. Everybody at work was depressed when we found out we had to work Monday. Including yours truly.
So fortunately I had a comment from a woman named Sally who would like to see what the Hobbit house floor plans are like. So I thought that this would be a good weekend to do something a little different. Check it out.
Hmmm. Not really sure how in depth I should go. To begin with this is what we call an architectural floor plan. It is a cut away section of the floor showing the rooms and their wall locations etcetera…from a bird’s eye view. Just the basic rundown. Living and dining rooms are in the front of the house, galley kitchen to the right. Through the kitchen we come to a hallway with a desk next to the kitchen. Walking from the desk down the hall we have our mechanical room with a common bath next to it. (For visiting Hobbits) The back of the house has two bedrooms one with its own bath and one which uses the common bath outside its door. The architect who did this drawing mislabeled the center hall. ( I did all of the original drawings and in order for them to sign off on them they wanted to redo them with their CAD program) Anyway that label is supposed to say circular hallway not center hall. We all know that Hobbits love their circular halls and I really want to put one in here. If you look at the floor plan you can see that the circular hall seems to be taking up quite a bit of space. And it does. You have to keep in mind in order to get the right feel to the hallway you have to use quite a large radius to make a hallway this size. Although it’s not in stone yet I figured I’m going to need a hallway with a diameter of at least 8 feet in order to get the right height and feel I want for this house. So obviously one of the drawbacks to this is that we lose valuble floor space for either closets or the kitchen in this particular design. Just so you know a typical hallway is about 3 feet wide.
A few other things to note. The rectangles with the triangles in them are skylights. There is one in the living room, kitchen, and the back hallway. I wanted the interior of the house to be fairly bright with natural light. I’m not sure these are the final locations. I might add one over the desk area. I know quite a few people have seen the movie “The Hobbit” and will undoubtedly say that Bag End (The hobbits home in the movie) has no skylights and so on. If only I had an unlimited budget to work with. But alas I do not. Therefore we must make a few adjustments to make a real Hobbit house work for big folk. A lot of the things that are in the movies are done with especial effects and the like. We all know this. So some of the aspects we really like in Bilbo’s house aren’t really do-able or practical for that matter. Like I said all of the circular hallways in the movie house were unbelieveable but there was no real practical way for me to add another circular hallway.
Another matter of practicality are the windows of a Hobbit house. I know…..Hobbit houses have round windows. The only problem with round windows is you have to be Bill Gates to afford them,,,,and I’m not Bill Gates I’m Hobbit Hollow Jim. But really the round window thing looks good in the movies but as far as letting light into a house and so on they really aren’t what you are looking for. I’m still not one hundred percent sure what I’m going to do with the windows. I drew about 8 million sketches to come up with something that would look good and still be kind of Hobbitesque. This next picture is an elevation view of the Hobbit house. It kind of gives you an idea of where we are going. Check it out.
I actually have changed this drawing a couple of times since I originally drew it but this is the nuts and bolts of where we are heading. I didn’t think the door looked right. I have a rough sketch of what I’m going to do. I actually made the door larger and changed the curvature of the windows. And I don’t think the circular window is going to work either. (Sorry round window fans.) The other problem from a passive house standpoint is that passive house windows are really expensive to begin with so I’m a little nervous about pricing out arched windows that are passive house certified. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Well I hope this post was informative at the very least. The Jets just lost and I think Tuco threw up again. I gotta go.
Interesting. Yes? Let’s face it home maintenance is a drag. I’ve never really been a good home maintenace guy. That being said I’m not going to go on a rant about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. On the contrary, I don’t want to do any maintenance at all. (I tried reading that book but really struggled with it. I guess I’m never going to be a Zen Buddist.)
So now that you know that I’m not such a great maintenance guy let’s get back to maintenance and Hobbit Houses. This topic all came to me when my master bath toilet sprang a leak last Monday. It’s summertime and sometimes your toilet sweats and me being a low maintenance kind of guy I happened to notice that this toilet seemed to be sweating quite a bit this summer. (Just so you know this particular toilet never really sweated in previous summers.) Ok so the toilet is sweating away. Then on Monday I noticed a small puddle on the floor next to the toilet.( Maintenance man senses are tingling.) I look under the toilet and see a stream of water coming out from the bolt that attaches the bowl to the tank. I’ve never seen a toilet leak from this spot before but here we go. Anyway the short version is it took me till Sunday to get around to fixing it. It’s a long story but lets just say there were complications getting the bolts out etcetera and some of my plumbing tools were broken.(The little hacksaw blade with the plastic handle). One day after work I tried fixing it but began to sweat profusely so I canceled and had butter pecan ice cream with whipped cream and two cherries.(With a little extra cherry juice on top). So I guess you’re wondering what this all means?
Well one of the aspects of this particular Hobbit house is that it will be a relatively low maintenance home. The structure is reinforced concrete. No rotting or deterioration. It should last about 1000 years. The roof is going to be vegetation. Just let whatever you plant grow and grow. No reroofing to worry about or gutters to clean. The small amout of siding that exists will be sheltered by the roof eaves and is only one story high.If you do want to repaint you’ll only need a step ladder. This particular Hobbit house will also have stone veneer siding as well which is totally maintenance free. Another huge aspect of this Hobbit house is that it will not have a conventional boiler or air duct system. The Passive house aspect of the home (Superinsulated and air tight) eliminates the need for a large conventional type boiler. No oil deliveries and yearly maintenance checkups on your boiler. All we are going to put into this house is what they call a ductless minisplit heat pump. This will provide your winter heat and your summer air conditioning. Where’s the hammock?…Lets take a nap!
The other reason I was thinking about maintanence was the stripping of the concrete forms which we started in earnest this Labor Day Weekend. I mean when you see these walls it’s just like a thing of beauty. Who has 16 inch thick concrete walls for their home? Its gonna take an M-1 Abrahms tank to knock this thing down. When I see concrete like this- it’s just like we’re never going to have to worry about this. Ever.
So I got started Saturday around 8 AM. Stripping is pretty simple. Begin where you finished, end where you began. More or less anyway. It can get a little tricky depending on the complexity of the formwork. But this was pretty straight forward. First order of business was to strip the top waler off and any form ties that were above the scaffolding. After that I took down the 2×4 protection and the planking. Here’s a picture.
I don’t know how it was over the weekend in your neck of the woods but over in New York it was disgustingly humid. I mean all you had to do was start breathing and you were sweating like a pig. Thank goodness I put in good drainage around the perimeter of the site. With the amount I sweated I think I would have washed most houses right off their foundations.
Forget about P90X, the Cleanz, Weight Watchers or whatever else you’ve been doing to lose weight. And totally forget about the gym.Stairmasters, treadmills,free weights. Just come to the Hobbit house and help me strip symmons forms and you’ll have the workout of a lifetime. Symmons forms weigh in at about 90 pounds. Move those suckers around all day and that is one hell of a workout. I was a mere shell of a man by the time I finished on Monday.
It is fun to see what is behind the forms though. I was especially looking forward to seeing how the retaining walls came out. If you remember we had some trouble getting the concrete to flow into this area during the pour. I was really happy with the way it came out. Check it out.
You have to look really close to see the joint where we poured the two lifts of concrete. The boys did a really good job.
One of the things I was worried about was air pockets at the top of the form here at this particular location. You might not think that air would create a void in the concrete but it does all the time. That’s one of the reasons you need a good vibrator man on a concrete job. But at this location it was hard to get the vibrator underneath the top form. So I drilled 5/8″ air holes 16 inches on center into the form to let the air out as the concrete filled up the form. I don’t know if you can see it but there are only very small air pockets in the topface of the retaining wall. Check it out.
If you look closely at the above picture you will see an outline of a little rectangle. I cut out that rectangle in the form to allow the vibrator to go into the form on the first lift of concrete. Once the concrete filled up to that opening we stopped and I screwed the little plywood block back in place. Hmmmm…smarter than the average concrete guy wouldn’t you say! The skewbacks on the edges were a nice touch too.
Ok I did forget one thing. I forgot to check all of the locations where I had the 4 inch styrofoam for our thermal break. I was supposed to tell the guys while we were pouring to put a little concrete on each side of the styrofoam. This will equalize the pressure on the styrofoam so we don’t have a blowout. I actually put a form tie 6 inches from the bottom to prevent this from being an issue but I forgot one corner. Look what happened.
We got lucky here. The styrofoam didn’t break so our thermal barrier is still intact.Whew! It just goes to show you how important the little things are in a concrete pour. Oh yeah check out how the electrical boxes came out. This was sweet.
Jude had a football scrimmage Saturday and Terence was at a friends so I didn’t have any help. I asked Jude if anyone might want to work for two hours on Sunday popping pins out. He got a hold of RJ and they both came over Sunday at 11. It was great.There are literally thousands of pins that have to come out and it is time consuming and hard work to boot. You have to remember all the pins are now in tension after the concrete has been poured so you really have to bang the pins hard to get them out. Here’s a picture of them working away.
We got a lot done Sunday.Here’s a picture of the Northern retaining wall before I stripped off the top form. It kind of gives you a better idea of what we did at this location.
So the big picture this weekend was to try and get all the wall panels off and stacked. This way next Saturday we could load out the truck and get all these forms off the site and move onto phase 7 b of the project. I knew that was a tall order so I decided to just try and get the panels off. I figured if I did that I could probably stop by after work and stack panels for a half hour to 45 minutes a night. This way we would be ready for Saturday trucking.
I employed Jude and Terence Monday for about an hour popping pins and that was the trick. We’re all ready for next weekend….well almost.Here are a few pictures with all the forms off.
I’m sick of looking at these forms though. I can’t wait to get rid of them. Which brings me to another conundrum. Who’s going to help me put these panels on the truck? Jude and all his football player friends start playing next Saturday. Lightweights need not apply. This is heavy work so I just can’t use anyone. We’ll have to scour the Shire for some help. I’m sure we’ll find some. Hobbits are quite strong actually and are always up for a good days work as long as they’re well fed.