Sunday, December 30, 2007


Okay, time to update the blog or forget about it altogether. Actually, it was probably time to update it or forget about it altogether back in October sometime, but we have kept the idea of updating it alive all these months, so maybe I'll finally take the time to act on it now that we've made a little more progress.

So Adam quit his job back in late August and has been concentrating on construction for the past four months, in addition to looking for a new full time (income producing) job. Therese has been working more or less full time since then, at a couple different jobs, trying to bring some income in.

When we left you in mid August Adam was filling in the foundation and preparing the ground underneath the slab. Finalizing that process took many, many hours and much hard labor. He compacted every ten inch lift, either with a rented rolling compactor or the hand compactor (jumping jack) depending on how tight the spot was. When he got to the "third" cell, he had to do it all with the hand compactor because it was too deep and difficult to get the rolling compactor into place.

As he was backfilling he'd also been placing the plumbing. After the fill was all in place, he finalized the plumbing. Then came the final layer of gravel and the final compaction. Then came three inches of blueboard insulation. Adam's friend, Ben, came up from Tucson with his grandson one weekend and helped with that process. The insulation is there to stop the floor heat from sinking into the ground, encouraging it to rise instead.

On top of the insulation came a 6-inch wire grid, then the radiant floor tubing (tied to the wire to keep it in place). A rebar grid was laid out over the tubing to keep it from floating during concrete placement. After all the tubing was pressure tested and inspected (requisite inspections had been taking place all along, of course), it was finally time to call in the concrete team to lay the slab!

We hired Brandon from Northern Concrete to pour the slab, with a pump truck from Marco Crane. The concrete itself came from Flagstaff Concrete. We wanted a four inch slab but ended up with about 3.5 inches (about 7 yards of concrete that we paid for disappeared altogether, we're still not sure where). We had most of it poured plain gray, but decided to have the entryway section dyed "terra cotta" red and scored on the diagonal in 24 inch squares to make it look like tiles. The rest of the floor will eventually be finished with flagstone (kitchen and living room) or saltillo tiles (bedrooms).

After the slab was poured, it was time to make the framing lumber order and finalize the window order. This took several weeks, as Adam tried to negotiate the intracacies of the framing process and make final window selections. Ken Shively, a structural engineer and friend, went over the construction plans for us one more time after several changes to the plans. We decided to go with Home Depot for the lumber, after much consideration. Key to this decision was the willingness of the Home Depot staff to negotiate with us, and the fact that they just opened a huge new store on OUR side of town, making the thousands of trips we'll have to make over the course of the project MUCH less time consuming than the full hour (round trip) it used to take to get to any hardware store at all.

For the windows we went with Sierra Pacific Windows because of their environmentally friendly tendencies and the willingness of the representative, Scott Wachowski, to work with us through several sets of changes.

The first load of lumber was scheduled to be delivered on December 10 but we had our first big snowfall that day, followed by two additional days of snow. We thought we'd be ready for the lumber by December 15 due to the fact that snow doesn't usually stick around long here (high temperatures in the 40's are the norm in December) but unusually cold and cloudy weather delayed the delivery even further.

We finally had to hire an equipment operator to come in and clear some of the snow for us so we could take our first lumber delivery on December 18. The kids were out of school for the Christmas holiday on December 19 and Adam has been struggling to get some walls built while watching three small kids full time and getting over a nasty cold, ever since! As you can see, we have managed to get a few wall portions up, cause for great celebration! This is a view from the south, with the large gaps you can see here representing windows. The wall section that seems to be missing on this side is actually a 16 foot window section, where there will be two 4 foot sliding glass doors with two 4 foot plate glass windows on either side. This is where we'll get most of our passive solar heat from!
Stay tuned, we really will try to be better about updating this blog in the future!