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.
Enjoy your week!