Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nothing like a good foundation

(Jeremy) A busy week indeed. The foundation was excavated, footings and drain lines were installed and Superior Walls delivered and installed the precast foundation. All that was done Monday and Tuesday! From there we ran into a snag of needing a lot more fill to backfill around the foundation than originally estimated. Fortunately our new neighbor, Troy, was quick to point out a huge mound of fill he needed removed from his property and voila, problem solved (oh, and an additional $3500 for the excavator to supply the machinery and equipment). We're getting very familiar with change orders from the GC!
So on Wednesday he started breaking up the fill and bringing it to the site. We decided to have them install a layer of gravel inside the foundation over the dirt to prevent any capillary action into the 3" of rigid insulation above. The insulation was then installed over the entire area inside the foundation - two layers of 1.5" rigid foam insulation (EPS - Encapsulated Polystyrene), with the joints staggered for better thermal barrier. We also had them install an additional two inches of insulation against the inside of the foundation walls. This was in addition to the 1" of rigid insulation that was installed in the factory. So what are we doing with all this insulation inside our foundation? We're creating a huge heat sink under the house. This "earthbox" as we're referring to it, is 3' of sand directly under the slab. On Friday, they brought in the sand and put 18" of it into our foundation walls (on top of the insulation) and compacted it well. On Saturday, Karann and I spent a good part of the day laying down 1200 linear feet of radiant tubing (7/8" PEX). We read the installation manual from Radiant Floor Company and designed the three 400 foot loops the night before. We were surprised how easy it was (although hard on the backs and knees). Monday, our heating contractor will pressure test the system and on Tuesday the building inspector will inspect everything allowing the excavator to install and compact the remaining 18" of sand. The first major component of our home complete.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our Excavator Rocks!

(Karann) We closed on our construction loan on Thursday. The loan closing actually pushed our schedule back because there were some legal issues with having the contractors working on site before we closed on the loan (even though we held title to the land). Whatever. The excavator mobilized quickly there after. First he managed to gingerly move our 40' cargo container out of the way and into a very tight spot among the trees (I still don't know how he did that!!). Then he cleared the small trees in the footprint of the building and was able to relocate some of them to another property (his, I think.) I'm glad some were able to be "recycled". He then laid down a very nice track pad of 5" to 6" rocks for the remainder of the driveway and scraped the topsoil off. On Monday, he will be ready to dig the hole and get it ready for the Superior Wall (precast foundation walls) that will be delivered and installed on Tuesday.
This weekend we will be going out to the building site with our compass and locating "true south" so the house can be oriented in the optimal position for passive and active solar. In CT, true south (not magnetic south) is facing approximately 14 degrees toward the east of magnetic south. So we will basically rotate the house to the east slightly to get the best sun.
Today, we received all our radiant flooring supplies from the Radiant Flooring Company in Vermont. We decided to go with their design for the solar-assist radiant space heating and domestic hot water system. Jeremy and I felt the most comfortable with their design and it utilizes evacuated tube solar collectors, which we really wanted to incorporate in our house. They are much more efficient, especially on cold or cloudy days, making them a good choice for Connecticut.
Next week should be fun and action packed. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Let's Dig a Hole!

(Karann) We are very close to breaking ground.  We are a few days behind due to the schedules of our septic engineer and surveyor.  Tomorrow morning we are having a "kick-off" meeting at the site with our GC and all the subs.  Oh, and of course we'll be giving our check book some use giving deposits to the subs we've hired ourselves (plumbing and heating).  We decided that because the fine details of the heating and plumbing systems are still evolving, it would be better for us to retain control of those portions.  We also have spent quite a bit of time on the windows, so I wanted to stay in charge of the window order, in hopes of preventing errors.  Because the window rough openings are cut into the SIP panels at the factory, we had to make sure that the window order was set and that the SIP construction plans matched with the window specs.  Anderson windows have so many options available (probably close to 20 option categories) that it is easy to make mistakes on the order.
So, if all goes well tomorrow, and our surveyor gets out to the site and stakes everything, we may be able to see a hole dug by the end of the week.