Friday, July 31, 2009


We need to order our window very soon, and before we do that, we need to determine the color of the exterior of the windows and that is a motivation to determine the color scheme for the exterior of the house. We're working on it, but if you, dear reader, have some sense of inspiration or great suggestions, please feel free to speak up. We don't want to be boring; we want to be bold but dignified with whatever we come up with.

I started sketching a photocopy of south elevation without worrying too much about whether it made sense or looked good. I just wanted to start playing with ideas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The concrete crew was back at it again today and completed the installation of the wall forms and soon there after did the pour. The concrete came via a two-step process: concrete comes from typical delivery truck which then feeds into a pump truck which has an delivery arm that can extend up to 90 feet. This truck is run by a man who has a remote control unit strapped over his shoulders to direct both the arm of the truck as well as the flow of the concrete through the supply tube. Its amazing to see this efficient process in action.

All the while there is one guy walking along the forms directing the flow of the concrete into the forms while two guys follow behind with a vibrating machine that, well, vibrates the concrete to settle it way down in the forms.

Once the pour was complete, the crew then went around and firmed up the walls to make sure they were straight and true, leveled everything to their batten board, and then inserted the anchor bolts.

It was a big day, and exciting once again. So far so good. Tomorrow the forms come off and then were on to sealing and installing the perimeter drain.

Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Moving along...

Today the footing was poured. Its just amazing to see a drawing turned into reality. It's like, "Hey, I drew that!" and then the next thing you know, a hardworking crew of concrete guys comes along and makes it real. It seemed so distant in the design process and now here it is being laid out and poured as a matter of fact.

For example, I labored over whether we should include a radon vent in the house. The conventional wisdom around here says unless you are over bedrock you shouldn't have a problem. On the other hand, a good friend who had a house in Barre said they had their place tested and found very high levels of radon. I decided that we should go ahead and install the vent pipe in the event we ever find we need it. Today, when the crew was setting up the forms I ran down to town, grabbed some pvc pipe and laid it in place. The cost was negligible, the effort to place minimal, and now its there. It was hardly worth thinking about in the end and I'm glad we did it. I guess I'm just dwelling on the transition from concept to reality and how that transition happens.

Back to the process: The footing was poured today, and tomorrow, if weather allows, the forms go up for the walls. Every step is exciting, but I think seeing the wall forms going up is notable for its dramatic thrust into three dimensions - up from the 2D of the footings.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Today we broke ground. Or should I say, a giant earth mover broke tons of ground. At around seven this morning Nancy and I were sipping our coffee and tea respectively and starting to think that it wouldn't be happening today... it was raining, damp, and calm and just didn't feel like anything active was going to happen. Then, at maybe 7:04, two white trucks show up and within minutes, the digger was coming down the drive way. After a short consultation about depth and site markers the project was suddenly made manifest by the powerful combination of hydraulics, steel, and human attention.

I asked Anna and Nancy today if they could imagine anyone being as fascinated with watching them do their work as it is to watch a skillful backhoe operator going at it. I swear, Dave, the operator could pick up a plate of fine china with his machine if he wanted. He could also crush a car. He reminded me of a limber skier as he turned, retracted, lifted, dumped, pulled, pushed and piled the earth.

Digging went smoothly and I was greatly relieved to see how much fill we were accumulating throughout the day. One of the harder elements for me to envision throughout the design process has been how the landscape will pan out. A good part of that is dependent on how much fill we have to work with. It looks now that we'll be in good shape to structure the landscape without any abrupt or sever drops. Phew.

I had called DigSafe last week in preparation for this work. They came and located the main power line coming to the existing garage with spray paint on the ground. Dave was aware of the location and was working away when suddenly the power went off. It turns out there was a loop of wire outside the marks on the ground and he hit it. Except for some lost time, there was no serious damage. Green Mountain Power came and got us back in shape in good time.

By the end of the day we were left with a massive, gaping hole in the yard. Its just so impressive to see what a powerful machine can do and also to see the empty space where the house will go. It is so exciting.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The countdown starts

We have scheduled the earth work to begin a week from tomorrow. Who hoo! In a sense, it feels like the project has already begun with all the prep work we've been doing in the last few weeks, especially with moving the yurt last weekend.

We've got the concrete company lined up as well, and if the weather works in our favor and there are no major hic-ups, Joe and I should be able to start on the first floor deck right about August 1. Its way later then we had hoped, but it still works for us and we'll make the best of it. I envision running the woodstove once the real cold sets in in order to do the wiring and plumbing with a measure of comfort.

(If you look closely in the photo, you'll notice that the gable end overhang has been cut off the end of the garage. That was done to make way for the bucket arm of the digger, since the new foundation will be very close to the existing building. The cut off parts were part of the fire.)