Thursday, April 30

riding dirty...

Through this process, I've become slightly, okay, completely mystified and mesmerized by the large machinery used to prepare our lot to build.  One of my favorites has to be the bobcat.  Seriously, I think we need one of these.

On our last visit to the lot, April 21, I recorded a video of one of the workers simply moving dirt around and filling in some trenches.  It may not be that interesting to you, but I really enjoyed taking a few minutes at the lot to watch the wonder that is the bobcat and it's complex choreography.

"Riding Dirty" at the lot -  Day 94 of our build

waterproofing for the weepers out there..

We went a while without much progress.  The weather was really making an impact.  It had been one rainy day after another, but here we were on April 21, 2015 and we had waterproofing!
Everything covered in black will be beneath the ground.
The view from the left of the house. Crazy to think that only a foot or two will be visible once they backfill.

The garage and porch -  eventually they'll need to bring in a few loads of dirt to level things out.

The front of the house, and our trash pile.
We read a lot about waterproofing in our research, but it seems to vary so much by location, we didn't really know what to expect.  The black tar sure was shocking when we drove by for the first time.
I'm still surprised by how tall the walls are, but it means we'll have a nice cozy basement.

On the left of our lot, you can see where the ground levels quite a bit.  I'm so glad we have a fairly level back yard -  or will once it's all over with.

A close up of the "weeping tiles" - the black corrugated pipe curled on the ground.
Part of the waterproofing is the installation of "weeping tiles."  We'll actually have a French Drain setup for our house and yard.
  From Wikipedia: A French drain or weeping tile is a trench filled with gravel or rock or containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from an area. A French drain can have perforated hollow pipes along the bottom to quickly vent water that seeps down through the upper gravel or rock.
The pile of dirt along the edge of the walls is covering our weeping tile.  Later they will trench the backyard and lay the pipes a few feet below the sod.

Just to give you a little break from all the concrete and drainage and dirt talk..
below is a recent stand off between our two kittens. 

 I'm not sure what all was being said, but my guess is that it's not suitable for polite company.
Crying for joy over weeping tiles and waterproofing -  Day 94 of our build

Wednesday, April 29

we have walls! well.. close enough

I'm going to warn you.. if you don't like concrete, and you aren't currently building your dream home -  this post might get a little boring.  (Not that all my posts are that exciting...) I've got a TON of pictures of the concrete walls..and we were so excited that they were poured so quickly, compared to the pace of most things lately, that I probably took one too many.  So I hope you bear with me, or completely skip this post, as I relive what we discovered on a visit to the lot on April 11th and 12th -  yay weekend!
The forms are down, and we have WALLS! (Kinda)

Earlier in the day the workers were still removing the forms and ties.

Standing on the sidewalk, the walls don't seem that tall.

We were perplexed by the rebar coming out of the top of the walls, but I think this is to help reinforce the porch and garage floor once it's poured.

There are some interesting cut-outs where Styrofoam was put to allow for additional supports down the line. This is the front porch area and garage to the right. 

There's quite a bit of space between where they dug out for the basement and where the footings and walls were poured.

The wet weather and lack of bright sun has slowed the drying process for sure.  You can see where the walls have been patched or are still wet.

This is going to be one of the favorite rooms of the house, at basement level -  our main room for STORAGE!

Looking down from the top left corner of the house -  outside the eventual master bedroom.

My favorite shot of the basement walls.. you can see the whole "house" from here.
If you'd like a little more action.. check out our "tour" of the walls from the side of our lot.

Now if it will just stop raining.. we might be able to explore a bit.  Or you know, take care of waterproofing, or maybe the slab, or something..

anything.. anything but rain.
Basement Walls, Complete! -  day 85 of our build

Sunday, April 26

forming the basement..

I took a mental health day off from work on April 10th, and couldn't resist taking a drive with Adam over to the lot during the day when we might see some work.  As with most of our trips, we weren't expecting anything but were incredibly hopeful.  Still, we had just been caught in a mini-monsoon outside the grocery store so many of our hopes, we expected to be dashed. But as we drove up we saw.. TRUCKS!

And workers taking a break in said trucks! We were just glad we could grab some pictures of the progress without being in their way.  They had set out the forms for the concrete walls to be poured.

This is somewhat looking straight at the house with the front porch and then garage on the right.  The space in between the forms is where they will pour the concrete walls.

From the far left of the house -  I love how the walls will step down to the basement level.  The back doesn't have any walls formed yet since it will be a "walkout" basement, where we can walk directly out into the backyard.

I've seen a few houses built around our area, but never seen a home with a basement.  It's pretty crazy to think we'll have these huge concrete walls that really won't be able to be seen when people drive up.  

On another note, with all this rain and red mud -  I need to do some shoe shopping.  Can't you just see me walking the job site in some rain boots like these?
If only they will fit.. I think it would be perfect!  
Wall Forms are Up -  day 83 of our build

Friday, April 24

two guys walk into a rebar...

About two weeks after our footings were poured, and two days after our builder expected, the team arrived to start working on the rebar grid for our basement walls.  We drove by more out of habit than having any expectations late on April 7th. 
The workers were balancing on the rebar grid and planks of wood while tying the grid together.  They clearly have better balance than I do!  It was pretty interesting to watch how quickly and smoothly they worked. 

It's hard to see but the grid outlines where the concrete walls will be poured for the basement.  I couldn't believe how high it was going to be in places.

I expect there will be LOADS of dirt needed to fill in the yard and level it out.  To the left of the picture will be our bedroom, and my office, on the main floor.

You can see in the bottom of the picture that our water meter has taken a beating.  I'll be glad to have that repaired down the line.   Along with the busted sidewalk and curb. 

The next step is setting the wall forms and pouring the concrete walls.  Yay!

Rebar for the Walls -  day 80 of our build

Thursday, April 23

trench worry-fare...

By March 27, 2015... our footings had been poured and had been curing for a while.  We started to worry since the footing along the back of the house was currently a trench.  A trench filled with water..
See the muddy trench snaking along the back of our lot?
We finally reached out to our builder to make sure this was the plan.  He assured us that the back footing would be poured later.  We were worried over nothing, but I'm still glad we asked.

Footings with rebar.. and more red mud.
Now we wait.  Our next step is to have the walls formed and poured.  Hopefully.  If the weather will play nice and dry out a bit.

We kept close watch on the lot.  Driving by every day hoping for an update, hoping it would dry out, hoping we'd see some changes.  We knew the building market had picked up, based on a conversation with our builder and realtor.  Apparently everyone is ready to build right now, which is keeping the sub-contractors so busy that they are falling behind.

So now, we're hoping for cooperation from the sub-contractors' schedules and the weather.  Just lots of hoping and waiting..

Waiting on Walls -  day 69 of our build

Monday, April 20

starting out on the right footing..

On March 18th, Adam was off work and I was still serving my civic duty at the courthouse. The trial I was assigned to ended up lasting all week.  At least I won't have to serve again for a few years, and during that week -  I was able to do a lot of house snooping, checking up on the progress during breaks and after court was release for the day.

We drove by the lot towards the end of the day and were able to see some serious work being completed.  The guys were pouring our footings using this massive pump truck.

Our builder told us later that the pump truck cost about $60,000 to buy and about $1,000 +/- an hour to rent.  No wonder these guys worked so quickly!

Adam and I were intrigued by the whole process.  We hung around later as they folded the pump trucks crane away.  Finally we decided it was best to get out of their way.  Still, I'm loving how much we're learning through this whole process.  There are so many interesting stages along the way.

Up next, walls.... maybe?

Pouring the Footings - 60 days into our build

go digger go!

I tend to get off work a little earlier than the Man does.  A lot earlier actually.  Most times, I'm pretty patient and wait for him to get home before we swing by the lot to check on things.  However, the week of March 17th, I had the joy of serving jury duty.  This meant I was local for the day and had ample time on lunch compared to my norm.  I swung by the lot after hitting the drive thru on a sunny day, hoping I'd catch some work in progress.

Yay!  Holes in dirt!
 I lucked out!  The crew was there digging the trenches for our footings.  This is when I could really start to see the outline of our home's footprint.

The workers on the crew even waved when they saw me playing paparazzi.
 I couldn't resist getting a short video of everyone in action.  Go digger go!  I mean, right on with that excavation!  Way to adhere to city and county codes!

I had to rush back to court or I would have spent the afternoon.  There's just something about seeing the work as it happens that is both reassuringly calm and thrilling at the same time.
Digging the Footings - 59 days into our build

Tuesday, April 14

raindrops on rebar...

March 13, 2015 was a Friday.  A rainy, dreary, Friday the 13th.  We stopped by the lot on the way to dinner to see how it was holding up.
The Man inspecting his kingdom.  His rainy, gross, muddy, kingdom.
I didn't even get out of the car, at first.  It was just too wet and cold.  It had been a long work week and I just didn't have it in me to stand out in the rain.  There was a quick reprieve in the sprinkles, and I found my favorite hoodie of the man's in the trunk.  Finally I had the motivation to get out and see if I could get some decent pictures before it started raining again.

Mud pit.. even muddier!
We both perked up a bit when we saw there was a delivery of rebar.  Does this hint at a potential workday?  Footings maybe?

Hurrah for rebar!

We dried out a bit and turned on the seat warmers in the car (those are amazing, by the way!).  As we went on our way, we hoped for many more sunny days.. and wondered when we'd see work on footings.

Monday, April 13

meet our mud pit

Note to self: When visiting an uneven, muddy, recently excavated lot -  don't wear flip flops.

Additional Note: Don't wear flip flops with a 2" wedge heel.  You will fall.

Yeah.  The man wanted to see the lot up close.  I was game.  After all... they had cleared and started digging out the basement.

OMG -  Dirt! Yay!
So we make our way around the side of the lot, and start cutting through the woods in the back.  I stepped wrong and BLAM!  I went down like a sack of potatoes.. with gravy.  I've never been a graceful one, but this was embarrassing.

I had a bruise for about a month.  And scraped my face on a tree.  "Hello tree, pardon me!"

The lot from the side.
It was worth it.  We had a blast walking around the space.  I loved imagining where our house would fit in all the mud. "This will be our bedroom.  Here's where I'll store all my Holiday decor."

Adam on one side of the dig, taken from the opposite stake.  Our house won't be this wide.. but still!  Can you see him?

I was just shocked by what a difference having the land cleared and dug out made.  It got really REAL really quick.  There were lots of "Oh my.. it's so massive.. like.. this is our house."

The Man showing how tall the dirt wall is.
I think the craziest part was seeing where the ground was dug out for the basement.  We'll have a walkout basement, but it just seemed so crazy to have this wall-O-dirt just hanging out on the lot.

Attempt at a selfie.. yay dirt pile!
The ground slopes enough where it can easily support a walk-out.... but I'm hoping they'll truck in some more dirt to level out the front yard and mellow the slope a bit.  Still, I'm so excited to have the extra space and room to grow if we choose.

Meet our mud pit!  Muddy since March 7, 2015.

Sunday, April 5

sorry tree..

We came back to visit the lot, not quite sure what to expect.  It had been pretty cold and I wasn't expecting much work to have been done.  Still -  we had a new addition to the party!

Our conversation went like this:

Me - "Oohh! Look.. a digger! Wait.. what's that called?"
The Man -  "An excavator?"
Me - "I like digger better. Let me get some pictures."

Amber waves of.. weeds?
The Man -  "More pictures?  Of the equipment?"
Me - "Yeah!  This is new.  New stuff."

Dig away, my friend!
The Man - "You aren't going to climb on that one are you?"
Me - "No.. I learned my lesson.  Besides, I'm not wearing the right shoes."
The Man -  "Uh-huh.."

At this point, I scampered away to take more pictures.  Yes, scampered.  I get very giddy when we visit the lot.  Sometimes giddy leads to scampering.  Deal with it.

With more of the debris cleared

It's like they're posing for a picture.  CAT-selfie!

This huge tree was down and I was sad to see it go.  But, the giant root ball was right under where my kitchen would be.. so yeah.

Sorry tree.  Wrong place, wrong time.
It was just March 4th, 2015 and not much time had passed since the trees were first cut.  We were far from a house, but at least our lot was cleared.  Now if the weather would just cooperate so all our soil .. er.. red clay.. doesn't wash away.

The trees on the back of the lot are starting to come back to life.  Here's to spring.. minus the showers.
I knew we wouldn't have much luck with the weather.  March is always very rainy in Alabama.  And the ominous clouds rolling in didn't seem to reassuring either.
Cloudy with a chance delays?

if a tree falls in a subdivision...

It was pretty shocking to drive by the lot one day (February 28, 2015) and see all the trees down.
Our lot -  and piles and piles of trees.  Sorry Mother Nature.. don't hate.
I mean, all the trees were just -  gone! It just looked so.. disastrous?  It was exciting, and I never thought I'd be so happy to see dead trees.

For scale - see the Man, and his sister and bro-in law.  Checking everything out.
Our lot seemed so huge!  It's an average size for this area, to still be in city limits with access to fast internet (a must for the Man) and without a long commute into town (preferred for me).

I think one thing I was surprised by was how excited I was by seeing a bulldozer.  It's like I became a 5 year old boy and was looking for Bob the Builder.  It was so cool to see them up close.

This bucket was huge, I just kept thinking about how I could fit the whole family in there.  Angry cats included.
 I took far too many pictures of the equipment. On another trip by, I insisted on crawling in the damn thing. I nearly ripped my jeans.  I guess they aren't really made to be driven by unathletic 4'11" gals like me.
I mean business!

Everyone has warned us about how long the first few steps take. However, going from trees to no trees seemed like a pretty big step.   Our builder was encouraging us to make some decisions about finishes early on.. so that helped the time pass.  It wasn't long before we saw more progress.