Puddle Turned Pretty

This isn’t a house update.  Just a puddle in our driveway that was an unhappy muddy brown for the last several days.  But it froze overnight, and I am enchanted:




So much is happening!  When we left off, we were headed to warmer houses for the weekend.  It ended up not being *that* cold.  Contrary to the belief of some of our family members who live in Arizona, there is a big difference between 18F and 3F.  It only got down to 18F.  The RV came through just fine (no frozen pipes, no running out of propane unexpectedly), and we all are just fine, too.  It has now warmed up (today was almost 50F – practically toasty), and the forecast is looking decently mild for the the next week.

Now.  Back to the excitement on the house!  In my last post, I had a picture of concrete-filled forms.  Here is a crazy wide-angle shot Lars took of the action from the pouring of the walls:



The concrete guys came back on Thursday and took all the forms off.  And we have a basement!


I tried to walk in, but there’s a 4-foot deep hole in front of and inside of the eastern wall (where the door is), and the guys had put up a 2×6 gangplank, but my nervousness around heights got the better of me (in my defense, I had Nya on my back), so I didn’t go in.  But here’s a shot from just outside the door:


At this point, there was still a moat around the basement.  Lars and Craig both walked around the top of the walls some, but I didn’t watch.

Friday morning, a delivery of framing materials arrived on this cool truck with a built-in crane:


Tuesday (11/14), the concrete guys came back and knocked off all those little blips you see in the photos above.  Then they waterproofed the basement walls:


And can you see them?  Floor joists!  A big beam running the whole length of the building!  So exciting.  (That’s Lars on the ladder and Craig sitting on the floor joists.)

I’m not quite caught up through today, but in the interest of getting enough sleep, I’m signing off.  Next time: basement wall insulation, driving the skid steer inside the basement, and filling in that moat.





It’s snowing

Actually, I think it has stopped now, but our grill looked like this when I went out a couple of minutes ago:


House stuff got real when the excavator was delivered a couple of weeks ago.  Living in an RV in Vermont in the winter just got real today.  Actually, it’s not even really real yet compared to what is coming later this week:


Note Friday’s high and low specifically.  It should be exciting!  (And mom, don’t worry – we’ll go sleep at Par and Debbi’s if the forecast is still so dire when Friday is a bit closer.)  Tomorrow I’m taking the completely inadequate step of putting plastic film over the windows and weatherstripping the door.  I might also buy an electric space heater.

Now, having buried the lede nice and deep, this happened today:


That’s cement in the forms, in case you can’t tell how this photo is different from the ones in my last post.  Basement walls are poured!  More details tomorrow.  I missed the excitement (so bummed!) but Lars took some good photos.  There were 4 cement trucks here at once, and two poured at the same time.

Catching up with all the goings-on

This week has been just as exciting as last week.  The contractor gods were friendly; Mother Nature less so.  It rained and rained and rained Sunday and Monday.  But here is how things looked on Tuesday, with Lars to give some scale:


It’s hard to tell what is going on, of course.  But Lars is standing on the bottom of the foundation hole, and that lower area off to his right is where the frost wall will go.  (The frost wall extends 4 feet below grade and keeps frost from getting below the basement floor.  It’s only needed on the walk-out wall of our basement.  All the other basement walls are 4 feet or more below grade.)

Wednesday, this happened:

The concrete guys showed up first thing in the morning and had built the forms for the footer by lunch.  Then two concrete trucks came.  Talk about mind-blowing driving skills.  I couldn’t always watch them driving because I was afraid they were going to fall in the hole.  But when I could watch, they were controlling the concrete chute by driving it to where it needed to go.  Super impressive.  Nya thought it was great, too – “that truck is pooping, mama!”  Here’s a video of the action for my truck-obsessed nephew Jimmy.

By the end of the day Wednesday, we had a complete footer.



The two round footers in the middle of the floor will support posts that will hold up beams that will hold up the house.  We put our hand prints into one of them.


Nya wasn’t getting her hand anywhere near that wet stuff, so Lars put her croc print in instead.  She then insisted that the concrete foreman put his hand in, and she really wanted him to add his name, but he said he’s save that space for us.  This is all going to get covered by the floor, but I’m thinking it might be kind of fun to put our names and hand prints into the floor when it gets poured.  Maybe Nya would be game if we gave her a latex glove to wear?

Thursday the concrete guys took a bit of a pause.  But Lars and Craig did a bunch of work on the well.  Fingers crossed that it can get us enough water.  We’re practicing our water conservation skills here in the RV, though.  Every heavy gallon gets carried in, so it’s always high in my mind how precious it is.  We’re going through 5-10 gallons per day for drinking, cooking, dish washing, and hand washing.

Today (Friday) there were so many guys here.  The concrete crew had at least 6 people working, and then the excavator was here, too.  The excavator dug a 4-foot deep trench from the well to the foundation, and Lars laid the water line.  I failed to take a picture, so you’ll have to just imagine how muddy he was when that project was finished.

digging the water line

While Lars and the excavator were playing in the mud, the concrete guys put up all the forms for the basement walls:

If I squint really hard, and ignore the moat around the walls, I can almost picture a basement there.

The excavator will be back tomorrow to finish the driveway up to the walk-out level of the basement so that the concrete truck can get up there in spite of the mud.  (Have I mentioned the mud?  Our whole world is mud.  I wear rubber boots when I’m outside at home, and I have other clean shoes that I just leave in the car all the time to wear when I drive anywhere else.)

And because this post is really long anyway, and this doesn’t warrant its own post, here is a picture of the panels the forms are made out of, because I think they are pretty spiffy:


They lock together with those metal slotted rectangles.  The concrete foreman and the excavator both have told Lars that this is the deepest basement they’ve ever dug.  But Craig assures us that his basement is 13 feet deep (ours is ~9), and that everything is going to be just fine.

The basement walls should get poured Monday.

Hello, Hole

The excavator blows my mind.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s so far outside my skill set, or because the scale is so huge compared to anything I could do by hand, or just because I am easily impressed.  But two days after he started, Mike finished the hole where our basement will go.


Looking In


Looking Out


From grade


From above

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to convince Lars and Nya to go stand in the hole to give some scale.  It’s really big.  The walls around the edge are 9′ tall, and the flat spot in the middle must be something on the order of 35′ wide by 50′ long.  And the walls are perfectly vertical!  And the ground is perfectly flat!  And it only took 3 days!  Mind officially blown.

Mike is coming back tomorrow to dig the frost walls; if the contractor gods smile on us, Dean the concrete guy will be here Monday or Tuesday to start building forms! [Insert terrified/giddy exclamation here.]


Happening Fast

Things are happening fast over here.  Rip-roaringly fast.  Excitingly fast.  Terrifyingly fast.

On Thursday, these two guys showed up and started moving giant rocks around like they were pebbles*:

It’s mesmerizing to watch.  Like a dinosaur or giant creature has come to dig in our dirt.  The backhoe moves so smoothly I can forget it’s a machine.  The driveway work is now done.  Maybe eventually I’ll upload some before and after pictures, but I’m finding my photography skills to be completely inadequate for showing what’s really going on at that scale.  Also, a bulldozer came to join the party on Friday, but I don’t have a picture of that in action.

On Friday, our builder climbed down our well:

Craig down the well.jpg

He spent several hours down there, cleaning out the muck.  Lars helped, but Craig was way dirtier at the end of the day, so we all know who got the short end of that stick.  Our lack of running water is not Craig’s problem.  Making sure our house gets built is Craig’s problem.  But he spent the day in the well anyway, and he was smiling whenever I looked down there.  We are so glad to have found him.  Let me know if you’re local and looking for a builder.  I’ll send you his contact info…when we’re wrapping up our build.

On Tuesday, this happened:

That’s not even all of the insulation we’ll eventually need.  But it should get us through the basement and up the outside of all the walls.  I wasn’t home for the delivery, but it came on a full-size tractor trailer, and the driver didn’t want to try turning around.  So he backed down our road (three quarters of a mile!).  On his way down, he got stuck, pointed at a ditch, and unable to get traction to pull forward again because of all the rain we got that day.  Lars ended up helping him get traction by pulling on him with the skid steer.  I anticipate excitement like that for at least 50% of all future material deliveries.  Next time, I plan to be around to watch.

And today, this happened:

here comes the hole for the basement

That’s standing on the middle terrace…just imagine a basement there.  This is where you’d walk right in.

From above:

here comes the basement hole

It’s really hard to see the scale in these photos.  Look for the chalk lines in the picture above.  I think they trace out where the building will be.  And the current hole is approximately 45′ long by 10′ wide.

Like I said, things are happening around here.


*Bonus video of the “pebble” moving, which I unfortunately can’t embed without upgrading our site to a paid version.  This is Mike the excavator moving a gigantic rock (previously known as pump rock) out of his way.

We’re here!

I just published a bunch of back-dated, not-very-finished drafts from a couple of summers ago.  Clearing out the backlog because

WE’RE HERE!  Living on our land in our RV.  Our old landlords sold the house we were living in, and the new landlords decided they didn’t want tenants in our apartment any more, so we had to move out.  Rather than moving twice (first to a new rental, then to our to-be-built house), we hatched the crazy plan of moving into our RV on our land (in October…winter is coming…) and speeding our house building up as fast as we could.  When the envelope is up, we’ll put in a wood stove, and hunker down for the winter.

It’s cozy here, and BEAUTIFUL.  There are no bugs.  The weather has been very mild, often sunny and warm.  We’ve only had one hard frost.  (How can that be?  It’s the end of October!  But we who don’t have indoor plumbing are not complaining.)  Peak leaf season also seemed late this year, so many trees still have leaves.  Spectacular!

And living on a dirt road sets Nya’s inner runner free.