Friday, March 29, 2013

Basement Walls -- Part II and a Visit

Thursday's work:
Basement construction continued today. Higher courses required the crew to work off of scaffolding. Reinforcing rod needed to be inserted and concrete poured through specific block cores.  The crew began to install decorative "split face" block where it will show above ground. And the three windows that will provide light to the basement along the south wall were laid out and installed. Determinations needed to be made as to how to leave openings in the block walls to allow lifting beams to be removed.

Work didn't move as quickly today as it did yesterday. I won't be on site tomorrow .... but I expect the walls will be substantially complete by the weekend.

Block was stationed up on scaffolding for the crew to lay the top six courses of block.

Working from the scaffold the crew could position the top blocks but had to watch out for the beams  overhead.

The split face block will provide a great look to those portions of the foundation above grade level.
The southeast corner with the top block  at the final wall height.
The first window being 'dry fit' into position.
The South wall has three windows. There will be one row of block above them.

Most notable today at 3283 was a visit from its next two generations. My daughter Sue, her husband Damon and my grandsons Drew and Leo stopped by -- 'on the way' from Minnesota to Livonia -- to check out the progress.  They had a comprehensive tour of the construction site.....But I think Drew and Leo enjoyed sitting up on some "Big Yellow Iron" the best!!!

What's more fun than playing on construction equipment

Two of the reasons to carry on the Legacy

Sue, Drew, Leo and Damon

Although I wont be on site on Friday, my continued presence there has had its rewards:
I'm meeting some exceptional people.
I'm seeing a complex transformation take place.
3283 is becoming truly mine.
My honorary membership of the Deitz team has been cloth.

Thanx for the sweatshirt, Dan.
But now won't all your customers want one?

I'm back in Livonia. Will spend Easter weekend with the my kids and grandsons. Soon family holidays at 3283 won't be limited to Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Happy Easter to all who read this. 
I'll post again on Monday

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Basement Walls -- Part I

Concrete block.
Four guys.
Lots and lots of concrete block.
Stripping footing forms.
Laying out the walls.
Mixing mortar.
Setting string lines.
Checking level.
Cutting block to fit.
Striking joints.
Receiving more block.
Building walls.
An amazing flurry of activity.
And a lot of progress.

The basement will have a total of thirteen courses [rows] of concrete block that will make up each wall.  Today the crew constructed seven courses of the East, South and West walls. Much of the North wall of the existing structure will not rest on concrete block foundation. Rather it will be supported by a 2x6 wall where the addition will be connected.  At the end of the day the crew was working on the short portions of the North wall on either side of the future addition.

Mortar is a mixture of cement, sand and water.  The guys mixed the mortar on site using water from the neighbor, cement brought to the site with the block and sand bought with the block. We moved yards and yards of sand from the basement....but it couldn't be used in the mortar mix.  Bringing sand to the beach...kind of like bringing coal to Newcastle.

The very first block was placed on the Southeast corner of the basement.  First, the crew painstakingly built accurate, level and square corners four or five courses high.

 Work continued methodically between the corners. String lines kept block level and straight. Mortar was spread between courses, and between each block.  And every block was individually tapped into place and checked for proper positioning.  Steel reinforcing was positioned between the fourth and fifth course.

Eventually walls started to take shape.

In general the work proceeded east to west along the south wall and south to north along the west wall.  Two of the guys worked laying block; one was mixing mortar and striking the joints; and the fourth was building the other corners of the walls.

The longest walls -- on the South and the West seemed to go the fastest. This was probably because there were no inside corners and no blocks needed to be cut to size. The East wall had both an inside corner and two sections of wall where each course of block had one block that needed to be cut to fit.

At the end of the day three walls were overt half their final height. Yet there were still a lot of block left to be laid.  I'm quite confident that tomorrow we'll have a basement under the cottage.

A Personal Note
Sometime early in my life...probably when I was in High father observed the way I worked on various assignments, projects, chores or activities. As a way of -- quite correctly -- noticing that I would never be good at any occupation that would require doing repetitive work he said "John, you will never be a bricklayer."  After spending one day just watching professional blocklayers I can say that his assessment was 100% correct.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Footings, A Township Visit, First Block Delivery

The fourth week of construction begins, and 3283 was taken over by a new subcontractor today. B.F. Masonry will be building the concrete block foundation that will support the house and enclose the new basement.  When I arrived at the site this morning -- about 8:30 -- the new crew was already moving the straw away [it did keep frost at bay] and beginning to lay out the footings.

Outside forms were first positioned around the perimeter of the building.  This required hand digging to set the forms at the proper height.  Since the addition will be excavated and its walls constructed at a later date, only footings for the main house were built today. The perimeter footings total 150 feet in length.

The guys then offset the interior forms 16 inches from the exterior form and removed all sand between them. Then came a lot of staking and leveling of the forms so they would hold position when filled with concrete.

Besides the perimeter footings the crew installed footings inside the building envelope for two support walls, a fireplace support and a pad to support a column.

After footings were formed, and while we were waiting for the building inspector's scheduled visit, the first load of concrete block arrived.  The truck had a derrick to unload stacks of block and the operator masterfully placed them inside the excavation for the crew to move and stack under the house.

Park Township Building Inspector Eric Davis next visited the site to inspect the footing forms before the concrete could be placed. He gave his approval. When I walked him back to his truck I found he had been accompanied by the Township Assessor, Al Nykamp. [Things that make you go: hhhhmmm.]

The concrete came in a very large redi-mix truck. And, as I have found with everyone involved in the project so far, the driver was a pro. He maneuvered the truck and the concrete chute into places I would have never tried. But that's why he's doing it and I'm just watching.

While the driver was masterful in placing the chute there were still many parts of the footing that couldn't be reached.  The four guys earned their day's wage be shoveling a lot of concrete to fill the form-work throughout the excavation.

When all the form-work was filled with concrete the crew installed reinforcing bars and smoothed the surface. Finally, vertical re-bars were placed into the footing. These will extend up into the concrete block and tie the wall to the footing.  At day's end the concrete was tucked in for the cold of the night under that straw that was moved out of the way in the morning.