Archive for the ‘Trenching’ Category

Picking Up Our Ladder and Looking at Artemide Lights

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

September is coming like a freight train!  Along with everything else, we need to finalize our lighting design plan and get our vertical culvert covered.

Picking Up Our Ladder in Merced

One of our major building challenges is that our house is located on a ‘seasonal perched water table.’  During the year, we can have underground water that rises to 5 feet below grade.  Thus, we have a series of underground pipes that flow into a 20 ft deep vertical culvert.  Inside the vertical culvert, we have sump pumps that pump the water into our 3,677 gallon underground cistern.

The vertical culvert will be covered with an aluminum manhole cover.  Inside the vertical culvert, we need an aluminum ladder that can be used to service the sump pumps.

We worked with Ralph Rabbatt at O’Keeffe’s Inc. in San Francisco to have a custom ladder manufactured.  The ladder will be permanently mounted to the wall of the vertical culvert, and allow easy and safe access to the sump pumps.

Bryan drove to O’Keeffe’s manufacturing site in Merced today and picked up the ladder.

Looking at Artemide Lights

After picking up the ladder, Bryan drove to San Francisco to visit the Artemide showroom and look at lights.  We have been working with Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions to create a lighting plan for the house.  Randall is a well-known lighting designer that has published several books on lighting design.

Randall suggested that we include several Artemide fixtures in our lighting plan.  It is difficult to understand the look and scale of lights by looking at photos in a catalog.  Given that Artemide has a showroom in San Francisco, Bryan drove there to see some of the Artemide fixtures that Randall was recommending.

Lots of driving!

Arriving at O'Keeffe's manufacturing site in Merced, California.

 

Our ladder is loaded securely on the rack, and the safety post is in the box.

 

The Artemide showroom at 855 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

 

Pirce Suspension, by Giuseppe Maurizio Scutella, 2008.

 

Mesmeri wall sconces, by Eric Sole, 2005.

 

Mouette suspension (symetrical), by Willmotte & Associes, 2004. This light is way cool and comes either symetrical (as shown) or in an asymetrical style.

 

Megan suspension system, by Ernesto Gismondi.

 

Floor mounted framed mirror, by Ron Rezek.

 

Working Inside the Vertical Culvert

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

It was a bit spooky but had to be done.  Bryan went down a ladder inside the 20 ft vertical culvert. 

The new temporary sump pump is now connected to our underground pipe system that enters the cistern and is pumping as required.

Let it rain, let it pour …

Continuing to Fabricate Our Red Front Door

Bryan stopped by American Ornamental Iron to see how our door was coming along.  When Bryan arrived, Nathan Merrill was, in fact, working on our door.  Nathan remarked that he expected Bryan to drop by.

Nathan had just received the four Soss hinges for the door.  These are ‘invisible’ hinges that will not be seen from inside or outside the door.  They are way cool.

The Soss hinges are stainless steel and are extremely strong.  There are four fasteners in each side of each hinge, for eight fasteners per hinge.  Nathan designed the door to have four hinges, so there are 32 fasteners in total.  Exactly what we require for our (estimated) 240 lb red front door.

Nathan thought the stainless steel fasteners that came with the hinges could be improved and showed Bryan larger, countersunk machine screws with an Allen hex head.  Nathan suggested that these fasteners would be a nice touch, if they were stainless steel.  Bryan agreed, immediately.

Next step is to order the door hardware, which will either be FSB or Valli&Valli.

Stay tuned …

Working Inside the Vertical Culvert

With the winter rains arriving with more frequency. our seasonal perched water table will start to rise, which will fill the 20 ft long vertical culvert, which is 3 ft in diameter.

We have two penetrations of our waterproofing – one for the drain from our stairwell and the other for the drain from our window well.  These drains connect under our structure and then enter the vertical culvert through one pipe.

The perimeter foundation drains and two drains in the middle of the foundation all connect into one drain that goes into the vertical culvert.

The drains under the foundation were excavated and filled in early January 2009.  It is interesting to look at the photos from that point in time.  The perimeter drains under the foundation were excavated on 01/06/09 through 01/08/09.  We covered the perimeter drains with 3/4 inch crushed rock and then completely covered the site with geotextile fabric on 01/12/09 and then spread more 3/4 inch crushed rock over the entire foundation area on 01/13/09 and 01/14/09.  This infrastructure is critical in helping move water from around our foundation into the vertical culvert.

Thus, there are two pipes that enter the vertical culvert.  The permanent solution will have two electric sumps pumping water up and into the underground system that fills our 3,677 gallon underground cistern.  When the cistern is full, the water flows through to the storm drain, all underground.

The two permanent sumps that will be located at the bottom of the vertical culvert will be 240 volts, and they will be connected to circuits that are supplied by Pacific Gas & Electric and fully backed up by our natural gas powered auxiliary backup generator.  Two sources of power and two sumps.  We will not be limited to a single point of failure.

At this point in time, we don’t have the 240 volt sumps so Bryan bought a 110 volt 50 gpm sump to use until the permanent solution is in place.  We had some flooding last year and cannot risk any flooding this year. 

In order to get everything set up and working, we need access to the bottom of the vertical culvert.  This requires putting our aluminum extension ladder into the vertical culvert.  We did so and Bryan went down the ladder.

Although it isn’t very deep, it was still kinda spooky. 

It was over the top (so to speak) for the Chilean miners that were trapped for several months.

Commissioning and Current Status

We plan to power wash the entire vertical culvert prior to the commissioning of the permanent water pumping solution and system.  For now, we are confident that the water pumping system will operate without failure and pump water such that flooding will not occur in the lower level (basement) through the window well or stair well.

Our door being laid out at American Ornamental Iron.  Note the four Soss hinges are being positioned on the door.

Our door being laid out at American Ornamental Iron. Note the four Soss hinges are being positioned on the door.

Soss invisible hinges.  These are way cool ...

Soss 'invisible' hinges. These are way cool ...

The screws on the right side show what we want and don't want.  The top screw is stainless steel with Phillips head.  The bottom screw is black steel with an Allen head.  We like the stainless with the Allen head.  Lord & Sons will have these for us in a couple days ...

The screws on the right side show what we want and don't want. Lord & Sons will have these screws for us in a couple days.

Looking down into the 20 ft vertical culvert.  There is more than 5 ft of water at the bottom of this 3 ft in diameter vertical culvert.

Looking down into the 20 ft vertical culvert. There is more than 5 ft of water at the bottom of this 3 ft in diameter vertical culvert.

From the vertical culvert, the sump sends the water into the underground cistern.  This is the inlet into the underground cistern.

From the vertical culvert, the sump sends the water into the underground cistern. This is the inlet into the underground cistern.

When our underground cistern is full, it flows out of the cistern into a pipe that takes the water to the back of the storm sewer drain on Winchester Boulevard.

When our underground cistern is full, it flows out of the cistern into a pipe that takes the water to the back of the storm sewer drain on Winchester Boulevard.

Here you can see the water flowing into the storm sewer, which than goes to into San Francisco Bay.

Here you can see the water flowing into the storm sewer, which than goes to into San Francisco Bay.

Bryan got into the 20 ft deep vertical culvert and descended to the bottom.  Here, he is looking up, way up!

Bryan got into the 20 ft deep vertical culvert and descended to the bottom. Here, he is looking up, way up!

Looking down.  The bottom of the vertical culvert will be cleaned this week.  It will probably be cleaned using a pressure washer at least once per year.

Looking down. The bottom of the vertical culvert will be cleaned this week. It will probably be cleaned using a pressure washer at least once per year.

Watching the Rain Today

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Yes, the forecast was accurate.  It rained today.

We need to accelerate the drive to getting weather tight at our job site.

The list includes:

  • Review mock up for fascia and then install fascia over gable ends
  • Receive and then install the shakes over the gable roofs
  • Complete drip caps and sill pans, have them painted and then install the remaining windows and sliding doors
  • Schedule and then Install the large sliding door at the back of the house
  • Have the front door fabricated, test fitted, painted and then installed

We’ll get there …

Our two sliding glass doors are now installed in the stairwell.  These look great!

Our two sliding glass doors are now installed in the stairwell. These look great!

The two Everest windows are installed in the window well at the front of the house.  Way cool ...

The two Everest windows are installed in the window well at the front of the house. Way cool ...

Looking at the side yard by Winchester, which is now backfilled, compacted and cleaned up.  We will be putting some temporary railings in place this week here and around the window well at the front of the house.

Looking at the side yard by Winchester, which is now backfilled, compacted and cleaned up. We will be putting some temporary railings in place this week here and around the window well at the front of the house.

More Backfilling and Compacting …

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

The open trenches are getting old.  Really old.

With the probability of rain tomorrow (Sunday) at 90%, we had Manny and Izzie focused on backfilling and compacting as much of the open trenches at the site as possible.

Finding a Large Inner Tube

We decided to cover the two concrete vaults for the inlet and outlet for our underground cistern with dirt.  However, in order to prevent the soil covering the concrete vaults from contaminating the water flowing into and out of the underground cistern, we needed a large, pliable gasket.  The perfect material?  A large inner tube.

Great idea.  Just try to find a large inner tube.

After looking on Craigs List and googling the San Jose area, and then making numerous phone calls, we found a shop with some inner tubes.  While we were prepared to buy a new inner tube, Gilroy Tire & Brake said they had a large tube that was being thrown out today.

Perfect. 

Bryan got in the truck and headed for Gilroy to pick up the inner tube.

Protecting the Geothermal Ground Loop

We have 48 loops in our 25 concrete piers.  Each of the loops are connected at the surface, and each of the 4 sets of 6 piers have supply and return lines that go into the West Mechanical room.  Several of the loops are close to the surface and will be within an inch of the bottom of the concrete walkways around the house.  The ground loops need to be protect. 

Ken Martin, from Silicon Valley Mechanical, prescribed how to protect the HDPE tubing and joints that are close to the surface.  We used the dense, closed cell packaging materials from our Fleetwood windows and sliding doors to protect the HDPE and attached the foam with nylon ties.

Example of HDPE connections at the top of a concrete pier.  If these connections are close to the bottom surface of the concrete walkway that will be poured then the HDPE must be protected with closed cell foam.

Example of HDPE connections at the top of a concrete pier. If these connections are close to the bottom surface of the concrete walkway that will be poured then the HDPE must be protected with closed cell foam.

Finding a used inner tube at Gilroy Tire & Brake (in Gilroy, CA).  Just what we need ...

Finding a used inner tube at Gilroy Tire & Brake (in Gilroy, CA). Just what we need ...

Underground concrete vault where the water collects before entering the underground cistern.

Underground concrete vault where the water collects before entering the underground cistern.

Outlet box, which needs to be covered and sealed.

Outlet box, which needs to be covered and sealed.

Cover on concrete vault ...

Cover on concrete vault ...

Nicely fitted inner tube to seal the underground concrete box and prevent soil from contaminating the overflow water leaving our underground cistern when it is full.

Nicely fitted inner tube to seal the underground concrete box and prevent soil from contaminating the overflow water leaving our underground cistern when it is full.

A couple inches of sand from GraniteRock ...

A couple inches of sand from GraniteRock ...

Backfilled with 8 inches of soil and then compacted.  Done!

Backfilled with 8 inches of soil and then compacted. Done!

HDPE covered with closed cell foam that is zip tied to the pipe.

HDPE covered with closed cell foam that is zip tied to the pipe.

Tube over the inlet concrete box ...

Tube over the inlet concrete box ...

Covered with sand from GraniteRock.

Covered with sand from GraniteRock.

And compacted.  Done.

And compacted. Done.

East side of house all backfilled and compacted.

East side of house all backfilled and compacted.

North side compacted and backfilled (just a bit left to complete).

North side compacted and backfilled (just a bit left to complete).

We need a second suction line from the pool that will allow us to move waste heat from the house into the swimming pool.  This second suction must be completed before this trench can be backfilled and compacted.

We need a second suction line from the pool that will allow us to move waste heat from the house into the swimming pool. This second suction must be completed before this trench can be backfilled and compacted.

West side of house backfilled and compacted.  This will make it much easier to install the three windows and the Eichler siding.

West side of house backfilled and compacted. This will make it much easier to install the three windows and the Eichler siding.

Completing the First Gable Roof Deck

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The four-person team from Earth Bound Homes completed the plywood deck on the South side of  the South gable today.  Five more gables to go!

Bryan spent 90 minutes shovelling dirt at the front of the property.  We’re ready for Murray Windows & Doors to deliver 25 boxes of windows tomorrow!

The furring strips are over the Securock and the radiant barrier is going down on top of the furring strips.  Initially, we had furring strips 24 inches on center and then added 1x1 strips in between each 1x3 so there would be no risk of the radiant barrier sagging during its lifetime.

The furring strips are over the Securock and the radiant barrier is going down on top of the furring strips. Initially, we had furring strips 24 inches on center and then added 1x1 strips in between each 1x3 so there would be no risk of the radiant barrier sagging during its lifetime.

Completed plywood deck over the radiant barrier, forming our cool roof.

Completed plywood deck over the radiant barrier, completing our 'cool roof'.

It feels good to have the plywood decking completed.  After the zinc fascia is installed over the gable ends, we can install the 30 lb roofing felt and we will be ready for rain.

It feels good to have the plywood decking completed. After the zinc fascia is installed over the gable ends, we can install the 30 lb roofing felt and we will be ready for rain.

 

The 1x3 and 1x1 furring strips are on the South side of the North gable.  Ready for radiant barrier and then FSC plywood decking.

The 1x3 and 1x1 furring strips are on the South side of the North gable. Ready for radiant barrier and then FSC plywood decking.

The North side of the South gable needs the 1x1 furring strips over the Securock.

The North side of the South gable needs the 1x1 furring strips over the Securock.

The East side of the East gable needs 1x1 furring strips.  Note the black Cor-A-Vent strips at the bottom of the gable.

The East side of the East gable needs 1x1 furring strips. Note the black Cor-A-Vent strips at the bottom of the gable.

This photo shows the layers in our cool roof.  The aluminum sheet is over the membrane, with the Securock over that.  Then, the furring strips and Cor-A-Vent, with the radiant barrier.  Finally, the FSC plywood on top.

This photo shows the layers in our cool roof. The aluminum sheet is over the membrane, with the Securock over that. Then, the furring strips and Cor-A-Vent, with the radiant barrier. Finally, the FSC plywood on top.

View of the driveway, now clear of stockpiled soil.  Bryan moved the dirt today (amazing what a strong back and weak mind can do).  We are ready for Murray Windows & Doors to deliver our 25 clerestory windows tomorrow morning.

View of the driveway, now clear of stockpiled soil. Bryan moved the dirt today (amazing what a strong back and weak mind can do). We are ready for Murray Windows & Doors to deliver our 25 clerestory windows tomorrow morning.

Being Ambushed by Wido Menhardt

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Bryan was at the job site this morning and opened the gate at 7:50 am.  Kel Marchbank was completing a mountain bike ride and dropped by for a minute.  Then, promptly at 8:00 am, Manny and Izzy arrived to work on the underground elements at the front of the property.

After working all morning, Izzy and Manny left at 12:00 noon.  Exhausted from helping with the shovelling, Bryan returned the compactor (‘jumping jack’) to A1 Rentals then went to Safeway and bought seven cases of sodas.  Back to the project site.

As Bryan was recovering and was reviewing the progress to date, he heard a vehicle drive up outside the gate.  The car door closed and Bryan was going up to the gate.

Bryan looked at Wido Menhardt, wondering, ‘who is this?’ (Wido and Trixi now live in Bangalore, India).  Wido smiled broadly and said, ‘It looks good’.

Ambushed.

The inlet box for the underground CUDO cistern has two 4-inch pipes, with a 6-inch pipe into the cistern (left side) and a six-inch overflow bypass (top).  The 1-inch conduit was just glued in place (over the concrete box).  The irrigation supply water going to the manifold at the front of our property is stubbed and needs to be completed.

The inlet box for the underground CUDO cistern has two 4-inch pipes, with a 6-inch pipe into the cistern (left side) and a six-inch overflow bypass (top). The 1-inch conduit was just glued in place (over the concrete box). The irrigation supply water going to the manifold at the front of our property is stubbed and needs to be completed.

Outlet from underground CUDO cistern, with concrete riser on top.  The irrigation water supply and 1-inch conduit are stubbed to the manifold location at the top of the photo.  Note the compactor in the bottom left.

Outlet from underground CUDO cistern, with concrete riser on top. The irrigation water supply and 1-inch conduit are stubbed to the manifold location at the top of the photo. Note the compactor in the bottom left.

Backfilled and compacted areas at the front of the house.  Manny, Izzy and Bryan shovelled, and compacted in 6-inch lifts, over six cubic yards of soil this morning.

Backfilled and compacted areas at the front of the house. Manny, Izzy and Bryan shovelled, and compacted in 6-inch lifts, over six cubic yards of soil this morning.

Wido Menhardt, just arrived from Bangalore, India, tours the project site reviewing progress to date.

Wido Menhardt, just arrived from Bangalore, India, tours the project site reviewing progress to date.

View of backfilled and compacted trenches from South East corner of roof.

View of backfilled and compacted trenches from South East corner of roof.

Enjoying a beautiful, blue-sky California day, Wido leaves for Santa Cruz to get some surfing in.

Enjoying a beautiful, blue-sky California day, Wido leaves for Santa Cruz to get some surfing in.