The builders have poured the concrete footers and frost walls and then moved on to installing the EPS foam that will serve as additional frost blocking under the slab. Conduits for the waste lines, electric and cables are run underground and positions set through the slab and yesterday and today vapor barriers and framing will take place, setting up for the concrete slab pour on Friday. This timing works out great because we are going to be in Vermont from Friday to Sunday.
I had a busy weekend with plenty of driving when I took the trip up to Burlington on Saturday. On Sunday, I drove down for a quick trip to Stowe and then back to PA. It was probably too much driving but ultimately something I need to get used to because, over the next 12 months, we are going to be making this trip a lot.
This week the excavation and concrete teams were working on digging frost walls, prepping foam foundation insulation and roughing out the rest of the concrete footings. Once this is complete we will get the slabs poured so this is actually a big time for the build because, once those slabs are poured, we move straight into framing.
Here are the frost walls from a distance. This view is mostly the garage section because we are going to have cedar plank decking for the walkway and screened porch sections so we need frost walls in that section.
Here is the massive chunk of ledge beneath the garage section that the excavators were worried about when we were at the site in July. They brought in a jackhammer excavator to break up this section and it resulted in some huge piles of rock. We need to figure out what the heck we are doing with those.
Here are the giant stacks of very heavy, thick foam insulation which is going to work as a shield for our shallow foundation areas.
Here is how deep these footings are being dug. If you look at the black line on that stake sticking up (zoom in!), you can see where the floor level is going to end up.
Another shot of the insulation next to the excavator.
Monday is a big day for the build because construction starts on the concrete foundation. It is about two months later than I would have liked but at least it is moving ahead. We also got a schedule for the entire project plan and, as expected given the timing of the foundation start, the finish date will be sometime next year in mid to late August. This is much later than we were hoping for since we wanted to be in Vermont during the summer getting things ready for the winter given that we’ve never lived day-to-day through a Vermont winter before. There was a lot of log splitting that was planned and that will all be somewhat rushed now or moved far ahead. I was starting to formulate plans on taking the chainsaw along with me during our trips up over the next year and chopping up as much of the wood that was set aside as possible to start the seasoning process. The neighbor has a tractor and log splitter which I might be able to borrow to move the bucks and piles around as well as use the tractor’s PTO to drive the log splitter.
In a week, I am taking my oldest kid up to college at Champlain in Burlington so I’ll be able to see the week’s progress on Saturday night or Sunday morning before driving the long march back to PA. I am hoping that we don’t have any major hitches over the next year because I’d love to start making up ground on this schedule in case we hit heavy snows or supply issues due to COVID-19 throughout the year. I don’t suspect the latter will happen because we are focusing so much on local resources. The supply lines for lumber in the midwest and western regions are stressed right now because our idiot president opened things up too early and now building materials are getting scarce and expensive in large parts of the country.
So the layout and slab work starts on Monday, the process will get rolling and the slab pours will happen around September 17th. Once those are all done – a process that will take about two weeks – we move on to framing. That phase will be very interesting and the house will start getting a real form and shape at that point. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we should have the house framed and roof framed and dried in, and the windows and doors installed. By the end of December, we should have much of the insulation done and readying for a preliminary blower test. January and February see the sheet rock and soundproofing take place and the plan rolls on from there.
So things are going to start happening and I am hoping we have a nice clean runway to completion with no surprises. After the nonsense 2020 had thrown at us so far, I think we’ve all earned it.
We got some photos from our builder of the site as it stands this morning. The driveway entrance has been graded out and cleaned up, widened at the corners and you can see a few trees left there which I like quite a bit.
Below you can see some rocks left there as well and we’re hoping to create some nice landscaping details once the house is completed. I am surprised at how much of the range you can see above the trees and, while I was never big on “views” as a thing I thought I needed, having this as the view from our office windows would be pretty great.
They left us with a collection of rocks that were pulled out during the excavation process. They range from a nice bluish, to purples and reds. We will find some good spots for them. You can see the neighbor’s driveway through the trees and a pond beyond that. The pond property is owned by the folks down the street.
During the early spring the ferns start blanketing that whole area and we are hoping that the changes to the tree line doesn’t curtail their growth next year too badly.
The next shot is our remaining piles of wood, ostensibly to be used for firewood. My plan is, over the next year, to chop those big pieces into smaller ones and have them start drying and seasoning so that they are ready for when we move in. I really wish they hadn’t left that massive tree there because I have no idea what we are supposed to do with it. I blame that problem on my wife who suggested they should leave it and the excavators jumped at the idea since they didn’t want to deal with it. Now we get to deal with it! Cool.
This last picture is the grading heading southeast. The mountain from picture one is behind those trees somewhere. Beyond the top soil piles are the wetlands beyond.
Non-pictorially, we signed the construction agreement last week. It was a slog to go through the legal stuff but it had to be done. I think, in the end, we ended up in a place we are happy with and it trigged a lot of activity on the side of the builder and project manager. Now we await the building schedule and see how we look as far as moving in and scheduling … well basically scheduling the next year of our life.
This week, we were tasked with finishing up and signing the construction contract. We met with the builder on Wednesday to discuss their finalized draft of the contract and the pricing for the fixed-cost build. Our project manager is breaking out some options for us to choose from but it looks like some of the hassle of that breakout might introduce some fatigue on the part of the subcontractors because they have to give us even more estimates but will almost certainly present us with more expensive options which we are unlikely to select. Because of that we have shut down the lines of inquiry surrounding these pricing options and are concentrating on getting the final document together.
I have the contract being reviewed by a lawyer and he should be back to me soon and hopefully we get this wrapped up early next week. The first deposit will be 10% of the proposed final cost which is a big amount but will go towards buying windows and starting all of the long-lead-time items so they are ready when the builders get to them. Getting it signed quickly will also make sure we get a slot in the subcontractor’s calendar so that we can get them started quickly and push this thing as fast as we can. Ideally we get the building framed out and roof-ready by the time the snow flies. The builder thinks we can do it if we keep the current pace.
This week the excavators dug out the septic area and leech field, worked on the driveway entrance and slopes to the south and east. We had to truck in almost $7000 of dirt to finish the pad area because there was so much ledge in the driveway they didn’t move as much fill dirt for those areas as they expected to. Hopefully the end of the week has the house foundation area ready, the septic field dug, the trenches for electrical and water lines run and all of the earth graded out. If that happens, we are ready to start concrete work which should take a few weeks.
There were some major changes happening to the land over at our property today. Our builder refers to it as “moving piles of dirt around” and he’s right. They added the bulldozer to the ensemble yesterday but today was when it really started doing some major work.
When we left last night, that huge chunk of ledge was a worry but they just bashed it with the excavator bucket for a while and it broke up. They are carving down 4’ from the current level and then will build it up with fill and lots of gravel. The earth they are moving out of that area is heading to the east side where they are making things much higher than they are currently and so that the foundation ends up level. There is tons and tons of dirt to be moved to get that area built up but it was headed in the right direction when we left.
No word yet on the final house build quote but that hopefully arrives shortly. It will include the concrete quote too, which this sitework leads directly into. If we can get things worked through quickly, it means we can keep things rolling which we really want to do. Hard to believe but August is in a couple of weeks and then its a short run towards the colder weather.
This week we are on-site to watch the excavation and clearing get started. Part of the woods had been cleared by the original owner prior to selling and then we had a landscaper and excavator do one round of tree clearing in the early spring. While the original owner chopped things fairly haphazardly and left us with a huge pile of junk to deal with, the latest guy was great and even stacked up the hardwoods for me to chop into firewoood when we move. There is a mix in here including maple and cherry.
So once the trees have been chopped down, we also have to remove the stumps and that’s mainly what is going on today and tomorrow. The results are huge piles of stumps which they’ll end up burying somewhere on the property.
They also installed silt-fencing.
After watching that for a few hours, we went to explore Mount Mansfield which is just a few minutes away. It’s hard to believe that this will be minutes away from where we’ll be living.
We also walked around the land for a while. We own almost 14 acres so there is a lot of room to explore and find stuff like this tree growing out of this massive rock.
Or this view of the wetlands just beyond the treeline in most of the clearing pictures.