a thumper and four wheelbarrows.


This photo encapsulates all the reasons that we’re totally exhausted, our hands are blistered, and I’ve taken to adding Ibuprofin to my regular diet. (On the Ibuprofen front, Luke is choosing to suffer based on his ridiculous belief that by abstaining from the wonders of modern-ish medicine, his liver will remain fully intact.)

We got a lot done this weekend. We’ve (temporarily) pulled off the kitchen-building project, in an effort to get the new concrete floor poured in the old house. In case I haven’t given enough background in previous posts, the 100 year-old portion of the house has a field stone foundation that was set directly on the dirt, and then had a floor of wood joists that were set on the foundation, a few microns above the dirt. Even though we live in the world’s driest climate (next to the Gobi desert), the floor joists eventually succumbed to rot & powder post beetles. When we bought the house, the floor was being magically levitated beneath the hardwood tongue & groove flooring, which was providing an amazing amount of strength & stiffness to the whole sad assembly. Over the years, the previous owners had embarked on several poorly-conceived spelunking missions under the floor, and attempted to shore up the sagging floor with a combination of lumpy rocks and miscellaneous lumber. This resulted in a network of nightmares that our perfectionist natures demanded we remove ASAP.

Since the foundation consisted of only one row of field stones, we decided to infill the “crawl space” with road base, and pour a new concrete floor. This will allow us to have the radiant floor & the thermal mass that we desire for our solar heating system. I feel a little bit of “green guilt” about all the concrete because it is such an energy-intensive material. And though I haven’t specifically checked into it, I expect I would be openly scoffed at if I called up our local concrete plant and asked them if they have any fly ash to add to their concrete. I suppose that some of that guilt can be assuaged with the thought that the concrete’s thermal mass will allow us to heat the house without excessive use of petroleum products. And we did save the whole house from being bull-dozed, which was the next logical step for the place before we were foolish enough to step in and adopt it. (Either that, or it would have become a scary rental catering to the type of people who own pit bulls.)

So we had 20 yards of road base delivered to our backyard sometime in the early spring, and friends & relatives helped us haul about half of it into the house (one wheelbarrow at a time). Then we stopped working on that project, because we needed to focus on the new kitchen when Curt was available to help us with framing. Now we’re back to working on the floor because having the new concrete installed will make a world of difference toward getting the house livable. So this weekend, we endeavored to haul in the other 10 yards of dirt, and level & compact the floor.

My latest theory is that deadlines are what makes the world go around. And deadlines are what make it possible to build a house on a small budget & limited time / energy. A friend of ours offered to let us borrow his compactors, but he’s going to be selling them in an auction on Wednesday, so we needed to finish the job before then, and get them back to him. The compactors rent for $100 a day, and we’ve used both of them for 3 days, so that means that we saved $600 by borrowing– and it means that we got a ton of work done in a very short time, because the act of borrowing came with a deadline attached. And, since we’re trying to build a nice modern house on a budget fit for a single-wide trailer, the $600 makes a huge difference for us.

So, with the help of family members, we managed to get all the dirt hauled in, the floor leveled & compacted, and the machinery returned to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, we have to spend next weekend digging up small portions of the beautifully level dirt. We still have to install several things in the dirt-space, so we’ll have to ruin the perfection next weekend. We still need to put in the under-slab plumbing & heating lines, a conduit for the floor outlet that will go under the dining room table (for the inevitable lap-top plug-in), and a radon vent. Our local inspector claims that there isn’t a radon problem in Monte Vista, but my research suggests that radon is totally unpredictable, and can pop up just about anywhere. Probably, there isn’t a “radon problem” in Monte Vista because nobody checks for radon. In Crestone, where most of the new construction in the valley is going on, it is common building practice to install radon vents under slabs. So we did a mail-order radon test in our basement, and the result was just over the “acceptable” radon level– and we hadn’t done a good job of keeping the basement closed before the test. So, we decided to install a damn radon vent under the concrete floor because once the concrete is poured, there’s no good way to retrofit it. It is probably overkill, and we’re probably going to end up killing ourselves with the overkill on every little issue. Sigh. We may never have a place to live, but at least the birds that have moved into the rafters of our kitchen won’t get lung cancer from the radon.

Luke works on pouring stem wall.

Laura thumping.

R & J lifting a temporary support into place.

We found that using a screed works a whole lot better than checking elevations with the laser level!

A few more pics on the flickr page.


One Response to “a thumper and four wheelbarrows.”

  1. 1 Dan

    Liver? That’s the least of his worries… Hang in there L & L!

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