For many, building a house with your own two hands probably seems daunting. I know I've always had a fantasy about building my own home but the actual building of it always intimidated me. I think I like the idea of getting my hands dirty, being self sufficient and basically learning skills that really aren't that difficult [but daunting to someone who is right brained]. It is a challenge mentally and physically I am sure, I really have no idea. That is why I am especially interested in being there as much as I can while George and Linda work on their home/art studio.
Tod and I were excited to get over there and see what this foundation business is all about. It is surprisingly simple. A few weeks ago George got all the property space figured out, various stakes and strings were posted on the property so when they lay the foundation they know where it's going and how to level it. The inspector had to come out and make sure the ditches were deep enough etc. and once the water got turned on all that was needed was a big ole stack of 80 lb bags of cement and lots of muscle.
Dan popped by to get the water set up and to show us all the drill. [he is going to be their building mentor and Tod and I will have Josh be ours] His truck trailer was stacked with bags of cement for us to unload. We all got a lesson in cement mixing and basically were good to go. As you can see in the photos, rebar is placed onto the cement. Basically the corner ditches had four pieces of rebar (all attached by wire to make a square) and the smaller holes got two pieces of rebar. We mixed one bag at a time, wheeled it over and dumped it in. After two bags you lay the rebar, measure out from the top of the cement line to the string above, add 11" and cut a steel strip that attaches to the rebar then dump more cement on top of that. The steel serves to better secure the foundation as Huntsville tends to get some intense weather when Hurricane Season hits.
I had an appointment so after a few ditches were filled I was out of there. Tod and George were whipping through those bags but they all needed to get used up so a few hours later it was my turn to help. Tod had already left when I got there and George was working away on his own. I'm sure he would have been fine without me, but I'm glad I was able to help with the last six ditches. It was very satisfying I gotta say. I loved mixing the cement, there is a certain groove to it and when you get it right its like batter. It's delicious. Hard work yeah, but mighty satisfying.
By 6pm all of the ditches for the house were filled as well as 1/3 of the studio. It takes about three days for the cement to fully dry and then blocks of cement are placed onto that. I will find out whats up with that and keep you posted. In the meantime George is going to show Tod and I how he got his house blueprints made up so we can get ours done and march off to the bank to see where we stand with a loan.
* the name of the house is still being worked out ~ for now it's listed on flickr as the Butterfly Glass House on Ave. H. Click here to see a slideshow of the progress.