Off-Grid Pump House

I am so behind in a lot of my posts.  Sorry.

A lot has been happening around here.

Last March I started telling you about the pump house we were building.

You may recall that framing the walls was next on the agenda.  If you havent seen that previous post, you can catch up by clicking HERE.

Since we drilled the holes in the sill boards for the J-bolts and PVC conduit pipes, then set everything in place, tightening the bolts tight, the concrete was able to cure with everything in it’s proper place.

We decided to re-use the lumber that we used for framing the concrete slab (reduce, reuse, recycle!), so I spent some time scraping off the cement from the boards.

We began framing one wall at a time, which was definitely a two person job.  Sometimes I needed three arms to hold everything up while dear hubby Ray screwed it into place, but after a lot of groaning and a few colorful words, we eventually got the walls up.  As mentioned in the first post about this pump house, we used 2 x 6 lumber (2 x 4 in a few spots for bracing) which fits nicely with the 6″ wide concrete block, and also so that in the future we can super insulate the walls and ceiling.  

Once the walls were in place, we installed a window.  We went to Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store to purchase a few items for this project.  We got the Marvin window for about $35 and hinges for the door for $1 each!  I love going to these Re-Stores and spending an hour or so just looking around, because you never know what you might find!  We have been to several and each one is different, which makes the shopping adventure just that much better!

We needed to put a window into the pump house not only for the natural light, but also in case we need to pull the pump out of the well.  The window was positioned right in front of the well head, and it’s big enough to slide open and pull the pump through.

Next came the roof.  We bought these metal “hangers” from the big box store to make it easier to secure the rafters to the top plate of the framing.  They worked great!  When we (meaning me) first put them on, we got them upside down.  Oops!  Ray corrected my mistake.  🙂

Then we added a bit more structure to the gable ends and jack studs horizontally between the regular studs, to give the building more structure and strength. On the front side (the picture to the left is showing the back side) we also installed a vent. Eventually we plan to install a solar panel on the roof to provide a task light on the inside and a motion detector light outside, and also as a trickle charge to batteries that we can use for pumping water on cloudy days.  We have decided to leave the power to the pump separate from the power to the house because that system is already in place and running.  Ray has all that stuff worked out and I am sure glad he does, because when it comes to anything electrical (watt?  amp who? voltage where?), I am the consummate dummy!  But that’s okay because it just makes him the yang to my yin!  After 41 years of marriage, this has worked well.

So… I just nod and smile when he is telling me about all of that “stuff”.

Then the rafters went up.  Holy canolli, what a job!  They were heavy and cumbersome and we decided to put them up on a windy day.  Why would we do something so silly? Because rain was in the forecast and we wanted to get the roof on ASAP!

Now it’s actually looking like a building!  Wahoo!  The hardest part is done… right?

Well, No.

For us, the hardest part was the plywood and metal roofing.  Why?  Because the plywood is heavy (really heavy), the metal roofing is sharp, and we are both just a little nervous about heights! :O

It was a bit difficult getting the plywood exactly centered and leveled on the rafters because, unfortunately, a few of the rafters were just a bit warped and twisted. And we aren’t professional contractors. And did I mention those suckers are heavy? Oh well. You really can’t see that from the outside, so we’re good.

Just don’t look too close…

Our next task was to wrap the house and install the siding.  Since we live in an area that is prone to wildfires, we try to use fire resistant products whenever possible.  We decided to use the James Hardie Planks, just like we did on the tool shed (turned into our little cottage bunkhouse), with the James Hardie 4×8 sheets on the gable ends, for a little bit of interest. This product is fairly noncombustable as it is a cement based product.  The truth is that ANYTHING can burn… even concrete, but every little bit of prevention helps in a wildfire situation! The trim was also made from this product. The siding took the longest time to do – several days – but I think it turned out well!  We also used the Hardi Planks to close up the soffits.  Closed soffits are also an important component of a structure in a wildfire prone area.  If no sparks can get into the attic, it is less likely that the building will burn!  One thing I will say about using the James Hardie products is that they are NASTY when you cut them!  We learned from experience the first time we used this product.  It is imperative that safety goggles (the kind that completely enclose your eyes) and breathing masks be used, otherwise your snot turns to concrete marbles and your eyes will weep rocks for days!

Seriously!

The door was our final piece of construction.  When we were planning how big to make this building, we knew that we had to make the door big enough to be able to remove and/or replace the water storage tank.  But we also knew that we didn’t want a door to be that big, because it would tend to sag and warp.  So, we decided to make a double door system where only one door is used and the other, while useable when necessary, would usually be pinned shut with a bolt going through the door and into the concrete on the bottom.  We bought the hinges at the Re-Store and the handle and lock system at the big box store.  Once the doors were constructed, we trimmed them out with the Hardi Board to match the gables and… voila!

I couldn’t wait to hang my sun on the side of the building!

Now, all we have to do is paint!

This is where the party is:Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me Monday,  Homemaking MondaysShow & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotBrag About ItTuesdays with a TwistThe ScoopTwo Cup Tuesday;  Inspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;  Party In Your PJ’s;  Show Me YoursMake, Bake and Create;   Wined Down Wednesday;  Fluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful Wednesday;  Waste Less WednesdayAIM LinkyOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutThink Tank Thursday;  Homemaking Party;  This Is How We RollNo Rules Weekend Party;  Friendship Friday;  Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesAwesome Life Friday;  Home MattersTraffic Jam WeekendSaturday Sparks;  Dare to ShareScraptastic SaturdayShare It One More TimeHappiness is HomemadeAnything Goes Pink SaturdaySimple SaturdaysThat DIY Party;  DIY Sunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

Our Building Blocks

 

We have been spending the last month getting our Faswall ICF (Insulated concrete form) blocks from a yard in the valley where they were delivered, up to our build site.  We finally got all 30 pallets delivered so far (2-3 more are to be delivered soon) up to our build site.

Unloading the Faswall blocks on our building site.

One

Block

At

A

Time!

We were able to bring only two pallets up to our site at a time due to weight issues, so we had to make fifteen trips.  During the time we were getting our block, we have endured two flat tires on the trailer and an evacuation due to a wildfire near our ridge! This is one of the biggest reasons we are building with Faswall… they don’t like to burn!  

It was scarier at night when you could see the red glow of the fire.  The sparks made it look like molten lava.  The good news is that we are blessed to have some of the best firefighters around, so we only had to endure a couple of days of evacuation and everything turned out just fine… at least for us.  My heart goes out to all those who lost their homes.  We also bought construction insurance, because you just never know!

And here they are:

And here:

And over here too:

We separated the blocks into type, and put each type on a different location at the building site, so that when we are actually building the walls it will be easier to retrieve the proper block/blocks.  The whole Faswall system of blocks includes several different types.  We aren’t using all they have available because, for instance, we only will be using outside corners, no inside corners.

The “standard” block looks like this:Building with Faswall ICF

As you can see, it’s similar to a concrete (CMU) block in shape.  Faswall blocks are 24” long, 8” high and 12” width.  In the standard block, there is a 3” polyisocyanate insulation insert, which is the one pictured above.  We will be using standard blocks with 2” insulation inserts as well.  The smaller inserts leave more room in the voids, which means there will be more concrete, so you get an even stronger wall. You can see the ends of the block have an interlocking shape, which stabilizes the block wall and helps to prevent “blow-outs” when the concrete is poured into the forms.  The blocks are “dry stacked” on each other in a running bond fashion, to about 4-5 feet high, which is called a “lift”.  Once a lift is stacked, concrete is poured into the forms, which in effect creates a grid of concrete in the walls.

Cool, huh?

Building with Faswall ICF The picture above shows two standard blocks stacked on each other, so you can see the horizontal void where concrete flows to form the grid.  Of course, as we are stacking, we add rebar in the voids, which adds to the strength of the concrete walls.  The blocks will be placed in a running bond pattern, much like CMU blocks.  When the walls are completely done and cured, they will be extremely strong, fire resistant, pest resistant and energy efficient.

I truly believe this house is going to be standing for hundreds of years!

Then there are the end blocks.  These blocks do not have the interlocking shape on both sides, but instead just one side.  Building with FaswallThese are used at the windows and doors. When the walls are all done and it’s time to put in the windows and doors, they are installed just like you would install into a wood framed house.  You see, Faswall IS made of wood… just mineralized with concrete and a special process to make it very fire resistant!  That’s why when it is necessary to cut a form, we use regular wood cutting tools, like a circular saw or a Sawzall.  And when installing doors and windows, you can nail and screw right into the walls!

The corner blocks are used for, well, corners!

You can see there are the interlocking ribs on the end and one side so that the interlocking ribs from another block fits right in, making a perfect corner!

The last blocks that we will require are the all purpose blocks.  These can easily be cut in half and used wherever a half block is needed, especially around windows and doors as a half end block.  Since the blocks are set in a running bond fashion, we will need one of these half blocks every other row.

The all purpose blocks are made to easily be cut in half and used where needed.  For us, we will be using these at the windows and doors.

faswall ICF corner blockWe were happy to find, in the end, only seven blocks total that were damaged.  I think that’s pretty good considering the almost two thousand blocks that we got so far.  We were talking with a friend who recently build his “stick” house (conventional wood frame) and said he had to return a lot of lumber that was twisted and/or warped or just plain unuseable. We have already verified that these broken blocks will be added to our last shipment, which will be soon.

So far, I’m glad we are building with these ICF forms and the company we chose.  We’ll see how things go in the future.

When do we start?

The guys setting up the forms for the footings are supposed to be here today, but in reality we don’t expect to see them until next week.  Once the footings are poured, we can start setting blocks!

I am just over the moon excited!

I can’t wait to show you our progress!

In the meantime, I need to get a new pair of gloves.  These building blocks bite!  I have to say that the one downside we have found so far is that the blocks are very sharp and will tear your clothes and skin if you are not careful.  That’s the bad news…  which is also the good news!  The good news is that they are rough, which makes it much easier and cheaper to stucco the outside and plaster the inside!

What else have we been doing?  I’ll show you in the next post!

This is where the party is:Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog HopGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me Monday,  Homemaking MondaysShow & Share TuesdayThe Gathering SpotBrag About ItTuesdays with a TwistThe ScoopTwo Cup Tuesday;  Inspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;  Party In Your PJ’s;  Show Me YoursMake, Bake and Create;   Wined Down Wednesday;  Fluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Wonderful Wednesday;  Waste Less WednesdayAIM LinkyOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutThink Tank Thursday;  Homemaking Party;  This Is How We RollNo Rules Weekend Party;  Friendship Friday;  Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesAwesome Life Friday;  Home MattersTraffic Jam WeekendSaturday Sparks;  Dare to ShareScraptastic SaturdayShare It One More TimeHappiness is HomemadeAnything Goes Pink SaturdaySimple SaturdaysThat DIY Party;  DIY Sunday ShowcaseSnickerdoodle Sunday;   Best of the BlogosphereSmall Victories Sunday

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