I must say, it’s quite strange to actually see progress on our new home. We waited so long to get our plans drawn and approved (almost 2-1/2 years) that we can’t believe it’s actually happening!
We pinch each other periodically 😉
As mentioned in a previous post (breaking ground), we contracted with The Reynoso Brothers to do the concrete work for our house, and after our first inspection of rebar in the footings we passed with flying colors! I’ll talk about our “Special Inspections” in a future post, but for now we were good to go for the concrete pour! Yay!
We were scheduled to have the footings poured on a Friday. The perfect ending to a great week. The first truck came around 12:30 in the afternoon and ended up driving right past our gate. Oh no! Driving past our gate wasn’t his biggest problem. The biggest problem is that we live at the head of a private dead end road, and down the lane are a couple of fairly large marijuana farms! The cement truck driver would have to basically turn around in a marijuana grow. Luckily, it’s toward the end of harvest season and most of the crop is already in the drying sheds, but still…
The driver made it back up the road just fine, but laughed about his “adventure”. That’s California for you!
Anyway, they eventually got the cement truck backed up to the concrete pumper, and soon enough concrete from the first truck was flowing into the footings.
I had to laugh about it’s name. Putzmeister. Hahaha, who came up with that one? I’ll tell you, though, it did a great job. So did the Reynoso Bros!
Then came a slight hiccup.
Five trucks of cement had been ordered, but it wasn’t enough. We needed another truck! Five truckloads of cement with 9 yards in each truckload wasn’t enough for the footings! Luckily they realized they would need another truck, and ordered it right away, even before the fifth truck was being off-loaded, so although we live 1 hour from the concrete plant, the wait for the final delivery of concrete wasn’t too bad.
Now, I will say that everyone who has been to our build site and has seen these footings – how deep and wide they are and the amount of rebar in them – have said that it is total over kill. Everyone. We have also studied other Faswall builds with on-line blogs and pictures that have far smaller footings and a lot less rebar in both the footings and the walls and have wondered why ours requires so much more. But, we have to trust what our engineer calculated and designed, and the building plans inspector approved. If you can’t trust the work of licensed professionals, who can you trust…right?
Aren’t they glorious? We had to keep them moist for the next few days so that they would cure without cracking, and so we watered them three times a day for five days. We were watering our footings more than we watered our garden!
On that fifth day, we couldn’t wait to start putting up the walls!
From everything we have read on the Faswall instructions and other Faswall builds, the first course is the hardest but the most important. Why? Because the first row needs to be absolutely, positively, perfectly level.
Luckily, Ray is good at that sort of thing. Yay!
First we had to determine where the high spots and low spots on the footings were, and which corner was the lowest and which was the highest.
Guess what? The footings were perfectly level.
We bought 10 sacks of mortar mix and started at the southeast corner. It wasn’t long before we got into a rhythm and had half that wall done. When laying Faswall, you MUST start in the corners and work your way toward the center, so when almost we reached the center point, we started setting the Faswall on the other corner working in to meet at the center of the wall. The second corner didn’t go as quickly because this was where we have one of the structural walls engineered into the build. You can see in the picture above that we cut the end out of the corner block. More would be cut later when we started working on that wall. We then used a high strength, low VOC glue and glued all the ends together as we set them into the mortar. I will post pictures soon about cutting and glueing and screwing Faswall. We also had one of these structural walls (called SW2 in the plans) in the middle of the wall, but that one didn’t seem as difficult because it wasn’t on a corner. When this section of wall is infilled with concrete, we will have to support these walls with plywood and 2 x 4’s.
How is it to cut the Faswall? Well, let me tell you, we were worried in the beginning about how we were going to do some of these cuts, but we were promised by the Faswall guys – Tom and Paul – that the blocks cut just like regular wood.
They do. Maybe a bit easier. Ray used his Sawzall and cut through these blocks like butter! But, the truth is, once the blocks were cut, they became fairly fragile. This may become a problem later in the build, because we also noticed that the blocks seem to be a bit more fragile when they are wet, also, and we hoped to get our walls up this winter… rain or shine. So, the jury is out on that one. One caution: You MUST wear eye protection when cutting the Faswall! Look at the all the debris in the picture above…’nuf said.
Our next task is to get the second row on, then call the plumber back so he can get the stuff that needs to be in the walls (vents, water lines, gas lines) set, so we can build the blocks around them. We will also have the electrician come up and give us some recommendations about where to put everything.
One final note. As my readers know, I have always tried to write down EVERYTHING in this blog, including the good, the bad and the ugly, so I must say one thing. It’s a bit difficult to say, because I have had so much faith in building our home with Faswall. But, I have to be honest because I know several of you who have written to me and have stated you are considering also building with Faswall, so here goes…
It looks like Faswall has dropped us off their contact list. You see, Paul is supposed to be the “go-to” guy for any questions while building, but Ray and I have each had a question in to Paul – one by text and one by e-mail – and we have yet to hear back.
It’s been more than a week. :-/
We’ll see what happens and I’ll let you know. Until then, have a great Thanksgiving!
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