It’s about time! We finally got our building permit!
We can’t wait to get started! Some friends of ours gave us a bottle of wine from their new vineyard (thanks Ronda and Leonard!), and as soon as we break ground for the footings, we are going to open that bottle and celebrate!
The Reynoso Brothers hard at work last year, getting our building site ready to build.
Right now we are in the process of finding our “subs”. We decided to go ahead and build the house by ourselves, acting as our own contractor, and subcontract out the stuff we can’t or don’t want to do, including the concrete footings and slab, rough plumbing and electrical, interior wall framing and the roof. Fastwall is supposed to be a DIY building project, and since we live on the site, have sound bodies, and are reasonably intelligent, we figured we should be able to stack the walls ourselves. Paul Wood, one of the owners of Faswall, has been very helpful so far and has all the technical knowledge in his head, so we are hoping to rely on him when we get into any pickles… and I am certain we will!
In the meantime, we are trying to get at least three estimates for each of the above specialties… except for the concrete footings and slab. We already signed a contract with the company who cleared our building pad last year: The Reynoso Brothers. When they were up here last spring, they came on time, did exactly what they said they would (and more), and were reasonably priced. So, we felt that it was a “no-brainer” to go with them again.
Some of our “raw” backyard that we are getting cleaned up to provide defensible space in the event of a wildfire.
While waiting for the estimates, we have been trying to develop our “defensible space” around the house site, which is required to get our final inspection approved. This has been hard, dusty, sweaty work. We need to rake up the loose “duff”, pull out a lot of trees and bushes, remove the dead wood, and cut off the lower 6-8 feet of limbs from the trees. Once this is all done, we should have the “park-like” setting we have always envisioned around the house.
Finding a plumber has been quite a challenge. Apparently, plumbers can make more money fixing leaky toilets and replacing water heaters than they can doing rough plumbing in a new house. Barry, the House Planner who did our electrical plans (since our architect or engineer wouldn’t do them) told us that the plumbing really wasn’t hard to do, and that we should just go down to the library and get some books to figure out how to do the plumbing ourselves and save a ton of money! Hmmmmm… that’s a scary thought. Still, it would be nice to save some money. I just wish we could find a plumber who (for a fee) would draw a plumbing plan and give us a list of all the stuff we would need, along with some technical advice, and then we could do it ourselves. Are there any plumbers out there that do this kind of thing?
Our house site, ready to go! We have wooden stakes at all four corners, and also delineating the back patio. Unfortunately, we have pretty much given up on keeping these in the ground because our neighbor’s dogs seem to think they are sticks to “go fetch”! 😉
As far as the outside walls that make up the shell of the house, I am pleased to announce that they are on our build site… mostly!
Here are all the stacked pallets of our Faswall blocks… all 30 of them, in the yard at Endeavor Homes. Faswall could fit only these 30 pallets on the delivery truck, so we still have 2 more pallets coming.
We are building our home with Faswall, which is a type of insulated concrete form (ICF). The ICFs are 12 inches thick and 24 inches long. Their shape is similar to concrete blocks (CMUs), but are made from shredded wood mixed with concrete, with a 3” insulation insert. Once we stack the blocks about 4-5 feet tall around the entire perimeter of the house, concrete is poured into the center voids, which will make a grid pattern of concrete in our walls. So basically, it will be a concrete house, which is good to have in a forest.
Loading the pallet onto our trailer
We have been hauling the blocks up to our property two pallets at a time. Unfortunately, we have to break them down (one block at a time) into half high pallets for a more stable trip up the mountain to our property, and once on site we unload each block individually, stacking them 6 blocks high, into groups of block type. You see, there are the “Normal” blocks that make up the majority of the walls. Then, there are the corners, the end blocks, and the normal blocks with smaller 2” insulation. The 2” insulation blocks are for certain areas in the walls that need a bit more concrete for structural support, so the insulation is thinner. And then there are the specialty blocks, that can be easily cut in half and used as end blocks. I will get to the shape and purpose of those blocks in my next post. Special thanks to my youngest son, Michael, for helping haul a lot of pallets!
Unloading the Faswall blocks on our building site.
So far we have hauled 24 of the 30 pallets delivered up to our build site. Faswall still needs to deliver 2 more pallets of blocks (only 30 fit on the truck), and apparently those will be coming soon. The blocks were delivered to a large yard owned by Endeavor Homes, a company that sells lumber and “kit” houses, because we weren’t sure that the semi-truck delivering our block would be able to get into our build site. Nor could we find a forklift to rent, so that we could off-load the delivery truck. The guys at Endeavor unloaded our blocks and let us use their space for free! Of course, we will be buying lumber from them, but these days it is so hard to find anything free and we are so grateful for their generosity! Thank you so much Dell!
This is a stack of the standard block with 3″ insulation.
Lifting and stacking those blocks is really getting me into shape. You should see my biceps! By the time we get done with the Faswall, we will have lifted almost every block by hand three times – once to get it stacked on the trailer, once to unload on the house site, and once more when we actually build the walls. The best news is that so far we could find only six blocks that are damaged. We will wait until we get the rest of the block up here, so that we can take a final accounting, but I am assuming Faswall will replace the damaged blocks. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of blocks we have handled so far, I think only six damaged blocks is pretty darn good!
So… what’s next?
The Reynoso Brothers will be coming up in a few weeks to dig, frame and then pour our concrete footings. Of course, that’s if we can get concrete. Our new home is about a 45 minute drive above Oroville Dam, and you might remember hearing about the Oroville Dam spillway failure early this past spring. So, the dam repair is getting first priority for concrete, which of course, they should!
And here we are trying to build a concrete house…
The truth is, however, that we have come this far and there is no going back now, so we will just have to take the concrete when we can get it.
I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I am so excited to be finally building our new home!
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