Monday, March 17, 2008

Like the Jefferson's...we're movin' on up!

It's been several weeks since my last entry...sorry about that. During this break we've made some changes to the project so that we can go even faster moving forward. So, what's been going with the house? Well, believe it or not, we have 2nd floor walls now! We stacked the blocks last week and poured two truckloads of concrete this past Saturday. Our architect, Rodney brought some new clients to the job site to show them some of his past work. They are doing a remodel of an older home. What's unique is that instead of adding on a second floor, the are going to lift the current house up by 1 story...and then build a story beneath it...effectively making the old 1st floor into the new 2nd floor. That's the typical high quality creativity of Rodney!

This week our truss company will be coming out and doing final measurements for the trusses between the 2nd and 3rd floors. We're hoping to have the trusses manufactured and onsite, ready for installation in the next two weeks. Installation of all the trusses and temporary sub floor should only take about 5 days. Once the 3rd floor sub-floor is in place, the crew will go ahead and start stacking the 3rd floor ICF blocks. I have an outstanding bet with our builder that we will have a roof in place by 4/30/08.

In the next couple of weeks, we'll see some of the other sub-contractors start working (plumbing, electric, etc). Fingers crossed that progress picks up now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Drive on a parkway...park on a driveway..

A couple of delays recently between our engineer and Matt. We've had about a 2 week break, but, we are making a little progress. Our driveway/sidewalks are formed up and should be poured Monday. I will post pics then. With a driveway, we can get a dumpster which will allow the site to be much cleaner. Actually, in visiting the site last night with friends, we noticed that all the wood that was left over from the framing has been stacked nicely in the garage...and the slab has been swept completely clean. A far cry from other worksites that I've seen. Additionally, all of the trusses and decking have been installed on the second floor, so once Gail gives Matt the go, he can start stacking up the ICF blocks for the second floor. I'm guessing we'll see a second floor in the next week or two. I will post again soon with more updates.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Always get it writing...

Well we made some progress this week....and learned some valuable lessons at the same time. After some false starts and additional details from Interfield, we were able to get started on the trusses which go between the 1st and 2nd floor. In the far left picture below, you can see the size of the main laminated beams that span the entire width of the garage and support all the trusses. Unfortunately, we're going to have a delay for one day this due to a misunderstanding. Up to this point, we've learned that it's very important to follow the chain of command...basically, do NOT talk to the subcontractors directly...ALWAYS go through the general contractor. Earlier this week, it turned out that two of the subs had talked to each other (Interfield and Matt)...without going through the general contractor. While that in itself isn't bad, the problem is that there is a debate about if certain instructions were given to on how to handle a problem...over the phone (no real record)....not in writing. Now we've got a debate on who will cover the additional charges to fix the error. There won't be any substantial delay or increased cost to us. Kudos again to our general contractor for keeping our best interests and budget in mind. The picture in the center shows our general contractors (outside) and our architect (center). The picture on the right shows the trusses in place as of Monday afternoon (1/21).

Friday, December 7, 2007

More concrete...

Today at 11 a.m. Matt (ICF contractor) starting pouring the ICF walls full of concrete. The local representative for the company who made our ICF Blocks (Reward Wall Systems) was onsite to watch the pour. The next step will be to have the framers come in and put up the engineered trusses.

Just so we can throw around some numbers. Our slab took about 5.5 truck loads of concrete...10 yds of concrete per truck...4050 lbs of concrete per yard = ~223,000 lbs of concrete in the slab. Add to that the walls that were poured today which used approximately 24 yards of concrete which equals ~97,000 lbs of concrete.

That gives us a current house weight (concrete alone) of ~320,000 lbs. Keep in mind there are two more floors of concrete to pour and all the interior work to do. Do you think we'll have any problems the next time a hurricane comes through town? :)

The pics today show the walls being filled. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Just some pics for today..

Baby A is starting to get up off the ground. Top row 1st pic: Matt (ICF contractor) and Gail (the project manager). Top row 2nd pic: The whole house as it currently stands. Top row 3rd pic: This pic is taken from what will one day be the entry walkway. Bottom row 1st pic: Shows the bases for the front fence...keep in mind that each of those bases is solid concrete..and sitting on top of a 18" concrete footing...which is sitting on top of two bell piers drilled over 12 feet into the soil. Are we building a house or some weird religious compound? :) Bottome row 2nd pic: A shot inside the ICF walls so you can get an idea of where the concrete will be. That space is about 6" wide, so there is going to be a lot of concrete between us and the elements. Bottom row 3rd pic: Simply a shot from the street. More pics later this week as we are scheduled to pour the ICF walls full of concrete..and the driveway by the end of the week...barring any unforeseen surprises from the city.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Baby is starting to stand...

Looks like our party on the slab will be more like a party on a slab with most of the 1st floor formed up. The day after Gail gave the approval for the Matt (ICF contractor) to begin, he has almost completed most of the ICF form work for the 1st floor. Since I'm not an ICF contractor by any stretch, I have no idea when the concrete will get poured, but I'm going to guess the forms will be full of concrete in the next 7 days. So, check back for a post on 12/11 and see if I'm right or wrong...anyone care to take a wager? I'll upload the pics was dark when we went by tonight.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Like a rock...

Well, it's been 9 days since the last post and we've reached a MAJOR milestone. Are you sitting down? We have a slab! The P.O.T.S party...Party On The Slab...which we've been planning for over a year will now actually happen. I've included a few pics below of the slab going in and the pump truck they had to use to place the concrete. Don't worry, you'll see more of the pump truck as the ICF blocks get filled...more on that below. I'll put a few more up of the completed slab in a couple of days. A few interesting points of note. It took 6 full trucks of concrete to provide all the concrete needed for the slab....this does not include all the concrete that was used to pour the piers that are under the slab. The ICF block will begin getting stacked next week. We're going to the contractor showroom this week to look at flooring since our house has to be built differently than most others. On wood frame construction, you simply frame up the whole house at one time. With ICF, you stack the blocks for the first floor and then pour the walls full of concrete...ICF contractor (Matt) leaves. Framers show up and put the floor trusses between the 1st and 2nd floor. These trusses give the ICF contractor a platform to then stack the blocks for the second floor. Once the second floor blocks are stacked and poured full of concrete, the framers come back and put in the floor trusses for the 3rd floor. Matt (ICF guy) comes in and stacks the blocks for the 3rd floor and pours them full of concrete. At this point, Matt / ICF is done. You can see that there will be A LOT of concrete in the house. Once Matt and his guys are done the framers come in and put on the roof, frame up all the inside walls, install the windows, and begin drying the house in. But I'm jumping ahead. BONUS: I was able to grab a picture of the elusive Gail...the project manager responsible for building our house. Great woman to have on your side when dealing with sub-contractors. Enjoy the pics...feel free to post comments!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We have pipe....

Two day...we've set a new record. In addition to the earlier post today, the plumbers were able to come out and get all the rough in plumbing done in one day. Additionally, we got two calls from our builder today and neither of them cost us more money. Tomorrow the city is coming out to inspect the plumbing. UPDATE 11/21 : We got a green sticker from the City of Houston...we passed the plumbing rough in! Woo Hoo! If you look very close, you can see our lime green tag on the tallest pipe in the picture on the left...Sandi is standing in what will be the back of the garage. The foundation company will continue their work preparing the rebar and getting ready to lay the slab. Gail told us today that we should have a slab in the next few days. The other pic is of the rebar that will go in the poured slab beams. Barring, weather delays, we'll be having P.O.T.S. (Party On The Slab) next week sometime. According to Gail we are currently 5 days ahead of schedule. Our ICF (insulated concrete form) contractor has scheduled to have his materials arrive on 11/26...and should be getting started shortly thereafter. As a side note, our neighbor Lauren loaned Gail some juice for her laptop. A very simple but generous expression. OVERALL MOOD TODAY: Thumbs UP!

Ground has been broken!!

It's been about a month since my last post. Surprisingly, we've made LOTS of progress...but not without a couple of surprising expenses. In the pics for this post, you can see that they've started framing up the slab and cutting in the beams in the slab. Last week they put drilled for the piers that support the slab. This is where one of the surprise expenses came from. Turns out that our engineering firm Interfield Engineering based their slab plan on only a preliminary soil report and never asked for the final report. No big deal except that when they went to drill for the piers the instructions sent them 1 foot too deep...causing them to hit water. The surprise expense came because we had to get a soil engineer onsite that day to provide options. All went well and we were able to get the piers drilled and poured. The other surprise expense came from the fact that we were told that we needed to tear down the garage prior to the lot being graded. Now that the garage is gone and the lot has been graded, I'm not sure why there was such a rush on it.
Moving to today... When I went by this morning, the plumbers were there to get started on getting the plumbing into the slab. I saw a lot of rebar there, so I'm assuming they will putting in the rebar this week or next. Gail did let me know that Matt (the ICF contractor) will be starting his part of the job on December 6. That will be when we officially start going up. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Finally, it begins...

10/15/07 - We finally achieved a major milestone. We got our building permits approved by the city of Houston. At this point, most people think you just start building. Oh, but that doesn't happen on Baby Alexander. Due to the extreme incompetence of our house mover, Texas House Movers and the queen of this incompetent organization Donna Holcomb....oh I need to talk about what happen...not about incompetence. Donna forgot to get a demo permit when she moved the house. So our builder had to pull a permit...sounds simple enough...except the fact that we still have a garage there....yeah, we failed a demo permit...shame. Anyway, we are going to make a note on the permit request and get it approved by the city. Yeah, and then the classy folks in the neighborhood had a buffett with the junk that we left in the garage. Sorry, we're kinda upset right now. This project has had some high points and low is one of the low points. One of the high points so far is our builder Alex and Gail of Atlantis Construction and Remodeling. Hopefully our opinion of them doesn't they seem to be genuinely good people with our best interests..and budget in time. In case you are interested, their site is .
Just so that we can start some pics, here is a pic of the lot as it currently stands.
Summary: Donna Holcomb / Texas House Movers - THEY SUCK! : CITY OF HOUSTON - Picky, but quick on their turnaround : MOOD THIS POST - strong down finger.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Prequel....

This is the first of hopefully many entries regarding the building of our home. We've spent the last year working with Rodney Collins of Collins Architects to come up with a design for our home. Damn, these first two sentences are really lame. At least I can put in a link to the architects website. I guess I'll just document my thoughts...we've just gotten through dealing with the most incompetent businesswoman of all time trying to get our house moved. If anyone reading this blog ever has the treat of dealing with Donna Holcomb or Universal Services or Texas House Movers to get their home run away. Perhaps you will hear more about her in future posts. Get ready for 12 months of fun!!