Friday, June 8, 2012

L'addition, s'il vous plait

There hasn't been enough going on at the farm, so the Real Doctor and I decided to make an addition onto our house.  This has been a different sort of process from the remodeling; starting from scratch, we get to use modern techniques (which are not necessarily better) and avoid some architectural and structural eccentricities (which is definitely better).

The addition is intended to replace the back porch, which was decayed to the point of being life-threatening.

The entire structure was riddled by carpenter ants--this is one of the four posts that was holding the whole thing up.
Demolishing it was light work: saw through the roof to disconnect it from the house, and then simply pull it over.

(There was a more difficult phase to the demolition; there was a stone barbecue built just off to the right of the last picture; it was massively built, a mix of stone and lots of concrete.  It took a couple of days of work with sledge and pick to even dent that thing; ultimately, it succumbed to the excavator's backhoe.  Yay power tools.)

The next step was to excavate for a concrete pad.  The guy who did the excavation was a real pro, and it was a pleasure to watch him with his backhoe.  I felt like a western tourist admiring a display of Balinese court dancing--I had no relevant experience to judge his performance by, but I could still be amazed by his virtuosity. 

We are trying to economise as much as possible, so the excavator was hired to simply excavate; what to do with the excavated soil was my problem.  So, I spent the day running around in our tractor moving soil to an out-of-the-way pile.  I am as unskilled with a tractor as the excavator is skilled, so I was kept busy while he was often kept waiting as the soil built up.

As part of the remodel, we had to get the electrical service changed from overhead lines to an underground conduit, and we had to get the electrical box moved over.  So, trenches 36" deep had to be dug.  The transfer of power from overhead lines to the conduit was achieved weeks later.   Also, some forms were set up for the footing,
 and then we were ready for the first round of concrete. 

Once the footing was poured, it was time to make the stem wall.  This was a little tricky; ideally, the stemwall should be perfectly horizontal, but it should also join up nicely with the existing foundation, which is not.  So, there was a little art trying to get it to slope by 1/4" over the length of it.

There are all sorts of interesting tricks that the contractors have; the last step before pouring is to spray all the forms with kerosene, which acts like a non-stick coating to ensure that the forms will come off cleanly.  Pouring the concrete was fun to watch, as well as an interesting study of sociology.  The contractors who made the forms shared many friends with the contractors pouring the concrete.  The entire time they were working, they were updating each other about so-and-so's crazy uncle and how the other guy's sister was doing, and how $@%&ed-up the Oregon State Board of Education is for banning mascots named "Indians." 
While they were discussing these things, they were leveling the the concrete and smoothing it and dropping in bolts that would anchor the walls to the concrete and making sure that some rebar was exposed for an electrical ground.
With the forms off, the stemwall was ready.  The ground was covered with heavy plastic, for insulation and climate control.  A layer of pressure-treated wood got bolted on,
then a box attached to that,

and floor joists,
 and finally sub-flooring--the same stuff that we installed in our attic a few weeks ago.  
 Once the subflooring was in, it was amusing to stand where there was nothing but air just a few weeks ago. 
 Next, the walls are framed.  They build them lying down, then stand them up and bolt the to the stemwall and nail them to the subflooring. 
To the considerable surprise of everybody involved, the new wall mated exactly with the sub-siding of the house--the house, after eighty-some years, had walls that were perfectly vertical.  Not only that, but the floor was very nearly level--a quarter inch in twenty-seven feet, which is pretty good considering how the house was built.

The crew knocked off after putting up the sub-siding--a layer of treated chipboard that provides some extra stiffness to the wall, and allows us to put up siding.  They'll use a router to cut out the windows.
 The next bit is going to be kind of exciting.  In a week (after the contractors tackle a minor job) they'll cut away a chunk of the existing roof, attach a roof beam to the existing roof structure, and start putting in the roof of the addition.  Should be fun to watch--one of the contractors though it would be "a freaking nightmare" but the other was of the opinion that it will be "fun, at least it was the last time we did one like this." 

There will be updates.

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