This week I headed down to Dixon, California where Nigel Walker and his family are building a somewhat similar earth sheltered home as ours. Nigel owns Eatwell Farm, (www.eatwell.com), a CSA farm in the fertile valley north-east of San Francisco. The 2000 sq. ft. home will have 14 ft. high ceilings and, like our house, be open to the outside at the four compass points. Nigel is a bit ahead of us in the construction schedule, so I went down to help with the placement of the foam boards that will act as the forms for the concrete shell. This was a wonderful opportunity to get some hands-on experience with this part of the building process before starting on ours. Nigel and Lorraine were gracious hosts and new-found friends. They even sent me home with some of the bounty from their organic farm, including organic eggs and chicken.
“Push Me Pull You” Nigel pushing the tie wire through the foam and I’m twisting it around the wood support to keep the two layers of foam board in place.
More preparations this weekend On the back side of the North wall, we attached a board to the curved arch to create a 4 inch lip for the concrete to extend to. It was a bit of a challenge to get the board to bend but with a couple of clamps and lots of screws, we made it.
We also had a visit from our good friend Jody “the tree guy” There were two
Spruce trees that needed to be cut down and they were much bigger than I felt comfortable dealing with.
It was sad to see these trees go as they were over 65 years old. We will try to honor their presence by having them milled into usable lumber for a future building project. Thanks Jody, once again for coming to our rescue.
On an unrelated note, I managed to move our washer and dryer into the old “Veggie Shack” We no longer have a truck that runs on used fryer oil so didn’t need the space to store and process the oil. The washer and dryer had been under a lean-to roof, outside of our big shed. Doing the laundry in the rain was always an unpleasant task. Now we have a bona fide laundry room.
My mother would be proud, plus the greywater from the washer will help water our orchard.
We finally got some warm, sunny, clear weather. It was the perfect time to build a chimney. We will have a wood stove in our house and the chimney must go up through the roof, as well as about 3 feet of earth above that.
Don from Ridell Sheet Metal made a metal tube which will act as an inside form for the concrete. It is sized to allow airspace around the stove pipe that will go through the “roof.”
I then needed to create a rebar cage to go around it. First I made a jig to weld rebar rings all at a consistent size. (Those old highway signs keep on being so useful) It was fun working with the welder again.
Now it was time to get all the parts: tube, rings and a purchased stovepipe base support, up on top of our structure.
With the tube secure, plumb and level, it was time to attach the rebar.
I welded the first couple of rings to the vertical supports to make sure everything was going to be secure.
When we are ready to spray the concrete shell, another round form, 8 inches larger in diameter will be place over the top. Concrete will be poured between the forms to create a 4 inch thick “tube” that will be integral to the shell.