Monday, May 31, 2010

The Pour

I am not a morning person. When our contractors called and said they would be pouring concrete for the second retaining wall at 7:30 am on Friday, I would rather have sent James out there with his better camera and just stayed bundled up in bed. But James was in the San Francisco Bay Area to see his doctor and go to Baycon. I stayed here for my Friday radiation treatment. So I piled on the layers (yes, it is the end of May in Las Vegas, but we haven't had a 100 degree day yet) and hustled over to the site. The wind was howling at 40 miles an hour and it wasn't more than 65 degrees F. Later in the day it got appreciatively warmer, but not that morning. I got there before the first cement truck, but shortly there was a platoon of cement trucks lining up to the boom crane.

In the trench with the rebar several guys were maneuvering the pipe and trying to spread the cement in an even layer. They had removed their shoes and were wearing rubber boots.

Two other guys were building the concrete block wall.

This is a one minute video of the process. I turned the audio down so that people wouldn't get blown away. In the bottom left hand corner you can see two guys building the retaining wall itself. Everything was moving very quickly. They thought that the entire pour would be finished by noon.

This is the mostly finished wall on the eastern (lower) side. Eventually the cement block will be covered with decorative tile.

This is the finished pour. The cement goes from the low point on the western edge and stairsteps up to the highest edge on the east. The east wall is about 20 feet tall. Eventually the trench will be backfilled with dirt and compacted. There is nothing planned for these levels except some trees that will be planted there. We tried to make sure that there was access for gardeners, but it isn't really a usable area.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rebar, Rebar

The soil was finally compacted enough (102%, is that even possible?) to start laying down about forty miles of rebar for the second retaining wall. Originally they were supposed to pour concrete on Friday, but it was hot and windy, so they decided to add another twenty miles of rebar and pour next Wednesday when it should be cooler and less windy. Once the concrete is dry, they will backfill that wall, compact the soil, and have it tested for proper compaction. Then they can start on the last wall which is a lot shorter than the first two walls, but has to hold up the pool. They have about a third of the house pad dug down four feet from the original level and should be pouring the foundation in about 45 days.

We also met with the architect for the first time since we got the permits. Our major questions at this time are the placement of the downspouts and the placement of the pulldown staircase to the attic mechanical room. Although many houses in Clark County don't have any gutters at all (we only get four inches of rain per year on average), we will have ones that spill through pipes in the exterior walls. Some of the channels in the drawings seem to be placed through window areas. Oops! A more serious problem is the pulldown staircase to the attic mechanical area. Most of the prebuilt ones are only nine feet tall. Right now the staircase is scheduled to be placed in my studio closet which would have a lowered ceiling to accommodate it. Even though we would only use the staircase rarely, we still need to leave access for it. Which really limits the amount of storage space that my closet would have. It would be better if we could put the staircase in the ceiling of the hallway to the kitchen. Our contractors will research longer ladders.

Both our architect and contractors seem to be surprised that we have so few changes to the architectural drawings. I feel as if we have been living in the house already. We really have tried to think of every little detail. But I have to admit that I am getting excited about getting to the framing stage. Once there are three dimensional walls it is so much easier to see how everything fits together.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not Much To Show

There really isn't much to show for progress the past week. They have carved out the place for the second wall, but they haven't started building it yet. I'm glad that we didn't have to build the driveway from the lower road. We looked at a lot of steep, cliff faced lots and the driveways take up a lot of room and can be quite steep. Admittedly we don't have ice and snow, but still a long driveway is a hassle unless you have acres and acres.

We didn't see any more showrooms as James had to go to Maui to answer another set of ridiculous requests on the pedestal for four Maui electric meters that is on the edge of our property there. The county thinks everyone in our subdivision should lower these to four feet tall, though that will make the meter reading more difficult and could even damage the meters during flash floods. We have been fighting the county over this for longer than a year. So as frustrating as dealing with the City of Henderson has been it is nothing compared to trying to build anything in Hawaii. I will leave you with a short video of the only activity on the site this week -- screening rocks.

Friday, May 7, 2010

FIrst Wall Finished

The first wall is finished, including the backfill. Now come the civil engineers again to measure the compaction and check the footing for the second wall.  The second wall will be built with the same interlocking blocks, but this time it will be faced with large tiles, not rocks.

While the construction people are building walls, we are picking out plumbing fixtures.  The toilets were relatively easy (functional, power flushing, one piece, all white except for the guest room where the theme is black).  So were the kitchen sinks (Kohler cast iron Executive Chef and oval Iron/Tones).  The bar sink will be something small in stainless steel.  Unfortunately during our visit I had a bad reaction to my first chemotherapy pills and we had to cut short our visit.  We will try to get back there next week.