Around the Bend Strawbale House, Pond and Gardens

June 29, 2007

Starting the framing

Filed under: Uncategorized — aroundthebend @ 7:53 am


OK, we sat around long enough waiting for that floor — now we can get on with the framing.  All the work we’ve done so far is now hidden under the concrete floor, but it’s good to know we’re building on a strong foundation!

Dennis and Harry lay down the plates and measure out where the box columns will be placed.  The box columns will support the box beams which will support the roof.  They are strong enough to be up to 10 feet apart, but are placed around window and door locations, and are therefore usually closer together than that. 

Check the entry under June 22 if you’d like to see how the box columns are constructed.  The inner layer is made up of a 2×4, a 5″ strip of insulation, and a 2×6, all sandwiched between two slices of plywood.  Everything nice and square and nailed with Dennis’ new nail gun.  Around 72 of these box columns will form the frame of the walls.

No more sitting around — several of these box columns go up in just a couple of hours.  And, it feels great to be actually working on the visible part of the house!

Floor close up

Filed under: Uncategorized — aroundthebend @ 7:43 am


Two of the Azores men came back today to wash off the coloured powdered release agent and we got our first look at the (almost) finished floor. The texture is “slate” and the main colour is a rich terra-cotta. A little “smokey blue” and “sun-baked clay” (gold) powders were added as well for some extra colour. This picture shows one of the more colourful areas. The sealer which will be applied in a few months to protect the floor will increase the intensity of all the colours.  We love the way it turned out! 

June 26, 2007

Stamped and coloured concrete floor

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 7:24 pm


We chose a concrete floor as part of our passive solar design — the textured and coloured concrete is the finished floor.  It acts as a thermal mass which will absorb the warmth of the sun’s rays in the winter and help keep the house warm.  After the concrete has been troweled to nearly perfect smoothness, a powdered coloured hardener is thrown onto the floor and troweled in.  After that more colours in a powdered release agent are thrown down in interesting patterns and pressed into the wet concrete by textured stamps.  The floor is left covered with powder — we will not see the finished surface until tomorrow morning when the workers return with power washers to remove the excess powder.  Harry coaxes Rosie to put her pawprint on the front entrance.

The floor is poured!!

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 7:15 pm


At 6:45 this morning three trucks from Azores, the concrete floor company, rolled in!  Soon after that came the pump from McNamee Concrete.  Yes, another picture of the pump — this is a very cool machine!  It takes nearly a half hour to set up. Donny in the red hardhat operates the machine.  

Azores is a family-owned business and 3 generations of the family work on our floor.  By early afternoon the job is nearly done.

June 22, 2007

Waiting for weather

Filed under: Uncategorized — aroundthebend @ 9:12 am


Well, we’re still ready to pour, but the weather is not cooperating.  Showers, an hour here and there of sun, lots of wind makes concrete work too risky, so at 5:00 am this morning the pour is called off.  It is now booked for Monday….. 

In the meantime, Gerda and Marianne and Dennis begin to construct the box columns that will be used for framing the walls. 

June 19, 2007

ready to pour

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 7:05 am


Finally everything is ready for the floor pour which is scheduled for Friday, June 22.  Metal bends have been attached to the tubes where they will emerge from the concrete and “sleeve” protectors have been applied where the concrete cuts will be made. Hermin from the concrete company came by to check things out and was satisfied by what he saw.  The weather forecast for Friday shows an ideal day for concrete work — cool and sunny.   Before the concrete work begins we’ll pressurize the radiant tubes again so that we’ll be able to tell immediately if something breaks.  This time we’ll be able to watch from the sidelines while Hermin’s crew does all the work. 

June 16, 2007

now for the rebar

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 9:16 pm


Our daughter Gerda arrives to spend 2+ months helping to build the house.  We put her to work immediately tying rebar in the blazing hot sun.  Rebar is laid every 18 inches crosswise and lengthwise on all the floors and is tied with wire at the beginning and ends of each bar as well as at each intersection.  Lots of steel in this foundation and floor!

more floor prep

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 9:15 pm


Well, we’re getting closer to being ready to pour the floor.  Lots of little steps to take.   Dennis and Harry think about how to build the form for the concrete for the entryway, which is taken from the garage area.  The garage floor is required to be six inches lower than the house floor so that fumes do not enter the house.  They use leftover pieces of Nudura, stabilized with leftover pieces of rebar, and lots of wire.

The radiant tubes from all the house zones go through the same doorway to the manifold. Ben the plumber suggested we insulate those tubes to prevent the floor above them from becoming uncomfortably hot.

Harry pressurizes the tubes to test for possible leaks and checks all the connections with soapy water. 

And now some more foam to fill the cracks between the insulation.

June 13, 2007

Radiant floor tubing

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 5:56 am


Dennis is the star of this show!  We are laying the tubing for the radiant floor heating.  The tubing comes in rolls of 1000 feet, and does not uncoil cooperatively.  Some sort of device is needed to restrain and control the tubing as it is unrolled.  You can buy or rent an uncoiler, but former farmboy Dennis looks around the building site and creates one with bits and pieces of leftover nudura and lumber.  It works very well!  Then we need to screw in plastic clips to hold the tubing in place.  Again, a device is available but an internet site prices it as $330 US wholesale.  So, Dennis rummages around in his sizeable collection of tools, comes up with some old drill bits, applies a little tape to shape them just so, and they do the job efficiently and quickly!

We have a map that tells us where to place the tubing.  Different colours show the different zones.  There are 10 zones in the house and three in the garage.  We lay one zone at a time and hook it up to the manifold.  With our handy tools the job goes quite quickly.

June 11, 2007

Finished under floor insulation

Filed under: floor — aroundthebend @ 6:08 pm

Thanks for your comments and words of encouragement!  This is a fun project, made even more so in the sharing with you!  Here are pics of the finished floor.  You can see the “trenches” where the concrete will be thicker – underneath the interior bale wall and in the exterior doorways.

These pictures mark the end of the shoveling and raking.  Whew!  We’ve learned something: a shovelful of granular fill weighs twice as much at the end of the day than at the beginning.  

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