Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This, of course, is the ugly.


Tuesday night, a storm came through and blew out this door.  The other one doesn't look great, but it still works.

We had noticed that the doors billowed quite a big when the wind blew.  Marvin braced the south door because it looked like it was about to come out of its tracks.  Last Friday, the builder was out looking at the walk-through door that the insulation guys ran into (yes, this is our week for problems), and he said something about the brace and then he noticed that the doors didn't have wind locks and said they should have them.  Before we started building, he had told Marvin they would have the wind locks.  But they don't.  The brace kept the south door from blowing in, but there was enough wind getting through that it got the north door.

The builder called the door company and they are replacing this door and will come look at the south door to see if it has to be replaced too.  It still rolls up, but it is bowed.

Now for the bad.  We ordered two pocket doors and after getting them here, we found that they weren't going to work at all.  Now we have to order two smaller ones and either return these or use them somewhere else.

Saving the good for last, we finally got approval from Oncor on the ditches, the pull box and the conduit.  Now if we could just get Oncor to move a little faster than they have been, we could have electricity by the time we are finished with the inside of the barndominium.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

We Have Walls! Sort of.

We have framed walls at least.  In this barndominium, we are doing double wall construction separated by an air space.  This creates a super insulated and very energy efficient living space.  But it's also a little more work than just nailing the framing to the steel.  The walls are built like a regular framed house, but before lifting them, foil faced polyiso foam insulation is attached to the back, and all the joints are taped.  But one those difficult walls were finished, the next wall went up pretty fast.

Marvin's brother, Lonnie, came out to help us this weekend, bless his heart.  Thanks to him, I didn't have to do a lot of heavy lifting.  We got most of the bedrooms framed but need a couple of pocket doors before we can continue with that part.  The kitchen, dining, and living area just has three walls, so that shouldn't take as long, even though they have a lot of windows and doors to frame.

Marvin's father was a builder and both boys worked for him when they were living at home.  I got the feeling they didn't have a choice in the matter.  Marvin enjoyed the work but Lonnie would have liked to be with his friends instead.  But he said he likes it more now, especially when it is something like this when you see what you've accomplished at the end of the day.  I like seeing this come together too.



We still don't have electricity, but we are one step closer.  Last week, the Oncor inspector came out and didn't approve two things.  Today, the guy who did the ditching came out to put gravel under the pull box, and tomorrow the electrician will come out to replace the conduit going to the meter.  Then we'll cross our fingers and hope they get out here quickly to install our lines and transformer.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Layer of Insulation, Hard Cell Foam

When we first researched building a barndominium, we were going to use the batt insulation that is standard, or what could be called builder grade.  But everyone we talked to said we should really use foam insulation, both those who had it and those who wished they had it.  Not only does foam insulation seal every air leak, and there are many in a metal building, but it has a higher R value.  So even though it was more expensive, we decided to go that route.

Then the decision was whether to do open cell or closed cell insulation.  Closed cell is harder than open cell, so gives extra strength to the thin metal walls.  It is also waterproof and seals off air leaks, so prevents air and water from coming through all those little openings.  Because it is denser than open cell, it has a higher R value, but that also makes it more expensive than open cell.

We considered putting closed cell on just the living portion of the barn and doing the garage part later, but decided that would be a big hassle.  We also considered putting an inch of hard cell and three inches of closed cell, but in the end, we decided to do two inches of closed cell over the whole thing.  They did a non-expanding foam around the windows.




Since the highs have been hovering around 90 degrees lately, we could tell an immediate difference in both the inside temperature and the noise of the building itself.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stained and Polished Concrete Floor

Grinding concrete:


Acetone stain applied:


Densifier applied:


Honing the concrete:


Polishing the concrete:


And after it's final buffing:


It is shinier than I wanted, but maybe it will tone down once the walls are up.  The guy said I could dull to a matte finish with wax, but the whole point of doing stained concrete floors was to reduce maintenance.  Waxing is maintenance!





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Garage Doors and Roll-up Doors Installed in Barndominium

We are officially closed in!

Yesterday, three of the six garage doors were completely installed. One was started but not finished.  Two roll-up doors still hadn't been delivered but came in yesterday afternoon, so today all the doors are finished.










Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Getting Power to the Barndominium a Distance from the Road

One decision we had to make when we were trying to decide how far back we could put the barn was whether we would have underground electric or above ground on power poles.  We opted for underground for several reasons.  1) Power poles are ugly (yes, you can say "Duh" here), 2) Above ground power is more likely to have problems than below ground, and most important from Marvin's point of view 3) Underground lines don't interfere with ham radio.  But underground lines are more expensive than above ground lines.  Thousands more.  But there is a solution.

We learned that the electric provider, Oncor, will provide the first 200 feet underground at no extra charge, but anything over that was about $12 per foot.  But then we learned that there is a substantial rebate per electric meter, up to 400 feet and that if we put in two meters, the total cost would actually be cheaper than above ground, up to 800 feet.  There is an additional cost for getting underground lines too, we had to pay for the trenching.  Also, Oncor is fairly picky when it comes to the depth, width, and fill of the trench, and they require a pull box at 400 feet, which was even more digging.

But we calculated the cost of the additional monthly base rate for the extra meter and the additional ditching, and decided the overall savings made it worthwhile for the privacy of being further from the road and not having radio interference.

We have already had the main trenching done, but the guy who did it brought the ditch to the middle of the wall where windows will be located.  Not a good spot for meters, so five or six feet of the ditch needed to be moved.

Over the weekend, Marvin rented a backhoe to do some additional work on the trenching, and the electric pull box was placed in the hole dug for it.

Today, the electric pole was put in at the road.  It is for our transformer, and the line will run underground from here to the barn.  Update:  The transformer will not be at the road, it will be near the house.  The electric pole is just to have the electric lines in the right place.






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Watching Grass Fires Behind Us

There isn't any building going on right now.  We're in a holding pattern, partly because of high winds and partly waiting for orders to come in.  But without lots of work vehicles on site, the neighbors have started coming over to meet us and see what is going on with the build.  And today, small fires have been popping up upwind from us.

Yesterday, a neighbor came over and said he just wanted to touch us so some of our luck would rub off on him.  I guess I must have given him a questioning look because he said he and his wife have been watching from afar (and we have seen them drive by a lot), and can't believe that we haven't had big rain, equipment, or material delays, and all without a paved driveway.   I guess that is, or was, true.  We thought of paving the driveway before we started, but figured all the big trucks would tear it up and we'd just have to have it done again, so we gambled that the trucks could make it through even with a little rain.

We did have a couple of rain days, but the rutted road dried out quickly, and until the garage doors didn't come in on time, we haven't had any material delays.  We've had such a mild winter that it's been more like spring than winter - spring without rain, but with plenty of wind which the tv weather people call breezy.  Breezy in town is downright windy in the middle of a hay field.

Like most spring weather, one day is hot and then a cold front blows in from the north and we have a couple of cool days before it warms again.  Yesterday was one of those warm days, with temperature around 80F.  Last night a norther blew in cold wind and today was in the lower 60s.

Marvin went out to meet the foam insulation installer today, and saw a plume of smoke from the highway.  You know how you see smoke in the distance and hope it isn't anywhere near your house.  Well, the closer he got to our build, the closer the smoke looked and when he got to our place, the fire was north of our place and moving this direction.  At one point, the smoke was too thick to see a house down the road.  Then it cleared, and the cloud of smoke thinned into whispers.  But a few minutes later, another plume appeared somewhere else.  It burned awhile and then it too disappeared.  This happened all afternoon.  When I got there, another smoke funnel was north of us, but by the time we left, it was almost gone.  I turned to look back when I reached the highway, and another black cloud was rising from the ground.

I guess we'll know tomorrow if we are as lucky as the neighbor thinks we are.