Sunday, 30 November 2014

a concrete conclusion.

Well I made it back from the overseas adventure - had a great time and didn't think about the house build once!

The 'stans were terrific (except for Turkmenistan) and despite bad press Iran is exceptional. Never ever met such friendly people in my life. And the sights are extraordinary.

In just over the month that I've been back I picked up my septic tank which I'd paid for and had the suppliers hang on to it for me. The guy at the shop helped me load it onto my Ute - then I realised when I got out to site that I had no one to help me unload it!

And it's a big bugger.

Taller than I am.

Anyway after a bit of thought I reversed the Ute up to the soil heap beside the hole for the tank and dug a concave depression in the top:

Then I was able to tip the tank off the back of the Ute so it lay on its side in the depression.

I then drove the Ute away and slid the tank down the side of the soil heap. Then rolled it to the edge of the hole, and using my 2m step ladder as a ramp, I was able to slide the tank down it into the hole.

Et voila.

I have also had over 60 tonnes of shale delivered and spread onto my driveway so I don't have a repeat of the concrete fiasco!! (Just watch - it'll be the driest summer on record now...)

My water tank (also paid for but held back until my return) was supposed to be delivered a couple of weeks ago. I had to spend a few hours re-levelling the sand pad beforehand as the kangaroos had enjoyed playing in it while I was away overseas:

Then at 5pm the night before they were to deliver it I received a call - they had just discovered the major roof struts were the wrong size and they would have to order other ones with no date set for re-delivery. Why this was discovered at the 11th hour is beyond me.

Finally on Thursday this week they arrived and installed the tank:

And yesterday I had the concrete pump truck and concrete delivered to pour the pier foundations:

It all went well - as the pumper walked around and filled the piers I followed him with a makeshift float and levelled the concrete making sure any excess flowed out of the cuts I had placed in the side of the pier tubes.

This ensured every pier was filled to the same level. Concrete is not as fluid as water so sometimes it would sit a little higher in the middle of the tube. So paddling with the float levelled it out.

Then I was able to drop in the metal plates I had had made making sure they were in the correct position and no concrete spilled out over their surface.

I did the calculations for the concrete myself and was worried I had under ordered. So I asked the pumper to fill all of the piers needing metal plates first as they were the most important.

I also told him to leave the 4 verandah post piers until last as they could be done by hand if I ran out of concrete. Besides, for verandah posts, I thought the engineers had WAY OVER engineered them!

Due to overfilling of some piers and spillage, I ran out of concrete with 2 and a bit piers to go.

Finally before the concrete set, I went around with a trowel and smoothed the pier tops as best I could and with a wet rag wiped off as much of the concrete splashes from the side of the metal pier tubes above the concrete level.

These tube tops need to be cut off and I figured any set concrete on them would make the angle grinding more difficult.

So in the end, I was extremely happy with the result. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

the high price of rain

Big week started bad and then went quickly downhill!

On the weekend I spent all day tidying up the piers ready for the concrete delivery this morning. On the way home my ute broke down and I had to wait 2.5 hours to be towed.

Monday I had to hire a car to meet the delivery of my tank sand and gravel. Also the excavators came to dig my septic tank hole, the absorption trench and levelled my tank pad and helped spread the sand to make it easier for me to level:

16 tonnes of washed river sand for the watertank base:

Septic tank hole being excavated:

tank pad sand levelled:

Then after lunch heavy clouds appeared and a thunderstorm threatened but passed by with just a lot of noise and very little rain.

Also I had my first Council inspection of the footings and passed. As the inspector left I warned him to drive carefully as there are a lot of kangaroos about this area.

That was the good bit!

Driving home to return the hire car I hit a kangaroo.

Then this morning I was out early to meet the concrete truck and didn't realise until I was at the land that a huge amount of rain had fallen overnight (over 45mm) in that region. More than twice as much as where I am currently living:

But the pier holes had remained fairly empty unlike the previous occasion, as the metal tubes stopped surface water draining into them.

Then the concrete truck and the pump operator arrived at the same time.

And both became stuck on my dam wall:

They weren't bogged but couldn't get enough traction to get up the gentle rise at the house site end.

Then they couldn't reverse back out the entrance.

Eventually they called a backup truck which they assured me was strong enough to drag them both up the rise so they could fill the piers and drag them out again.

So 45 minutes later it turned up and within 10 minutes:

Yup - it became seriously bogged.

They then called for a second backup truck.

By this time I envisaged an entire fleet of trucks bogged on my property.

And so...4 hours later the three stuck vehicles were towed out of the front gate and I was left with a $2,300 bill and nothing to show for it except a lot of mud and mess. (And that's providing they don't bill me for the back up trucks)

The concrete was taken back for disposal.

So I'm home and not feeling terribly happy!!

I've cancelled the watertank delivery on Thursday as I don't dare risk their truck getting bogged. Also had to cancel the 18,000 litres of water (it's needed in the tank soon after construction to stabilise it) and the septic tank delivery for much the same reason.

The flash storm proved an expensive experience for me!

You will, no doubt, fully understand why, when I finally arrived home, I consumed an entire packet of Tim Tams.

ps - no more updates until November as on Monday I am leaving on a 7 week backpacking trip starting in Kashgar in Western China, crossing the Torugart Pass into Kyrgyzstan, through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and finishing up with the last 3 weeks in Iran. If interested you can follow the adventure on my travel blog.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

wet wet wet

...and the rains came!

 We had over 60mm fall the day after I finished the last hole.

Tried bucketing out the water but the mud (clay) was so thick it became too difficult to walk around the site. Wellies collected so much clay on them they weighed a tonne.

So I hired a pump for the day.

Finally dried out the pier holes, placed all the metal tubes then levelled and backfilled them.

Unfortunately there are more wet days ahead which might stall progress.

One of the positives was that my dam has finally a decent amount of water in it!

3 weeks ago

Sunday, 17 August 2014

builders' equivalent of the rain dance....

...drill your foundations and the rain will come!

After an exceptionally dry first half of August as soon as I drill the 58 pier holes it decids to bucket it down.  (sigh....)

The day of the Dingo - just a big Tonka toy really.

Soil was so dry it wouldn't lift out with the auger.
 So it needed to be dug out by hand.
Getting there:

All done:
All the holes are between 300 and 400mm deep. I was fairly lucky as there were only 3 out of the 58 that I needed to get down and dirty with a crow bar to break up rock.

The weather stayed sunny and almost completely cloud free right up until I emptied the last hole yesterday afternoon.

Today's forecast? 20 -40mm rain.

Next week I need to set and level all the pier tubes and pour the concrete and embed the pier plates before the concrete sets. A few days later my water tank arrives, the septic hole and absorption bed are being excavated and the septic tank installed.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

and then there were four.

It is beginning to get quite cool down this way and at 07.30 the other morning, as I drove over to my land, there was a considerable amount of mist hanging low in the valleys. It looked quite beautiful, almost like an out of focus sea with little islands of trees sticking out.

Unfortunately by the time I arrived to take a photo it had almost all evaporated.

The upside of this, of course, was a beautiful clear sunny day.

The reason for my early morning visit? See below.

All four shipping containers are now on site.

The next step is to get the footings done. But first there is still an issue with my engineering. The company I had do my plans did not (unbeknownst to me at the time) do a soil test to check on the soil type, which has a direct bearing ('scuse the pun) on the type and depth of piers I need to put down.

They simply designed footings that they thought would be appropriate for the site.

So I still need to get a soil test done - hopefully it will be fairly straightforward. I found a local engineer who can do the test but he wanted me to bring him a representative sample of the soil from the building platform. It took me an hour to dig by hand a small 250mm dia, hole 500mm deep - I can vouch for the fact that the soil will support the Taj Mahal if necessary!!

Above shows the pegging out of the eventual pier holes. There are 58 of them - 32 supporting the actual containers.

I'm itching to get started!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

the snail has moved (a few mms)

After waiting 9 weeks (telling me 4- 6 weeks) - Council yesterday finally approved my Development Application and provided my Building Construction Certificate.

Naturally they have - as after an extremely dry past 9 months it has started to bucket it down!!

One upside is that I finally have some water in my dam and the place is looking green again.

I can finally start moving on the building process.

Cel - ebrate - good - times - COME - ON....... !!