Chronicles of the Design & Construction of Two Waterfront Hurricane Proof Dry Stack Modular Green Custom Homes
1. Villa Lagoon, Wilder Italian Style Home
2. Nasello Italian Style Home

Completion of Exterior Walls

October, 2008

Hard to believe that summer is passing and it is early fall. We are just finishing up the exterior walls of the house. I am eager to sell the crane, so I am glad it is finally coming together. There is so much more that we can do once the roof is on. The windows should be coming in next week or soon after.

It was a bit alarming to find out that Hurd Windows, who we ordered from has filed for bankruptcy...they did send out a letter saying that it was a reorganization and not to worry that all orders would be shipped on time. Patty, from Builder Resources in Mobile has been really 'on the ball' about our window & door order.

The huge curved cornice blocks are all in place and grouted now. They look wonderful This photos is of the north side of the house. Of course, we are lacking some ornamental work that will go above the panels on all three sides. That is why the decorative concrete acid stain stops as it does.

Here you can see the full length of the house plus the guys up on top working to secure the cornice and prepare the rebar that will be embedded in the 'bond beam' the continuous run of concrete that will go all the way around the top of the house. All of this has to be inspected before we can pour the back fill concrete.

We are almost finished with the crane and I will be ready to sell it. You know you want it , after seeing on all these pages just how great it is !! Call me !!

The inspector came out today, Oct 3rd and we are good to go on our last pour with pumper truck tomorrow first thing in the morning. You can see how the top of the blocks is treated, the wood forms a channel form and there is lots of tied together rebar in the bond-beam run.

Now, I am not sure how they will keep the wet concrete up on top of this arch, seems like it will want to flow down (gravity)... so that will be interesting.

You can see how the big bolt tops are used to help wire the rebar all together. You can see the washers and nuts on the threaded rods that come out of the top of the cornice blocks.

Notice the sealant oozing out from under the wood on the exterior side of the cornice. This room will have a tall ceiling as you can tell from the man standing on the floor in front of the window on the right.

After much discussion of the best way to go about bending the rebar in an arch to go over the top of the curved cornice blocks, in the end they built a jig and just hand bent it.

This week the men cut the small pieces that wee needed to fill in the ends of the bow blocks. Most jobs would get bow blocks that were poured to the correct length but we used a lot of scavenged blocks that had originally been cast for other jobs. Our men cut ours at a 45 degree angle on the ends, per Ted Dial's instructions and then cut small moon shaped slivers and epoxied them into the mitered end.

On the south side the step placement is almost finished. Today the temporary steps on the North flight of stairs were removed and made ready for the placement of the DAC-ART cast steps.

I had told the guys to stack the steps up in a line, riser-up so that I could do a concrete acid stain design on the riser part before they were placed. But I was not there when all the steps were finally cut to size and next thing I knew they were already in place. I was not about to spend extra money to have them removed, so I will just have to figure out a way to get something special on them after the fact. I would love the look of my concrete tiles on them, but I do not know if the depth of space recessed behind the bull-nose toe of the step is large enough for the thickness of the tiles. Maybe I can figure out a way to slice or grind off some of the tile's thickness. I might do thin glass mosaic tiles on them. That would work just fine.

One of the gate posts has a recess that we have created on purpose. Mike has a wood box fitted into the opening so that tomorrow's back-fill pour will leave a space for me to do mosaics. Then I will have a colorful little niche for a jar of fresh flowers. Or an unusual statue or something. I'll probably do seasonal things in that niche.

Now with the form removed, I have a nice niche cavity in the driveway post. I will probably put some glass mosaic tiles in the inner part and place a jar of fresh flowers in the niche. We could always put a statuette in the cavity and make it a little shrine to WonderWoman or some national hero.

Today was the last concrete pump day. Thanks goodness. These pump trucks charge by the hour and have to drive a pretty good distance to get here. Plus it is messy. They have to clear out that long tube and you end up with splats of runny concrete on your property. Sometimes they clog up during your pour and you end up with extra splats of concrete which have to be dealt with later on.

We had an issue of not having quite enough concrete brought out. There was a call for more and the redi-mix managers came out for a pow-wow since they thought that they had sent out the correct amount that was called for and Dan thought maybe we had gotten shorted. Everyone was climbing ladders and measuring stuff. Turned out that we were the most at fault. Our cavities in the top blocks had not been calculated accurately.

crane repairs on outrigger above ground basement with fan after a big rain

The crane had problems and we had to disassemble one of the outriggers and have it repaired. This took several days.

We had a spell of rain, something like 8.5 inches of rain in one day and since the roof was not all the way on, we got water pretty much everywhere. Dan put a big strong fan down in the basement to blow the air up the staircase and dry things out down below.

Hurd Windows and Doors

We have gotten our Hurd windows and doors delivered. It was really hard to decide between Jeld-Wen and Hurd after we found out that we could not get the original windows we had planned to order from Weathershield. Both local dealers were a pleasure to work with and were very conscientious. Patty from Builder Resources in Mobile, AL was our Hurd rep and she went all out for us.

Our Hurd Windows and French doors arrived. They look great and arrived right on schedule. Our windows have one pane of impact glass which is laminated like the glass in a car windshield. We ordered the windows primed on the wood inside and aluminum clad in white on the outside. They are all casement windows which means they have hinges on the side and open out.

If I could have afforded it, I'd have liked to have had double casements like the guesthouse has. It would have been about twice as expensive to have doubles as it is like having 2 windows in every opening. Down here you want your windows and doors to open 'out' so the force of hurricane winds will keep them closed tight up against the building, not pushing them in, like inward opening would do.

The steps have been a very time consuming thing. The building code says that they must be with in one quarter inch on riser height from one step to the next. Not only did we have to cut each step down to size, we have had issues with getting consistent riser height. We are waiting until the steps are inspected to epoxy and grout them into place. We have at least one step that was cut to the wrong size, so we have to get an additional step from Dac-Art. But don't they look nice ?

In the photo at left you can see the small pieces of rebar that stick out from the step support system of CMUs. Each CMU has a hole drilled from above that goes into the horizontal hole that the rebar sits in. Epoxy gets squirted into the cavity from the hole above to hold the rebar in place. The rebar extends into the back of the step below and is epoxied into the back of it. These steps have taken a tremendous amount of time.

Concrete air conditioner pad

The rebar for the steps was cut into correct size pieces with this big saw that sat at the top of the steps on the landing.

Looking out the upper window on the west side. The A/C pad is now filled and has a slab on top. We didn't embed any metal posts to use to chain down the compressors so we will have to drill in and attach some eyebolts or something to use to secure the A/C compressors against high wind and theft. We just didn't have to worry about things like A/C theft until Hurricane Ivan. So many undesirables arrived afterwards, and now it is much worse since Katrina.