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

First Course of Blocks

Third week of September, 2007

Link-Belt Crane fully extended boom, cherry picker

Our Link-Belt crane with a fully extended boom. The crane sits on its fully extended outrigger legs instead of the tires when it is lifting and placing the concrete blocks. Note: The guys have since added the swing around jig extension to add an additional 20 or so feet.

first DAC-ART block set on basement slab

The first block set on the line of water seal sticky stuff (I'll get exact name) to which another layer of some sort of vinyl attaches to it and goes up inside the block.

Corner concrete construction block

You can see clearly the opening cut into the side wall of this corner DAC-ART block that will allow the concrete backfill to flow continuously thru the rows of blocks.

It would seem like the thing to do would be to paint the stuff where the block rests and let the weight of the block contribute to the seal, but all the blocks have to be nudged this way and that after they are lowered down by the crane and unhooked. It is important to be able to shim the blocks where necessary to keep the whole building in 'square' and if they went down on any sticky stuff, they couldn't be nudged anywhere.

Beginnings of the first course of dry stack blocks
first course of DACART blocks

The lift handles will fit inside of the openings in the next row of blocks.

first course of man made stone blocks
Corner cut in first row block Don cutting a opening in a corner block

Since we are using blocks that were originally poured for a different house, we are having to cut openings in the ends of corner blocks. If the blocks had been poured especially for this project, as is the norm, the corner blocks would have been made with the correct openings and labeled with the exact location. Mike of New Stone Age Builders is trying real hard to chose blocks for the layout that create a pleasing and strong pattern of block sizes. This home is a bit of a jig saw puzzle project. We are trying to make the best use of blocks that were poured for a house that was not built.  The plywood pattern you can see is used to locate the cuts in the corner blocks in just the right spot.

Wood pallets under the blocks getting cut            cherry picker crane placing dry stack block

The block guys are keeping the blocks that they are cutting on old wood pallets to try to keep them clean and not let them pick up a layer of grass and dirt on the bottom-side.

Ryan and Don use hand signals and a walkie-talkie to communicate with Mike in the cab of the crane.

above ground basement floor w/ concrete acid stain design

This slab is the floor of the above ground basement. It will not have windows, but will have some vents located up high in the wall. We have been looking at louvered vents available from different companies. I have found one online that we might be able to use (6 of) from Renovator's Supply but it is impossible to get in touch with them to inquire about specific construction materials and details. I have tried everything, calling, emailing (no reply), looking for alternate numbers... you get put on hold after a voice loop and then the phone goes dead ! Great customer service... not.

garage door opening blocks

The garage front wall facing the street has an inset on either side. The opening is 12 feet. The slab for the garage is not poured yet. It will be poured after the first course of blocks is in place and backfilled.

cut block used in special size location

Mike and his crew have sawed some blocks to size to use what we have and keep us from having to have special sized new blocks poured.

Missing footing under the conctete blocks. Foundation was poured to wrong size here.

Here you see in instance of bad planning. You just cant spend too much time going over your plans to see if everything, coming from every person involved, is in alignment. We have had two foundation boo-boos. The first was due to the concrete contractor mis-reading the plans and pouring one area of the footing too short. He came back and added the necessary extra depth as seen where the seam line is right along the painted on black line in the photo above. Then when the measurements were being made to set the first blocks, it was discovered that the engineer's drawings had an error. One one side where the garage joins the remainder of the building, a DAC-ART wall runs across inside the house forming an interior wall. On one side the engineer drew the footing plans measured from the center of the block and on the other side from the edge of the block. So Scott, the concrete man poured the footing as drawn. We now have to go back and dig under and pour footing under this row of blocks so that the blocks have something to sit on and support that wall. None of us are freaking out about it. Stuff happens. But it would be worse if we were renting a crane, and every extra day cost us money, but since we bought it, that pressure is off.

Meanwhile we have been talking to the different window suppliers, getting prices, etc... we have to make window and door decisions soon.

Nice little video of a DAC-ART Block being set ...1 minute, 23 seconds.

chopped garlic for bug spray repelent

In the fall we have a period usually where these black flying bugs called 'LoveBugs' are everywhere. They don't bite but when you drive thru thick swarms of them, they really stick to the car and if they dry on there, they are really hard to remove. My car is permanently stained in front because I don't wash the outside of it but about once a year...if that. This past week the temp dropped and so did the breeze. So in addition to the fall LoveBugs (scientific name Plecia nearctica) flurry, we had these biting flies that look like houseflies but they land on you and bite. They hurt. they don't leave a bump or itch afterwards, but they hurt and drive you crazy. it is the same flies that breed in seaweed like we have after a big storm and it is piled up on shore. Anyway, the biting flies were awful a couple of days. I got some chopped garlic out of the freezer, pulverized some in the blender with water and strained it into a hose-end sprayer and sprayed down the whole area where we are building. The men thought it really helped.

I had bought some kind of Safe Yard Guard Repellant hose-end spray in the past when Yellow Flies were around in the spring and low-and-behold, all it was , was garlic juice. Gives a nice 'Italian Restaurant' aroma to the area.