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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


Meeting with Subcontractors

dan zehentner and subcontractors with plans

June 27, 2007

Yesterday my builder, Dan met with Mike and Ryan, the block stackers of New Stone Age Builders, here for about an hour. They discussed the trucking necessary to get my blocks from Granada, MS to here and when to begin it. We also discussed what equipment will be best for the block stacking job and the different options to consider - buy, rent, or lease...

The next day the concrete subcontractor, Scott, who did the foundation, slab and block back-fill work on the Phase I part of this job is meeting here with Dan at 10 a.m.

Tree removal for foundation track hoe holding large tree in the air
Big D Construction Company, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach , Alabama

Big "D" Construction showed up with equipment operator, Dustin Wilson and Matthew Sherman. Unfortunately, the few trees that had not died from hurricane related injury were located exactly where the house needs to go. Because the roots would be under the foundation, all the large and most of the small ones were removed. Dustin is really, really good at what he does. He operated that huge machine as if it was a ballet. He took great care to stay off of any area that wasn't absolutely necessary. They worked all day Saturday July 7th and all that was left was a big pile of trunks and pine needles.

Dustin Wilson of Big D Construction

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Big "D" crew was back and dump trucks came and went with the debris from the trees. They scraped the layer of dense St. Augustine grass off too... watching that made me sad ! It is just too hot and dry to try to transplant any of it right now.

The machine called a Lull was delivered today. It is here to unload the blocks as they arrive from Grenada, Mississippi.

Mike is up in Granada with a Lull there also to load the flatbed trucks with the blocks.

Mike called and said that there had been a big rain there yesterday and the trucks couldn't get very close to the blocks. He commented that it might take longer than anticipated to load them. He had planned to load and send out two trucks a day.

Builder Dan Zehentner and his son, Joe measured out the area to be scraped. The survey markers had gotten removed during tree removal.

July 10, 2007

Blocks are getting loaded onto the trucks in Granada, not sure when first truckload will arrive.

Joe Zehentner working with his dad.

Meanwhile, Dan Zehentner and his son, Joe did some elevation measuring yesterday. Dan picked up plans for the electrician, Michael Bates that he will be meeting with soon. Michael did the electrical work on Phase I of Villa Lagoon.

Dan is very pleased with the height of the property in terns of what is required to be over mean high tide level and the new code.

There is discussion going on between Dan (builder), Anil (engineer), Ted (manufacturer), Scott (concrete) and Mike (block-stacker) as to best way to handle the position / elevation of the slab. As drawn, part of the basement slab would be under ground level and in this sandy soil with a very high water table, that might not be a good idea. Hopefully, after everyone ponders the options, a conclusion will be reached soon.

The grass is all removed and everything is ready for the foundation work to begin. I had them leave me a small pile of dirt to fill in some eroded spots in the yard near the water.

Sunny, Sunny, sunny...

No trees now to provide shade in the afternoons ! But the track hoe operator was very careful not to disturb the bamboo I have planted along the fence line, so one of these days, the new house will shade the small one and the bamboo will shade the big house in the afternoon.

July 11, 2007

The report from Granada is rain and a slow-down. My blocks are out in a field and it is now muddy. Dan OK'd a second piece of equipment to load the blocks up there. We have two men up in Granada. We sure could use some of that rain down here instead.

Dan and I discussed the location of the outside air conditioning unit today. Also discussed using Smart Vents in the upper parts of the basements walls. I will be meeting with Garrett Tirpak with Smart Vent, Inc this next week. This is an innovative new product designed specifically for projects like mine. A bimetal coil (like a thermostat, no electricity is needed) automatically opens and closes the ventilation louvers as temperature changes. They will be closed when it is freezing outside and open when it is warm outside to provide natural ventilation. More on that later.

Yesterday I got a full set of plans to Island Air Heating & Air Conditioning Specialists,  a local Trane Dealer. John Burkhardt with Island Air wants to partner with us in the Villa Lagoon project.  Should hear back from them next week.

Gulf Shores Blueprint Shop--AESC Melody Davis of AESC looking at house plans

We have had our plans reproduced at a great little shop on Highway 59 in Gulf Shores, just up the road a bit. Manager, Melody Davis is so cheerful and efficient that you leave there with a smile on your face. AESC also sells all sorts of safety equipment in addition to making large size copies and house plan reproductions. Once she has your files in her computer, you can pick up the phone or email to request additional prints... the whole set or just individual pages. The shop name, AESC stands for Architects, Engineers, Surveyors, and Contractors.

Note: Oops ! Now out of Business in this location, as of 2008.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The surveyors are back out here, Seems there was an error in the previous elevation figures. It will make a lot of difference as to what is required or allowed / not allowed in terms of flood zone construction.

Our first load of blocks from Mississippi arrived last night. We had tornado warnings and came over to unplug the computers. While here the truck pulled in. Mike and his son had portable lights set up to help them see what they are doing. A second piece of equipment has been delivered in Grenada to help load the trucks. Two trucks are suppose to arrive tonight and get unloaded tomorrow morning. Photos coming.