(Updated 1-12-2007)

Building Parapet Walls, Placing MPR Panels, Placing Parapet Panels & Pex Tubing

Well, it's been over 10 months and a huge amount of work again has been completed! We actually are further along than the photos show, but we wanted to continue the construction in proper sequence for those of you asking about the next steps.

Since the scaffolding was all up, we were ready to start on the upper parapet wall ICF forms and the Insuldeck forms. Moving and placing the lightweight Insuldeck forms was tricky because we're now 14 feet high and the wind blows more. We have to always make sure the remaining panels are tied down as we work.

We had three main challenges for this 2nd floor deck: hoisting up 12,000 lbs of #'s 7, 6, 5, and 4 rebar 20 feet long, devising a jig to tie the shear ties to the main rebar, and figuring out a method to tie the 7/8" pex tubing down (for the second floor heated area) underneath all the rebar! We finally succeeded as the photos show. but boy was that tough! Tying the long shear ties in the parapet wall was also very difficult. But all had to be done according to specs or our roof would collapse from the earth load. So we took our time.

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Climbing Stairs

Placing Wall perimeter Rebar, Finish 12" Walls & Tie Rebar, Install Chase Forms,  Finish 6" NE 2nd Flr walls, Deck Rebar and Verify Half Bath, Deck Pour

All this took a lot of time. Leah and I developed a lot of strength in lifting all the rebar, placing it, and tying it. Alignment of the bars was critical, especially in the bottom of the webs. The stair and kitchen opening chases took some thought too as we had to be able to take the forms out after the deck pouring! There's just a lot of rebar up there! We took many pictures to help us remember where things were located. It's easy to forget once the concrete's down.

Finally all the rebar was tied and all the forms were braced and ready for the deck pour. That day we poured about 92 yards and had 10 people working. (See video below photos) It was both an exciting and very tense time as vibrating all the webs and parapet walls had to be done so the concrete consolidated around the bottom No 7 bars. Leah watched the pressure gauge on the pex tubing and I made sure all the webs were vibrated. It was fast and furious, but the guys did an absolutely beautiful job! The stair opening section proved that the concrete did consolidate well around the bottom web rebar. We were thrilled and very thankful.

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Deck Pour

Building 2nd Floor Walls & Porch, Take Down Shoring, Pour 2nd Floor Walls & Porch

Once the 2nd floor deck was poured, we started right in on the 2nd floor 6" ICF walls. Leah and I were getting a little faster building with the ICF forms so we got it done in about 2 weeks, including a marathon 26 hour straight work session leading right into the concrete pour of 3.5 hours! Whew!! While we waited for the concrete test cylinders of the deck pour to harden for strength testing, we continued building.

We took time to dig a back porch footer and set up courses of ICF block for that. We tested some of the concrete test cylinders at 14 days after the deck pour and found that the psi strength was two times stronger than what we needed! So we then scheduled the shoring to be taken down. That was really remarkable. . . what had taken Leah and I and a few other helpers about 3 months to put up. . . was taken down by a crew of 10 in 3.5 hours!! Unbelievable! But it was great to have all the space open again on the 1st floor.

We finally poured the 2nd floor and porch and all other tops of wingwalls that tied to other walls and was really glad to see that done. That was our 7th pour over two years. Solterra was taking shape!

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2nd Floor & Wingwall Pour

Lumber & Truss Delivery, Set Truss Plates & Garage Rafters, Dig Main Drainage Trench, Test Cylinders, Set Trusses, Build Dormer & Observatory, Deliver Shingles, Deliver Rocks, and Install Windows/Doors

Once the 2nd floor walls had cured, it was time for some lumber! Trusses and lumber for garage joists and rafters were delivered. We hired truss, rafter, and sheathing placement out because it would be done a whole lot faster than we could do it! (Sometimes it's better to sub out the big jobs . . .much less stress.)

While the truss and garage plates were being set, we dug the main drainage trench. Flexible tile would be placed in the trench so that all water coming off the roof deck would drain to a catch basin we dug inline with a field tile main. All sump water would be pumped up and over the deck to this trench drain as well.

We tested the remaining deck pour concrete cylinders after 34 days to see what the final strength would be close to and were surprised that they were now almost 3x stronger than what was needed! Thanks to Kuhlman Concrete for great consistent mixes and our super placement crew headed by Peter Lucio.

The trusses were set with a crane and the long garage roof joists and rafters were installed with the 3/4" plywood used for deck shoring recycled for roof sheathing. That worked great and saved a ton of money. The unique observatory walls over the garage was completed as well, ready for the later installation of a 6 ft diameter fiberglass dome. Pretty neat.

We were thrilled to see the windows and doors placed (we subbed that out as well. . . again much quicker) and the shingles delivered to the roof area, ready to be installed. Solterra was looking just like the design called for and we were very proud. Check back for the next update. (It should be MUCH faster than this one.)

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