Building a new house and shop

Discussion in 'Workshop and Home Improvement' started by 1911, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. Rugy

    Rugy

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    Nice to see that you're at this stage. Must feel very rewarding.
    Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing the build.
     
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  2. 45Kevin

    45Kevin

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    You are documenting this process very well. Thank you.

    Do you have enough cash to start on the interior, or are you going to make us wait a while for that?
     
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  3. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Thank you (and everyone else) for reading along and making positive comments and suggestions.

    LOL, sorry but we probably won't start on the interior right away. The good news is, my business has picked up lately, I'm getting more work than I have in a long time, so as long as that holds out it should allow us to start moving forward again. The next step will be to frame-up the bottom of the window openings, and put in all the doors and windows to enclose it.
     
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  4. gunracer1

    gunracer1

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  5. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Yeah, those are just the latest GoogleEarth image, taken last October. Looks like all the domes except maybe the last two were poured by then.

    Congratulations on your land on Veal Station. We lived just off Veal Station, on Edward Farris Rd before we bought the current place.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
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  6. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    A lot of dirt work over the last several weeks, but nothing too dramatic to show for it. All the dirt that was piled on the hill above the house has been moved down, to finish filling in behind the house, to re-contour the hill itself (to something like its original shape/slope) or on top of the house. Here is a photo, taken from above the house and looking up to the re-contoured hill above it:


    I still want more material (dirt) on top of the house, another foot or two at least. We've pretty much run out of what we dug out of the hill, so we will have to dig some fresh stuff from the shooting range area or by the gas well pad.

    I'm happy with this stage of the progress anyway; it's looking less like a construction project and more like what I envisioned.

    I have 10 lbs. of native grass seed mix ready to plant on the hill and the top of the house, but by the time the top of the house is finished and ready to plant, I'm afraid it will be too late in the summer to plant successfully, so I will probably have to wait until the fall or maybe next spring. I'm also going to buy some native wildflower seed mix for it, but I wanted to get the grasses going first. Was hoping to get it established before the weeds took over. Maybe I will go ahead and plant the hill now and do the house later. I will also plant some oak trees on the hill, eventually. When the hill and top of the house get grown over with the various plants, the whole project will be pretty "stealth", even from the air.
     
  7. PAToyota

    PAToyota Keystone Cruisers SILVER Star

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    That's definitely an issue with an earth sheltered structure - not too much to show for it when it is done properly! ;)

    I'd definitely get something planted - at the least where the work is finished (hill) - or you're going to be fighting weeds for years to come. Maybe a cover crop of rye grass if that works in your area? Often, the "wanted" covers are easier to remove later than the weeds.
     
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  8. Living in the Past

    Living in the Past SILVER Star

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    I would also worry about erosion with no root system if you get heavy rain. I know in Northern Arizona after a forest fire there is a big concern for flooding with the monsoon season with no new growth yet. Hate to see your work get washed away before next spring.
     
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  9. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    For both of those reasons, I'll plant this year for sure. Been talking to the Oklahoma-based company that sold me the native grass seed mix; they say fall planting will work well, as long as I can get it in 60-90 days before the first frost. The average first frost here in this county is between November 12th and November 17th, so if I can get the seed down by September 1st, I should be good. But from now until then is our hottest/driest part of the year, and it would take constant watering several times a day to keep it alive I'm afraid. That will also give us some time to finish the dirt work on top of the house.

    I'm also going to plant some native tree species on the hill; Bur Oak, Mexican Plum, and Texas Mountain Laurel. All of these do well in the high pH soil that we have here. May go window-shopping for trees tomorrow (though again, I will not buy or plant them until the fall).
     
  10. Dunbar

    Dunbar SILVER Star

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    I love Texas Mountain Laurel. The fragrance is exceptional and they are pretty trees. Like the bluebonnet of trees.
     
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  11. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    I planted several at my last place. They grew very slowly and most of them died, but I think the soil was too sandy there. We have a lot more clay here, and the high pH soil that they're supposed to love, so I'm going to try again.
     
  12. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    The dirt contractor has been on vacation and working other jobs, so no progress on finishing the work over the top of the house. It's almost done, but I want another foot or two of soil over the crest, all along the length of the house.

    A week ago today, we were at a wedding reception 30 miles away, and received a phone call from a neighbor - a wildfire had started nearby and the wind was blowing it straight towards our place! We weren't worried about our house, and not even much about our shop and apartment (since it's a metal building), but it's pretty nerve-wracking driving in Fort Worth traffic, wishing you could get home RIGHT NOW. We did start making a list of what we should take out of the apartment, if we could get there in time. We can see the cloud of smoke from miles away. When we finally get to the road that our gate is located on, of course it's blocked off and full of fire-fighting equipment from three or four different nearby fire departments.

    The neighbor that called us had managed to get in our gate before access was blocked. He went down to check on the shop/apartment, but the smoke was so bad he couldn't stay down there. When we finally got through the equipment on the road (we found out that Mrs. 1911's 2WD Lexus RX will drive in borrow ditches) and made it to our place, the neighbor was waiting for us up top near the shooting range. Here is a cell phone pic that doesn't do it justice:

    You can see the berm we shoot into in the middle of the picture. My property line is in the trees above that (where the smoke is). They stopped the fire just short of our line! There was a hot spot there that flared up again several times over the next few days, but the guy that is developing the acreage to the south of us for house lots kept a water truck there and kept putting it out again.

    The air has smelled like smoke for a week, but we dodged a bullet that time. Even though the fire couldn't have hurt our house, we would have been sad to lose any trees.

    Turns out that the fire was started by a neighbor (three places to the south) that was welding on a gate / cattle guard. It's been pretty dry around here lately, and there has been a burn ban in place. You just can't be too careful when it's that dry. The county to the west of us has had a big fire going for a week that has burned 4,500 acres and is only 55% contained.

    Meanwhile, in happier news, the native grass seed mix that I planted on the hill above the house is starting to come up. I watered it twice a day for week, before anything germinated/sprouted at all, but five days after I noticed the first tiny sprouts, it is definitely coming up:

    It grows very slowly, but that is OK since it is hardy, native species, and adapted to our alkali and rocky soil. I've reduced watering to only once a day, and it is doing fine. There is a chance of rain forecast almost every day for the next week so that would definitely help.
     
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  13. Ol Yeller

    Ol Yeller

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    Glad to hear you came through untouched.
     
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  14. PAToyota

    PAToyota Keystone Cruisers SILVER Star

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    Wow! That would give me some serious indigestion!
     
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  15. ferg

    ferg

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    Anything new to hear about?
     
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  16. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Well, here is how it sits at the moment: the dirt contractor has moved all the available (and then some) excavated dirt back on top of the house. It's not as deep as I would like, but it's probably enough. Hard to know exactly how deep it is, but probably 3-4' over the apex of the domes, and 7-8' deep in the valleys between domes. We could fit more up there (if we had it) by rounding out the slopes from the crest down to the parapet wall. I could also build a retaining wall over the top of the front load-bearing wall out of excavated and other native limestone slabs, and then fill in behind that. But right now, the dirt work has already gone over budget, and we want to move on with more work on the house proper. So, I am going to go ahead and plant the native grass seed mix on top of the house, and proceed (as we can afford) with the house. If it doesn't end up as cool as we wanted inside the house, or I just feel like it later, I may build the retaining wall myself, one stone/slab at a time with my tractor.

    I will try and take a photo from the top of the house next time I'm up there. The grass is coming up pretty nicely (though not evenly) on the hill above the house. I am down to only watering once every two days, and I'm pretty sure I can cut that back further but with our temps above 100 every day, I don't want it to die before it can establish good roots.
     
  17. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Here is what the top of the buried house looks like, though the perspective of the (phone) camera lens doesn't really do it justice:


    To get an idea of how much soil is up there, here a couple of (previously posted) photos from before burial.
    The middle row of (all black) concrete columns is now completely buried, and the back row are sticking up maybe 2'? For reference, the back row columns are 7-8' high.


    And a photo of the native grasses I planted on the hill, growing well (as long as I water them in this triple-digit heat):


    I will plant the top of the house tomorrow, if it isn't windy.
     
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  18. mdsims

    mdsims

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    How’s the last month been for you?
     
  19. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Not very exciting (other than minor throat surgery), but here is what's going on: the native grass I planted is coming in pretty good on the re-contoured hill above the house:


    Compare this with the last photo I posted above.

    I also got the same native seed mix planted on top of the house, and it's coming up, though not as fast as it did on the hill:


    But the main thing that's been consuming my time and money lately, is working on getting a fence up between my property and the one to the south. My 92 acres are exactly half of an 184-acre tract that some direct descendants of the original homesteading family had. When they died, their two children inherited, so they split it down the middle, but it was never fenced between them. I looked at both halves, and bought what I thought was the better half. I was hoping that the other half wouldn't sell, and that in another 5 years or so I could buy that half too - but it was not to be. Unfortunately, a developer bought the other half, and is carving it up into 2-acre lots. They are already building the first 2-3 houses there, so it is time to put up a fence. So I'm having to clear and have surveyed 3,200' of fence line, through very heavy trees and several steep hills. The developer is sharing most of the costs with me, but it's still expensive, and money I can't use towards the house. I knew it was coming eventually.

    The only good news about all this is, our home site is still private and can't be seen from the new development. But we will see the new houses every time we drive in or out.
     
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  20. mdsims

    mdsims

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    Unfortunate but glad you’re optimistic about it and see the inevitability of it all. Also glad to hear you’ll still have some seclusion. Grow grass grow!
     
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