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Now it’s just a regular house

31 August 2009 in Meriden

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Now it's up

Now it's touching

Now it's down.

This morning the house was gently lowered down the last inch and a half.  Now it just a house that happens to have a painted upstairs.  No more big steel beams holding  up the house and with potential space underneath.  There is a framed first story and half a stairwell open to the upstairs.  The house lined up perfectly with the  lower story.  Not really that hard since we built the first story off plumb lines from the original house in the air.

Big beam on bottom, new. Two little beams with bolts on top, old.

Big beam on bottom, new. Two little beams with bolts on top, old.

Once the house was down we moved on to getting the 40′, 2200 lb I-beams out.  Unfortunately, we had to cut them in half because of the proximity of the neighboring houses.  This does make them much more manageable for my yard art project they are destined for.  Just as that was finished without setting the house on fire, the crane arrived.  I love the crane.  Even with the beams cut in half they were a hand-full.  With a good crane operator and a sling, we had them on the ground in a stack in nothing flat.

Too bad we couldn't ride on them.

Too bad we couldn't ride on them.

Now we can finally add some closets to the original house (the upstairs now) with it sitting in its rightful place.  There is framing to finish and a swing-set for my car to build with the leftover beams.  Oh, and all the finishes to pick out.  That will be some fun.  No honestly, it will.  Almost like picking up a house 15′ in the air.

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Green walls

30 August 2009 in Meriden

First floor with Zip wall sheathing

First floor with Zip wall sheathing

Back side without the lower roof

Back side without the lower roof

So I ended Friday with the sheathing on the house and the trusses and beams set.  Almost everything ready for the lowering of the old house onto the new frame and then joining them together with a magical spell.  Or nails and wood.  Two of my kids came with me on Saturday to help clean up while I checked everything and made one temporary post to help put the last piece of steel in after the house is down.  They made a pretty big dent in the trash but it still looks like three days of frantic framing with no dumpster on site to catch the waste.

Monday morning should bring the last big spectacle for this house.  After the lowering and removal of the lifting beams and crib stacks, it will just look like another remodel.  Except that the upstairs is painted and finished looking from the outside but maybe passers-by will just think I’m an eccentric, out of order builder.

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Concrete and some vertical wood

27 August 2009 in Meriden

Tuesday there were finally all the concrete piers in place and the back yard looked like a mini lumber yard.  Wednesday the framers showed up and in a day the floor was framed and by the end of Thursday there were perimeter walls.  All it took was two days, six good framers, me standing around in the way answering questions, and about 12,000 nails.  It is great to see the space and I am happy with the layout and size of the rooms.  Monday the movers are coming to lower the house to make contact with the first floor frame so I should have the beams in place and sheathing on by the end of Friday.  Wish me luck.  And stop the rain.  What is it about me taking a roof off or starting to frame that can break any drought.  The last two nights we have had thunderstorms.  Couldn’t it have waited just one more week?

Piers and lumber ready for some labor

Piers and lumber ready for some labor

Almost done with the floor joists

Almost done with the floor joists

Walls in front. Now the house does not look so high.

Walls in front. Now the house does not look so high.

Back walls and less lumber.

Back walls and less lumber.

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Friday is the new Monday

21 August 2009 in Meriden

Sometimes the construction industry is not my favorite field.  There were some beautiful holes, dug yesterday, just waiting to be filled with concrete and topped with a Sonotube or pilaster blocks for the corners.  They only had to be dug about 2 1/2′ deep because that is where we hit solid limestone. (see the picture below)  The strings were up and triple checked, steel was tied, and I got to have lunch at home with the family.  Then the concrete crew didn’t show up.  Something about being robbed, but maybe one of their brothers did it.  Why is the story for not showing up for work on Friday never simple?  That left the foundation company owner and one helper.  It would make a long day for them but it was still possible.  Then the concrete truck shows up, late, and says that the other truck broke down, or the pump broke, or some other calamity that means 5 yards is all that is going to show up today.  Sorry for your concrete luck.  They pour what they can and make assurances that it will be done on Monday while I reschedule material deliveries and framers around the delay.  I always used to marvel when clients would ask me about some delay and not understand why I, the boss of the job, could not fix it, immediately.  Well here I am, owner, boss, and liked in the industry and the same crap happens to me.

The only other bright spot in the day besides my lunch happened at midnight this morning.  The same company that did the lift on my house moved the house across the street out and off to a new home in East Austin.  My wife and kids and I all stayed up late to see it move into the street and start its journey.  It really cool to see something that big, and this was a very small house, move slowly off the lot and then take up the whole street.  Flashing lights, police escorts on motorcycles, and everybody talking on walkie-talkies; the kids loved it.  The only way it could have been better was if they got to ride on the front porch as it went down the road.

Now that was some fun diggin'

Now that was some fun diggin'

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Digging your new braces

18 August 2009 in Meriden

The house did not fall down overnight.  I did not really think it would but sometimes I am very unlucky with houses, usually involving rain.  We had already poured some piers previously and today the house got tied to them with diagonal braces in several directions.  If the house starts to move nothing will keep it up but I can stop it from starting to move.  The foundation guys also started today excavation for the 32 piers I need.  Lots of rocks and jackhammering.  Luckily we only have to go down about 4′ to hit limestone.

The house movers took their equipment and moved across the street to start prepping that house for a little ride.  I felt like my ex-girlfriend was dating my best friend.  I was excited to see them over there but then I had to remember they had moved on to other things and that wasn’t my house they were on anymore.  I tried to keep my distance so as not to fall for them again.

As I drove away today and took one look back to see the little yellow house perched up on its temporary legs, I had one last thought.  “Damn, I left the door open.”

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house braces and pier holes

house braces and pier holes

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It’s up and away

17 August 2009 in Meriden

Finally.  The house is up.  Way up.  15′ in the air up.  In a short eight hours it went from an ” oh would you look at that”  height to an “Oh My God! Look at That!” level.

It went up smoothly without too many strange noises from the beams.  It is leveled off and now ready for some piers to start tomorrow.  It will also get some lateral bracing to hold it in place.  It was also nice to hear from some neighbors, some who have seen the house for 30 years sitting there, that they approved of the lift.  They are glad the house is staying in the neighborhood, unlike the one across the street that will be moved to East Austin.

Now the  real anxiety part starts for me with the foundation and framing stage, all under the hovering house.  Hopefully we will have calm winds and dry conditions.  Come on La Nina, or El Nino, which ever one sends the rain and crazy weather somewhere else.

cribbing it higher

cribbing it higher

All the way up in the sunset

All the way up in the sunset

New porch view

New porch view

Me with a couple of cute kids checking out the view and making their mother nervous.

Me with a couple of cute kids checking out the view and making their mother nervous.

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Over and a little more up

14 August 2009 in Meriden

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We got the house moved over to the 5′ setback line today.  It is also sitting about 4′ off the ground now on some temporary crib stacks.  Everything went pretty smooth with the slide and the three I-beams holding the house only deflected slightly.  I will have some video of the slide over as soon as I get it spliced together and loaded.  Finally, it looks like Monday will be the big lift day.  Come check it out.

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Almost up

13 August 2009 in Meriden

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One of the jacks failed today and it was lucky I was there.  18,000 pounds is a little higher then my usual dead lift but still below my max so I didn’t hurt myself.

Today we saw the house go up a foot and a half but all the beams did their jobs and everything looks very straight.  Tomorrow it moves up into the sky.

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Lifting material arrives

12 August 2009 in Meriden

wet steel and cribbing

wet steel and cribbing

Well the house did not go up yet but all the parts are on site.  I can only hope that tomorrow,  the wish of all builders comes true and it does not rain any more, ever.  Just kidding.  Ok, not really kidding.  The house will get slid over 5′ to the setback line and then “start to go north”, as they say.  Without any more delays it should be in the air on Friday.  Hopefully there will be exciting pictures to post Thursday.  Come on by if you’re in town.

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First Post

27 July 2009 in Meriden

This is the first post in what I hope will be frequent updates about Square House Building’s first house lift.  As of today, the starting blocks are in place.  We have a permit, (I’ll cover how much time and fun that was at the City later) the house is disconnected from everything and cleaned out, the steel channel that stiffens the shaker beams are bolted in place, and the whole thing now sits on the three 12″ I-beams that are going to lift the house to a second story level.  Also, the house is painted with the color choices made by my artistic, furniture making wife, Sheri.  We are scheduled to start the house lift on August 10th.  Make sure to stop by and see it rise.

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All materials copyright 2009 Square House Building. Web Site by Websy Daisy.