Construction photos: week 5 (grayblock below grade)

More than a dozen pallets of greyblock are now positioned on the site to be placed on the footings and create the basin into which the concrete slab will be poured.

Pallets of grayblock

You can tell how far up the grayblock needs to go: the wood framing on the far side of the site shows where the finished floor elevation will be. We’ll use architectural block for the course that brings us to that level (and then to where people can see it), but grayblock all the way down. As you can see, there’s quite a number of courses to reach that point, which looks like “up” right now, but will seem “down” when the slab is poured and ultimately the dirt, which is also in the background, is replaced. Here you can see how “high” (or “deep”) we’ll be going:

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Construction photos: week 3 (footings)

With everything looking good, Week 3 started to show real progress. In the first half of the week, trenches for the footings were dug. Here is the amazing backhoe that did that work:
Backhoe
Why do I say “amazing”? Because the hydraulic backhoe was a revolutionary piece of machinery that made it economical to do constructions such as this one. As Clayton Christensen explains in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma the hydraulic backhoe was a product without a market when it was introduced in the 1940s. Cable-actuated steam shovels moved many cubic yards of earth with each scoop, whereas the first hydraulic backhoes could move only 1/4 cu yd of earth. When it came to digging the foundations of houses, or better yet, major buildings, or whole mountaintops, steam shovels were king. But when it came to digging trenches, their jaw were too wide to do the job. The lowly hydraulic backhoe was just the thing for digging trenches—much easier than doing it by hand. And today, that innovative technology is proving its value to this project.

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Construction photos: week 2 (grading)

After the “first scrape” cleared out the surface material and verified that the dirt was good, the grading team set out to really find the best “finished floor elevation”. From the start, the vision for the building was to integrate it with the land. The topography of the location helped to dictate the size of the buildings, and also their shapes: hilltops are rarely square! Here are some photos showing the ground after “cutting in” as planned.

We’ll start with a tour of the site from the perimeter, starting at the garage entrance:

Garage Entrance.

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Construction photos: week 1 (scraping)

After more than a year of planning, pleading, plotting, and praying, actual construction has begun! Here a photos showing the land just before and just after the first actual site work.

Let’s start the tour! These first two views are taken from near our lily pond (actually a rain garden that saves roof runoff). The first picture shows what it looks like in early summer, the second shows the disturbed area now under construction:

Studio area this summer View of studio area from lily pond

Next, we’ll see the before and after photos of the driveway:

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