Tag Archives: concrete

Patio Stairs

Once we had our patio and the rock wall completed, we needed, ummmm, stairs.  That first one was a doozy!

We were still working on the edging, so the tile saw and other assorted construction items were our patio accessories.  Pretty, hey?

We used the plate compactor we rented for the patio to also compact the sand base for the stairs.

Then we filled the form up with gravel.  We built the forms in an unusual way.  We “built” a mock step out of patio stones that was the size we wanted, and then we built the form around that.  We repeated that step 5 times and then stacked the forms on top of each other.  Not exactly standard procedure I realize, but, hey, the numbers all worked out with the rise we had, and we were flexible for the run.  The most important parts of the stairs for us were the depth and rise.  We wanted something that could be easily shoveled off in winter and that was easy and natural feeling to walk up and down.

Ah yes, our old friends the hand tamper and shovels.

Then we covered the top of the packed gravel with cement and let that set up (after we let our son draw on the bottom one, of course).  You can see all of the pavers set up below.  It took a lot of them to cover the tops and fronts of the stairs.

Then it was time to put the paver stones on top.  We mixed up a bagged mortar specifically for this and went to work.  You can see it got quite late and we ended up using the truck headlights for a while.

We didn’t even stop to eat.  Except for pie right out of the plate and licorice.  I guess that glass of milk was healthy…

And finally all finished.

Can I just say that I love the front of our house now?  That we worked like mad demons all summer to get it all done and that I am thrilled with the results?  That I am so glad all the heavy lifting is over?

I am off to do some DIY/ crafts around here that involve soft textures and edges.  Ones that don’t require dollies or gloves or weeks and months of backbreaking labour to do.  But I can’t wait for the snow to melt in the spring so I can hang out on the patio and stairs!

The House Part III

In case you have been missing out on the house building saga, you can catch up here and here.  A little bit of hitting-water-while-digging-the-basement-disaster, and then some start over and get started for real the next summer.

We are finally on our way!

After the land was prepared and the forms built and concrete poured for the foundation, it was time to start with some walls.

As you can see, we decided to build using concrete forms.  They consist of the styrofoam blocks that are stacked, joined together with rebar inside, and finally, filled with concrete to form very, very thick walls.  The styrofoam is amazing.  It sat in our yard over the summer until we were ready to start, and, even on the hottest days in full sun, it would feel cool to the touch.  When it got cold, the styrofoam felt warm.  It is an amazing insulator, and these walls give you the best insulating factor for your home.

They used the braces to keep everything together until the concrete gets poured.  The blocks go up quickly, but it is a lot of rebar to cut and bend.

Kind of like giant Lego, hey?

We then had to build the joists for the first floor after the first pour of concrete was put in for our crawlspace.

The hole is for the crawl space steps where the furnace room will be.  The back without subfloor is the golf room where, one day, we hope to put a golf simulator (my husband is crazy for golf and, let’s be honest, our season isn’t very long here) and on the right is the garage.

Here you can see the first floor up with the windows and doors.  That’s one thing with using the concrete forms- you realllllly have to be sure where your windows are going.  Ten inches of concrete is not going to be easy to get through, or fill, if you change your mind. See the snow on the ground while there are still leaves on the trees?  Welcome to September!  Another great thing about the forms is that it doesn’t matter if they get wet.

Here’s the inside view with all of the supports.

Next week, the second floor makes an appearance, as does the roof.

Our New Home- Getting Started (Finally!)

Last week, I told you about our first attempt at building a new house.  The plans were hard fought over, compromises made, paperwork filed (and filed and filed) and the equipment finally showed up one fine summer day to start digging our basement.  Remember what happened?


So…we carried on (after a little breakdown/ meltdown on my part).  Decided on a new plan without basement, had the plans drawn up by our contractor, and had the land reinforced with gravel and strengthening fabric (I know- seems weird, right?).  The next summer, we were ready to try again.

Here they are packing all of the gravel down.  Our 10 year old running the packer.  Yeah.  That’s when they start running heavy machinery in these parts.

Seriously, the thing only went 2 miles an hour, and he was buckled in!

Break time!  Probably waiting for a root beer….

After the site was fully prepped, the work began on the actual house.  Which, apparently, first involved moving out a lot of junky holiday and equipment trailers (not to mention the port a potty).  Our beautiful site went from pristine to junkyard in no time at all.

Then we built forms for the concrete footings.

And then the concrete trucks showed up to fill the forms.

Please take note of the holiday trailer on the right (which affectionately became known as “The Scamper”) and the porta potty on the left.  My dad and I are out there watching them.  So exciting!  Our poor contractors- since we already lived across the yard from the house site- we were there quite a bit.  We couldn’t help it!


Our boy helping.  His job was to bang on the edges of the forms to get air out of the concrete before the top was troweled smooth.

We used ICF to build our house (the styrofoam blocks that are filled with rebar and concrete) so the concrete trucks will most definitely be back.

Stay tuned for more house building Thursdays!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers

%d bloggers like this: