Building a hybrid home, combining natural building materials and practices with green, high-tech materials and practices can make for some very full days on the building site.  The pace seems to be picking up, which is a challenge when the temperature tops out above 100 degrees, as it has done all too often lately.

I am told that Mondays are usually a bit hectic on a building site as the week gets set in motion, but this Monday was something else.

At one point, Full Spectrum Solar was installing pipes, Pella was delivering windows and our rock retaining wall was being assembled.

We arrived with a list of topics to discuss with Bryan Dalstrom, our intrepid construction manager.

  • The list included double checking to make sure all the window openings were built to the right size.
  • The wood stove we’ve selected.

    And making sure that the flue for the wood-burning stove will go through the roof in the right spot.  We had hoped it could go straight up and out, which would make the flue easier to clean, but it looks like it’s going to have to make two 45 degree bends to go through the roof between  the rafters.

We were also scheduled to spend the day working with Tom Walczak, who is building the rock retaining walls around the house as he used a front loader to position the massive boulders into walls and raise the ground level up to floor level, which will make life much easier when we start making the straw bale walls on Wednesday.

Doug and Andy agree that the pipes look a lot like the white timbers next to them.

Also, Andy DeRocher and Mark O’Neal from Full Spectrum Solar (see my post Clark Kent Floor Turns into Superman When It Flexes Its PEX ) were busy installing the intake and exhaust pipes for the boiler that will work to supplement  the heat collected in the solar panels, feeding the hot water tank for the in-floor heating system in the basement.

In the afternoon 19 of our 20 windows and doors were delivered from Pella and stacked on wooden runners in the basement.  Bryan checked to make sure they were as ordered and discovered one was missing.  That will have to be followed up on.

Bryan and Doug like the look of the windows, but one is missing.

When we had spare time, Doug and I filled our 65-gallon tank with well water.  The well was electrified and plumbed into the basement last week.  A very timely addition in this terrible drought.  (Hardly a drop of rain here since Memorial Day.)  Then we carried it down to the trees we transplanted last fall and gave them each about 15 gallons.  It took 2 trips with the tank.  We also watered the day lilies at the end of the drive that we transplanted from Doug’s parent’s yard in Racine just before his father died and the house was sold.  They have been taking a beating in the drought, and we really want to keep them going.

It’s so great to finally have well water for our parched plants.

Meanwhile the regular crew all worked as fast and hard as they could in the sweltering heat.

Bases ready for straw bale walls.

Michael and Joe continued to frame in the walls and windows around the east side of the house.  Prairie added another brace to the kitchen timber frame and Brad finished filling all the gaps in the foundation wall with Styrofoam and attaching tar paper to it, which will act as a vapor barrier to the straw bales we will begin placing Wednesday.

Then at the end of the day Eric Nelson showed up and began prep work for the lime-clay stucco exterior walls.  The lime needs to soak for a week to reach the proper consistency to make good stucco.  It’s a process called slaking.  I will be learning a lot more about lime stucco, and describing it in the near future.

The lime is slaking.

All in all, Underhill took a giant step forward today.

2 replies

  1. Can’t believe you’re all out working in this heat! I foresee a blog post about what’s the greenest way to care for outdoor plants during a drought! Just a suggestion… 😉

  2. Hi Lorijo,
    Yes, it’s been a bit brutal. Doug said he heard on the radio today that, nationally, this is the worst drought in 50 years, and it certainly is hitting our area hard. The few rains we have had seem to heading toward us and then divide and go north and south of us.

    But we are all trying to be mindful and drink lots of water. Fortunately, we have the first layers of the roof done, so we can work int he shade for the most part, and there usually seems to be a breeze in our valley. That helps a lot.

    But I am finding that buildling projects just keep trudging forward, and we are making daily progress.

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