January started with major snow removal, welding, cutting and more welding.
The stairway from Level 1 to Level 2 was constructed first by welding braces to the interior of the North Tower to support the stairway platforms. Then the platforms and runners were built and installed.
We continued installing the silverboard insulation on the exterior of Level 2, and brought in a loader to backfill 4'up the east wall (where the garage opening will be) and sloped down the North and South sides.
We cut more doorways in the two North cans on Level 1, framed and welded them, and installed the thresholds. Then we began prepping and painting them. The white paint really brightened the area up and also made it look more roomy.
Insulation on the exterior, Level 2, is an ongoing job. There is a lot of area to be covered in.
We also began installing the electrical on Level 2 (the garage / shop area).
Our next project was to start getting some heat in the area. We made a tile base and installed our first high efficency wood stove, along with all the pipe, ducting and chimney supports. All of the piping etc. is run up the South tower to the roof. The south tower consists of the elevator shaft and also a chase for everything that has to go elsewhere in the building.
It's a waiting game for the 3 engineers that are quoting our heating system. We cannot put any more sea-cans on until we place the system in the heat sink area. We would build it ourselves but we need stamped drawings following the code before we can get started.
Most of the work now has been on Level 2. We cut out the center wall on the North cans, and started the electrical, lighting, and installed the floor plates between the sea-cans.
Seeing the weather was nice, we were also able to install the wood stove chimney and top cap through the roof of the south tower. That was a chore, as we had to wait for a lull in the winds, but we got a break late one afternoon. That job complete.
The main electrical panel to Level 3 and 4 was installed on Level 2, and the L2 lighting was completed.
Level 1 still had 4 cans to be prepped and painted. We washed the walls and ceiling with TSP to prep them for painting. This level will have storage rooms in the North side, a wine room, a cold storage room, a root cellar (vented), and an electrical room in the West side. The South side will house the mechanical for the main heating and the sump.
Level 1 painting is complete and it looks wonderful. For painting, we use a commercial spray machine. It really cuts down the time it takes. The white paint really brightens the rooms.
May was a slow progress month as we had outside garden and yard work to be done. Problems also arose with the water tank plans that we had planned on using had some glitches so we had to go a different route. (That was 2 months wasted time.)
We did manage to complete some hand rails for the north stairwell between Level 1 & 2 and also frame in the 3 walls in the Level 1 - West seacan for the room divisions. We also completed grinding the floor beams on Level 2 between the cans and had 3 more cans delivered.
June was also a slow progress month. Still no answers for our water tank and heat sink system.
Level 1 drywall, mudding and taping is completed. Two (2) layers of silverboard insulation were installed in the Level 1 (root cellar room). This is to make sure that the root cellar's temperatures will remain constant to preserve the vegetables that we will be kept there.
In July we managed to make more progress on construction.
Shelving was installed in Level 1 cold room and Level 2 paint room. The new drywall in Level 1 was primed and painted. The septic tank area was backfilled, leveled, seeded, and a tank cover was built and installed.
A crane was called in to relocate 2 seacans closer to the main structure and laid on their sides to allow easier access for cutting and welding the south stairway openings from Level 2 to 3 and Level 3 to 4.
Some passageways, doorways and room openings were cut into some cans that were installed and some that will be installed next to begin opening up and to allow easier access when the next set of cans are placed.
On Level 2, the top rails of the openings were ground down to ready for the beam installation on the south cans (office and west passage entryway).
The end of July brought Bill's brother Bruce onto the scene, all the way from Arizona. Bruce proceed to get the stairwell openings cut into the Level 3 and Level 4 cans that were on their sides.
With Bruce around for the month of August, (having extensive knowledge in the construction field, as does Bill), Bill had someone to brainstorm with about the beam installation and how to hold the cans tight to be welded together at the corners.
The men continued with the openings for the south stairwells, welding the steel bracing around the openings and cut the top openings while I cut the passage openings in the cans. We found that it is much easier cutting some openings while the cans are on the ground as it allows for instant access when the cans are put into place.
The gadget on the far left is what the guys came up with to pull the cans tight on the corners. It fit into the lifting holes on the ends of the cans, for exterior access. For interior access, holes were blown through the heavy steel on the ends of the cans with a plasma cutter, then the gadget was installed through the holes. With this gadget, all we needed to pull the cans together was a couple wrenches, then we could weld the corners together.
While the beams were being worked on, our daughter built the south set of stairs to go between Level 2 and Level 3. Nice Job. Too bad she does not want to do construction for a living. At least she is handy with tools.
The beams, for tying the cans together, were designed by Bill and submitted to the engineer for engineering. They were fabricated by lowering the steel plate between the cans and resting it on raised scaffolding. The angle iron was then welded into place at the bottom edge of the plate. Lifting rails (2) were welded to the top of the beam which protuded through the opening up top. Come-alongs were then used to pull the beam back up into place. When almost in place, a rail jack and 4" X 4" posts were used to tighten the joint. We then welded the top edge of the plate to the upper floor ridge of the top can, then welded the bottom edges of the angle iron to the top channel of the lower can. To solidify everything in place, 212 grout was poured into the remaining cracks.
There were three beams that had to be installed on Level 2. The west and south beams had part of the seacan walls still in place with openings for the office, coffee room and such. The north beam was a clear 40 foot span which made the beam extremely heavy.
Cutting and grinding of passageways and openings on Level 3 were ongoing, trying to stay a step ahead and prepare for the next task.
Steel tubing (2" X 2")was cut and welded into the opening by the North tower. This extra opening is necessary to allow for proper landings for the stairwell. A steel panel filler piece was cut to size and installed and welded into place.
Level 3 North stair landing was erected.
Bill Sr. arrived to spend a little time with the boys. He never thought that he would be building stairs at 85 years of age. This set of stairs that was built was for the South Level 3 to Level 4 cans. These were placed inside the Level 4 south side can and lowered into place once the can was lifted into place.
A crane was called in to place the 3 remaining cans on Level 3 and 3 Level 4 cans.
Finally 2 windows were installed on Level 2 on the east side. The other 3 sides will be backfilled to the top of Level 2. Bill Sr. and brother Bruce are on their way home.
Total sea-cans to date is 23.
First order of the month was to build and install hand rails around the stairwells for safety purposes.
Bill completed the roofing (plywood, insulation and shingles) above the windows on Level 2 East, then installed the insulation and OSB on the wall around the window. Kala, welded the remainder of the west beam between Level 2 and Level 3, and I finished strapping and insulating the underside end of the North Tower.
On Level 3, in the west cans and the north cans, we completed cutting out the center walls to open up the areas.
To add some light into the Level 3 work areas, we cut an opening in the exterior wall of the south and west cans to let in some day-light. Light helps a great deal when you are working in the dark.
Towards the end of September, our heat-sink tank arrived. We built the formwork and installed the rebar for the tank pad in the heat-sink area.
With fall upon us, we are trying to get everything as weather-tight as possible. Between the rain and the thought of snow not too far away, it is a race against time. So much to do.
The concrete trucks arrived early on Oct. 1/10 to pour the heat-sink pad and 2 small footing colums just outside the Level 2 main door.
With the weather threatening to change, we had to work on getting the North tower opening closed in. 2 X 2 tubing was welded into place in the opening with allowance for a window in the center of the wall. A temporary/movable wall was built to help block the weather while the framing is being worked on. As we complete one section, the wall can be pulled up with a crank winch as we work. It is now ready for the steel panels to be placed and welded in.
We next worked at installing the dimple membrane around the second level, ready for backfill. The south, west and north sides of Level 2 will be underground. Only the east side will be above ground on this level to allow access to the garage / shop area.
The beam between Level 3 and Level 4 on the west side was fabricated on top of scaffold. It was then pulled up through the opening with come-alongs and welded into place. The beams consist of flat-bar steel with angle iron welded to the bottom of each side. The size of steel plate and angle iron were set by our engineer.
In between our other many projects, we cut 3 passageways in the next sea-can to be lifted onto the top level, installed a permanent man-door to the shop level and mounted plywood in the Level 1 south can for the boiler that will supply our main heating to the house.
The last project for October was to begin setting the bracing of the exterior walls in prep for the backfill around the house on Level 1 and 2.
After completion of the bracing, the steel plate welding level 1 to level 2 around the tank area was installed. A loader was used for backfilling the south, west and north side of the house and also the heat-sink area. The heat-sink area had to be tamped to 90% compaction (for the concrete garage floor above the area). The dogs also got into moving the dirt.
Electrical conduit was run from the Level 2 panel to Level 3 and 4, and the wiring was run to Level 3 for the lighting, switches and receptacles. We now have power on this level. No more running long extention cords to the area from other floors.
Styrofoam block was placed on top of the tank pad and built up to where the garage floor will be. Styrofoam block was also used to erect the East garage wall. Then the concrete was poured into the forms.
The crane operators lifted the heat tank onto the pad after we positioned the tank base and rock wool insulation. They also lifted Position 3 sea-can into place on Level 4 and moved a few other cans closer to the house. Level 4 will be the main living area of the house.
The boiler also arrived during November. The boiler will be our main heating source as in-floor heating in the top 3 levels. Level 1 (the basement) will only have a couple small coil heaters to keep the temperature at approx. 10 degrees C. We now have heat in Level 1 and 1 heater on Level 2 fed by the boiler.
24 Sea-cans in place to date.
Due to winter being upon us, we felt that we had better get the North tower opening enclosed and the stairwell completed. With the temporary lumber wall raised to the top of the tower opening, we were able to get the tubing and the panels welded into place to close the opening. The steel angle for the landings were welded into place and the Level 4 landing and stairs were installed.
During the latter part of November, we began having problems with our generator. Bill decided to build a wind turbine to help supplement our solar power and cut back on the amount that the generator would have to run.
Bill ordered a PM generator through a company he had found on the internet and some heavy duty magnets to lighten the load.
The first turbine we built was made from 2 (two) 45 gallon steel drums. After having it up and running for a week, we found that it was too heavy (106 lbs. and had 2 sails) to produce much power when the wind speed wasn't there.
The second turbine we built was fabricated from scratch using flat bar and aluminum flashing. Total weight was 70 lbs with 4 sails. This one produced energy at approximately 15 Km/hr winds but didn't produce 70 volts until the wind speed reached 45 Km/hr.
Our new generator arrived at mid month and was installed.