Sunday, October 16, 2016

First House is Well Under Way in Our Organic Community

Construction continues on the first home in our off grid organic farm community.

Ground was broken in late August, and after a bit of a slow start things have been progressing very quickly and right at or under budget.

The first article about this house construction showed the road being carved out of the farm's main road on the farm the new buyer purchased, and the foundation being developed to support the roof and floor.

That foundation was 20 steel posts sunk 5 to 6 feet into the ground, surrounded by concrete and connected together with rebar and more concrete to create a "seismico" which is a Spanish term used in construction to help prevent seismic movement of the foundation.

The next step was to install the main beams and substructure for the roof. The main beams are constructed out of doubled up 2" X 6" welded "carriolas" which are galvanized steel C channel shaped and 20 feet long. The beams form the main substructure and are welded on top of the concrete filled steel 4" X 4" posts. The beams are 35 feet long to accommodate the roof and the 3 foot overhang in the front and the two foot overhang in the rear of the house. 

The cross members are also doubled up carriolas, and they are 2" X 4" members, also welded together and welded to the beams on 12 inch centers. This may seem like over-kill, but the new owner wanted to make sure the roof structure was heavy duty. Normally, you would use single 2" X 4" carriolas, space about 18" apart, laying on their sides and supported by welded rebar cross braces every 5 feet or so. 

The concrete filled posts are then also surrounded by concrete which will add to the dramatic appearance of the home, but also provide additional strength for the floor substructure. These concrete posts are tied to the steel uprights and the foundation seismico with 3/8" rebar before they are poured into the PVC molds.

More steel 4" X 4" posts are used to create the floor substructure and support the heavy gauge tin that will be added on top of the supports. Those supports will be leveled to provide the level floor with the ability to shed rain off the porch. Rain on the porch will only be present during a wind driven storm, and they are rare. Most of the time the rain falls straight down and will not ever hit the porch because of the overhang, but the owner wanted to make the home as maintenance free as possible. The tin will provide a strong surface upon which the 3" concrete floor will be poured.

In keeping with the new owner's desire to have very solid construction, the home has two roofs. The first one is typical for the area and is made of heavy gauge galvanized tin, and the second layer on top of the tin is a fiber concrete composition roof. The two roofs and the airspace below them, above the finished gypsum ceiling, will provide an excellent watershed surface, but also sound proof the roof to minimize the sound of rain inside the home. The new owner plans to redirect gray water for irrigating ornamental plants, as well.

PVC tubes were cut and placed through the tin surface prior to the floor being poured, so plumbing can be run to the different rooms through the floor. That will provide access to all the plumbing for later additions or changes.

The 3" concrete floor turned out better than expected. A cement mixer was used to mix the cement and allowed for a single "hot mix" to be poured in a span of about 6 hours, one wheelbarrow at a time.

Now, with the floor finished, the roof up to protect us from the rain and the plan in full swing, the remaining tasks of putting up the walls and installing the glass doors and windows will be pretty quick. 

All in all, the process has been very quick and hassle free. The only things that remain are the finishing details, which will be reported on in future articles.

If you are interested in building something like this or something less or more elaborate, give us a call or send us an email for pricing and availability.


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