Category Archives: concrete

Rocking out

Steven was not about to allow the team from Gilsa Construction have all the fun when finishing out the driveway.

At 9 am, Whittlesley delivered 6.5 yards of Santa Fe mix rock, 2-4 inches in size. The truck dumped in the street. Steven shoveled into the pile rock that skittered across the street, making Emerald Hill safe for car traffic, bikers and morning dog walkers. Gilsa shifted the entire pile 20 feet down the street to the foot of the driveway.
Gilsa busted the concrete formboards away from the concrete pads — see sledgehammer — and began cutting landscape weedblock cloth to size to cover the exposed roadbase in the drainage channels.
Here, the formboards are removed from the two new walkway pads at the front of the house.
Neto, left, and Jose, orange shirt, deliver a wheelbarrow laden with rock to the drainage channel off the back corner of the garage.
About two hours in, Gilsa is about a half way down the main drainage channel at the long ribbon of driveway that reaches all the way to the street. The team delivered the rocks via wheelbarrow, while Neto kicked the rock into position and Steven, on his knees, moved rock by hand to fill voids.
By 4 pm, the center drainage channel is completely rocked.
And Jacquela gets first drive on the new driveway.
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Concrete driveway ballet

The first concrete mixer is scheduled for noon. The team from Gilsa arrives at 8 am to prepare.

Digging out and forming up for the two pavers that will extend the front walk to the street — after removing the old pebbled concrete fan from another era.
The roadbase in front of the garage doors is trenched for emplacement of conduit and pull lines — planning ahead to ensure we have the ability to pull electrical cable under the new driveway slab from the electrical box at the back of the garage.
At the back corner of the garage, two conduit runs travel to the front of the garage, and one travels across the roadbed to what will be the opposite side of the new driveway. Mauricio from Gilsa, left, supervises.
The two conduit runs emplaced in the trench across the garage doors.
Gilsa ran this pull cord through the conduit runs.
One of the things we learned trying to pull electrical cable through conduit is to use larger-radius turns in the conduit. Stiff electrical wire does not turn tight 90-degree angles.
The first mixer is backed up as far as the oak trees will permit.
Spraying the discharge chute at the back of the mixer to ensure the cement does not bind to the chute.
This toad came to inspect the job site.
The first load of concrete travels down the discharge chute into the maw of the Bobcat.
The Bobcat dumps the first load of concrete.
And the ballet begins. Flinging concrete at the form for the curb at the top of the driveway.
Leveling the new concrete to grade.
Pounding rebar into the garage slab to join the slab to the new driveway.
Porting the steel mesh into place that will reinforce the concrete.
The ballet continues, with float and shovel.
At the head of the driveway, near the street, this is the cleanout to the main waste line that connects the house to the sewer system at the street. Very important to protect.
The ballet continues.
Pounding a stake into place to brace a form.
A long view down the driveway, with the shape of the ribbons beginning to emerge — while carrying a lumber form into position.
Pouring concrete into the forms for the extension of the front walk.
Alejandro signs the delivery receipt for the second cement mixer.
Finishing one of the pads in front of the two-car garage.
The front walk, extended to the street from the front of the house.
Looking down the driveway toward the street, with both concrete ribbons nearly complete.
At the back of the garage, the missing slab is formed, with the conduit for the sprinkler control line embedded — one more punch-list item taken off the to-do list.
And done. The view from the street, looking toward the top of the driveway.
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Rocking it

Steven met at the landscaping yard with Mauricio from Gilsa Construction to pick out the rock to use in the drainage channel down the center of the new concrete driveway.

We picked a “Santa Fe” mix of reds, grays and browns, 1-3 inches. The colors will complement the red cedar privacy fence at the front of the house, and the gray paint on the body of the house. The size should be large enough to not shift when rainwater travels across the rock.

And … Steven asked Jacquela to marry him while visiting Santa Fe and Taos. So … the Santa Fe mix is an easy decision.

A close-up on the Santa Fe sample mix, wet, against gray concrete.
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Grading and forming

Alejandro and Juan from Gilsa Construction arrived to regrade the roadbed, prepping it for concrete — and to build the lumber forms.

Alejandro works the scoop on the Bobcat down the long run of driveway to the street.
The chunks of asphalt rubble get loaded into the dump truck. The truck took two loads away.
Juan, front, and Alejandro, back, sledgehammer the forms and braces into the roadbed. There will be a rock channel down the center of the driveway to collect water and carry it from the back of the driveway all the way to the street, with the ability for water to percolate into the ground to feed the oaks — and to reduce impervious cover.
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Ripping it up

We’ve been in the house for a year. It’s time to rip up the asphalt driveway and replace it with concrete. Construction and dumpsters damaged a 50-foot-long section of the driveway. Erosion and rainwater undermined a section closest to the kitchen. At the back fence, water travels across the driveway whenever it rains, whenever the backyard neighbors switch on their sprinklers, carrying debris and building an alluvial fan of sediment that travels all the way to the curb at the front of the house.

Steven called Mauricio at Gilsa Construction, which did the concrete work on the house. They reached agreement on budget.

Work begins by ripping up the asphalt with a Bobcat. Netto is driving. Manuel is shoveling.

The Bobcat blade rips through the asphalt. First discovery — the asphalt comes up quickly and is brittle with age; we guess it is at least 30 years old. Second discovery — the roadbase under the asphalt is in really good shape and does not need to be replaced. Instead, Gilsa will be able to easily regrade it to push water away from the house.
Netto moves the Bobcat into the field opposite the garage doors. The asphalt continues to come up easily, brittle, even when warmed up in the sunlight.
More big chunks as Netto moves toward the garage doors.
This is almost as close as Netto will bring the Bobcat to the garage. After this, Netto and Manuel switch out to pick and shovel.
Manuel discovered this mask buried in the dirt between the driveway and the neighbor’s fence.
Manuel wrestles a chunk of asphalt by hand.
Netto drives the Bobcat closer to load the asphalt.
Netto, left, and Manuel wrangle a chunk of asphalt away from the garage slab.
This work builds muscle. Manual lifts a chunk of asphalt with a pick while Netto carries a section to the Bobcat.
Near the end of the day, Netto parks the Bobcat at the end of the driveway.
A pile of asphalt rubble at the end of the day.
Since we’re pouring a new concrete driveway, we’re also going to rip out the last section of the ugly old original pebbled walk from the front door to the street.
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A sprinkler saga, episode 2

Mikel from Green Tree Professional returned 18 November to Emerald Hill to continue identifying problems with and repairing the sprinkler system.

With the system operable after the first repairs were made 11 November, Mikel focused in the front yard on repairing the main supply line to the sprinklers that was cut by the plumbers when they installed a new water line between the house and the city water supply at the curb.

As he dug, Mikel discovered that the main supply line for the sprinklers was cut -- pipe in left circle. The plumbers also cut two  lateral lines. Mikel has already repaired one of the laterals in this photo. The second cut is the PVC pipe in the right circle.
As he dug, Mikel discovered that the main supply line for the sprinklers was cut — pipe in left circle. The plumbers also cut two lateral lines. Mikel has already repaired one of the laterals in this photo. The second cut is the PVC pipe in the right circle.
While working on the pipes, Mikel discovered that the plumbers buried a control valve. He excavated to reveal the valve.
While working on the pipes, Mikel discovered that the plumbers buried a control valve. He excavated to reveal the valve. The plumbers also severed the control wire that runs between this valve and the next valve in line. Mikel could not locate the cut in the wires, so he opted to run new wires across the lawn to the connect the two valves.

After repairing the cuts, Mikel began testing the front sprinkler zones. He quickly discovered a lateral line that was cut when the front walk was formed — water burbled up from under one of the concrete steps.

The good news was … At least two front zones operated, even if they needed additional repairs.

It was time for Mikel to depart to his next scheduled appointment.

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A sprinkler saga, episode 1

When Ranserve excavated the foundation for the new garage bay, the concrete crew cut and buried the end of the 12-strand cable that runs between the control unit location in the garage, out to the valves that control the sprinklers in the back yard, along the PVC pipes that were buried in the ground when a previous owner installed the sprinkler system, and out to the valves and sprinkler heads in the front yard.

Ron Dahlke did try to protect the cable, but bobcats, picks, shovels and form boards are brutal.

Ron, Odell, Kevin and Matt dug exploratory holes in the back yard after the garage was built — and they did find the cable.

But it had been severed — and a section about 20 feet long was missing.

Odell asked Steven to have a sprinkler company do the repair.

Steven collected four estimates. Two companies advised it would be easier and faster to install an entirely new system at a cost of somewhere beyond $4,000 to $5,000. Two companies recommended repairs at $95 an hour, plus parts, with about three hours required to diagnose whether the system could be repaired.

Steven selected Mikel and Darynn Eggert, the two brothers who run Green Tree Professional. Yes, Steven gravitates toward working with family businesses and brothers — see the fence postings as further evidence.

In episode 1 of the sprinkler saga, dated 11 Nov. 2016, Darynn and Mikel excavated the cut end of the control cable buried in the ground about feet away from the back of the new garage, patched it to new wire, and attempted to pull that wire into the garage through conduit that was fixed into place when the concrete slab of the new garage floor was poured.

First discovery — it is impossible to force heavy-duty 12-strand irrigation wire through a tight 90-degree elbow when you don’t have a heavy-duty pull cord.

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The concrete team installed electrical conduit when they formed and poured the new slab for the garage. The sprinkler control wire was supposed to travel through the conduit. But, the wire can’t be pulled through the tight elbow identified in the lower circle in photo, at the concrete foundation. Steven approved drilling through the siding — the second, higher circle in the red-painted siding. Note the missing chunk of concrete walk that was cut out when the garage slab was excavated — this has to be replaced. Darynn and Mikel ran a temporary control wire above ground, with which they were able to begin testing the sprinkler system.

After much discussion, Steven permitted Darynn and Mikel to drill a hole through the exterior siding of the garage above ground level, with a plan to shield the cable in new conduit that would be mounted to the exterior of the siding outside the garage, turned down to the ground in a WIDE 90-degree elbow, then buried and run out across the back yard to connect with the old existing cable.

Except … Ranserve still has to replace a chunk of concrete walk that was cut out when the garage foundation was formed and poured. The new wire out the back of the garage traverses this missing concrete, so permanent installation is not possible until the concrete work is done.

The temporary control wire travels about 20 feet across the back yard to where the original exiting wire was severed.
The temporary control wire travels about 20 feet across the back yard to where the original exiting wire was severed.
Darynn and Mikel made waterproof connections between the new and old control wires. The trench at right is where Mikel discovered the open end of a sprinkler line that was severed during construction of the garage. He cut off the knife edge of the PVC and capped it off.
Darynn and Mikel made waterproof connections between the new and old control wires. The trench at right is where Mikel discovered the open end of a sprinkler line that was severed during construction of the garage. He cut off the knife edge of the PVC and capped it off.

So, Mikel and Darynn ran the wire into the garage, temporarily loose and above ground, connected it to the sprinkler controller in the back yard, turned on water to the sprinkler system, powered up the controller — and began experimenting to discover leaks.

Second discovery — the system still worked. In some places.

Third discovery — in the front yard, the plumbers severed  the main supply line to the sprinkler system when they trenched the front yard to install the new water supply line to the house as required by the city. Did the plumbers repair the sprinkler line as requested by Steven? Apparently, obviously, not.

 

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Floor waxing

Late yesterday, Trey from DeAtley Tile & Stone cleaned and degreased the stained concrete flooring on the first floor of Sea Eagle. Today, he’s back to wax and polish the floor — above.

A second shot of Trey at work, waxing and polishing the stained concrete for showing to potential buyers.
A second shot of Trey at work, waxing and polishing the stained concrete for showing to potential buyers.
Before finishing for the day, Trey talks with Cloral, the painter, about how to protect the new finish on the concrete. Cloral is going to refinish the maple cabinets at the island. Trey instructs: "put down cardboard to protect the floor, and do not tape the cardboard to the floor."
Before finishing for the day, Trey talks with Cloral, the painter, about how to protect the new finish on the concrete. Cloral is going to refinish the maple cabinets at the island. Trey instructs: “put down cardboard to protect the floor, and do not tape the cardboard to the floor.”
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Blower door test — and more

Today’s agenda¬†at Emerald Hill stacked up meetings and tasks:

  • Gutters
  • Time Warner Cable for Internet, phone, TV services
  • Brett Grinkmeyer, architect, and his tour of Emerald Hill with prospective clients
  • Tyson from Granite Security for a tutorial on the security system
  • Blower door test
  • Cut down the hackberry tree at the northeast corner of the house
  • Assemble more Ikea furniture
  • Set up a computer in the pantry, out of traffic, to work on ShowStoppers @ Mobile World Congress

Above, Alex from ATS and Jonathan from Austin Air review the duct plans with Ron from Ranserve, in preparation for the blower door test.

Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Alex assembles the blower door.
Alex assembles the blower door.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH -- air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH — air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking -- needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking — needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.

 

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Notes, 10 Feb. 2016

Steven arrived at Emerald Hill about 230 pm to learn that the City of Austin chopped down a tree in the neighbor’s yard to clear obstructions from the power lines. The company hired to do the job — Asplundah — left the branches behind in Steven’s back yard, photo above. Ron Dahlke says Asplundah will be back Thursday. Asplundah has been working all over Northwest Hills, clearing trees from power lines up and down nearly every block.

Ron Dahlke and team cleared the original two-car garage of his desk, a tool box, and more. This is what might be described as a bittersweet milestone -- Ron is preparing to move out of Emerald Hill and the remodel is coming to an end. It is, also, a mile marker for how close we are to done -- and moving in.
Ron Dahlke and team cleared the original two-car garage of his desk, a tool box, and more. This is what might be described as a bittersweet milestone — Ron is preparing to move out of Emerald Hill and the remodel is coming to an end. It is, also, a mile marker for how close we are to done — and moving in.
Team Ranserve installed the window screens today. Hard to see in this photo. Ron and Steven walked the house. There are six screens not yet installed that need to be delivered.
Team Ranserve installed the window screens today. Hard to see in this photo. Ron and Steven walked the house. There are six screens not yet installed that need to be delivered.
Rodriguez from Gilsa Construction hacked away today at the remaining form and hardened concrete spillage left over from pouring the foundation for the new garage bay.
Rodriguez from Gilsa Construction hacked away today at the remaining form and hardened concrete spillage left over from pouring the foundation for the new garage bay.
Elite Air Conditioning began swapping out the straight registers for curved -- as required by the Austin Green Build program.
Elite Air Conditioning began swapping out the straight registers for curved — as required by the Austin Green Build program.
Steven began assembling and test fitting the Ikea Stuva cabinets in the mudroom -- confirming that one of the baseboards will need to be trimmed for the cabinets to fit left to right.
Steven began assembling and test fitting the Ikea Stuva cabinets in the mudroom — confirming that one of the baseboards will need to be trimmed for the cabinets to fit left to right.
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