Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Septic System Installation Underway!

WAHOO! HOORAY! Dirt is finally getting moved on the property. After a minor heart attack when the health department said they didn't have my well test results, all has been rectified and the septic system installation is now in progress.

This is an overview of the working area. The tank lids and inlet cleanout are visible in the foreground. The backhoe in the background is on the near edge of the field of Glendon Biofilter

I'm not overly thrilled with how close the tank and inlet is to the surface, but that is apparently a health department requirement due to the perceived high groundwater table. It is workable. The required fall is only 1/4in per ft so I've got room to make the fall and still come out underground from the home pad. I may change the elevation control through so it can come out a bit higher. I will have to recheck some levels on the pad site.

This is one of the four Biofilter pods. You can just see the second one to the far right in the picture. The basins for the other two pods haven't been placed yet.

Overall, I'm impressed with the amount of work they got done in a single day. I think they are planning to finish up on Friday. That will make me very happy. I'll be even happier if I get my official water test form back from the health department with the magical and mystical approval stamp.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Even Slow Progress is Progress

This whole process has been "discovery learning." It seems that at each phase, I find some new requirement or hoop that I have to jump through. It has taken waaaaay too long to get to this point. I've decided that the garage will have to wait until next year's building season. Not happy about it, but it makes the most logical sense.

Good news - the well water analysis results finally came back. When the bacteria sample has to be tested the same day it is taken, why does it take almost 3 weeks to get the full results back? Maybe the inorganics tests take longer to do. The water is hard which I expected. Any hardness over 120 is considered hard water. At 123, I'm just above the line between "moderately hard" and "hard". Not a big deal. A water softener in the pump house will handle that. I was told to expect high iron and manganese levels by a couple different people. At 2.2mg/L for iron and .10mg/L for manganese I'm see what they're talking about. Both of them can be removed by a water softener, but will very quickly clog the softener. I've found a couple different filtering solutions. Iron rapidly precipitates if the water is oxidized. It can then be filtered with dedicated filters. As an oxidizer, I've chosen chlorine injection. That has added benefit of dealing well with iron bacteria. I don't appear to have a problem with iron bacteria now, but folks say it is only a matter of time.

In general, water will flow from the DC well pump to the pump house. It will first get filtered for large sediment particles (30micron and 15micron) and then the chlorine will be injected on the way to the storage tanks. The retention time in the storage tanks will be more than adequate by a couple orders or magnitude. Water from the tanks will be pressurized by the demand pump and pressure tank. It will then pass through finer sediment filters, the iron filter (pyrolox or similar), a carbon filter (taste and odor - removes the last of the chlorine as well), and finally to the water softener. Next year, as part of the garage build, I will install a set of outdoor spigots. Those spigots will tee off the main pressure line prior to the water softener. Softened water is generally not good for irrigation due to the higher sodium levels.

Opinions vary on whether drinking softened water is safe over the long-term. I'm taking a conservative view. I will put a reverse osmosis package under the sink which will feed the refrigerator water/icemaker and a faucet next to the main sink faucet. This setup is relatively common and easily done.

Better News! I just got done talking to my dirt guy that will be doing the foundations for the home and pump house. He said my drawings cover all the bases and he'll be getting with his concrete guy and turning a bid around to me quickly. I'm not bothering to bid this one out to multiple vendors. Dan has done work for me before that was priced reasonably and done well.

While you can put a manufactured home on compacted soil, I don't like the idea. While it is cheaper and faster in the short term, you buy yourself a long term and recurring requirement to relevel the home every couple of years. Given the amount of rain we get here, it may be more often than that. I'm going with a full concrete slab and reinforced concrete perimeter wall. It makes the installation what is generally referred to as a "pit set." Instead of the home sitting up 3-4 feet off the ground, it is set over a pit. It looks much more like a site-built home this way. I'm using this method to help handle the slope of my site.

I took the general code requirements and used them as a minimum. I went for a reinforced wall design typically used for basements rather than the thinner and less reinforced wall typically used for pony walls or pit sets. The difference is the thickness (8in vs 6in) and the size/spacing of the vertical rebar (#5 @ 16in OC vs. #4 @ 48in OC). I also added a foundation drain at the footing which is shown for the lighter wall types, but not the reinforced wall. Seemed like a good idea. I don't think an inspector is going to ding me for having a stronger wall with better drainage. Much the same thing was done for the main slab. The code designs only show the #5 bar reinforcing. I added 5x5 mesh. Mesh is relatively cheap and it adds overall reinforcement between the bar grid ties.

The same concepts apply to the pump house foundation. I added mesh and made the footing deeper to ensure it is raised above the gravel pad where the tanks sit. In the event a tank ruptures or leaks, I want some good clearance for all that water to drain without flooding the pump house. The water and drain lines all come up through the foundation and will be buried at least 2 feet deep. Freeze protection will be provided by a product a found which places the heated wire inside the pipe rather than on the outside.

The septic install company I've chosen was out week before last. I got their bid and sent them the downpayment check. Now I'm just waiting for word that they've gotten the install permit from the county and a date for them to start work. WAHOO! We're getting to the point where all the various groups start moving dirt. I would have rather been at this point in late July, but it is what it is.

Whew! Long enough update? As soon as permits start coming in, I'll update more with pictures of the actual build process.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sometimes you need a lawnmover. Isn't it such a cute little thing?

For big yards, you might need a riding mower. I wonder what it wants to be when it grows up?

When you've got 2ac of clearing, road edges, some dense brust, and hills that haven't been mowed in over a year, you need a true manly mower pulled by your diesel ATV. Can I get a GRUNT! GRUNT! GRUNT! from the congregation?

This is a DR products 13hp tow behind brush cutter. The cut width is 48inch. That is 1.2m for my friends in metric-land. This thing will cut through just about anything. 6ft high grass and weeds? No problem. Scotch broom? No problem. Up to 1.5in diameter saplings, wild bushes, and general junk where I don't want it? No problem. So far, anything I've been brave enough to push the ATV through has gone through the mower with no problems. I can even offset the mower to cut to the left or right of the ATV so I'm not getting whacked with branches while mowing down big bushy stuff along the clearing and on the sides of my road.

The whole setup is very slick. The orange box mounted on the right side of my rear rack is the control box. It contains the key switch, throttle, and blade engagement control. I can make changes without having to dismount the ATV. The turning radius is a bit wide due to the length of the seutp. It has no problem with hills, ruts, small ditches, and it sure beats trying to move with a push mower. I've got some sections I haven't done yet. I will take a couple "before" pictures when I get a chance. I made the first cutting pass at a 7.5in height. I'm going to go back now at about 5in and see how that cuts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Heeeeeee's Baaaaaaaack

After the small distraction of a 12 month deployment to Afghanistan, things are really moving again. I ran the numbers and even in fantasy land where I do 100% of the labor myself, I couldn't beat the price of a good condition used double-wide. I looked at a few and bought one on my 2nd day back in the US.

These pictures are of the house in its current location. Sometime next week it will be pulled from its current location and moved to the dealer's storage lot.

One of the features that originally attracted me to the home were the big windows in the living room end wall. I've got acres of beautiful trees to look out at. This is an external view. Facing the front of the home, these windows are on the end wall to your right.

The view from inside the living room is even better. Camera issue - it isn't nearly this dark inside. The windows bring in a lot of light. The wood paneling looks good. It doesn't look like the cheap hardboard fake paneling you see so often. I'm a big fan of the exposed ceiling beam.

Looking at these pictures before I went out to see the home, I thought the living room was tiny and the wood stove was huge. It is just the way the photo was taken. The wood stove is quite small and the living room is large, as well as, open to the kitchen and dining area. I've added replacing the non-certified wood stove with a highly efficient pellet stove to my projects list. The current models are even eligible for the energy efficiency tax credits.

The kitchen is a good size for me. Enough room to move around, while not being so big and open you need a map to get from the refrigerator to the stove. In some of the other homes I looked at, mostly new ones, the kitchens didn't seem as integrated. The cabinets were in small rows hanging on open walls. It gave the kitchen an unfinished look of something thrown together. The refrigerator, range, and dishwasher stay. I don't know about the microwave. The small counter-height table/bar in the kitchen is really a neat feature. Eventually, I'd like to replace it with a bar height countertop. The perfect thing for a quick meal or a nice dividing line for entertaining.

This is the master bedroom. The walk-in closet and master bath are slightly ahead and to the right of the frame. I was happy to see the room with furniture in it. Often when looking at empty rooms, they seem huge. It is only when you start trying to fill the room with your furniture that you realize things don't fit. Since I've already seen the room with a king size bed and some other furniture, I know things will fit well.

Do I even need to mention I'll be changing the color in what will be the guest room? The other two bedrooms are a really good size. One will become my office and ham radio room. The other will be the guest room.

The current owners have owned the home since new and done some upgrades. Both the front and back doors were upgraded to full-size residential doors. This is the back door leading outside via the utility room. You can see the washer and dryer peeking in on the right. They don't come with the house. I figure that is good. I can buy some of the uber-cool high efficiency front loaders. Since it is me, you know there will need to be lights, dials, buttons, and maybe even SNMP remote management. The shelves to the left are of a good depth. I see them getting replaced with something done in nice solid wood with a dark stain+poly finish.

I love the layout, the big windows, good kitchen, and well kept nature of the home. The only thing it really needs is new floor coverings. The present carpet and vinyl isn't damaged. It has simply reached the end of its visually appealing life. I'm thinking natural cork for the kitchen. Porcelain tile for the bathrooms and entryways. Solid hardwood everywhere else. The overall decorating them is "cabin in the woods". I'm thinking a slightly distressed fir or pine floor (yes, I know those aren't hardwoods) will fit the concept well and give it a very warm cozy feel.

Updates should be much more frequent now that things are getting underway. Once the detailed elevation survey is done, I may be looking for input on where the house and garage-mahal should be sited.

Stay tuned.....