20x34 2-story universal in upstate NY

Started by NathanS, May 13, 2016, 11:04:09 AM

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Wow, thanks Don, I must have read the foundation wall section 3 times looking for the grout specs. Never thought to check the (other) wall section.


If I had a dime for every time... I wish there was a quick cross reference sending you there.


Haven't had the greatest weather for the past few days. Finished parging today and also got a bunch of dampproofing up on the dry stuff.

Did an ugly job when started parging.. by the end I was pretty good at it. And my wife is even better.

The top foot will get a stone veneer. We have a bunch of nice old stone shale walls on the property. My masonry blades go right through it so we could do some kind of a dry stack veneer.


Will you fill the cells with concrete or leave them hollow?  I filled mine but I wanted it to be "Built Ford Tough"  ;)


The biggest culprit in parging block is the block will wick most of the moisture out of the mortar.  To combat that use a garden sprayer and mist the block first then parge. Same goes for when you lay the stone.  I normally parge the area where the stone is to be laid and then lay your stone upon that.  Some use a rake and scratch the surface to give divots for the adhesion.


I core filled the corners and am also core filling + rebaring the spots beams will be supported by posts. Also throwing in a few rebar here and there just for the heck of it. The foundation is going to be filled with stone on the inside, so there will only be 1' of unbalanced fill.

My excavator stopped by today to let me know that the town offered to drop off fill (sandy top soil) since they are redoing and grading the sides of our road. I can't believe it. Unscreened topsoil is $20 a yard here.

Backfill should be done early next week.

I have been mixing everything by hand. I used that cement mixer in a few pics for 4 bags and then it stopped working. Not sure if it just needs a reset or what. Probably have mixed 60 or 70 bags with another 20 or so to go. A few people 'warned' me of how unpleasant tarring would be. They must not have done much masonry. I could tar all day.


Well the walls were finished earlier this week. The inspector stopped by yesterday and was happy with how it all looked.

Tried to make sure all the bolts will not hit any studs and would be within 1' of corner or end of sill plate as well as <=6' on center. I realized I made one mistake on the 22' wall - I don't think I will get any plates longer than 16' so needed two bolts close together where the two pieces of sill join.

Hopefully working on the plumbing drains next week.


Pictures don't really do justice to how much dirt the town dropped off. 23 dump truck loads (edit: 35 loads now, more than in the picture). Two rows wide all the way from SE corner up to the the SW corner. Looks like sandy loam to me. One pile had a little hardpan in it probably from digging out a culvert.

It is hard to think what the odds are that right as I'm finishing up the foundation the town highway super asks my excavator if I want free dirt from the road they are redoing that we happen to live on. I think we are looking at $5-9k of top soil if you were to buy it and have it delivered.

Edit; Town has delivered 40 loads and offered to deliver roughly 40 more. I called my septic engineer who also works for the department of transportation. He said the shoulder material is really nice stuff and to use it for building up our leach field. He said take everything they want to drop off. Pretty awesome.


Ok a couple updates. Pretty much done the backfill. The inside was filled with stone which will not settle like filling with dirt would have done. The town has dropped off over 40 loads so far. My excavator said they are bringing another 40, so that will get graded when the leach field gets done.

I ran 2" thick XPS on the inside of the block down 4'. I wanted it on the inside so that there should be no risk of pests tunneling through it. I think it is virtually impossible to protect subgrade foam on the exterior of a structure. Worse, if they are tunneling through it, they are secretly headed towards your framing. I only get one shot at insulation. Hoping to go overboard on it throughout the whole build. I have it in my head to burn 1 - 1.5 cords a winter.

We also ran 4" corrugated drain pipe on top of the footing, and down the hill to daylight. I used the loader on my tractor to dig through the 4-5 feet of dirt the town dropped off. My excavator dumped stone on and around the drain pipe. Feel good about that.

The grading looks awesome so far. Our excavator really knows what he's doing. One of my 'dreams' with doing the slab is to be close to grade outside. Being able to step right out onto the ground instead of being 3-4-5 feet up in the air on the deck is something I really wanted to happen. That dirt is also going to be great material for an apple tree or two, and some hardy kiwis... well all kinds of stuff.

We also have the well line dug - the excavator ran a 2" poly sleeve up for us so that we can just feed the line through that. I am intent on installing the pump myself this weekend with a few helpers. Local plumbing supply quoted about $900 for a 3/4 hp franklin electric pump with poly line, pump wire, torque arrestor, pitless.. the whole works. All high quality parts, a little more expensive than Lowes but much higher quality. I don't want to be pulling that thing in the winter.


Nathan I take it that you are going with standard floor joist from the presence of the J bolts.  Just wondering about your drain & water lines.   ???  Meaning the crawlspace will be filled and the need to preform maintenance on those will be limited.  Maybe I am missing something, overlooked in an earlier post or you have already discussed it.


We are laying down XPS and then pouring a slab on that. The excavator is going to trench out where i am running drain lines tomorrow. The walls will have the sill plate built in with PT lumber.


Quote from: NathanS on June 28, 2016, 06:52:58 PM
We are laying down XPS and then pouring a slab on that. The excavator is going to trench out where i am running drain lines tomorrow. The walls will have the sill plate built in with PT lumber.

OK I remember the conversation now.  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=14337.msg187216#msg187216


Yeah I ended up not doing that above grade stemwall for a bunch of reasons.

This article about aging masonry buildings helped convince me.

"If you don't do the water control and you insulate you are basically euthanizing your building."

I think a rain screen will perform better than that stemwall would have. And I need to be certain to have a drip edge that keeps water away from the 12" of exposed foundation.


Dropped the well pump. Went down 200' and used a Franklin Electric 3/4hp pump. We should have good pressure. It was a relatively simple job and a good way to save $1500 - 2000. By using poly pipe it was not heavy.

Unless my math is wrong, 193' of 1" pipe should hold a little under 8 gallons of water. That is 65 pounds. I would guess that pump with wire and pipe is another 40 or so. So maybe 100-110 pounds if the pump ever needs to be pulled (excluding the T-tool). With someone to handle the pipe as it comes out, I am pretty confident I could yank that sucker out.

Also want to mention I was most concerned about drilling through 1/4 inch steel. I used my cordless drill with a 1 3/4" bi metal hole saw. I sprayed oil every 30 seconds or so and went slow. I had no issues and broke one tooth on the bit. The 4 amp battery still had 3 out of 4 bars. Was not a problem.

From the pump to the house we put the poly pipe and the UF wire in corrugated piping. We are 4' 8" below grade at the pump. Where the pipe enters the house on top of the footing we are only going to be 3' below grade. For the entire 50 foot run we put 2" of XPS that is about 16" wide on top of the piping. We should have no risk of the waterline freezing.

We started on the sub-slab drain plumbing today. We have it mostly sorted out. I kind of diagrammed things out on our plans. We decided to upsize the pipe almost everywhere. Also we are opting for the 'pure' PVC, and not foam core, since this is going below a slab and I hope to not need to jackhammer anything out...

We used masonry line blocks to run string to start lining things up. The only thing that has to be exactly right is the toilet stub out.

I have found "Plumbing" by Rex Cauldwell to be the best book I've used. "Plumbing a House" by Peter Hemp has some nice information on sub-slab plumbing like wrapping cardboard around the toilet stub out. Most of the books are a waste of time, telling you to pay plumber to do everything except the most mundane tasks. I find a lot of building books, in general, read like they were edited by a lawyer. Taunton Press (fine homebuilding) usually has good stuff.


Nathan you have two critical connections in concrete and the plumbing.  The toilet yes is one being that the flange only should protrude above the concrete.  Anything more and you will have to build up the floor or set the toilet upon a slight platform.  The second is the shower drain trap.  I would suggest that you form out an area below the floor for it to set in.  If you are using a compression shower drain fitting you will need to allow for that as well as a short piece of pipe to reach the trap.  A lot of precision there in elevation to make everything line up.  That why I suggest a formed out box to give you some wiggle room. 


Thanks for the continued input Redoverfarm. We are going to do a tiled shower on the first floor, so I am planning to build that up with mortar. It should give us a little wiggle room on the drain location as I will slope everything to it with a trowel.

My brother in law is a plumber (unfortunately lives 5 hours away) and suggested boxing out the shower drain if it was to be a tub as well.


Plumbing is approved. Time to start throwing the stone back in and prep for slab which we should have poured next week. Can't wait to let the sawdust fly.


My limited tile experience and knowledge says that the drain traps for shower and toilet should be packed with sand rather than gravel, then slab over that.  Is that a common thing or a bit of folk wisdom I picked up?
My cabin build thread: Alaskan remote 16x28 1.5 story


My main concern with the DMV plumbing is settlement. I made sure everything was at least a strong 1/4" slope. I taped a 1" wood block to my 4' level, and a .5" wood spacer to my 2 footer.

Also wanted to account for 'adjusting' the stub outs to plumb/correct location. I'm not concerned with stone crushing the PVC. That stuff is strong. The 4" is rated as well casing.

All that said, this was my first time doing any plumbing.  :)


This made for a long day. Leveling all that stone within a 1/4 - 1/2" was a real pain in the ass. The best thing to do was screed the stone with a 4' level.. not fun kneeling in stone, then getting up to shovel the pile out of the way.. rinse and repeat for about 12 hours.

Also I am doing 4" of XPS under the slab. We have about $1900 in foundation insulation. Walls will be getting 2" of exterior insulation, and the attic is getting R60. I am using zip wall as the air barrier. As long as I don't end up with any unfixable drafts, I hope the house should heat on around a cord of wood a winter. For ancillary heat I am going to put in a ductless minisplit. I have done some basic thermal performance calcs and am coming out with 16000BTU loss per hour at 68F interior and 0F exterior design temp.

A lot of people don't understand why we aren't building a basement, and this is one of the reasons.

Also forgot to mention I beveled the edge insulation at 45 degrees. Circular saw is the way to go on that.


Slab's poured. It looks really good. They put on some kind of a sealer that will degrade over the next 30 days to help with curing. I will keep putting water on it over the next week or two. We got some showers this afternoon and it brought the temperature down to around 70, which is great.

Put 3 #4 rebar going each way in the footings for the floor posts. It took about 10 yards of concrete to do the job.

Also forgot to mention we made a radon vent. Under the slab, bedded in the stone is 4' of perforated 4" pipe. We drilled holes in left over PVC. Then it T's up into a 3" pipe. This is cheap insurance against something that can cause lung cancer.


Always feels good to get out of the mud  :)
Your 10 yard comment brought the background of a phrase to mind. The capacity of a conventional concrete truck if slam full is "the whole nine yards". But... back in the real world, the truck can only run up these hills and keep its load with about 6 or 7 yards.

LOL, as soon as I posted that... I've heard another source of that phrase, back in the day a formal gown took "the whole nine yards"

They must have been of traditional build


Yeah it feels great to be done with the mud and stone. It's also a relief to have so much time to get the house dried in. We put a lot of money into this foundation but if something ever goes wrong I won't feel it was because we cut any corners.

I probably need to cut control joints in the concrete. The guy told me that 3/8 - 1/2 inch would be deep enough for a 4" slab. Seems like with all things masonry, everyone has their own way. The guy who did the slab said he'd wait till Monday so the saw doesn't pull any stones out of the slab - making the joint look messy.

The other thing I'm thinking about are the french doors - the east wall we decided to switch from a single door to another french door. We are definitely going to live directly on the slab for a few years, but if we ever put down a hardwood floor we are supposed to put down furring strips, then the flooring. This would interfere with the doors opening. We could always put tile where the doors open, I guess. I don't like the idea of framing the doors 2" or so up off the ground. The only other option I can think of is outswing doors. Not concerned with the mudroom, that will always be a (muddly) slab.


Got the exterior first floor walls up. Only have phone pics right now, but framing is going well. Hopefully will have some more pics soon. Mostly following how Larry Haun lays everything out. I love that guy. Will plumb corners then straighten walls and put up the sheathing to hold everything in place.

The second floor deck has an LVL that runs the length of the building. I picked up some rough sawn hemlock 6x6 posts from an Amish saw mill that will support the LVL at the two corners of the the stairwell. It looks like I need to put in Simpson post bases. They make some concealed brackets that look decent. I thought that other option would be to just stick #4 rebar into the slab and drill a hole in the posts (slab is thickened and reinforced with rebar where the posts go), and sit it on there that way (with poly in between slab and post). I can't really find anything in the code on how this should be done. Of course Simpson says your entire house needs to be put together with their brackets, and that includes the kitchen sink. Anyone have opinions?

The other thing is that since the posts are true 6x6 the one piece Simpson post caps wouldn't fit up top either - also the LVL is going to be doubled up to 3" or 3.5".. can't remember how thick they are. It will be 34' with no joints over the posts. Joists will be attached with hangers so the LVL should be locked into place pretty well.


It never hurts to vertically tie everything down. At a certain point the walls would have to leave to uplift interior posts. At which point there are bigger fish to fry. I've also fabbed knife plates similar to the t-rex plates recently linked to in Chugiak Tinkerer's thread.
Look at the end grain of hemlock carefully for shake, separation between rings. Being a slowpoke it is pretty common for it to get soil borne bacterial infection that breaks down those layers... just one more check while grading that species. One of my logger friends called one day to ask if I needed any wooden culverts. Apparently he bought a stand of shakey hemlock  d* I do like the wood, just a check.