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Hobbit Home Progress.

 
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Started on the Hobbit Home, will post when i can.

Ya know,  i posted a bunch of info on my round shed door, then noticed the title of the forum i was posting in ... all natural building...  Oops, sorry guys.    My Hobbit Home is about as far from "natural" as you can get, poured concrete footings and walls, foam insulation on all sides, with s.i.ps panels out front.

Have not been kicked off the forums yet, so i will post updates for you guys when i can, or you can google "undergroundandlovinit"

One really big hole in the ground to start...
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Tell us more!
Where are you
why all the concrete etc
The site looks big.
 
John C Daley
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Thats not a good link [undergroundandlovinit ] its music or pot holing??
 
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John C Daley wrote:Thats not a good link [undergroundandlovinit ] its music or pot holing??



Google tries to put spaces in for you.  Don't let it.  undergroundandlovinit
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:Tell us more!
Where are you
why all the concrete etc
The site looks big.



Ontario Canada.  

I have had a number of people tell me, that i should use rammed earth, straw bale or some other "natural" way to build my home....
My answer, is that i have to get it approved and past the building inspector, so i am using "normal" construction methods to build an abnormal home - in hopes that it will pass easily through the permit process.
Even using this method, i am having my share of hiccups and headaches.
On the plus side, the building inspector issued the permit with very little alterations to the home.

Interior dimensions are 30 feet x 40 feet wall to wall.  Which really confused the architect, as the standard measurement practice is exterior to exterior of wall...   add 6 feet set backs for the concrete guys to work on each side.

Here is the idea...
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Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:Thats not a good link [undergroundandlovinit ] its music or pot holing??



I get that alot.  Either misspelled or no quotations.

Thanks Trace.
 
Dave Lotte
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I would like to point out, that one of the alterations i have been forced to make, are the window wells.

The original idea was to take a 7 foot diameter plastic pipe, push it up against the home, and where ever the dirt sloped - cut it off for a sloped window well.  One small problem... a 20 foot section of pipe is something like 9,000 $, and for 9 windows i would need 3 or 4 pieces.

30,000 for window wells ?  Nope.  

So, i went with a regular large window well, double stacked.
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Dave Lotte wrote:

I would like to point out, that one of the alterations i have been forced to make, are the window wells.

To me it looks like your "window well" is like a light well - you're just looking out the window at the well.
Is it supposed to be back-up egress as well?
Or just natural light in which case, are you loosing a lot of insulation for what you're getting?

I guess in my mind, I would find some way of making the "soil back fill" in the window area, some sort of stepped affair which would allow you to plant into it. Assuming the window does open, I might plant  herbs there so if I want to make something, I could just pop out the window and grab chives/oregano/sage/parsley or whatever herbs you're partial to.
 
Dave Lotte
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Jay Angler wrote: To me it looks like your "window well" is like a light well - you're just looking out the window at the well.
Is it supposed to be back-up egress as well?
Or just natural light in which case, are you loosing a lot of insulation for what you're gettingo.



Yup.  Just a window/light well, egress windows not specified.
All the windows are just to meet the 10 % window area to floor area building code...

Jay Angler wrote:I guess in my mind, I would find some way of making the "soil back fill" in the window area, some sort of stepped affair which would allow you to plant into it. Assuming the window does open, I might plant  herbs there so if I want to make something, I could just pop out the window and grab chives/oregano/sage/parsley or whatever herbs you're partial to.



Backfilling window wells with good draining gravel fill... after the building inspector signs off on the home, there could be a shelf with potted flowers in each window...
 
Jay Angler
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Dave Lotte wrote:

All the windows are just to meet the 10 % window area to floor area building code...

I hear you! There are times to try for exemptions, and there are times to get on with building a home even if you have to compromise to do so!

and wrote:

My Hobbit Home is about as far from "natural" as you can get, poured concrete footings and walls, foam insulation on all sides, with s.i.ps panels out front. Have not been kicked off the forums yet...

 People get kicked of for breaking our "be nice" rule, not for building a house that's more sustainable than most North American houses, even if to meet local codes, you're using materials the Codes understand.

My biggest issues with modern housing are:
1. They're only designed for a 50 to 70 year life-span.  Will your design do better than that?
2. They're really energy in-efficient - both cooling and heating.  Have you calculated whether your earth-berming and design will allow for minimal heating/cooling costs?
3. Many have far more square footage - and in the wrong places - than people need or even really want - big houses make more profit than well designed small houses. You haven't posted a drawing of the inside layout. Do that and you may get all sorts of people chiming in with opinions! Like do you have an integral cool/cold cellar food storage area? Do you have a work-shop area? A kitchen you can cook and process food in? These are the sorts of things permies drool over!
4. You only have to read the latest weather-related disasters (you said you were in Ontario. You guys just got hammered with that bad low that went past mostly north of my current Vancouver Island location) and the costs in destroyed houses, sometimes whole towns, that are happening. If you genuinely believe that your house will survive most of what Mother Nature might throw at it, that is sustainable, even if it's using materials like concrete that are not as "sustainable" as cob.

Good luck with your build, and yes, please keep posting updates!
 
Dave Lotte
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1. They're only designed for a 50 to 70 year life-span.  Will your design do better than that?
2. They're really energy in-efficient - both cooling and heating.  Have you calculated whether your earth-berming and design will allow for minimal heating/cooling costs?
3. Many have far more square footage - and in the wrong places - than people need or even really want - big houses make more profit than well designed small houses. You haven't posted a drawing of the inside layout. Do that and you may get all sorts of people chiming in with opinions! Like do you have an integral cool/cold cellar food storage area? Do you have a work-shop area? A kitchen you can cook and process food in? These are the sorts of things permies drool over!
4. You only have to read the latest weather-related disasters (you said you were in Ontario. You guys just got hammered with that bad low that went past mostly north of my current Vancouver Island location) and the costs in destroyed houses, sometimes whole towns, that are happening. If you genuinely believe that your house will survive most of what Mother Nature might throw at it, that is sustainable, even if it's using materials like concrete that are not as "sustainable" as cob.

Good luck with your build, and yes, please keep posting updates!



To answer your questions...
I am relying on a huge dose of common sense, and the " complete book of underground homes" by Rob Roy.  Apparently,  he has built several of these homes, and not only lists how he did it - step by step - but also what he did wrong.

1.  Life span - the biggest killer of building materials is probably u.v. rays, and the freeze thaw cycle.  Since my home is buried under a foot of soil, and the waterproofing is on the warm side of the insulation, protected from both of those,   it should last indefinitely...
2.  Heating and cooling.  - whenever the wind blows, it makes a negative pressure on the other side of a house - literally sucking the heat out of the home.  With earth buried, the wind blows right over - and yes - reported 20 people dead in the latest wind storm in this area.  Also, you can fry an egg on a black steel roof - my home ?  Put your hand into the grass on your lawn.  Should not need a/c, but we will see...
Note,  i do have a heat loss calculation for the home ( required for permit) but i doubt if they count R1 per inch of light snow - so 10 inches of light snow would make a huge difference over a few months...
3.  Have not posted floor plans for 2 reasons.  First one, is the same reason i will not give tours - do you want complete and utter strangers walking /looking through your house ?   Most people answer "NO!"  :).
Second reason is i dont want the regrets of a better plan.  21,000$ just to get the paperwork done and permit issued - not looking back at what could have been now.
4. That is my main concern...  the weather is getting worse, and i have seen "stick frame" houses built.  No house of sticks for me in a tornado (or wind storm).  I will take a concrete basement under a foot of grassy dirt any day.
 
John C Daley
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Why the timber decking under 12 inches of soil?
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:Why the timber decking under 12 inches of soil?



Why not ?

When looking at building your own home, you need a way of building that you can do yourself.
Plank and beam construction fits the need.  Other methods either require specilized materials or knowledge, or are way too involved or complicated for an owner builder to do alone.

Take pre-stressed concrete pads.  Nice and strong, solid material, but you need a crane to lft em into place - and i found out - you have to use their unionized crew to install them.  Way to complicated for an owner builder to do alone and costly.

That was the 2 different points that had to be met, when i approached the 18 different architects too draw up the plans.  Insulation around footings and an earth covered post and beam roof.  Most of them said no - cannot have dirt in direct contact with wood - not allowed.  Building inspector does not have a problem with it since there are 4 layers of materials between the wood and dirt, and the major fact that the roof is 10 feet off the floor.  He says if i tried to put in a dirt / wood floor, he would deny it, but since it is up out of the dirt ( a roof ) it is approved.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

3. Many have far more square footage - and in the wrong places - than people need or even really want - big houses make more profit than well designed small houses. You haven't posted a drawing of the inside layout. Do that and you may get all sorts of people chiming in with opinions! Like do you have an integral cool/cold cellar food storage area? Do you have a work-shop area? A kitchen you can cook and process food in? These are the sorts of things permies drool over!  

.

I can tell you this, living room, dining room and kitchen are all 15 feet square.  Although the second bedroom is only 10x10, but then bedrooms are for sleeping.

Enclosed back porch may become a welding room.

Seriously looking at putting in a rocket mass heater similar to the 6 inch unit that was in my shop with underfloor freah air vent.  Although, if i am required to install an ERV unit, do i need a fresh air vent ?

https://permies.com/t/40107/hot-barrel
 
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Dave Lotte wrote:

Seriously looking at putting in a rocket mass heater similar to the 6 inch unit that was in my shop with underfloor fresh air vent.  Although, if i am required to install an ERV unit, do i need a fresh air vent ?

I'd ask that over on the RMH forum - definitely not my area. Part is making sure the fresh air is where you need it!  ERV's need electricity to run, but with all the things in a modern home that off-gas, along with our tendency to build tighter houses for energy efficiency, I can understand them being required. Mind you, I'm the sort of person who can't stand "new car smell" - makes me feel exhausted and ill.
 
John C Daley
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Dave, thanks for the explanation about the timber.
If you pour the roof in one hit, at least you will not have joints.
Here they sometimes use balloons to shape the concrete roof.
Reinforcement is added to the shape and it all works well.
 
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Goooooo Dave, we are rooting for you. Poured concrete foundations do not disqualify anything. What you are doing is very exciting and commendable!
hugshugs from faraway, faraway NZ!
 
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I like the concept, but have a couple of questions, please remember, I am not dealing with your building inspector, so may ask some that are facetious on their face.

I see that you are showing 12" soil on top of your insulation.  Is this insulation isocyanate foam?  If so, then it would be closed cell and that might reduce waterproofing requirements.  However, it is easy to crush and rocks in overburden could damage it if there is no protective layer.  I would suggest a stone cover, something like a roof deck ballast that could intercept flow through the soil layer and direct it off the roof to storage or drainage.  I like storage to allow use for plants and other gray water needs.

I do not see a cover on the window wells.  I am also curious as to why the outer wall is vertical.  Using a steeply sloped outer wall on the window well area would increase potential light infiltration, would make the system more stable, more easily accommodate growing plants on that wall and would allow one to create a periscope to bring outside views into the home.  I experimented with developing mirrors that could be elevated above a home that would direct outside views down a shaft (either painted bright white or silvered using something like milar).  This provides a way to bring the views outside into the home with added privacy depending on the upper entrance to the shaft.  The view does shrink with distance, but a horizontal test bed indicated that a clear view was possible and surprisingly pleasing to the eye.  Lack of sufficient light might lead susceptible people into Seasonable affective disorder (SAD).  No need to build potential vulnerabilities into such a great home.  I have not noted use of solar tubes to introduce targeted light into the system to reduce need for artificial lighting.

I see no drainage designs to keep water away from your soil envelope.  How are you maintaining the soil slope as a stable layer on the steeper side slopes?  Heavy rain or even infiltrated snow melt might cause saturation in the soil since that does not appear to have water protection which could lead to slumping of the steeper side walls.  In fact, I have to assume that your soil profile is not a final value as the plan view of it appears to exceed most soil angle of repose. In addition, it would assist energy efficiency if there was a layer of dry soil as saturated soil transmits energy far easier than dry.

Have you considered how to ventilate the living space to ensure optimum oxygen concentrations, especially during winter months?  Lack of adequate ventilation can lead to issues if you use a combustion heating source such as a RMH.  Absolutely approve of import of outside combustion air.  The piping could also allow preheating of that air which should improve overall burner efficiency and reduction of drafts.

I hope you maintain regular updates during construction and even more so afterward so that your experiment can inform others - hopefully without major reconstruction needed of any systems.
 
Dave Lotte
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Richard Henry wrote:I see that you are showing 12" soil on top of your insulation.  Is this insulation isocyanate foam?


Entire building is surrounded by EPS foam, and after doing a 1 year test, i found that in vertical applications, it drains completely even when soaked - same with horizontal applications, as long as it is not submerged and has somewhere to drain - like a roof.

Richard Henry wrote:
I do not see a cover on the window wells.  I am also curious as to why the outer wall is vertical.


Actually, the building inspector said i could not cover the window well, when i mentioned that one of the problems i forsee is some random kid playing on my roof, and falling down the 7 foot hole for my window, he included a well cover in the final permit plans ( must be covered ).
Walls are vertical because you have to remember.... i have to get it by the inspector AND i need to find someone to build it.  I am having a hell of a time just getting the footings insulated, let alone anything REALLY funky

Richard Henry wrote:I see no drainage designs to keep water away from your soil envelope.


If you go onto my Facebook page ( google "undergroundandlovinit" or Facebook search "Daves Hobbit Home Build"  - i have had so many people question my methods, that i posted a couple of videos on the how and why of placement and levels of insulation.
The backfill will be sloped acording to gravity, and then seeded to grass.  The only addition i may add is a plastic sheet "umbrella" to drain the water further away from the outer walls, just underneath the top layer of backfill.

Richard Henry wrote:Have you considered how to ventilate the living space to ensure optimum oxygen concentrations, especially during winter months?  Lack of adequate ventilation can lead to issues if you use a combustion heating source such as a RMH.  Absolutely approve of import of outside combustion air.  The piping could also allow preheating of that air which should improve overall burner efficiency and reduction of drafts.


Just the reason i am looking at a fresh air inlet pipe under the floor slab for the stove, also have a large ERV unit that will be installed, as well as specifications in the final permit that all fans are to be exhausted to the outdoors ( 2 baths, kitchen... etc... )

Richard Henry wrote:I hope you maintain regular updates during construction and even more so afterward so that your experiment can inform others - hopefully without major reconstruction needed of any systems.


I will try to keep updates current on this muti-year project.
 
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Well, i am going to start posting the round door stuff here, since this is going onto my home...

The reason i am focusing on this now, is
1. Delayed start to construction, gives me something to think about.
2. Once the walls are up and the steel support beams are in, the front wall panels are going in, so i kinda want to solve this riddle sooner than later...

Here is the plan.  Pour the concrete walls, install steel support beams, then install the 3 front wooden beams - so i have a definite roofline that i can trace and outline on the steel / foam panels.
Then all i need to do is too stand each panel up ( 120 pounds each ) trace the roof line onto the panel, and cut it too fit.  Screw it into place top and bottom - keeping in mind that the top sections will be up against the roof decking ( with a layer of water proofing membrane covering the exposed foam and the bottom half of most of these panels will be layered with waterproofing membrane, drainage matting and then backfilled 4 feet in dirt.  Hopefully after all that, the steel panels will not rust out too badly, but then they are buried and in place....

Using this method, i will have an 8x8 foot opening in the front of the house - behind the panels that are 10 inches thick.  So, i could have the pivot point of the door flush with the back of the panels, or i can off set the hinge to the other side of the concrete wall on the interior.

Either way, this door should be less than 100 lbs, and solidly anchored into an 8 inch concrete wall.

Here are some quick doodles of the idea.  First one is the wall assembly, second and third are either interior pivot point or exterior pivot point.

Interesting riddle to think about...
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How do the ones on submarines work?

Do they use one system exclusively, or both systems? (interior vs exterior pivot is what I mean by "systems")
 
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Jay Angler wrote:How do the ones on submarines work? )



Quick google search ...

Definate possibility of making the door a step down jamb...  meaning, the outer 2 inches of door are the full 7 feet round, then the inner 8 inches are 6 feet 10 inches for a 1 inch swing gap on each side... just have to mount the wooden jambs inbetween the steel sides of the panel accordingly...

Edit :  cool thing about this idea, would be the matching jamb in the door frame would have a 1 inch lip all around for a seam of high compression foam gasket for weather stripping.
Screenshot_20220602-161931.jpg
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Dave Lotte
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I think i have come up with a battle plan for this round front door....

Cut the blank out of the wall.  So you have a 7 foot round door with a 36 inch threshold.

Next, using a wood saw with wooden guides attached to each side of the blade, draw the guides across the edge of the door steel - rasping away an even 1.5 inches of foam from the door, and an even 3 inches from the frame.

After that, you kerf cut a 2x10 to fit into the slot in the door, as well as a 2x10 to fit 1.5 inches inset into the door frame. ( orange lines in the picture )  when i apply the wood pieces  to the door, i will be sure to give them all a coat of epoxy, so once mounted and cured, it should be a solid connection.
Next, kerf cut a 2x2 to fit around the outer edge of the door frame - this will be the exterior "edge" of the door frame, and it will also be the door "stop" when it closes. ( green lines).
Then, kerf cut a 1x8 to fit onto the backside of the door, tacking it into place and checking door swing - use a 2x8 would give a tight fit, while i may have to go with a .5 x 8 board to get the proper swing.  ( blue lines ).
Then add some black plastic edging ( second picture ) to cover the sharp steel cuts and give it a finished look, weatherstripping on the back of the green lines for air seal...

What did i miss
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Dave Lotte wrote:

So you have a 7 foot round door with a 36 inch threshold.

Do you *really* mean a 36 inch threshold? I checked the definition and found "The meaning of THRESHOLD is the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door : sill."  so it isn't the "height" of the sill - more the width, but is your door 36 inches thick from outside to inside? That's serious insulation and noise dampening!
 
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Jay Angler wrote:more the width, but is your door 36 inches thick from outside to inside? That's serious insulation and noise dampening!



Not front to back, think width as in left to right.  7 foot wide door, 3 foot wide threshold.

The threshold on the test built shed door is 36 inches and works good, and to me it seems to be just the right size for a 7 foot door...
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Thanks Dave - that makes much more sense now!
 
Richard Henry
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Interesting plans.  I do have one concern, I hope you are using really massive hinges, perhaps bank vault hidden pins?.  This appears to have significant leverage when open, which could cause the hinges to sag, making the door stick or perhaps not close fully at all.  I expect you have a strong interest in this type of door, but one suggestion - What about making a round door opening and then making the door from one or two rectangular pocket doors split in the middle.  If the door is constructed of vertical plank, then the center could be offset to provide a positive air dam.  The doors could be hung on a rail (suggest making it accessible from the inside to the rail to allow maintenance) and use rollers from a skateboard to hold the bottom to a solid and interlocking orientation.  The rollers could be set in the door jamb on both sides of the bottom.  With this setup, you will get a really secure and draft resistant system.  Of course you would need to design the pocket into the jamb.  This would allow a flush threshold which would reduce trip hazards.  Advantages of using a center Split system, when the door is opened only one side has to open unless one wishes, reducing "pumping of air in and out of the house.  Also less draft when open.  There would be zero chance that the wind could treat that large door like a sail which it would if opening out.  If the door is hinged, opening in will allow strong winds to push the door off the seals and potentially allow leakage from incoming rain.  Opening out will allow any wind to push the door into the seals, but in snow country might make exiting after a decent snow difficult.
 
Dave Lotte
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Richard Henry wrote:Interesting plans.  I do have one concern, I hope you are using really massive hinges, perhaps bank vault hidden pins?. .



Still looking at hinge options, with the possibility of home made bearing supported hinges, but, keep in mind that the ENTIRE 46 inch wide x 10 foot long panel only weights about 110 lbs total, a 7 foot round door cut out of the same material,  should be less than 100 lbs. - wood trim framing not included of course.

The shed door pictured above was far heavier than that with 4 sheets of 1/2 inch plywood - 2x3 wood trim framing, PLUS 3 inches of foam, and it uses 4 standard house hinges...

Still workin on it though,  gonna build it and find out.  
 
Dave Lotte
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Richard Henry wrote:  There would be zero chance that the wind could treat that large door like a sail which it would if opening out.....  Opening out will allow any wind to push the door into the seals, but in snow country might make exiting after a decent snow difficult.



I will agree, the round door on the shed has a 4 inch screw, holding a steel chain - as a type of door stop.  Twice now, the wind has caught the door and blown it open, ripping that 4 inch screw right out of the wood.
Yes, it can catch the wind, so internal may be best.
Also, the shed test build is built 6 - 8 inches off the ground, and even then, i have had to move snow out of the way to get the door open.
Looking more and more like an internally opening door is the way to go, just to protect the door from the elements.
 
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Richard Henry wrote:If the door is constructed of vertical plank....



The plan is too stand all these 10 inch thick panels against the house, both as white steel siding, and R42 insulation, then cut the door out of the panels - for a light weight, steel clad, R42 rated front door as well.  Add wood trim, plus the swords and dragons head from the front door i have now, and it should be ... interesting

Home made cast aluminium "Sting" swords, with a 3D printed dragons head door knocker - with motion sensing L.E.D eyes.

Ya, i have been planning this build for a while
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Dave Lotte
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Update for ya.

After finding out the measurements of the hole were 3 feet too narrow, and a 3 week delay in finding a backhoe, the hole has now been widened an extra 3 feet on one side.  For a total of 71 feet long and 50 feet wide x 5 feet deep.

Now awaiting the concrete pour ....
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Dave Lotte
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Large round door was looking a little worse for wear, with all the flaking epoxy covering it, so it is time for some T.L.C, while i continue to wait for the concrete to be poured...

Used a scraper to remove the flaky bits, then belt sanded the whole surface with a 50 grit belt sander to roughen up the surface, dusted it all off, then gave it 2 coats of outdoor, oil based, flat black paint.

Since it was starting to drag a bit at the bottom, removed some previously installed small shims, and put in some 1/4 inch shims too tilt the door up off the threshold.  Which in turn moved the door closer to the opening side of the door.  Painted the inner jamb of the door as well, so i could see the 2 spots where it was dragging - brought out the belt sander again, and sanded of a few millimetres in those 2 areas, then repainted.

It is back too being a nicely balanced, nicely closing door... that looks good as new.
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John C Daley
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In Australia we have ball hinges for gates that have long straps to extend across the door and also extends across the post or wall holding the hing.
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:In Australia we have ball hinges for gates



We have all kinds of hinges here as well, but for a test run, these hinges are working pretty good.
They fit in a tight space, are relatively hidden from view, and support the door nicely.

Bonus.  All the 2 inch wood screws holding the hinges on still tighten down great,  and they still have lots of "bite" into the wood.

Looking forward to the challenge of the 10 inch thick foam door.
 
Dave Lotte
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The problem with having the concrete delayed ( or maybe even canceled for this year) is that all the bits and bobs that have been ordered - are here...

65 - 8x8 beams - 12 feet long - going into storage.

While the 165 - 2x6 planks - 16 feet long as well as the 72 - 2x6 planks - 8 feet long are still awaiting the tounge and grooving process..... but then they will have to go into storage as well.

They have all been graded and approved for building.
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John C Daley
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Why has the concrete been delayed?
 
Dave Lotte
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Apparently, i missed my "window" for the pour, now the contractor is 3 weeks behind and does not have time for me.
 
John C Daley
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Its summer for you, why would that be an issue?
Did you set up the form work or did he?
Can you get another contractor?
 
Dave Lotte
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John C Daley wrote:Its summer for you, why would that be an issue?
Did you set up the form work or did he?
Can you get another contractor?



Hired a company to come in, dig the hole, pour footings and walls.   Supposed to have the walls up by mid May.
In another month, will be getting my deposit back from this company ( hopefully) since it will be too late in the season for me to owner build my own home, and start looking for a new contractor for next year.
 
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