Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Knitting Nancy

Here's Cait with her new knitting nancy, which she got for Christmas. She's a great knitter!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Moonlight surveying

Here's a picture I took a couple months ago in the light of the full moon. Note the orange line, indicating the eventual height of the deck, which will be an inch or so lower than the floor inside the house.

One silly mistake

Just a moment of impatience and you're cooling your heels and paying the tow truck to pull your ride from the ditch.

I wish I'd been there to see this take place, Volvo drivers at a Marin horse training ring can be highly entertaining.

You know, given all the horsepower and cowgirls standing around and a few tree branches there must be a way to lever the car up the 6" or so it'd take to get the rear wheels over the berm. Shame I was in a hurry, we could have had a fine time engineering a solution.


Here's an example of the junk that I unearthed from the yard while excavating for the wall. This was what the previous owner used to fill in the brick steps from the house to the patio:

Wood, brick chips, old concrete, any junk he could lay hands on. (I presume the fly was just visiting.) The patio was a lumpy, wet mess since it was largely build right on top of dirt and roots. I'm looking forward to walking on the deck with 12" of airspace to the ground.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Interesting comparison of the steel used in my brother's recently-built slab house foundation in Albuquerque and the steel required by my upcoming wall. The house uses wire mesh while the wall uses rebar. Concrete really doesn't like to be put in tension.

Here's the wall schematic, and here's the house:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Geotech non gratis

I got a bill from the geotech for $350 -- two hours of work to

- check out the back yard and
- write a memorandum saying my yard is built on a landslide of clay just waiting to turn to mud and
- take on legal liability for the work done subsequently based on his opinion

so I can't fault the guy.


The first rain of the season came early yesterday, but it was impetus for us to get moving smartly on the wall project lest the excavation succumb to gravity and water. I've hired a contractor with some experience building this sort of wall, and while it won't be cheap it won't be ridiculously expensive either, about $30K including the drain to the street and ancillary work. A bit more than half of that is labor cost. The wall will have 5/8" rebar every 12" horizontally and vertically, so it should stop the mud just fine.

Here are pictures of a similar wall form system that the contractor built for another client. What's interesting about this is the wall is poured all at once, foundation plus vertical. This is accomplished by suspending the vertical forms from hangers that run from the hillside down to inside the walled area. The forms themselves are made of 2x12 douglas fir with 2x4 walers (backing stiffeners).

We start work on Monday.