designbuild

In the trenches

Despite the constant rain and muddy site, the team was able to set the rebar and pour a few days later! By using Steve’s fancy plumb bob, and the previously set batter boards, we were able to find the center of the footings and consequently tie the rebar in the right location. After the rebar was all laid out, pins were staked into the ground (every 5 feet) as a reference where the level of the concrete should be poured to.

Hey, batter batter!

This week, Steve taught us some tips and tricks on setting up batter boards. These batter boards will be used not only as a guide for excavating but also for setting the rebar reinforcement and pouring concrete. The strings that are pulled from stake to stake mark the edges of the footing and the middle string helps to delineate the center, where the screens will connect to the concrete. After the lines were taut and centered, the ground was spray-painted as a reference for digging, and the string was rolled back.

In a day the footing trenches were excavated! Most of it was dug with a mini excavator, but in areas where there were pipes, the digging was done by hand.

Caleb happy we are finally digging the footings!!

Considering the rain in the next couple of days, the team made a provisional cover with 2″x4″ and plywood that was sloped to let the rain shed off to the side. Then tarps were placed on top of the plywood so that the plywood didn’t get soaked.

Check-in next week to see how the rebar was done, and if the weather allows the concrete pour!

Isn’t it grate!

The first grate going up!

Scraps from the walkway grate used as a clamping surface on top

In order to set the grates into the exact place they needed to be, the team used a series of spacers, clamps, and crowbars. 2″x6″X10′ were cut to 9’10” to function as spacers for the brackets so that while the grates were moved around, the brackets stayed parallel to each other. 2″ C clamps were used to attach the grates to the bracket until welded, and 1″ spacers were made out of the wood to wedge between the two rows of grate. This dimension was chosen so that when looking at the grate it reads the same as the space from bearing bar to bearing bar.

View from the second floor
View to the courtyard entrance

This week, Mr.Hamilton, the brick mason finished filling-in the beam that is above the alcove opening. He laid them in an orientation that matched bricks above the windows and relates to the Flemish bond pattern in other parts of the building.

Let’s do some tests!

Hello from Reggie’s Home! In an effort to create a design that fully responds to the conditions of the site we decided to conduct some soil test to determine where the best places to grow Reggie’s desired fruits and vegetables would be. In order to conduct the test we divided our site into three parts: the front of the site, the part where the old family home stood, and the back of the site where Reggie has been cutting down privet. We collected soil from these areas and sent them to Auburn University’s soil testing laboratory to be tested. 

Box used to mail soil samples.

We have also been researching the plants Reggie wishes to grow to figure out what type of sun and soil they need, as well as what seasons the crops would be harvested. This research and the soil test results led us to determine the best place for Reggie to have a garden would be the north side of the site. With this information we were able to get a more accurate master plan of the site. 

Plant research.

In addition to researching plants available to grow on our site we also continued our research with Earth Tubes, a form of passive heating and cooling. Earth Tubes are essentially buried ventilation ducts that heat or cool the air moving through them because of the constant temperature of the soil. A big question that comes with Earth Tubes is whether or not it will work in our climate due to the humidity. Lucky for us, the Rural Studio Farm Storehouse uses earth tubes in an effort to keep produce at a constant temperature. We have been monitoring the temperature and humidity outside the storehouse and outtake of the Earth Tube to see how effective it is. After a month of recording temperature we discovered a change of temperature from 6-10 degrees. With this information we contacted Adam Pyrek, an Environmental Controls professor from the University of Texas at Austin, to consult whether Earth tubes would be feasible as part of our home design. He encouraged us to continue the research on the temperature and humidity of the storehouse and to keep in mind that Earth Tubes are ideal for keeping a small space at a constant temperature.

Diagram showing how the spaces would be divided using Earth Tubes.

With all this information we will be pushing the design of the home as well as the site as a whole forward!

Until next week,

Reggie’s Home

Neckdown part 2

The Horseshoe Farm fellows and Dr. Dorsey came out on Sunday and helped prime and scrape the remaining of the block walls. By the end of the day, most of the Beacon Alley wall was primed and a coat of fresh paint put on the other wall!

The team finished installing the new waterlines and aligning the shut-off valve boxes at the north end of the site, as well as adding a connection for a water hose during construction.

This week Luis also came down from Columbiana, Alabama, and volunteered his time with the team. Luis is a certified welder, and one of the people that taught the team how to weld at Jim Turnipseed’s shop. After the galvanization was ground off at the bottom of the bracket connection, Luis welded the plates to the tube in order to make a stiffer connection.

Mason helping deliver the cut grate to the site. Up next grate installation!