plumbing

Bathhouse Back in Business!

Hi everyone and welcome back to the newest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog! We hope that everyone had a happy holiday season and is having a great new year so far. It has been a very busy month for the Bathhouse team. We are excited to share what we are up to.

picture of 4 PVC pipes with faces drawn on them
Team in PVC form

In studio over the past month, we have had some really extraordinary reviewers. We are especially grateful to Andrew Berman from New York City and our good friend Marlon Blackwell from Arkansas. They have both helped tremendously with the treatment of spaces and materiality on the interior of the Bathhouse!

Marlon Blackwell sketching on drawing
Marlon sketching with us

On site, we are very excited to be pushing quickly toward the pouring of our raised concrete floor slabs. The team is working hard to get all the plumbing in place to be ready to pour. We are also beginning the process of building the formwork for the edges of the slabs.

We started the process by working through the underground pipes. Then, we marked out all the pipes on the ground, indicating where they would run under the breathing wall pods. We also marked where they would intersect with our CMU walls. The team went to town digging once everything was marked out. With the help of a few new, brave 5th-year friends, the digging under the breathing wall pods didn’t take long at all!

picture of finished trenches
Finished trenches!

With the help of Steve and his tools, we were also able to drill all the holes for the pipes to run through the CMU walls.

student drilling through cmu wall
Drilling holes for plumbing through CMU walls

Once the trenches were in place, we began to dry fit all the underground pipes and level them with sand to the necessary slopes.

After dry fitting everything, we worked piece by piece to glue it all together. As of this blog post’s writing, everything has all been glued together! The team will test all the underground lines to make sure there are no leaks in the coming days.

We also picked up the metal beams and decking that will support the slabs and have been preparing them for installation.

We sanded and painted the beams. With Steve’s help and working with his tools again, we were also able to cut the beams to size. And he was able to make the notches in the CMU walls where the beams will sit.

Once the beams and decking are in place, we will install the rest of the plumbing in each crawlspace. The formwork will also begin to go up around the edges of each structure, helping support the cantilevering edges of the slabs. The team is currently working on the design of the formwork and has built a mock-up of one possible support.

Although the main focus has been getting ready for the slab pours, the team has not lost sight of the next major step in the project: the stacked wooden walls! We have also built a table, which we lovingly call the “jig table,” in order to be ready to go with the walls as soon as the concrete is done. It will help us the rest of the project with assembling the stacked modules for the wood walls.

The table will provide a surface to align all the pieces of wood together, allow us to be clamp and fasten them together, and offer stability when we drill the holes for the threaded rods to run through.

picture of finished jig table
Completed jig table!

Thanks for following along and reading this update. We hope that when we speak again, we will officially be done with the slabs and working toward the construction of our wood walls!

student joking with clamp on head
Silly Ambar, clamps are for the wood!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

A Variety of Tasks

Welcome back to my journal, dear reader! This log aims to provide for you an accurate account of the goings-on of Reverend Walker’s Home. Might my words inform or at the very least entertain, then I should be satisfied with its effect. I generally begin these entries with a current description of Hale County as a whole, to provide a context to place the actions of my crew.

As of late, the county has sunk into a thick, languid humidity that prevents large amounts of evaporation. This atmosphere results in dense fogs, oppressive temperatures, swampy ground, and incredible displays of heat lightning. It is not a forgiving climate, to be sure. But it is a West Alabama climate and it’s in it that the special quality of Hale County is made.

My crew labors through these conditions with spirit and humor. They are a hardy bunch indeed. But enough of my musings, dear reader, you must think me sentimental. I have set the team a multitude of tasks to be completed. These range from procuring materials and making final orders to wiring and plumbing the home.

Interior Framing

putting in the interior walls

To separate program and create a loft space, a small number of interior walls were built. These divide the living and core spaces, and divide the core space into a bathroom and kitchen, with a small closet facing the living area. It was not a big task, but it was a good feeling to be done putting the bones of the home together. After getting the sticks up we put together the loft floor and were ready to sheath.

short wall

Sheathing

Reverend Walker’s Home uses an OSB sheathing system wrapped in tar paper. The large sheet material makes it a relatively quick process. It was interesting to experience the space in and around the solid volumes for the first time.

before
after

Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing

Before we can get drywall up, we need to install the guts of the home. This includes running wire for fixtures and plugs, running water lines, drains, and vents. Reverend Walkers Home uses a PEX water supply system. Getting to focus on some nitty-gritty MEP details was a refreshing change from rough carpentry.

pulling wires
pex
shower fixtures
water wall
stack out the roof!

Lighting Design

Before we can finish up electrical and get insulating, we need to develop a lighting strategy. To help we used the built volumes as 1:1 mockups, and clamped lights around to draw conclusions. We did this for the interior and porch spaces. Interestingly, our initial idea for lighting the exterior was to use the overhead roof as a lighting device. Instead, we found it far more comfortable to reduce the scale by bringing the light down. This has developed into an overall strategy of letting the spaces be grand and open during the day, and shorter, closer to human scale at night.

porch light brought down

Windows

The quest to crank out window units continues. You will recall the custom cypress windows our team have designed. We are eager to complete these and get them in the house so that we can move forward with cladding the home in galvalume r-panel. In total there are five windows of three varieties. The difference being in the proportion of glass to hatch. I walked into the shop for some pictures, this is what I found Addie up to.

scribing

Indeed, my crew has been hard at work. I have put my full trust in them to perform their tasks well. Fortunately for me, they are a good lot which makes management easy, leaving more time to nap. As the Reverend’s home nears completion, look forward to learning about siding, lighting, and finish carpentry. Things are going to begin coming together fast. Alas, dear reader, I must draw an end to this journal entry, for I have grown weary. I believe I will choose the Reverend’s slab porch for today’s restful occasion.

Cordially,

Taterhead

An Earnest Account of Plumbing & Piping

Hark, dear reader, and hear my tale! In my previous journal, I happily announced the arrival of Spring in Hale County. Indeed, the change in temperature was welcome by friend and feline alike. However, I must admit that the boons of Mother Spring cannot be divorced from her burdens. The tempests of March are frequent, strong, and heavy as to turn stable earth into a muck so thick it will suck the sole off one’s boot. My crew has been battling these conditions in a campaign to prepare our site for an approaching concrete pour. Several tasks must be completed before the slab is laid down, the first being to install plumbing & piping. With a slab-on-grade foundation, all of the infrastructure must be installed prior to pouring concrete, this includes the electrical and water mains, as well as waste drains. Our process for this is as follows:

Student hammers in stake
set batter-boards & strings
students dig plumbing trench
dig and grade trenches
prime and glue
student checking slope of a pipe
check your work
completed plumbing on site
revel in a job well done

Although most of the digging was done by hand, we were able to make use of the trencher during a few particularly dry days. The width and depth of the trench that the machine makes is perfect for laying water and electric mains because it can easily dig beneath the frost line in the area. We are grateful when the weather is nice enough to start the trencher up.

student operates trencher
trenching for water main
student laying pex
laying water main

You might be wondering why there is so much plumbing! Reverend Walker’s Home features a main living volume with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and loft. In addition to the main enclosure is a separate room that we have dubbed the “bonus room”. The bonus room is a partially unfinished space that is supplied with plumbing and electrical stub-outs to allow for many possible uses, whether for storage, a home office, a studio, or even another bathroom. The initial investment into infrastructure will enable a homeowner to quickly and easily expand their home.

diagram of bonus room
supplying the bonus room with utilities gives it many possible futures

You will be happy to hear, dear reader, that this step in the process is complete. My next order will be for my crew to set formwork for the slab and column footings! Despite the sky’s grim countenance, spring brings longer days and fresh growth, and morale remains high! The wind is at our backs and I will continue to push this team steadily towards greatness! Alas, dear reader, the magnolia leaves are dripping water onto my head, and I must retire to my chambers for chance I catch a cold.

With affection

Taterhead

The site cat Taterhead
Your orator, Taterhead

Mains, Drains, and Automobiles

Myers’ Home team is on the run! They’re setting utilities, laying plumbing, and picking up materials as construction ramps up!

Rainbows and lightning galore

These folks had a review last week with Jake LaBarre to refine the building set contents. (Kudos to Riley, emerging expert in construction drawing formatting!) These are drawings that the team references during construction for just about everything. With updated documents in hand, they’re dodging rain and wind for spots of sun on site.

Meeting with Jake LaBarre, from Newbern to Seattle!

Power Trip

To power their saws, charge up those drills, and keep the tunes playing the team had to set up a temporary power pole. With Judith driving the trailer as Bobcat Delivery Girl and Madeline manning the joysticks on site, the pole was set and power nearly ready to connect.

Pipe dreams? Not so much.

Before the foundation slab can be poured, utilities are run, gravel leveled, and formwork is set. To begin work on utilities, more batter boards were constructed in order for the plumbing and electrical to be properly placed. These boards sit between the batter boards which mark the footprint of the home, they mark where pipes will emerge from the slab.

The team marked the utility lines on the tamped earth and began trenching for, first, plumbing and, above that, electrical conduit.

Next, they simultaneously begin dry fitting the joints and noting the lengths of pipe needed in the trench (cut a little long!). Throughout this they sloped the pipe in the trench and checked with the site level to ensure proper drainage.

Seal the deal

Following a successful drainage test, the team began assembling and gluing small length pipes, the shower run, washer, and toilet. After that, they dry-fit to the main drain. They triple-checked the pipes, marked for re-fitting, and primed purple. Finally, the team began sealing with the bright blue plumbing glue.

Madeline and Riley marking and gluing pipe segments

With everything in place, they began re-leveling and aligning the pipes with the position of future stud walls. As sunset approached the trenches were finally re-filled and the new utilities tucked in for the night.

One slab, comin’ right up!

The final steps before that long-awaited concrete truck’s journey to Newbern are gravel and formwork. The home’s footprint will be completed in two pours, one upcoming for the 24′ x 40′ interior, and another for the 8′ x 40′ porch slab.

The house, as of late.

In the coming days, the team will be cutting and setting the formwork for the slab and ordering gravel to level the area before the blessed arrival of sweet, sweet concrete. Hang tight to get the scoop! Over and out.