Colorado Earthship Build: Day 10 (Packout and concrete)

This day started super extra earlier. Well the story for it does, anyway. Around 1am last night I had been sleeping on my side and I rolled over onto my back and felt something hard squiggling under my back. No sooner had I felt that when it decided to take a big chomp on my back. I immediately reached behind my back and crushed the offending beast. However, he had left a lasting mark.

This was no small creature either.


Not sure how he made it into the tent, but it was the last mistake he ever made. After that interruption to my slumber, I went back to sleep until the alarm went off.

There always seems to be something interesting and beautiful when we get up in the morning. This time it was a mist that was coming off the river. Not sure how well you can see it in the picture, but it was quite lovely.


Anyway, we did our morning things and headed out to the build site. The main section looked something like this when we arrived.


Rob and Helena were busy at work on the stairs again. This picture is partway through the day. They ended the day with four steps done, instead of just the first one they had yesterday.


At one point Kat was put on bottle hunting and cleaning duty. Where do you hunt for bottles? In a bottle jungle. Something like this.


Depending on how picky you are about your bottles, this can take some time.

We both got to do more concrete and mortar work today. First I had to drill some holes in a concrete block that was previously poured, but didn’t have any vertical rebar in it to connect it to the next pour on top of it. You’d think finding a drill with a masonry bit would be simple on a construction site, but that didn’t prove to be the case. We wanted to use a powered drill to avoid draining the batteries of a cordless one. The first one we found was impossible to change the bit as it was rusted together and it didn’t take a chuck key so we couldn’t loosen the bit holder. The second one we found did take a chuck key, but we didn’t have the key so we had to resort to using large wrenches to loosen the bit so we could change it. On top of that, the masonry bit they gave me was really dull.

Meanwhile, while we were trying to sort all of that out, Mike R shows up with his cordless DeWalt drill with a nice masonry bit on it and I had four of the five holes drilled before the powered drill was ready. Go figure.

After that, I shoveled the concrete into the spot and Kat pushed it around and leveled it. You can see the aftermath of our pour on the far right of this picture, where the rebar is sticking out of the lath.


As usual, everyone else was busy too and here you can see they have installed some door boxes on top of the footing for the vertical green house wall. More in the foreground you can see them prepping a piece of Trex for use as a nailing plate. They always use Trex for the first layer that sits against the concrete.


Around lunch time, the big concrete pump truck arrived. We were down the hill filling our faces so I got this shot from afar. You can also see the big pile of logs that will be put in this house, eventually.


Kat talked yesterday on her blog about the installation of some large beams. These beams are the support structure for the concrete arches at both entrances to the drive-through garage. Here you can see a picture of some extra supports put up in the middle to make sure they don’t give way when the concrete is poured.


And concrete pouring they did. Well, for a little while. Unfortunately, they had some technical issues, which resulted in a big spill. So I came up with this parody.
(Sung to the tune of Wheel In The Sky by Journey)

Oh, the concrete in the sky it ain’t pourin’
Don’t know where the blockage is
Oh, the concrete in the sky it ain’t pourin’
Maybe we’ll get some tomorrow


This is what the setup looked like, with the pump truck up front and the cement trucks backing up to it. There was a blockage or something in the line and a whole whack of concrete got dumped on the ground between the two. That was no fun at all. I’m just wondering how that will affect the structure.


After the failure of the big pour, the truck departed and we were left doing what we were doing without the noise of a huge engine going right beside our ears. Kat and I were doing more packout in the afternoon. We’re getting close to finishing that wall near the stairs.

When the day ends I usually try to walk around and see what else is new. I found that they had put in the rebar for the dome that will be going over the entrance to the garage on the west side. We will have the same thing on the east side entrance as well, but ours isn’t in place yet.


Remember that bottle work beside the door that goes from the house to the garage? Well, it’s done. I have a picture of it, and all of the new can work they did today for the bond beam form.


I mentioned yesterday that they had put the can wall form on top of sheets of lath, but I wasn’t quite sure why. Well my guess, it turns out, was correct. I asked Phil this morning when I got there about it and he confirmed that it was just a timing thing. They didn’t have time to packout and let set all of the the tires that needed to be done to get ready to lay the form, so they just used the lath.

Hurray for correct guesses 🙂


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