Colorado Earthship Build: Day 18 (Door frame, plywood and decking)

Today began extra early, around 5am. I’ll give you a big hint as to what it was.


That, my friends, is a bear print. You see, our tent is not all that far from the big metal dumpsters where everyone puts their garbage. They have metal lids on them, but one of them was left open last night. At 5am, Kat and I were woken up with some loud banging. Now we didn’t get out of the tent and actually check, but it would have to be a pretty sizable animal to move those lids. I verified it later when we got up when I found the tracks around the dumpster and took that picture above.

Adventures in camping. We don’t keep any food at all in our tent so unless it is one desperate bear, we should be fine.

Anyway, onwards with the build.

So that exterior door footing was rock solid this morning so Phil had us put the last door in before jumping on to other stuff. Unfortunately, this last door did not go well. We should have done more checking just after they poured it as once your concrete is set, it’s really difficult to fix things that are out of wack.

For one thing, it wasn’t perfectly level. It was close, but it wasn’t perfect and when you’re putting a door on it, you want it as perfect as possible. On top of that, the anchor bolts were all at different levels. Normally you put the nailing plate on top of the bolts and hit it a few times with the hammer so the bolts make an indentation in the wood. That marks the spots where you need to drill. If the bolts are at different heights, you only get some (in this case 2 of the 4) of the bolts.

We improvised and got the marks, drilled the holes and put the plate down. Then we discovered, after putting the nuts on the anchor bolts and screwing them down that one of them was right on the edge of the frame. You can’t drill a counter sink hole in the edge of your door frame where the nails/screws are holding it together. So we ended up just cutting that anchor bolt out completely.

Then we had so many issues trying to level the door frame. We had to shim the one side, but the frame itself wasn’t quite square so we were left with a dilemma: square the frame and then the door won’t close or “rack” the frame over a bit and have it look crooked. After consulting with the experts, we decided on the former. They will make some adjustments to the door later to make it close. It was more important that it look straight.

Here is a picture Kat took while standing in the doorway of the door we were working on. The one you see in the picture is the interior one we did yesterday. I’m the guy in the hat and blue shirt picking up screws. (You wouldn’t believe how many dropped screws I have picked up over the last while – it’s gotta be boxes worth).


After that we all moved over to the west side to work on the green house framing. I was in my element up in the rafters but I’m not in the frame of this next picture.


Here I am, waiting for… something. More pieces of wood to nail in probably.


Unfortunately, being up in the rafters and in precarious positions doesn’t lend itself well to taking pictures, so I don’t have a lot of the actual activities I was involved with. I did help nail in a few trusses, then I was helping put the plywood plates on the upper part of the frames. This is where the solar panels will eventually be mounted.

You can see the end result in this picture.


You can also see the vent boxes that were installed up top, though not very well. Here is a better look.


These boxes are essentially skylights, except no glass. You open them to let out the hot air and pull in more cool air through the cooling tubes. They are pretty big and will vent a tonne of air. Here is a shot looking down through one into the green house below.


I also worked on the pine decking that was put around the vent box. That was another bit of frustration. I had measured my first piece, drew the lines, cut the board and put it in place as a test. It fit perfectly and I needed four more, so I went about doing the same thing four more times.

Then I went to install them and it didn’t fit. While I was doing all of that cutting, someone came along and added another dang truss to the end, making all of my decking boards too short. Arg. By that point it was cleanup so we’ll have to finish that tomorrow.

In other news around the build site, remember that arch I had a picture of yesterday that had its mortar started? Well, here is a shot of all of the supports holding it up.


That detail in the middle, where the logs meet coming from the garage and front/bottom floor now has its infill work completed. They added a few bottles for extra drama.


Here is the longer shot so you can get an idea of where this is located.


Here is an interesting perspective. I was standing on the roof looking down into what will be the atrium. You can see the fort knox version of the form they have built to receive the next concrete pour for the atrium glass.

That big beam going across the top of the picture is the start of what will become the catwalk across the atrium.


All in all, we had some frustrating parts to the day, but nothing really serious. We just dealt with each situation as best we could and moved on. I do have to say that I seem to have developed a habit of having things dropped on me.

It first started with bits of mortar. Some people were working on can wall forms above me and occasionally, some mortar would fall on my head. Good thing I was wearing a hat. From there I graduated to water. On another day I got doused twice by the same girl who was getting overly excited about wetting down something in prep for receiving some concrete.

Today, I moved onto pieces of wood. They were trimming some decking up top while Kat and I were working on the door on the east side and a piece fell and hit me on the shoulder. I didn’t sustain any injuries, but still. I hope no one decides to drop a tire on me.

Kat managed to snap a seriously awesome picture today.


Sun behind the cloud with sun rays coming out all around it. A sign of good things to come 🙂


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