Colorado Earthship Build: Day 25 (Installing the atrium door frame and more)

Another clear night and another clear day. It was very nice and cool last night but another scorcher today with no breaks from the sun. Kat and I have been pretty vigilant about using sunscreen so neither of us has had any sun burns, but you do come home feeling a bit baked after spending all day in the sun.

We were back at it today, working on the atrium. We were extra lucky today because Lou, the plumber, said we could use his radio. So we plugged in our phones (first Kat’s then mine) and had a grand ol’ time listening to music that we normally enjoy.

That’s nice, Dave, but what did you actually work on today? I’m so glad you asked.

The first thing we did was finish the trex plating that we couldn’t finish before due to the concrete pour we had to finish first. Here you can see Kat drilling away on a piece of trex. We drill holes in it so the anchor bolts come through.


After that, we took that door frame we made yesterday and installed it. Doesn’t this look snazzy?


Another thing you can see in that picture above is the start of the 6″x6″ (15x15cm) posts that we are putting on top of the trex plating. There are two layers of that, raising the wall up a full 12″ (30cm). It seemed a bit odd to us, but they did that because they need the vertical columns to reach a certain height and needed the extra boost underneath to reach it. If you are wondering, these posts are truly 6″x6″, not 5.5″ on a side.

Here we have a picture of myself, Jen and Steve contemplating the Phil as he’s contemplating the stuff down below in the atrium. Contemplation chain, as it were.


Mike R came by and he and Phil had a long discussion late in the afternoon about atrium details. They came down from on high (the roof/second floor), brought their drawings and details were discussed.


It turns out there are supposed to be vertical columns in line with the door. We ran a string line across the whole atrium and the door did not meet the string, though it was pretty close. We ended up having to remove the door from its location and move it south about 3″ (7.5cm). It’s always fun to take apart and redo stuff. Taking screws out of trex is not always easy, let me tell you.

Speaking of screws, it seems the screws of choice for this work site use the torx bit. Now if you know nothing about screws, torx is a lesser used bit that has a six pointed star. The screws themselves are pretty nice, but the choice of bit, to me seems a tad odd. Also, no matter how many torx drill bits they seem to buy, they always disappear.

Anyway, I took a picture of the atrium at the end of the day. You can see how we have shifted the door frame forward. We’ll remove those blocks we put in front and rip a spacer to fit in the over hanging part. You can also see that most of the 6×6 post work is in place as well.


By the way, don’t drop the end of a 16′ (4.9m) 6×6 post on your finger. It hurts a lot.

Yesterday I said I thought they would have all of the trusses in for the upper floor green house, but I was sorely mistaken. Now that I think about it, they couldn’t put those in until the logs are in place, so that means that the bond beam at the back needed to be poured first. And so it was.

That big concrete pumping truck showed up again today and aside from waiting for the actual concrete to arrive, it managed to pour the whole thing. I’m not sure how much of the buttresses were poured, but I’m pretty sure some of them must have been.


Once that settles up, the nailing plate will go on and the logs will be put in place.

Here you can see all of the framing work they have been doing upstairs. There are now railings around the atrium hole and door frames for ends of the catwalk. You can also see all of the interior framing they have done in the previous picture.


More upstairs, but from a different angle. You can see they have put flashing underneath the edges of the door frames on the catwalk. That’s because those doors are exterior doors. The sections over the roof that they open up to are patios. Only the stuff behind the knee high wall will be interior, as far as the two ends are concerned. The center section will have a stairwell coming up through the atrium. You can see where they have left the gap for the stairs on the closer side.


I mentioned a while back that there would be six cisterns in this place. I have a picture of the four at the back after having been put in place. This house will be able to store a crap load of water. At 1700 gallons per cistern, that works out to 10,200 gallons (38,760L). You certainly won’t go thirsty at this place.


Just in case you thought it was being left behind, the arch over the east side garage entrance is catching up to the west side one. I watched one time on the west side how they get the concrete up there and they parked a wheel barrow full of the stuff and then just took a shovel and heaved it up over the lip. That is some serious work out, I’m sure.


Now this is interesting. This is a sand filter built from a wooden frame and a piece of lath. You throw your sand through this to eliminate clumps and make sure that it is all uniform. As you get further into your finishing coats for plaster and such, you would use a finer and finer filter, with smaller and smaller holes to make the plaster more refined. We won’t be seeing anything too refined as we’ll be heading out long before that.


Remember that interior can and bottle wall? Well it’s come a long way. It even has electrical conduit and junction boxes and so forth all setup.


Here is a finished bottle wall around the exterior east side door. It’s very well done and kudos go to Heather and all of her helpers for doing a great job.


Two more build days to go for us. There will still be a lot left to do when we leave, but we have certainly accomplished a lot as well. When we get to building our own place, it certainly won’t be built nearly as quickly.


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