Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Weekly Update

The block wall building continues. The south wall is for all intents and purposes complete except for the bond beam that goes on top. I will probably wait until all walls are finished and add the bond beam last.
The east wall is about half finished and I’ve started mortaring in the base course on the north wall.

Back when I poured the footers for the north wall I had some trouble getting the concrete into the form because the chute on the concrete truck wasn’t long enough. With the hot weather we had that day and the concrete wanting to set up quickly I had a little difficulty getting the concrete to the exact level I wanted. Unfortunately, the level was a little too high (too low wouldn’t have been a problem -- I’d just use a little more mortar to bring the first row up to desired elevation). Being too high means I had to cut the first row of blocks down some.

Cutting concrete block is no fun. I had a couple of masonry blades for my circular saw. The first block I cut used up a whole blade. These blades were $3.19 each and I had to cut down at least 17 blocks, so it looked like it was going to be an expensive mistake. I’d heard of diamond blades for cutting masonry, so I checked out the building supply stores. The name brand blades (Dewalt, Makita, etc) ran about $35 each, but one off-brand blade was selling for $17 and was advertised to last 200 times longer than a regular masonry blade. I read that as being good to cut 200 block if necessary (gee I hope I don’t have to cut that many). I bought it and it has worked beautifully. It cuts clean and much faster than a masonry blade, but it still creates just as much noise and dust as the other. If you ever cut concrete block be sure to wear a good dust mask because getting that dust (silica) in your lungs is bad, bad, bad. Besides wearing a mask I set up a fan to blow the dust cloud away from the work area. Right now a good sized chunk of my front yard is covered in grey concrete dust.

Another advantage of having the diamond blade is it makes it very easy to fill in holes where a full sized block won’t fit. That seemed to happen most everywhere my footers stepped down to the next level. I planned for each step to be located at the end of a full block, but somehow, in the construction of the footers the steps didn’t end up where planned. Oh well, it isn’t a big problem; it just means you have to cut a block to fit, or fill the hole up with mortar or concrete. I was using mortar to fill the holes before, but that uses up a lot of mortar quick; much better to cut a block to fit and save the mortar for elsewhere.

Here are a couple of pics of the block walls. Pic 1 is looking east at the south and east walls. Pic 2 is standing at the northeast corner looking roughly south across the basement room.