May 29, 2000
Dig Memorial Day
And that about sums up my Memorial Day weekend. I spent the weekend digging a trench inside of the house that will eventually be filled with sand and used to store heat from the solar heating system.
You are probably asking yourself by now, "When is Alan going to finally start building the cordwood walls?" I wish I could say it was next week, but unfortunately there's other stuff that needs to get done first, such as the concrete slab. And in order to pour the concrete slab, I need to do a lot of underground work. The plumbing needs to be roughed in, an insulated sand bed needs to be installed, a vapor barrier and finally the wire mesh with second set of radiant floor tubing needs to be installed. As you can see, this has caused me a lot more work than a standard floor, but in the long run the extra time and effort will pay off.
Secondly, I have only been able to work on the house part time. I would much rather be working on the house full time, but as it stands I have decided to work at my present employer for one more year. I actually gave my notice back in April, but rescinded my resignation when I was able to work out a four day work week with another department. It's a real tough decision, but having another year's income will help us out financially. As it stands now, I will continue my current employment and work as often as I can on the house on extended weekends and vacations. I have also been working evenings constructing window frames and bottle ends at home. Any free time that I have is devoted to building the house, but progress will be slow.
So where were we? What did I do over the holiday weekend? I did a lot of digging. I decided to dig down two feet below grade to install an insulated sand bed that will serve as the heat storage area for the solar collectors. The trench will be lined with Styrofoam board insulation and then packed with sand and 1200' of radiant floor tubing. (You may want to browse the journal entries from this last February and March for a detailed description of the radiant floor heating plan.) The storage area is a circular trench 8' wide by 2' deep.
I am quite thankful that most of the removal of dirt, clay and rock was done with the Bobcat. If I had to do all of it by hand, I imagine most of my summer would be spent hand digging the trench. The gravel pit that we found when we dug the rubble trench extends through the middle of the floor and it took a pick ax and shovel to remove quite a bit of it. I used the Bobcat as far as I could until I had to get the Bobcat out of the trench for fear that I may have to make the Bobcat a permanent fixture of the house.
A final note: I enjoyed one of the main benefits of having built the frame of the house first. I was able to work the entire weekend without interruption due to rain. It rained on and off all four days I worked on the house, but it didn't stop me from working on the trench which was kept dry by the roof over my head.