Outer Wall Forms Up

Wall Forms Up

Where is the best place to hide a nuclear reactor? Why, in plain sight of course. So for Halloween I hung a huge radiation symbol on the side of our Big Project where it would be highly visible from the road. People sure are slowing down to stare… What in heck are those Jeffries up to now!” Don’t you love rumor mills?

East, North & West Walls

Today we finished setting all of the outer forms in place for pouring the eight foot high structural walls. Some of the header plates are in place, enough to stiffen and straighten it.

Inside View

The space feels huge. Admittedly it is only as big as one room in some of the facilities I have visited. The New York Opera House is certainly bigger as is the Boston Gardens. But it feels huge to us since we’re used to our tiny cottage. Later as the, er, Art Gallery takes shape this space will get subdivided into many smaller rooms with about two thirds of it refrigerated for, um, ice cream or figure skating…

The pan above shows our entire work crew of nine. Nine you ask?!? Well, we used the Calvin & Hobbes Duplicator to make clones of ourselves. The heavy panels take three people to set them in place keeping them absolutely plumb and level. Click on the panorama for a bigger view.

One of the interesting things about this project is everything is straight, level, plumb, vertical and square. Prior to building our tiny cottage, greenhouse, hay shed and other projects we did from scratch I didn’t get to do see sort of thing very often. Usually I was dealing with houses that were a hundred or two hundred years old. They were, to put it modestly, rather challenging. These old houses probably weren’t plumb to begin with and the centuries hadn’t treated them kindly. So now for fun around here we hold a spirt level up against the wall and admire the bubble. It sure beats TV!

Outdoors: 52째F/27째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65째F/59째F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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26 Responses to Outer Wall Forms Up

  1. Ryan says:

    Looks like the old house is a big part of the structure, not trying to sell it anymore?

  2. Gail in Montana says:

    Tell the kids they did a great job on their costumes!!! Scariest treaters I ever saw. That, er huge room, looks huge!!! When are you going to tell us what it really is, lol.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love to hear someone else quote Calvin and Hobbes. I thought I was alone!

  4. What remains of the old house is still for sale and must be moved away by the buyer. The north wall of the kitchen will be the form work for pouring the concrete. The shed is gone now of course since that is where the Big Project is going up. As I need the space I'll continue tearing down the old house southward. It is future expansion space as we need it. For now we use it for animal stuff such as incubating chicks, piglets in the winter that need extra care, etc. It has beams that could be salvaged.

  5. Reminds me of Tom Wait's "What's he building in there?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMqxNPsfN50

  6. EatsCloseToHome: O my, Waits is spooky… He belongs on Halloween.

    Anony: Calvin & Hobbes are revered here. See Ben's comics.

    Gail: Even better, drop on over to Ben's blog blog for more photos and write him a note. He loves getting comments!

  7. Mary Ricksen says:

    Your wife is a saint. (grin) She really is, trust me.

  8. No, Holly's no saint. She's an angel. :)

  9. Did you consider using Insulated Concrete forms (ICF's) for your project? I'm considering them for our home with a walk out basement next year.

    They do seem to cost a bit more than regular concrete forms, but the insulation is integral to the forms and they say that they stack like legos.

  10. Actually, I invented insulated concrete forms about 25 years ago and have used them on many projects since then. It makes placing the insulation and peeling the forms much easier. That is what we're doing on this project. The insulation goes inside the wooden modules and then bonds with the concrete. When we pull the wood outer forms the insulation is left sealed to the concrete. Works great, is no more expensive than wooden forms and is a lot less expensive than buying the newer ICFs they sell now adays.

  11. jojo says:

    ok Walter, what gives? what are you building now? and i love how you build something this big for something regarding the animals, but your own abode is the tiny cottage.

    I disappear for awhile and now i'm all lost. Is this going to be a new smokehouse? or slaughter area?

    Take us on a tour of the old house! like you did with the photos of this slab titled "big project".

    As for weather and your first snow? STILLLLL 90Ëš weather here! grrrr.

  12. Jerry says:

    Walter, is construction a significant part of your background or are you all self-taught…or both I guess?

    I am keen to see how this, er, Art Gallery progresses. I suspect it is intended for a purpose much like I have been pondering for our farm (which I would love to develop as an intentional community).

    Looking forward to more!

  13. Jill says:

    Walter it looks like homesteadingtoday.com is dead. They have been down now for I think two weeks. I really miss it. I found your blog because you posted so many great answers over there on homesteadingtoday. I want to thank you for all the sharing of info that you do. It is really valuable to me and I am sure many other people. The books and conventional farm lore is that you must feed grain that you cant mix species that this or that and you question and experiment to find out what is really true. I just want to post to say thanks for all that. I hope homesteadingtoday gets up again and you dont abandon it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Nice muck boots Walter. I have those same ones if I am recognizing them right in the photo. I love mine. How do you find them there in the snowy north part of the world?

  15. I cannot wait until the Walters Oprey House and Chacuterie Bar is complete ! This is better than waiting for Santa !

  16. Donna: I like the sound of that!

    Maxine: Yep, Muck Boots. We have nine pair for winter and summer. We love them. They aren't indestructible – beware of nails – but Muck boots are the best boots I've ever had. I need to write about them sometime.

    Jill: Yes, HST does seem to be having issues. Just to be clear, I don't run it. I'm just another users like you. It was a great site and I hope they get it back up and going again. It would be a terrible shame to lose all those archives of information in addition to the ongoing forums.

    Jerry: Holly worked as a cabinet maker and construction worker building houses for a few years. My education is insitu, learned from fixing up a wide variety of old houses over the, gosh – decades(!). In the recent past we've been doing a lot with concrete. I love it because it doesn't burn down or rot. The high thermal mass is an added bonus that makes it easy to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

    Jojo: 90째F?!? Youch! It never gets that hot here, thankfully. We would all melt!

  17. Paul says:

    This is getting to be quite a mystery. I don't see Tye Pennington around, but I have a strange feeling we are all waiting to shout, "Move That Bus Move That Bus!"

  18. Holly says:

    Don't let Walter give me too much credit. Yes, I did work for a couple of years as a worker bee doing construction. I can use a skill saw and swing a hammer. But Walter is the creator, designer and engineer. He gives me a cut plan of what he needs, I cut the pieces and we all put the stuff together under Walter's guidance. He is a modern day person of the renaissance. He uses he in depth understanding of physics, material physics, chemistry, mechanics, mechanical engineering, geometry, electronics, plumbing, the arts, computers, economics, the environment…. And then he experiments (for example building the dog house.) He is able to read any kind of documentation (quickly) including government stuff. And he is, as you might imagine, a voracious reader. If he is going to do plumbing, he reads everything he can get his hands on and then he knows it, and retains that info, forever. I keep trying to explain to him that it is a rare person that can do all that. He figures it all out and the kids and I help him make it a reality.

  19. Holly, you are a shining example of how spouses should support each other, recognizing each others strengths, encouraging each other. You two take the idea of teamwork in a marriage to new heights. Well done

  20. love seat says:

    Beautiful!!… your kids have done a great job!…

  21. Anonymous says:

    the house costume is a great idea!

  22. Squatter says:

    Walter: what made you go with formed walls instead of block? Seems the labor would have been a wash. Curious is all. Thanks, Erik.

  23. In the past we have done both block walls and formed walls. In fact, on the cottage we did both on the same project. In addition to doing form work like for this project we also used the blocks as forms for the cottage since we put rebar in the blocks and then poured concrete into the cores to fill them maximizing the cottage's strength and thermal mass.

    With the Big Project I chose to go all poured walls for greater strength since we're doing larger spans and I wanted some things to lock together tighter. There are some boxes within boxes for thermal isolation and beams that would have been hard to do with with block walls.

    Before we got started building I actually designed the Big Project both ways, with block walls and then with poured walls to see how the engineering, cost and other issues went.

    Cost-wise it is about a toss up since we save a little money with poured concrete but the forms cost that much more to make. However, now we have all of these great forms for building future projects. Some of these forms have already been used on several previous projects. I expect that this will be our biggest project so hopefully we'll not be making such massive numbers of forms in the future.

    Time-wise the forms are slightly faster even with having to build all of these forms. This is especially true since Ben and Will built almost all of the forms while I was then able to work on other things that only I could do. With block work we wouldn't have been able to have this much time shifting.

    It is ironic that we need so much wood to make the forms but the final building will have no wood in it.

  24. Bett says:

    Excellent review of an excellent movie. I wish I could have sumarized it as well. You are living my dream. I WILL GET THERE! Meanwhile I dream and read your pages and plan and save.


  25. Jane says:

    Speaking of homesteading today forums I have found them to be dead in the water for a long time. Their moderators have favorite friends that they boost and people who they kill posts of who disagree. They are very totalitarian. Intolerant of any dissent. I stopped reading them. No loss. There are so many other good forums on the net.

    • Jane, they have their ups and downs and serious issues with management. The forum is a commercial venture which got sold to a new owner and is not being well managed. For a while I moderated the Pig forum there but I got tired of the politics and stopped. They seem to have died again and there is very little activity now.

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