Between a Rock and a Wall!
Wow! First let me say how wonderful it was to get so many responses from my last post – that is the most comments we have had on the blog since I posted the SOLD one a couple of years ago. So now that I know you are all still reading and enjoying the pictures I will continue onward. I have said this before that it is an excellent record for us as well and a quick reference for when something occurred. It is much easier than looking in the thousands of pictures filed under “construction” then the “year” and then the” month” and then the “date”!!
I am still enjoying driving into the yard and looking at the exterior of the garage and its lovely siding and fabulous colors. Claire noted in her comment that you can see the colors from the road if you look at the right time. So now I like to image what the house will look like when it is finally done on the exterior and I am itching to start tearing off the vinyl siding. In fact I've wanted to do that ever since the house was set down here but have used admirable restraint but not much longer! The interesting thing is that the garage looks bigger than the house from a distance and I think that it is the colors that bring it forward.
But for now we are changing gears and doing something slightly different. It is something that is not for the faint of heart or the weak of back or shoulder! With the grade elevation outside the back door (the one everyone uses) we need a retaining wall. Several options were discussed and discarded before we settled on using the one element that we have tons of on our quarter section – rocks! Yes we are building a mortar based rock wall on a concrete foundation. We poured the pad several years ago – in fact on the day that I took that amazing picture of the storm cloud over the house.
THIS IS A PICTURE I TOOK IN HUNTSVILLE ONTARIO A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO OF A ROCK RETAINING WALL (ALSO SHOWS THAT THE VERANDAH IS DONE WITH STONE BUT I THINK NOT!). THIS IS A LEGACY THAT LASTS A LONG TIME. As an aside – the picture I had first envisioned here was one of Mount Joy School near Ogema, Sask that is made of field stones. Unfortunately I can’t seem to locate the picture!
There are three main ingredients in a rock wall; rocks, sand and cement. So that means that the old farm truck is getting a work out as we drive it to the field to pick rocks and haul the sand it in. Rocks of all sizes and shapes are needed and so we unload them sorted into their category to make choosing the right one easier. The flat ones become the top “plate”, the neat faced ones become the front and there are many more that will never be seen which are all shapes and sizes. It is rather like doing a huge free form puzzle: which rock fits best where and then you mortar it in.The cement we pick up in the city at a building center – the bags weigh 75 pounds and finding someone to help you load and unload in a big box store is never easy.
THIS IS THE MAIN ROCK PILE THAT WAS CREATED FROM DIGGING THE BASEMENT AND THE SEPTIC SYSTEM. WE HAVEN'T YET USED THIS PILE - we are focusing on a different one right now and saving these bigger rocks for the bigger retaining walls.
This is a more complex undertaking that I understood – from a technical point of view that is as I knew it was going to be hard work. It is very fortunate that Ron is a jack of all trades. This seems to be right up his alley – he has always liked doing concrete work and this involves that as well as the jigsaw puzzle part. First we had to take elevations and make decisions on height of wall in relationship to garage, house, sidewalk etc. Then we cleaned off the area, got supplies and went to “town”. I was surprised the first Friday afternoon how far Ron and Spencer.
The finishing work on the concrete takes a significant amount of time so while Ron is doing that the next lowest section is fitted. The height of the wall dictates that there are about 4 sections in most areas and there is a wire mesh that we put down between levels 1, 2, 3 and 4. Sometimes that can be difficult if one rock is too high or we forget at the correct moment to put it in. The sections need some uniformity in height and the width needs to be maintained which can be a challenge as some rocks have a natural concave design and then all of a sudden your wall in bending inward but we are learning as we go. The other aspect is that you don’t want to place 4 layers of rocks all the same size stacked on top of each other so you inter space a larger stone on say 2 or 3 smaller to interlock that and this structural rule applies to the middle, back, layers and top so it can be a challenge to find the right pieces. My analogy is that it is like color trialing for a quilt – put it there and check it out. If it works great if not maybe move it, turn it around or maybe use it somewhere else sooner or later.
THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE MESH, REBAR AND THE DIFFERENT ELEVATIONS OF THE WALL AS IT PROGRESSES. Hm - the picture doesn't seem to have enough definition to see the changes as well as you can see them in person.
So at this point we are about 1/6th of the way complete for this wall after two full weekends. Ron figures it will take two more weekends to get to the end of the garage at which point we will do the weeping tile, put the drain in and then back fill behind the garage. Oh did I mention that the walk out retaining walls are also going to be stone! That is next springs project although it would be nice to get the footings poured this fall but we shall see how siding goes once we get back at the house.
I had some extra days off so I have actually commenced painting the basement walk out outside walls. It is very nice to get rid of that white and bring on the gingerroot! Like my previous neighbor/friend Maria always said "Bernie you are always painting something". If only she could come east for a visit (although we did "run" into each other in London) and see the painting project on now!
NOT ONLY CAN YOU SEE THE PAINT JOB BUT YOU CAN ALSO SEE WHY WE NEED TO BUILD RETAINING WALLS DOWN THERE IF YOU LOOK AT THE FAR CORNER OF THE HOUSE.
So I am also learning when it comes to blogging. I typed the whole document in word and hit copy/paste. Then I cropped each photo and uploaded it from a cropped file - I did not struggle to load a single one but i also remembered to hit save after each entry. Now I am hoping that the spell check button doesn't allude me again (which it didn't!) so I am ready to hit publish and send it off to you all. I'm already planning the next blog entry in my head so see you soon.