Saturday, August 30

Day of Rest

Today is Saturday, and I have to get back to my other job for the next few days. So while I drink my tea before work, and listen to Erin critique my first post for not giving enough background, I'll try and give you the set-up.

At some point, mom decided she wanted a yurt. And at some other point, we decided we wanted to build it for her. And at some other point several months ago, she got her act together and ordered the yurt from Colorado Yurt Company. After consulting with her crew (Erin & me) and her biggest critic (Maddie), she decided on a 30 foot diameter yurt. I'll post more about her color choices and add-ons later. After placing her order with CO Yurts, she discovered that the structure wouldn't be delivered for many weeks - phew - giving us more time to procrastinate and change around decking plans. Estimated shipping date would be August 22. Meanwhile, I asked for an extra day off at work so I could spend more time outside on the construction site, and Erin promised 5 days per week to the project. It will still be a few weeks before I'll actually have 4 days per week to dedicate to the project, but three is good for now.

So August 22 comes and goes, and we get a call from CO Yurts stating they're two weeks behind shipping sche
dule! They want to know if we have our deck/platform finished yet. Ummmm, almost! we say. Not. And so began Day 1 of work.

Last night I couldn't sleep - thinking about piers, girters, holes, dirt, plexiglass yurt top-bubbles, mosquitos, concrete and sun burn. So exciting ~ The best thing so far about digging holes, laying lines and mixing concrete is that I am part of the whole process of building something really big! It is a great feeling to know that progress won't be made unless we get our butts up to the property and get to work.

There seems to be a fair amount of 'give-and-take' at this point, according to Bill...we may have dug our holes a few inches too deep, but it just means we'll be using extra concrete and thereby making the yurt platform more stable, strong and secure. The soil isn't all that hard, so the extra concrete will be welcome in the rainy season. The addition of the fourth girter (and resulting extra piers) means more square footage on the ground and will help with any settling of piers in the softer soil. We also haven't scrimped on SQUARE-NESS and PERFECT MEASUREMENTS! Erin's favorite saying is "error multiplies", so the corners of our rectangle are perfectly square (using diagonals and the pythagorean theorem) & our piers perfectly level and plumb (using our trusty bubble level and our friend Plumb-Bob).

Friday, August 29

Day 2

Funny to begin a blog with "Day 2", however one has to start somewhere.

I am finding this work to be wonderfully fulfilling and even fun. An 8 hour day of digging holes flies by so quickly that I'm sad when the sun drops too far behind the trees and the mosquitoes get so bad we have to wrap up our day of work. Yes, I've enjoyed the last two days immensely.

Here are some of our holes


We began this whole yurt-building process by meeting up with our "man", Bill, who is a general contractor and has agreed to consult with us on particulars and details. He's also a building inspector, so knows all the "right" answers. He also seems willing to bend certain ideas/rules he has in order to help us along and find our own way. We first met with him for about 1.5 hours as he explained to us how to make a foundation and deck for our yurt, and how to draft detailed plans from which we will be working and creating lumber lists.

I have to admit I had no idea where to begin before this meeting, so it was really exciting to see a plan forming in front of us. The yurt almost seems secondary at this point because there is so much work to be done before the yurt even becomes a factor in our daily plans. Also, from what I've read, the actual erection of the yurt can take only 3 days if we're properly set up, which seems like such a small percentage of the actual labor ahead of us.

So Erin and I spent Wednesday afternoon with our graph paper, calculators and pencils (and copious notes from the meeting with Bill) and drafted a plan. We started with a layout for our girters, strong support beams that run the length of the platform, and quickly decided we'd need four instead of three, due to extreme overhang of our joists on the round side of the yurt platform. Then we planned out the number of concrete piers we'd need to support the girters and decided on 22 after much moving around and contemplation of factors and fractions (real world algebra 101). After that, we decided we were ready to jump in and that the rest of the planning and counting would come later.

Day 1 Recap:

Our first day on the job donned sunny and HOT - at least 110 degrees (Mendocinian for about 85 degrees). Bill met us up there and showed us how to make batter boards so we would be able to lay straight and square lines of string above the ground. These lines show us where our girters will go, and also where the piers will be placed underneath them. We had grand plans to lay the batter boards and lines and dig all the holes on this Day 1, but alas, we barely finished the lines by 7:30pm.

It was a great day, and we also spent considerable time setting up our construction camp, complete with shade tent, small table, cool water, and every single tool we could find in our collective garages.


However dirty and sweaty we were after Day 1, we quadrulped it after today. At quitting time this evening, we were both covered from head to toe in a layer-cake coating of SPF 50 sunscreen, bug spray, dirt and concrete. We dug 22 holes, mixed 9 bags of concrete and set 6 piers. We had some logistical questions about the piers that necessitated another visit from Bill in the late afternoon, and discovered our overzealous hole-digging is going to equate to more concrete than we had originally thought. Oh well. We're learning as we go, and okaying everything with Bill.

I can't wait for next week! I'll try and post some interesting information in the sidebar for more background.
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