Homestead Construction #6 – Walls are up!

The masonry walls are complete!

It has taken two weeks, but the external walls of the house and two internal masonry walls are fully up and filled. With the walls up, it is really starting to seem like a house.

The first pallets of block arrived on October 1st and were placed onto the concrete slab. Plastic sheeting and sheets of OSB (to be used later in the roofing) were put down first to protect the concrete slab. It is likely that we will want to stain it later if we use it as our primary flooring in some parts of the house.

The initial courses of block were put down in the corners and north wall. There are no doors or windows in the north wall, so it was the fastest and easiest wall to start with. The first course of block was a bond beam set (horizontal #4 rebar and channels for a continous length of concrete to be poured in later). Six courses of block (8x8x16″) were placed to get the walls up to 4′ in height.

The blocks between the east and south wall corners were then placed. The overall feel of the house started taking shape. You can see the spaces left for the door in the east wall and the door and windows in the south wall. A large portion of the south wall will be glazing to allow for the thermal mass of the walls and foundation to absorb the heat and reduce our accessory heating demand.

Next, the block for the west wall was filled in and all the walls were brought up to 4′ high. The two interior wing walls were also built up to 4′. This picture was taken from inside the orchard to the southwest of the house. Looking up from here, it is starting to feel like a fort or castle…

A pump was brought in to pump 8.5 yards of concrete (3/8″ aggregate) into the channels for the bond beams and down into each of the cells of the individual blocks. Scaffolding was set up to allow easier access to keep building the walls up to the full 8′ height. The same progression was used to put up the next courses of block (corners, north, east, south then west walls).

In this picture, the final east door and window opening are visible. Sections of 2×8 lumber were used to buck out the rough opening and support the blocks forming the lintels. Rebar (#5) was placed under and above all window openings in the bond beam blocks. Vertical rebar was placed to overlap by 2′ with the sections sticking up vertically out of the foundation. Control joints, two on each wall, that allow for expansion of the masonry are visible below.

The south and west walls were filled in to their final heights, with the window and door openings in place. Sections of rebar were cut and bent into an “S” shape to hook the top horizontal steel together with the rebar above the windows and doors. The interior masonry walls were also finished up to 8′.

Finally, the concrete pump was brought back out to the site. Here is a pic of the delivery truck feeding into the pump:

The concrete was pumped into the walls, filling all the bond beam courses and individual cells up to the full height of the wall. The mix was smoothed flat and 5/8″ j-bolts were inserted into the mix with 2 3/4″ of the bolt sticking up out of the wall. The bolts were placed approximately 4′ apart and positioned so that they would not interfere with the necessary positioning of the truss hangers (2′ on center across the top of the walls).

Most of the electrical infrastructure will be placed in the interior walls. However, in some areas that would be difficult to reach, 1/2″ conduit was run inside the blocks and connected with deep outlet and switch boxes that were placed into cut-outs.

It took a total of 4 inspections to get through the last two weeks. The good part is that we won’t have to get another inspection until the roof is on, the internal walls are roughed in and the top electrical and plumbing is in place.
Tomorrow, the roofing supplies will be delivered to the site. The trusses are scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, so it promises to be another busy week!


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