The Tortoise and the Hare

With the first 8 feet of the North side waterproofed, it was time to berm up the fill. Although Dozy is a tough little worker, he is small and his bucket doesn’t cary much material.

On the up side (forgive the pun), Dozy is great for getting into tight spots like here in the NE corner.

Since we had a lot of material to move, we enlisted the help of Tyrell the tracked loader.  He made quick work of moving sand up to the house and even did some digging into the hill that will provide some of the additional fill we need to cover our house.  (upper right in this photo)

Now we are ready for the waterproofing contractor to come back and continue.

All Tanked Up

This is our West retaining wall/root cellar now fully encased in concrete.  As you may have read in a previous post, this is an old septic tank. (fully cleaned and sanitized:-)  We had two inches of structural foam sprayed on the sides and top. This was then tied into the retaining wall with lots of fiberglass rebar, basalt roving (for reinforcement), and of course even more concrete.  The bottom, which now has a concrete floor, was not insulated so as to allow the coolness of the earth to transfer into the cellar. Over half of the tank will be buried within the berm.  We will eventually extend a hip roof off of the North side to create covered firewood storage.  This will also help shade the exposed concrete on the tank from absorbing solar heat.

Mole Hill out of a MountaNOAA

Well the first 8 feet of waterproofing is applied to the North side of our house.  Now to cover it up and build up the berm so when the contractor returns, he will be starting from “ground level”

John from Busy Bee Excavating brought 12 loads of sandy fill that is surplus from the construction of the NOAA base in Newport.  We don’t have enough material on-site to cover the house so it is great that this fill material is available. (It’s free + the cost of delivery)  It is mostly sand and will be a great for drainage around the house. Eventually we will need to import some clean “earth” fill to top off the berm so that we grow stuff on it.


In between loads, I was busy with Dozy moving the fill into the corners.  I had a rough start as the carburetor got fouled up and I had to take it apart to clean it.  John was still making deliveries when I left for town so I will have my work cut out for me this coming weekend making a nice even berm for when the waterproofers come back.

Water Proof

Before and…


Today, Scot and Dave from LDC Inc arrived  to start putting up the waterproofing on our house.


Starting at the base and working up they were able to get the first 8 feet on the entire North  side of the house.   Then they draped a drain mat material over the waterproofing. We will then start bringing in fill material to berm up to that height.

Though most of the fill will be arriving Tuesday & Wednesday, we used Johny (after being filled up by Dozy), to get some of the fill that we had on site into the corners.  Much more efficient than using a wheelbarrow.

We also poured a concrete floor in the root cellar.  Next project for the cellar will be to make a door and then some shelving.


Mor tar

Since starting our retaining wall project, we have been faced with lumps in the mix which would clog the hand held shotcrete sprayer.  That is because we had been using a cement mixer which isn’t designed to create a super smooth mix.  Mortar mixers are designed for just that. Since we will also need to be mixing lots of stucco and plaster, we decided to invest in a mortar mixer. As you can see in the picture, it’s not very pretty but it is electric instead of the more common gas powered units.  It has taken a long time to find one that is electric but we didn’t want to deal with the noise and upkeep of a gas engine.

It is great having this machine as it made the perfect mix for shotcrete.  It is also a lot easier to load with cement because you just break the bags on the grate over the barrel. (see the first picture)  We completed the East retaining wall and got most of the outer side of the root cellar coated.  We also finished installing the waterline that will be buried under the NE berm.

Tomorrow the contractor comes for “Stage One” of our shell waterproofing.

Under the Briar Patch

Today we only had enough material for 3 batches of cement to spray up on the West retaining wall.  There will be more to do next week before the waterproofers come the following Monday.  They will be working from the ground up on the North side and will only go as high as they can reach.  We will need to bring in fill material and berm up to that level.  The contractor will then come back and continue up and over the shell.

But before we can start the berm, we need to extend the waterline that goes to the hose bibs on the East and South sides of the house.  Time for Dozy to do some digging.

Here We Go

Thanks to our able-bodied assistant Ken, we were able to start spraying shotcrete on our West retaining wall.

He was kept busy at the Cement mixer while Jeff and I sprayed and troweled on the cement.

  We still have a fair bit to go and will continue tomorrow until we run out of cement.  There will be more to do next weekend too.  The exciting news is that the contractor will be coming Monday the 23rd to start on the waterproofing.

More Foam Panels?!

Just when we thought we would never have to deal with white foam panels, here they are again.  On the East retaining wall we used corrugated plastic panels to form the wall.  But we found them to be difficult to get the shotcrete to stick which resulted in a less than pretty wall. (we were also just figuring out how to use the sprayer)  This time we decided to go with the White polystyrene foam boards that we have left over from the forming of the shell for the West wall.

It took much less effort to set up the forms and thus went along quicker.  Here Jeff is tying wire through the foam to keep it in place for the shotcrete…..Which will start tomorrow.

Something’s Afoot-er


This weekend we got the footings for our west retaining wall/root cellar filled with concrete. We could not have managed it with out the help of our friend Johny who manned the mixer and kept the “Mud” coming.

Next, Jeff and I completed the  fiberglass rebar and basalt roving reinforcement for the wall.  We just have have to put up the forms for the wall then we will be able to  spray the shotcrete. Hopefully this will be accomplished next weekend.

Jeff inside our future root cellar. It’s not real big but it will be the perfect place to store our bountiful apple crop and probably some wine.

Yes, I know, it looks just like a septic tank.

All Tanked Up

This weekend we worked on on our West retaining wall foundation.  We will be incorporating a root cellar into the structure of the wall.  Which in this case is (and don’t get grossed out), a decommissioned septic tank . Don’t worry, there was no “organic” matter in the tank and I scrubbed it with an industrial strength biohazard cleaner.  See…

It’s not really big (1000 gallons) but it will be a great place to store our apple harvest.  I had it sprayed with over 2″ of structural foam.  It will then get encased in concrete and be partially buried. We will also pour a concrete floor to create a flat surface. It should stay nice and cool in there.

Next weekend we will will be mixing concrete for the footings…..Mother Nature permitting.