Update – Leach Field and Driveway

So we are moving ahead full steam right now since the weather has been nice to us. We hope it will keep going. There is supposed to be some snow tonight which is a bit of a two edged sword for us, I will explain.

First, we rented a piece of equipment to move dirt again. The first day (Last Thursday) we worked on the Leach field (a leach field is the end of the Septic system). The leach field consists of perforated pipe (2 pipes, 1 1/2″ in diameter and 72′ long) that leach the remaining waste (which is only liquid at this point) back into the ground. It is then filtered through 3 feet of sand, 1 foot of 1 1/2″ rock and then back into the ground. By this point it is ok for the ground to absorb and not cause problems.

Second, we needed to add road base to the driveway to meet the code for Park County. It will also solidify the driveway and make it easier to drive one with 2 wheel drive. The decomposed granite we have on most of the road is like little ball bearings. They are great for a base but do not compress much and make it less stable then we would like to drive on. The road base has more dirt in it to lock all of it in place and make it a nice road to drive on. The snow coming will help, as it will enable things to settle and lock together. At least that is what we have been told. Time will tell.

As the video shows long days in a tractor can drive you a bit stir crazy. Enjoy!!

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Permit me please?!?!?!

As we move along we are learning there are a lot of permits to obtain in the process of building our new home. When looking to build your home it is good to have these all generally in mind for your budget. If you don’t it can cost you quite a bit more than you would expect. So far we have obtained the following, the fire mitigation was one we learned about today at the county building office (fortunately its only $150). Each have one year to complete.

– Driveway $100
– Well $100
– Septic System. $523
– Excavation $100
– Power Lines (no permits but easements and approval from power company)

To be obtained in the future

– Fire Mitigation $150
– Building (depends on sq footage)
– Electric, Plumbing
– Not sure what I am missing here

Many feel that Building Permits and building codes are a hinderance and make it difficult to build. While at times these codes may seem over the top, in reality they are there to protect us and help make sure a structure that is built that will be correct, safe, efficient and affordable for years to come. Following them creates a better home and less headaches in the future. Communication with the county, city and inspectors can save you time, effort and problems through out the project.

It takes a Village…

As we all know learning something new can be both exciting and scary. The learning process has also changed since years ago.  Where the internet search engine Google didnt exist before 1998, today “Google” is now a verb.  “I don’t know, Google it!” are words that most have uttered when trying to figure something out, probably on a regular basis.  I know I do.  Well the options continue to grow as to where you can find content to learn about something you previously were oblivious to.  The crazy thing is you can learn how to do something new and be fairly proficient at it.  Learning what to do, what to avoid, good materials to use, tips and tricks from others who may have done this task 100’s of times.  How great is that!!

One of my favorites is YouTube.  While it can be a huge time waster, looking at endless cute cat videos. (Funny Cat Video) It can also help you learn and complete a given task within minutes.

I will give you an example.  My Dad has  1997 Ford F-350.  It is a great truck. A few weeks back he pulled out from the house and the truck died in its tracks.  Usually that would mean something catastrophic happened.

Google to the rescue. He typed in what was happening and within a short period of time he was able to find out the problem and fix it himself.

This has been very helpful with our project as well. Somethings we have a hold on and will have no problems with. But other tasks will be totally new to us. With help from the internet, friends and other professionals we will learn a lot by the end of this project.

The Rock (No we are not talking about Dwayne Johnson)

So because we are building in the mountains we have met up with some fairly large rocks/mountain sides that are a little larger than we had hoped for. But considering the space we had to move dirt from, it has not been too bad.

When it comes to removing rock there are a few ways this can be done and much depends on the depth and type of rock. Most of what we had to move was decomposed granite. It came out easily and bonus was that it worked great for our driveway.

We have had to remove some of these larger rocks with a huge rock breaker that hooked up to the back hoe that we rented. But unfortunately we have a large one that will need to be blown up. Yes, I said “blown up”, woooohoooo! Even though we are bummed about spending money on this, we are also excited about watching it get blown up. That will happen in the weeks to come. I will post an update as this comes about.

The following video is a little lengthy, but it covers a long week of rock breaking. https://videos.files.wordpress.com/Bnl9rVB0/img_2278.mov

All Roads Lead to Rome? Wait where are we going?

All roads lead to Rome, just not ours. So we built a driveway. But until it settles and is driven on, it is a bit soft. Dad tried to haul his trailer up to the property on Saturday and could not due to a lack of traction. Today Tyler, Ashlea and Dad tried again. This time Tyler hooked chains up to Dads truck and they were able to get the trailer in place. This will give us a place to get out of the cold while working this winter. He will also not have to take up room at my uncles house (thanks Steve for letting him store it over there).

Another funny fact. Weather in Denver has been pretty cold for the past week or so. Around 15-20 degrees. In Pine it has been around 30-40 degrees. We are hopeful the winter will continue this way so we can stay ahead of schedule. Time will tell.

Balance

The Bible says at Ecclesiastes 3:1- “There is an appointed time for everything”. In life balance can be a hard thing to continue to possess over time. Many things demand our attention, but a few items are are a requirement. Building our home is something that, no doubt, needs to be accomplished, but making sure that it doesn’t overshadow all we do can be a challenge. It can overtake all that you think about and try to accomplish. One reason, is that it is enjoyable to build something that you will continue to enjoy. But I have come to find that setting limits helps to keep that balance in most things I do in life. Whether it be spiritual, familial or secular. Our project is teaching me new lessons when it comes to priorities. In our life we have adjusted much of our life due to circumstances. On a project of this magnitude balance to is needed to accomplish a task and move forward. We are working on a schedule for the coming months, for Dad and I having a goal for each day help us to make sure we “appoint” our time properly. Our video below shows some before pics along with some pics a couple weeks after the fact.

Riddle me this, Riddle me that!

Puzzles can be a fun thing to do from time to time. Our current puzzle is a bit larger when it comes to building this house. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to have to fit each piece together to complete it. But we have quickly learned that sometimes you have to set a piece aside and work on another portion of the puzzle. This happened this week with the septic. We ran into pretty big rocks in both holes that were dug for the 2 septic tanks then it snowed on us so we couldn’t access the leach field to finish digging it. This got us a bit frustrated!! But, we just set the septic installation aside and just about finished our driveway yesterday, today we dug out some that is to be Karyn and I’s portion of the home. So we ended the week tired but accomplished. Next week we are renting a rock breaker and hope it will be able to break up the rock we have in the way. If so we will be able to finish our septic tank installation.

Weather Changes Things

So it is the 14th of December and we have had minimal snow in the Denver area, even in the high country. Our property is at 8,500 feet above sea level so the weather can have a large effect on what we can accomplish. Well, last night we got about 2″ of snow that fell. This late in the year causes problems when it comes to progress. The ground starts to freeze and is much harder than you would ever guess. It limits our access to the leach field which is on a fairly steep slope on the back side of the property. Time will tell what we will be able to complete this winter.

The funny thing is I am a bit of a weather nut (just ask Karyn, my wife, I should have been a weather forecaster). I love cloud formations, big storms and watching how they form and dissipate. The video here shows some pretty cool cloud changes that we saw today. Beautiful to watch come and go. This is one thing I look forward to when we live up here full time.

To the Depths – Septic Install

“Everybody poops!” This is the title of a popular child’s book that helps potty train kids, or so I am told. It is, though, a simple fact. Our waste must go somewhere. In the case of building a house in the mountains, there is no option to hook up to city sewage disposal, so we are installing a Septic system with a leach field.

We have had to complete a few things before starting our septic adventures.

We were required by the county to have a system designed by an engineer to accommodate the home and its occupants. The engineer came and looked at the site, we then had to dig two 8′ deep holes where the leach field was going to be located. This was done to ensure ground water levels will not interfere with the system working properly in the future. These were inspected by the engineer before he provides the design. He then provided us a design for the home.

Test Hole 1

It will consist of the following-

-1,250 Gallon Septic Tank two bay system

-1,000 Gallon Septic Tank two bay system with siphon

-Leach field- 72′ Long, 12′ Wide, 5′ Deep with various levels of sand and gravel

Yesterday we started digging the first Septic tank hole. Unfortunately we ran into a huge rock. Because of this we asked a friend who is a builder to come by and give us a bit of advice. He thinks we can break it up with a rock breaker that will hook up to our rental machine. Time will tell if it will do the job, if it doesn’t we will have to blow it up. Which could be fun also.

Today we dug the second septic tank and found another rock about 5′. More rock breaking! Yay!! We then dug the trench for the drain line from the tanks to the leach field. It needed to be 2′ deep to keep it from freezing and being crushed.

We also started the leach field. This is Turing out to be a bit of a task for a few reasons. It is on the back of the property, which has a 12-14 degree slope. There is are a bunch of trees in the way to get access to the site. Slowly we will get this figured out. Video below shows a little of the last couple days.

The weather is saying snow is coming, time will tell. I want to get the leach field dug but that might be postponed for a couple days due to access.

“The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease” – Maintenance

“The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease” has been a philosophy I have used for much of my life. But trying to avoid “squeaks” with our tools is what keeps us safe and running on schedule. No matter what type of work you do, you have various types of tools and equipment that will be used to accomplish any given task. This can vary from a hammer to an excavator. Maintaining these tools takes time, but it is well worth it. We rented our Case 580 Super M Loader Excavator about ten days ago.

In The Cab

Delivery

The Loader/Excavator has done a ton of work so far on our project. Tyler and I have been running it pretty constantly. But in order for it to continue to work hard, it needs maintenance each day. We have to do the following, each day we check various fluids (fuel, oil, antifreeze, hydraulic, etc.) for correct levels. The next item to maintenance is the grease zerks. Zerks provide oil to areas that are high friction points on the unit. There is a chart on the side of the unit that shows what zerks to grease each day and then which others to grease per hour of run time. This will reduce failures in the future as much as possible.

Thursday we noticed as we ran the excavator that we had a hydraulic leak. We called the rental company and they sent out a mechanic to check it out. Fortunately it was just a loose fitting that was leaking and it took him less than an hour to fix it. So something to remember is that routine maintenance takes time each and every day, but in the long run it saves down time and cost the to fix broken items. Not to mention it keeps all on the project safer from failures. Be smart, maintain your equipment.