Our Net-Zero Home in Long Beach, California

Living the Change We Want to See in the World

  • Starting & Stopping & Starting

    Unfortunately, our blog entries kind of mimic the pace of progress on our green, dream home. After getting City of Long Beach approval of our Construction Documents as scheduled, we had a bit of a delay in getting started on lot preparation (mid August).

    For us, lot preparation was a fascinating and unknowingly, complex process. Our concrete subcontractor had to dig 4 feet under the footprint of our slab foundation. Our soils engineering company provided an engineer who watched the dig and monitored and measured the refilling and compaction of the dirt that will be under the foundation. At one point it looked like we were building an Olympic swimming pool and size-wise, it wasn't too far off from being one.

    By the end of August we had a level and compacted lot.

    And then we waited.

    We waited for our subcontractors and services providers to come to a consensus on how to deal with the retaining walls on the east and north sides of our lot.

    As you can see from the photo above, our lot sits below the lot to the east (right side of photo) and the lot to the north (top-left of photo). Note that the lot to the east is our current house. The design of the retaining walls was more complicated than anyone expected because of the lot situation and the location of the house on the lot.

    Eight weeks later, we were ready to dig the footings for the retaining walls and the footings for the slab foundation.

    Looking more like a subterrainean maze, the trenches for the footings gave us a better view of how the house will sit on the lot and the relative sizes of the 1st floor rooms. The forms for the footings and rebar were next.

    In our estimation, there was enough rebar in the forms to build a small bridge or to keep the foundation intact after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. The next problem lurked in the above photo. The wooden "plate" with the two bolts sticking out vertically are where we attached structural steel, box-section columns. Unfortunately, when the subcontractor responsible for erecting the mnmMOD walls inspected the forms, he determined that the configuration of the plates where the steel columns attach would interfere with installation of the walls.

    Back to the drawing board and 2 weeks later we reworked the forms. Here is the before and after:

    And we were able to pour concrete into the foundation footing forms and strip the forms.

    Next stop: Stop.

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