Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes the green shoots of a rear wing are starting to rise from the sand pad as a recently delivered pile of concrete blocks are turned in to the footings!!
Early last week I reported on the concrete pour into the trenches that marked out the walls of our new rear wing. The concrete job was done-and-dusted* by close of business last Tuesday leaving way clear for the brickies* to get to work laying concrete blocks as the base of the rear wing’s walls. The blocks will be built up to the level of the floor where they will provide a strong base for the metal work that will frame the walls of the new building but before that happens the building’s drains will be laid and then, to my great joy, it will be concrete pouring time again as the rear wing’s concrete pad is constructed.
As the rear wing starts to grow work beside N. Witchduck Road is also ongoing with old pipe work being removed from under the car park, the storm-water drains being dug, the footprint of the new storm-waters marked on the ground and the beginnings of the new entrance to the ODEC campus.
It has been a busy week on the ODEC building site with the promise of much more in the coming week, in the meantime stay safe and stay healthy, David Beach.
Colloquial English Translations:
* done-and-dusted: completely finished
* brickies: bricklayers
It’s 23 June at 0635 and it’s a veritable “bee-hive” of activity on the rear wing building site with concrete trucks, concrete pumps and concrete contractors laying the building’s “footings!” and your correspondent was there to capture he moments.
First a brief re-cap, over the past two days trenches were dug into the sand pad and then rebars (steel bars) were laid in the trench. The purpose of the rebar is to reinforce the concrete that will be poured into the trench to form the base of the building’s foundation and to “tie” concrete blocks to the concrete base (to the layperson the rebars sticking up from the concrete base help make a strong bond between the base and the concrete blocks).
Now I have to say for someone who likes the big yellow equipment this morning was a joy to behold although a little noisy for a peaceful neighborhood that’s just stirring for their first coffee of the day. At the very edge of the sand pad, with its stabilizers spread wide like some giant insect complete with its colossal proboscis hovering over the site, sits the concrete pump truck. To feed the pump truck’s insatiable appetite there’s a convoy of cement mixer trucks (you know the ones with the rotating barrels to keep the mix fresh) and in the trenches there’s a band of construction workers taking care of the fine details.
A concrete mixer, with warning alarms blaring, carefully backs up to the rear of the pump truck and connects the feed. Barrels churn and pumps rumble as they take up the strain and suddenly the proboscis is disgorging concrete into the trench in response to remote control delivery instructions. The chaps in the trench leap to work with crowbars and shovels to make sure the spread is consistent; the smallest gaps are filled and there are no air pockets. It takes about 20 minutes to deliver and lay the concrete load and as the now empty cement mixer makes its way back to base for a refill another takes its place and the “concrete dance” goes on!
By the end of the day the concrete will be ready for the bricklayers to start their work and from our sand pile the rear wing shall start to rise!!
Stay safe and stay healthy, David Beach.
To the layperson’s eye, and I count myself among their numbers, outward signs of construction progress over the last couple of weeks might seem a little hard to detect but, like the proverbial duck appearing to be floating effortlessly along on the surface whilst its little legs are going ninety to the dozen below the surface, there’s been bags of action behind the scenes!
To me a construction project is a relay race with the “building-baton” getting passed on from one construction leg to the next with the “baton” being the construction plans. Just like a relay race there is a right and wrong way to pass that baton and in construction passing that baton is all about making sure the completed work provides a firm basis for the next phase. In our case there was a need for a bit more work and that entailed revising parts of the site construction plans, a practical demonstration in the wisdom of “measuring once and then measuring again,” something that every bit of DIY work I have ever done stands testament to my failure to follow that piece of advice! With corrections in place construction is again moving forward at a pace……weather permitting of course, and I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Over the last couple of days our sand heap, having passed “geo testing” (a technical term that basically means the heap is packed down enough for construction – bit like making a sand castle with a plastic bucket) so it can support the next phase, which is digging the “footings” for the rear wing. As you would see, if you visited the site, those footings have been dug and now the outline of the rear wing is marked out by trenches, about 3 feet deep, that makes the site look like a model for a First World War a movie set. Next week, weather permitting, concrete will be poured into the bottom of those trenches to form the base for the concrete building blocks that make the foundation for the walls.
Meanwhile, our site contractor, Higgerson, will start excavating the storm water settling tanks beside N. Witchduck Rd. A piece of work I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs and that bring me to the weather or to be more accurate, the weather forecast.
This week the weather forecast predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms all week and, as we’ve learnt, you don’t move earth in the rain. So Higgerson, not wishing to turn the site into a quagmire, held off moving earth in the expectation it was going to be very wet, so no digging. As an aside our ODEC team postponed lifting the labyrinth bricks for the same reason (a relief to my back). In the event after a somewhat inclement start it has been rather a nice week but even so the forecast has been for rain and then more rain and by the time it was obvious the weather forecast was not quite on the money, and not wishing to leave large open pits beside a public road over the weekend, it was too late to start the digging.
Next week should see significant progress on the site so let’s hope we get a dry, or at least predictable, week.
In the meantime I hope you have a blessed weekend, stay safe and stay healthy,
“Would you Adam and Eve it?”* we have a sand pad!!! And not just any, common place, run of the mill pad but a mighty pad that really emphasizes the difference in the level of “grade” between the back of library and AFH (for us amateurs the ground slopes down from the back door towards AFH). The pad is the results of many lorry* loads of builder’s sand (yes there’s even a difference between sand types) and innumerable passes by the big yellow roller and is ready and waiting for the next phase, laying the rear wing’s concrete pad.
As Higgerson’s work on building the pad neared completion their attention has started to shift to clearing the area beside N.Witchduck Road so Precision Pipe can return and construct two of the three stormwater holding tanks and connect the system to the storm water drainage system.
Readers will recall my last blog reporting the issue of establishing the finished floor level for the new wing. Well that is now resolved but “behind the scenes” Scott Crumley et al continue to review and check the planning details for the next construction activities.
Be safe and stay healthy, yours aye David Beach
* “Would you Adam and Eve it?” – Cockney rhyming slang for “would you believe it?” Cockney is a person born in East London within earshot of the sound of St Mary Le Bow Church bells.
* Lorry – truck.
Another week of learning for your correspondent and in blogging I must be careful not to over awe you with technical acronyms like “DI” or “FG” or even “FF” – I thought acronyms were strictly a NATO curse but apparently not so – but, as I have found out, if you are trying to work out the height of the finished floor (FF) in the new building with respect to the finished grade of sand (FG) taking into account the direct intakes (DI) to the new storm water drains it’s all very meaningful!
Who am I trying to kid with all of this “construction speak”? To the layman, and I am certainly one of those, the challenge is to get the new “sand pad” at the right height so that when a four inch thick concrete pad is poured for the new wing’s the floor will align with the level in the existing buildings. The builders use an incredible arsenal of technology to get this right but, as we discovered, at the end of the day it’s the good old MkI eyeball of Scott Crumley that spotted a small error in the calculations, a very good thing to have caught now because setting it to rights is a simple matter.
There has also been a good deal on site discussion on the layout of a concrete ramp that will provide access from the new rear wing’s back door as per code. The objective is to hide the ramp so although it is very fit for purpose it blends in with what will eventually be the finished earth contour without disturbing the flow of storm water into the drainage system. A solution was thrashed out and I think the result will be quite pleasing to the eye!
It has been a very slow period for the pip-laying enthusiasts among us. Everything is on hold pending the arrival of a particular type of structure that’s used to join the 24” concrete pipes to what will be the first of three storm water tanks. Thankfully, we haven’t seen the last of Precision Pipe and we can expect them back on site once the structure arrives along with their impressive array of big, yellow machines.
If you haven’t seen the rear wing’s sand pad in “the flesh” there are some photos on our Flickr site and with that and until next time, be safe and stay healthy, yours aye David Beach
It was a quiet, rain soaked, end of week on the building site with the main action focused on finishing the storm water drain at the rear of the building by installing the “24 junction pipe” – (I’m sure there’s a better name for it) where the new storm water tanks will eventually connect to the drainage system.
The installation was a hazardous operation not only from the normal work safety perspective but also because it demanded the careful removal and then reinstallation of a small segment of fence between the ODEC property and our neighbor. The removal and reinstallation works were trusted to no less an expert than the Higgerson Site Superintendent himself and through his skillful labors it seems to have gone off without a hitch (hopefully I’m not tempting fate!!).
Whilst Precision Pipe were installing the junction pipe Higgerson got on with the job of turning the rear of the building into a beach as they started to lay and compact the sand that will underpin the concrete pad for the rear wing structure. For me the exciting thing about the pad is it is first part of the construction that is actually above ground, albeit a mere 18” but it is a start, and watching the choreography of the dump trucks, excavator and heavy roller has been a delight (I keep hinting about driving the roller but so far no takers!).
I need to end with an apology. It has been, quite rightly, pointed out to me that sometimes I sway into colloquial English and use terms that might not be so familiar to everyone. When I’m guilty of that please forgive me and to mitigate the problem in future, I will add a short addendum to each blog with an explanation of any colloquial terms I’ve used and to start that by looking back to a previous blog:
“Rubber wellies”: “rubber wellington boots” or just “rubber boots”
Stay safe, stay healthy, David Beach.
As they say in the game of cricket, quite often as it happens, “rain stopped play” and so it was for much of this week on our construction site. Those in the know, and thanks to getting “Soil 101 Introduction” training this week even I’m on the very cusp of understanding, you don’t mess with wet soil for not only does compacted wet earth do weird things when it dries out but also the “tracked” monsters quickly turn any wet patch into a quagmire, as I found out to my cost (this coming week I’m investing in a smart pair of wellies!).
However, even rain was not enough to stop Ryan the site superintendent, he is the gentlemen with the fine whiskers, and his intrepid band of construction workers from making progress. At the back the pipe laying task is all but finished and Higgerson Inc (site contractor) has made a start in preparing the area for the new rear wing’s concrete pad. Meanwhile the Precision Pipe gang have been assembling all of the plastic, milk crates into even bigger plastic milk crates and have create what is possibly the world’s biggest milk crate – who would have imagined when we set out on this endeavor that we, with our giant milk crate, could rival Cawker City’s World’s Largest Ball of Twine as an attraction?
Sadly for our prospects as a tourist attraction the giant milk crates are, of course, part of the storm water treatment tank system that will remove pollutants and nutrients from our storm water run off before discharging it into the Chesapeake Bay’s water catchment area. In the coming weeks Precision Pipe will be digging two of what will eventually be three treatment tanks and installing filtration material and the giant milk crates.
I couldn’t end without mentioning the big yellow Tonka toys that are now in abundance on our site. As reported the big excavator is now back in operation and has not only been joined by a smaller version of itself but also by very large, heavy roller – something, that for some reason lost in my distant childhood past, I have always wanted to drive!!
I hope you have a safe and healthy Memorial Weekend.
Go with peace and courage, David.
Some great milestones achieved over the past few days! Where shall I start….with the drains, where else?
It has been the week of the “drains.” By midweek the new storm water drain, the 24” concrete pipes with service covers that look like tank hatches, was completed and cut into the existing system so in future storm water will rush into the Chesapeake water catchment area via this new pipe. The next accomplishment was to re-route the small courtyard drain so it won’t discharge water into the new rear wing and last, but not least, to re-route the drains/sewer lines from AFH and the Day School to wherever drains and sewers go, bottom line is the toilets work again. With that Precision Pipe Inc are ready to hand over the area to Higgerson Inc for soil grading, but that’s for next week.
Meanwhile many milk crates, aka “storm water treatment system,” have arrived on site. These are for the storm water settlement tanks that will be dug alongside N Witchduck Road. This will be Precision Pipe’s next task so more to follow on that next week as well.
As you may recall, AFH is undergoing a much-needed makeover and this week the AFH curb appeal improvement project was completed by the planting of 30 Suwanee River Ligustrum shrubs that will be cultivated into a fine hedge. The AFH exterior maintenance project is also in full swing and should be finished early next week. The projects have made a huge improvement to the look of both the house and the curb and whilst the property might not be quite as grand as its neighbors it certainly doesn’t look too out-of-place.
Two more items to report.
Whilst Gretchen and I were walking the site mid-week, as I recall I was trying to resolve a major query on the location of the porta-loo (UK vernacular for the USA’s porta-john), one of the Precision Pipe guys rushed over and, with no small degree of sincerity, presented us with a root in the shape of a cross that he’d dug up whilst removing some old pipe work. It’s about 18” by 18”, covered in caked mud and to be totally honest a complete surprise! Both of us were lost for words beyond a rather mumbled “thank you.” What do you do when you are presented with a cross in the shape of a root? Easy, pop it outside Father Bob’s office!
Last item, you will no doubt be delighted to know Higgerson’s excavator has been put back together, is now fully “tracked” and looks ready to make a significant contribution next week.
Stay safe and stay healthy, David.
The work laying pipes of various dimensions on the construction site continues (sewer line today), the AFH exterior renovation project will be finished by next Monday and Alfriend Trail “curb appeal” project will be done and dusted by the end of today. So with that update, I thought I’d step away from the ongoing construction to give you a sense of “what happens next!”
First a disclaimer; I’ve already proclaimed my lack of construction knowledge so although what I report results from a project discussion with our General Contractor and fellow parishioner Scott Crumley (a man who is well versed in construction and the many “building foibles” that abound on the ODEC campus) I could get it very wrong so if I err then the fault is all mine!
In the next day or so the pipe laying work behind the rear of our buildings will be completed and then Higgerson Inc will take over that part of the site to grade the soil and prepare the ground for the new rear wing’s foundations and concrete pad. Once prepared a surveyor will mark out the structure’s walls etc, the ground will be compression tested to make sure it can support the buildings weight and if that’s all good then the building works, as opposed to site works, will commence. Could all kick-off by the end of next week?
Meanwhile Precision Pipe’s attention will switch to the area running beside N. Witchduck Rd as they start to dig the holes for the new storm water tanks, which will eventually connect to the new storm water drain to form part of our storm water management facility as per City code. The first tank will be in the area where the herb garden used to be, and the second in the corner between Tucker Hall and the fence around the neighbor’s property. The third tank, between N. Witchduck Rd and the new Great Hall, will be installed once the Great Hall is built so don’t think we will soon be saying farewell to Precision Pipes, they will be back!!
The storm water filtration system components that go in the holes have arrived on site and I must say I was expecting something that looked highly technical but, in the event, I’m staring at what I can only describe as slightly oversized, recycled milk crates!
I can’t end without mentioning Higgerson’s broken down excavator. Today repairs are ongoing, one track is (almost) back in place and another is ready to be installed. So it’s good news, the disabled excavator looks like it will be back in action in time to play its role in preparing the site for the new rear wing.
Stay safe and go with peace and courage, David.
Here I am with a blog “fresh” from the construction site and able to share what I’ve learnt about storm water pipes and sewer lines.
The big excavator is still sitting forlornly on its running gear without tracks but fortunately it doesn’t have an immediate role. It will come into its own once the pipes around the back are all laid, and it’s time to grade (to the layman that means smooth) the soil in preparation for building the rear wing.
What of those pipes around the back of the buildings? The big concrete pipes are all in place and connected so now the storm water drain arcs around what will be the rear of the new wing. In laying the pipes there was an unexpected conflict with the existing sewer lines to the Day School Wing and AFH however, a solution was found and the fix to route the sewer lines away from the storm water drains was being installed today. With luck the Day School and AFH will have back the use of their toilets by the week’s end.
Staying with the back of the site and AFH; the house’s external makeover is in full swing and this morning work started on improving the curb-side appeal by clearing and cleaning up where we removed five trees that we either dead or their roots threatened the house’s foundations. Once the site is clean topsoil will be laid and 30 Suwanee River Ligustrum bushes planted that will eventually form a hedge running along Alfriend Trail.
Stay safe and healthy, David.