It’s a year later, and we’ve moved on, finding a new contractor. This is in reverse order, and I think I lost interest in this, but we managed to actually get a barn built. We got the structure up, and then I added gutters myself (falling off a ladder) and poured a cement ramp leading in.

Tia and I added water with a friend of ours doing the plumbing, we got electrical in, with problems there. Had to get a second contractor on warranty to fix the wiring. The two of us then got lights in and wired, and built two stalls for horses.

I was proud of this, and we moved out a year after this was completed.

5/27/2005 10:02:38 AM - Caissons

They are actually going in right now. I think I owe Tia lunch or something because we heard from John, our contractor on Tues and he said that they’d be here Fri. I was sure that something else would come up, but lo and behold, the doorbell rang around 8 this am and the driller was here.

And I have proof! (image lost)

I talked with them a bit and in a couple hours they’ll be done. The guy is drilling through the existing holes, down 12 feet below the 4 in about 10 minutes for each one, including positioning the truck, so then we’ll have deep holes.

Then rebar will come Tues morning and the inspector to look at it with the guys wiring it up and dropping it in Tues afternoon. We’ll see.

5/17/2005 8:44:57 PM - News

Well, we talked with the contractor Monday afternoon and he was going to pick up the soils report today and go to the permit office. We hadn’t heard by mid afternoon, so Tia called him to get an update.

We need caissons. Apparently the soil is very expansive, so they are requiring caissons to be sunk 16ft down and then the poles built on top of them. I tried to do some research, but apparently caissons are mainly used near wet construction and are a type of cement cylinder, usually, that provides support without letting water in there to weaken things. With them, we should have a stronger barn with no problems heaving, but you never know.

This is probably going to add a couple thousand dollars to the barn, though the contractor didn’t say anything. There really is some type of bad karma with this barn.

5/11/2005 1:26:21 PM - Some News

Apparently the soils report is taking longer than expected. Our contractor still doesn’t have it and is annoyed. It’s got me worried as well because I know these guys need to move on to other work and I’d hate to be stuck with more delays because they need to take another project and delay us.

5/11/2005 11:34:18 AM - Rainy

Not great weather today. No word on what’s happening. It’s like this project is just cursed.

5/10/2005 9:48:50 AM - A little Work

The framers came by yesterday and we talked for a few minutes. Nice to see that we haven’t been forgotten and that there’s still an intention to complete the project. After last year, that goes a long way.

They’d been surviving with some little work, but they really wanted to get things moving here and done because they have a bunch of work lined up in June and beyond. So we’re waiting on the permit and inspection.

4/29/2005 9:57:56 AM - Progress

Well, something happened yesterday. We were working yesterday afternoon when we saw a large green flatbed truck with a large diesel motor on the back and some framework above that stop in the front of our house on the street. Tia called out to them while I went to get dressed. After my workout and since Tia got Kendall from school, I was in PJs, slippers, and a sweatshirt. Gotta love working at home.

It was misty and drizzling, but these were the guys that were doing the soil report, so I went out and met them. The thought the mud wouldn’t be a problem and the pad seemed fairly solid. The one guy walked out there and jumped up and down a couple times, stamped his boots and said it “seemed ok”. I asked if it was a professional opinion, but he wasn’t all that taken with my humor.

But he wasn’t offended, I guess, so he backed the rig onto the pad and started getting setup. I tried another joke about his working coveralls as he put on a pair of Dickies before getting started. No laugh or smile, but he did keep working and explained to me what he was doing, answering Tia and my questions about the process. He did warm up later to our lego and erector set jokes because that’s what his equipment seemed like.

Basically he lifted up the rig so it was up in the air (using the engine hydraulics) so he had the metal rigging up in the sky. It’s about 30 feet above the back of the flatbed. It has a couple parts, one is a metal tube that turns with a large cottter pin hole in the bottom. There’s also a metal cable for lifting and a hammer thing in a tube.

The entire engine/rig is connected and slides backwards so the various components can be 4 feet or so behind the truck. Each of the 3 parts swivels from the side to directly behind the truck. The first thing he did was get an auger attachment, about 4 feet long, and put it below the drilling tube. A large cotter pin connected them and he drilled down about 3 feet in a couple minutes. They raised it up and swiveled it out of the way. Then they put a long tube down in the hole and screwed a solid metal cylinder on the top. Then the hammer tube was swiveled in there and fit on top of the cylinder. It must have some large mass inside that gets lifted and dropped or forced down because it was loud and definitely pounding down on the piping.

After a couple minutes, they lifted the hammer and swiveled it and then unscrewed the solid top. Then they screwed in a loop attached to the crane and lifted the pipe out. At the bottom, there was a 1 foot length of pipe that gets unscrewed. This has the soil sample. While the first guy pushes the sample out, tags it, bags it, etc., the other guy gets the auger back in place and drills it down to the 4ft level. Then he pounds out the cotter pin, raises the metal drill and sticks in another auger fitting. This one has cotter pings at the top and bottom and it connects to the metal drill and the bottom auger piece. Then he drills down another 3 or 4 feet before repeating the sample process.

At that point it was getting cold since the rain had turned to snow, so I went in.

Today I went out there and saw ruts, but not that deep. Now we have 5-7 days to wait for the report. The guy was saying they put it in the lab and start to check for loadbearing as well as expansion properties. Said lots of this clay expands and once it starts, it can take up to 3 days to finish expanding. Then he lets it go back down and see how long it takes, which could be an equal time. That could be 3 more days, so he said 2-10 days in the lab. Most likely 4-5, so 5-7 business days for the report.

It was nice to have the contractor call last night to confirm that they had come for the drilling.

4/27/2005 8:54:20 PM - Delays

I can understand now how construction companies, and businesses are very likely to fail. At least those that tackled decent sized projects and don’t do everything themselves.

Tia called our contractor Monday and talked with him. Apparently the drilling company that’s doing the soil samples won’t be by until next week to drill. Then it takes another 5 days to get the report, after which time we can get the permit, after which time we can order the inspection, after which time building can commence. That’s two more weeks before anything happens.

He apologized and told Tia that it was a pain for us, but it was a real business problem for him. He’s looking for other work, but doesn’t want to take something large since they’re committed to this project. The framer came by and took some stuff last week for another project, but returned some things yesterday, like his compressor, to our yard in anticipation of getting started.

I can see the problems here. No one seems to have enough equipment or expertise to do all the jobs required. So you schedule and try to get everyone close together to get the project done. Weather, delays, permit issues, anything can start to mess with your schedule and then all of a sudden the project’s way behind as you try to get everyone back in synch. But everyone’s schedule is different and each of their delays or conflicts of schedule add to the overall delays. Hell we had whole teams of schedulers in the nuclear plant to try and work around things like this. Guys staying up all night to rework schedules to minimize delays. A single contractor, even a medium sized firm would get overwhelmed. It’s a delicate balancing act and one thing like this soils report can ruin your business.

My big concern is they’re forced to take some larger project to get work and then it adds more delays for us. Big PIA. I bet the horse can’t move over before mid-June.

4/21/2005 4:20:25 PM - Status Quo

Still this: (image lost, but I’m guessing just holes in the pad)

4/21/2005 9:54:49 AM - No Progress

We’re sitting at the status quo, no changes in a week. The last I heard we needed a soil report to get the permit and it was scheduled to happen sometime this week, and since it’s Thursday, I’m thinking late this week :)

The framer came by Monday and grabbed a couple ladders since he needed them for another project. He looked a little dejected about the delays, but he was hopeful he could be back out here and get started on Mon next week.

At least most of the tools and lumber are still in the yard.

4/8/2005 12:50:13 PM - More Delays

Apparently the building deptartment in my city is subcontracted out to some firm. Who works by the hour, so as you can expect, they’re really thrilled with working quickly and efficiently.

So the guys came to cover up the cement, holes, and dirt in anticipation of the storm this weekend. I also talked with the contractor and he’s trying to get up with the building inspector. There were 5 things he wanted changed, 4 of which are done and the fifth is a soils report, but since we have designed for the worst soil, that one doesn’t make sense. Now if the inspector will just call back or answer his phone.

4/5/2005 9:47:00 AM - Rain

A northeast, rainy day, so no work today. At least I’m not expecting any.

4/4/2005 11:56:39 AM - No Work

this morning. The permit is holding things up. Grrrr.

4/3/2005 11:21:18 PM - The current view

well, not right now, but the way it looked this afternoon when I took the picture.

(image of more land sitting there with stuff)

4/3/2005 11:47:36 AM - Post Holes

Not like any I’ve dug. The doorbell rings around 8am, which is early considering it’s daylight savings time. I go out and we have to get the placement set since all the measurements have been moved with the leveling.

The pad looks amazing (pictures coming) and it’s flat as can be. Tia wants things East so that, well, for some reason. So we set up in the NorthEast side of the pad and that gives us a 8 or 10 foot level area on the West side before it slopes down. I’m still amazed at the slope since it’s a good 8 feet down to the old yard level.

So we lay it out and they measure things and put these little nail stakes in each spot. Then they’ve a real good ol boy from Kanas with his Bobcat that has a auger attachment. It’s a 24” auger and he drills easily down to the 4 foot level. Sam, the framing guy, has another one of crew that moves dirt away after drilling. We head out to hockey, and when we come back, the holes are dug and covered with plywood for safety.

It’s coming together. Sam says the structure should be strong. The company they chose for the lumber package overbuilds slightly and it makes for a strong structure, lots of bracing.

4/2/2005 4:00:00 PM - Level

For the second day, a guy came out to work on the leveling of the pad. We looked at it first thing this morning, just after 8, and the drop from the NorthEast corner to the SouthWest corner was almost 5 feet. As a result, the amount of dirt he had to move was a lot, and then the drop off from the pad (once it’s level) to the leech field, which is only about 20 feet, would be pretty steep.

So we decided to move the barn over towards the North and spent a bit calling around to get the relevant covenant restrictions from neighbors. We ended up moving the NorthEast corner, actually the entire North side as close as we could, 40 feet from the fence. Since the structure is now parallel to the street instead of perpindicular to the house, I think it will work out better.

That gives us a better slope on the south side. So the second guy started moving dirt, giving us a 32 ft wide pad that slopes off gently to the leech field. We’ve got 55 feet East to West, so that gives us a good pad. The drainage is slightly worrisome on the NorthEast side, but as I move the fence, we’ll be able to grade that a little better.

These excavators were a little more business like and when the guy finished, I was amazed how flat and packed down he had things with his bobcat thingy. It looked almost like someone had run a roller of some sort over it. He’s also piled up the top few inches of soil when he started and then laid it back down across the slopes. Pretty amazing stuff.

4/1/2005 1:00:00 PM - Excavation

The first guys came over and started digging up the soil. We measured out a rough 40x55 pad to give space to place the structure and he started cutting into the slope and making things level.

We were gone all morning, into early afternoon with Kyle’s Geo Bee, so when we got back, things looked like a mess. A big pile of topsoil to the West, and a big pile of dirt, well, less a pile than a lumpy pad, where the barn would go. The guy doing the work, a young guy sure likes to talk and was slowly working his way into the North slope, cutting out a slant to get dirt for the South side of the pad. I’m not sure how this will work out to be level, but we’ll see.

He does have a pretty cool one man surveying setup. There’s a laser unit that is up on the slope, leveled out. It’s spinning inside, or at least you can see something spin in there. He then walked around with a stick that has a sensor on the top. He moves it up and down and as it gets slow the laser unit beeps. When it gets to the right height, it’s a solid tone. Then he marks a stake at that level and he knows to what height he has to get dirt setup.

3/31/2005 1:57:01 PM - More Stuff

The excavator was supposed to come out this morning to try and level the area, but with the snow still coming down when Delaney left for school, I wasn’t expecting anything.

So I heard a truck around 11:30 and saw them driving a bobcat thingy in the driveway. I got dresssed (no I wasn’t dressed yet) and went out to find this:

(image lost)

Which was a change from how things looked yesterday afternoon:

(image lost)

which was progress from the weekend:

(image lost)

3/30/2005 3:53:12 PM - Tool Trailer

Finally some progress!!

Albeit not much. But it’s better than what’s happened the last few days. Just a few minutes ago Sam showed up at my door.

“Hi, I’m Sam. I’m building your barn.”

OK, I got out with him expecting to mark and measure, but he’s not sure the excavator is actually going to show up to level the ground. But he does have a tool trailer and compressor to leave here, so I’ve got something to help me work if they don’t come back :)

Well, as I was typing, another message came in. 9am the excavator is coming, so I need to get Kendall to school early tomorrow.

3/29/2005 11:58:56 AM - Day 8

It’s Day 8, by the inital estimate and still nothing is done. With Tia is Omaha, and no word from the contractor, the tension builds and makes me nervous.

Then I call the Yellow pages number (couldn’t find the card) this morning and no one answers at 8:15. OK, at least it’s not disconnected. So I call after dropping off Kendall and I get the real estate office he shares. Ok, that makes sense, they’re not in before 9. Leave a message and she gives me his direct line. I call that and it’s busy.

OK, a little better.

Then I call again and get a bad connection, so I wait ten minutes and call again. I try to leave a message, but get disconnected. Now I’m getting annoyed, though still nervous.

Finally a call back a bit ago with an explanation. The excavator got busy and he had to track someone else down. So they’re expecting to come tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

3/23/2005 3:34:49 PM - Delivery #2

It was late, but when I got back from the gym, I saw Tia outside with our contractor, John, staking out the barn in a rough place. We still don’t know exactly when the excavater will come out, but it should be this week or next.

So now there’s a whole bunch of lumber and some trusses. Doesn’t look like much, but I guess it will work when I think about it.

3/23/2005 10:32:50 AM - Day 3

The trusses arrived.


The doorbell rang around 8:30 this morning (we were expecting a 9:00-9:30 delivery) and I knew it was the trusses. I’d heard a deep, rumbling engine outside around 8:20 and I checked to see if Delaney’s bus was late, but when I didn’t see it, I was wondering. When the doorbell rang, I knew it was them and sure enough our contractor was here.

While I ran Kendall to school, they had to drive around the South side of the yard and go through those gates to get close enough to deliver. A shot below:

(image lost)

I started taking pictures this time of the yard and I hope to have a 2 week animation done here in a bit as things progress. With the delivery of the trusses and more lumber for the barn expected later, I guess we’re committed. If the contractor disappears, I’m going to be doing some building.

3/22/2005 6:21:23 PM - Day 2

Actually, I was wrong. The lumber is being delivered tomorrow and the excavation is supposed to start next Monday.

But we just talked to the builder and he’ll be here for the lumber tomorrow and his crew is ready. So he’s waiting on excavation as well as the permit to get going.

Sounds like it actually might come together. If I see lumber tomorrow, then I’ll be much more comfortable.

3/21/2005 9:50:04 AM - Day 1 - Excavation

Actually I’m not sure if this is Day 1. Our contractor, John, said that he was setting up an appointment with the excavator for this week and he’d be in touch today or tomorrow.

No word, which has me slightly nervous, but not overly so. The lumber is supposed to be delivered this week as well, which will be a sign that things are moving.

3/17/2005 7:01:03 PM - More Roofing

Another roofer came by and we looked at samples of Duraloc. It is more curved and barrel like. Looks better than the Gerard and closer to what we have on the main house.

1/21/2005 5:02:09 PM - Roofing Approvals and a preliminary plan

Get a third approval, so it appears we’re ok on the material.

Meet with John and go over the plan for the barn. We calculate the concrete, #of doors, etc. We also talk about if we go with tile, but we get approvals, so we can let that go. In measuring, we decide to to to 42 feet to give the garage 24 feet, or 32 and still have a 6 foot alleyway. That way we can be sure that we can fit a large truck or trailer in there and have some space to move around. The additional two feet only add about $600 to the cost and we get a $600 credit against the base steel roof, so the cost is a wash. We still have the roof, so we give the info to John to have him check on pricing. Worst case is it’s $7k for the roof from the roofer.

We also outline where the doors and windows will go, so we have a general plan. Now we wait on excavation and the final roof price. Still need plumbing and electrical bids.

1/20/2005 7:00:00 PM - Approval 2

Got the second approval for the metal roofing. It’s not a great match in my opinion and the people are asking which color we want because we have a brighter red and a darker one with shadowing. We’ve said the darker one with no shadowing and that’s what we’ve gotten approvals for, but the match isn’t great. Not much better than the cheaper barrel one we looked at last year. This one has a angle, bent shape that isn’t super close.

1/18/2005 6:00:00 PM - Roof Approval 1

1 because today we got the first approval of the roofing material. I’d set a couple samples on the side of the barn and my neighbor across the street checked them and wrote his approval to the management company.

1/6/2005 - Pre Barn - Day 1

The first official day in my mind with a new contractor. I come back from the kids school and meet the barn guy right then. We walk around the site and he says it’s not too bad, just cut into the slope and swale (?) it back to level things out. He seems like a nice guy, from Boston, working for a contractor here for a long time before going out on his own. Had a portfolio of pictures and stuff as well. We go over the plans.

Definitely don’t want two levels since that creates headaches. He’ll put the poles in 4-6 feet of dirt, at least a foot of virgin dirt and then tie them together on 8 foot centers. The roof matters because that messes with the trussing, though he says he can pole barn a cement roof if we have to. Just work on 4 foot centers.

He shows us the stucco product and it looks good. We can paint that easily. The roof was a steel roof in his bid, so he’ll take off $600 for that and then add the cost of our roof. He wasn’t planning on plywood on the roof, so if we need it it’s $1500 more. But we’ll see. He finalize the # of doors and we can work out the placement later. In talking about the overhang, he had it at around $3000, but said if we want a smaller one that comes off the roof, he can build that on for like $1500. So we save there, more in places and the basic bid is about $28k. + roof, + paint , + plumbing and electrical. But we have a friend for the plumbing, so that shouldn’t be too bad.

1/5/2005 9:52:07 AM - Roofer Search 1

Tia calls one of the roofers and makes an appoinment. She also sets up a meeting with a barn contractor. We’d gotten bid from two others before the last fiasco and we’re trying to get up with another. We talked to this guy on the phone. His initial estimate based on the plans Tia sent over was $29k, and he found a stucco panel that can be bolted on like plywood, no crazy finishing. We’ll need to cover the seem with a small amount of stucco, but nothing crazy.