Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Construction: Week 3

Well, last week was rather up and down.

There was a lot of hanging around waiting for things to happen; it felt frustrating and tedious by times.

The plumber was unable to come on Monday, but I couldn't go anywhere because I was waiting for the inspector to come and ok the under-slab insulation and vapour barrier. She came in the mid-afternoon and signed off, so that was good.

My plumber came with an assistant on Tuesday morning to install the in-floor heating pipes.
So neat and orderly.
The pipes are all zip-tied to the wire mesh.
Once all of the pipes were in, the plumber pressurized them with an air compressor to make sure there were no leaks.

My plumber came back on Wednesday to bring me my shower pan and invoices for the work of roughing in the plumbing.

My builder came on Wednesday, too, to have a look at the heating pipes and take photos and measurements, so they can be sure when they anchor the walls that none of the in-floor heating pipes will get ruptured.

The slab contractors weren't able to come on Wednesday OR Thursday – there was just no space in their schedule.

Wednesday was not a fun day. I was in a terrible mood and didn't feel like going anywhere or doing anything.

I felt a bit more upbeat on Thursday, but I still couldn't go anywhere because I was waiting for the first delivery of materials. Since the concrete truck still needs to be able to back up to the form, the materials have to be placed properly on the site, so they won't all have to be moved out of the way when the concrete truck comes. There is a hefty penalty if the concrete truck comes and can't access the site.

The boom truck is pretty cool.
Tucked out of the way for the time being...

Bad news

I received a couple of pieces of bad news on Thursday. For one thing, although the slab crew would come on Friday morning to make their final preparations, it would be Tuesday before the building inspector would be able to come sign off – and therefore Wednesday (at the earliest) before the concrete could be poured. So more waiting was on the cards.

Also, the results of my Efficiency Nova Scotia New Home Construction Program Review came in and showed that there was nothing feasible I could do to be eligible for rebates for my project. My Energuide rating works out at an 82, and there is not much I can do at this point to push it over the threshold for rebates, which is 85. This is partly my fault, because I waited too long to do the assessment – essentially, after making inquiries about it earlier this summer, I then forgot all about needing to do it until a couple of weeks ago... If I had done the assessment before my design had been decided, I might have been able to make changes that would have brought me up to an 85. But, not necessarily. My house is so small that changes to the mechanical systems don't have much impact. Also, the base load in the model is for two adults and a child, rather than one adult and a cat. So, I will doubtless be more efficient in my home than the model shows, but bureaucracy doesn't work like that and there will be no money back from the government for me.

On the plus side, the assessment was done by a friend of mine who works in the energy efficiency industry and we got to have some nice chats as we went back and forth discussing questions and options.

By the end of the day on Thursday, I was in an even grimmer mood than I had been on Wednesday. Fortunately for me, a friend came, helped me get my newly-delivered doors into my shed for safekeeping, took me to play tennis for the first time in years (which was super fun) and then to a party with many of my favourite people.

Next steps

I was in a much better mood on Friday and happy to see the slab contractors come back and finish installing the rebar for the project. I sent photos to the engineer who had designed the slab and he was impressed by the execution.

Continuous lap rebar
The finished underslab
Steps 6, 7 and 8 of the slab got completed this week. Just two more steps to go!
  1. Excavation (Week 1)
  2. Construction of the form
  3. Under-slab plumbing
  4. Under-slab plumbing inspection
  5. Insulation and wire mesh (Week 2)
  6. Inspection
  7. In-floor heating pipes
  8. Rebar
  9. Inspection
  10. Concrete pour
I paid for the excavation and the first phase of the plumbing this week. Money is flowing out quickly now, as I knew it would. This project has not felt particularly blessed financially. The bank declined to extend my line of credit. There will be no rebates from Efficiency NS. This makes me all the more thankful to my friend who gave me a sweet deal on the excavation work, and who is also willing to dig a well for me when the time comes. And I am deeply grateful to a couple of dear people who have offered me short-term loans if I get in over my head. 

Ever changing moods

I notice my moods have been cycling more rapidly than usual, which feels challenging. I struggled through the early part of last week, was very chipper Thursday eve through Saturday eve and then quite depressed again on Sunday and Monday over the holiday weekend. I think this is a combination of hormones and the stresses of this undertaking. I have wished, more than once, that I had had the foresight to know that I should build a cabin immediately after landing back in Nova Scotia, when it would have been less expensive and when I was not yet into the emotional rollercoaster of peri-menopause. I feel that many times in my life, I've gotten ready to do things (my personal chef business, my music career) years later than would have been optimal. But, I'm here now. And I'll get through this. While it might have been easier seven years ago (or 10 or 20), it was also not possible for me then – if it had been, I would have done it.

Here I am, in the present moment, taking things day by day – or hour by hour, when that's necessary. Sometimes, I'm in a crappy mood and feel overwhelmed and anxious. And sometimes I'm in a great mood and feel like I can manage everything just fine. And that, my friends, is my life these days.

Lumber is Salinger's favourite camouflage.


  1. You will get there!! Yes, bummer there is no Efficiency rebate, but that's just a testament to your great planning........such an efficient little home! :) Waiting is the key......if you can endure waiting, everything will fall into place! :) Yea, for you!

  2. I love the process you are documenting, and completely understand your emotions. I would probably have that too.