This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Day Seven

Yesterday was day seven of construction and we now have the footings in and one course of blocks laid. In some parts of the wall we are three courses high. By the end of today all the blocks for the frost wall should be in and we will be ready for the concrete on Thursday. Monday is a holiday in Canada, so the concrete will have four days to harden before we begin building the exterior walls.

Here Pat checks the block for level and square. Once above the first row, all blocks are dry stacked, no mortar.

Kent works on placing the first row, on the south wall in mortar. This first row takes extra time because it will determine how level and square all other rows are.

At the end of the day, there isn't much garbage to dispose of.

Look closely and you will see the top row of blocks has more insulation. Once at grade level and above we use a block with an R28 value.
Any questions?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Frost Wall

The crew is hoping to have the frost wall completed this week. Yesterday's progress was excellent and as long as the weather co-operates I see no reason why we shouldn't meet this target.

This is the north east corner of the frost wall. The top block is also the height of the floor in the house. Looks like we will be bringing in a lot of backfill.

We will fill the open areas where the steel rods are with concrete, probably on Thursday. The insulated side is the exterior face of the wall.

In several locations we have these steps over the bedrock. Pat was careful to measure and build the footings to fit the size of Durisol blocks we are using.

Sometimes it's necessary to cut a block. Here you can easily see the composition of the block and the insulation attached to the inside.

Straight and level, we are making progress.

At the end of the day we usually sit by the campfire and listen to the loons talk to each other as the fly over the lake. It doesn't get any better than that.

Check back on Friday for more pictures.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bobcat Training

Whenever we have the kids up they like to use the "bobcat". Yesterday, Sherri got into the cab and had her first lesson. (These pictures were taken on Sherri's Canon  Powershot G12, by her unless she is in them, then I took it)

She looks a little nervous, but did just fine. Whenever they use the machine and don't tip it over, it's just fine.

Of course Mom had do give some last minute instructions.

My first bucket...................................................... and I didn't spill it. Yeah!

Steel and mortar delivered on Saturday.

Durisol Blocks. We are using these to build all perimeter walls. They come with insulation and the hollow core will be filled with concrete. The walls without additional insulation are rated R28.

Supper time and Andrew cooked "ribs and chicken". DELICIOUS!

Time to eat.

Time to relax.

Today it's time to work. The crew will soon be here and work on our "frost" wall will begin. Enjoy your week and drop by in a few days to see our progress.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

More Visitors

This has been a busy week with construction and visitors. On Friday, Sherri, Valery, Margaret and Andrew arrived for the weekend and we have had a lovely time at the lake and around the campfire on the property.

We always enjoy cookies from the outdoor bake-oven so Mary fired up the clay, hot enough to do the baking.

After Valery had helped mix the dough,...................  in went the cookies.

Once cooked the cookies are escorted under heavy protection to the table for cooling and no samples were allowed until everyone was present.

Here we are checking out the building site. Footings are now in and the frost wall should be done next week.

Valery enjoyed the chickens, loved getting up in the morning and finding the eggs in the nesting boxes.

Mother and daughter reunion............

A perfect weekend, spent together up in Bancroft. Summer is coming to a close, school will be starting in a week and this is the end of visitors for this summer. Hope we can all get together again next year.

Thanks for stopping by. It was a delight to see everyone this summer.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bancroft Station

Another beautify weekend here in Bancroft. Sherri, Margaret, Valery and Andrew are here for a few days. Thought I would up-date you on the train station restoration.

As you can see, progress is being made. The plane is to return the station to its original appearance when built in 1875.

One change they are making is do build a full basement, complete with washrooms and meeting rooms under the station.

Looks like the station has developed legs.

Looking across the "Heritage Trail" in downtown Bancroft.

More re-bar and 20 bags of cement were delivered to our building site yesterday. If the weather co-operates   I'm sure the crew will get the frost will in next week.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Footings Are In

Our new header highlights our hard working construction crew. This has been a very successful week with the footings being poured this morning, just 4 days into the project.

At 8 a.m. the pumper rolled in and got into position so he could pump the concrete into the footings.

It is an amazing piece of machinery, able to pump the concrete high over any obstruction we may encounter.

Yes, once in a while I do pitch in and help when needed.

We were so busy we pressed Mary into service and had her bending rebar. She did a great job.

By eleven we had the concrete poured and just needed to smooth it off and insert the rebar for the frost wall.

Looking across the job site, we even had the sun come out and brighten our day.
I would say we accomplished quite a bit for the first week.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Today is the second day the construction crew has been on site and they are making noticeable progress.

We are at the footing stage. Measurements are critical and elevation must be taken into consideration every time a board is attached to the forms.

Another consideration is the stability of the soil under the footings. Here Jeff uses a tamper to prepare the soil for the forms.

Check the plans, ................................. measure accurately, ...................................... check the plans, seems the order of the day when working on a building site.

This is the reference board, attached to a tree. It gives a permanent marking for the elevation of the slab, height of gravel bed, top of slope for the back-fill. This post can not move during the entire project. Each day the transit is set up using this board as reference.

It will be next week at the earliest before we start laying these blocks. The first course is laid in mortar, the remainder are dry stacked to the roof trusses. You can get more information about these blocks by going to:

Thanks for stopping by; I'll have more pictures in a few days.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Maynooth Again

Took Bonnie & Winston to the farmers' market in Maynooth yesterday. We had a great time, enjoying the drive, food and fellowship. After having breakfast at the Honey Doo's restaurant we headed north to Combermere to do it all over again but the market was closing down by the time we arrived.

Mary gets the shopping bags, while Winston looks on.

We've been here so often this summer the vendors know us.

Mother and daughter check out the vendors looking for organic honey.

On October 1st Maynooth celebrates 150 years and on the same weekend is the annual fall studio tours in the area. Still lots to come and see before the leaves begin to fall.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


Summer is quickly disappearing but we are still enjoying company at the lake.

First we get acclimatized to the water.

Nothing better than sitting on the dock, watching the clouds float across the ski. Bonnie and Winston enjoyed the sunshine and solitude of the north.

Leanne made her first visit, and was surprised at how quiet the days are up here.

We just enjoyed the company and ......................................

the sunshine, food, music and Kawartha icecream.
Looking forward to seeing you up here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Blocks Have Landed

Today before 7 our phone rang. It was the delivery man with our truck load of Durisol Blocks. I figured he was just leaving the yard in Mitchell, no, he was at the end of our road wondering if he could get down. "Wait five minutes and I'll be there."
 Dressed and out the door in less than a minute I met Brian and showed him where we needed the blocks placed.

Brian cautiously drove onto our site, 24 skids and over 800 blocks to unload.

First job was to get the "Hitch-hiker" down off the truck ...........

...... then Brian placed each skid closest to where it was needed.

Some spots were more of a challenge than others ........ but Brian managed to get them all off.

Every trucker lives on coffee, so Brian was happy to see Mary deliver coffee and cake for his morning break.

Once unloaded it was time to turn around and leave ..................... easier said then done.

I think we are ready for the crew on Monday.