BUILDING A SOLAR HOUSE IN FRANCE - WEEK 3 - foundations to slab
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Foundations finished with some blockwork, at the change of level, ready to receive the stone and sand base for the slab.
Pipes fixed ready for the bath, shower, WC's etc to go under the concrete slab. At this point at the end of the week, Faye's gang left. Francis Guinot asked me for detailed drawings of the external basement walls which were going to be in 'monomur' blocks (briques). These are 37,5 cm thick perforated fired clay bricks with 21 cavities which are load bearing and insulation in one. They slot together like 'Lego' with glued joints applied by roller, and the openings and angles of the walls have to be designed to the modules of the monomur.
Geff arrived to stay for a week and we didn't go to visit the site until the next Tuesday, when we discovered that Francis had sneaked back and spread, levelled and compacted the stone, laid the sand, put down the damp proof membrane, and placed the floor slab reinforcing.
This stage of any building project is where it is hardest to be 'ecological'. Concrete is not an ecological material - too much energy goes into the production of cement and in the transport of stone and heavy materials. But buildings have to have foundations and there are long term energy advantages of sinking the building into the ground rather than lifting it off on stilts. Perhaps when energy costs have risen enormously, it will not be economic any longer to build like this. But at present the costs of a basement built into the ground are low compared with the alternative.
It rained and the basin ready for concrete filled with water, so Francis Guinot went off to work on another site until a good moment to pour the concrete.
Detail of the drains in what will be the basement shower room and laundry.
Our car had to go into the garage in Brantome and while I was waiting for it to be repaired I took this photo of the bark on a plane tree.
On Monday morning Francis Guinot phoned me to say he was pouring the slabs, and by the time I got there he had already had 2 loads of ready-mix concrete down.
Here he is fixing the heavy copper cable which is the electrical system earth, to the floor slab steel reinforcing grid.
At this stage there were 5 men on site plus the driver of the Readymix concrete lorry.
An new machine appeared on site. The original digger's long reach was able to fill the bucket with concrete and swing it out over the slab and dump the contents with precision.
Finishing off the higher level of the cellar area.
In the interval waiting for the next readymix delivery, Francis Guinot brought the 'Manitou' round to remove the biggest tree stump which sat in front of our neighbour's windows and terrace. He took it straight down to the end of the site to the stump graveyard.
In all the years working as an architect I have never met a builder who gave me so much confidence as Francis Guinot. It has been a great relief as this stage of the building was the one that presented the greatest uncertainties on a difficult site. He lives in the same commune where we have been now for 19 years. We chose Enterprise Faye (Materiaux de Perigord Vert) because they gave us the lowest tender, but I hope that they would win because we have bought most of our materials for our present house from them, and have become 'clients fidèle'.
After pouring the slab, they brought a load of pallets of blocks ready for the next stage after Christmas and New Year. In the meantime I had decided to use monomur on the main floor for most of the external walls, and had supplied detailed drawings for the supply of the monomur 'briques' which would not be delivered until early January 2007.
23rd December 2006 - view from the south - freezing temperatures (max/min thermometer on the site registered minus 9degrees Celcius)
Slabs through a screen of frost.
Frost on broom growing on the site.
Album last updated on Jan 02, 2007 - 06:17 PM