Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thinking and Plumbing etc.

I've put on a few random photos of things going on, and they are in no special order. We have a fair bit of snow, and it has been pretty chilly. I have seen alot colder, but it has been hanging in the area of about -20 to -27 Celcius/ roughly about -6 to -16 on the Farenheit scale. I even had to finally fire up the old John Deere and do some serious snow plowing as the pickup was starting to push snow in places. The snow is still hanging on the north side of the house, but it did let go on the sunny side. (no pic.)

As usual, I did'nt physically accomplish as much as I would have liked to, but I did get the loft floor all glued and nailed down with some ring shank nails.

I have been spending alot of time with plumbing. There's the heater, burning 20 lbs of propane in about 6 hours time. Costly, but I do like to take the chill off.

This is just a glance from the loft looking down to the living room.

From the basement looking up.

There is the main plumbing stack. First I had to frame in a wall against the stairs or it would have been hard to do later. Yes, the main stack is crooked, and it's probably going to stay that way, I hope that does'nt matter. The cement used to glue this stuff together sets real quick, and when I was putting that one elbow on the top of the stack, I could'nt seem to find my mark until it was to late. It was'nt off by much, but enough to show a bit of a lean from this angle anyway. The three inch line running coming from the toilet will flex up enough to have the right flow angle. I think. lol. Most of the plumbing is done, but there are a few little touch ups, such as some of the lines that come off the main stack and goes to the sinks etc. I have to shoot the stack out the roof yet, but I think I will wait until that snow comes off first. It would need to be a bit warmer of a day anyway.

Before I got real serious about this plumbing, I had the permit guy come out and get me set straight on a few things so that I would get it done right the first time. I THINK I have it right. Anyway, he is the same guy that does the heating inspections. I kinda threw my idea at him about what I wanted to do about a heat system, but I'm not real sure if my plans are going to be totally acceptable. He has mentioned things like HRV (heat recovery ventilators), which I think I am slowly learning that is mandatory in a new house. Also, energy efficient heating source, such as a furnace. I was'nt really prepared to get any answers on things at the time. When I first started to study these things, it made me laugh a bit. How can something that uses so much electical power be classed as energy efficient? They're easy on the gas, but the solar system might take a bit of beating. I have been doing alot of research on this stuff, and also research on wiring lately. I am going to get an electrical permit soon, but I just don't want to sound like too much of a dummy about things when I do go there. I am now wondering if my inverter and all that is going to be up to code on all this stuff. Might have to bite the bullet and get me a more modern system, but I'm not real sure at this time.

A forced air furnace could actually be a good thing in my little house. I really don't think the fan should have to run all that much to keep up to things. It would be a nice touch for the summer when you need a little heat in the evenings and cooler days. I still don't think the genny would have to be used all that much. But in the winter, it is going to mean a larger battery bank, and possibly even an automatic starting generator system, which would be quite do-able, I guess. I'm thinking just a small 3000 watt honda or something should handle it all maybe, and should beable to be set up for autostart with the right inverter. But I better not get too far ahead of myself here just yet. I guess I'll get prepared for a little chat with my friend the inspector guy. Who, by the way has been very helpful to me so far. Boy, if Tony(Did It My Way) were still with us, I could just hear him right about now. lol. He never was very fond of the permitting process. And if I lived somewhere, where it did'nt matter, I would'nt be either. (Future plans possibly).
Anyway. Seasons greetings to all. Hope you all have a real good one.


This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Snowy Solar Panels---Dec Update

This is truly one of the downfalls of solar power in the winter. When the panels get covered like that, they don't charge very much. But then even if I were to clean them off, the sun is'nt shining all that well. I do alot of thinking about how I am going to clean them off when they are way up there on my house. I'm thinking some kind of vibrator system, or maybe compressed air, or maybe just let the sun melt it off. This really is'nt an issue for me right now though. This time of year the generator is usually utilized off and on even when the sun is shining. I use it to warm the batteries up in the old deep freeze. I got the shack all skirted in again for another long and cold winter. When I get more snow I will keep banking it up around the shack for added insulation.
The dirty old Peterbilt truck dash tells alot of info. the far left gauge is a thermometer that is reading -28 Celcius outside. Thanks to the Peterbilt getting tired and having some engine work and transmission issues rectified, I am on about a 2 week break from work to try and get some things done on the house. The old Peterbilt has less than 600,000 kms on it, but that is quite alot for a bush truck, where I have been driving it anyway. If it were mostly on the highway, it would probably have well over a million kms before all this stuff takes place. It's about 17,000 hours on the engine. It's got alot of hard mile on it. It can't seem to be helped with some of the places we go and the weight we haul. The boss offered me a brand new tri-drive, but I turned it down and let the other driver have it. I've had my taste of that, and don't really like it that much for what we do. They are really awkward to get around and also, it will be expected to be busier. I don't want to be real busy at work anymore. Not for awhile anyway.

All the windows and doors are in. I had that done for awhile now, except for the ones way up there.

Recently I have been working on the main loft floor. I always had some plywood up there to walk on, but nothing was cut to fit or secured. I now have it all sized, but still have to glue and nail it all down. I am going to concentrate on getting all my indoor plumbing done soon, as my permit, that I already had to get extended once, expires mid March. It'll be nice to get that out of the way, then get the electrical all out of the way so I can insulate and actually hold some heat in when I am burning propane. I can aim the heater at myself where I am working, and it does help alot, but I sure am going through the propane. It's been in the area of -20c/-8 ish F lately. I'm not going to let the cold slow me down much though, however, the lack of knowledge probably will. I spent most of today (Friday) just planning and measuring. I never was completely sure how I wanted to arrange my bathroom, but I do have a pretty good idea now. I think I'll get the plumbing permit guy to come out next week if he can, cause I have a big list of dumb questions for him. Drains, vents, even chimneys for propane appliances and woodstoves. I think he's into all that too. But now that I know what I am doing, it would be really neat to find out just how to do it. lol. Code, code, code. Anyway, just a little bit of an update for now.


This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cistern Lid, More Windows, and the Main Door.

Things have slowed up a bit at work. We're still getting called once in awhile, but it is'nt quite as crazy as it was, however I am going in, in the morning to service the truck. It is getting a little over due. I found a little time for building, but it is kinda tough to get right back into the swing of things. I thought I should slap a lid together for my water cistern. I still did'nt pour concrete in the bottom of the cistern yet. I personally think it is good to let things soak up and settle and all that. I probably will get it in the summer. There is water in it right now from rain and seepage. There has been since the spring. This lid will be a good experiment to see if water freezes down there. I know it surely does without the lid for sure. The lid is 8' x 8' and framed with 2 x 4's on 2 foot centers.
A little insulation.

Then I sheeted the other side. There is a 2' x 2' hatch which I framed in, insulated, and cut out later. I feel alot better now, just knowing that someone might not fall into the cistern now.

Today I installed the main door. It went alot better than I thought it would. That one swings outward. That is the kitchen you're looking at.

The main door from the outside. As you can see, I also have a bathroom window in. The other basement window is installed now also, but I forgot to take a picture that day. I am not going to worry about the the upper loft window/doors for awhile yet. There are other more important things to worry about. I will probably frame it, what ever it will be, and then insulate it, but I probably won't install anything up there until next spring or summer,- but, who knows.


This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

OFF GRID One Whole Year

I officially moved out here and became an off gridder on Oct 25 2009. I'm still living in the 192 square foot shack, and still loving it. I have yet to have a moment where I even came close to having any regrets. I am writing this post on Oct 23, but probably won't put it on until the 25th. It is pretty yucky outside, so just thought it would be a good time to build a new post.

As you might have noticed in the above picture, is the honda generator. I pulled it out yesterday, to power my shack for the first time since mid February. Earlier on this summer there were a couple times that I was tempted to use it because of bad weather, but I never did have to. I chose to conserve energy instead. I used it again today. The last few days have been pretty gloomy looking out there. The sun hardly pokes through the overcast and snowy sky. I always knew there would be days like this, and it dos'nt bother me a bit. Last winter I burned approximately $80.00 worth of gas using the generator. Life is good. Off gridding is good too, I can't see myself switching over again anytime soon.

A little tour of the shack? Ok. That blue jug is my water system. I have four of those that I try to keep filled. They actually last quite a long time usually.

The big blue container. Yip, you guessed it, it's my bath tub. It dos'nt get used very often, because I usually shower at the truck fuel supply places in Grande Prairie when I go to town for work or whatever. Quite a few times this summer I have also used the shower in my RV, but it is now winterized for the winter. So the old blue tub usually rests, but it is good to know it is there when it is needed. I have used it, and I usually use about 1/2 of one those blue jugs of water when I do, and when I am done, I always feel just as clean and new as if just came out of the shower. But in all honesty, I am really looking forward to having my first shower in the new cabin sometime soon. Hopefully.

I'm good at some things, but obviously house keeping is'nt one of them.

The furnace. This is quite a simple device and it dos'nt require a fan to operate. That is one thing that caught my eye when I bought this shack. Most of the furnaces in these shacks now days require power to operate. Kinda like the furnace in my RV. I will have a heater like this in the basement of my house, but it will be larger and newer. It will be equipped with a fan, but it won't need to be on to operate. That will be my heat source when I am not home. Hopefully it all works out ok. I'll use the wood stove when I am there.

The dog bed, which is just a blanket on the floor. At times, in the colder weather she sleeps on the top bunk with me, at the foot of the bed. She usually gets up there herself. I have an end table on top of a coffee table that she use like stairs so she can go up and down as she pleases.

All summer I used the fridge in the RV. It worked real well for me.

It has a seperate freezer and fridge compartments, just like a normal fridge, only on a smaller scale. I ran the fridge on propane. It is just about time to start using the natural fridge again though. Soon I will be able to freeze anything outside in the shed and the floor under one of the beds will be plenty cool enough to keep most foods cold. I can't really justify burning propane all winter to keep things cold. I'll leave it going for a little while yet. I am still trying to decide on what I am going to do for a fridge in the cabin. DC or propane. No hurry on that one anyway, as I always have the RV or natural resources.

Self explanatory. Sure can't wait till the cabin is done. lol.

One of the many benefits of living out of town. Well acutally the people in the city seem to get alot of this at times too. lol. I snapped this picture this morning(Oct 23) from the window in my shack.


This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010

North and South Soffits.

Last weekend, I managed to get the soffits on the North and South sides of the house and we fianlly got it all wrapped also. Mom was out here giving me a hand with things, she was a big help and it was reassuring to have someone around while climbing the ladder and working under the overhang. Somebody did'nt leave the ground very level for a ladder to sit on properly. That upper part is now all closed in, and just in time too.
I just did'nt want to be climbing around on the ladder in the snow and mud. The old cabin is kinda camoflauged now. I guess it is just about that time of the year again. The soffits on the East and West gable ends and the siding are going to wait until next summer. I jOust wanted the house to be sealed for now. I have a couple windows and doors to go in, and then I will concentrate on some wiring and plumbing I guess. That is, when the job allows for it.


This is a personal blog, mainly for my own use. I am building a house with my own two hands, but I am learning alot of things as I go. I do not claim to know what I am doing, or if anything I do is even close to being done correctly or safely. So please, if you are planning on using any of my ideas or methods for your own use, please get professional advice before actually following through with your actions. I will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages of any kind caused by information or comments from this blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mid October Ramblings.

Heading to work one morning. I just had to snap a shot of the sky.
Big Blue. I bought this truck a few years ago at an auction in Edmonton. I got it home to find it was getting antifreeze in the engine oil. Turned out it was the O rings around the piston liners were rotten. I educated myself and rebuilt this 425 cat engine. I have over $10,000.00 worth of engine parts in there. Some of the parts include a new head, liners, pistons, rods, bottom end bearings, injectors, oil pump, starter and more. At first I had intentions of changing just what was absoulutely neccesary, but once I had it all opened, and realized just how much work it was, I thought I may as well do it, and get it done. I had intentions of using this truck to haul my backhoe and maybe haul some dirt and gravel, or what ever. I got a good education about how much it costs to licence and keep this baby in service, and I decided that a one ton dually would be more feasible for me at this time. Some day the old Volvo might just come in handy though. If I can get my money out of it, I may sell it, but otherwise, I might put it to work someday. I like the old mechanical (no computer) 425 cat engines. If something does go wrong, I can usually have some kind of idea what the cause would be. Anyway, I had this truck sitting at my brothers place for quite awhile now, and my sister in law has been kinda reminding to get it the heck off their place for a long, long time now. So finally I brought er home. lol. She runs like a charm.

I had a bit of a work place mishap a little while ago. I was preparing to take the radiator out of the truck I drive at work. I was in the process of removing one of the big long springs that holds the hood of the truck from dropping and hitting the end of the stop cables. After removing the snap lock(or whatever it is called), I merely touched that spring when it let go and the hook pierced my hand. I had to hold the spring with one hand and slide my brand new bad hand off the spring. It was quite a site. lol. The spring entered my hand kinda at the back between the index finger and thumb.

And it came out here on the palm way down below the middle finger. I lost a little time this day, going to hospital and all, but I charged for the whole day. lol. The next days to follow was regular business as usual. It's pretty good now, although I am still wearing a couple bandades when I'm working and building.

I decided that I needed to take some time off from work and get the top part of my house closed off before all the yucky weather starts. So I took Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. I might even go for Monday too. We have still been very busy lately. I sure hav'nt been getting alot done on the house, but oh well. The shack is warm, and thats the main thing I guess. All I'm really concerned about is the North and South soffits for now, just so that I can eventually insulate sometime this winter and not worry about birds and critters nesting somewhere up there. Friday was mostly picking up supplies and doing some business in town. I got the South side soffits done today. The completed picture was pretty dark so I threw this unfinished pic on instead.
Alot of the time, if the yucky weather hits in the fall, things may slow down at work until freeze up. Just a little wishful thinking. I did'nt think I would ever be looking for shitty weather, but I guess I was wrong.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Color Test

I did'nt get much done on the shack in the last couple days (as usuall). Had other important things going on. Thinking, permit people, more researching, getting ready to do my taxes from 2009 (oops), picking up supplies etc. I've got all kinds of things going on in my mind like "heating" and all kinds of other things. I have alway had a general idea as to what I am going to do for a heating system, but the time is getting real near to purchasing and installing something, so of course I have been doing some major research on this subject lately. My plan, which could easily get changed, is to have a propane space heater in the basement (about 30,000-50,000 btu). This will keep things thawed in the basement and should keep the chill off up stairs while I am away. Then I am also planning on a woodstove up on the main floor. I know, mabe it should be in the basement, but then maybe not. I do plan on taking hot air off the peak of the ceiling and shooting it down to the basement while I am at home running the wood stove. Soon, I hope I will come up with the actual plan. There could possibly be some hydronic type heating in the future, but I will start with something like this for now and experiment as I go.
It is minus 4 Celcius here at 12:46 am. Kinda feels like winter sneaking up on me all ready. Some surrounding areas that are not too far away have had some snow already. I'm not sure how much, but it is there I heard. It's pretty dry here so far.
I did manage to get a couple more windows in on the south side of the house. I have a lot of trouble sometimes trying to make decisions, such as what color to make the trim, facia, and soffits on my house. I purchased a piece of facia and slid it up there on the edge of the overhang. I know this is kinda different, but then it would'nt be normal for me not to be different. If ya know what I mean. The color of that length of facia is called tile red and it matches up pretty close to the color of my corners and window trims etc, which are labeled as rustic red. The color of the siding itself is sand. Does anyone out there object to these colors? I am definately not a color specialist. I like to be different, as long as my house dos'nt end up looking totally stupid. I think it'll look alright though. I hope.

Monday, September 13, 2010

North Side Windows Installed.

I have still been pretty busy at work off and on, but I did manage to get little bit done on the house. Two windows are in permanently. The main floor window looks alot smaller than I thought it would, but it will definately do the job. Usually when I see a house, the basement windows are usually smaller than the main windows. lol. Nope, not on my house. Simple man with a different plan.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Started to Wrap the House

I finally had a full day off from work, where it was'nt raining out. I hav'nt done very much on the house since my last post, a little here and there, but not much. Maybe I wont be in it before winter. lol. It was a pretty good run at work for awhile there and I did enjoy doing it, but I am truly getting the urge to do some serious building again.
Today I finally cut the main door out to it's correct size. It probably makes the house look smaller. A 36" left outswing door will go in that spot. I did a bunch of other smaller things to get ready for some wrap. Sealed all the gaps between the basement top plate and the main floor system. Had to do some adjustments on the door rough opening size and finish sheathing the strip around the house where the main floor is. One last look at this side of the house before the housewrap goes on. This is the north side, and there is one basement window and one main floor window in the living area at the foot of the stairs that go up to the loft. I did'nt want a whole bunch of larger sized windows. When I am not at home, I am going to rely on a propane space heater in the basement to heat the whole house. This is the plan for now anyway. Our winters are sometimes pretty cold and long, and too many windows could result in more heat loss than I really want. There are more and one that is a bit larger on the south side.

I just started experimenting with the housewrap. I need to cut out another door and some windows, then I can finish wrapping it up. I really hope they can live without me at work tomorrow.

I am still trying to decide exactly what to do up here in the loft. Window or door. I know I probably have the technology to frame a door in there, but it's not quite that simple. That gable wall is a part of my manufactored trusses, and for me to just start wacking a hole in there for a door could cause some grief for me with with the permit guys. I may have to draw my plans up and get someone who is qualified to ok it for me. I guess that would be an engineer or maybe the truss manufactorer. I just hope it is not a complicated drawn out and expensive ordeal. It would be nice to have a door going out to the balcony though. This end of the house probably wont get completely wrapped right away. I am going to try and draw up a door framing plan soon. Any suggestions? The top part studs are at 2 foot on center and the bottom part is at 16".
Anyway, thats it for now. I will try and post a little bit more often, as I THINK things may be slowing down a tad at work. Hopefully.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finally Backfilled.

That little white thing with all those wheels is what I have been up to mostly lately. We started a new road job awhile ago and it is about 150 kms away, so that kinda keeps me truckin. The moneys good, but the poor old house has been at a bit of standstill. I have been parking the truck at my place alot lately, which is pretty handy at times.
I did manage to put the second 3 foot manhole ext on my septic tank and cover it in.

I also found a little time to get started on my foundation backfilling. I phoned the permit people for an inspection on my foundation so that I can backfill it, and I ended up also passing the framing inpection while he was here. lol.
Anyway, I lined the outside of the foundation walls with filter cloth.

Then I did half the backfill height with tile rock. Alot of people usually put in just enough tile rock to just cover their weeping tile, but I put in alot of rock, just to be different, if nothing else.

Once the rock was in, I covered it all with more filter cloth to keep the dirt and rock seperated before finishing it all up with dirt.

And there is the finished product. This picture was taken tonight at 11 pm (Sunday night). I had the gravel in a few days ago then got called to go to work, so it sat for a few days like that. Then we got rained out at work, so I did'nt hesitate to get going on this again, even though things were a bit wet here also. After slippin and sliding around for awhile in the hot sun with the backhoe, things started to dry up and I eventually got it done. I would like to see a good rain storm now, just to see where all the water is going to go or sit. I have a pretty good slope all the way around the house, but it will be interesting to see how much water comes into the sump now.
I have a pretty good feeling that I am going to be kinda busy at work for awhile yet. So I probably won't be getting a whole lot accomplished on the house right away. I don't mind though, if we're busy, we're busy, might as well take advantage of that while it is there I guess. I'm just real happy that this baby in finally backfilled. I have my windows, but I did'nt even order my doors yet. I know, I know ???????????????????????????. Still deciding. lol. I purchased my siding, but need to order the corners and trims etc, as they will be in a different color that needs to be ordered. I have been there a couple times with intentions of ordering this stuff, and for some reason or other, I got diverted. Ordering some goodies is my next mission in life, other than working.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Busy Days Lately

I have been a pretty busy man lately with the the shack building and at work. I did manage to get somethings accomplished on the house project. My sewage system passed the inspection with flying colors and I backfilled it all in, except for my last man hole ext on the septic tank. I'm just letting things brew in my head for a bit before I cover that totally in, as once it is, it would be pretty hard to get inside that thing and get back out again. It is ready to go, but you just never know, I might decide to make a slight change on things in there yet.
We started to get the blueskin on. "We" meaning mom and I. I'm getting to be quite a mommas boy lately. lol. This stuff does go alot better with an extra set of hands around. Sometimes we get under each others skin a bit also, but I guess thats just the way it goes sometimes. lol
First we put on some primer.
Then the blueskin. 3 sides are blueskinned. The front needs to be closed in yet and done.
Shortly after my last post, I woke up one morning and my computer did not want to work correctly. I could no longer get on line, and there are a bunch of other things not working right. I suspect that it is all them automatic windows vista updates that always go on. I could'nt even go back to a different restore point. Nor could I get online to try and diagnose the problem. So I squeezed in enough time to go and buy a new computer. I was a couple days after that before I even found time to take that out of the box. I'm running windows 7 now. Man I hate getting things all set up again. And this keyboard is just a little different, like the enter key and the shift keys for some reason I am always missing. They are just a bit smaller or something.
I got called to go to work at about supper time last night and did'nt get done until about 5 this morning. The days are sure long right about now. It was still partially daylight at close to midnight, and at about 4:30 am it was starting to get light again. I seen alot of wildlife last night and there was hardly any truck traffic out in the bushes except for me and the odd guy. I've seen moose, elk and deer. I did'nt see any bears last night, which kinda surprises me. I guess it could be a bit early for them to be out full force yet, I don't know. There are alot of bears around here and where I usually do alot of my trucking. Both black bears and grizzlies. I heard on the news recently that there are only about 700 grizzly bears in Alberta, not counting all the ones in the national parks, but I disagree with their calculations, because I have seen so many of them myself over the years in just the areas that I travel. There has just got to be more than that. Well there you have it, all my thoughts for the day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Septic Tank is in the Ground.

I had to work yesterday, but today (Thursday) I finally had for me. I finally got my septic tank delivered. The tank was $1600, trucking was $450, and another $480 for the two manhole extensions and two tar strips to keep the ground water out. $2530 plus some taxes for all. Ouch.
It is a 750 gallon septic tank, which is no longer allowed around here anymore. The minimum size is 1000 now. I bought my sewage permit before the change, so I was allowed to use the 750. Others have to have some other kind of different system that I heard costs around $30,000.00. I'm not sure why I did'nt need that. (Maybe I do, I don't know). lol.
The sewage permit guy is probably going to come out tomorrow (actually today, I guess, as it is after midnight). I want to get him to look at things so I can get it all covered.
Raw sewage in.

Effluent out to the sewage treatment mound.
Well it's nice to finally have this thing in the ground.