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Month: September 2021

Unshakeable: A Concrete Slab and Steel I-Beams

Unshakeable: A Concrete Slab and Steel I-Beams

I know that these posts aren’t all that interesting, as they just record the long process of getting our dream home built, but I also wanted this blog to be a record of the evolution of the house, which includes the mundane as well as the fascinating.

I promise that I will get back to posts about life and experiences on Twin Eagles bluff, but this building project has become all encompassing. If we aren’t reviewing plans with the builder, we’re doing research on materials, designing bathroom layouts or picking colours. This has also included several trips to Vancouver to meet with Window manufacturers, Tiling companies and Fireplace distributors. The list of items that we need to design, order or purchase is extensive and will keep both Mitch and I hopping for the next several months. Things have become more complicated because the supply chain for most goods is slowing down, which means we need to make decisions with LOTS of lead time if they are going to be delivered to meet the construction schedule. Our builder is doing such a good job, we are trying our best to never be a decision-making bottleneck.

Step One: With the foundation in place, Ben’s crew laid out the insulation foam board and then the radiant heating tubes that will cover the main floor of the house. Overtop of all of this a grid of rebar was woven. This stage had to be very carefully planned out, because once they poured the cement, any changes would be complicated and costly.

Step Two: The day finally arrived to pour the cement slab. This involved several cement mixing trucks feeding a truck that poured the cement onto the foundation. A group of guys spread the cement out and then using a hand pushed machine that looked like a mix of an industrial fan and a floor polisher, the slab was slowly polished until it practically shone.

Step Three: After a couple of a nasty rain days, followed by a stretch of sun, the cement slab had enough time to cure and they were ready to bring in the steel I-beams. These will give the house tremendous structural integrity and allow us to have a wall of windows that will take advantage of the view out over the Salish Sea, even during the nastiest winter storms.

Unfortunately, we were stuck down in Vancouver during this phase, so we had to rely on pictures taken by Bruce, Ben and Campbell. It’s great to be kept up to date on progress, even when we’re not there physically.

Standing firm while wild winds blow.

Standing firm while wild winds blow.

The builders are making sure that the foundations of our house are both strong and true. It’s been quite a process watching them clear the meadow, lay down the lines and ensure that heights and levels were accurate. The foundation for our house looks like it’s three separate buildings at the moment. The reality of how long the house stretches was never that obvious when I was reviewing the plans, not even when we were staking out the property before the builders arrived. Now that we have foundations and can walk around the property knowing exactly where each room will be located, the reality of this design has begun to sink in – 142 feet from East to West is a lot further in reality than on the architect’s drawings.


The fact that there is one roof that covers all three foundations is not yet apparent, so visitors tend to assume that we are building three houses, stuck unnaturally close together. I expect that there will be a big “Wow” moment when they start building the 5000 square foot roof over the first floor and the true design reveals itself.

The process has taken the building crew almost a month. It first involved clearing the land, getting the lines marked out and building footing forms. Once the footing forms were filled with cement and allowed to dry, foundation forms were added, rebar was tied in and the foundations were poured. After drying, the foundation forms were removed and a large amount of drainage pipes were laid down around the perimeter. This is needed to handle the volume of water that will be funnelled off the roof of the house during the long wet winters. Lastly, the interior of the foundations was filled with sand and packed down by machines. As well, the ground around the foundations was filled in with sand and dirt, bringing it almost up to the level needed for the patio that defines the outdoor spaces of the house.

I’m glad that I’ve been able to watch this process happen day by day. I’m confident that this house will remain standing long after I’ve shuffled off this astral plane.