December 2017

Yet again it has been a very busy time on site. At the end of our last update we were still digging the trenches and getting the boxing in for the strip footings. Well since then we have installed some very big and heavy strip footings cages as well as a forest of reinforcing. We started putting the strip footings in when it was sunny weather one weekend but then the sunny weather went away and a whole lot of rain  made a bit of a mess of the strip footings! We were going to install the strip footing cages using the bob cat that Joel bought. However of course that has broken down, and hasn't been fixed yet so we had to move all of the cages by hand. And these things are HEAVY. So heavy in fact that we couldn't move one of them at all (even with 4 people) and we had to cut the cage in half and use lap bars to tie it back together.

But we got it all in and it was all looking pretty good and the forest of reinforcing was complete! Ready to be inspected by Markplan Consulting Ltd and then poured with Firth's Declare labelled concrete.But then F*** f*** f***. I went out onto site the morning of the reinforcing inspection to find that the trench has collapsed in all the rain on the previous weekend!All the dirt that was in those gaps is now up against the reo at the bottom of the trench!ARGHHH!!!!! However we still passed the reo inspection and were allowed to pour the concrete for the blockwork walls on Wed 22 Nov. It was a bit of a big push to get all the formwork in place to pour the concrete columns in the basement, but Joel made it in time (working late into the night). 

The next big push was to get the boxing in for the strip footings. Again a lot of work and some late nights working on the site, but we just managed to squeeze it all in. The concrete pour for the strip footings was interesting. Joel had ordered a colored concrete mix, using the amazing oxides from Peter Fell and the concrete came out the colour of chocolate!

Off site it hasn't been smooth sailing either. The Red List struck again with our HYNE timber beams. When originally researching whether or not we could use the Hyne Timber17C glulam beams I found that they used a hardener that contains formaldehyde (CAS #50-00-0). Now for those of you that do not know formaldehyde is on the Red List. However there was also an answer to an official dialogue question that said:


"We understand that there are certain life-cycle and design benefits to using glulams over other available structural solutions (e.g. steel or concrete), despite the dependency on phenol resorcinol formaldehyde. Due to current market realities – there are no glulams made without formaldehyde available today – the product may be used. This exception only applies to glulams made using phenol formaldehyde; no glulam products made with urea formaldehyde are acceptable....... "


I read this that as long as the products didn't contain urea formaldehyde then we could use them. HOWEVER after the issue with the PEFC I thought that perhaps I should really look into this a little further and I found that the official exemption states:
"I10-E10 2/2008 Added phenol formeldehyde is allowed in composite structural members such as glulam beams. "


hmmm, not quite the same as my interpretations above. So now it looks as though perhaps our preferred glulam beams have 2 issues that we need to get resolved!


Then my blood started to boil when I received a very delayed final invoice (that had been sent to a consultant who hasn't worked on our project for well over a year) for the our Discharge Consent.

My blood boiled for two reasons:

1) They charged us for the 'specialist input' that they had to engage as they didn't have the time or knowledge to review our application in house. Surely this should be their own internal cost! We've already had to pay for two of our own consultants for this application.

2) The hourly rate they are charging for the in-house staff that did work on the application was $156/hr!!!!! Remember this is basically for admin as the technical review was done by the specialist input above! $156/hr equates to a salary of around $320,000 a year. No wonder we keep hearing about this high Auckland Council salaries. I'm quitting the The Building Excellence Group and I'm going to go and work for Auckland Council as they appear to pay better! Their hourly charge out rate is certainly higher than ours!


So as we headed into the December silly season we have 2-3 big tasks left before us. Waterproof the outside of the basement walls, prop the top of the basement walls and then backfill the enormous pile of dirt back around the basement so we have a level and flat section again. Then we can start building the rammed earth walls for the MHU

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