A hobbit-hole in my backyard? It may sound crazy, but I can tell you that my kids love it. It is the coolest playhouse ever. Plus, they can enjoy the grassy hill for sledding in winter and water sliding in summer. This was all my wife's idea. She dreamt it, and I got to be the one to bring it to reality. I'm not a construction expert; this was a total do-it-yourself job by a complete amateur. It has turned out rather nicely, I think. Here is the story of how it came to be.

Since this is in blog format, the posts are in order from newest to oldest. To read this in chronological order, start with How it all Began and use the "Newer Post" links. Or click on the links under Blog Archive, in order.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Photos of the Back Wall

Finally, I have some new pictures to share. I have been stingy with pictures this year, because I have been doing more deconstructing than building--until now. Unfortunately, my camera is at the shop, so these are taken from my phone.

I must say, I am rather proud of how this wall has turned out. The first two pictures show it in its nearly final form, from a couple of angles. Some of the clear caulk is still drying, and I have a couple of small gaps still to fill, but it is 95% there.


Below is how the wall looked just after removing the concrete form. The window frame was unfinished and the wall was very rough with large gaps and pock marks all over. Using a product called Cement All, I was able to not only fill in the gaps and blemishes, but give the whole wall a stuccoed look that you see in the pictures above.

Here is the wall before I removed the form.
I was able to re-use almost all of the wood from the previous incarnation of the wall to build the form. The form itself was probably harder than anything else to build. It was quite tricky trying to figure out how to do it in such away that would result in an attractive wall, be structurally sound, and also enable me to get the concrete poured in evenly. I had to pour and build the form as I went up. It was actually done in two pours, the first up to about 3 inches above the cinder-block wall, and then the rest a couple of weeks later--this past weekend in fact. The last pour was in two stages while the cement was still wet. First, I poured up to about the height of the window, with the upper part of the form removed. Then I hurried and build the upper part of the form and kept pouring--building the form as I went up, until I poured the last bit through a square hole at the top of the form.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Progress

I need to get the pics up, but I am happy to report that I have completed construction of the concrete wall in the back. No more leaks! I feel victorious. I actually poured the wall in two pours, one a few weeks ago, and the second this past weekend. There is literally more than a ton of concrete in the wall, which is at least 9 inches thick, someplaces thicker. I haven't removed the form yet, as I have been waiting for the concrete to harden up. I will get some pictures taken before and after I take the form off. The form itself was quite a job to construct. Luckily, I was able to recycle nearly all of the material from the former war to use in construction of the form.

I nearly had a disaster during the construction. As I was filling the forms with concrete, and the weight increased, part of the form started to bow out, creating a seam from which some concrete was starting to leak out. As the pressure increased, the bowing grew larger. I was afraid the form would collapse and I would have an avalanche of concrete on my hands. What a huge mess that would have been! I'm afraid if that had happened, I may have taken dynamite to the whole project. Luckily, my 8-year-old son alerted me to the problem before it got too bad, and we were able to scramble and shore up the form with a couple of two by fours and a bunch of screws . We were able to close the gap and shore up the form, and only lost a couple of handfuls of concrete. As a kind of a cool side benefit, the forms stayed a little bowed out, making the wall have a bit of a rounded shape. That would be terrible if we were building most any other structure, but for a hobbit-hole, roundness is a good thing!