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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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So I Lied

In my last post, I said winter had put the freeze on any hobbit-hole construction until spring. But, yesterday the temperature rose to a balmy 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and I couldn't hold myself back. I slogged through the melting snow and dismantled the eyesore that was the wooden form used to pour the front retaining wall. It already looks a lot better, though some may beg to differ. Unfortunately, the rough exposed concrete is going to bother me until things dry out and warm up enough to stucco it like I did the rear wall. I also want to put some pitch along the seam between the concrete and the metal pipe, and some concrete sealant where the concrete will touch dirt--as an added measure to block ground water from getting in. Apparently, a huge storm is headed this way, which is dumping tons of rain on L.A., so I don't know if I am going to be able to get to that before Groundhog Day.







Monday, January 11, 2010

Last look before the long winter

I took these pictures just before Thanksgiving. They show the state of the hobbit-hole before the onset of the long winter. After my success with the back wall, I decided that I would pour a similar concrete wall on the front, just behind the facade. The idea is to give the structure on the front the same kind of support and protection from groundwater as I now have on the rear wall.

I took much of the same material that I had used to build the form for the back wall to construct the form for the front wall. You can see here what that form looks like. I had to partially remove the terra-cotta retaining walls and dig away a bunch of dirt to make room for this. It was a big, muddy job for about three days, dismantling, digging, then building the form. Finally, I was able to pour the concrete, which I was able to do just after Thanksgiving, and just before the snow began to fall and the freezing temperatures began. I had to stick a space-heater out in the hobbit-hole in order to prevent the still-wet concrete from freezing.

It has been cold ever since then, and snow that fell before Christmas is still on the ground now. I knew I would have to take a break from construction, but it has been hard to wait, especially when I look out and see the ugly form still there, the retaining bricks stacked haphazardly, and that ugly corrugated metal still exposed. I had hoped to get that covered up with sod this year. Next year it is going to happen!

Here is the best view of it as it looks now (except now it is covered in snow). It has sort of a disemboweled look to it, especially the 2nd and 3rd photos. In the second, I make a cameo apperance. Doh! In the last one, you can see my construction site in all its glory. Usually, I clean up for pictures, but I was going for realism here.

I can't wait to take the form off, finish off the concrete, and put things back together. Then I will finally be ready to bury it.