Watershed Materials - Technology for New Concrete Blocks
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Blog updates by Watershed Materials. Developments for sustainable new concrete block technology funded by the National Science Foundation.

Watershed One Demonstration House - The Race to the Top

The weather channels were all predicting rain by midnight and flooding by the end of the week. I knew once it started to rain hard there was no way we would get a crane onto the site again until spring. This left us with the challenge of compressing a week's worth of work into two days:  finishing the block walls, setting and welding the clerestory frames, setting and nailing off the roof panels, tarping the roofs, dismantling our scaffolding, and laying down the erosion control wattles. And why not off haul 100 yards of spoils while we still had the grade-all and before the pile became saturated?

We had a meeting before the start of work on Monday and went over the schedule: today, blocks to the top of three walls so we could set the back clerestory frame with the grade-all reaching through the stairwell, weld the back corners and set the final lintel across the stair opening; Tuesday, finish the blocks, set the final clerestory frame, weld the front two corners, pump five yards of grout into the last lift of blocks, set the roof panels, then try to wrap everything else up by dark.

Suffice it to say it worked, and here are the photos to prove it. They tell the story pretty well. In one photo you see Aurelio laying blocks with Khyber and Rigo setting a clerestory frame in the background. There is a celebratory photo of Ramon setting the last block on the back wall. Another photo shows setting the final clerestory frame along the front wall, only minutes before the concrete truck and pump arrived, and one of Khyber welding the last clerestory corner while Gabriel, Ramon, and Salvador are pouring grout five feet away from him.

Cindy's crane arrived onto the site just as the concrete truck was pulling away, and with all of us helping to set the outriggers we made our first roof panel pick at 3:00, had all five panels on by 4:30, and secured the blue tarp in the dark. It started raining at midnight.

We went back to the site this morning in rain gear to load the rental scaffolding on the trailer and make sure the black plastic on the first roof was secure against the wind storm that is on the way. Here are two more photos showing how the project looks put to bed for a few weeks while we leave to see if we can beat mother nature on a set of rammed earth walls in Hillsborough.