Sunday, November 21, 2010

The State of Things

We left Torrey to return to Logan at 11:15 on Saturday, November 13. Stegner, Arion and Charlie (our llama family) peered out the windows of the trailer not happy about spending the next six and half hours in such close proximity to each other. The paraphernalia of Torrey life was crammed into every available crevice and gap of the truck.

Dave at the saw
Tyse on porch decking
As we pulled away, Dave and Tyse were finishing the last of the decking on the porch roof. There was nothing more Scott and I could do for the moment and Logan obligations called from the north.

Reviewing the progress of this second building season, we have...

* put a wood-burning stove in the yurt
* planted and fenced 20 trees - 10 cottonwoods, 1 Fat Albert blue spruce, 5 blue spruce seedlings, 2 apple trees, 1 plum tree, 1 cherry tree
* installed the PEX for the entire floor
* poured the concrete floor in the bedroom, office, kitchen and master bathroom
* laid the first five inches of the earthen floor (the last one inch to be installed later)
* insulated the foundation with Pink Panther rigid foam
* mortared slate to the entire exterior of the foundation
* built a sill plate for the straw bale walls
* buried the 21,000 pound water storage tank for the solar water heating system
* graded the building site to eliminate piles of dirt and fill in holes
* finished and raised all of the timber frame (HOORAY!!!)
* assembled the core of the Tempcast masonry heater
* purchased and stacked 500 bales of straw in the garage and to the north of the garage
* cut, sanded and sealed all of the porch posts, rafters and beams
* erected the porch
* framed the interior walls
* selected and purchased almost all of the lights for the interior and exterior of the house (This had to be done in order for the electrician to wire the house.)

Solar Mechanical "Room"
Trent Hunt has placed all of the electrical wires above the ceiling. Phillip Winters has completed as much of the solar heating and water system as is possible without a finished roof. Tyler Torgerson and crews have completed the decking for the entire ceiling and porch plus added the waterproof felt layer and the metal drip edge.

While we work here in Logan, Tyler and crew will continue working. Eventually the phone will ring, and we’ll head back to Torrey to blow the insulation into the roof.

For now, Scott and I have called a hiatus. We know the first, middle, last and nick names of every piece of wood in our entire house. Our sweat, tears and not just a little blood linger everywhere. There is still so much to be done. Maybe we can complete our 2010 "to-do list" before the 2011 season begins.
November 2010

November 2009

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So Much For Plans

6:45 AM; Wednesday morning; November 10; Torrey, Utah; Mary and Scott’s yurt...19 degrees F inside, 21 degrees F outside. It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed when your breath is visible in the air and the water in the teapot is frozen.

We force ourselves out of toasty sleeping bags and stoke the wood stove just enough to boil tea water and thaw our fingers so we can eat breakfast. The decking for the porch, waiting in tall stacks around the house, must go up. Last night the weather service predicted a 50% chance of snow – this morning the revised forecast is 70% chance of snow.

The roofing crew of two, Dave and Tyce, show up at 9:00. Scott and I have the chop saw ready for action. The pale sun disappears behind darkening clouds descending quickly from the west. By 10:00 the snow begins to filter toward us from thickening skies, and, by 10:30, the 70% chance of snow becomes a 100% chance of snow. Work ends for the day.

So much for plans...

It begins to snow...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Chance of Snow

Six wonderful days of hiking! It’s hard to believe that we would actually be seeking shade in November, but it was warm and so fabulously beautiful. Harris Wash, the creek wending its way to the Escalante River, golden cottonwoods, deep silence, enigmatic petroglyphs and quicksand. Quicksand as deep as Scott’s waist! After two days of hiking, we agreed it was too dangerous to continue and retreated to a different trail, this one along the Escalante River starting from the bridge at Calf Creek on Highway 12.

Again, luxuriously warm (for November), a meandering river and camping at Sand Creek Wash. We spent the last day out exploring Sand Creek. Brilliant cottonwood leaves reminiscent of stained glass windows, river birch juxtaposed against monumental sandstone walls patterned with desert varnish and deposition layers petrified with time, mountain lion footprints in the sand. This hike was a glorious reminder of why we love this region.

Now it’s back to work on the roof and the weather forecast is for snow across the state. Monday there was a 70% chance of snow in Torrey. All day long we sanded and sealed 2” X 8” tongue and groove. Dave and Tyse began putting the porch decking in place while Phillip and Dale worked on the solar heating system. We worked mostly in sunshine but always in wind and only briefly in snow, in late afternoon. So what, exactly, does 70% mean? Does it mean 70% of the hours will have snow? Does it mean 70% of the land area will experience snowfall? For us it meant we had the entire day to work until rain with occasional snow began at 4:00. So much for 70%.

This morning the temperature inside the yurt was 25 degrees. Outside the yurt it was 24 degrees, but we worked the entire day in sun (and, of course, wind) while the decking on the north porch was completed.

Who knows about tomorrow. The forecast  says 50% chance of snow with a high of 34 degrees. Luckily Scott and I have thermal coveralls to fend off the weather. We are determined to get this roof done. Twenty-four hours from now, we’ll know what 50% chance of snow meant.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Roof, Rain and a Looming Deadline

Scott returned to Logan last Monday and together we are heading back to Torrey next Monday. We haven’t been on a single backpacking trip for an entire year. To remedy that sorry state, one of the very first things we’ll do when we arrive is pack up our llamas and hit the trail. We plan to head down Harris Wash for a late-season, multi-day trip ensconced in red rock heaven.

This begs the question, how is it possible we’ve found ourselves with this backcountry deficit when we love exploring that landscape so much? The answer is a combination of a roof, too much rain and a looming deadline.

One reason we’ve chosen to build with straw bales is their high r-value. R-value, or resistance value, is a measurement used to designate the insulating value of specific materials used in construction.  Higher R-values indicate a material's greater ability to insulate. Three inches of fiberglass insulation has an R-value of 11. Straw bale walls have r-values ranging from 40 - 55. This means we’ll be very toasty in winters, cool during the summers and our low utility bills will put smiles on our faces.

With walls like that, it only makes sense to have a tight roof as well. The design of our roof should provide an r-value in the neighborhood of 60. From the inside out, our roof consists of 2” x  8” tongue and groove from salvaged ponderosa pine trees, roofing felt, 16” scissor trusses filled with nearly five tons of cellulose insulation made of recycled newspapers, 5/8 inch sheathing, 1 1/2 inch foam covered with reflective radiant barrier and, finally, metal that matches the roof on the garage. I guess you could think of it as the Dagwood sandwich of the roofing world.

To make our project a little more interesting, the wiring for the entire house must come through the roof. That’s because we don’t want any penetrations in the walls since those could conduct moisture into the straw.

Let’s just say the progress of the roof construction has been hindered by busy schedules and atypical rain. Scott was in Torrey for 12 days prior to his return to Logan. It rained for nine of those days. Not much building happens when the sky is pouring on your project.

As it stands now, there is tongue and groove plus felt on about half of the roof. All of the scissor trusses are up.

Most of the wiring is in. But there is oh so much more to be done. It’s raining right now. There is snow on the peaks. Our season is coming to a close. Without a roof, we cannot get the solar panels on the house. Without solar panels, our heating system isn’t complete. To get our grant from the state of Utah, this all must be done by March.

We’ve worked hard all season. The trip with our llamas will be wonderful. Then we’ll see what can be finished before winter sets in.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Local Timber

Scott has been working for 28 days straight, 8:00 AM until after dark almost every night, in an attempt to complete the timber frame so we can begin stacking bales of straw. I was only able to be in Torrey for five of those 28 days. Little did I realize there was still so much wood work to do.

It wasn’t until we began cutting, sanding, sealing and raising the rafters for the porch did it sink in that the porch almost doubles the footprint of our house. Yes, we want outdoor living space. Yes, we need protection for the plaster walls. And, yes, it makes it all seem big ... much, much bigger than I had imagined.

Wood for our entire house comes from forests in the Torrey area. The trusses, posts, purlins and girts are douglas fir. The rafters and posts for the porch plus the and 2” X 6" tongue and groove for the ceiling are salvaged beetle and fire-killed ponderosa pines. Once it’s sanded and sealed, that salvaged wood is fantastically beautiful. We’ve never seen anything like the yellow,  orange and chocolate browns colors that appear as we apply the beeswax seal.

Scott devised a method to cut a lovely curve in the ends of the porch rafters. This small detail created a graceful elegance to what might otherwise feel heavy and ponderous.

A local visitor told us he was happy to see local timber used in such a beautiful way. We can’t help but agree.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Vacation

Remember that old writing assignment from school? The one entitled "What I Did for My Summer Vacation?"

Well, when our longtime friend, Nikki, and her friend, Tracey, get back to Chicago, they'll be able to answer that question with two words...sanding and sealing. Nikki drove all the way to Torrey in July and spent many long hours sanding braces and trusses plus working on a long list of odds and ends. As if that wasn't enough fun, she came back last week with Tracey, and together they spent another five days sanding and applying Skidmore's Liquid Beeswax to twenty-eight porch posts.

Sanding is a time-consuming, arm-numbing job that taxes muscles and fills lungs with saw dust. We've christened our belt sander, an experienced Rockwell, The Locomotive because of its deafening roar and its ability to knock you off your feet if you are unprepared for takeoff when you push the trigger.

How did we get so lucky as to have friends who spend their summer vacation like this?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some Assembly Required

Over a year ago, beginning on August 15, 2009, Scott and I had a lesson on timber framing with Adam Riley from Teton Timber Frame Company. He and Jake, one of his employees, drove to Torrey from Driggs, Idaho to teach us as much as they could cram into our brains in three long days about the business of cutting our own timbers. At the end of the crash course, we had cut the posts, girts and truss for one bent of our eight-bent house. Scott and I were exhausted, and I shed a good number of tears because it had been so much work and we had so far to go.

In September we spent another three weeks building two more trusses. It was a challenge trying to decipher what all of our notes from Adam and Jake meant, not to mention dealing with timbers that had had another month to twist and turn in the heat of the warm autumn days. Still, as that building season ended, we felt we would really be able to complete work this summer.

Always the optimist, I thought we would be finished and ready for a raising by early July. Scott, the realist in the team, thought we’d be lucky to be ready in early August. A year and ten days after our shaky beginning, all of that work came together as Adam, his employee Mike, my mom, Wayne, Doug, Shanna, Scott and I raised the frame of our house.

Scott set up his camera to take a picture every few minutes to record the whole affair. It’s plain to see that some assembly was required.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waiting to Exhale

Last week we finished working with all of the timbers for our house - 42 purlins; 8 trusses each composed of 6 members: two top cords, one bottom cord, two struts and one king post; 16 posts; 44 braces; 16 girts and 20 splines. Every piece is sanded, sealed with Skidmore's Liquid Beeswax, fitted and waiting under a tarp for the moment it will stand together with its brothers and sisters as the frame of our house. All around the building site you see blue and silver tarps covering pieces of our house. Scott reminds me that some people put cars on blocks in front of their houses. We have put pieces of a house on blocks in front of our car.

I've returned to Logan to resume my part time work at Utah State University, but Doug, Shanna and Scott have continued preparing for the raising of our timber frame. The tractor (named Orangejello) proves to be the useful tool we had hoped it would be, especially now, as it is instrumental in making piles of dirt disappear into the holes left behind following each excavation.

In less than a week, despite day after day of rain, they have even erected the core of our Tempcast masonry heater. Here's a tour of their work.

The pieces are laid out.

Doug applies mortar in preparation for the next part.

More mortar...

More mortar...

Scott custom cuts a hole for the flue.

It begins to look like a masonry heater instead of just a pile of cement blocks.

Another course...

The last two courses are the heaviest pieces weighing in at 126 pounds. This requires a scaffold assist.

Scott stands beside the almost completed heater.

Scott and Doug contemplate the last piece.

The last piece...

The heater is not really finished. This is just the core. Once the walls of the house are up, and we are happily whiling away our time with finish work, we'll add an attractive facade which we haven't yet decided upon.

The fitting of all of the timbers has taken place in two dimensions on the ground, so we don't REALLY know that our grand plan will work. We are tired. We are anxious. We are excited. We are waiting until our mentors from Teton Timberframe arrive next Tuesday. It will be a big day (or several). We are ready to move on to something less demanding. Maybe that will be the strawbale walls. We are waiting to exhale.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finding Straw

Last winter when Scott was searching for a straw source, he was having no luck finding anything in Wayne County.  He could find straw specifically baled for construction purposes in Manitoba, Canada (definitely not local) or western Colorado (better, but still pretty far away). We knew farmers with straw in Cache Valley, too, but that was no closer than the Colorado location.

Early this spring Scott was discussing our dilemma with Courtney Cropper. Courtney manages the water on the ten acres that abut our Torrey property. He said that his dad was planting barley in Hinkley, Utah and would have straw after the harvest. Now Hinkley isn’t exactly near Torrey either, but when you’re getting desperate, 130 miles can be construed as sort of local.

As it turned out, Courtney’s dad hadn’t planted barley, but his friend, Donald Brown, knew where we could get straw. A fellow living in Las Vegas had a field near Donald’s place that was full of soon-to-be-straw and we could purchase it for $90 a ton. Donald’s neighbor, Gale Bennet, would bale it for us, and their friends at G. C. Porter Trucking would haul it two and half hours to our place.

A week ago Monday we drove to Hinkley to take a look at the bales. It was important for us to see bright, dry straw in bales the correct size - 18” X 14” in lengths that kept them light enough that we could heft them around, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 pounds. We met Gale at the barley field, watched the baler spit out a few bales and were happy with the results. These bales were dry, tight, and not too heavy.

Then it appeared Murphy and his law might prevail. Gale's baler broke so the straw wasn't baled until Wednesday. It was stacked in the open, then loaded on the truck Friday and left uncovered overnight. There had been thunderstorms all over the state during the week, including several downpours in and around Torrey, and we nervously watched the radar on the internet to see if Hinkley had been hit by a storm. Baled straw can shake off a bit of dampening by a shower, but a deluge can ruin it all. The building gods were with us and we received a call early Saturday informing us that 500 dry bales were headed our way.

In advance we hired three young men to help unload the semi load of straw  and put it under the roof of our garage. Anything that didn’t fit in the garage would be in a stacked outside and covered with a tarp.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early in anticipation of the arrival of our straw, and at 9:00 the semi turned down our lane.
In my mind, 500 bales just sounded like a number - 500 people, 500 dollars, 500 miles. But when I saw that semi plus the “pup” behind it stacked with a full load, 500 bales seemed like a mountainous number, an immeasurable number, a number that would make me very tired.
Luke and Aaron Porter (G. C. Porter Trucking Company) maneuvered the semi through our gate to the garage door. Brenden, Troy and Jason flexed their young muscles and the unloading and stacking began. Soon everyone pitched in. Jason and Aaron heaved the bales off the semi, that is until Aaron slipped and tumbled twelve feet to the ground. He didn’t seem seriously injured, but we gave him an ice pack to put on a swelling wrist and directed him to watch and cheer everyone on. (We checked on him yesterday and found he currently has a brace on a "slight fracture".) I climbed up beside Jason and the two of us continued to trundle bales off our slowly diminishing pile on the trailer to the crew filling the garage. Scott,Troy, Luke and Brenden stacked and stacked and stacked. Courtney came with his tractor to move the unhitched “pup” into unloading position, and stayed to do more than his share of unloading as well.

Two and a half hours later, our once empty garage was filled to the rafters with straw. A tidy 50-bale stack covered with a tarp stood beside it.

Scott often says, “Proceed and the way will open.” Courtney connected us to Donald Brown. Donald went out of his way to help us with the logistics of getting 13 tons of straw from Hinkley to Torrey. Our timbers are scheduled to go up August 25 - 27. Then we begin raising the walls of straw. We’ll proceed...and the way will open.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not Building a Piano

Today we will finish the detail work on the the last of our eight trusses. Now we have all of the timber cut (and much of it fitted) except for the 48 purlins These are horizontal roof members spanning between trusses. The roof is attached to the purlins. Ever the optimist, I don't think cutting the purlins will take long. Scott says it will take forever because our wood has twisted a good deal since it was cut last fall. The reality is likely somewhere in between. We are hoping for a September frame raising. Fingers crossed...

Yesterday we took the tarps off of all the trusses in our yard. We were happy to see that, over the months, we have actually gotten better putting the pieces together. Even so, it is impossible for us to be as skilled as our tutors, Adam and Jake, who have been building timber frame structures for years. Scott says if anyone makes negative comments about our joinery, just tell them we weren’t building a piano.

It was recommended that we seal all of our wood with Skidmore’s Liquid Beeswax. It is very expensive, and, when we opened the lid, we could see why. The amber liquid exudes the efforts of thousands of bees who couldn’t have know their work would be enshrined in the timbers of our house. And I couldn’t have known the effect this unguent would have on our wood.

When we applied the first brush strokes to one of our trusses, Scott said, “What do you think?” I said, “Now it looks like a piano!”

The Last Hole

We plan to heat our house with two systems: a Tempcast masonry heater and radiant heat flooring powered by solar-thermal collectors. The basic idea behind the solar-thermal system is to collect the sun’s energy with water-filled evacuated tubes on the roof and store it in a large thermal mass - a lot of water - enough water to store heat from sunny days through cold cloudy days. When we figured our budget for collectors and tanks, and our likely heating needs, 500 gallons turned out to be the required amount to efficiently run the system.  Initially we could only find room for 300 gallons to be stored in a huge water tank in our bedroom closet. This would have taken up half of the closet space. We were not at all satisfied with this idea because our sweaters and sneakers were going to be displaced by an ocean of hot water. We hoped a better plan could be devised. We heard about an exterior underground storage tank used in a Wasatch Front house. Wayne, our architect, investigated that system, and Phillip, our plumber and solar thermal designer, drew up the details. Our better plan arrived in Torrey yesterday.

Dura-Crete, Incorporated is a precast and custom concrete manufacturer located in Salt Lake City. To store our ocean, they built a 21,000 pound custom concrete box-within-a-box insulated with reflective, woven fabric to store our 500 gallons outside of the house. This was preferable on four fronts: it was no more expensive than the closet storage option; we regained our closet space; we were able to get a more efficient amount of thermal storage and it got all of that water outside of the house...which is good plan for a straw building.

Why a box within a box? We will only need to have one hole dug to contain our entire system. The inner chamber will store the 500 gallons as well as three copper heat exchangers fabricated by Phillip. A smaller chamber (inside the big box but outside the inner water box) contains pumps that move  the water through the solar collectors and into the house, plus sensors that control the system.

The link below is a slide show that will give you an better idea of what happened...everything from the moment Tyler began digging the hole to house the water tank with his backhoe to the moment Phillip climbed inside the manhole to install the pumps.

Hooray!  The last hole has been dug and will soon be filled. It is wonderful feeling to know that everything that happens from now on will be above grade.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Construction Boot Camp

Back in 8th grade when I opted out of shop classes, I never would have guessed that I would be building my own house someday. While Scott already knew how to use tools and actually build things, I didn't know much about construction. As of today I now know how to use a router, a chain mortiser, chisels and mallets, a jigsaw, orbital and belt sanders,  a disk grinder, Japanese saws, caulking guns, hammers, a pneumatic stapler, compressors, a drill, a miter saw and the tractor. Basically I can use everything except the big, scary circular saws.

I guess you could say that we are at Construction Boot Camp. We get up every morning and, just to make sure we remember why we are building a house here, we go for a walk or a bike ride. After breakfast we begin the day's tasks, take a short break for lunch and then are back at it until sunset. We celebrate our small successes as we cross each item off the list of the day.

Moving the timbers and the heavy tools can be challenging and we are both covered with scrapes and bruises, but each day takes us closer to our goal...a place to call home in Torrey. Not only that, I'm getting great muscles and I still have all of my fingers.

Today we finished the rest of the king posts. Tomorrow we'll complete the last eight braces for the king truss. Hooray! The whale is getting smaller and smaller.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Three and a Half Inches

Even though progress is slow, we have incremental successes. Before we can our stack straw bale walls, we want our foundation to be well-insulated and protected, so we covered the sides of it with two-inches of pink, solid, Owens Corning insulation. Next we placed 12-inch by 12-inch slate tiles all around the top of the foundation and painted any pink insulation showing below the tiles with asphaltic emulsion. This emulsion will keep the insulation from breaking down. Eventually only six inches of the slate tiles will show but they will be a nice design feature.

We must also create a barrier between any possible moisture and the straw. To do this we painted the top of the foundation with asphaltic emulsion and placed tar paper on top of it. Then we anchored 4 X 4 inch boards on each side of the 18-inch foundation for the sill plate. (This site has many definitions that help understand terms used in the construction of log homes. While our home isn't exactly a log home, the glossary is useful.) In order to be ready to raise the timber frame, the sill plate must be filled with gravel and the foundation needs to be back-filled. The straw walls will rest on the sill plate.

An aside - Even though lumber companies call the boards 4 X 4 inches, they are actually "nominally" that size. That means the boards are really only 3 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches. Once the sill plate was in place, our house  was 3 /12 inches taller. Hooray! A small victory. The next upward step should be a big one...15 feet of timber frame.

Post Options

Monday, June 28, 2010

Huge Piles

The last few days have had their ups and downs. The ups? Doug and Shanna have been here for almost one month helping us with the floor, the foundation and cutting timbers. The downs? They will only be here for four more days! Time seems to be running away from us. We really want to get the timber frame up and the straw walls stacked.

One day while laying out a piece of timber, Scott said, "If anyone asks us what we would do differently, I would say DON'T do timber frame." Why? Because it takes a really long time to lay out, cut and fit the timbers.

Since we have never done anything like this before, it feels like we are always doubting if we are doing anything correctly. The timber frame process involves buying a huge pile of logs cut to specified lengths, each planed on all four sides. The logs sit under tarps outside our garage waiting their turn to be cut. While they sit under the tarps, they either bake or freeze depending upon the day and season. All of this cooking makes the timbers twist. They are trees after all, and trees do whatever they like...especially when they are no longer standing with their friends in the forest. (Maybe this is what we get for using trees even though they come from the mountains not far from Torrey. Trees probably don't care about things like that. Maybe trees only care about being with their friends and worrying about wind, chain saws, squirrels and dogs.)

Once each piece of timber is cut, it goes back into the huge piles until it is time to fit them. Once they are fit (and this seems to take FOREVER) they go back into the huge piles until it is time to raise them up into the frame house we have planned for them.

We are making progress but the going is slow. All of 16 posts, 18 girts, 48 braces and four of the eight trusses are completed. Only two of the posts have been fit. We can see there is much work left to do to get to the raising. Mid-July would be very nice for this, but Scott says I'm dreaming. Okay, just let me wear my rose-colored glasses for awhile.

When we finally get to the straw bale part of the straw bale house, we will be dancing and drinking a toast to this huge accomplishment. Until then, it's back to those huge piles of timber and our chisels.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


We received word from the state of Utah’s Renewable Energy Program that we have been granted a reservation for a rebate in the amount of $3,547.00. This will help with the cost of the installation of our solar thermal hot water system. The system must be in place and operational by March 3, 2011. By that date we must provide a signed rebate claim form with the required supporting documentation.

Luckily we have made great progress on the radiant heat floor which is a large part of heating system. Along the way we have learned a few new skills. It is quite a stretch, however, to say that we are skilled. Most of what we are doing seems to be something of a flounder after which we are required to learn a new “skill.” While we have always admired people who can build things with their hands, we now regard truly skilled workers with the highest esteem.

Here is a snapshot of the evolution of our floor...

 Gravel delivered

Bernardo distributes the gravel across the floor space

Bernardo and Tyler level the gravel

Vapor barrier over gravel layer

 Insulation over vapor barrier

Road base over insulation in the center of the house where we will eventually complete the earthen floor.

Our friend, Dee Jukes-Cooper, tamps the road base of the earthen floor.

Scott and Doug lay down rebar over the road base. PEX for the radiant floor will be attached to the rebar in the earthen floor section of the house. PEX is attached to a track on the insulation in the other parts of the house.

The four-man team of Scott, Mary, Doug and Shanna install the PEX.

Mary works on the manifold which will control the system.

All of the PEX is in and the manifold is completed.

Tyler's crew pours the cement floor for our bedroom and for Scott's office.

Tyler's crew puts the finishing touches on the concrete pour.

Bernardo smoothing the cement

Jed working from a unique perch

Kyle doing his part. How can he do this work in shorts?
The next day Jed and Bernardo return to cut a 3-foot by 3-foot grid into the floor. This will control the cracks that will inevitably appear in the floor. We hope the pattern will look like very large stone tiles.

The floor is basically done until we get to the very end. That's when we will seal the concrete and finally create the earthen floor. Here is a link that will give more information on earthen floors.