More Concrete Progress!

January 12.
Another brisk period with lots of progress. We are still in the hands of the masons but they are here most days and trying to wrap up as soon as possible as they have some huge projects coming soon. Recall that we are adding rooms on both sides of the surviving basement. On the east side will be a new bedroom and on the west side will be a new cistern below a combination storage/laundry/utility room.

After the first concrete pour on New Year’s Eve, they are now finalizing a very ambitious second pour in the next few days.  They have formed out the walls and slab for the new bedroom and once poured, that east side will be the last concrete needed on that side.

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I am the official “plumber” of the crew and we had our first plumbing challenge needing to install a “tree” under this slab to eventually connect the four toilets and other drains to the septic system.  The 4″ schedule 40 PVC assembly had to be very precise so the toilets could be placed exactly as planned.  There will be two baths on the lower level and another bath and powder room on the upper level and for ease of installation, the toilets will be back to back and directly on top of one another.  This allows them to be plumbed very simply.  Nice design job Rob and Na’ama!  It was tricky getting this assembly exactly where it needed to be located in the form so the concrete will be poured around them.  Took a lot of measuring, digging, plywood cutting and gluing but finally nailed it.  That was a full day of work for Rob and I and the masons gave us a lot of help too.

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This is Rob standing on the slab floor of the new east side bedroom.  You can see the view that bedroom will have.  Recall that it is next to the surviving basement which will be converted to another bedroom next to this one.

The are also forming the final footings and floor slab of the new cistern which is next to the old cistern and the new storage/utility room will be above that.  Thus, this level is below the basement next to the original cistern.  This will grow our water storage capacity a good amount.img_0898 (1)

The footing for the new cistern.

Next week should be exciting with all of the concrete that will be poured.  Once that sets and the forms are stripped, the only remaining house concrete will be the walls and top of the new cistern.  That top will serve as the floor of the new storage/utility room next to the old “basement.”  Will keep you posted.    Bob & Rob

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“Mud” in the Ground!

I’m not really sure what week this is but let’s call it “Month One.” We arrived Nov 27th and got folks working a few days later. Today (New Year’s Eve) was the first delivery of concrete to fill the first set of footing forms. Required pump truck, and two truck loads of concrete plus the Mason’s crew. All and all took about 2 hours once the concrete showed up. Very rewarding!

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This is “Jimmy”, the most highly recommended mason on St. John.

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Next step is to remove those forms on Wednesday or Thursday and start the next set of footing forms and start building the new bedroom foundation walls and the cistern foundation. Probably three more concrete pours to go.

Rob was back home for the holidays and Carol Ann joined me here. She returns to Florida tomorrow and Rob comes back on Thursday. As we will not be together for our anniversary on January 4th, we celebrated our “Double Nickel” anniversary last night at The Terrace. Very pleasant.

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We wish you all a wonderful new year and will keep you posted. Thanks for your interest in our project.

 

Bob

Sundancer Rebuild Week 3

Week 3. (Saturday December 22). Rob left Thursday to spend the holidays with his family and Carol Ann joined me the same day. (Nice trade!)

While the footings excavation wrapped up early this week, we had some no show days from the masons but they gave a full court press for the past two days with 7 or 8 men both days and made great progress. They installed an incredible amount of forms filled with steel (rebar) and they may be done today or Monday morning.

Then we wait for concrete. There is only one concrete plant on Island and they were shut down for two weeks for repairs. Now that they are back operating we are told that they have only one truck out of four operating!!

We are in pretty good shape though. SIPS (walls and roof panels) were finalized this week and ordered. They tell us about 4 weeks to make them and another 2 weeks to get them here.

Lots of other work in the meantime. We need to build a huge new retaining wall to replace the stone wall along the driveway parking area that has been moving inch by inch for 35 years because it was built on fill dirt.

Plus we have a pool to build and footings and posts for about 50 posts to support the many decks surrounding the house and pool.

Here are some photos and a link to a new video shot this afternoon.

Click here for Week 3 Video (Still sideways, sorry)  You can hear the Dominican Republic Masons singing in the background!)

 

Sundancer Rebuild Week One

Son Rob and I arrived on St. John on Tuesday the 27th. (My 3/4 birthday!) . We had arranged for an apartment rental on Gift Hill but learned on the way down that it wouldn’t be ready for a while. (Friends Dave and Robin at Cimmaron were repairing but owner was not forthcoming with payments and work stopped!)

Dave and Robin offered us temporary housing at a nice villa where they are staying. (They lost their housing in Irma too.)

There was no telling if or when work would again commence on the rental so I put out feelers on something else. Rentals are very tough to come by because so many of the affordable homes and apartments were destroyed.

Long story short, realtor friend Gretchen put me on to a home of Fish Bay friends who had left the Island and were now selling. I contacted them and sure enough they were willing to rent and here we are about a quarter mile from Sundancer.

In the course of last week we arranged for workers to start on Monday and the excavator to begin Wednesday. On Monday we went to St Thomas to retrieve a pickup truck we had bought in Florida and shipped down. After some adventurous and extended walking around the St Thomas Crown Bay pier area we got to the yard and got the truck. It had arrived unscathed by the journey. Yeah!

We immediately proceeded to load it up with tools, food and supplies, a new grill, etc. and returned to STJ.

This video records what we encountered at the end of the day back at Sundancer. I am very sorry if you have to view this video sideways.  I spent over an hour this AM trying to rotate the dad burned thing, but have now given up…….deal with it…..cock you head!)

Week One Video

So the rest of the week has found more digging with the new cistern dug and other dirt moved. We have known that the old septic tank had to be removed but I had been told it was made of blocks and thus easily knocked apart. NOT! Solid poured concrete and our little excavating machine was no match for it. We had to hire another machine that is equipped with a hydraulic hammer. We really needed it anyway to bust up the big concrete piers that supported the old pool. It was delivered Saturday afternoon and it will be in operation today we are told. (Sunday – neighbors should LOVE that! Lots of noise!).

If we can get that out of the way, we can finish the house excavation and maybe get the mason here to start the concrete work. (Crossing our fingers.)

As Saturday was a “down “ day we decided to take a hike. For those who don’t know there is a trail that starts at s small parking area on Centerline Road. It goes south through the bush and ends up at EITHER (operative word) Reef Bay to the east of Fish Bay with little opportunity to get back to Fish Bay without wet feet or if you take the correct turn off, it ends at an interesting plantation ruins above Fish Bay that leads down to Skytop above Fish Bay. The deal is that one has to know where to veer off to the right to get to the ruins. Of course we missed that and ended up overlooking Reef Bay and had to do a 180 back to Centerline road. Oh well. Another day. It was good exercise.

Here are some pictures Rob took of Sundancer yesterday.

Week One B

This is the along the view side of Sundancer with the current cistern.  With the new cistern, we will double the capacity to about 22,000 gallons.  Notice sliding glass door and shutters that used to lead to the deck off of the basement.

Week One C

This is looking past the existing septic tank to the existing  cistern which is below what was the basement of Sundancer that will become a bedroom downstream.

Week One D

From the driveway above.

Week One A That is the old septic tank.  We will be installing a state of the art replacement system.  More on that later.

Will keep you posted.  Bob

Closer and Closer @ Sundancer

Several weeks ago, Rob and I traveled to St. John with a few objectives.  Having received our first clearance from CZM (Costal Zone Management) back in September and with finished drawings in hand, our first objective was to file for the final building permit which we did on September 12.  We had also submitted those drawings previously by email to Fish Bay Owners Architectural Review Committee which is required by Fish Bay covenants.

We also met with two local excavators which will be the first skill needed in the rebuild.  Our preferred contractor (Steve) who we really like, had an issue with machinery.  He had been ready to acquire a needed machine and only the week before discovered the deal had fallen through.  Thus, we had an excavator with no excavator!  Not good.  While chatting with him, Rob recalled seeing a machine parked in front of a neighbor’s house above Sundancer.  To make a long story short, both Steve and I know the owner and it turns out he has health problems and is more then willing to let Steve use his machine on our project.  Problem solved.

We also met with the mason who will immediately follow the excavation and he is ready to move forward too.  (One never knows what “ready” really means on St. John.)  We also met with a plasterer who may end up doing the finish on the pool as well as the interior and exterior of the house walls.

While in town one day, I hear a loud call of “Mr. Bob, Mr. Bob”.  It turned out to be, Nevil, a man who had done a fair amount of work for me on the old Sundancer right before the Irma.  It was Nevil who told me about the evacuation boats coming to STJ to take folks to San Juan on Friday after our Wednesday storm. (Recall that we were on the first boat.)  Nevil was in the final stages of restoring a house in the middle of the Island and wanted us to see it.  We followed him into an area that I never knew existed off Centerline Road past Bordeaux Mountain. Nevil is a highly skilled craftsman and had done a great job on the house and had assembled a crew of lesser skilled, but hard-working men.  The bottom line is that there is no doubt that Nevil and his team will be part of our crew once the foundations are finished and house starts going up.

In addition, the neighbor who owns the excavation machine we will be using is a contractor and has a skilled crew of guys who are scrambling for work given he will be in the states receiving treatments for his illness and he encouraged us to use his crew to help as well.  So suddenly we have access to trusted skilled and semi-skilled local labor.  Nice!

We also reached agreement on housing for the duration of our construction on up on Gift Hill which is convenient to Fish Bay.  It will hold us and any crew or volunteers who come down to help.  That is a load off our minds.

We will need temporary power during the project and we planned for that, which can’t be activated until the building permit is approved, but we also planted the pole near the road which will hold the meter.  (The first actual piece of construction! Photo below).

I purchased a very nice work truck near my home in Florida (photo below) and as I write, my friend Gene, the welder is building a bed and roof rack system for it.  The plan is to ship the truck to. St. Thomas so it is there near to when we arrive.

Now for the great news.  This past week, we heard from Fish Bay Architectural Committee and our plans have been approved!  And further, just yesterday, we learned that the Building Permit was approved!  Great job, Rob and Na’ama!

Thus, we are ready to go.  As a final step, in the interest of safety and peace of mind, we are having a St. Thomas structural engineer review the plans one final time despite that fact that our SIP engineer designed the house to meet the stringent USVI codes of 185 mph winds and Category IV earthquake standards.

So, that’s it for now.  Rob and I plan to go to STJ right after Thanksgiving and get things started.

Bob

More Sundancer Updates

Greetings everyone.  This is our third blog post regarding the rebuilding of Sundancer.  We have had much progress, although everything runs on Island Time.  Na’ama has finished the bulk of the drawings and the design is a bit different than the original design.  Still 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, but the house is reconfigured to the west centered over the surviving basement which will become a bedroom.  Two other rooms will be built on either side of that.  To the east will be another bedroom and to the west will be a mechanical room, storage, etc.

Above that will be the master bedroom and great room with living room and kitchen plus half bath.

Two permits are required plus the review by the Fish Bay Homeowners Association.  We have cleared the first permit known as CZM (Coastal Zone Management).  The next will be the building permit.  That will be submitted after Na’ama has the final mark ups from our Engineer.  (We have the preliminary markups for the SIP wall system and await the footing, foundation and pool engineering.)

Anyway, if all goes well, we expect to see some dirt moving sometime in October.  I have attached several of Na’ama’s renderings and both levels of floor plans. (Click on the links for floor plans.)Render A - from westRender B - StaircaseRender D From Drive WestRender E - From Drive EastRender F - From WaterRender G - EntranceRender H - From Dining DeckClick Here for layout of Lower Level Aug 3 1

Click Here for layout of Upper Level Aug 31

Sundancer Update June 28, 2018

First, let us say that we appreciate the nice notes of support after introduction of this Sundancer Rebuild blog site.  We are grateful for all of you who have opted to follow our progress by subscribing.

Much has happened in the past weeks.  First, let me give you a bit of background on the construction method we have decided to use for the Sundancer Rebuild.  We will use SIPs, which we introduced in the first posting.  These are factory made “Structural Insulated Panels”.  They consist of strong and thick (5 ½”) foam panels with a two sided skin that is attached using high strength industrial adhesive combined with very high pressure (2200 pounds).  Rob and I visited the factory of Acme Panels in Radford, Virginia where we have contracted for our SIPs.  They are currently being engineered to create panels that will withstand St. John’s windstorms up to 185 mph and our Category 4 earthquakes.

On this point, you will recall in our last posting that we were anticipating using a concrete product known as MGo, as the skins for our SIPs.  After review by Acme’s Engineer, it was decided that the MGo boards are not a good fit for STJ.  The combination of Category 4 seismic events and high winds are too much for them to handle.  It was determined that because of the rigidity of the panels, shaking from an earth quake could possibly loosen the fasteners connecting the MGo boards and then, on the next high wind event, the panels wind resistance could be drastically reduced to as little has half of the intended wind rating.

Thus, the MGo boards as the skin of our panels was abandoned and replaced with ½” pressure treated plywood, which is where we are now.

On that subject, many of you are familiar with Concordia, the eco resort near Salt Pond that was built by Stanley Selengut, the found of Maho Bay resort when he was losing his lease at Maho.  During Irma, nearly every building and structure at Concordia was totally destroyed.  There were, however two residences on the property that were built about ten years ago using the SIP system.  They survived. Rob and Na’ama visited those two properties during their recent stay in STJ.  Here is a link from that SIP company describing that situation: https://www.eco-panels.com/blog/126-eco-panelsinthecaribbean.html

We will have some ways to go, but I thought you might want to see the current version of Na’ama’s floor plans for Sundancer.  Not sure you can see clearly but it is the best I can do so far. The sea view side is to your right. The total square footage is about 1,500 square feet.  This is compared to the original Sundancer which was 1150 square feet including the loft, but not the basement.  For orientation purposes, the middle room on the ground floor is a reuse of the original basement.