01 May 2014

Construction Project Portfolio

A sampling of some of my larger projects over the past few years

Bed Frame (from wood reclaimed from a previous deconstruction job), with Driftwood Headboard

The lumber was originally a retaining wall that held the fuel tanks in place in the original BioFuel Oasis, when they were housed in a garage.  I was hired to deconstruct it, so the still perfectly good lumber wouldn't go to waste.
I used part of it to build a large compost bin for a small alternative high school to use for cafeteria waste, and the rest to build this custom bed frame

As you can see, the new owner of the bed helped with the labor.

Gate (and Brick Walkway)

The purpose of this gate is to keep a dog in the yard, so it had to be high and strong.  The wood is all recycled.

 The location made pouring a concrete footing impractical, and I didn't want to attach the gate directly to the building, so I drove in a giant metal stake that takes the place of a concrete footing, put in a post, and attached the post to the building.  5 years so far, and it hasn't need any adjustments.

So that people wouldn't have to walk in the dirt (and sometimes mud), I laid a path from the concrete walkway to the gate using brinks that were lying around.  

The path not only curves at a 90 degree angle, but rises several inches to meet the concrete path with no step, while allowing the gate to swing out over it to open.

Fireplace Mantel, Mounted TV, and Ceiling Lamp

The wood for the mantel was purchased for this purpose, and came with a mounting system, which just required me to drill into the masonry, and then assemble and attach everything.  Similarly, the TV mounting bracket came as a system.



The ceiling light was installed in a location where there was no lamp previously, which meant going up into the attic, mounting an electrical box to a ceiling stud, cutting out the drywall, and running wires through the walls in order to install the light switch.

Small Wood Deck

I've posted these pictures before, but I figure it'll be good to have them all in one place.
Originally the back door opened directly onto the stair case.

I did every step of this project solo, from sketching plans, disassembling the old stairs, pouring concrete footings, all of the carpentry and construction, reattaching the stairs, and finally staining everything.
I didn't take enough pictures.

Front Yard Landscaping

My associate Jessica Bates of Food Forest Farm, West, gets most of the credit for this landscaping installation.  I was mostly there to provide the truck (for hauling compost), manual labor, and occasionally minor technical advice.
(Incidentally, I also assembled the shade trellis, but not as part of this job)

Before: Absolutely hideous black plastic used as weed block

Before anything else, we dug out a tunnel beneath the concrete walkway, in order to run irrigation lines from the faucet against the house to the entire front yard.

Step 1: sheet mulching.  The entire area is covered in cardboard, which stops any weeds that are already in the ground from growing.

Next we covered everything with fresh organic compost, and then ran buriable drip irrigation all over the place.
After that we lay out the border trim to hold the dry "creek" in place, hand planted dozens of starter ground cover, and then filled in everywhere else with mulch.

And finally, the finishing touch: a tiny bridge!

Concrete Raised Bed Rebuild

This concrete planter box was built an unknown amount of time ago by a previous owner of the property.  For reasons I can not even begin to guess at, they chose not to build it to any multiple of the size blocks they used, instead putting in random broken pieces as spacers.
It was held together only with mortar, so over time, as the bamboo planted in it grew, eventually the roots began pushing on the blocks, and was gradually destroying the raised bed.

A previous contractor had also run irrigation lines up the side of the box, which, while functional, was ugly

My associate Jessica and I took apart the old wall, 

cut back the roots, (and dug them up where they had grown under the old wall):

We moved the existing irrigation lines to the inside, surrounded the (still standing) root / soil mass with thick plastic root barrier, and rebuilt the wall.

Finally - to make it much stronger, and ensure that the same thing doesn't happen in the future, we filled all of the hollow columns in the cinder blocks with concrete, forming one continuous solid wall of concrete.  Since the blocks are all staggered, the poured concrete causes every block to be interlocked with every other block.  

Giant Chicken Run with Integrated Coop

My largest project to date, by far.
We completed this project in exactly the hours I originally estimated it would take, 40.

The client gave me a photograph of something he found and liked.  He wanted something that looked similar

Of course, that run/coop was built on perfectly level, paved ground, and is just barely big enough for a human to fit inside of.

Our client's property is on an extremely steep hillside, roughly 45 degrees, and has rocks and plants, a retaining wall and part of a jungle gym - and, oh yeah, a giant tree with a tree house attached to it in the middle of the space he wants the run built.

I decided to use the existing platform, rather than destroying it and starting from scratch.
Step one was to take detailed measurements and make a scale sketch of the existing grounds.

Then, since all I had to go on was a small picture (taken from only one angle), and it was to be built on non-level ground, incorporating an existing structure and fitting around an enormous oak tree, I had to make my own plans from scratch:

The first day of construction was spent digging holes and filling them with concrete for all of the footings.
Next began the framing:

I had rough sizes of lumber based on the measurements, but with the slope varying in two directions, the exact cuts were fine tuned as we went along, using a laser level, so that the entire top is level in both dimensions.  The legs on the top side are about 5 feet, while the downslope legs are almost 8

Next the A-frame roof line:

Jessica's boyfriend volunteered to help a couple days.  Here he is attaching metal mesh walls to the wood frame, while I attach the boards that make up the roof of the coop.

And here he is digging out a trench which the mesh will extend into, to foil any predators that try to dig their way under the run, while I put up the other half of the roof:

 View from inside the run:

Building the door frame:

The space under the coop is meshed in, giving the chickens more space to run around, and a place to be protected from rain or bright sun while still being outdoors.
 I added structural support and bracing to the old tree house platform, which also provided something to attach the mesh to.

Back of the coop, with a mesh window for ventilation:

Roof mesh attached, to keep out climbers and raptors:

Coop door can be latched shut at night, just in case some very strong or clever predators somehow make it past the run's defences:

Inside is a large, moveable perch.  Because birds like perching on stuff.

My business partner, Jessica, isn't in most of the pictures, because she is behind the camera.  Here she is though:

A door on the outside provides easy access to eggs, without having to climb inside the coop:

Project complete:


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