My experiences in building a breathtaking home for as little money as possible.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
8. The Tower of Terror
There will be a sprial staircase leading from the basement to my office above the garage. This will be housed in a concrete-block tower, which will be topped by a cupola. Work on this tower was started soon after the garage floor was poured, while the other floor sections were still under construction.
There was already a hole in the garage floor leading down to the basement, and this tower would just extend that up another 20 feet or so. Blocks were laid in "lifts" consisting of 8 courses each. Each lift took a day, then rebar was added, and the lift was filled with concrete, usually the next morning. Then the next lift was started immediately.
The masonry crew worked quickly, and the blockwork was fairly inexpensive. Of course, unlike Insulated Concrete Forms, the exterior block walls will need a layer of insulation later, and that will add to the expense down the road.
The tower quickly grew to impressive proportions. The doorways and small turret-style windows were framed in with wooden bucks, which will remain permanently.
By the time it reached its full height, the scaffolds made the whole thing look more like a missle-launch gantry than a stair well. When the block crew was finished, it was my job to add a platform on top of the structure. This would cap off the tower for now, and form the floor of the cupola later. The workers had neglected to add anchor bolts to the top course of blocks, so I had to climb up there, drill holes, and epoxy the anchor bolts into the blocks. This is when I started referring to it as the Tower of Terror. I don't really have a height phobia, but the top of that tower was a LONG way up, especially when looking down the center of it at the basement floor far below. The scaffolds had all been removed by that time, so it was just me and an 8-inch wide block-edge to balance on.
It seemed like nearly every hole just happened to be over a hidden piece of rebar, and when the drill would catch these it would try to hurl me violently off the tower.
Inside the Tower of Terror, looking up at the underside
of the newly-built floor.
Things got a lot easier when I started to put the actual floor on, and had a bigger place to stand. In addition to the spiral staircase, my daughter has convinced me to install a climbing wall inside the tower. There will be an automatic-belay harness system attached to the ceiling.