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Stargate House: Construction

I recently posted a few photos of my house in a Facebook group, which kind of opened a can of worms. The limited number of photos led to a lot of questions about the design. People asked for both more photos and an explanation! While there is additional information on the Stargate page on this site, it's also pretty limited, so I thought I would make a few blog entries to provide more information, as well as move the discussion over here to my blog. Facebook got mad at me for commenting on almost every one of the 1.5K comments over there. I shouldn't have that problem here. It's easier for me to add more here in response to questions, as well.

This first added post was for general photos and descriptions. The second is on the design rational, followed by a third post with drawings and renderings. This post documents the construction, with minimal commentary.

Note that these pictures were taken by numerous people, with numerous cameras including a webcam mounted in a birdhouse, at various resolutions, at various times of day, so the quality is inconsistent, at best.

Original shed, with grid and lattices added for party purposes, already cleared out.

Demolition has begun.

The building has been


Excavation is under way.

Excavation is complete.

Pilings are on site.

Drilling is underway.

Pilings were placed 48' feet into the ground.

This is what the piling contractor left us with. Give me a call and I will give you their name so that you don't hire them.

Pilings were off their engineered locations by several feet in some cases, and there were other issues as well.

It's a difficult site, I get it, but really. Our lawyers chatted with their lawyers, believe me. We prevailed.

Nevertheless, we got it cleaned up, and for a while, it looked like an archaeological site!

24" square grade beams were formed and poured.

Slab insulation, gravel, and reinforcing were added.

The 8" slab was poured.

We took a short break and had a "slab party" while the wall form work was being placed.

I built and installed the form work for the decorative relief panels and window block-outs.

Forms included this carved plywood interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.

Note how the pattern is coordinated with the concrete form ties and the form panel module.

Concrete was poured.

The forms were stripped. Contrary to my wishes, the form-tie holes were grouted by the concrete sub-contractor. By the time I found out, it was too late. The deed was done.

I didn't spend much time off site for the rest of the job.

The only internal steel beam was placed between the East retaining wall and the corner column.

The Element was parked on the slab for the first time. Yep, it fit. Yay.

Posts, beams, and joists, and sill plates begin to appear.

First floor walls are mostly shear walls, and so are covered in plywood. You will see those orange chairs again.

Second floor walls are being framed. That's the stair coming up from the lower level at the bottom of the image.

Marvin Wetzel (the General Contractor) celebrated a successful day of tipping walls into place by enjoying the view from the living room (and a cold beer).

Initial Stargate sidewall framing begins. The entire structure is a shear wall, tied back to the building with LVL beams.

The face of the Stargate structure begins to fill in. You can see the stairs to the upper level inside.

Interior stairway sidewalls and stairs.

Upper Stargate framing is underway.

See those steel straps above and below the window openings? I was the designated Tico Nailer, and I put every nail into every one of those straps. There are a lot of them.

Stargate framing is complete. Marcus Kellis comes from Idaho to check out the work.

Stargate sheathing is complete, windows are installed, and Tyvek goes on.

Final upper walls are put in place with windows installed and Tyvek already on them.

We have topped out, and Marvin goes up to hang the traditional Christmas Wreath.