BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

PART ONE

 

building construction

This is the beginning of the construction of my observatory in my backyard. Since I had to start somewhere, I said to myself, Why not start here?"

building construction

I got the foundation squared and leveled for a 16' X by 23' building.

building construction

Half of the middle of the south-side ground was too high, so I had to dig out some of the dirt. Since I did not have any machinery, I had to dig out the excess dirt with a shovel.

building construction

If you look to the left, you will see two shovels. But, guess what? The second shovel was for a guy who never showed up to help. So, I got the job done by myself.building construction

Because Louisiana has a bad humidity problem, I had to get some sand to back-fill the foundation. In my pickup truck, I made two trips to a cement company to get two yards of sand . Of course, I had to unload the sand by myself, but I got the job done.building construction

What you are looking at are the trenches which measure 12' x 12'. The problem was that the weather was rainy for about a month. Therefore, I was stuck with water in the trenches. However, the cement companies required that there be at least a week or two of dry weather before they would attempt to come into the backyard.

building construction

I put down the visqueen and wire to address the humidity problem. I also put down some bricks and wire to serve as a support for the cement foundation. The cement bricks you see here serve to prevent the wire from being on the ground and staying in the cement once it is poured.

building construction

This was a big day. The cement truck arrived, and the cement finishers were on the job. This is the day on which I got to to sit back, watch, and take pictures. These men are some friends I know from work and they are in the cement-finishing business. I watched these guys at work, and they really took care of business. While they did not work for free, they did give me a price cut.

building construction

Here, the cement finishers are just waiting for the cement to come out. Again, look to the left. Do you see those plywood strips? These strips were supposed to go under the wheels of the cement truck because the ground still was not completely dry at that time. Later on, you will see why this was a significant factor.building construction

Believe it or not, these guys are handling this cement like they are moving water around. Previoulsly, I had an experience with mixing two 50-pound bags of cement, and, after that, I was finished with working with cement.

building construction

It takes 8 and 1/2 yards of cement to pour this slab and cement costs $102.00 per yard. You do the math.

building construction

The cement slab is almost finished.

building construction

Do you remember about 5 frames ago when I pointed out that it was important for the plywood strips to be placed under the wheels of the cement truck? Come on now - we are astronomers and we do not forget anything. Well, because those plywood strips were not placed under the wheels of the cement truck, the truck got stuck. That's right, the cement truck was stuck and guess what? There goes my yard. After doing some digging and moving the truck back and forth for about an hour, they had to call another cement truck with a long strap to come and pull out the truck which was stuck in my backyard.

building construction

After the cement foundation was completed, the east wall was built and ready to go up. Next, I built the south wall. I apologize for the small size of the picture, but the battery on my Nikon FM-3 Film camera had gone dead. So, I had to take this picture with my Blackberry phone.

building construction

At that point, I had the east and south side walls built and I was waiting on some friends to come over and help me raise the walls.

building construction

I got my brother-in-law (Harvey) to help me raise the walls. I had to make a little adjustment on the 2" by 4" boards because two of the J-bolts had been placed too far down into the cement. So, I drilled some half-inch deep holes into the boards in order to get the washer and nuts on the J-bolts. Everything worked out fine.

building construction

I finally got the framing done. At that point, my wife (Pamela) said that the observatory was starting to look like like a building. For some reason, my wife ended up becoming the boss of this project. I don't know how that happened since I was doing all of the work. I am sure you guys know what I am talking about.

building construction

These are some 4" x 6" beams that will support the roof. Everything was bolted together for added strength.

This is just a better view of the frame of the building.

I considered not getting this piece of paper, which is called a permit, but I knew if I did not get a permit, then the city could make me tear the building down. So, yes, I had to go by the rules. Do you see the orange sticker under the white one? That was my first disapproved violation. Because a 12" x12" standard footing was required and I had a 12' x 11' footing around the building, I had to dig out an additional inch in order to meet the city's requirement.

building construction

I got the outside walls framed with OSB plywood, which was good for me, because the temperature was dropping daily.

building construction

Once I got the telescope wall done, I assembled my 10-inch Orion telescope because it was a clear night and I would be sky watching. I have been having this telescope for six and half years, and it is my baby.

building construction

I finally attached the railing system which will be used for rolling back the roof. The railing system is made of channel iron which is two inches wide. I had to sand and prime the channel iron so that it would not rust .

support beam

These are some 4" x 6" beams which will be used to support the sliding roof on the observatory. I worked on the beams in my garage, where I sanded and stained the wood then applied polyurethane to preserve the wood.

2 x 12 boards

After setting the rollers in place on the 2" x 6" boards, I was ready to start sanding the 2" x 12" boards.

building construction

I have some friends coming over to help me put up the frame for the roof. I was expecting problems with the roof. I used 10 wheels for each side of the sliding roof and I placed them about two and one-fourth inches apart.

building construction

Things went better than I had expected, thanks to my friends who came to the rescue. The guy on the ladder is Ladwan, the guy who is holding up Ladwan is Reggie (a.k.a. "Big Dog"); the guy who is to the right of Reggie is Phillip, and the guy who looks like he is in charge is my old buddy, Vernon (a.k.a. "Computer Man" because he keeps up with all the latest technology).

building construction

It was time to start building the rafters for the roof. Since I really did not know how to do this, I went to the internet for instructions. It is amazing what you can learn from the internet.

building construction

With the rafters almost completed, the construction site was looking a little messy. To keep the mess under control, I tried to clean up the construction site everyday,

building construction

At this point, I rolled the roof back manually to see if my calculations were accurate for installing the railing system. I did not want to go any further and later find out that my calculations were wrong.

building construction

This is my pride and joy!- No, not my building - my son (Aidan). He was by my side everyday after I started the construction of my observatory. I used 17/16 OSB plywood for the top of the roof. I wanted to use 3/4 OSB plywood, but I was concerned that such plywood would add too much weight to the roof.

building construction

I finished attaching the OSB plywood for the roof. After that, I needed my roofer to put the shingles on so that my observatory would be protected from any bad weather.

building construction

Oh, I almost forgot to include a picture of myself taken during the construction phase. Yes, I am the one spending all the money and doing almost all of the work. Do you see that hammer? That is what I used to build the observatory. Call me old-fashioned, but that simple hammer got the job done.

building construction

This is my roofer (Kevin) who is putting the final touches on the roof to make the building weather-proof.

building construction

The roof is almost completed at last. Now, it is time to finish up the interior and exterior of the building.

building construction

This is my "Command Center". The electrician did his job and his work passed inspection. So, I was then able to proceed with insulating the walls and applying the sheet rock. This room is 10" x 12" wide.

building construction

Here, I had started floating the mud on the sheet rock.

building construction

I had had enough of working with the sheet rock, so I started working on the siding outside the building.

building construction

After I had finished putting up all the siding, I put primer on the siding and applied two coats of paint. At that point, I could smell the finish line. Oh, by the way, my wife picked the interior and exterior colors for the observatory.

building construction

This is the electric motor wench which I use for sliding the roof off the building. I also have a second electric wrench that I use to pull the roof back onto the building when I am done sky watching. I hope you enjoyed these photos showing the the construction of my observatory. If you are in the Lake Charles area and need help with the construction of your own observatory, please feel free to e-mail me at Antoine.Astrophoto@suddenlinkmail.com

To view more pictures of the inside of the observatory, CLICK HERE. Return to top of page CLICK HERE.