Archive for May, 2010

A few requests

We are in need of some supplies for HVAC, the company that originally committed, is unable to supply as much as they thought. Also, the contractor that we thought could help with tile is unavailable. Today we are in need of people who know framing. Don’t get me wrong, things are going great!!!! Everyone is welcome to visit the site…except Ruby and Simon 🙂
Call my cell if you want to know the location 805-260-4904

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Hi, my name is Tyler Anderson and I am a member of the PolyHouse 2010 team.   Today was the first build day and though it required an early than normal rising, was a great day.  We accomplished many things with the walk way, drive way, building additions and the master suite add on.  My day was spent with the landscaping team and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Working outside has always been therapeutic for me and I did find joy in shoveling and wheel-barrowing. I had to leave early because I have a Thermodynamics class that I need to pass, along with this class and Civil Engineering: Strength of Materials. I have been feeling a bit stressed about balancing these classes with my commitments to PolyHouse; however, working today and seeing the progress caused all those fears to cease.  Today, realizing the potential joy we are bringing to this family caused me to lose all stress and focus on working as hard as I could for this family.  I enjoyed my time on the site today and I can’t wait to be back there tomorrow at seven a.m. Hope everyone who reads this knows what a great thing we are all a part of and that any donation to it is greatly appreciated.


Tyler Anderson

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I know that work has been going on for the past week, but I can’t wait to get started on the inside of the house. There’s nothing like a hard days work. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and finishing the project we have been working on all quarter. It will be nice to have actions for all the plans that we have been making the past couple months. We’ve had a few hiccups but I know everything is going to work out great. Finally getting to see the work being done is what this is all for. Everyone is so excited and enthusiastic I just can’t wait. I’m looking forward to two weeks from now for the reveal. That’s what it is all about.


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Although when we started this project we only wanted to work for 2 weekends (6 days), as a class we decided in order to accomplish the scope we have laid out we needed to work for two extra days. Our plan was to dig the pad on Saturday, May 7, build the form for the concrete on Sunday, inspection on Monday morning, rough plumbing on Monday afternoon, and pour the concrete on Tuesday. It is Wednesday, and without going into the gory details of why we haven’t accomplish all of this, let’s just say we are a bit behind. The front pad is done; the back pad is partially formed.

All of this to say we are learning much: Time estimates are ALWAYS wrong, precedence in activities are critical, conflict surfaces easily when we are tired and discouraged, contractors are the ONLY reason this project is moving ahead, and perseverance and hope go a long way to keep us motivated.

We can’t say enough thank you’s to our supporters. Look for their ads in the New Times, Ag Circle magazine, on this website, and on our banner at the job site.


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First off, I’d like to say how privileged I am to be able to participate in the PolyHouse 2010 Project. I have an extremely hectic schedule this quarter as I’m trying to complete everything for graduation in a few weeks. Even with the demanding schedule, I have absolutely no problem helping out the Todd family. They are such a caring and supportive family. Every person that I have spoken with that knows the family has nothing but great things to say about them. Everyone has told me how much of a blessing this is for the Todd family and that they are more than deserving. What really stands out to me is how appreciative and thankful the family is.

Tuesday afternoon, I was out at the project site to assist M J Ross Construction. They have been undertaking the massive task of doing all the grading and preparation for the new foundations, patio, and driveway. This project would most likely not get completed without the generosity of M J Ross. There have been many other contractors and volunteers that have also been doing the necessary prep work for this weekend. I would personally like to say thank you to all. I am also very pleased with the classroom leadership that Liz Schlemer and our project managers have demonstrated. I’m on the team that is focusing on landscaping and I am so lucky to be on this team with so many hard workers. I feel it is safe to say that all of us will continue to work until everything is finished!

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Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! – Dr Suess

It is moments like this where I have to step back and take a deep breath and say “it will all work out”. We are headed toward success in my mind. It has been a month since my last posting and I am kind of laughing at myself for how simple it was then. This has been an amazing experience I would never want to trade in. After 6 weeks this is a family I just don’t want to say no to.  I had the fun job of picking out paint colors with Ruby and the kids. Polyhouse magic is already shining bright. I went into the paint shop to look through the color options and thankfully found everything I could ever ask for and a little bit more.

It has been ups and downs last week and first days of this week but somehow solutions are coming our way. The perfect example is our tiling situation. We thought we were left high and dry because of our budgetary constraints but a little tile fairy came down and bestowed upon us a large amount of tiles from the previous Polyhouse. (I hope they work!)

It never ceases to amaze me the work that 28 students can do in 6 weeks. I didn’t know anyone going into this but now I know I am surrounded by some incredible, hardworking, and dedicated students.  I will start my final countdown now (cue the song) 4 days until it all officially begins, 13 until we reveal, and a project memories that will last a lot longer.

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Throughout the last seven years of PolyHouse, it has been an interdisciplinary endeavor. In the past, Architecture and graphic arts majors on campus have joined up. This year is no different. A team from Food Science and Nutrition are working with the Todd family to help Caleb maintain a healthy weight. They visited the family last week and have the following blog entry….

Today, our journey with Caleb and the Todd family began. After a warm welcome from the family, our team immediately began our complete nutritional assessment with the help of Dr. Papathakis. Gabriella and Kohleen assessed the Todd’s kitchen to get an overall feel for the types of available foods and their ability for food preparation. Analyzing the ‘fitness’ of the kitchen is beneficial when trying to accommodate the Todd’s nutritional needs. Kristine and Kayla discussed Caleb’s typical eating patterns with Ruby (the mom), while Courtney talked with Caleb about his favorite foods. With the help of Dr. P., Kayla carefully recorded Caleb’s height, weight, triceps skin fold measurement, and mid arm circumference. After collecting all of our necessary information, our team retreated back to Cal Poly where we will begin to develop strategies to meet Caleb’s and the Todd’s families nutritional needs!

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Friday was ground breaking at the Todd residence in Nipomo. Five weeks of planning and scheduling were put to the test. Shoreline Landscape aided our effort in removing and relocating sprinkler lines, which ultimately saved us several hours of manual labor. Ground breaking plus one began bright and early at Starbucks; nothing prepares me more than a large cup of coffee. The agenda for today was to grade and prepare the soil for the foundation work, M J Ross graciously donated their backhoe and team of experts to help lead and guide this effort.

The highlight of the day was digging the 27 ft X 17 ft sandbox at a depth of 10 inches underneath the children’s swing set. It was amazing to see a group of students manually removing such a large amount of soil when they could have easily waited for the mechanized machine to complete the work: PolyHouse Magic.  But the magic didn’t stop there, later in the day it was determined that we needed to get more fill sand, luckily we had about 12 cubic yards of sand from the swing set area, unfortunately the sand was mixed with grass. The organic material needed to be separated from the sand. In typical Cal Poly fashion “Learn by Doing” we developed a home-made sifter to separate the organic material using only chicken wire and saw horses. Taking a step back and observing we looked like we were panning for organic material. The sand fell into the wheel barrel free of any foreign substance. Needless to say after first removing and then sifting 12yd­3 of sand I feel that Day 2 of Week 0 was a success. I can’t wait to begin the day tomorrow. Go PolyHouse, bring on the magic!!!

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Tomorrow is the first day of construction – we are calling it “week zero” because we are stretching the work weekends from the original design of two to three. We needed to schedule it this way because the foundation has to be poured before the first work weekend. In order to pour the slab, we have to grade (thanks to MJ Ross), lay pipe (thanks Ferguson and Jack’s All American Plumbing), run some electrical line (thanks CED), set the rebar (thanks B&B Steel), form the slab (thanks to Hayward Lumber), inspect (thanks to SLO county), and pour the concrete (thanks CalPortland). Even with all this work there will only be a minimum crew on site.

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I want to start off by saying that I definitely do not consider myself as introverted, but this class has actually forced me to step out of my comfort zone and develop my interpersonal skills even further. For me, it was somewhat uncomfortable approaching local companies and asking for donations of various sorts, especially during such hard economic times. Given that this project is fully funded by donations, the fundraising aspect is something that cannot be avoided. In this case I just had to bite the bullet and do what was needed. But as our fundraising efforts progressed, I was amazed at the generosity of some of the local companies. After the first week of fundraising, we literally had thousands of dollars worth of much needed donations of raw materials and labor. We received commitments from companies after talking to them for no more than twenty minutes in person. The amount of trust these individuals put into us was quite comforting.

In addition, the overall camaraderie I’ve witnessed between the students working on this project has been very motivating. As students at Cal Poly, our time is already spread so thin, but everyone still manages to put in 110%. This class is unlike any other within the department because it presents a win-win situation for both the students and the needy families within the community. This is the seventh year this project has taken place and hopefully there will be many more years of success down the road.


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