Friday, August 28, 2009

One of those days....

It was the kind of day that makes you glad not every day is like it.

You know by now that this house requires a new foundation. We toyed with some ideas of doing it ourselves, but in a rare moment of sanity decided not to be quite that adventurous. So we called around, got a bunch of bids and hired two companies. One to dig out a basement and jack up the house, the other to pour the new foundation.

It started off great. The diggers were surprisingly fast, and after a few hours, the house was on the rise.

Chester and brothers were actually on the roof of the house when the buys lifted the house with a giant hydraulic lift. So no pictures of that.

We are now known as the family with the house on sticks.

We had them dig down far enough for a walk-out basement with 8-foot ceilings. The pile of dirt is about twenty feet tall.

Shortly after the house rose, Chester noticed the scent of natural gas.

To their credit, the diggers had also noticed the smell and moved their equipment away from the source -- a one-inch pipe they'd hit.

In short order, the pipe was plugged with a rag and screwdriver and the gas company called to come cap it. No explosions (though now we wonder if we might have preferred an explosion...)

The next morning, we received a call as we were eating breakfast. The same diggers were now pretty close to done digging, but had hit the water main. They wanted to know what to do. Chester suggested calling the water company, and said that he'd be out later. It seems they interpreted "later" as "sooner", because everyone was still standing around waiting for him three hours later when he arrived. (No, the water wasn't still gushing forth -- the water company had crimped it). But boy were they were mad.

Chester tolerated quite the lecture from the water company guy. And in many ways, he had a right to be mad, and Chester's the land owner. God helped Chester control his own temper through it.

It took the yard two weeks to dry out from that water.

Later the same day, we discovered that sometime in the course of digging, the main sewer pipe had been broken off and buried. Some kind friends lent us their metal detector, and we eventually found and capped that.

On their way out of the neighborhood, the digger's truck took down the phone line to the neighborhood.

The only utility left in tact was electricity.

Did I mention that at this point, we hadn't obtained any building permits? As far as we know, there isn't a permit for jacking a house, nor for replacing a roof. But the city wasn't terribly happy with our lack of obtaining something. The next morning, the city called us to notify us that our work was halted until further notice. (Which, it turned out, was about two weeks, during which we made drawings for several parts of the project and received various levels of approval from the local inspector).

When it was finally dry, and we had permission to work again, the whole foundation was poured in less than a day.

The walk-out basement requires a retaining wall along the grade of the dirt, hence the wings.

The wall with the walk-out is left open, so that we can install windows, a door, and a load-bearing wall of course....

In case you were wondering, any lawn that was once there is no longer. But they were courteous enough to work around our section of fruit trees that we planted. I hope they live.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to lose 10,000 pounds in a week...

We have lots going on, so forgive the infrequency of the posts here!

To catch you up:
After noticing that our humble house was without a foundation, we decided that the rectifying that would be among our first tasks. We did some research into doing this ourselves, but decided to contract it out.

So we called contractors, and got bids.

While waiting for bids, and for work to begin, we gutted the house.

It was a big mess.

The mess poured down the stairs from second story.

And filled the largest dumpster that we could rent four times.

Each dumpster contained about 2500 pounds of stuff, according to the dump that was charging us by weight to have them emptied. So we figure the house lost a lot of weight. We tried to use that as a bargaining point with companies bidding to lift the house -- hey, it weighs less than a normal house! Don't know if the bargaining worked, but we did get a reasonable rate in the end (and paid for that reasonable rate with a lot of inconvenience!)

In the gutting, we found this treasure.

In the room that you walk in the front door to, (the living room? the great room? We'll have to come up with some name for it....), there was this wall paper. Under the painted paneling. Have you ever seen anything like it?