July 20, 2004
After all this time,
(4 years of looking for land and 5 years of trying to get
it together to build a house) WE BROKE GROUND this week!
We have had so many false starts...promises that it would
happen when it never did, that I was not saying anything
to anyone for fear of jinxing it again. Then we got a
late night call from our builder, Mike, saying they would
be breaking ground in the morning!
Fred and I threw some
food and clothes in the car and drove out there to spend
the night so we would be there first thing in the morning
when the excavators arrived.
Believe it or not, I am
actually SMILING at 7:00 a.m. as I took the first shovel
full of dirt with my gold shovel! I was SO excited! I
even cried...but they were happy tears! In case you
wondered, the hard hat is NOT Cleveland Browns...it is
Syracuse University...nice touch, huh?
The track hoe had been
there the day before to repair the drive...which was
pretty much impassable. We had been having trouble with
the last part of the hill before the clearcut...everytime
it rains, the water from a spring there makes the corner
mushy and then people try to drive through it and sink
in...either getting stuck or leaving big deep ruts that
are too deep for my little low-slung car. So they dug
that all out and laid some kind of fabric down that would
prevent the mud from seeping up between the rocks. On top
of that they put big rocks so the water can flow through
it and UNDER the drive...and on top of that they put a
very fine, powdery stone that gets hard like cement once
it gets wet. We should never have trouble again!
Then they dug out the
culvert that is in the stream. The first culvert we had
was about 12 inches in diameter and in a storm the water
ran right over the driveway. Our son, Rick, replaced it
with a 24 inch in diameter culvert and believe it or not,
in a storm, the water ran right over the drive again! So
this time they put in a 36 inch in diameter culvert! We
hope THAT does it! They also changed it from 12 feet wide
to 40 feet wide. This is more than we will ever need, but
they were worried about the big trucks carrying trusses
and beams being able to get around that sharp corner. Now
they can swing real wide to make it around the corner and
turn back into the woods.
While they were there,
they also pushed down a few trees to make more room for
the trucks. This was very painful for me. I love each and
every one of those trees....but I am trying to be
flexible because I want to build this house! So when Fred
and I arrived that night, there was a huge tree lying in
the middle of the driveway! It was our job to cut it up
into logs and move the logs to the woodpile (Fred did
this part) and I fired up our chipper and chipped all the
branches and leaves....shooting the chips into our fire
ring. It is SO soft now! Considering the work we were
doing, it was a lovely day....low humidity and about 70
degrees...Thank God! As it was I was soaking wet with
sweat from working so hard...I can't imagine what it
would have been like if it had been high humidity and the
temperature 90 degrees!
First, the excavators
strung string around the posts the surveyor had placed
marking the corners of the house. Then this guy -- his
name is Stanley -- followed around with orange paint and
spray painted the string to mark the ground where he was
supposed to dig.
If you look closely, you can see the
orange line in this photo. After he had all the lines
painted on the ground, they removed the string so it
would not get caught up in the track hoe.
Then they had to remove all the stumps
from the site and drop them in a pile out of the way of
where they had to dig. This guy (I don't know his name,
but he was missing his thumb and index finger on his
right hand....said he lost those fingers in 1982 working
in the oils fields) cut the stump off this big tree while
Stanley held the tree up off the ground with his track
hoe so the tree would not pinch the chainsaw. After they
got the stump free from the tree, it was up to Fred and I
to cut the trunk into logs and chip the branches and
Then Stanley picked up the stump like it
was nothing (!) and deposited it off behind the house
site! It was so amazing to watch. Handy piece of
equipment to have in your backyard! LOL
In this photo, you can see the track hoe
actually take the very first shovel full of dirt to begin
the excavation! It was SO exciting!
Then they began digging. Stanley ran the
track hoe and his partner used a laser to tell Stanley
how deep to go. He would stand down in the hole with a
big measuring stick that had part of the laser attached
to it and when the laser beeped, he could tell how much
deeper Stanley had to go to reach the correct elevation
for the basement floor.
this picture, you can see "thumbless", with his
laser measuring stick, down in the hole while Stanley
does the digging.
is hard to see it in this photo, but behind the track
hoe, the basement is pretty much dug and Stanley has
turned around to do the side closest to the driveway.
Here you can also see the remnants of the tree that Fred
and I worked on ALL DAY! We are getting too old to do
this kind of manual labor! We need some of Ray's new
Marine friends in Boot Camp to come up here to help!
Maybe their Drill Instructors would consider it good
conditioning excercise....all it did for me was give me
sore glut muscles!
Now you can
begin to see the outline of the basement. Stanley is
digging the footers in this photo, which are deeper than
the basement floor because they have to be below the
frost line. The footers go all around the outside edge of
the basement floor and will support the walls that will
be poured on top of them next week.
Late in the
afternoon, Mike, our builder, arrived (He is the one in
the white shirt with the blonde hair) to check on
"his boys." He also pointed out to us that
there was going to be a problem with the remaining trees.
Because the trees were so close to the house, Stanley had
to pile the dirt right next to the edge of the hole,
which was going to be problematic for the bulldozers and
the cement trucks. On top of that, he convinced me that
if we leave a lot a trees real close to the house,
especially trees that were not young and strong, that we
risk one of them falling on the house. AND, if the trees
are too close to the house we will have trouble with
dampness and mold on the siding and even inside. So he
walked around with Fred and I and we chose trees we were
willing to let him cut down.
are almost done now. The back right corner you see in
this photo (where the laser is sitting on the tripod) is
the corner of the big family room/office that will be
behind the kitchen. The back left corner will be the
Master Bathroom, and in front of that will be the Master
Bedroom. The foreground is where the kitchen will be. To
the right (not yet dug) is where the garage will be.
that I swung the camera to the left and now the kitchen
is to the left and the guy is standing in the octogon
shaped living room....the family room and Master Bedroom
would be just out of the picture to the right.
Looks pretty big, huh? I
think I am going to LOVE this house! No problem having
enough space for this big family at
Christmas/Thankgiving/Easter/ Birthdays any more!
Footers - July 26, 2004
This is the
carnage of trees I was so depressed about. It is looking
better today than it did at first. Fortunately, my
precious little dogwood (which will be between the
driveway and the entry) still looks like it will survive.
To the right of the dogwood, you can almost see the
footers. Most of the trees you can see in the background
will have to go (but will be replaced by an approximately
7 acre lake).
To the far
right, you can just see the back corner of the garage
(which is on the main floor level). The footer just to
the left of that will be under the basement wall. The
footers to the left will be in the center of the
basement, where there is one step down.
This is the footer under
the basement wall that is under the octogon shaped living
room on the main floor. In the background is the back
corner of the house (under the master bedroom and bath.
You have to use your imagination, but the lake would be
to the left side of the photo.
photo, I am standing at the edge of the octogon, looking
toward the back of the basement wall. There will be a
poured basement wall where you see the earth cut away and
the garage will be on top of that earth.
Once the footers are cured
(3-5 days) they will pour the basement walls. And then
they will start framing!!!
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