Chapter 41: Porch Be Gone!

April 27, 2010 • Written by Christina Berry

Beams of Steel, Part II: Porch Removal

See, most of the house was just a little ole wood box sitting on some old cinderblocks which is really easy to work around, but both sides of the house were anchored down by concrete porches. In the back, the “porch” was once the laundry hut. Turns out, really poorly built.

Pop goes the weasel!

Am I crazy, or is that a baby bed frame? Or both?

Done and done.

Destruction of back porch. Check! Next up, front porch.

First up, get rid of the brick decor.

Um, wow, that should have been more difficult.

Next up, removal of steps.

Hmm, so the porch is actually a dirt cake with concrete icing. Yum!

Next was a really important step. We had to find a way to support the weight of the porch roof while we destroyed the floor. For this, I’m actually the one who came up with the idea! Yay me! The idea, span the corners with a header beam. Well, Errek tells me that we both had this idea at the exact same time, and he just hadn’t told me yet. But just between us, it was totally my idea. Shhhh.

So, here’s how it works. First, there’s a parade on Good Friday, then…nah, I jest. But, couldn’t resist taking this Jesus Christ Pose photo.

So he built the header with one post to jack up until the weight was off of the existing post, and onto the header, then he made two 4×4 posts to hold either side of the header up. Then he lowered the jack and removed the center post.

And voila, three header beams holding up the porch roof. Brilliant!

Okay, time to bring in the big guns. It’s time for the jackhammer. Must dress accordingly. Wait…something’s missing…

Whew. Almost, forgot the hard hat. That would have been embarrassing.

And thus endeth our light heartedness. Bye bye good cheer. We were entering a dark age, an epoch of dirt. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the jackhammering.

Next, more jackhammering.

What’s this? Oh yeah, more jackhammering.

Give you three guesses why Errek’s got such a cheery smile on his face…

No better way to tell the neighbors, “hey, we’re insane” than to have this beauty in your front yard. It’s the latest in porch fashion.

After Errek jackhammered the fillings out of his teeth, I thought I’d lend a helping hand. But, that stuff is really heavy. Um…hey baby, can you give me a hand here? Love you.

Okay, so the top layer of concrete icing was off the dirt cake, now the really awful part of the project started.

We had to get rid of all that dirt. Only the dirt was full of rocks and glass and marbles and shotgun shells and horseshoes and a spoon and a tiny plastic pig, and well, all that stuff had to be sifted out.

Yes, I said sifted. We hand sifted a lot of dirt. How much? Oh, I don’t know, I’m going to guess a million tons of dirt. But that’s just a ballpark estimate.

Here is what the absence of a million tons of dirt looks like.

Here is what a million tons of rock and concrete looks like.

Oh wow, I almost forgot to tell you about how while Errek was jackhammering the porch, he also took out the sidewalk. We’re not fond of concrete in these here parts. Lucy found it all a bit odd, but few things phase you when you’re a 22 year old cat. She just started eating the grass like she usually does.

Next unpleasant surprise, there was a second porch. That’s right — two, two, two porches in one. Like some evil Russian nesting porch from hell.

Also, the perimeter of said evil Russian nesting porch was built like this.

Now you’d think that a porch built all wonky like this would come apart easily, right? Wrong.

Hey look, my shoes are glowing like evil cat eyes. Wait. What? Oh sorry, I was distracted by shiny things. Now where was I?

Look kids, shoveling dirt in the rain.

Look kids, moving tons of dirt and rock in a wheel barrel with a flat tire. Yep. Good times, good times. *sigh*

Okay, so anyway, as I was saying about the evil Russian nesting porch, it’s built in the most peculiar way. They just tossed a whole bunch of giant rocks and bricks into some wet cement. It’s all wonky, so it creates the illusion that you can, oh, I don’t know, just poke it with a large stick to bust it up. Yeah, no. That didn’t work.

No it was actually a painstaking process of jackhammering in strange directions, and at weird angles, popping the stones out one by one.

Look ma, it’s granite.

Apparently granite loves to take jackhammer bits as hostage. We had to go on more than one jackhammer bit rescue mission.

By the by, I pulled that jackhammer bit from the stone, so I’m pretty sure I’m queen now. Just FYI.

And after all that work to get the damn porch out of the way we pull off the corrugated metal skirting to find that the whole thing was being held up by the shaft of an arrow. And thus, the paradox of Pleasant Valley Ranch.

And so, our porch was a little low for a day, right before the chaos of having 5 dudes work in your yard for 3 weeks ensued.

Also, before we could really get rolling with the foundation we had to string up some…well…string to show where the new addition would be. This was for the foundation guys, and also for the city. See, the first of many inspections we have to get for our permits is the “Layout Inspection.” This inspects that the footprint of the house we’re about to build actually matches the footprint that the city approved in the plans.

So we strung up our string line and nervously called the city for our first inspection. I was convinced we’d fail miserably, because hell it’s “the city” and they’re mean, right? Well, probably, but on this inspection…we PASSED! Woot!

Okay, porches destroyed. Check! Next up, bring on the crew of dudes to do all the rest of the work for us, please.