Chapter 42: New Foundation, aka Progress! Woot! Woot!

April 27, 2010 • Written by Christina Berry

Beams of Steel, Part III: The Crew

For a brief period of time, we got to experience what normal people experience when they perform home remodeling tasks. They go to work in the morning and come home in the evening to find that a lot of stuff happened while they were gone. It felt funny, but it was pretty neat.

And so it was that we came home to this big, fat construction project.

To which the 7th street construction project shouted, “You ain’t fat! You ain’t nothin’! You ain’t NOTHIN’!”

Geez, 7th street construction project, take a chill pill. Gawd, we weren’t even talking about you. Now, where was I… Oh yeah, day one of construction.

So here’s a nifty little secret, when you dig a 12 inch diameter hole 20 feet into the ground, a lot of dirt is displaced. We came home to find A LOT of dirt piled on our driveway, and these very nifty holes.



Parents, keep your baby Jessicas out of our yard. Please and thank you.

Anyhoo, for a few days we had this guy drilling massive holes in our yard with this super awesome toy.

And at night we’d pose for photos. Warning: don’t drink and drill. Not that we’d know, the crew wisely took the keys with them when they left each afternoon.

Alright, back to work.

So, one of the genius aspects of Errek’s foundation plan was that there would only be one pier that would have to be drilled under the existing house. All the other piers could be hit from outside edges. But there would be one pier right smack dab in the middle, and to get to it, the crew would need to cut a hole in the floor of the cat room. This, of course, was a logistical nightmare…for the cat. See, that’s her room. So I was going to have to cat sit her in the yard while they made a HUGE mess of her space. Fun!

Here’s the crew drilling through the floor of the cat room.

And here’s Lucy exploring the yard while they drill through the floor in her room. For a 22 year old cat, this was pretty freakin’ disruptive, but like the cool old lady that she is, she took it all in style and seemed to enjoy the change of pace. Also, being deaf is great when there are tons of really loud machines in your space. I mean this girl used to run screeching from a vacuum cleaner, and now she’s all “Meh.” I sure do love that girl!

Once the drilling was done, it was time to get all that dirt out of there. Enter more heavy machinery and loud vehicles. Which created a whole new problem… Dun, dun, duuuuuuunnnnnnnn. Damn, where’s that dramatic chipmunk when you need him.

Anyhoo, so yeah. Moving dirt…

The crew used their Bobcat to move the dirt out and into this HUGE dump truck. For some reason the dump truck driver had the “genius” idea to park his truck diagonally across the two driveways. Unfortunately, that’s right on top of our water main.

Now, granted, he had no way of knowing that our water main was there, but still, the effect was the same… Dun, dun, duuuuuuunnnnnnnn!

Ah, there he is. Never get’s old.

Yep, that is not a natural spring, or something neato like that, it’s a busted water main. So, on top of all the other chaos, we now had to turn our water off at the street anytime we were not showering, using the bathroom, or doing the laundry. Yep, supa-fun!

But wait, I haven’t fully conveyed the difficulty of life at this point, because you haven’t see this yet! Yep, that’s our house being held up by Jenga pieces. Can you say terrifying?

And why, might you ask, is the house teetering on a stack of kindling? Well, there is this HUGE detail that I’ve completely omitted from the story up until now. We’re getting taller. Yep, it’s Pleasant Valley Ranch, now 10% taller. We’re super sizin’ the place.

Why, you may wonder? Well here’s the deal, we’re replacing wood beams that are 6 inches tall with12x16 steel, which is a foot tall — so they’re twice as high (for those of you slow at math). If we’d kept the house at the same height then we would have the following problems:

  1. an unusable crawl space
  2. all of our plumbing and gas lines would need to be moved
  3. our house would be the same boring old height it’s always been

But if we raised it, then boom — solve three birds with one stone… Wait, I got that wrong. I always get idioms wrong. But you catch my drift.

So, just prior to the stage when the steel was to go in, we cut all of our plumbing and drain lines in half so they could raise the house a foot. Yep, no indoor plumbing again. It’s like four steps forward, one step sideways, and one step back with this house. A real fucked up waltz. But the cool thing is that they then went and just up and raised the thing a full foot. So in one day the house went from this:

To this:

Hmm, funny how the house looks so much worse now than it did when we bought it in 2006. But pay no mind, for we have a vision and stuff.

Anyway, so yeah, the house was taller, and me, well I was the same height. This posed a new problem. Not only did we have no indoor plumbing, but now I had to pole vault into the house. Good times.

On a weirder note, look what slithered (or scurried…scampered…whatever lizards do) past Errek while he was under the house cutting our plumbing in half.

Errek was determined to win the bulbous-eyed staring contest.

Okay, so back to the story. Where was I? Oh yeah, the no indoor plumbing lasted for just two days, the pole vaulting would just get worse and worse, because of this stuff — the steel!

But see how it was laying in the yard all peaceful and nice, well, getting it from the truck to that pile in the yard, not altogether awesome. See, there was this one week during all of this when Errek was home for a few days. And it just so happened that steel delivery day was one of those days. So two dudes were up on the steel truck, loading these extremely heavy sticks of steel onto the bucket of Oden’s Bobcat, then he’d maneuver over so that two other dudes could unload the steel onto the ground.

Wait…isn’t that Errek? Um, yeah. Shortly after this photo was taken, the one dude who was just standing around realized he should maybe be the one moving the steel, and not the homeowner. Smart move, kid!

Before I get off the subject, I’ve got to tell you why exactly Brady Barnett of Superior Foundation (the company that we did not use, but still love) is such a hero.

Well Brady, who we’d worked with before and bumped into at the Jackalope a few times before, had already told us he’d get us steel at cost, when we were still talking about going with his company for the foundation. And when he suggested we go with All In One instead, he said he’d still get us the steel at cost. Really? Um, cool. So we called a few places and got some price quotes and Robbie called some places and got some price quotes. Then we called up Brady. He uses so much steel that he gets a really good price on it, and was totally cool with ordering us up a shipment of 500 feet of steel at his nice low rate. So we got our steel for a steal and Brady didn’t see a penny. Seriously, that guy is a class act. We soooooo owe him a beer.

Okay, back to the story of our crazy, crazy day. See, it was the same day that the concrete trucks came. Seriously, each truck that came was exponentially louder than the last. But pay no mind to the noise, there was work to be done. Rain was expected the next day, so we needed to get those big holes filled with something other than water.

Soooooo, the piers were drying and it was time to get that steel all up in there. This was my favorite part of all. For nearly four years now we’ve been living on old 4×6 beams that were half eaten by termites and wood rot, and now…nothing but clean lines and cold hard metal (FYI, in this house you have to say “metal” said with a sustained falsetto).

Ain’t it purdy?

Also, notice the nice new plates that the guys put in for us? Previously the stud wall came straight down onto the beams, but All In One threw in these plates as a courtesy. Me likey! Thank you, All In One.

Of course, having the steel in place made it even harder to enter and exit the house or cat room. *sigh*

Hmm, I can’t put my finger on it, but there seems to be a usability issue with these steps.

But holy cow, look at that. Finally, the basic structure of our fabulous jewel of awesome is here.

All we needed was for the welder to connect everything with his hot glue gun, or whatever you call that thing.

Welding. Check.

And we needed the foundation guys to pour the concrete for the tubes that would ultimately hold up the steel. Check.

Um…oh wow. It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for, for almost four years now. Our foundation is complete. And the house is so long now that I have to go next door just to get a picture with the whole thing in frame. Awesome!

Someday, this will be the back of the master bathroom. And that’s the kitchen off to the right. *Sigh* I can’t wait!

And now for something completely different.

It’s Easter Chicken!

It was on Easter Sunday that we spotted this little lady (or dude — I’m not a vet and I didn’t measure the comb and wattle) wandering around in the yard next door (aka the pasture, so it was fitting). She’s come back to visit once since then, or maybe she lives there now and we’ve just been too caught up in our own stuff to notice. Maybe Easter Chicken is actually Squatter Chicken!

By the way, if someone happened to film me running around, chasing the chicken for a photo and then sped up the footage and set it to Yakety Sax, it’d be a YouTube classic. Alas, no one did.

Okay, back to work. Next most important thing — safe passage to and from the house and cat room. Errek was more focused on the water main leak, but for me, I was surely going to break a leg or a nail climbing in and out of the house. I used my best puppy dog eyes, and voila, I got a fabulous temp porch.

Fabulous temp porch also makes it easier to transport the beer into the house. Errek was starting to see things my way.

View from the fabulous temp porch.

Sooooo, now, let’s try that before and after again.

Before – June 2006:

During – March 2010:

After… which is technically still “during”… but as far as the foundation it’s “after”… but I digress… – April 2010:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Oh oh, and Errek didn’t stop there. He built us a temp back porch too.

And the backporch (which is actually located in the future bedroom), is a covered temp porch.

Actually, most of the yard is now covered. Yep, we’ve put a big top on this little circus of ours.

See it all started when Errek ordered a giant (and by “giant” I mean 30′ x 40′) tarp in the mail. Then one day, UPS pulls up and Errek got as giddy as a schoolgirl with a new Trapper Keeper (whoa, showin’ my age there). He scurried around to the back of the house and after a while I started to hear cutting and hammering and who knows what else. So I peeked out, and saw this.

Um. Okay.

Coincidentally, the moment I peeked out, was the very moment I was needed. Errek assigned me with the incredibly important task of standing next to the tree.

Um. Okay.

Then he took off up the ladder with a handful of rope.

He then proceeded to spread out the tarp, and tie the north corners and center to ropes. The south corners and center he tied to sand bags he’d somehow lugged up onto the roof.

Next, was my job — pull the rope.

Hmm. Okay.

Neat! Errek worked to spread the tarp out on the roof while I pulled the center and corner ropes from the ground. I looked exactly like this (only with boobs).

So Errek pulled the last bit of it, and tied it off to the tree, on a hook that Amado put into the trees years ago for some reason. Thank you, Amado.

Why, you might wonder did we do all of that? Well, we’re going to be framing in the new addition as time and money permit and really didn’t want to expose our steel and wood to the weather as we slowly progress. So this tarp will be a permanent fixure until it’s time to install the roof…or until the next big storm blows the tarp down. Hmm…

Anyway, with the tarp up, Errek’s first task was to get rid of the concrete under the new foundation. We kept it in during construction (to avoid mud) but with construction over it was time to clear everything out.

Next on the foundation to-do list (yep, we’re not “technically” done with it just yet) is to wire brush the rust off the steel and paint it. Good time. Good times.

But first… Dun, dun, duuuuuuunnnnnnnn! …fixing the water main.