Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dig Deep!

No surprise, but progress is a little slower than I thought it would be. The drilling is proceeding, but there's enough rock to keep the Ken the Excavator on his toes. No problem with the fifteen feet deep piers for the lower retaining wall, but he hit a massive boulder that stopped him dead in three of the holes for the piers on the south side of the house. One is only six feet deep, and the others are seven and a half and nine feet deep (all short of the ten feet we're supposed to excavate) so we have to see what Russ the Geotechnical Engineer says about them. With any luck we can proceed with the shorted piers. I should know the answer in the morning.

In the meantime Ken kept digging away, drill out the trenches around the perimeter of the house. Don't think the steel cages will come until next Tuesday at the earliest, so the first concrete pour should happen late next week. Looking forward to that - it marks the end of the destruction process, and the beginning of the construction process!

And this is what the holes look like! This is a ten feet deep hole that's ready for its steel cage.

Today I also ordered the temporary water meter, for which I had to leave a $500.00 deposit. Ouch. I can pick up the meter tomorrow, then the contractor can set it up and we can draw water from the nearest fire hydrant.

This is fun!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Drill Baby Drill!


The Minnie House is, of course, named after my mum, Mina Rapport. Although her family knew her as Mina, her friends called her Minnie, which I think was a very cute name for her. Mum passed away on June 28th 2008 - two years ago today. By December 21st, which was mum and dad's wedding anniversary, I plan to be living in The Minnie House, which will be a living, breathing monument to my mum.

Today the excavations continued, and after I arrived at the site this morning Ken the Excavator began to drill the first of thirty one piers, starting with the eight 15-feet deep piers that will anchor the long, lower retaining wall. The first two piers posed no problems, which was a big relief, and Russ the Geotechnical Engineer seemed more than satisfied with the makeup of the rich gold-colored earth that was dug up.

The piers for the foundations of the house will all be between 10 and 12 feet deep (and 18" in diameter), and with any luck all of the piers will be drilled by the time I get to the site in the morning.

The trenches for the grade beams (the horizontal companions of the vertical piers) should also be dug by now, which means that in the next 48 hours we should be able to load the steel cages into the pier holes and grade beam trenches. The cages consist of rebar wrapped in steel. In the case of the piers, the cages are 12 inches in diameter, which means that they will sit in the piers with a three inch gap all the way around.

Once all of the cages are set, the next step will be the fun part: pouring the concrete. With any luck, the pour for the piers & grade beams will take place by the end of this week, before the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Sadly, the hyper-active gophers that live here will soon have to find a new home. For now, they're keeping themselves busy building their own little Minnie houses.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

D-Fence! D-Fence!

Being rather offense-oriented, I've never been this excited about d-fence before. But there it is - a shiny steel cyclone fence to protect my mound of brown gold dust. It's starting to look like a building site out there, and for the first time in my life, when I say that it's actually a good thing.

Yesterday's progress consisted of moving (most of) the big pile of dirt from the building pad to the street, excavating the 50' long retaining wall, and beginning to excavate the grade beams. On Monday the excavation should finish, the drill should arrive, and the drilling of the piers should begin (hmm, that's a lot of 'should'!). Hoping to see the steel cages go into the piers in the coming week, and maybe even to get the concrete poured for the piers and grade beams. Exciting times!

Before I go, here's a bonus picture from the neighbor's garden across the street.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Earlier today, June 24th, 2010, two years after I started working on this project, ground was finally broken and we officially moved into the construction phase of The Minnie House. First order of business is excavation, which proceeded well this morning, and will continue tomorrow. Once the building pad has been cleared and leveled, the drill will come in and we'll start drilling the piers. We've also ordered the cyclone fencing, and that should be erected tomorrow or Saturday.

We'll be holding our collective breath when we drill, hoping that we don't hit any bedrock. So far we've been happy with the beautiful black gold we've dug up, and it looks exactly as it was described in the soils report. The geotechnical engineer will have to come in and inspect our holes next week, and he'll decide how deep they need to be. Our fingers are crossed for 6-10', but there's always a chance they'll demand 14', and that will mean more rebar for the cages, more concrete, and more money.

Once that inspection is out of the way, we can set the steel cages into the drilled piers, and then we'll be ready to start pouring concrete. That's something I'm really looking forward to!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tweetie Pie

In addition to this blog, I'll also be tweeting updates, often with photos, on a regular basis, so if you're into that kind of thing, you can follow me on Twitter @MasterSteveR.

You can also follow these hash tags:

The Return of The Loan Arranger!

As Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes once said, This Time It's For Real! The estimable Donald Henry, otherwise known as The Miracle Loan Arranger, has come through in the clutch, and as of yesterday, June 10th 2010, I am now the proud owner of an absolutely massive new construction loan.

I've spent many, many hours at the lot this Spring clearing weeds and organics, particularly from the building pad, and I've been lucky enough to have help for much of the time. It's been great, in fact, spending sunny and warm Sundays digging around while listening to the Giants on the car radio. Last Monday we hauled about seventy 55-gallon bags of yard waste to the city dump, a total of one and a quarter tons of green matter.

With that gone, the next step is to get on the schedule of the excavation and foundations crew. Given all of the delays to date, I'm not sanguine about the start date, although Monday June 21st has been mentioned. Hopefully it won't be Wednesday 23rd, because I already have to be up at 7am to watch England v Slovenia in the World Cup. My money is on Monday 28th, just because that's the second anniversary of the passing of my mum, which was the event that started this whole process in motion.

Now let's get the living monument called The Minnie House built!