Monday, December 7, 2009

The Foundation

Once we ran the new drain plumbing, and built the forms, we were ready to call in the first round of concrete. The company accross the street from my work just happend to be the only one that pumps concrete for hire. The rest of the concrete pumpers were contractors who not only don't answer the phone, they won't call you back unless you wanted to build a new apartment complex. I knew this from experience, from when I wanted to pour a new garage floor back in '03. That little project trained me for this go around, and I was prepared to do it myself again, rented tools in hand. The concrete truck pulled up to the side of the house, and the pump on the back of another truck. They hooked up the hose, wetted down the mixture, and started pumping, with one of thier guys a the end of the hose, the other on the remote control controling the slurry from inside the house. We even had a bit extra to fix the jacuzzi pad, and the side walk where I had to dig under the front house. We now had a new stem wall, completely encasing the old railroad tie foundation as well as the old crooked fir studs. This house would no longer float away like Noah's ark in high water. It was only phase one, though, no time to relax or celebrate. A couple of days went by, and we were able to remove the forms. We were still left with a two foot deep hole in the middle to fill. You know you are screwed when the guys at the equipment rental store know your name. This time we rented a bobcat. We ordered some cheap cinder sand to fill the hole. The plan was to take the huge mound of cinder sand in the street, and dump it into a make-shift chute made from the old foundation forms, right through the window. We then used a compactor to compact the sand to a depth of about 5". It was back to the rental store for a concrete drill to bore holes for re-bar, so the new pad would be affixed to the stem wall. We threw down some reinforcing mesh , and ordered the last round of concrete. This time they just poured the slump through the window, and we finished it off level with the top of the stemwall. We finally had a solid level surface to walk on. The first time in 40 years I'll bet. We used to joke when Bert lived there, that the only time the floor felt level was when you were drunk. We put the windows back in and hung some sheets up for curtains, and let it cure, never to be seen by any city official. So far all the work performed was done on the week-end and after work. We were so careful to cover our tracks, because at this point we couldn't risk a 'stop work notice.' We would be sunk, the City would never grant us permission to finish, and we might have had to stop completely and raze the entire house. It was quite nerve-wracking especially because there was a new apartment complex being built at the top of the hill, and the inspector was always driving by. Kristi knew a fellow teacher that was doing some renovations to thier house a few blocks away. Just about that time, they recieved a 'stop work notice.' The inspector inspecting the business being built next door saw that they were installing a new door on the side of thier house and blew the whistle on them. They got off having only to pay for a $50 permit, though they had already completed a host of other renovations. Once they saw work being performed outside the house they called it quits on them. I counted my lucky stars it was them and not me.

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