Hello, Hole

The excavator blows my mind.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s so far outside my skill set, or because the scale is so huge compared to anything I could do by hand, or just because I am easily impressed.  But two days after he started, Mike finished the hole where our basement will go.


Looking In


Looking Out


From grade


From above

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to convince Lars and Nya to go stand in the hole to give some scale.  It’s really big.  The walls around the edge are 9′ tall, and the flat spot in the middle must be something on the order of 35′ wide by 50′ long.  And the walls are perfectly vertical!  And the ground is perfectly flat!  And it only took 3 days!  Mind officially blown.

Mike is coming back tomorrow to dig the frost walls; if the contractor gods smile on us, Dean the concrete guy will be here Monday or Tuesday to start building forms! [Insert terrified/giddy exclamation here.]



Happening Fast

Things are happening fast over here.  Rip-roaringly fast.  Excitingly fast.  Terrifyingly fast.

On Thursday, these two guys showed up and started moving giant rocks around like they were pebbles*:

It’s mesmerizing to watch.  Like a dinosaur or giant creature has come to dig in our dirt.  The backhoe moves so smoothly I can forget it’s a machine.  The driveway work is now done.  Maybe eventually I’ll upload some before and after pictures, but I’m finding my photography skills to be completely inadequate for showing what’s really going on at that scale.  Also, a bulldozer came to join the party on Friday, but I don’t have a picture of that in action.

On Friday, our builder climbed down our well:

Craig down the well.jpg

He spent several hours down there, cleaning out the muck.  Lars helped, but Craig was way dirtier at the end of the day, so we all know who got the short end of that stick.  Our lack of running water is not Craig’s problem.  Making sure our house gets built is Craig’s problem.  But he spent the day in the well anyway, and he was smiling whenever I looked down there.  We are so glad to have found him.  Let me know if you’re local and looking for a builder.  I’ll send you his contact info…when we’re wrapping up our build.

On Tuesday, this happened:

That’s not even all of the insulation we’ll eventually need.  But it should get us through the basement and up the outside of all the walls.  I wasn’t home for the delivery, but it came on a full-size tractor trailer, and the driver didn’t want to try turning around.  So he backed down our road (three quarters of a mile!).  On his way down, he got stuck, pointed at a ditch, and unable to get traction to pull forward again because of all the rain we got that day.  Lars ended up helping him get traction by pulling on him with the skid steer.  I anticipate excitement like that for at least 50% of all future material deliveries.  Next time, I plan to be around to watch.

And today, this happened:

here comes the hole for the basement

That’s standing on the middle terrace…just imagine a basement there.  This is where you’d walk right in.

From above:

here comes the basement hole

It’s really hard to see the scale in these photos.  Look for the chalk lines in the picture above.  I think they trace out where the building will be.  And the current hole is approximately 45′ long by 10′ wide.

Like I said, things are happening around here.


*Bonus video of the “pebble” moving, which I unfortunately can’t embed without upgrading our site to a paid version.  This is Mike the excavator moving a gigantic rock (previously known as pump rock) out of his way.

We’re here!

I just published a bunch of back-dated, not-very-finished drafts from a couple of summers ago.  Clearing out the backlog because

WE’RE HERE!  Living on our land in our RV.  Our old landlords sold the house we were living in, and the new landlords decided they didn’t want tenants in our apartment any more, so we had to move out.  Rather than moving twice (first to a new rental, then to our to-be-built house), we hatched the crazy plan of moving into our RV on our land (in October…winter is coming…) and speeding our house building up as fast as we could.  When the envelope is up, we’ll put in a wood stove, and hunker down for the winter.

It’s cozy here, and BEAUTIFUL.  There are no bugs.  The weather has been very mild, often sunny and warm.  We’ve only had one hard frost.  (How can that be?  It’s the end of October!  But we who don’t have indoor plumbing are not complaining.)  Peak leaf season also seemed late this year, so many trees still have leaves.  Spectacular!

And living on a dirt road sets Nya’s inner runner free.


Engineering Summer Camp

The Problem: You have a 9,000 pound steel box. The external dimensions are 40 feet long by 8 feet wide by 9.5 feet high. It’s at the bottom of a hill, and you want it to be at the top of the hill, rotated 90 degrees, and then moved across the top of the hill approximately 40 feet.

the plan

Note that 9,000 pounds is SUPER HEAVY.

super heavy

The Available Tools: Whatever you can scrape up from the remains of the decrepit cabin at the top of the hill. Electricity from a single outlet wired to the temporary power pole and some extension cords. Two 20-foot lengths of grade 70 chain. A 5-ton chain hoist. A hole hawg. All the trees you could ever want, some even in useful places. Some small logs. A big rusty simplex jack.

Lars’ Solution:
Attempt 1 – Pull really hard.
Result – No change in position of the box.

Attempt 2 – Modify the chain hoist to make it so it can be driven with the hole hawg. Attach the chains to a perfectly-placed tree. Run the chain hoist a whole bunch.


I never finished this post!  But Attempt 2 worked.  And I’m publishing now to clear out my back log of drafts ahead of big news.

Driveway Drainage, Diary 8/30

Some brief notes:

After getting Thomas stuck, Lars dug ditch next to driveway.
Needs to connect it to the drainage at the road.
I pulled out the top of the pine tree (8/30).
Lars moved rocks also moved my entire brush pile in 2 trips.  :/
He tried to get Thomas stuck again, but didn’t.