Marking and Double Checking the Lines
First Shovel Full - We're on our way!
Looking South - About 6 feet deep on the right.
Looking North - Garage will be on the right
End of Day 1 - Ready for footings!
Now that the old house was down and the location where the foundation was filled all that remained was an empty lot. With nothing else there we were granted our building permit (can't have two houses on one lot). Finally we would be building a house. And we were more than ready to go. Yay!
Our site surveyor, Turningpoint, went out and staked out the location of the new foundation as we were filing for the permit. One of the things the surveyor also did was to mark out 10 foot over dig lines. These lines were the real dig lines because digging ten feet over the line provided room for the concrete form guys to work between the walls of the cellar hole and the concrete forms themselves. Having room to spare to maneuver around makes the work quicker and easier.
Mike was the excavator operator for the foundation hole. Like Lou (the equipment operator on the house demo), I've known Mike for years and have the greatest respect for him. I can't imagine that between he and Lou there is anyone that can operate an excavator better.
The weather was perfect (didn't have to worry about the rain breaking down the dirt walls) and Mike got right to work early. I watched as he checked and rechecked all of the measurements and added dig lines with orange paint where necessary. He also set up his laser which he would use to make sure that his depths were correct. The surveyor had provided elevation marks on the trees and Mike used these as his base for his laser. Interestingly during the dig, he had an instrument called a grade control laser that he attached to the arm of the excavator. Using the laser on the side of the hole, this instrument indicated whether the hole need to be deeper or shallower using lighted arrows that pointed up or down. This had to have made digging a lot easier. Even with this though, Mike would jump out periodically and double check depths using the stick with the laser.
Having everything right (levels, widths & depths) in the foundation hole was critical to the foundation work and of course the rest of the house. You didn’t want to have to make corrections later.
Once the set up was complete, the digging began. It moved very quickly with the material piled away from the sides for use as backfilling later. It would also be useful because the current grade, which dropped about 5 feet from one side to the other and front to back, meant that a lot of fill would be needed to smooth out the grade. It was interesting to watch a professional at work. The soil was nice and gravely throughout which meant it would have good drainage.
The only buried treasure we found was the sewer line whose exact location was not known because of the way it ran out of the old house. When the house had a cesspool (another buried treasure found by accident later) the line ran out of the back of the house. When they brought in Town sewerage, they connected to the old line and ran it around the house and somewhere up the driveway. We now knew exactly where it was.
During this we saved (we hope) a large dogwood and a couple of rose-of-sharon bushes for later replanting. It took a couple of days to complete the work but when it was done we now knew even better where our house was going.
We now had our foundation hole and were ready for the footings to go in. It had been a long process (16 months at this point) but we were finally seeing the start of our new home. We couldn’t have been happier.