Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh yeah -- we started. Forgot to mention it

It's been a whirlwind. We had a design, then we got prices on what we thought was our final design. Then we redesigned our final design because it was tens of thousands over budget. Then we... well, let's just put all that behind us, shall we?

What matters is that we've broken ground. Not only have we broken it, we've made a big pile of it where there was no pile at all. Our excavation contractor dug the hole in just one day, and I stopped calling it 'the lot'  and started calling it 'the site.'

That was Thursday. On Friday we had the surveyors out to pin the footings, and this morning our masons showed up to form the footings. Footing inspection is at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, after which we can pour cement and then start laying blocks.

We're going with a block foundation, which was a bit of a surprise to me. I'd just assumed we would either pour cement or use ICF, most likely the former as ICF is supposedly so much more expensive. But when we priced it out, we found they were roughly the same price, by the time you factor everything in. Then we got a price on block, which turns out to be roughly 35% cheaper. Apparently it's a supply and demand thing -- there are only so many people with forms, but there are all kinds of block layers out there and pricing is aggressive.

Of course, when you do anything with concrete in December you do it with one eye on the weather. We've got some good weather today and tomorrow (highs of 9 or 10 and lows above zero), but it's going to cool off after that. Still, with lows of -1 to -5 for the rest of the week, it's still above normal and shouldn't cause too much problem. (Or so say the masons). To be safe, though, we're trying to cover everything up with earth as soon as we can, to keep the frost from getting under the footings or the slab. That means making sure anything that needs to be buried near a foundation wall  -- phone, hydro, water, etc., along with foundation drain tile -- gets buried while the hole is open.

There are still lots of decisions to be made, of course. That part won't stop for months yet. But it's more exciting than frightening now. Last week, as we were readying to dig, I felt like I was sitting in the car on the roller coaster, looking up at the steep climb ahead of me and thinking this was probably a bad idea. Now the ride is underway and it's too late to do anything but hang on. And occasionally scream like a little girl.

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