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Big day today: Foundation concrete pour and ordering the windows

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Today is a big day as we are pouring the concrete and ordering the windows. I will post another article later on the windows (not as simple as you’d think windows), but here are some photos of the start of the concrete pour. They will be pouring all day from dawn ’til dusk.

First concrete truck arrives

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First disaster (partially) averted

September 5, 2011 1 comment

Our building lot sits on a sloping site with natural limestone rock outcrop terraces. To minimize excavation and foundation costs and to reflect the landscape surrounding it, I had the architect design the house on multiple levels. So rather than try and level the sloping lot, I had it designed so that there would never be a need to level or excavate more than 2 feet. The way that it is supposed to work is that you level the sloping lot up to 2 feet, then when you’ve exceeded 2ft drop, the adjoining room takes a 2ft drop down in level via some steps and then you level that. Thus the levels in the house match the surrounding landscape, and it minimizes excavation costs too. As you move into progressively more private spaces you move down in level.

So imagine my surprise when I went out to the lot on Saturday and saw this:

I immediately called Robert the builder and he said “yes it seemed a bit odd to me but that’s the level the plans call for”. Yes maybe, but if it seems wrong it probably is! So I met him and the foundation guy there today. To cut a long story short, the levels on the plan from the surveyors differ from the levels the foundation guy is reading by 4ft! (Verified by cross-checking the level of a nearby tree). Thus where the maximum depth of digging should be 2ft it’s actually 6ft! I can’t say which elevation reading is wrong but it doesn’t matter anyway. My attitude is that these levels should be treated as relative not absolute. GPS heights are never that accurate anyway compared with positions.

Now we have a problem, what to do? Building back up is going to be a lot of work. So as a compromise the excavator guy is bringing in around 15 lorry-loads of dirt to build the level back up 2ft for the house, but only 1ft for the garage. Building up everything 4ft would be a lot of work! Now the garage will be 2ft lower than the entrance level of the house as opposed to the 1ft lower that was originally planned. It isn’t an ideal solution but it’ll have to do. But it is very, very frustrating that we have to pay to dig a BFO hole in the ground and then pay to fill it back in again, when the plans were especially created to not need much excavation. But at least the house will not be built underground which was never the plan but was narrowly averted if I hadn’t intervened.

And guys, if the plans seem wrong they probably are. Common sense should prevail over dogged following of things that are obviously not quite right.