Thursday, December 3, 2015

Farmhouse Renovation Update: I Like Big Trucks (and I cannot lie)

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I've had a couple of you ask whether or not I'd be sharing holiday decorating this year. Honestly, the jury is still out on that  and here's why: over the course of the last two weeks, we've officially entered the "it's gonna' get worse before it gets better" phase of the renovation, at least as it relates to the exterior. 

Fortunately, Piper has adjusted to the fact that the only way to enter or leave the house is through the garage and I actually think that she's enjoying watching the daily parade of guys with heavy equipment.  I have to admit, I am too.


We started small. The first machine was the bobcat with the giant saw on the front of it that dug the four foot deep trench from the lot line to the back door. This trench is where the new underground electric service, cable and phone lines will run and pretty much ended my gardening and landscaping  season for the year. I though that I was prepared for the mud.
                                                                                                                                              
                                                                             I wasn't.


From there, we moved on to the big stuff. Excavation equipment dug the foundations for the new additions. First, a smaller addition in the rear of the house which runs from the  left side of the blue tarp in the photo above to the back door (this addition will contain the new hall/mudroom and master bathroom.


Next, the second, larger, addition which extends from the front of the south end house into the front yard. This addition will contain two bedrooms, a full bathroom, and my new studio space in addition to a small covered patio.

Since the south end of our home is currently on a crawl space, the addition is also on a crawl space This saves us money on excavation and concrete and we don't have to worry about excavating below the existing footings where the current structure is resting.


Then, the fun part started. Huge trucks filled with gravel arrived along with a conveyor to pump the gravel from the street into the foundation. Small children walking home from the grade school across the street began to loiter and a mom with a toddler in a stroller and a large cup of coffee showed up a couple of days in a row. I considered getting out the folding chairs and making popcorn but between the rain and the snow, I decided against it.


I also decided that attempting to change the decorations in the window box was probably a lost cause because it would take a pair of boots and a ladder to get to it. At least I can get to the pumpkin that is still on the front porch to throw it away and when it snows, I no longer have to worry about shoveling the front sidewalk...because there isn't one.


It has been incredible to watch as these huge pieces of equipment gently excavate just on the other side of the wall where I sit without even a ripple in my morning cup of coffee. As you probably have guessed, I've become friends with the excavation and concrete crews and they have generously shared stories of their families and how they got into the "business" while we stand at the back of someone's pick up truck sharing lunch or coffee. 

The majority of them have emigrated from Ireland and I've enjoyed the moments of hearty laughter and fabulous brogues that I've listened to on the other side of the very thin walls where the brick has been removed and all that separates me from them is a layer of drywall and some insulation for the last two weeks. 


Yesterday, the concrete pump  and parade of concrete trucks showed up for the second time as the foundation walls were poured.  Mercifully, the weather has been holding mainly in the 40's and 50's here in Illinois and with the exception of a few days of rain and a little wet snow, we've been blessed to be able to get this part of the construction finished before the real cold sets in. 


Today, the land surveyors will be here to perform a "spot survey" to ensure that the foundation is at the correct height before we build on it.  The concrete crew will also come to strip the forms off of the walls and spray the concrete with a sealant to help with the dampness in the crawlspace. Next Monday, the foundation floors will be poured. After that, they'll back fill (put the dirt back against the outside) the foundations and the heavy equipment will be gone. 

Who knows....once that happens, maybe I'll change the window box....or put a wreath on the front door.
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Kimberly