Tuesday, June 29, 2010



"Hey A.M.....I think I need to run to the hardware store" (hour drive away) "What do you need?" I need a rebar bender. "What does it do?" Umm...It bends rebar.
She sensed a hesitation on my part so I explained they were expensive, I only needed it for a day, no one has one I can borrow... "What does it look like? Can you make one?" Well, yeah, I guess I can. I did.
Dug the trench for the utilities. Ran the dihydrogen monoxide line and the conduit for the power, then refilled the trench. Got the base rebar done, too so productive day.
People keep asking when I'm gonna start building. In my mind I started two years ago when I bought the lot and played with plans. Then followed methodical steps since. Maybe people don't consider you starting 'til they see lumber going up. That's real soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Finished Digging


Since digging the foundation on the last cabin took all Summer, my time budget for this one was the same. The goal was to finish by Summer's end.
Last one, though, was digging through bedrock. This time, though, the biggest stone encountered was around 50 pounds. A lot of that was luck---when we dug the leach field, we came across some huge boulders that are now part of a retaining wall.
Father's day---Woke up at 5:00 and made the kids waffles (my request was to have my permanent ban from the kitchen lifted for Father's Day) cleaned up and started digging by 6:00 a.m.... My Summer cold hit the night before but chose to ignore it.
The jackhammer broke after an hour. Not a big deal---the digging bar was almost as fast. The first long handled shovel wore out last week so I was down to the old one; it broke around 10:00 am. So the rest of the day was with short handled shovels. So close to being done, though, so I didn't want to quit.
Finished the last side about 5:00 pm. I still have to dig a little trench for utilities, but that's no big deal.
The cool part---digging was completed the day BEFORE Summer.
Next up, forming the foundation for the big pour

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I've Got The Power

Building really IS 90% digging....Unless you count in the bureaucracy.
Case in point---Electrical power. I followed SD County's instructions and downloaded pole requirements from SDG&E, then followed all requirements. Then called County for the inspection. "Do you have this and that?" well, no, they weren't on SDG&E's requirements, but I'll gladly do this and that...So OK get through the inspection...Now what? "Call SDG&E and get them to write a work order so I can release it"
OK done. Ask the SDG&E guy---(who wanted to run the power in the front were the view was, instead of the rear where the pole is) what else do I need to do? Nothing, we'll handle it from here.
Two weeks, nothing happens.
SDG&E---"County hasn't released it"
SD County---"Wait..What project?" (gave address) Did you mitigate the discrepancies? (no. You said there were none) Is there a work order?
So the work order....It's the key to the whole thing, I never see it, have no influence over it, it's between County and SDG&E. (Work orders done! I declared, having zero idea what, where, or if any work order exists)
SD County---OK I release this project.
Me to SDG&E on phone--"They released the project"
SDG&E----"What project?"
Get home from work, power's in. I love having power there. I plugged in my radio, and little 12v cooler. Then the jackhammer, which greatly increased the speed for digging the foundation. The picture's hard to tell but that trench is 21' long. Now I've rounded the corner and have a second side done. Turkeys are not scared of jackhammers, by the way.
Got my building hands back again, too

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Can You Dig It?


I remember telling my brother, Bob, 90% of building is digging. Now I'm starting to think that's low.
Not going to hire out the dig. It's too complicated and steep. Besides, I spent most of the budget on the materials, so hand digging will slow the project some while I save up more capital.
What looks like holes left by giant square gophers is the footings for the piers. They were supposed to be 18" cube (18 wide square, 18 deep) but with the slope I think going bigger is cheap insurance. There are 5 piers, each 24" cube.
Here's what I don't get. Each hole was 8 cubic feet of soil removed, so you'd think it would be 1 1/2 wheelbarrow loads. (the wheelbarrow is 6 cubic feet level full, and I was piling it up higher) but it was 4 loads. The dirt is getting re-distributed to flatten out spots around the lot...To add to the mystery, I know from experience that if you take dirt out of a hole then put it all back in, it doesn't completely fill the hole.
If all the soil remains cooperative, I can get 10-12 feet dug per day. Not counting the piers, it's 80' total, plus some for the utilities trenches.