Stake ‘n Snake

 

Ugh, the rough framers pushed back their start date, again.  It’s tough to get excited when progress keeps getting delayed.  Fortunately we have plenty to keep us busy.  The land is basically rough graded.  I awoke early this morning and drove out to meet the excavator.  Having spent some time the previous night coming to terms and getting comfortable with the lay of the land, I was confident going into our quick morning meeting.  We walked down to the future pond area and I we talked about the planned shape and location of the pond.  It will be more of a water catcher than a formal, dug pond.  To start with I doubt it’ll be more than 4′ deep.  Should  be nice enough for frogs and nesting ducks hopefully.  And hopefully I can get enough bats to mitigate (is that the right word?) any mosquitos.  One missed opportunity is that all our blue clay is intermingled with regular clay so we won’t be able to line the pond with blue clay, which would be the preferred method, especially if you’re getting free blue clay.  For now the pond area is just staged dirt piles.  They’ll be arranged and feathered out either during the final grade or when we go to do the landscaping next year.  If need be I’ll secure the mounds with fabric or organic material to reduce erosion over the winter.

Tonight the plan was to stake out the breezeway and screen porch.  We’ll have the excavator drill out holes for each post location.  Then we’ll insert a sonotube, which is a circular cardboard tube, into each hole.  When the cement contractor comes out to pour the garage and studio, they can pour cement into each sonotube.  The top of the sonotube will be flush with the grade.   Before the cement sets we’ll insert a threaded rod which will allow us to attach an adjustable bracket and then ultimately our pressure treated posts will bolt / nail to that bracket. The excavator will use a 13″ bit on his auger which should allow a 12″ sonotube to easily slide down into the hole.

To stake out the locations we (the wife and I) used a tape measure, the house plans, some orange spray paint, wooden stakes (from Lowes), and a mallet.  I bought a nice 200′ tape measure from Lowes for around $20-$30.  It works very well, just make sure you’re looking at the right side as one side has decimal marks instead of inches.

Tools of the trade. This pic is actually from the night before when I plotted out some of the landscape elements for reference.

Rolling up the driveway I stopped at the electrical box and grabbed my stack of wooden stakes, threw them in the back of the truck and proceeded up to the build site.  We unloaded our “tools” and took a quick look at the pond area and rough grading.  Everything looks real nice, and a bit flat, but that’s okay.  Pretty much our entire house is on an 4′ grid so naturally the breezeway columns are basically 8′ apart.  We didn’t get too technical, just measured off the house and studio foundation walls, took a few diagonal measurements and drove a stake into the soft freshly graded soil. 

In addition to the stake, I marked each location with some spray paint.

 After we got most of the breezeway staked, Christine randomly blurts out “snake”.  I get up from playing with a clump of clay (I’m easily distracted) and walk over to see what she is talking about.  After 10+ years of marriage I pretty much just assume she’s insane (it’s a mutual assumption I’m sure) and sure enough she points over to the pile of stakes resting on the house plans and I see nothing.  Hmm.  Fortunately, I don’t say “Um, honey, those are ‘stakes’ not ‘snakes'” as if I’m talking to my two-year-old.  Realizing my skepticism she ushers me closer and says “snake” again.  Still dumb founded I reluctantly pick up the top stake off the pile half expecting to see a rattler jump out at me as part of some sort of America’s Funniest Home Video moment.

Then I see it. 

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the smallest darn snake I’ve ever seen in my life.  Then the biggest cricket I ever saw jumped out of the stake pile and I nearly screamed like a 12-year-old girl, but that’s not the point.  Back to the snake.  We decided to “rescue” him and release him in the east preservation area.  I have a phobia against touching any thing that is alive and isn’t a mammal so I scoot him (how do you know it wasn’t a her?) on to the house plan and walk him over to a grassy nook in the preservation area.  Snap a quick pic and he’s gone.  Of course he’ll grow up and probably scare the be-jesus out of me next year, but for now he was just about as cute as Mother Nature makes animals, this side of baby rabbits.

Our snake friend just before he was released into the preservation area. Not sure what kind of snake he was, other than awfully cute.

After Mr. Snake was gone we went back and finished the breezeway.  Some of the snakes, er…..stakes didn’t have easily aligned reference points so I pulled some diagonals from previous stakes and plotted out their locations.  Everything looked pretty good.  We then plotted out the column locations for the screen porch and back porch according to the print. 

Actually, having the rough framers delayed is good because now we’ll be able to have all the post pads (i.e. sonotubes) poured when they do the studio and garage.  And ultimately it’ll all be done around the time the framers start so they can post out the porches and breezeway without putting in temporary posts for the most part.

Picture of the staked out open breezeway that connects the garage to the house (right).

 

Screen porch stakes.

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Zen and the Art of Home Building

 

 

I’m tired.  I just cut approximately fifty blocks of foam, each approximately 19″ x 4″, out of my shiny new basement walls.  The reason I had to cut out the foam was because there needs to be structural contact between the basement wall and the cement basement floor.  It was hard work but I wouldn’t trade it for the world in retrospect.  Removing the foam may have left a void in my wall, but it filled a void in my self.  This simple act created structural contact between my self and our home.

My first attempt to take on this foam removal task was on Saturday, but I the 2.5″ thick foam easily overwhelmed my utility knife and my spirit.  I basically gave up and threw in the towel, but quickly found encouragement and confidence from Tony and my wife, Christine.  There are alternative methods to doing the floor but they create pretty sizable thermal bridges.  If I’m going to all the trouble to create thermal breaks, get fancy windows, and insulate everything, they rationalized why have a weak link in the system just because it’s difficult work.  Nothing in life worth doing is easy.  Ultimately it came down to “what is the right thing to do?” and let that be my guide.

So I went tool shopping, which is hardly like pulling teeth for me.  And Sunday, bright and early I went to the job site with my helper, Christine.

The circled area where you see the "x" (which is a future, pressure treated, 2x4) is where I cut out foam.

The plan worked well, Christine marked out 4″ increments from the bottom of the wall.  4″ gravel, 4″ rigid insulation and 4″ cement floor.  She transferred the marks across the face of the studs and back across the foam lined wall cavities.  Then with my handy-dandy drywall hand saw (non-powered by the way), I cut out the foam; all the way across and 4″ wide, corresponding with where the cement floor will go.
 

Me cutting foam.

The right tool for cutting foam, I found out, is a simple Sears Craftsman drywall hand saw, about 6″ in length.  I had a more aggressive generic one, but the simpler serrated blade of the Craftsman saw cut a lot easier.  A more aggressive blade does not move through the foam easy enough.  I then used an all purpose pry bar and inserted into my cuts to pop out the foam.
In a perfect world, the wall manufacturer would have this all set up in their mold so I wouldn’t have to remove the foam after the fact.  But that’s for the future, for now it was my sweat equity.
 

Use a pry bar to pop the foam out. The foam's not glued in so it comes right out. I left the 4" of rigid insulation below, on the wall. I paid for it and it's at the same level as the insulation I'm going to be adding above the gravel and below the cement floor.

 
Here’s what the bays look like after foam removal. I’ll save the scrap blocks and use them when we insulation the floor. Yeah, I’m pretty hard-core.
Picture of my line marking helper. It made the job a lot easier having someone marking out our lines for gravel, foam, and cement on the studs and bays. We used a thick Sharpie (which eventually wore out) and a red marking crayon from Sears.

All and all it took about 8 man hours to do.  I’ll go over the next steps in the coming days.  As you can see, we didn’t get our first floor deck on yet.  Once that’s on, it’ll get real dark in the basement.

 
It was pretty cool, the two of us, working on the house together.  Like Christine said, it makes it feel more like “our house” now.  More so than if we’d just handed over a check to some builder.  We’re going to make a point of getting out there and working on the house.  Even if it means I have to pay a professional to fix our mistakes afterwards.
 
And that leads me to the real fortune I got dug out of my basement today.  See, sitting there relatively all alone, cutting foam from one bay to the next, I finally found some semblance of inner peace that I’d been searching for.  Corky would be proud, and I probably owe him a beer because he predicted it back when we did the blessing on the land.  As he was walking out I told him about my need to meditate or some how come to some form of inner peace or I wasn’t going to make it to Fall, let alone make it to the end of this project.  He said I didn’t need to go meditate on some rock, lie on some couch or even climb a mountain.  By just working out there, on my land, meditation would come on its own.
 
We live in world where we’ve insulated and homogenized the 1,440 minutes we’re gifted each day.  So much so, that there isn’t a free moment to reflect or clear our mind. 
 
What I experienced today, cutting each block of foam, was freedom that I can only dream of on any given day.  Yes, the work was a pain in the ass and it was hot out there.  But you know what?  I didn’t have to think, make a decision or be badgered by god knows who or what out there.  It was just me (and Christine for a while), my wall and blue sky above.  The value of that is ten times, a thousand times greater than all the minutes spent running around in a typical day.  Days spent running around, fighting other people’s battles and working other people’s dreams.
 
It’s remarkable how, as I leave our land and drive back to the real world, deep down inside I can feel myself adjusting.  Where we’re building our house is out in the country, but by no means desolate.  In a way though it’s about a million miles away.  I’m pretty sure somewhere along the road as I come and go from the land, I pass through a veil.  A screen so real I truly believe if I squint hard enough in the warm August air of a Ohio summer afternoon I could see it.  It eases through my car window and all of a sudden I realize I’m on the other side where the reality of the rest of the world emerges.
 
And it’s not that bad.  Not that bad because back there, about a 1/2 mile back, just past where the road runs along the railroad tracks…..yeah, back there I’ll get to pass through going the other way again tomorrow or the next day.
 
And the fireflies will start dancing as the sun goes down.  Crickets will chirp and my worries will ease because I’ll know I’m home.
 

Foundation

It’s in.

I survived.

I didn’t do a darn thing yesterday but sit and watch real people do real work and I was exhausted.  Actually I’m still exhausted, but in my defense I did work in the yard at the old house this morning.  It’s hot in Ohio this Summer.  Too hot for my tastes.  Where’s my nice climate controlled, super insulated (from the heat), passive solar house when I need it?

Right now, it is an arrangement of pre-fabricated cement wall panels that were arranged on Friday with surgical precision to within 1/8″ of an inch across a 190’+ diagonal from one end of the house to the other end of the garage.  In fact Superior Walls and Fike Excavating worked with such surgical precision and expertise all day, it was rather boring for me.  Exactly how I hoped it would be. Nothing I had worried about in preparation for “foundation day” came to fruition.

The day started out with Superior’s crane and the first load of wall panels waiting for me in the drive and road respectively.  Not knowing what to expect I said “hello” and was greeted by Ryan and Carl from Superior (I’m pretty sure I got their names right). Ryan proceeded to back his crane up my 1/4 mile long driveway, right past my neighbor’s large tree.  Then the moment of truth came as the first semi with my 10′ tall basement wall panels turned off of the road and approached the 90 degree turn around the tree. Viola! Around the tree, no problem.  Sigh of relief on my part (yes I smiled just a lil’ bit). These guys are good.

The first truck, a sleeper cab no less, cuts around the big tree with ease.

Here's Superior's crane parked between my studio and the garage. Very cool.

 They quickly set up the crane and the semi parked in front of what will someday be the garage.  It started to rain and of course I left all my rain gear at home.  Driving home to get my raincoat did two things: 1) assured the rain would stop for the rest of the day, and 2) caused me to miss how they put the first two wall panels up.  They’re 10′ tall panels…weigh like 2,000 pounds each….I don’t know, maybe one guy held it up while they waited to lean it against the next panel.

Wall panels being installed. They are bolted together and caulked at the seams. You can see all the integrated insulation and the metal stud faces.

 That panels go up quickly and soon it’s time to back out the semi to make room for truck number two.  The semi backs out of the upper portion of the drive and then to turn around it requires our excavator to lift up the back of the trailer and swing it around.  We have very little room for this type of operation but these guys are pros and it happens without a hitch.  Quickly the second truck comes up the drive, around the tree in one shot and parks on the job site.

The second truckload of panels goes in. Note the large basement window. I have no idea what we’ll use that basement room for but it will have a large window.

The Superior Wall system goes in quickly.  A truck driver, crane operator and two technicians on the ground make easy work of my foundation.  Actually in this heat it’s anything but easy.  It’s still physical labor.  I sit on a rock and watch.  So helpful. 

The foundation going in quickly is one of the reasons it appealed to us.  It took just 10 or 11 hours from when the crane showed up to when it left.  In that time team put up over 332 linear feet of fabricated wall sections, about half of which were 10′ in height.  A mason would’ve been out there hauling block for a week.  My walls are perfectly true from what I can see and dialed within an 1/8″ of location specifications. Our Superior Xi walls come with 2-1/2″ of Dow insulation built-in (R-12.5) and we’ll be adding another R-20 worth of insulation when we complete the basement.  When we go to finish off the basement I can screw my drywall right to the Superior Wall metal stud facing which will save me time and money; another reason we chose them for our foundation.  I also like the idea that it’s an engineered wall system.  I’m a designer by trade and I guess I gravitate to products that are more technical / engineered and designed rather than just slapping a bunch of raw materials together.   All these panels are made in a factory out of reinforced concrete.  Everything is strong, true and bolts together. And as we all know I’m lazy, so I like the idea of the entire foundation installation being one day, having integrated insulation and being able to attach drywall right to the panels.  There are even knockouts for my wires and plumbing.  No fuss, no muss. A lazy “do it yourself” homeowner’s dream.  And that’s me. 

My foundation beats your foundation every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Setting the garage walls. You'll see some EPS foam on there but none of the Dow XPS blue board that are on the house panels. The garage is uninsulated so we don't need it. We were going to have the garage be block but in the grand scheme of things, it was easier to do the garage in 4' tall Superior Walls.

By late day the third and final truck rolls up to the job site.  This one carries the remainder of the 4′ tall studio and garage panels.  Our excavator had everything prepped to Superior’s specifications, even so just a little massaging of the prepped footer areas is needed.  It’s tiring work in this heat but the Superior technicians are positive and knowledgable.  By 5:30 pm the walls are in.  The last semi truck is coerced off the job site and headed back for the 5 hour drive to Lima, NY.  The crane is packed up and easily maneuvers down the drive in the deft hands of its operator.  Driving that crane on the freeway has got to be tedious.  

A special thanks to our excavator Jonathan Fike and his dad, David (Fike Development), for being on hand all day and helping to get the semi’s in and out of the property and mending the driveway.  Once again they helped make a stressful situation for me and make it worry free.Completed foundation looking across house towards garage.

 And that’s it.  The foundation went in just fine.  Now we move onto about 2 weeks of some really finesse type orchestration of tasks and trades to get the first floor deck on, the basement poured and everything back filled.  I don’t know if my stress level went down any after yesterday.  I do know that I need to drink water when I’m out there.  I was burnt when I got home.

And I didn’t even do anything.

For information on Superior Walls check out: http://www.superiorwalls.com/

Gang Aft Agley

 

The older I get the more worry. 

The more I over think. 

The more I annoy the bejesus out of pretty much everyone I encounter. 

I promise to be better.  I’ll start next year (I procrastinate too).  I’ll start as soon as I have a plan in place.  And a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.  Of course the problem lies in that I don’t plan very well or rather I don’t plan that often.  Instead I charge ahead at the front end and deal with everything on the fly as the wheels fall come off.  When I do plan I think of every angle without coming to any real resolution most of the time.  Basically an organizational top spinning around waiting for life to happen.

When building my own house, I’m quickly realizing that a) It probably wouldn’t have hurt me to plan more and b) the reality is nothing goes as planned anyway so I should have golfed more before I started building.

Not that anything is going tragically wrong, rather a lot of little “middle of the road” things kinda go unplanned and then either resolve themselves or result in, you guessed it, a change of plans. Expectations, design, realization, design, expectations, fill out forms.  Pay some money, expectations, realizations, wait two weeks. Do some work, pay some money, expectations, realizations, watch the rain.  And so on and so on, for roughly eight months…..we hope.

We’ll have some budget challenges coming up since we allotted more money to some areas and have run over on the excavation with our blue clay incident.  I suppose a soil core test would have alerted us earlier, but wouldn’t have saved us any money. Based on our research we were not expecting the blue clay.  And I don’t think it would have nixed the project even if we had known.  I guess  lesson learned, do a soil core test just in case.  We were able to save some money (and add a green feature to the project) today by ordering recycled rigid insulation, so not all is bad news.  We can balance the budget too when we get to finishes and delaying some built-ins like bookshelves.

One plan that did work out was we were planning to get the footers inspected today and we passed with flying colors.  Yay for us!  Knock on wood, but anytime we have anything to do with the government, it works out great.  Mother nature, not so much.

All the drain tile (which is really plastic pipe) is laid.  These series of pipes will collect any water on the outside of our foundation and route it away.  The cement thingy (it’s late, and I forget what it’s called) that forms the collection area for the sump pump is in too.  The sump pump and it’s pipes (I think there are pipes) on the interior of the foundation will collect water and pump it out before it can get into my basement.  It’s placed in the lowest point of the basement excavation.

Picture of the approved excavation. All the gravel will be for the floor. The Superior Wall system will rest on the gravel around the perimeter. My studio is the higher portion on the left. the sump pump crock is the little round thing at the opposite corner from this vantage point.

Tomorrow we’re going to lose one more cherry tree I suspect.  It’s the one near the garage that we tried to keep even though it’d make backing out of the drive difficult.  Well, turns out it may make the foundation install go smoother so I’m pretty sure it’s coming down.  I took a picture of it today.  Out of the three cherry trees we saved, it’s the nicest.  There goes that plan.

To the left of the drive in this picture is the cherry tree they'll most likely take down tomorrow. To the right is the garage. The semi and crane coming on Friday will have to thread the needle between the two. That's why they get paid the big bucks.

 Everything looks really spread out and open, but that’s because of the 45 degree walls on the excavation.  Tomorrow after work I’ll lay down some vapor barrier where the walls are going.  Additional vapor barrier will go down after the walls are in, before I go to lay down the rigid vinyl and they pour the basement floor.

My biggest worry right now is getting the semi-tractor trailer and crane back to the job site  on Friday.  That should be interesting as our driveway is pretty crazy and goes across my neighbors property.  I’ll either be really happy or really sad Friday night depending on how it goes.  Also weighing me down is the insulation will be coming in on another semi-tractor trailer next week. When that comes I’ll have to unload it by hand near the street.  I don’t even want to plan for that but I have to.  Not expecting that to be a happy endeavor.

Foundation hole as seen from just outside the screen porch. My studio is the higher ground on the right. With the blue clay, we laid down stabilization fabric just like we did under the driveway.

Well, here’s hoping I’m filled with promised joy on Friday, regardless of whether or not things go as planned.  I guess the real plan is to get the foundation in without destroying anything. 
 
If that happens then I’ll be happy as a mouse.

 

Bloom Is Off The Rose

We had two rose plants that I transplanted last fall.  They were both gifts from me to my wife.  I figured best to transplant them in case we sold our house (stop laughing) in the winter and I couldn’t transplant them in the cold.  Turns out the spot I picked was just about the worst and the Fall rains wiped out the one plant that was as tall as me.  The smaller plant, that at one time I had nursed back from a twig, was done in by the Spring rain and a second attempt at transplanting.  The symbolism is not lost on me, especially after a long week 2 on the project.

Building a house is a god awful, miserable, experience.

I don’t even respond anymore when I tell people I’m building a house and they say “How cool”, “I’m envious”, “Sounds like fun.”  Or the best one, “You must be excited.”  Define excited.  Is it exciting to consistently wake up at 3:57 a.m. unable to go to sleep worrying about some aspect of the new house falling apart, while my left eye twitches uncontrollably?  Is it exciting to watch your budget swing wildly in amounts equal to new Land Rovers?  I certainly don’t get excited as I measure out the house for insulation and come up with a different number fourteen times in a row.  Not exciting.  I don’t get excited.  I drive up to the Quickcheck, buy a twelve pack of Budweiser and contemplate if I can make it to Wyoming before anyone misses me.

Building a house is about the least enjoyable experience I can think of short of any real tragedy such as death, famine or being kidnapped by Ecuadorian Rebels.

I have not gotten back the soil report, but from what I hear we’re supporting 1,500 lbs. psf which is what we thought all along.  I’m going to beef up the crushed stone footers to 12″ x 24″ and we’ll lay down stabilization fabric.  Also we’re going to install a sump pump, just in case the blue clay is more aggressive than it looks.  We’re still on schedule for foundation installation next week.  My happy foundation walls are drying somewhere up the road in the New York heat I suspect.  I talked and emailed quite a few people and I’m sticking with the original plan regarding the foundation with the adjustments noted above.  I think I’m doing my due diligence and I guess only time will tell.

When I said I had everyone looking at our foundation, I meant everyone. Daphne examines the basement plan and can't make heads or tails of it. She spends the next two minutes licking her butt on the print and saunters off. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm an idiot.

 I did not go out to the site yesterday or today.  Spent most of my time on email, phone calls and pouring over books regarding the soil and foundation.  I did attempt to measure for the XPS & ISO rigid insulation that will go under the slab and the exterior walls.  I think I’ve got a good square foot estimate.  We’ll have to order that soon.  Also, since we’ve got a free Saturday we’re going to start looking at plumbing fixtures and flooring.  Which is good because it’ll get my mind off of all the “exciting” parts of the project (add to that bank, appraisals, disgruntled neighbors, etc. etc.) 

So not every day is rosy when designing and building a house.  The bloom is definitely off the rose for this project.  But roses bloom again.  So I’m sure once we get framing, picking out wall sconces and debating the pros and cons of this stone versus that stone our rose will bloom again.

Though with my track record for helping rose bushes, maybe I need to be more hands off.

Blue Clay Blues

My house will fall apart but I’ll have the nicest pond and natural swimming pool in Ohio.  You know that picture I showed you yesterday?  The one with the cool top soil and the cool greyish blue streak of soil at the bottom of the hole?  Well I got a call from my excavator and apparently we’ve got “blue clay” where we’re digging the foundation.  Blue clay is awesome for horseshoe pits and lining ponds (water won’t penetrate it), but horrible for building a house on (it can barely support my weight after an all night chicken wing bender I suspect).  It actually is worth something in those regards, so the wife wasn’t too far off when she jokingly asked if we hit oil or gold when I told her the excavator hit something while digging. 

Alas, suffice to say I’m not rushing out to paint “Blue Clay for sale” on a cardboard sign.  I’m a little bit preoccupied with building a home for my family.

This is what "blue clay" (the clump in the middle) looks like compared to regular clay (the brown stuff all around). It really is blue.

 Regular clay that we have here in Ohio can support on the order of 3,000 pounds per square foot (psf).  And of course my wimpy blue clay can hold about 800 lbs psf.  So my gravel footers that I was going to use for my fabricated foundation walls will most likely be but a distant memory by time we get done.  For now we have to do a soil test / report and then we’ll work with the foundation company and possibly a structural engineer to determine a proper footer.  I suspect, and remember I’m a total lay person in this regard, but I suspect we’ll end up with concrete footings on the order of 5′ wide.  Which of course is an unplanned purchase.  But what can I do?  Not much but manage the situation and try to stay positive.  I can’t fret over that which I have no control.

In the 90 degree heat the wife wanted to join me and bring the boys out to the land when I met the excavator.  We got to see the hole and clay situation first hand.  We saw how you could push a metal rod only about 2 inches into the regular clay and about 8 inches into the blue clay. 

Picture of the hole today.  You can see the blue clay at the bottom corner.  The orange lines are where the footers will go.  The ledged walls will soon be excavated out at an angle for safety and stability.

We also learned that for safety sake the excavator has to dig out our foundation hole at a 45 degree angle to avoid cave ins and to keep things stable.  Another unplanned expense.

My quick drawing of our foundation hole cross section. Normally you can just dig straight up with a shelf ledge halfway up. In our case we'll dig at a 45 to prevent cave in.

 We’ll find out more tomorrow to see what the effect is on schedule.  At this point I have to assume the foundation will be delayed.  They were supposed to start building it tomorrow, but we’ll see how long that delay will be.  I actually, knock on wood, don’t think it’ll be that long of a delay.

As always leave it to a toddler to keep life in perspective.  In the midst of a bummer of a day my wife relayed a story that made me chuckle.  She asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween.

“Do you want to be a fireman?”

“No.”

“Do you want to be a dragon?”

“No.”

“Do you want to be a tomato plant?”

“Sure.”

I think I laughed hard enough I cried.

So as long as little kids around the world want to be tomato plants, or god knows what else, for Halloween, I’m pretty sure us adults can survive life’s little setbacks and roadblocks. 

In the grand scheme of things it’s only blue clay.  We’ll figure it out.  If not, I’ll be the guy just around the bend on the roadside with the “Blue Clay For Sale” cardboard sign…..right next to the kid dressed up as a tomato plant.

Blue Clay For Sale

We’ve Got A Hole

Well, we sort of have a hole.  Or at least the beginning of a hole.  And it’s really deep.  Careful. 

A picture of our "hole". From this vantage point I'm standing in the laundry room or staircase and looking through the kitchen into the dining room and screen porch. Check out the cool layers of soil. "Pass me the ketchup," is only 8 months away.

We had a lot of rain the last 24 hours, but that didn’t stop the excavator from starting to dig the foundation hole.  Our building site is basically flat, but there is some change in elevation, enough that I think the best we’ll do at my studio door is 12″ from grade.  I may have mentioned we were shooting for the regulation minimum of 6″.  Turns out the opposite end of the house is pretty high and we do have to slope away from the house to keep water away, so we’ll be digging like crazy at one end and a little high on the other.  That’s okay, it happens.  And I can ramp up to my studio when the drive and landscaping go in.  I’ll survive. Our land used to part of an old century farm so it’s kind of neat to see old fence rows grown up (the east preservation area).  There are a lot of interesting plants too, and not all are native as their seeds blew in over the years from surrounding communities and gardens.  I think I tagged at least three blossoming trees that really aren’t from Ohio.  I didn’t look too closely at the layers of soil but will do so tomorrow.  I think we can see some nice farm / pasture quality top soil in the striations revealed in the foundation dig.  Maybe I’m making that up but it sounds good to me. 

In case you were wondering, yes, an excavator will fit in my studio based on what I saw today.

 I adjusted my ProjectCam now that I know where the house is.  It’s taken 200 photos so far (of about 2,600 per SD card) and about 73% battery life left.

As the sun set over the job site I could hear a deer snorting at me from the other side of the west preservation area.  I like to think she (or he) isn’t too mad at me for disturbing the peace and taking some of her space for my family home.  I’ll propose a deal, I may have created a big hole now but this time next year, maybe a bag of clover seed will accidentally fall out of the back of the jeep and a certain deer will have a little patch of clover all to herself.  Maybe then we can be friends again.