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The House Building Blog — Basement Excavation

Friday, July 14, 2006

Digging the Basement

Construction has finally begun!

This morning we were at the property at 9 am to find an excavator and its operator, Jamie, all ready to start the destruction. It was amazing how quickly the land was transformed. With a few deft swipes of the bucket, the property where we have been planning, picnicking, designing and dreaming was forever changed. Our sons were in awe, they had watched excavators before but they were probably shocked that one was tearing apart their little playground.

basement excavation

The First Bucketful

Our oldest boy's big thrill came when Jamie asked him if he wanted to go for a ride in the excavator and then for ten ecstatic minutes, he sat with Jamie and hung on to the controls as Jamie operated the machine. Jamie let him push a button or two and move the levers a bit as they dug, scraped and even picked up a big rock with the bucket and thumb. He was in kid heaven.

Luckily we did not hit bedrock, only a small seep of water. Once we hit the seep we decided to stop digging and leave the basement floor at its current elevation despite the fact that we were a couple of feet above our planned elevation.

When we wrapped up the day, the basement was pretty much finished with the stakes in marking where the insulated concrete forms would go for the foundation. But after Jamie had left, my husband Alan and I had some time to look at the elevations and we decided we wanted to go down a few more feet as originally planned since the main floor will be too high off grade if we don't.

Monday, the machine will finish the basement and then build the road.

dig basement

End of Day - Excavator Sitting on Front-Yard-To-Be

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Rough Road and Three More Feet

Over the weekend we did a little more surveying to convince ourselves we really did want to stick with the original elevation and dig down three more feet despite the water we had hit.

Monday morning we were back at the site minutes after 8 a.m. and Jamie already had the excavator running ready to start building a rudimentary road - just good enough for the trades to access the site. Our oldest son quickly took up his position as a flagger person, taking the job very four-year-old seriously. After about fifteen minutes, he said with a bit of disappointment, "Mom, there's not much traffic on this road." (There's only one house above us.)

Flagger Boy Reports to Work 8 a.m. - Start of Road Construction

site access

A Rough Road

The little forest path, that we had walked to access our property over the last three years, was a wide swath of dirt within the hour.

After finishing the road, Jamie moved his machine back down to the basement and spent the afternoon digging down another three feet. Luckily no bedrock and no gushes of water.

Tomorrow the footings were to be poured but we will first have to consider improving our original drainage design before we pour.

excavator digging

Three More Feet

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