Four trucks, one excavator, six men and my camera

  • By Blog Owner
  • 17 Sep, 2016

The excavation and process to properly seal and level our foundation

I'm going to start out with a huge- 'what a nightmare this was!' That's as honest as I can be about foundation issues. Ugh! Anyways, just wanted to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts, appreciation and even some design input. ;D If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog.   If you are up to speed, this is what we just finished around the good ol' St J home. 
The house was lifted by Paul & Stan to address some foundation issues, fix our drainage system and to level things out. The house was lifted under the current mudroom and portion of the kitchen to remove the cinder blocks that had shifted from many years of frost penetrating the foundation. We had an excavator dig up the area where water collected the most, the guys REALLY didn't want to dig the hole themselves. They also dug out and replaced the pipe that ran to our septic tank and even relocated my lilac tree. Fingers crossed for its fast recovery!
At the bottom of the deep(approximately five feet) hole, we found all that remained of our old drainage pipe. We actually didn't think there was any drainage pipe for most of the excavation because the pipe had been so badly deteriorated. It was only when Andy, the excavator operator, dropped a chunk of old 'pipe' and hollered out to let all of us know. It felt a little bit like old, layered tar paper. It had no chance to withstand mother nature. We used updated materials to replace the drainage system which should last at least a lifetime. 
Once all of the digging was completed by the excavator, Paul and Stan were able to do the rest of the work they needed so they could continue building the rest of the house. They first completed a drainage system that would prevent the previous issues the home had with lack of drainage. After that, they painted the foundation wall with a water barrier. When the water barrier dried, it felt a lot like a swimming pool liner, so hopefully it will do its job. Finally, they laid down a foam board barrier that frost can't penetrate to avoid any more "shoving" of the foundation.  With each step they completed, they pushed what the excavator had dug up, back in the hole with the Kubota tractor. That thing has proven really handy for this entire renovation process. 
While the excavator was at the property and we already had a huge mess, we decided to make sure that the septic tank didn't need pumped too. The lid was heavy, but Paul managed to get it open with a little assistance from the excavator. We found that the tank actually looked pretty good despite being, well, a septic tank. I'm fairly certain this is the first time during this whole construction project(so far that is) that we didn't have to do more work than we were anticipating- we were fairly certain we were going to have to pump the tank. YAY for not being full of poop! :D I just can't get over this image below of all the guys standing around talking about 'crap' though! It gives me a good belly giggle!
With the foundation now taken care of, we can continue building the rest of the house. The guys will put the rest of the posts and beams in the kitchen and laundry room which will complete the bottom floor's structure. This process is a slow one, but every single time I go into my future home, I know with every cell in my body that this is worth it. This home is our future. Building a future doesn't happen over night, it takes hard work, dedication and desire to succeed. Paul and Stan are extremely tired- but they keep going. Their dedication to this renovation has been hard at times, it takes so much time away from our family. This is more than a full time job to them. They sometimes work seven days a week to ensure that we get the house to a good point before Vermont's harsh winter sneaks up on us. Sometimes I get frustrated with what feels like 'lack of help' from my husband, but I know how hard he is working along side his dad. I couldn't be prouder of how hard he is working to provide for our family. His 'lack of help' means we are getting a secure floor, a sound foundation and even a roof over our heads. It is amazing to me to see how much Paul takes after Stan(minus Stan's patience! ;P) Stan worked extremely hard to build the home that he and Bobbie raised their kids in. It's almost magical that they are now doing the same thing for us. Here is to giving credit where credit is due! I just take the pictures and document this- these are the real heroes of the operation. Thank you to Paul and Stan for all you do, I appreciate every single bit of it. I am so lucky to have you guys in my life.
To check out all of the images from the excavation process, including before and after images, click here and scroll to the excavation slideshow. The bottom floor's structure is almost complete. Once done, the guys can start laying the flooring on the second floor and start removing the roof to make room for the addition on the second floor. It really is starting to come together even though we still have so much work to do. Continued support and shares are appreciated. To me, this project is worth documenting to share. Be sure to like my Facebook page for continued progress on the home, as well as to support my small business which I hope to grow here in St J.

Trace Elements Photography Blog

By Blog Owner 11 Jul, 2017
Ooh boy! What a crunch we have been on to get everything done in this house the past couple months! I know its been a while since I have updated, the guys both took the Winter off and our project hit a stand still... at least for a little bit. Things have been moving really quickly as of lately, a lot of the remaining work has been completed by contractors. With my persistence, they have remained (ALMOST completely) on schedule. 
By Blog Owner 02 Nov, 2016
Going through the archives of this kick@$$ couples special day, I couldn't help but crack a beer. NOT because it was stressful or anything along those lines, but because going through these wonderful memories makes me wish I was closer to crack a brewski with these awesome people for their second anniversary. Paul & Kate's special day took place on November 1st, 2014. TWO YEARS already! I still remember the details of their day like it was yesterday. Paul & Kate, this ones for you. 
By Blog Owner 25 Oct, 2016
To start- I want to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts and appreciation. If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog . If you are up to speed, I owe you an explanation of the plan with the home, probably should have given one earlier! Above, you can see we have extended the second floor out to match the first floor. This turned our bedroom into a 'Master' bedroom. We are also adding two bathrooms(on the right.) One will be for the kids, the other will be a master bathroom (!!!!!!!!! :D) 
By Blog Owner 04 Oct, 2016
Originally, this tree was destined to just rot away. It really didn't serve a good purpose, its defect made it a terrible option for lumber because it would just crack and split. I had no idea Stan & Paul even cut this beauty down, but I understand their reasoning for doing so; this tree should not reproduce as it could pass on its unhealthy genetics. Makes sense. Stan explained this tree perfectly, "It is a result of genetic variation. The grain grew in a spiral or helix pattern rather than straight. It also has brashness or cracking instead of being totally solid. The ridges are its attempt to heal itself from the cracking. When we initially saw this tree I recommended just cutting it and leaving it to rot, since it wouldn't be good for traditional lumber. But then ‪Paul remembered it when we were looking for a large post for the stairs. After peeling some of the bark, we discovered more of the beauty. I am tempted to draw a parallel with human variations such as skin color or sexual orientation. Often our initial reaction is to shun whereas it is wiser to celebrate the beauty."
By Blog Owner 27 Sep, 2016
Though these were both taken with my iPhone, they give you a pretty good idea of how the bottom floor will look when completed. These are called panoramic shots and they conveniently combine multiple images to create one larger scene. These images do our home's beauty a little more justice than multiple angles could. 
By Blog Owner 17 Sep, 2016
I'm going to start out with a huge- 'what a nightmare this was!' That's as honest as I can be about foundation issues. Ugh! Anyways, just wanted to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts, appreciation and even some design input. ;D If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog.   If you are up to speed, this is what we just finished around the good ol' St J home. 
By Blog Owner 07 Sep, 2016
Our wood burning pile is(hopefully) as large as it is going to get. The entire house has been stripped in preparation for the renovation. The walls inside revealed that some of our home was most likely built with recycled, burned wood. The burned wood holds a story that I would love to hear, but my intentions are to keep the burned wood in our walls. We are going to salvage as much of it as possible and use it on either our bathroom wall or entry way. As much as possible, I'm going to keep the character in this home. 
By Blog Owner 29 Aug, 2016
When we first moved in, we had to remove the old window in the upstairs bedroom to get our beds in the house because the stairway was far to narrow. We updated all of our windows last fall with more energy efficient windows. This proved to be a problem when we went to remove the beds for the renovation because the windows were slightly smaller. This forced our first cuts on the house to be removed from the stairway. When they removed the first chunk of wall from the stairway, the excitement began to kick in. I could visualize the open floor plan I had been imagining since we decided to start this project. The overwhelming sensation of this being only the first step to a massive project kicked in shortly there after. 
By Blog Owner 23 Aug, 2016
There was so much being removed from this house that we decided to get a dumpster. Our house has lath and plaster walls- they are extremely heavy and are weighing on the structure of the home. When we first moved into the home, we had no intentions of a complete renovation. Curiousity got the better of us though while we were trying to guess what might be under the terrible white ceiling tiles. Was there going to be big long beautiful posts and beams? or maybe we would be able to see the flooring for the upstairs bedroom? What was up there we wondered... Well, we decided to go ahead and rip it down to find out. It was nothing nice. There was more lath and plaster under the tiles. This too, had to go. It was a nightmare to remove- its extremely heavy, dusty and just happened to have absorbed a massive amount of rodent urine over the past 100 years or so. As we removed the lath and plaster, we were bombarded by rodent nests filled with disgusting fecal matter falling from the ceiling. Many trash cans full of this waste later, we finally exposed what was hiding under there- rodent chewed, ugly floor joists. That is when I decided that one day, we would remove all of the lath boards, plaster and most importantly to me- all of the rodent contamination.  
By Blog Owner 09 Aug, 2016
We decided to go with Hemlock trees for the posts and beams in the home. The amount of work invested in just one post or beam can be overwhelming, but Paul and Stan came through and pulled it off. Finding straight, healthy trees was the easy part, the property has plenty to offer. Proper planning is vital. Knowing what sizes and how many trees needed avoids unnecessary work. All together, our home needed fourteen posts and ten beams. To achieve this goal, they cut down about six trees. Once cut down and cleaned up, the trees were dragged down to the lumber mill by the Kubota tractor.
More Posts
Share by: