Can Ya Dig It?

Who knew digging a hole would be so involved?

The task seems simple. Dig a hole. Fill it with concrete. Done.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but it is more difficult than that. I have calculated that with the type of dirt I have under my house (mud), I need 36 sq ft of pressure area to support my wall. Divided over 4 columns, that’s 9 sq ft per column, which is a very convenient yard-by-yard hole I need to dig. The frost line here in Atlanta is 6 inches, so I’m digging 18ish.

But to prepare the hole to accept a ton of concrete (literally), I need to do a couple things. First, I need to rough out the hole. Then I need to create a wooden square form that goes on top of the hole to shape and contain the concrete, then finalize the hole. Then, I flatten the bottom and tamp it down. Then I throw rocks and sand in the hole, place in some steel reinforcement mesh, a couple rebars, and hang mounting hardware. Then I can fill it with concrete, which is another beast entirely.

Last night I roughed out one hole, and tonight I’ll probably rough out another. It only took about 2 hours to remove about a half a cubic yard of dirt, which isn’t that bad. However, it’s certainly not the most exciting job I’ve ever done.

Floor has arrived, fellas!

I ordered the floor on Tuesday and Lowe’s said it would be in on the 25th. I got a call yesterday that it was in. It’s not often that an order comes in two weeks ahead of schedule–especially on a 2 and a half week lead time. I know that Dalton isn’t that far from North Atlanta, but still…

Blazer full of wood.

For those that are wondering: Yes, this is the Blazer’s first pallet. It was a very proud moment (If I have to explain why, an explanation is not going to help). A special thanks to the Lowe’s employees who piloted the forklift and dropped the pallet in my car without a scratch!

So whowuddathunk it would only take 10 minutes to put the flooring in!

Flooring In Da House!

Ok, so it’s not exactly installed… Details, details. I couldn’t start on it anyway, because the instructions explicitly state that the new hardwood flooring should sit in the house and acclimate for at least 72 hours before you go nailing it down. I am not anticipating that will be a problem.

Changes? We don’t need no stinking changes!

Apparently, if I order all of the cabinet equipment and plan on installing it myself, Lowe’s doesn’t care much if I screwed up dimensioning the room. However, if they’re going to install it, they need someone to come out to my house and verify my dimensions.

Here’s how the process is supposed to work: I give Lowe’s my sketch and we spend 5 hours designing the new kitchen. Then the installer comes out and re-measures my kitchen, and we spend about an hour going over the “new” dimensions, hypothesizing work-arounds, discussing installation quirks, gaps, mis-fists, part re-ordering and modifications. Then, the installers give the information back to Lowe’s, we adjust our order accordingly, and then sign for it.

He was supposed to arrive at 11:00 this morning and be here ‘till noon. He was late, and I had to wait until 11:08 for him to get around to showing up. He got his tape measure out, measured out the space for each new cabinet, scribbled all over his sketch, and finally said, “OK, I’m not used to this. Your measurements are spot on. First time this year.” He said he would turn his drawing back into Lowe’s and that he would call when the cabinets came in. He was out by 11:15.

So is there anything really mystical and magical about a tape measure? I wouldn’t think that crappy measurements were that much of a plague, but apparently I would be surprised. The only thing that confuses me about a tape measure is how one can own five of them and not know where to find one when they need it.

An Unstable Foundation

With my wife in Africa, it is time for me to address an inadequacy that has been plaguing us for years: much of our life is not built on a strong foundation… Literally.

Sarah and I bought our house right after we got married and we were told that our house had foundation problems in the past. I looked under the house and saw that the beam supporting the main load-bearing partition in our house was too weak. However, a replacement beam was installed that was the right size and was supported correctly. Everything was good, we were assured that all of the foundation issues have been addressed, and we bought the house. Yay Us!

Except the new beam was installed in the wrong location. Whoopsies.

So the main wall in our house—you know, the one that supports the kitchen cabinets and all of the living room electronics, as well as 1/3 of the weight of the roof—is sinking into the ground. These things happen, so I called a couple contractors to see how much they needed to fix the problem. It shouldn’t be that difficult. I got back a few quotes.

$15,000. Fifteen. Thousand. Dollars. For a beam.

Jeezus! It turns out that there’s a lot of work to be done, including a lot of engineering, and adding the word “Foundation” to any construction project automatically increases the cost 5 times. Luckily, I know a Mechanical Engineer with a couple of years experience in structures that works for cheap. I analyzed the old beam and verified that it is crap, designed a new beam and verified that it is awesome, and then made the biggest mistake since my wedding: I told my wife I could save us $13,000.

She must have heard “I will save us a ton of money on this beam, so we’ve got a ton of money to spend on something else… like a Kitchen!”

So yes, we are getting a new kitchen. At least I’m paying to have the new cabinets installed, but before that happens (which very well may be while I’m in Africa), the beam will have to be fixed, the floor will have to be leveled, the old crappy hardwood flooring will be ripped out, the old kitchen will be ripped out, and the new awesome hardwood will be installed. We also have a few design considerations left, like what countertop we are going to get.

So stop by often and check on our progress!