Dig Baby Dig

So the big decisions are made. For now anyway. While we wait for the final plans, and the permits, we focus on decorating the existing , making selections, and second guessing ourselves.

I’m having trouble grasping the scale of the addition, so Dave decides to draw it out for me.

Dave likes to draw outside too!


Okay, that helps. I can imagine my new sectional and I’m confident it will be visible from the new kitchen. I also like the way it sits on the lot.




Well except for the tree. Sorry tree lovers, the tree has to go. I know, it hurts, but it did ruin the $58,000 cedar roof (see Let There Be Light. And Cable).

As helpful as Dave’s red “chalk line” of the addition is to me, it is of no use to our excavator. He needs a professional surveyor to stake lines, usually 10 feet off the the actual foundation, and utilities need to be staked to avoid cutting the lines.





I can’t do much about the tree, but maybe I can save the hydrangeas. Do you remember the gorgeous hydrangeas that wrapped around the house? They are in the line of fire.

We had this plan to dig up the hydrangeas  before excavating began and transplant them somewhere out of harms way. Our plan failed. These are very mature hydrangeas with very long and entangled root systems. Plus, in the Spring, while we were waiting for permits, the hydrangeas filled in making it impossible to tell where one ended and the next began. About one hour into the process one bush had been rescued and our backs were killing us. Time for plan B.


When you’ve been working with the same excavator for 20 years, you can ask him for special favors.

I hear hydrangeas are hearty plants



Excavated hydrangeas were placed next to existing hydrangeas out of harms’s way

( sort of )

 But this is an old house, so that was just the beginning of our excavation adventures. As top soil was being stripped and salvaged for future use, we came upon a buried lid.

Which can mean only one thing; a buried cistern.


_DSC4236 A cistern is an ancient way of collecting storm water from downspouts and foundation drain lines. They were common in homes built in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Typically the water collected would be used for irrigation and washing clothes read more about cisterns  . Ours was a beautiful 10′ diameter by 9′ deep display of brick masonry craftsmanship. It was bell shaped and it sat right in the middle of our proposed basement. It too had to go.

Tony drains as much water as possible

_DSC4262.jpg I’m adding this to my “I didn’t see that One Coming Budget busting List.”

Luckily, we had hard red clay to put our new foundations on so on to the concrete forming.

Basements in old houses are gross. The ceilings are low, they are dark, and often they get water. It’s a top reason people don’t buy old houses in the Midwest (think kids and cabin fever). _DSC4252The basement on this addition will not be gross. For one thing, we are digging deeper to allow for 9 feet of headroom. However, if we dig a lower foundation without underpinning (supporting) the existing footing, the existing walls could collapse. So the first thing that gets pored is a underpin concrete footing and wall to support the existing.








Next, we have to tie the old clay tile footing drain tile to the new perforated plastic drain tile with a filter sock, pictured here. I know, that doses’t look like tile, it looks like a tube. but that’s because it replaced drain tile back in the day. _DSC6007This will direct all foundation drainage to a new sump pit to be pumped away from the house. I know, it’s not sexy. But if you want a dry basement, it’s critical that this is done correctly.





Once the threat of collapse is taken care of and the drain tile connections are made, it’s business as usual._DSC4304_DSC4321

Footings are formed and pored, walls are formed and poured, Rub-R-Wall foundation water proofing is applied and it’s time to let the foundation cure for 7 days before back filling. This allows the concrete to reach 75% of it’s strength and will prevent wall collapse during back fill.


Summary for those of us who need visual aid

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