Friday, January 21, 2022

Front Porch Part 1

You might assume, if you read this blog regularly, that we have just one project going on at the moment. Well not exactly. We also have/had a brick patio in front of the house which we need to see the back off (and the underneath, etc. etc.). I actually chipped off about six feet of the patio about a year ago, so that we could install our new fence and gates.

Breaking ground, November 2020


Phase #1 complete, January 2021

The reason for returning to this demolition project right now (in DIY time) is that I wanted to throw the broken-up bricks and concrete into the dumpster with all the dirt from the basement. It turns out that this was overly optimistic: we'd have been lucky to get rid of much rubble if we'd ordered two dumpsters. That being said, we wanted the patio to do one, and we had the man and machine on hand.

I found out last time that the patio is just too thick to breakout in one layer. I've got much more jackhammer experience at this point, so I can work more efficiently, but I still had to start by peeling off the top layer of brickwork first.


It quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to have enough buckets to cope with the debris...


I carried on peeling back the brick and tossing the larger chunks onto a tarp next to the patio.


This seemed like a good time to let the jackhammer cool down while I removed one of the porch railings. 


A few waves of the screaming cutting wheel of death, and there it is....gone! 


Back to jackhammering! By now I have got rid of all of the brick layer and have made a decent start on the concrete slab. If you're wondering why I'm working along the outer edge first, it is because that side of the slab is thinner and therefore easier to break up.


This work was not all done in the same day or even the same week, so at the end of each session I had a cleanup and took a photo.


By this point we had accumulated a second (and growing) slag heap in our front yard. Oh well...one more section we won't have to maintain for a while.


Eventually the second railing and the adjacent bush will also be removed...

Fast forward to another sunny evening in December, and I had a bit of time after work to slam on the patio. The session concluded with two small chunks of concrete left to deal with, both of which move...


...and a strip between the entrance walkway and the porch, which I am leaving until last:


The railing in front of the entry door is still clinging on at this point, but the lavender bush has been pulled out like a rotten tooth and the root stamped on.


Next time around I had a full day to work on the patio, and after a slow start I powered through and broke out the remaining concrete:


After cleanup, I cut out the second railing and moved onto the brick steps...


Next target: the brick ribbon at the perimeter of the concrete porch


The last bit would have been the concrete foundation below the brick steps, but it was getting late by this point, so I decided to leave this bit until next time.


After cleaning up all the bits of broken brick and concrete I leveled out the dirt in front of the porch and spread pea gravel over this area - we need something to walk on for the next few weeks, and I happened to have some gravel left over from the other project I have going on.


This is looking towards the gates from in front of the entrance. I put gravel down in the area between what is left of the steps and the entrance walkway.


By now we have a huge slag heap to deal with. There is probably enough material here to fill a 10-yard dumpster without the other massive slag heap next to the driveway...


Future target: 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Basement Expansion Part 18

If you read my last post, you'll be well aware that my blog is running about six weeks behind, mainly because I fell way off schedule when I was making videos of the basement project. The work in this post was done in the two weeks after Thanksgiving. My business is traditionally slower at this time of year which gives me extra time to (literally) chip away at ongoing projects.

You might think, after the last few posts, that we are done with digging out dirt....well not exactly. The perimeter is complete though, so I began on this occasion by installing rebar at the last section of the perimeter foundation.

Once that was done, I built forms for (hopefully) the last time, and sealed them with expandable foam. 

Amy Sheep was not around to help mix concrete, so I had to move on to the next thing....which meant more blinkin' digging!  Obviously we have a sump pump, but under the wettest conditions, which we do get occasionally, water needs to be rapidly directed to the sump pit. In other words, time to dig some drainage channels. The main channel runs inside the perimeter foundation at the long side (27 feet) so I started there. Ultimately I am aiming for a slope of ¼ inch per foot towards the sump pump, but to start with I am just establishing a straight channel.

A second channel runs from the area in front of the concrete stairs, and meets the primary channel at its mid-point. The two junctions are 45 degrees, so I took some measurements and made marks with spray paint before I broke ground. 

The third channel runs along the wall which divides the basement from the garage and runs directly to the sump pit.


After much jackhammering, spading, and wheelbarrowing, all without any assistance from Amy Sheep, the channels were declared complete. 



The timber box that I installed in the original sump pit absolutely forever ago is now visible. I may need to alter the depth of the box once the drain pipes are installed. 


By the time all this was done, a considerable number of days had elapsed, and Amy Sheep was once more available to help mix concrete. It's hard to tell in the next photo, but this is after the concrete has been poured. If you look very carefully you can see water seeping though the pores in the plywood forms.


The photo below was taken a few days later after the concrete has partially cured and the forms have been removed. And just like that, the concrete perimeter is complete!


Keep your browser pointed in this direction to see where the basement expands to next...

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Basement Expansion Part 17

It's thanksgiving and, like folks all over the good ol' US of A, we're roasting the turkey, preparing the stuffing and baking a massive apple pie. Actually, we're doing nothing of the sort. Thanksgiving in this  neck of the woods is an excuse for prolonged DIY activities. I mean, what else are we going to do with four days of vacation time? Over the years I've moved house on the fourth Thursday of November, I've built a retaining wall and I've installed skylight. Not at the same time mind you...

So, down to the basement, and this is the somewhat muddled scene looking towards the unfinished section of the perimeter, very early on the Thursday morning:


And this is the even more cluttered and dim view looking in the opposite direction. The level of the dirt in this area needs to be lowered by between six and twelve inches before we can install the concrete floor.


This is the much more orderly scene in the driveway at the same time:


After clearing all the construction detritus out of the way, I got started in the far corner with a combination of the jackhammer and the shovel. Amy Sheep worked the wheelbarrow.


This is after a couple of hours of serious sweat-inducing effort. Then we moved on to the floor.


By the end of Thursday we had done a first pass over most of the floor - the island where we have been parking the wheelbarrows remained for another 24 hours.


By the end of so-called Black Friday, we had completed the second and final pass across the floor and everything was leveled out and (almost) ready for concrete.



We still had a little bit of space left in the dumpster, so I modified the ramp and I had Amy Sheep spend her Saturday morning topping it off with dirt from the front yard.


All filled-up and ready to go....

And we made a sizeable dent in the slag heap that we used to call a front yard....

Tune in next time to see us spend Christmas day swapping out our water heater!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Basement Expansion Part 16

The last post ended with a little bit of false advertising, something I learned from Amy Sheep. Instead of addressing the Great Dumpster Conundrum this post is a round up of what we've been doing in between digging and pouring sections of the floor. 

I few weeks ago (in blog time!) I built a storage platform which by now has been fitted with an old piece of carpet and partially filled up.

I have also constructed my rack for storing large pieces of lumber above the platform.

And the shelves at the front of the basement have been mostly refilled:

Which brings us to the area just beyond the storage platform/timber rack. Clearly this area needs some attention:


I want build another storage platform in this area, but, because of the slope, it will have to be several inches higher than the original platform. I used the laser level to figure out exactly how much higher - I don't want to remove any dirt below the existing foundation. 


After scraping away some more dirt (and dumping it in the over-full front yard), I was able to install a timber form and pour a level strip of concrete against the foundation which is about six inches wide.


While the concrete was curing I installed more timber bracing between the cinder block wall and the floor joists. I am hoping this will stabilize the wall over the next several years because I do not want to have to rebuild it


When that was done, I set up the laser level and tuned it to the top edge of the concrete strip. The line that is cast onto the braces enables me to easily install a timber rail which is level with the concrete.


Eventually timber slats, maybe a carpet, and definitely a pile of junk will be installed instead of the spirit level.


Stay tuned for the Great Dumpster Conundrum - yes, we really mean it this time!