Debris removal

So something we should have known beforehand but didn’t really think about is what we were going to do with all the dirt from the trench.  There was so much!  And we also had all the chunks of concrete from the driveway. 

Given the sheer amount of debris and the limited number of people who will take it, we hired someone (and paid way more than I thought something like this would cost) to take it all away.

They brought a bobcat:

And here’s the finished product; we have some yard back!

Detour inside 

 The later part of December we didn’t do a ton of work on the house, we were kept busy with family and Christmas activities. We also had some uninvited guests in our house over Christmas.  We traveled to Wisconsin for the holiday and our dogs stayed at a boarding place so the house was empty and some rats decided to come stay. Coming home to the mess from rats was not fun and we didn’t want to have them again. This is our second (and hopefully last) rat infestation and so we decided to seal the house to help keep them out by installing some subfloor!

Now that we know the trench works (even though it’s not done yet) we moved back inside to put down subfloor in the living room and dining room so we don’t get more rats. This part of the job actually went really smoothly in the midst of all the trench complications.

Here are some pictures: oh, and we insulated all of the HVAC ducts as well, that’s the shiny pipe in the crawl space.

Filling in the trench

Now that we had rock we turned our attention to filling in the trench. We didn’t know how to build a French Drain before this but did some research and figured it out.  I should have pointed out before, but we got quotes for this too that started at about 5 thousand, so we decided to do it ourselves!

Here are the steps, once you have figured out where it needs to go:

1. Dig the trench – check 

2. Clean out the trench you dug after the walls start to cave in after storms 

3. Line with landscaping fabric.

4.  Place a base layer of rocks.

5. Place perforated pipe.  The pipe includes the pipe that lays down in the trench as well as some sections of perpendicular pipe that goes above the ground to allow you to clean out the pipe if it gets clogged. 

6. Place more rock over the top.

7. Fold over the landscape fabric to enclose the space.

8. Place a second layer of solid wall pipe that connects to downspouts.

9. Cover with rocks.

10. Decide how you want to over your drain and fix landscaping.

Now that we have rocks we got started on steps 2-5 and here’s some pictures: 

You can seen from the pictures that the rock is not as billed. It has pieces smaller than 1/4 inch and even some silt which may mean the pipes will need to be cleaned out more in the future.


Now that the trench is dug we ordered rock to fill it with, we got quotes from multiple places and decided to go with crushed concrete. For a French Drain you need 1/4 in or bigger rocks to make sure that the water can travel around the rocks to the perforated pipe. We gave them the dimensions of the trench and they recommended 17 yards of stone! 

Here’s the truck that delivered them (it was supposed to drop the rock in the alley driveway but the truck wouldn’t fit)

And here’s all the rocks: 

We had better pick up the pace before we get in trouble for having a pile of rocks on the street! 

The trencher! 

We have now gotten to the part of our renovation where Steve gets to play with big tools! 

To get proper drainage we needed to install a French drain. So what a French drain is a trench with a perforated pipe to collect the groundwater and transfer it down the trench. In our case the trench ended with a sump pump to pump the water away or into rain barrels. The trench is then filled in with rock to allow for water movement through that area.

So for us the first step was digging the trench; our trench needs to be 100 feet long, one foot wide and three feet deep so it is a big project! In order to accomplish all of this we rented a trencher (from Home Depot of course) and got to digging. Since it is a huge amount of work we had a lot of help! And Steve loved operating the heavy machinery. 

A new kind of crossfit 

So we have been working on the foundation for a while and have had a couple of big rainstorms. Because the foundation is all open we have a great view of the crawl space and it floods with any heavy rain. 

Because we didn’t want our new foundation to get damaged we decided to take a detour and put in a drainage system. We also figured out  that the flooding in the garage was because of our extra driveway. I don’t have great pictures but we have a two car garage with a standard driveway and then a third section of driveway to the side that goes next to the garage as well. Having the cement right next to the garage was funneling water into the garage with rain.

So our outside project begins with jack hammering up the third driveway. It was hard work! The jackhammer is heavy and we all had bruises by the end. Also, the French drain needed to go through where the cement was so my friend Charlotte and I were following behind the jackhammer and tossing chunks of concrete into a pile. It was basically cross fit. 

Here are some pictures: 

Our New Addition 

So, when your house is a tornado it’s the perfect time to add more chaos. So we decided to get a new dog. We thought it would make me feel better about things not going the way I had hoped and would give Savannah someone to play with and make her happier. We decided on a young dog, hopefully 1-2 years old so we would be past the hourly bathroom breaks (we both have full time jobs) but hopefully without too many bad habits.
Steve wanted another boxer or something similar, I wanted a dog from a rescue or shelter. There is no way we would pass a rescue home study with our construction zone, so started watching the shelters for a dog that met our criteria and we found him!
Here’s Tucker!

He is probably about a year old, maybe less, and he has tons of energy. We have a LOT of training ahead of us but at least the nice things in our house are safely packed away! No better time to train a puppy! Now,  back to reading the training books…

(He loves the car, always ready for an adventure!)

What we bought 

We are continuing to work on the foundation and troubleshooting along the way. (See previous post for details.) I am going to take a brief detour into the fun part of home renovation, namely putting new things in.

Here are our new floors, the light colored ones are the new ones.

And as you can see we bought a lot of them, enough to cover our whole 1700 square foot house.  We put a lot of thought into this plan and are really happy with what we picked out.  We wanted solid hardwood throughout but we also wanted to live in the house during the renovation so sanding and sealing after installation would be challenging. We discovered pre-stained solid hardwoods and it was the perfect combination.  They come pre-stained and sealed so no need to empty your house but otherwise have all the functionality of solid hardwoods.

We also decided we wanted light colored floors.  Dark floors are popular right now but we have a small house with great natural light so wanted to keep things light and bright so went with natural light floors.  I don’t like the yellow undertones of oak as much so we went with ash for a more true blond look. And as a bonus it’s a harder wood than oak so more durable!
We also bought new appliances, they are all the same line for Steve, GE Cafe.  And the fridge has both a hot and cold water dispenser in addition to the ice maker.  I am so excited for when we can use them! 

New Foundation

After we got the reassurance that the termites are gone we set about repairing the foundation.  We got some quotes to have it done professionally but the price was outrageous. After some research we decided to replace it ourselves (ourselves=Steve). 

Here are some pictures of the process:

Old and new joists together (in process)

So for a little explanation, the black cylinders in the last 4 pictures are called bottle jacks. Steve and his Dad first built a frame and then used the jacks to lift up the wall so they could replace the foundation. To be honest, it was terrifying (Savannah and I hid in the front yard) but they did a great job and got it all done!