Trench Warfare, Part 1

May 27th, 2007 § Comments Off on Trench Warfare, Part 1 § permalink

On the weekend before the Victoria Day long weekend Dad and I put in perhaps one of the longest days ever on the Woody Housing Project.

Before lunch we completed the trench on the driveway side of the house. Although you can’t see it, the drainage tile runs from the sidewalk to just this side of the back steps (that you can see near the middle of the top picture).

We also installed a window well. The only well we could find that was wide enough for the window was also about twice as tall as we needed. Our solution lay in a power tool… I got to put the Sawzall I got for Christmas to good use. We ended up cutting the well in half and notching out for some of the foundation stones.


In the above picture you can see how the ground now slopes away from the foundation (about 8 inches over 3 feet) as opposed sloping towards the foundation like it was before. You can also see my Dad in the background surveying the results of our work.

to be continued…

Shedding More Tax Fat

May 10th, 2007 § Comments Off on Shedding More Tax Fat § permalink

The trenching continues. More pictures for your perusal…

This is the side of the house where we have the most water infiltration and so the foundation needs a little tlc. Dad dug most of this section. We’re making it wider than it needs to be so we can install a window well and also so we can expose some of the foundation and re-point the joints. As I was digging along the foundation I kept finding roots as big around as my thumb. There were many of them and they ran horizontally along the foundation wall and showed no signs of stopping. They are the roots for the vines that climb the wall just around the corner in the above picture. The roots were easily 20′ away from where the vines are. It makes you wonder just how far through the yard they have spread.

Here’s a closer look at the mortar (or lack of mortar) joint that was previously just below ground level. I scraped all the dirt out of the joints until I hit mortar. It was fairly deep in some places. Take for instance that particularly big gap near the right of the picture. I could lose my screwdriver in there if I wanted. I’m letting the joint dry out and then Dad is going to patch it first thing tomorrow morning.


The back of the house is also a particularly leaky area in the basement. When I tore down the summer kitchen I left the floor decking in place as a kind of makeshift deck. I didn’t really care for it because it was ugly and ragged so I tore it down on May 1st (Accountant’s Day). This allowed me to see what was underneath and to properly drain and slope this part of the foundation. There was a pile of insulation and other “debris” that was many many years old. The tear-down of the deck happened to coincide with the yard waste collection day so I packed as much of the old sawdust/cotton insulation as I could into paper yard waste bags and then watched the next morning as the garbage man struggled to lift the bags into the truck.

The decking was cut into 3′ lengths and trucked to the dump in my little putt-putt. 1,000 lbs in all. Must give recognition to Brad for helping me clean up this gross and disgusting mess.

Here’s a totally unrelated picture. While I’m knee deep in dirt and gravel, the miracle of spring is happening all around me, even right here in my very yard… my plum trees are blossoming:

Losing My Tax Fat

May 10th, 2007 § Comments Off on Losing My Tax Fat § permalink

Every winter I pudge-up, pack on the pounds, and generally get soft. It’s because I sit at my desk for 10 hours a day for 3 months with little or no physical activity. Another side effect of tax season is that I don’t have any time to do home improvements, and that bothers me. Every day I walk past a half finished project, or a yet to be started project and it just eats at me.

When the calendar turns over to May, I go wild! I have 3 months worth of pent-up home improvement energy that needs to be released. The first spring that I had the house I tore down the summer kitchen and gutted the upstairs bathroom. The second spring I gutted the upstairs hall and insulated half the house.

This spring I’m digging a moat around the house. I was getting tired of having water in my basement every spring when the snow melts and every time it rains.

Phase I of the plan was to repair the eaves trough on the back porch. It has never worked properly and every time it rains the water pools against an inner corner of the house. I got 2 pieces of drip edge and inserted them under the shingles. Now the torrent coming down the valley of the roof will be drained out to the middle of the yard instead of directly into the basement. Phase I took an afternoon and gave me hands covered in tar.

Phase II is more involved and requires a lot of manual labour. Phase II is the digging of a moat around the entire house, lining the trench with landscape fabric, weeping tile, gravel, and then sloping the ground away from the house.

The weather has been unusually nice lately (2 weeks of sun) so I’ve been anxious to take advantage of any time I have lest the nice weather runs out. The first evening, Dad and I dug half of the trench around the driveway side of the house and installed all of the drainage plan.

Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

This first picture is the trench below one of the roof valleys. The picture was taken after the tile, after the gravel, before the fabric was folded over and before the topsoil and sod was replaced.Here is a shot from the street showing how I’m draining this stretch of my moat. I’m running the pipe to daylight at the sidewalk.
I’m very pleased with the progress made in an evening after work.

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