Progress for October 2005


Click on any small picture to enlarge

On October 17, we broke ground (it happens to be the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that shook a lot of ground in the Bay Area). The machinery they used didn't look all that massive, but it is got the job done. There were 3 dump trucks that were hauling the dirt to some place in Talent, the next town to the north. Neighbors reported that a lot of loads were carried away.

By the end of the second day, they had moved a lot of dirt, but there was lots more to go. The cut on the uphill side shown in the first picture will be around 12 feet deep before the footings go in. The orange fence is protecting a walnut tree on our neighbor's property.

Here are pictures taken at the end of the third day. The cut is definitely getting deeper. You can see see more orange fence protecting a couple of trees on the back of the lot.

Day four was not without excitement. The soils engineer came out to the site to make sure that the cut in the hillside is safe from an OSHA standpoint. His conclusion: we cannot go deeper than 13 feet without somehow supporting the walls. Unfortunately, structural engineers don't like to engineer shoring. Their insurance companies don't like them doing it. The highway department might have tools to do this task, but there is not much available to the general contractor. When all was said and done, we decided to have the house sit 2 feet higher than previously planned. This means that the driveway will be steeper, and some of the landscape plan will require tweeking. I still haven't heard whether we have the soil engineer's blessing.

Day five was more digging. The soils engineer called for sloping the ground for all but the last 6 feet. He let the ground around the tree be a little more vertical. As you can see, the hole is getting pretty deep. They are also starting to pile some dirt on the back of the lot since they are going to need a lot to backfill the foundation.

We went off for the weekend and returned Monday afternoon. The soils report did state that they could cut into the slope where the light wells are going to be. I hope the OSHA inspector doesn't have apoplexy when he sees this slope on Friday. The hole has gotten deeper as they have excavated for the footings. I thought they were just going to dig a hole and fill it with concrete, but they scraped the whole line to the depth of the footings and the will form up the footings and pour them. The idea is to pour them on Thursday so they will already be there when the OSHA guy arrives on Friday. You'll notice that the site has acquired some conveniences, and the dirt pile in the back has become larger.

Well, the soils engineer was a bit surprised by the height of the cut. He had some suggestions. One was to cover the wall with fabric to protect it from rain and protect those below from falling things. They also formed up for the footing. It is wider than I had expected, and has lots of good sized rebar in it. The hope is to get it inspected and get it poured by Thursday. Once this wall is built and back-filled, life gets much easier.

Good news on the OSHA front. Robert got the soils engineer to agree that we didn't need to shore up the wall if we poured it in 4 foot lifts. This means that it will take 3 pours to get the full height of the wall (the last pour can be more than 4 feet in places), but it will save money and lots of hassle. We will need to waterproof and back-fill between pours (which means waiting for about a week between pours for the concrete to reach sufficient strength to back-fill). From a strength standpoint, a single pour would be better, but there is no way that it could be done here. Today our forms got a lot more rebar and we now have a storage container (as well as electricity). The plumber came by to install 2" drains for the light wells, which will run through the footing. The plan is to pour the footing first thing tomorrow morning.

The concrete truck was there at 7:30 AM to pour the footing. It took a total of 31 cubic yards (around 45 tons) to fill this footing. That was 3-1/2 truckfulls. This was a quick setting mix. By the end of the day, they were able to remove the forms. Tomorrow the forms start going in for the wall (at least the first 4 feet thereof). The OSHA guy is also coming by. Let's hope he will be reasonable.

Things went well with the OSHA guy because we had the letter from the soils engineer. It took all of Friday to clean up the footing and get in half of the form for the first 4 feet of the wall. The crew came back on Saturday and almost finished up the form. The plan is to pour this wall on Monday. It's not clear how much else is going to be done at the site until after this entire wall is in and back filled. It seems to me that there are things that could be done in parallel

They finished making and bracing the forms for the first section of wall, had them inspected, and poured them. There are a couple of interesting things to notice in the closeup picture. They made a groove in the middle (probably with a 2x4) so that the next section of wall will make a stronger bond to the first section. Also, you can see on the side a turnbuckle on the end of the brace which can be used to tweak the vertical positioning for plumb. After the forms come off, they will waterproof the outside, wait a few days for the concrete to reach full strength, and back fill with pea gravel.