Breaking ground on Gratz HQ

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It was a big day here yesterday at Gratz HQ, as ground was finally broken on our new live-work complex. We would have blogged about it that night, but, well . . . you'll see.

First those massive tree stumps needed to be uprooted. The backhoe made quick work of them.

There they are. I think it would be hysterical to make one of those chainsaw carvings out of these guys, keeping the tentacles and making the top look like the head of Cthulhu. Now THAT would be some scary chainsaw art.

The backhoe was also able to neatly stack up all the massive logs left over from the great felling. Hooray for pneumatics! Since these are both pines they're not good for fireplaces, so they shall not be burned. Instead, we plan to use them in our landscaping, turning the largest of them into benches. (Or, rather, logs you sit on like benches.) How we will move them again without the backhoe will remain a mystery not unlike how the ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids - even to us.

Once that work was finished, our septic tank had to be uncovered so the health inspector could verify that it will be in good working order for the new house. Finding the septic tank took a fair bit of digging however . . .

And five massive holes in the ground later, the guys finally found it. You can't even see it here - they've just found the beginning of it there in the corner of that crater. See? I knew there was a reason I never bothered to mow our yard.

After lunch, the guys got busy on the foundation. Today's mission: dig the trenches that will become the "footings" of the foundation. At each step of the way the trenches were measured to make sure they were level. What you can't see in this picture is Kenny off to the side with surveying equipment, measuring the grade. I took this picture from my office, where I was hard at work watching Marvin and his crew work writing two chapters of Something Wicked.

Here's what it looked like when they were finished:

You can see a smaller square cut into the larger one - this is where our bottom-floor screened-in porch will be. The exterior walls of the house form a hollow L shape behind this space, and I think they have to pour special footings any time they have load bearing walls. Hence the secondary digging.

Sparks flew - right beneath my window! - when the backhoe found our power lines. Luckily none of them got snapped. Our phone line, however, was not so lucky:

We lost our land line and our internet, of course, which was worse. BellSouth was thankfully prompt, and had us back up and running by mid-morning today. Our tech - Jamie, whom we're getting to know too well! - didn't bother repairing the underground line, and instead ran us a loooong phone line form the pole to the other side of the house, bypassing the work site entirely. When the new house is built we can shorten and hide the line again.

Progress Energy didn't prove to be as fast, so we're doubly lucky that line wasn't snapped. We got put on the work order list to have our line foundation bypassed by an underground splice, but we're told it won't be for another couple of weeks. Marvin tells us that won't pose too much of an impediment, but we'll see.

At the end of the day, this is what we had. That night we had a gullywasher of a rain storm, but the foundation trenches didn't seem to suffer too badly. The guys didn't work today due to the downpour overnight, but Josh and Kenny came out to make sure all was well and deliver some long pieces of rebar. We'll have to wait and see what they do with that tomorrow! I'll certainly enjoy watching from that window right there at the end of the house while I'm supposed to be working.

While all this construction was going on, Jo played with Marvin's two grandkids (both sons of Josh I think, the backhoe operator) by capturing a variety of bugs and small creatures around the yard. In addition to finding a very cool snake egg in the upturned dirt in the backyard, they managed to find - and snare - a pretty big black widow spider:

We always tell Jo that spiders are our friends, but, well, this one isn't.

Tune in tomorrow to see what new developments - and creatures - we have to report.


Kitt July 26, 2007 at 9:47 AM  

Hooray for groundbreaking!

I hope that's the only black widow you run across. What are you going to do with it now?

Jackie Parker August 7, 2007 at 1:25 PM  

That is quite possibly the SCARIEST SPIDER EVER.

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