Category Archives: french drains

What went down at the red house February 2015

These two excavators took up residence for weeks. Frigid temperatures, frozen ground, cranky diesel engines.
These two excavators took up residence for weeks. Frigid temperatures, frozen ground, cranky diesel engines.

The other night I was sitting on the couch, fireplace in full swing, all warm and cozy on a cold winter evening. The fragrance of Valentine lilies wafted, filling the air with a marvelous sweetness. A rack of lamb marinating in mint and garlic was resting on the kitchen counter. Maxine was snoring. (Those of you who know how I really feel about a snoring dog will get a chuckle out of that) Will handed me a glass of red wine and sat down beside me. And for the two hundredth time I looked at him and said, “ Can you believe we live here?” and we clinked our glasses in toast.

warm and cozy in the red house
warm and cozy in the red house

“ Two and a half years ago if someone had said this is what the red house will look like I probably wouldn’t have believed them.”

And then Will said, “ If someone told me how much it was going to cost…”

Good thing we didn’t have that crystal ball.

This major renovation was nothing short of a marathon putting our new marriage to a quite a test. Good thing we had the endurance to see this project through and still be talking to each other! I’ll toast to that any day.

Writing about the red house renovation process in real time has been really hard for me at times.

If you take a look at the blog history you will see that it wasn’t until May of 2015 that I finally got to posting on the progress we made in January. I quickly skipped over everything that occurred between February and June and blissfully posted about moving in on June 23rd, our third wedding anniversary. Was I in denial or avoidance? Probably both.

In case you are curious how we got from last January to the couch in front of the fire a year later, here goes a recap of February with lots of images:

 

 

 

February 2015 delivered another month of frigid temperatures, frozen heavy machinery and disappearing contractors. Will kept trying to cheer me up, reminding me that we were no longer taking things out of the red house (demolition) – but actually putting things back in. I just rolled my eyes.

Too cold and too much snow - the frozen excavator as art installation?
Too cold and too much snow – the frozen excavator as art installation?

 

Now as I sort through the dozens of photographs I took I just can’t believe how much progress was made – astonishing to say the least.

The radiant heat was installed in the mudroom and concrete floor poured.

Radiant heat laid down in the mudroom
Radiant heat laid down in the mudroom

DSC_3872

Concrete begins to pour
Cement  begins to pour
Concrete being poured over radiant heat pipes in mudroom
Cement being poured over radiant heat pipes in mudroom

Framing the interior begins

necessary tools
necessary tools
Harold and Jason  dressed in lots of layers working on  the framing
Harold and Jason dressed in lots of layers working on the framing
Framing the great hall, looking into the mud room, and the bathroom
Framing the great hall, looking into the mud room, and the bathroom
Maxine walking the plank
Maxine walking the plank

Insulation is blown in

Living room insulation

The insulation blown in, subfloors going down in the kitchen
The insulation blown in, sub floors going down in the kitchen

Restored windows are installed

Original windows, beautifully restored by Emily
Original windows, beautifully restored by Emily Majer

 

The cement mixer moves to the other side of the house and pours for basement floor and bulkhead foundation.

Our beloved concrete mixer- getting ready to pour
Our beloved cement mixer- getting ready to pour
Concrete being poured into the new foundation for the bulkhead.
Cement being poured into the new foundation for the bulkhead.

 

The installation of the French drains was completed in February leaving the yard, patios and stonewalls ravaged and all but destroyed.

Pipes stacked, ready for installation
Pipes stacked, ready for installation
Just one of the dirt piles - at least 8 feet tall
Just one of the dirt piles – at least 8 feet tall
the weapon of destruction
the weapon of destruction
The pipes in the trench- this is outside the living room back door
The pipes in the trench- this is outside the living room back door

 

Our contractor promised the crew would return in spring to put the yard back- well he was wrong.

 

More about that in the next post.

 

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Remember January and how cold it was?

January 1st
January 1st

January was busy.
January was freezing.
Our crew persevered.
They were intrepid.
Days are filled.
Excavators, backhoes, jackhammers
Concrete, trenches, drainage pipes.
Serious work begins.
January 1st, 9:00 AM.

We began the New Year with Danny Clark and his excavator- digging for the water line
We began the New Year with Danny Clark and his excavator- digging for the water line

Excavator arrives here.
No frost yet.
Water connection begins.
Danny Clark digs.
He installs pipe.

Danny Clark and crew digging for the water line
Danny Clark and crew digging for the water line
Water line
Water line

He refills holes.
Drives excavator home.
Happy New Year.

Building permit approved.
New addition begins.
Old addition ends.

Shed removal
Shed removal
Watching the shed demolition through the window - too cold to capture outside
Watching the shed demolition through the window – too cold to capture outside
The shed is off- you can see through the house now- hallway between kitchen and bath now framed in
The shed is off- you can see through the house now- hallway between kitchen and bath now framed in

Ground is broken
Jackhammers shake house.
It is 7:00 AM
Neighbors don’t complain
We are grateful
Ledge is broken.
Dirt piles high.

Beginning to dig for the new foundation for mud room
Beginning to dig for the new foundation for mud room
Breaking up the ledge for the foundation under new mudroom
Breaking up the ledge for the foundation under new mudroom
DIgging for the new foundation- new back yard landscape
DIgging for the new foundation- new back yard landscape

Foundation is dug.
Foundation is framed
Greenhouse tent made.

Area for the new foundation
Area for the new foundation
plastic greenhouse over new foundation
plastic greenhouse over new foundation
Here it comes.....pouring concrete into the framing for foundation
Here it comes…..pouring concrete into the framing for foundation
Getting ready to pour concrete for foundation
Getting ready to pour concrete for foundation
smoothing out the first layer of concrete
smoothing out the first layer of concrete

Keeps ground warm.
Frost has set in.

Concrete truck arrives.
Shoots concrete in.
Concrete is spread.
Greenhouse tent returns
Propane heaters crank.
No room for frost.
Foundation walls poured.
Propane heaters crank.
Greenhouse tent removed.
New foundation finished.

Ta Da! The foundation
Ta Da! The foundation
The new addition for the mudroom is framed in
The new addition for the mudroom is framed in

Addition is framed.

Sills are rotten.
Drainage is issue.
A big issue.
Architect advises us.
We need drains.
I imagine it.
Garden bed size?
Lined with stones?
Was I wrong…
Trenches are dug.
Five feet deep.
Four feet wide.

The pipes for the new drainage system
The pipes for the new drainage system
Down in the drain
Down in the drain

Garden is destroyed.
I am despondent.

 

Deep freeze sets in.
Trench progress halts.
Diesel engines too cold.
We shiver.
I hide inside.

Basement is next.
Water meter freezes.
Water floods basement.
That’s no fun.
Structural engineering begins.
Concrete poured in.
Concrete covers dirt.
Concrete covers ledge.
Stone walls supported.

preparing the basement walls
preparing the basement walls
Basement foundation supports in
Basement foundation supports in
A new member to the fleet of trucks at Yale Hill- the cement mixer arrives
A new member to the fleet of trucks at Yale Hill- the cement mixer arrives
Concrete pour commences- little did I know it included pouring cement on the grass
Concrete pour commences- little did I know it included pouring cement residue on the grass

Progress.
More than a little paint and wallpaper….

This is how things looked at the end of January- no shed, plastic greenhouse for new foundation to cure, caution tape surrounding the trenches dug around the house
This is how things looked at the end of January- no shed, plastic greenhouse for new foundation to cure, caution tape surrounding the trenches dug around the house