It has been a busy week.
I met with the Geotech on site Monday afternoon and dug 5 test holes around the perimeter of where the new house will go so that she could determine the make-up of the soil. In all cases we hit what I call ‘hardpan’ in three to 4 ft – a mixture of course sand, gravel, and boulders packed in a dense layer. We were unable to break through this layer with the mini-excavator that I have, but memory of other excavations I have seen in the neighborhood shows it typically is a few feet thick and then transitions to a more clay like material and then closer to the 9-10ft mark goes back to this type of dense hard packed material except with more and larger boulders. I am very thankful for the very fast turn around from DAVIES GEOTECHNICAL INC. I contacted them at 4:30 PM on Friday, received the quote at 9:00 AM Monday, met on site at 1:00 that same day and then received their finished report Thursday afternoon. Now that is great service! And to date we have come in $1400 under budget because I had already marked the services and had my own equipment to dig the holes.
The outcome of the report is both positive and negative. The bearing pressures of the soil are much higher than what allowed for by the Structural Engineer . This may translate to the ability to reduce footing sizes and save cost and embodied energy which would obviously be desirable. The difficult portion of the report is that I may need to use anchors and shotcrete to stabilize the excavation wall around a cedar I am trying to retain. Due to the proximity to the house, I will need close to a vertical wall at that location. This was certainly not something I had in my budget.
I also met with the Arborist on Monday afternoon (again, I only contacted them on the weekend and they only got the message Monday AM – great service). Sean Wightman from Burley Boys Tree Service Ltd attended the site and we discussed the work that I will require. I have 4 cedars that will have the canopy raised to 30ft or so in order to allow light and solar gain into the new house and also prevent the branches from rubbing against the new structure. Both the clump of 3 and the single tree are in close proximity to the excavation. So Sean will be bringing in an air spade to excavate along the tree fencing line and cut off any roots found. This prevents the roots inboard of the tree fencing line from being damaged as the rest of the excavation proceeds.
We also have an unsafe cedar tree at the front of the property that we will take down. It was previously topped prior to our arrival on the property and has 5 or 6 false leaders. These are susceptible to wind damage and the fork they create at the base is susceptible to catching water and rotting out the center of the tree. I have asked Burley Boys to limb the tree and remove all the trunks above the previous top point. This will leave a trunk stump in place during the build that I am using as one of the webcam mount locations. I will then co-ordinate with Andy from http://muchmaple.com to come and harvest the log and turn it into 3″ – 4″ slabs (lengthwise) that I will use in the new house for counters and possible thinner slabs to be used at windows as sills.
The most important thing that was accomplished this week was the launch of this wonderful site on Wednesday! I am so thankful to Honeycomb Creative for their excellent work getting this site built and launched. As with all their sites, they have designed it in such a way that is easy for me to add additional content and update in the future. Within the first 24 hours we have just under 100 unique visitors, so I would say that was a very successful launch. I look forward to adding additional information to the site as the project progresses. The webcams have turned out to be the hardest part of the site and may not provide a consistent enough feed. I would love to hear from you and your experiences with viewing the various channels. Do the work for you?
Yesterday was a particular satisfying day as I received the final sealed drawings from the structural engineer. This has been a long slog and I am thankful it is behind us. Tacoma Engineering and especially Heather have gone above and beyond working through the challenges of this design and working with someone who has never done this before.
I have made a permit application appointment for next week, so lets hope the next phase goes smoothly!