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Day by Day

Day by day, I am making progress, granted not the progress even a small crew would make, but I am after all 1 man. And if I am sick, injured, needing to do office work, or diverted to any of life’s other requirements on my time, I am obviously not going to make progress at the site.  I am learning to accept this as part of this process.

But this week, real progress has been made in spite of everything!

Tuesday AM was my first visit to They basically use a modern and computer controlled version of a medieval torture rack to  target very specific vertebrae and create a negative pressure in the spinal column in an attempt to  ‘suck back in’ a herniated disk.  Tonight was my third visit and as I sit here writing this entry, I can say I am just about pain free, for the first time in several months. So, so far I am impressed and remain hopeful with this process.

But after Tuesday’s treatment, I was advised to take it easy and was feeling pretty poor anyway after a night without a lot of sleep, so I took the doctors advise and spent most of the day napping and resting.  To ease my conscience, I did get out at the end of the day and bought the plumbing materials I needed for the waste piping that is running under the footings.

Wednesday, I was pretty sore but managed to glue up and place the plumbing pipes.  I also had hired Andrew from Embers who hustled and dug a drainage trench from the location where I was collecting and pumping water at the south end of the pit, and connected this to the north end of the pit where the other pit pump is located and where the permanent sump is also located.  This will now ensure that most if not all of the pit drains to the NE corner where the sump is located.  I also had a visit from the Geotech who needed to inspect the banks for stability, as a pit is not normally left open this long.  While he was there, he also inspected about 80% of what was needed for the forms inspection, both from a Geo-technical point of view, as well as the sizes from a structural point of view.  The Geotech has agreed to do the structural inspection on the footings saving me the cost of bringing the structural engineer in from Victoria.  Then I was off to appointment #2 at the back clinic.


Today is when things really moved.  Last night I researched 9 places I was going to contact to get pricing on the 100ft #2 Three Conductor Tech cable needed for my 200A service – yes 9, my background as a professional purchaser is always just below the surface :-). Boy am I glad I shopped around, I could not believe the variance of pricing depending on the wholesaler. The following lists the pricing from lowest to highest:

Texcan: $18.20/m
Eecol: $22.87/m
Westburne: $24.00/m
Nedco: $24.56/m
Gescan: $25.00/m
EB Horseman: $26.07/m
Ameleco: $39.88/m
Torbram: $49.00/m
Southwire: Never answered phone

Can you believe Torbram at $49/m! I double checked the spec to make sure they quoted the right thing and when I told them they were over double the competition they stated “well, this pricing helps protect contractors”. To all of them, I stated I did not have an account but was just starting to build a house as an owner builder, and would be basing my total material supply based on the pricing provided for the teck.

So I hoofed it out to Texcan on Annacis Island this morning and picked up a 32m roll. Now, it was a heavy spool like this that screwed up my back for the first time back in August (the tarp cable reel).  And I generally have been on high alert looking for ways to use mechanical advantage where ever possible to save my back.  Fortunately, I was able to roll the spool right off their loading dock into the truck and then off the truck onto the ground.  I then put a steel bar through the spool and used Alfie to hoist it into the air (it is situation like this that inspired me to buy Alfie instead of renting – I would never rent just for a task like this, but when you have a tractor on site, you find all kinds of good uses for it).    From here it was a relatively easy process to pull the cable off the spool, down the pit ramp, and into the trench dug last Monday by Thomas from Embers.

Alfie lends a hand to un-spool #2 teck cable
Alfie lends a hand to un-spool #2 teck cable

I then headed off to get 3/4 yard of fill sand, which I hauled by bucket from the trailer to the top of the plywood chute leading into the pit.  I then filled a bucket at the bottom from the chute and placed the required 3″ bed below the teck cable.  This was a task I was sure would set off the back, but I was thrilled that I was able to move about 75 buckets all while having a back pain level hovering at 4/10.  It was a very good day.  By the end of the day I had the cable in place over the bed of sand and the warning label laid out.  I contacted the electrical inspector and provided photos of the progress and was given authorization to proceed on covering over the cable with the 3″ top coat of sand.

Filling up the bucket brigade from my very own sand chute - cool
Filling up the bucket brigade from my very own sand chute – cool
Teck cable placed on 3" sand bed with warning tape ready
Teck cable placed on 3″ sand bed with warning tape ready

But wait, I also had my friendly Plumbing inspector (Al Stewart) come by at noon to inspect the partially-installed-below-slab-plumbing. Although he has never done this before (inspect a partial system), he approved the concept and just asked me to change the 90º elbows at the base of the stacks to double 45º elbows.  Based on my commitment to get this work done, he approved me proceeding with burring these pipes.  Woo-Hoo!!

We had a great discussion where I clarified some outstanding questions I had as well as discussing aspects of the project in general.  I do find it odd however that he had never inspected a partial piping installation or it appears also has never inspected pipes run under the footings.  When I asked how the plumbers get to the stacks in bearing walls, he was not able to give me a straightforward answer and it sounds like a lot of times, the floor plate is hacked out and the pipes are run under the slab but above the footings or at times the footings are blocked out around the openings.  None of these seem suitable in my mind and he did see the merit in what I was doing.

So, I have passed through three critical milestones (plumbing, electrical, and geotech inspections) and am that much closer to getting my footings poured.  I will spend Friday and Saturday finishing the sand covering of the teck, re-leveling the gravel under the footing zones, and starting to build the internal footing rigid foam form work.  Hopefully I will finish the foam forms on Monday and be able to call for the District inspection on Tuesday. If everything goes well, I will try to pour on Thursday.

I will leave you with some inspiration.  I signed up for daily quotes from  Some of my favorites have been:
“If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.” —Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” —Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Thanks for visiting.

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