Dig Complete!

Well, I thought this day would never come.  I heard many times that ‘tomorrow’ would be the last day of digging, but the hole just kept producing.  Then over the last few days I kept hearing maybe 2-3 more loads, but the hole kept on producing.

Well today we finished – there was no more dirt to dig!  The last task was to build a ramp so that I can later get Alfie out when I finish digging the strip and pad footings.  Gary polished this up with a full dump truck and pup load and we were done.  Just behind Gary was Parm with the flat-deck to take the Big Girl away.  I have lived and breathed this machine for the last three weeks and will miss her.  She had such power – it feels very weird to be in Alfie now.

We took 2 rock trucks full of concrete off the site and then 52 rock trucks, 26 Dump Trucks, and 7 Pup Trailers full of dirt from the site.  Rock trucks count as three loads and we originally estimated only 90 loads. The extra loads were partially due to the need to dig out all of the north wall vertically and install lock blocks (instead of just sloped banks).  The lock blocks alone added 2.5′ to the size of the excavation where ever they were placed. We also over dug in some areas due to the mud that was forming.  Finally the original estimate also did not include the sump or the fact I started digging the footings.

Other factors that made this a deeper hole than most include:

  1. First storey floor assembly is buried below grade so floor surface is flush with exterior grade. Meets SAFERhomes principles.
  2.  My completed survey was technically correct but practically in error*.
  3.  I have 2″ of insulation and at least 6″ of gravel below slab.
  4. We have limited space on site for stock pilling back fill material.  I will need to bring in dirt when I am ready to back-fill in order to get Alfie to the back yard where it can attack the on-site stockpile.

* Number two was a big one.  The way the District of North Vancouver works, is to set the new grade at the average of the old grade.  Well, because the survey measured the actual grade at the four corners of the old house, this ended up being well below the actual grade of the property because I had removed sidewalks and patios from 2 sides of the house years ago when I put in perimeter drainage, and had never replaced.  So the survey was setting the elevation to the height of an unfinished surface.  If I had the sidewalk installed and patio present, the finished grade would have been 10-14 inches higher on those two sides or similar to the grade on the other two sides of the house.  I really should have back-filled those areas, to account for the missing finish surface, before I had the survey done.  The net result is that my new finished grade is 16″ below my neighbour even though we originally had the same grade overall.  I did not think anything of this during the plans and permit stage but it added a lot of dirt we now had to remove.  This was something I should have discussed with the District in hindsight.

I am extremely grateful to Diamond 11 (Parm, Gary, Young Parm, and Nick) AND their families for their hard work and generosity in letting me work off the balance of what I owe them as a no charge equipment operator once I finish the house.  I would not have been able to afford this any other way.  I am appreciative of their families because of the sacrifice they have to make with the very long hours associated with this work (Parm got home at Midnight last night after taking my last load to the dump and returning to the yard).

Some of the more memorable moments of the dig are captured in the below videos.

Gary Lowering the excavator into the bottom of the pit down a steep ramp. Nerves of steel.


Young Parm loading soil onto the rock truck in very tight quarters.

Ground water oozing out of the bank.  This is at the end of a very dry summer.  Imagine what it will be like in the spring after a wet winter.

When the ground water mixed with broken up clay I ended up with mud soup.  This stuff was HORRIBLE!

One of the deliveries of concrete lock blocks.

One of the deliveries of concrete lock blocks.

Gary had finished loading the Pup and now is loading the dump-truck by jackknifing the trailer. Notice the limited clearance to the telecommunication lines.

Gary had finished loading the Pup and now is loading the dump-truck by jackknifing the trailer. Notice the limited clearance to the telecommunication lines.

Full crew. Gary is loading final dirt while Parm stands by with flatbed to haul Big Girl away.  Great job Diamond 11

Full crew. Gary is loading final dirt while Parm stands by with flatbed to haul Big Girl away. Great job Diamond 11

Now that the project is complete, we say goodbye to Big Girl.  Job well done – Thanks Diamond 11!

I also had some other excellent news today.  Just over a week ago, I slipped in the pit and one foot slid down a bank while the other stayed at the top of the bank which was 3 ft higher.  My knee flexed sideways and there was a loud pop.  This was followed with many days of shooting pain.  I was convinced I had torn a ligament off and would need surgery.  I have been wearing a tensor bandage brace over the last week to function.  Well today I finally got into physio and it looks like all will be OK.  It will take some time to properly heal but does not appear to have torn right off the knee joint.  I was very relieved.

Now it is time to regroup and start the task of laying out and installing footings.  But I think tomorrow will be about sleeping in and taking it easy for half a day or I may even splurge and take the day off.  Goodness knows I need it.

Thanks for visiting.

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