I am building my first home. Lucky me because it is in the woods! It is an adventure I surely will not forget.

Me with Rory

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sammy arrived with the Excavator!

I left work early for the meet up and low and behold Sammy already had paved the way with the excavator. It looks like a real road now, to the building site. It was so cool to drive up and see that! It makes the dream project seem more real. It is coming alive, now.
The softball I found in the woods last week was in a new place. Sammy said his son, Smiley, threw it at him that day when they were playing in the woods, Oops, I mean working!
Sammy had already dug three 6'ers and I got working pick-axing the others, He had to step in and finish up the first one when it got deep and the rock got harder. I told him I did all the hard work breaking ground, though. lol
I could hardly contain myself seeing the earth down deep. This is what it is all about. The mysterious underbelly. What soils and rock are there, determines everything. Seeing the belly open and nice chunks of shale gives me hope. There is no solid clay, and no bedrock.
At 5 1/2' he had to stop digging. The shale is horizontal and solid at that point. I hope the county guy will go for it.
I poured a bucket of water, at Sammy's suggestion, before we left to see what it will do. It definitely drained at a slow pace and seemed to linger a bit at the bottom, but we didn't time it or measure it. I checked on it this morning and it was all drained out.
I would say judging form my know how (lol) that it is more on the positive side than the negative.
Sammy said sometimes a person has to get some sand not tons of sand, so there are variables in it, which I didn't realize. I thought it was either all in our own dirt, which is passing, or all above ground, which is failing. I think what he is saying that there are in between ways of approval. Like 10 truck loads of sand not exclusively 100's of truckloads.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Advice from Anonymous

Today, Anonymous told me that I should not shop price for well diggers. He explained that an inexpensive well driller may go thousands (slight exaggeration) of feet needlessly to make money. My Unc had said that they must go down a hundred and ? feet to make the money back for what it costs them to show up with the truck and dig.
I need my water to come in at 70 feet.
Then Anonymous explained further that everyone needs to make money at what they do. He said the two well guys I am thinking of are the most honest and that they actually even work together at times. He said that they will only dig (pound) as far as necessary and that as soon as they hit water they stop. They don't go past it. This was very good to hear. Anonymous definitely knows the scoop because of his work in the field.

Perk now on Thursday

The rain is delaying the perk test for a couple of days. I am cool with it, though, and not disappointed. The dryer, the better. The rain keeps coming and that won't support my goal to perk, perk, perk.
As much as I know this is a pivotal event in the project, I would rather delay than to rush it for no good reason. I know the well is critical also, but I have every confidence in there being water exactly where June and Betts found it dowsing.
The perk test is now scheduled for Thursday at 10am. I am meeting Sammy at 4 today to go over things on the land.
I hauled a bunch of water up there over the weekend. I half filled the rusty honey cans and lugged them in and up the knoll with my trash-find wheelbarrow.
I had pick-axed a hole the other day down to 15". I marked off two other holes yesterday. I played around with my dowsing rods and asked for the best spot to perk, the most shale, sand, and not clay, and whalla! The dowsing rods led me to three spots all forming a triangle. The main one I had already dug in was one of them. Let's wait and see what happens. The rods led me to an additional two other spots, too, but not a third.
I prayed while I burned sage to have a good perk if the land would have me live there. I asked permission to dig and build there.
I also marked off a driveway for the upper end. I had previously thought that I would have the driveway closer to the well, but gosh, I think that area may be really wet in the spring. The upper driveway spot is higher and dryer looking.
I will see what Sammy thinks, but right now I think we'll clear for the well truck in the lower end of the building site and clear for the driveway in the upper end. I do not believe the well truck would be able to get to the well easily from the driveway spot. The truck would have to make some sharp angles and go down a slope.
The more time I spend in the woods the clearer the location for everything is becoming.

There are some nasty chemicals being used on the roof here at work, so I may have to clear outa here again as I did last week one day. Yucky! They are replacing the roof with some glue process.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Prayer request

Please pray for the perk test to be 100% successful. It is scheduled for 10am Tuesday, weather permitting. This is a pivotal issue in the build. It must perk for me to be able to move forward building my first home in the woods. Thank you for your good wishes, prayers, lit candles, sage burning, dancing naked in the rain, and any other rituals you might perform! Peace out. J

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Converted barn

No word on the barn yet, but I am thankful for the time. The more time I have to get the perk test and the well dug the better. I don't want to know if I am getting the barn until I am ready for the foundation, because I may have to move fast with the take down. I am not sure how fast the present owner wants it off his property. I hope he is not concerned with a deadline as that will be better for me. I'd rather have the foundation all poured and laid up and then crane the barn sections in place right on top of the foundation walls, ready to go.

I have the architect, Crow, lined up. She is in the same town I work in. Sammy recommended her and when I spoke with her on the phone she seems really down to earth. I haven't asked her about a barn conversion yet, but I have inquired as to costs and time frame for drawings. From my movie experience I know I want her to come out to the barn and measure it up before the move. My daughter is lined up to do additional measurements for drawings especially for the interior. The architect will obviously do what she needs to do for the building inspector and to get the CO, but anything extra design-y I want my daughter to do.

I have been researching tons of barn books, barn Web sites, barn restorers, etc. Feel free to post any interesting research you come across in my comments section. I still need to line up info on cataloguing all the boards and beams for the take down. Princess's friend is my resource for getting the cataloguing info. I really hope we can move sections of whole wall and not dismantle it completely.

Perk test

I have an appointment for the perk test! 10am Tuesday morning, unless there is a torrential downpour.
One 6' hole, two 30" holes (presoaked 4-5 hours ahead) and two 10-12" holes. Shallow holes are to be hand dug and the 6' one dug with a backhoe.
15 gallons of water standing by. (I'll have 30).
I left a message for Sammy with appointment time.
Ma offered her honey cans with covers for this which is great, because then I can bring up the water anytime now and not grow mosquito larve in it by Tuesday.

I am thinking of moving the perpendicular string line back 20' toward the main road to make it an even 200'. This way I can just add the footage and then finish and measure the long one that runs parrallel to the roads. The measurement that runs along the 'hill' will remain the same at 250' (possible adjustment at forthcoming survey of true property line).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More marking

I ran string from the curve at the crest of the 'hill' back toward the main road 179 feet, then hooked a right. I have only run string on the back side half way so far and will continue with it tomorrow. 
I measured the road frontage at 250' from the same curve to the upper neighbors posted sign. (The sign may be on Mom's property, but at least I have it close to the upper property line.)

I wrapped caution tape around the stakes I drove in marking the water vein and best well site. 

I also measured 6' up a tree on the bottom of the knoll. I plan to go up nine feet and then run a string straight out and hopefully it will touch the top of the knoll.

I am thinking about having the home basement a walkout on the bottom and the home main floor front door open out to the top part of the knoll.

I pick axed a 15" hole on the top and thankfully did not hit clay. Please pray for no clay and a great perk!

Yesterday, Sammy said he thought the knoll may be the best spot, and that since it is higher than other spots, we may not hit clay. 

Marking out the site

Sammy stopped out yesterday and checked out the woods building sites with me a bit. He may be back tonight to spend a little more time on it, because we are doing the perk test soon and need that site locked down as much as possible. Sammy thinks my new first pick site may be the best.  I asked him to clear a way for the well pounder truck at the same time, because he'll have the excavator in the woods for the perk test, so why not clear the path at the same time. No need to bring it back later to make way for the truck. We scoped out potential paths for dryness, angles and slopes, while keeping as many of our trees as possible. 

After eating my balogna sandwich in the woods, I began to mark out the potential purchase area last night with all my left over string and twine. This will give a great visual for Ma and everyone, including the surveyor. 
It is more than 2 acres for sure, it may be 4 due to dowsers results, power lines, intermittent stream, etc. The power lines and stream push the house back to the middle of the property and then the dowsers well site pick is almost down to the curve in the road.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thanks Suzie

Yesterday, after bowling for Inside Addiction's fundraiser, I met up with Suzie. She and I walked the property discussing at length all the many possibilities. This knoll, that knoll; this creek, that power line; the white pines, the hardwoods; steep slopes, level sections: noise from the road, noise from the neighbors; driveway safety, driveway site lines; wells, septics; and so much more.

Never enough time, but we sat in the woods on my free finds and ate yummy salad and roasted chicken, etc.

Suzie loaned me a digital camera! Yeah! I just have to track down a memory card. Hopefully before long you will see pics of the real building adventure.


Today, September 22, 2008, I gave out the first check. $280.00 to the county for the perk application.
Up until now it has been coffee, donuts, cider, salad, fruit, and roasted chicken purchases.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trash time

On my way to the site yesterday I drove through Delmar, and you all know I rave about the trash in Delmar. Some of the best can be found there. Practically falling in my way on Main Ave. was a picnic table bench, wheelbarrow, and lawn mower! You know me, Urk...I grabbed the brakes and pulled in, loaded up and off I went.

I was thinking about making a sitting/eating area for Sammy and his sons while they do the work/build and now I have a start. The mower is for Bro-in-law. Further down the road Urk...again because isn't there a plastic bench for two and a canvas chair!

I already had the old cellar door in the truck I was going to use as a table in the woods. Once at the site I wheelbarrowed in the door, etc. and set up a fancy picnic area with the wheelbarrow holding up the table! Plenty of seating and of course fresh air.

Ma offered to loan me honey cans (5 gallon) to get the pond water for the perk test, and she happens to have caution tape for me to mark out particular areas. I was going to use string and then she offered the tape. The markings will stand out so much better with the wide, yellow tape, thanks Ma.

Let's perk

I am lining up the perk test. Application is signed, check written, and Sammy is ready to do the dig. I am hoping by the end of the week we'll have the percolation test complete. That is a great big green light on the build. Well after that.
Of course I am still trying to figure out the best site. This has to be decided by the time we do the perk test.

Okay, so I'll sit and enjoy watching

I met with Unc and got a lot of helpful tips, information, and dinner!
Thanks Unc, for believing in me and saying I COULD run the backhoe. And for explaining why I should have an experienced operator do it instead. 
He said the East Greenbush well company was so expensive (pump system $3,500) because they have all new and high end trucks.

I need the guy with the rusty truck...Sammy said that's the Westerlo guy I have been playing phone tag with. The Westerlo guy (from the Hollow) rode the school bus with us for years and is second or third generation well guy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clip Art Hound

Woof, woof! Okay so I don't own a digital camera, what can I say????
I am saving for a well and septic and foundation and...But...a camera purchase is becoming increasingly important. lol

I'll put one on my wish list or rather my must buy list. Afterall, you want to see the real location, woods, and action don't you?
Send me your suggestions as to models, styles.

Shooting too close

Last night there was a shooting a block and a half from here. A cop shot someone and there were helicopters over head for quite a while. They were pretty loud and I tried to catch sleep in between the time they were over my house. It was hard to get to sleep. I was restless because my daughter sleeps on the ground floor and I kept  thinking about all the hiding spots in the yard and cellarwell.

On the upside I must use this as a reminder to stop slacking and get a move on with the house project. I called my Bro-in-law this a.m. to ask him to help finish up my fort for winter. He said yes, so maybe in a couple of days, for sure early next week we'll get it done. I am using this to store building materials as I come across them and also to put some camping stuff in. 
Then I called my uncle to get his advice on the clearing and backhoe situation. He was busy when I called, but I told him I am going to come over to see him in the next couple of days. I know I can do it tomorrow at 2.
I'll try to call the logger when I get to work to see if he can log just where I want the driveway and house and how that all works $ wise.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Back to the Backhoe

Gotta ask my uncle about his backhoe. It is huge and getting it to the property and then in to the woods may be a huge deal. See what he thinks. 
I don't think I want a 9 foot deep foundation. I am leaning toward one above ground, at least a walkout on one side for sure. If it is nestled into the hillside then one full side out and part of the two sides, the rest tucked into the earth.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is it about that hole?

I stopped by Jeff's for a face to face. Interrupting his nap and discovering he was sick with a really nasty cold, I had to swallow my shyness and brave the question to him. Did he want to loan or rent me his backhoe...did he want to do the digging? He said no. So, onward.  Any other ideas? I asked his advice about backhoes in general, size, renting from an equipment place, etc. He said there is a lot to know about digging that foundation hole and is really more than I think. This hole must be really complicated???? He was discouraging about my doing it.

 I also asked about wells and he said definately have it pounded. He said the casing goes everywhere there is not rock. So if the rock is the bottom 50 feet then the casing will only be on the top 20 feet. (you know I'm putting out vibes to hit pure, perfect water with required output at 70 feet). He said the builder or the well guy could dig the trench hole for the water pipe to the house. I didn't know that the pump is small and fits inside the well casing pipe. His is submersed at the bottom of the well. 
We talked about the width of the driveway to get the backhoe and well truck into the woods. Anyone he knew to stay away from? He said no. He told me about his septic leech field and the path it all follows, tank and pipes.  Also to have drainage pipes around the house foundation and have them drain off at two corners. 

Create Reality

I have been interested in building my own home for years. I researched log cabins, barns, found materials building, stick frame, everything I could absorb. I've watched Dream House, Extreme Home, Housemovers, etc. as much as I can and loved every minute of it. Finally my dream is coming true. I've heard "create your own reality" before and I am living that phrase right now and I hope forever.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Girls Can Do It

The other day someone told me that I really should not consider digging my own foundation. He said that it is harder than I think with all the grading and all...
Well, they only made me more determined to dig it myself.
I always remember my uncle telling me a few years back that anything a man can do I can do.
If I have a volunteer then, surely I will sit on my butt and watch, but in the meantime...

Water Witches

The dowsing for water happened today! We each played in the woods, feeling our way for water. Betts and June each found the same vein! June, our mentor, believes there are two veins each coming in from the road and then they merge at a central point, one over the other. One is at 70 feet and the other at 120 or 130 (I forgot exactly).
I am really exited. I staked out the vein at three or four places, using a double stake where they merge. June advised this is the place to pound the well.
I went up early and set up lawn chairs, donuts and juice, and set my sledge hammer and stakes in a convenient spot ready to use. It looked like a little work picnic in the woods.
Betts brought June out and we met up about 8:40am. You know I was tired. I woke up at 3:33am and then kept waking, until I finally gave it up and laid in bed thinking some things over.
Once we met up we walked up the hill and wove through the trees to 'base camp'.
I had the toy-like dowsing rods, Betts the welding rods, and June her wire coat hangers. Theirs are about 6 inches high and maybe 18 inches long, mine 4" high, 7" long.
I showed them my first, second and third choice building lots first, although I really wasn't sure if those were the only spots I might like to build on. Later I found another one I liked. June reassured me that where the water was would help me narrow down the choices.
After everyone left I went back in and walked about some more (it never seems to be enough) searching for the best route to get the backhoe in for the perk test. Once I get a cleared path for it I can bring it in and dig the holes. I really want to do the dig myself, but it depends on whether or not Jeff will let me use his backhoe. Or even if he will instruct me on site and let me make the dig. What fun! I get out of work tomorrow at 2 so I will go see Jeff face to face and see what he thinks about the whole business. If he isn't keen on it, I'll move on, no problem. Someone told me about a place in Greenville that rents equipment and I can still ask my uncle about his backhoe, too. His is really huge though and has to be trailered by a huge truck, so that option is less appealing than Jeff's.