Sunday, September 22, 2013

Digging a hole...

There has not been much actual movement on the house building front for the past couple of weeks. We have encountered the ultimate adversary for home building - the government. Insert the dramatic, menacing music here.
We have found out (the hard way it would seem) that York County is quite difficult when it comes to home building. My father-in-law (FIL) has built houses in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Suffolk, and he said he's never encountered the hoops through which York County is having him jump.
We are moving closer to actual construction every day, but there has been little things to get done here and there that I never thought would matter. For example, a tree inspection has to come to the property to approve the trees we want to take down. I have to ask - what is he inspecting?
I'm figuring he is looking to ensure runoff isn't affected, but it seems so strange that they wouldn't require this before we bought the land. It makes me nervous that he might find an endangered tree in the middle of the property, and we'll have to build our house around it. Now, that's green living!
Although we are experiencing some set-backs, everything is moving forward, so we're ready when construction begins. The tree, foundation, and framing guys are already lined up. We just need the construction to start.
We did get a little bit of action on the property (an unofficial groundbreaking) last week when Chris, FIL, and I had to dig a ditch for a drainage pipe at the front of the property.
When we arrived at the property (after FIL), I expected to see a big piece of machinery there to help dig this 24-foot-wide, 16-inch-deep ditch, but to my chagrin, there was just my poor FIL, a spade, and a grubbing mattock.
When we got out of the truck, we realized FIL had arrived much earlier than we planned, and he had been digging (and making a ton of progress) for quite a long time.
I asked him if there was some kind of machine we could use to dig it, and he told me, "Sure, it's right here - it's called the Collins." He smiled and handed Chris and I shovels.

Chris getting his hands dirty!

FIL had broken up most of the ditch before we arrived, and he lamented that the ground was tough clay. We got to work cleaning out monstrous mounds of clay from the ditch with our shovels.
Just to note, for the past couple of months, I have been working out my hands, wrists, and arms to ensure I wouldn't be useless in the construction, but I think I need to work a little harder.
I definitely felt out of my element doing manual labor. I don't think it's a secret that I'm not very handy, but I underestimated how much power it takes to heave dirt out of a hole.
So, I pulled up my big girl pants and got to work. After we cleared the ditch, we put the drainage pipe in it, just to realize it needed to be deeper.
And we got back in there and cleared it out more. Eventually, we (meaning my expert FIL) were content with the depth and pushed the pipe into the ditch.

The finished product!

It only took a couple of hours, but it felt great to finally get something done on the land. Also, while it seems like such a small piece of the monumental task in front of us, this is the ditch that will sit underneath our driveway.
I thought as we finished our job how amazing it is to think every time I drive onto my property I can remember I helped dig that ditch. I have not had many opportunities in life to make something for myself, but after our work on the property, I realized it is an awesome feeling.
It solidified the feeling in me that building our first home is a great decision. We are going to live in something that we designed and help create. It's a feeling that so few people have, and I'm thrilled I get to be one of them.

I promise we were working hard - this was just a tiny break.