Sunday, November 17, 2013

Building a good foundation...

So, good news! Things are moving at our property - most notably dirt! However - bad news - it seems like the weather is not on our side.
When we scheduled a time to do the footer,  it poured down rain all day - delaying the digging for a couple of days. The next week, the crew was able to dig the footer, but the next day, the forecast was SNOW FLURRIES! Really, Virginia weather? You pick the year we build a house to have an early winter? Thanks a lot!
That being said, after a couple of delays, the footer in finally in place. Chris stopped by the property on Friday and assured me the cement has been poured! Hooray! Who knew I'd be so thrilled about a hole in the ground filled with cement? It's the little things in life, I suppose.

The footer of the house before the cement was poured.
This is the first real construction milestone of our house building process, but it couldn't happen until we put down the batter boards first.
FIL, Chris, and Adam (one of FIL's employees who was very sweet to help us during his weekend) went out to the property one Saturday to do this. I was unable to attend because I had an appointment, but after talking to Chris about what the process entailed, I'm sorry I missed the bulk of it.
Essentially, the batter boards are put down as a guide the footer crew to use to know where the house needs to sit. The process is done with wooden boards and string - a lot of string. Oh, there is one more very important ingredient - great geometry skills.
Now, it should be said, I hate geometry. It was the only math I didn't enjoy in high school, and it was the only math in which I didn't do well. My disdain for geometry only increased while I studied for the GRE. My study guides had piles and piles of geometry in them, much to my chagrin. I recall saying to my mother, "Why are they testing us on this? It's not like you ever use geometry in real life." To which my mother said (and this will make perfect sense if you've met my mother), "Actually, Em, geometry is probably the most commonly used math in every day life - just think about the work Mr. Collins does."
And as usual, my mother's words haunt me by not only coming true (she is always right) but doing so in exactly the way she cited in her example. Darn you, geometry! You win this one!
So, FIL worked tirelessly during the morning hours by tapping into the amazing math skills in his head and measuring and remeasuring to lay out every corner of our future home perfectly.

FIL, right, and Adam walk through the area where our house will sit eventually (taken from the right corner of the future house - look closely to see the intersection of a white string and a pink string in the bottom left).
As FIL measured, Chris and Adam hammered wooden boards into the ground in various locations (based on FIL's measurements, obviously), and then, they hammered nails into those boards. From there, they took string from one set of boards and strung it to another set to line up with each side of the house.  And of course, between all that, there was more measuring, some surveying, and even more measuring.
When I made it to the property after my appointment, there was a jungle of white and pink string all over the property. To an untrained eye, it looked random, but to FIL, it was methodical and harmonious. It was awesome to see him work out all of it in his head and get all those measurements perfectly aligned. He knows exactly what it's supposed to look like (not to mention he can picture the final product in his mind better than any of us), and while we stood around waiting for the word to do something, his wheels were turning to make sure it was perfect. 
The final result still didn't make much sense to me, even after an elaborate explanation from FIL, but it made the house even more real for me. For the first time, we could see where our house would sit, and we got a feel for its size and shape. It was pretty exciting.

Chris holds a yard stick while FIL surveys the grade of the land to ensure the foundation is level.
Days after, FIL, Adam, and Chris finished the batter boards, the foundation crew came to do the footer. We are fortunate the crew doing our footer is working another job on our street, so they are never far away. Neither Chris nor I were present for the digging or the pouring of the footer, but FIL was there to oversee the work. This was one of those times I really appreciated having a family member overseeing the work. It's comforting to know we have someone on our side (so to speak) there to witness the construction. Thank goodness - everything seemed to go just fine.

The view of the construction from the right corner of the house.
Next up is the block work - the actual foundation. It should start this week and be done in a couple of days. Fingers crossed for good weather! I will be sure to update you here. Until then, thank goodness for geometry and FILs who are much better at it than I am!