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~ The bLog Home ~


The concrete work is all done!  This afternoon, a couple of the guys arrived to strip the forms (sloppily) and cut some relief slots in the basement floor.  With that, their work here was finally complete.  Boy am I glad to have this part of the process all in the past!

Without further ado, here are pictures of the finished floor and footings.



More boring footing photos:  screen porch, sough (gable) deck, and front porch


Monday, it rained, and nothing happened on the site.  Because of additional showers in the forecast for late Tuesday, the foundation crew decided not to try and do the pour on Tuesday, as originally planned, and instead moved the job to Wednesday--a minor an insignificant delay.

On Tuesday morning, though, they arrived to set up the rough formwork for the porch post footings.  I know it doesn't matter what footings buried deep in the ground look like, but I continue to be...umm...interested in the roughness of the formwork that this crew installs.  I guess it just goes against my own feelings that the quality of the hidden work is the true measure of the overall quality of any job. 

That said, we're just talking about a manmade length of rock, so what difference does it make?  I guess I'd never make any money in the concrete business since I'd be too worried about making my footing forms look better.  I'm just musing here, not complaining; as long as the footings do their job, it doesn't matter how they look at this stage.  No one will ever see them again once they're covered up.  They also look better in these photos than I thought, so I guess I'm just neurotic.  At least the slabs come out OK.


Wednesday morning was frosty and clear, and the crew was here a bit before 8 to take care of some final details.  The concrete began arriving around 8:30, and by 10 or 10:30 the floor and footings were poured.  Most of the crew took off at this point, but Mike and Scott needed to finish the basement floor with the power trowel once it had cured enough.  It all looked good, and I was glad to have this all over with at last.


I also learned from Bob that Bob Rideout, our excavator from McGee, would be coming out on Monday to begin the myriad tasks still remaining:

-Backfill foundation (and porch posts)
-Install septic tank and piping
-Install outflow pipe for foundation drains
-Shape daylight basement end and bring all to final grade around the house
-Trench to the foundation so that the nearby buried power and water lines can be brought inside
-Remove temporary gravel driveway to house site
-Refill, compact, and repair all trenches from last fall's digging
-Repair driveway around the barn, fill and compact
-There's probably more, but that's certainly a hefty list as is!

That's all next, along with setting the porch and deck posts on the new footings.

Meanwhile, here are pictures of the completed basement floor and footings, taken late in the afternoon after the power troweling was complete.


Left:  South deck footing | Right:  Front porch footing
Bottom:  Screen porch footing (partial)


SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2006 (2nd Entry)

I thought it would be fun to show some direct comparison photos of the work in the courtyard, so I went through my old photos, picked out a few before shots, and then took photos of how it looks today from roughly the same vantage point.

To see these comparisons, please click here.

SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2006

At long last, things have started happening again!

Last Monday, the road postings came down in Whitefield, which was welcome news.  With no further restrictions on what could travel over the road, Bob and I wasted no time starting to get things lined up.

The first order of business was to line up the foundation guys, Mike Westin and crew.  Bob talked with them, and they wanted to try and pour the basement floor on Tuesday, April 25.  However, they also wanted to try and knock off all the remaining concrete work at the same time, which meant that we'd need trenches for the full-length footings we planned to pour for the porch/deck/screen porch post supports.  While the plans call for individual sono tubes beneath each of the many porch/deck posts, at Bob's suggestion some time ago we decided to go with continuous footings instead.  Lining up the sono tubes correctly to ensure that the posts end up in a straight line is nearly impossible, and with the full-length footing (placed 4' or more below grade), it would be easier to place and line up the posts in a perfect line for better looks.

If you don't quite understand this now, I think it will become clear as the process goes forward.

I don't think Charles Schulz would have minded my including this here!

So on Thursday afternoon, McGee construction arrived with a small excavator and began the process.  Bob and I laid out the locations for the operator, and he got started digging.  We needed a trench across the south (daylight/gable) end, for the posts supporting the big 12' wide deck at that end, as well as a full-length trench across the front (west) side of the house for the 8' front porch, and also a 14' square on the back (east) corner of the house for the screen porch.

The work continued on Friday, and by lunchtime the work was done.  Just what we needed:  more holes in the ground, and more piles of earth!  The digging was easy, as the site continued to amaze all with its excellent, gravelly texture and incredible dryness.  In fact, everything is quite dry here, as we haven't had significant rain in some time.  Everything, that is, except the field around the barn!  But additional work on the trenches and fill from last fall, and also the driveway by the barn, will also be coming up soon, so we should be through the worst of this very soon.

With the trenches dug, now it was a matter of waiting for the foundation guys to come on Monday and form up the footings, and then pour them on Tuesday.  With the additional trenching and piles of earth, we all wondered where the concrete trucks were going to go, but this is what Mike wanted.  I suspect they'll be lugging a lot of concrete in wheelbarrows, and pulling it around with rakes, but that's their problem.

Front Porch Footing Trench:  Looking Southwest (L) and Northeast (R)

Screen Porch Footing Trench

We had some very strong winds last week, thanks to a low-pressure system located off Nova Scotia, and a high pressure system to the west that crammed the isobars tightly together in a so-called "Omega block" upper air pattern.  The northerly winds whipped across our open fields, with shuddering 50-knot gusts over several days.  For weeks, I have been struggling to keep my pile of pine logs for the house covered; the logs, of course, were delivered weeks ago in an attempt to ensure that we'd have materials to build with during the road posting season.  As it turned out, we didn't need them during that time frame, but it was better to be safe than sorry. 

In any event, keeping the tarp over the logs is tough.  The tarp needs to be tented to allow air flow and prevent mold or mildew, or staining, and I added tent stakes, rocks, logs, lumber, and other weights to help hold the billowing tarp in place.  The winds over the past week were so strong that they blew the 16' 2x8 pressure-treated boards that I was using as weights right off the top of the log pile.  Needless to say, this all made me all the more ready to get building on the house and start using up that pile of logs!

We had some excellent spring (and even summer-like) weather during the past week or two, and I took advantage of the time on my hands to continue work on clearing the so-called "courtyard".  Numerous photos of this process, going back to last summer, can be found on our companion photo site at the link below; the green photo to the left is a pretty good indication of what we started with.  Over a period of two or three days, I finished up the bulk clearing, removing the last vestiges of tangled fruit trees and brush from around the old chicken coop--what we have dubbed "The Love Shack" (it's just a little old place where we can get together (if we were chickens);  B-52 fans rejoice!), and pulled a large pile of brush from last fall's clearing away from behind the shack and from the pile of large white pines that someone thoughtfully piled up in what, for us, has  become an inconvenient location.

Additional photos and information:>>>Whitefield Photo Site

My little tractor proved its mettle time and again, as I worked it far harder than nature intended, and my brush pile off in the nearby hayfield grew continually larger with the spoils.  The courtyard, when we bought the property, was a tangled, overgrown, and unkempt mass of old fruit trees (most with broken tops, which became tangled with all the underbrush) and thick underbrush and weeds, with a few larger trees scattered throughout--many of which were long dead.  The transformation is stunning, though the area is a long way from being anything nice.  But it leads right down to our little brook, with the woods beyond, and will eventually be our main "back yard" when all is said and done.

The scale of the brush pile in the photo to the right below is hard to understand without seeing it firsthand; here, it looks puny, but that pile is 10- high and 60' long.  I took the photo from down a hill and some distance away.  In the left-hand photo, the pile of pine trees (half a dozen or more) can be seen over Chloe's head.  The largest is around 2' in diameter.


Speaking of Chloe, it's too bad the dogs don't have any fun up here.  Both are so morose all the time, and can't stand exploring the grounds.  Poor things...


OK.  Settle in now for a long-winded discussion.  Fill your coffee cup or whatever.  Or don't read this at all, if you prefer.  But this story must be told, just this once.

There's no DSL or other high-speed Internet or cable in our part of Whitefield, so we knew some time ago that we'd need to go with satellite TV and Internet (as dial-up was certainly never an option).  Way back, we chose Wild Blue for our satellite broadband Internet service, and Heidi contacted the three local dealers listed on the Wild Blue website, eventually choosing one in Wiscasset that she felt had displayed the best overall "feel", and professionalism.  This was about a week before we actually moved here on March 20.  At the time, Shawn, at this company (Northeast Home Control Systems in Wiscasset, ME--"Just 1-1/2 miles up Rt. 27 from Wiscasset", boasts their answering machine), indicated that there was a temporary shortage of the equipment needed for the Wild Blue installation, and it would be a week or so.  Good enough; I had heard during my research that there were frequently shortages of equipment for this popular and growing service, so while I was disappointed, I didn't think this was overly significant at the time.  Oh, such tender knaves were we!

Each week, Heidi would place a call to buddy Shawn to get a status report.  The first week, we could accept the delay.  The second week, it began to become frustrating.  The third week, it was getting ridiculous, and by the 4th week, it was beyond absurd.  What made it all the worse was that pal Shawn could never give us any firm information--he always had to "look into it", or some such, and would say he thought it would be early the next week, or some other line of insufferability.

Finally, in exasperation, Heidi called Wild Blue itself sometime during week 4 or 5, and discovered that one could order equipment and installation directly from the company.  The website certainly seems to make it clear that one should buy from local dealers, which is why we had never considered this at the onset.  From talking with Wild Blue, it sounded as if we could have equipment quickly, causing us to really wonder what was going on locally.

Heidi decided to give good ol' Shawn one last opportunity.  Early in the week (around April 10), when she called, Shawn said that by that Friday, he'd have some real information to give us, and that he would call on Friday.  Good enough.  But Friday came, and not only did friend Shawn not call, but he wasn't available to take calls, nor did he return messages.  Early Friday afternoon, Heidi ordered our equipment from Wild Blue in Colorado, and was told that it would ship either Friday afternoon or Monday morning.  That sure didn't seem to indicate an equipment shortage!  She called back afterwards to "fire" good neighbor Shawn.  That afternoon, we received a call from an efficient woman (who turned out to be in Pennsylvania) who was in charge of scheduling the installations for our area from Wild Blue, and it sounded as if we'd have installation within a day or three from when the equipment arrived.

Monday, we received the UPS tracking numbers, and on Wednesday (April 19) the equipment was here--the modem and dish.  Wow,  two whole days to arrive...boy, no wonder good buddy Shawn couldn't get his hands on any.  What a startling delay and shortage.  (Can you begin to see the absurdity here?)

We were supposed to have heard about our installation by now (Thursday morning), so Heidi placed a call to Carrie, the efficient Pennsylvania-based scheduler.  She left a message, but I was at home later when the call was returned, and spoke with Carrie myself.  She apologized up and down, and said that Eric or Shawn (wait, did she say Shawn?) was supposed to have been in touch with us, and that she'd start cracking skulls and get an answer for us.  She promised answers by 10 AM the next day.

10AM Friday.  No word yet, so I called Heidi, and Heidi called Carrie.  By early afternoon, Heidi called me back to say that she had talked with Eric, and the installation was scheduled for 8AM Saturday morning.  Phew.  And yes, we had figured out that indeed we were once again stuck dealing with our professional friends at Northeast Home Control, to whom efficient Carrie had subcontracted the work.  (I don't know exactly how this all works, with the person in PA scheduling stuff for Maine, but never mind that; she was good, as were the people at Wild Blue itself.)

Saturday morning, I anxiously awaited the arrival of our installation pals.  The lack of a decent Internet connection (we didn't even have telephone till just over a week ago, which meant we didn't even have the opportunity for dial-up during most of this time...and my computer was still in North Yarmouth, where I had to travel to check email and Internet, and also to pay bills and such since all my financials were on the computer too) was far more difficult for me than I anticipated, and also more difficult than I really care to admit.  How quickly we become dependant:  10 years ago, the Internet was a fun diversion; now it's an indelible part of life.

8AM Saturday:  Nothing.

8:30AM Saturday:  Nothing.  I woke Heidi up to see if she had a number for the bozos who were supposed to be arriving.  I called and got a machine, so I hung up.

9AM Saturday:  Nothing.  Heidi left messages for good fellas Shawn/Eric and for efficient Carrie in PA.  In my blinding rage, I make plans to drive to the offices of Northeast Home Control Systems, only 1-1/2 miles short of Wiscasset village, on Monday morning to find out what, exactly, their deal was today.

9:30AM Saturday:  Nothing. 

9:35AM Saturday:  Eric arrives, 1-1/2 hours late.  Virtually no apology for this extraordinary, unprofessional, and unacceptable lateness, but I let it go as I only wanted the stuff installed and get on with my life.

9:40AM Saturday:  Carrie calls back, very apologetic, but I am able to tell her that the installer is finally here.  One gets the sense that heads will roll over this, but that's in Carrie's hands.  All I want is my Internet, and to expunge my memory of any and all thoughts of Northeast Home Control Systems ("just 1-1/2 miles up Rt. 27 from Wiscasset") forever.

12:30PM Saturday:  Installation done.  Thank God.

I sure hope I get the opportunity to fill out a survey about our experience.  I think maybe I understand why Wild Blue won't supply equipment to the fine folks who are located oh-so-close to Wiscasset on Rt. 27, if this is any example of how they operate.

Sunday morning, I had my computer up and running in my new office, with the new Wild Blue, and all was well with the world again.  I am pleased to put this experience behind me, to say the least!

See you next time!  Things are happening now, and I expect to be able to post more frequent updates.

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006

No building news to report, unfortunately.

Some heavy rain last week once again highlighted our driveway problems down by the barn, where we're currently living.  The excavation last fall in order to install the buried utilities unfortunately compromised the gravel base of the driveway, and the dense clay and mud from beneath became intermixed with the firmer gravel, turning into a quagmire of disgust in the frost and rain.  Perhaps I'll go into greater detail about this later on.  This whole area will need to be dug out and replaced with new material, and compacted firmly, to ensure that it will provide a good base for boats and the like.  Currently, the clay withholds water, and the whole area turns to a mess every time the surface frost melts, and if it rains.  In addition, the trenches (3) settled significantly, so in all the trenched areas the ground is lower, forming small lakes of muddy water.

For now, though, we're stuck with this mess, but are looking forward to getting it taken care of soon.  Unfortunately, we now must wait for the postings to come off the road before we can think of bringing in equipment and dump trucks, but with luck that will occur soon; certainly most of the frost is long gone from the ground.


While there's no further progress on the house construction since last time, we've made some other advances.  I'm still expecting that the house construction will get on track next week.  We're still waiting for our telephone and satellite Internet hookups, but both should (we hope) be all set by next week too.

Over the weekend, we had extremely nice weather, with sun and temperatures well into the 60s.  As a result, I decided to move the 5th wheel out of the barn and outside, where living would be far more pleasant.  I was sick and tired of living inside a shell, and figured we could handle any small vestiges of cold weather that might remain ahead.

The first thing, however, was to get the hitch into the truck; it weighs 150 lb and is rather awkward.  In North Yarmouth, I had an eyebolt in the garage, to which I could hook a block and tackle.  I also have a gantry crane that will work well in the future, but that was still in the North Yarmouth shop at this time.  So I turned to the ever-useful tractor and loader, and used it--in combination with the block and tackle--to lift the hitch into place. 

First I lifted the hitch high in the air, and then I backed the truck beneath it, since the tractor couldn't lift high enough to go over the bed rails.
Then I lowered the hitch into place on the four pins in the bed.  As usual, I needed a crowbar to line up the last pin, thanks to a slight misalignment during installation.
With the hitch in place, I moved the camper outside--a fairly big production, given the need to shuffle other things around, disconnect everything, and then get the camper perfectly aligned and level in the new spot.  Because the driveway is mostly a muddy mess, I laid half sheets of plywood beneath the wheels to spread the load and prevent settling.  But it sure was nice to be outside again, with views and fresh air!


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Photos and Text 2006-2015 by Timothy C. Lackey.  All Rights Reserved.

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