Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yea, it's been a while - but there's been progress!

I haven't made time to update the blog in about 5 months... Things have been crazy, to say the least... I took about two months off (May & June) and since then what little time I've had I've spent working as opposed to writing.
Since the last update a lot has been accomplished. The foundation underpinning is complete, the floor has been poured, I've framed out the room and two closets, re-ran several electrical circuits, removed about 40' of old metal ductwork and replaced it with insulated flex ductwork, insulated the walls and ceiling, hung sheetrock, and started to tape & spackle.
Here are some pic's:

Wow, no more dirt !!! The 4x6 Pressure treated header has been replaced by a pair of 20' 2x6" Microlam joists. These are about 10x stronger than what I had there temporarily and will never bend, warp, or bow since it's a manufactured plywood and I've essentially "overdoneit" with lolly columns. : )

Here's my little helper - Ricky. He's a great sweeper by the way, much better than I in fact. Must be because he's closer to the ground, right?

70 2x4x8's, water seal for the walls, and various waterproof concrete formulas to seal the cracks in the existing foundation. The walls are starting to go up too:

This iteration now shows some hi-hat lights, insulation, and flex-ducts:

Since removing the metal duct work for which has been the culprit for many of the scars on my balding head, I needed to re-feed three registers and add a new one for the new room. Due to space limitations, I couldn't run four flex ducts back to the air handler, so I built a distribution box and fed it with two ducts from the air handler. Air flow hasn't always been that great in this house to begin with, so any deviation wouldn't be really be noticed.

I'm using green-board (bathroom board) which is mold and mildew resistant for the bottom portion of the walls. I figure that if I ever get water in the basement, at least the sheetrock won't have to be torn out due to mold growth on the paper. After thinking about it, I should've used green board on the upper walls and ceiling too as humidity levels can promote mold growth, but it is what it is... Besides, there is no way that I am lugging 20 pieces of sheetrock back up those stairs - getting it down was tough enough!

Stay tuned - more pics to come...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Caution: Wet Concrete!

Ok, that time has come. The time for concrete to be poured is now. Here are some pics:
Below is a pic of some forms that were erected to contain and essentially "form" the new retaining wall and underpinning of the existing foundation wall. What you see straight on is the retaining wall which has forms on both sides held together by steel pins and what you see on the right that is supported by all of those 2x4's is the underpinning. The underpinning only has a form on one side and it is necessary to support it with 2x4's like such as the weight of the concrete can very well push the form away from the foundation and spill.

Now the pic above represents nearly 1/3 of the work that needs to be complete. When underpinning, it's important "NOT" to do everything at once otherwise you risk a total cave-in. So, we're are doing one corner with 6' of underpinning, we'll do the other corner with 6' of underpinning, then will mend the middle 6' between the two ends. The last bit of concrete work will involve pouring the floor.

Below represents the retaining wall that has forms on both sides. This leads perpendicularly to the existing foundation wall and underpinnings:
What you see below is the other end of the pic from above, essentially the T section where the retaining wall meets the existing foundation wall:

What you see below is where the new concrete replaces the area of the existing footing that had fallen free. This way the footing is repaird and the work is continuious through the room and provides the same structural integrity throughout:

What you see below represents the remaining dirt that needs to be removed and the footings that require underpinning (the other 2/3).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two weeks & 24,000 lbs of soil.

We've had a very busy couple of weeks working on the project. In the past two weeks, I've logged about 40 hours of work between working full days on weekends and putting in an hour or two here and there after work. Each week we've stored around 4 cubic yards.

(How much does a yard of soil weigh? A yard weighs in at 1.5 tons or 3000lbs. (1.5 x 4 = 6 ton's x 2 = 12 tons))

A week ago this past Saturday, Mike & I dug, filled, and humped 130 buckets of soil while also taking down the far end of the concrete wall - yes, all in one day.

This past week, Mike & I dug, filled, and humped around 120 buckets of soil, stone, and concrete debris. I was able to dig a pair of pits (4' round x 4' deep) so that I can bury some rather large boulders. (300+ lbs each) (Put it this way, these stones were so large it took me nearly an hour to dig each hole and undermine the boulders so that they would roll into the pits for burial.)

This past weekend we were able to build a form for a lally column footing (16"x16"x16") using 5000psi concrete with wire mesh and rebar for reinforcement. I created a template out of cardboard to mimick the base plate of the lally column. I placed four 5/8" Jbolts through the template and set their height using the 5/8" nuts. This template served two purposes - 1) the proper alignment of bolts so that when the concrete is dry, the bolts will be in the correct position for mounting of the lally column, and 2) to keep the bolts from sinking into the 16" of concrete.
This evening we placed the new 4"x6" pressure treated header into place. It looks like we're getting somewhere now...

Here's some pics:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

1 Man + 1 Sledge Hammer = a Big Pile of Rocks

Yesterday was spent swinging a 16lb sledge hammer with fury taking down the far end of the old foundation wall. Some field stones were so large that I could barely budge them, so I was forced to split them. Here's some pics. Enjoy my insanity:

This one shows that the pile is nearly 4' tall. (Count the steps.)

Here's whats left of the far side of the wall - the picture was taken from within the escavated area.

Here are some shots of my my now one legged Circuit Breaker Panel:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chapter Three

It's been a few weeks since my past post as things have been pretty busy with work. Despite being plaged at the office, we've been able to get a considerable amount of work done though.
Ok, we all know that digging dirt, filling buckets with said dirt, and humping it up out of the basement isn't exactly exciting stuff, but that's pretty much the jist of what's been done.
Here are some pics:
Yours truly:

Meet Mike, my neighbor who's been good enough to lend me his heavy duty trailer that can hold about 2 Yards of soil (rougly 5400lbs) as it's rated for 2.5 tons (5600lbs). He's also been helping out (digging & humping buckets to his trailer). I've struck a deal with him in that he'd get paid by volume. ($100/yard.) After all is said and done, I figured that I had about 25 yards worth of soil, stone, & concrete to move - so he stands to make around $2500 for his time and energy.)

I've installed a few temporary lolly columns (in an overkill capacity) to make sure that the house doesn't settle and crackle my spackle in the dining room above.

Here are some pics that illustrate the new lolly columns in use (supporting the house) and the twisted 2x6's that are essentially now unsupported in the far half:

Stay tuned, as there's more to come. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Digging Out! - Pictures

Here are some pics of the amazing things that I came across while digging out my basement:
Here is a fine example of the twisted 2x6's. You should also note that there is a single verticle "branch" that is lodged into one of the 2x6 floor joists. I'll illustrate the damage this is causing below.

Here's a series of pictures that illustrate the termite damage from yester-year and the magnificent job someone did to rectify the situation:

Ok, to highlight what's wrong with the aforementioned image, let's imagine that someone placed a 4x4 adjacent to an eaten 4x4, but not on solid foundation but rather a 1x12 board that spans the top of what one was a basement window well. No one in their right mind would ever think that a 1x12 spanning 24" could hold up anything but a few books, right? Here are a few more that attempt to highlight the lunacy:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Digging Out!

Ok, now I've done it; I've taken on one of the biggest do-it-yourselfer projects around. I am digging out the "other side" of my basement. You see, our home was built in the late 1800's and on grade, so there was origionally just a small crawl space of a basement. Later in the 1920's it is believed that the then homeowners started to dig out the basement and had undermined and underpinned the existing foundation (made of field stones) with concrete. (I actually found a newspaper, the New York Times date March 12, 1928 under a large field stone, so I assume that this is when the work was being done.) Later in the 1970's, as my neighbors recount, a family - by the name of the Barnett's had done some more work down there. What exactly, I don't know. In the early 90's, the most previous homeowners, the Lettera's had either finished or refinished the basement - including the installation of a full bathroom. (All the fixtures in the house seem to be late model \ home-depot regular items, so 1990's is just about right...)

About four years ago, we had a major flood in the basement. The pressure relief valve on our oil-fired hot water heater had went dumping a few thousand gallons of (yes, hot) water in the basement. Much of the sheetrock was destroyed throughout and I replaced a good portion of the sheetrock that seemed to be the oldest and most flimsy. When I opened on wall, what I saw amazed me - some idiot used two 2x6x10's to support the upper floor. On top of it, they used regular 10-D nails to keep them together. Can you guess what happened? See if this paints a picture for you:

Ok, you might be asking - what is it actually that I see in this aweful picture? Well, it is a concrete poured wall with a step formed out and two twisted 2x6's hanging on for dear life. A few years ago, when I first saw this I did a couple of things, the first is that I installed that adjustable lolly column to assit in the weight distribution and the second thing I did was to mark the wood and the concrete as to identify where everything was and to see if the situation has worsened as time goes on. Well luckily nothing has gotten worse over time but unfortuanately nothing has gotten better either so my #1 priority here is to replace those twisted 2x6's with three 2x8's that are either lagged or bolted together (I'm leaning toward using 5/8" threaded rod / pan washers / lock washers / nuts)...

Since I am actually planning on taking that old field stone \ poured wall down, vertical supports will installed in its place. What I'm planning on doing making a good strong footing by digging out about 2' below the floor level, hammering in 3' pieces of rebar in a few different diagonal directions and wrapping the tops of the rebar with steel wire mesh (approximately 8 to 10 guage wire) to form a basket. I'll nail together four pieces of wood to create a form so that the concrete pour for this footing is presentable. I plan on pouring 5000psi concrete to make the footings which should do quite well for the task of holding up my dining room, and upper level bathroom and office (where I'm typing right now).