Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

January 21, 2010

Foundation and Beginnings of a First Floor

Filed under: Beginnings — Duane Diefenbach @ 6:00 pm

Three days ago I mentioned pouring walls. Things are going so fast I can’t keep up on the blogging so here’s an update of the past few days with some pictures.

The walls were poured on Monday. Amazingly Glen Peachey’s crew of Peachey’s Poured Walls showed up in the morning and began setting up forms. An intricate process whereby interlocking aluminum panels are set up to create the forms. After the whole foundation was laid out with forms, they were checked for level and square and the concrete began pouring. Two full trucks of concrete and a full days work. But the whole thing was a rush and I didn’t get any photos of the forms. Just the finished product after the whole operation.

The photo shows Lee Cowan and our neighbor, George Robb, in the backhoe adding fill to the crawl spaces.  Everything except the area nearest the house will be crawlspace.

As of Thursday afternoon (today) this is the status of our project.

The mud is still pretty bad, although it has moderated over the past couple of days (it was 14 degrees F this morning). But tomorrow snow, rain, and sleet is supposed to arrive… Oh Joy!

January 18, 2010

Thawed Mud and Poured Walls

Filed under: Beginnings — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:06 pm

Today,  Martin Luther King Day, began the setting of forms and pouring foundation walls.  But I get ahead of myself. First, the footers were poured on Friday with a beginning temperature of <10 degrees F and covered with blankets to help them cure properly.  Saturday was beautiful so I decided to work on the solar kiln (another story not yet told on this blog, but see picture on our home page). Sunday started out cold (below 32 degrees), which was good because it kept the mud frozen. The family worked on getting the stone distributed around the footers before the rain started.

And the rain started about 10am on Sunday.  And kept going until about 10pm.  Now the frozen ground was quickly being replaced by mud.  And the excavated sidewalls began falling onto the footers.  Wonderful.

But by Monday morning other than 3″ of mud everywhere the project could proceed.  The day started sunny but quickly clouded over, but didn’t get any warmer – but well above freezing.

It all worked out (I think). We’ll have photos of the poured wall soon.

January 15, 2010

Footers and frozen mud

Filed under: Beginnings — Duane Diefenbach @ 8:06 pm

I learned how to string lines so that the foundation contractor can set his forms. It’s not too difficult after you pound concrete form stakes into frozen ground (use a hammer drill to start the hole), attach a piece of lathe, and then make lots of replicate measurements with 2-3 people.  The foundation contractor arrived around 8am and was completely done before I got home from work.  They’re now under blankets to help the concrete cure. Pictures to come soon.

Now we have to plan for 1) walls poured on Monday, 2) where to locate access holes for sewer line, sump pump, utilities, and geothermal lines. Not to mention all the other things we need to purchase – like windows, switches, sinks, etc., etc…

January 13, 2010

The beginning of the mud

Filed under: Beginnings — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:51 pm

Ok, we are now committed to debt and mud and multiple other disturbances for the foreseeable future.  To celebrate I took the day off work.

The picture below is known as B.C. (before construction). When we are all done there will be no wooden structure on the left side of the stone building, no overhead wires, and the wreath and Christmas tree will be gone. The addition will attach to the side of stone house showing in the photo below.

George Robb (our neighbor and excavation contractor) brought over the trackhoe the night before and arrived at 6am to get it warmed up. It was a balmy 20 degrees F at 7am.  Our builder, Lee Cowan, arrived and the digging commenced. The first thing we learned was how the foundation of our stone house was constructed. I was worried the whole side of the house might collapse when exposed but I think it will stay in place… (knock on stone).

The other issue to deal with upon excavation was the former cistern that served as a septic tank for the past 40+ years. We had installed a new septic system in October and had the old cistern pumped on Monday. How deep was the question. Here’s the answer:

Notice the black stuff at the bottom – it was about 20 degrees F on Monday when the septic service came to clean this out and I don’t think their equipment was working at peak efficiency.  Then notice in the previous photo the door and black spatters – the excavator caused a piece of concrete to send a tsunami of sludge 25′ into the air…the wreath has got to go now!

We get started on footers tomorrow.

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