Water Water Everywhere

After we scraped the topsoil, we dug down to try and get to the depth of our footings. The excavators went about halfway down, and then let things sit over the weekend to try and dry out.

Over the weekend the full-depth test hole filled with water. It looked like we could get down a couple of more feet before we had to start pumping out water. So the plan was to dig a little, then let things dry a little, and book the concrete crew for a few weeks out.

But the full-depth hole kept filling with water. So we planned to scrape off the pad down to the waterline and then let things dry out.

Then it rained.

The rain turned the clay to sticky muck, which required another round of drying. It was aggravating that the machines could obviously dig the hole down in a few days – with dry soil, we were only looking at about ten days of excavation work. But we didn’t have dry soil. What we did have was a dry week in the forecast.

But the water didn’t go away. Eventually, we brought the geotech back out to the site. He recommended either digging a trench above the build site to try and intercept the incoming water, or dig and pump as we went down, over-excavating another two feet to make sure we were working with dry soil. The second option looked like it was slightly cheaper, but not by much. On the whole, the water issues were likely to nearly double our excavation costs, from the budgeted $45,000 to $90,000. Not a great start to major construction. We also needed to get the concrete contractor $7,500 in advance to keep everything to schedule. The minor silver lining was that concrete looked like it was coming in about $13,000 under-budget (from a budget of $55,000). So that could offset at least some of the excavation overages.

When we made another, deeper pass, about six inches above our ground floor, water seeped in from below. Not a great sign:

This prompted a discussion about switching our foundation to piers instead of standard footings for the basement, since footings would require another six feet of digging. But piers (of course) would cost more money.

Book Review

This week’s mini book review was a bit of a surprise to me. I expected 150 Best Cottage and Cabin Ideas to be a little, erm, “basic,” but it’s actually a nice little collection of case studies, with captions and narratives that call out nice design details in each cabin in the book. And the ideas aren’t only applicable to “cottages and cabins” either. It’s not an architectural textbook by any means, but it’s worth a read for some inspiration.