Broken Ground and Broken Brain Cells.

epsilonGreedy

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When the sun is below the horizon and 450 divided by 2 = 250 it is time to quit for the day.

 

My assistant setting-out surveyor and I had a minor domestic incident in the gathering gloom at a foundation profile where our joint mathematical error became apparent. The gloom was both visible and mental. We had no choice but to soldier on marking out the foundations because although it was 9:30pm, tomorrow was dig-day and the JCB would be onsite at 7:30am.

 

I had seriously underestimated the time needed to set out the foundation plan for a main house and garage comprised of 5 interlocking rectangles and 4 internal supporting walls. As the clock counted down to dig-day some fag packet maths revealed I needed 35 profiles, 70 stakes for the profiles, the rock hard ground required that all profile stakes needed a pointed entry = 140 cuts with a saw and oh don’t forget the 140 screws.

 

The elastic sail measuring tape in my toolbox had thrown out my initial schedule and meant the first setting out attempt was scrubbed because I could not get stable diagonals. A new 30 meter long £35 steel tape from Screwfix was the answer when paired with my proper surveyors grp tape. Three days after that trip to screwfix and after 3 days of punishing heat, we drove home defeated with an incomplete set of walls marked out. At 1am my mind was churning, should I cancel the dig and be branded in the locality as the hapless self builder who messed around the pro’s. Could we live with a trapezoid kitchen 25mm out of true, yes, but what about the stairs condemned by my arithmetic error to run up the supporting wall 25mm out.

 

The alarm woke me at 3:15am, I was back onsite for sun rise and even the vocal sheep in the adjoining field seemed to be mocking me. Before Swmbo turned up at 5:30am dressed for the office I banged in the remaining profiles and we then marked out the missing walls in a new colour (those line marking paint cans gunge up quickly). The JCB arrived 40 minutes late which allowed me to walk the foundation plan with a superficial air of confidence that masked my inner fatigue. Mr Digger was not phased by the erroneous foundation line, he just rubbed out the bad line with his foot and said he would align the bucket edge to the good one.

 

The sun was up, the sheep had shut up and it was a relief to hand over to the pro’s.

 

The day just go better. Building Control arrived at 11am and decreed 1m trenches would suffice because ground conditions we so good, the clay looking stuff was actually silt. We could have got away with 225mm of concrete but I had ordered enough for 600mm foundations. Mr BC was in such a good mood he gave the assembled crew a quick lesson on how to distinguish nice silt from evil clay.

 

Many visitors passed by and declared I had the best looking trenches seen in Lincolnshire for years.

 

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Great write up and well done for soldiering on, many times in my life I have been in this situation, ( up against the wall with no time to faff, you either go hard or go home) always got respect for the person who goes hard when the option to go home is still just available. But hay who doesn’t like a challenge...... 

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Rest easy In the knowledge you’re  not on your own, I’m also half way through digging and laying our foundations and I’ve also made the odd mistake, ours took a day of extra work to sort out.

Edited by Triassic
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The drive and determination you have demonstrated here bodes well for the rest of the build. I have huge admiration for those who push on in difficult circumstances and succeed. Respect! 

 

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2 hours ago, Cpd said:

Great write up and well done for soldiering on, many times in my life I have been in this situation, ( up against the wall with no time to faff, you either go hard or go home) always got respect for the person who goes hard when the option to go home is still just available. But hay who doesn’t like a challenge...... 

 

 

Thanks. I think my prior solo sailing experience helped, when 50 miles offshore at 2am there is no option to quit and go home.

 

A few days later I remarked to Swmbo how we innovated under pressure, at the end of the setting out I could mark out a foundation wall 3 times faster. One tip is to have a roving profile template with measured marks for trench-edge / facing brick / cavity centre / inner block / inner trench edge, this aids reliable transfer of marks to a newly set profile. Another tip is to have a chat with the JCB driver before starting. Mine was happy to dig supporting wall trenches to a dashed centre line, had I known this I would have saved a lot of spray paint.

 

In retrospect I should have practiced setting out a 12m x 8m rectangle on the lawn at home a month earlier.

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14 minutes ago, epsilonGreedy said:

. I think my prior solo sailing experience helped, when 50 miles offshore at 2am there is no option to quit and go home.

 

You know what I am saying. I was thinking about my life as a rock climber and the amount of times I have been off route hundreds of feet up with nightfall coming and the weather deteriorating, at a certian point the  option to abseil of will be gone and you will be stuck on the wall for the night, you either “go for it”  at this point or you start the long process of trying to get off the fecking hill. 90% of the time I chucked caution to the wind and just got on with it. On my build the other 10% is having the luxury of procrastinating!  Keep up the good work. 

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