ETA: The blog is being rebooted as an incentive for my Patreon Supporters. All posts go live after a week, but Supporters at the $10+ tiers get early access. Thank you!
Brooke here. Let’s start tackling the foundation posts, shall we? There’ll be a few of these, since our house was sinking and it’s been an 18-month project to get it back out of the swamp.
You might remember that when Brown and I purchased this house, it was covered in ivy. Not only that, but the ivy seemed to be covering up a lot of mistakes, errors, and other small domestic terrors. So Brown and I spent ages removing ivy to see what was underneath.
Yeah. We…uh. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that. Turns out, and I’m completely serious here, that it was load-bearing ivy. The ivy sucked up rainwater before it got into, or ran under, the foundation. To a certain small extent, the ivy was literally holding the house in place. Once it was gone and the water could go where it wanted, there were gradual shifts in the position of the house.
It’s not that the ivy caused these problems, mind! We’ve been finding evidence that the foundation was in crappy shape since we moved in. It’s just that removing the ivy exacerbated existing problems, and by “existing problems”, I mean that we got sold a lemon covered in ivy and when we took off the ivy we found that it was somehow refrigerating the lemon and now that it’s gone the lemon is rotting…
… okay, that analogy might have gotten away from me. Take a look at this instead:
That’s insulating foam sprayed between cracks in the cinder blocks. Did we do this? No, certainly not. Did we know this was here when we bought the house? No, there was a shelf in front of it. Did the home inspectors catch it? No, they did not.
*shakes fist at the past*
So. How do you repair a foundation?
In our case, you start by hiring a company to come out and give you an estimate. They’re a national company with good recommendations, and the guy who shows up is really nice and polite and says he needs to dig up a large part of your basement and run a bunch of new sump systems. And that the foundation will need to be supported in up to 15 different points around the perimeter of the house. And the cost will be this much… Sir? Ma’am? Did you both just black out? Well, we can reduce the cost by this much if you finance through our banking service. And we can reduce it by this much if you pay within six months. And we can reduce it by this much if you leave a sign in your yard advertising our company…
By the end of the sales proposal, I was already shopping around on Angie’s List for second opinions, because if someone’s trying to shove something down your throat you should probably stop them to see what you’re eating.
We eventually went with Carolina Foundation Solutions, and I’d recommend them without hesitation. But that’s a topic for a later time, as the cost of getting the foundation repaired was so steep that we had to break it up over eighteen months.
The first stage was getting the pool equipment relocated. When we first moved in, we concentrated on getting the pool renovated (because we were young and foolish and we thought that would be the only thing we’d need to repair *shakes fist at the past again*). Part of this rehab was a new pump and filter. Unfortunately, these were located in the sinking section of the foundation. If we wanted to shore up the foundation, we’d need to move the pool equipment.
We worked with the company which rehabbed the pool, Vue Custom Pools (there’s been a name change), to relocate the equipment. We weren’t too upset about this, as relocating it closer to the pool would allow the pump to work more efficiently and would likely keep the pool cleaner while using less energy. Still, it was a pricey process and it put the rest of the foundation repairs on hold.
They began by using a digital signal locating device to track the location of the pipes underground. This would let them know exactly where they should dig, and how deep they needed to dig, to tie in the new lines to the existing lines.
Once the existing lines were located, two people showed up to dig the trench. They were a husband-and-wife team who kept wolves and lived out on the land, only visiting civilization to dig trenches and acquire raw meat. By the end of the first day, I was all set to run away with them.
By the end of the second day, the Wolf Man had run the pipes and tied in the new lines to the old. There was a brief moment of panic when they thought that the existing pipes were made from old telephone conduit, but it turns out they were rated for pressurized water. Anyhow, the new pipelines are much prettier.
At the end of this came a platform made from pressure-treated wood, which… Listen, I love the Wolf Man, I do, but I could have built a better platform myself. Brown and I were in there after they left for the afternoon, bringing things to level.
And then we had a This!
And then we had to wait for over a year before we began the next stage of the foundation repair process. More on that in a future post.