It's June 2007 and we are breaking ground on our small footprint home.

June 2nd
For weeks we have been preparing the site, moving plants, collecting paving stones, pruning bushes. Yesterday we removed the trellis, measured setbacks and painted lines to guide us. For months we have been stuck to our computer screens planning and drawing every detail of our house design. Scroll down for a copy. Now the day has come to break ground. In three hours the excavator will be delivered and we will get a crash course (no pun intended) on how to operate it. Tomorrow the lot will be forever transformed. This is exciting stuff!

Click on (most) images for a larger view.

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the excavator arrives
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Thomas catches on quick!
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start of the sewer ditch

soon the gardens will be dug up

removing the trellis

it's snowing!

preparing the berm site

thumbs up!
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saving the daisies
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the sewer ditch takes form
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Laura measures, Thomas cuts
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straddling the ditch
June 3rd
First day with the excavator. Thomas got to climb the learning curve and started by digging out and moving a couple of cement post bases. Then we removed the one foot layer of topsoil from the west third of the building site, lifting out a snowball bush and other plants as we went along. These were set aside to be replanted as soon as the topsoil was moved to its temporary location at the front of the property. We also started to dig out the old sewer line having pre-dug this line by hand in spots to identify its exact location and depth.

June 4th
Second day operating the excavator. Today we cut into the clay to dig down to the level of the footings for the west wall. We also completed the trench for the sewer line bypass to proper depth using a laser level to guide us along. To facilitate the hookup for the old house while we build the new one, we need to do some sewer pipe rerouting prior to the foundation being poured.

June 5th
We spent the day moving the mountain of topsoil to the front of the property where we created a berm so we could re-plant all the salvaged bushes and flowers that we had dug up. The largest one was a 10 foot high snowball bush.

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checking out the controls
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digging in!
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dumped on myself!

It sure felt good to save all that topsoil and all those plants the cost of which alone we figure totally offset the cost of renting the excavation equipment.

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the landscape is changing
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the berm is filling up
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pick up of bobcat
June 12th  We got our building permit today! Permit #BP102499!  Stopped by Town Hall to pick up the permit!  It was pretty exciting!  Here are two examples of drawings we handed in (although those were blueprint size). Thomas was put in charge of drawing and he climbed a huge learning curve to provide amazing detailed plans utilizing Excel Spreadsheets. The tools that are available in Excel are pretty extensive although normally one would not utilize them. We had also handed in a 35 page binder with detail sheets and information on the  P2000 insulation we are using in our (unconventional) exterior envelope (more about that when we are in the building phase. 1stfloor.jpg (87546 bytes)
main floor plan
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second floor plan
 June 21st
After taking some time off so that Laura could help her Mom through some surgery on her foot and the associated recovery, it was great to get back to our project today. We first reviewed our time lines and started in on the process of securing materials. While at the cottage last week I had prepared detailed materials lists which Laura turned into requests for quotations that she sent to various suppliers. In the process we reviewed some decisions and made some more minor modifications to the design. It was today that Laura decided that we would go with an 8" foundation wall after all. So we set to work redrawing our foundation plans. This also included calculating the detailed measurements for all the tie down bolts that will be imbedded in the cement.

June 22nd
Laura is still very much engaged with suppliers, so I got a chance to get out and start on the site prep for when the skid-steer comes back. We have scheduled a small skidsteer to move the clay to the west side of the old house. There is an 8' corridor between the fence and the old house that will be the place where we will store the clay, until it can be reworked into the property's landscaping. We moved the firewood and dismantled the old firewood shelter using its components to fortify the neighbours fence so that our three foot mound of clay would not push into his yard.

June 23rd
We spent a full day doing more site preparation work, moving plants, dismantling fences, salvaging stones, gravel and sand from the old garden layout. A raceway between the workshop and the old house is narrow and a tight squeeze for the skid-steer. Still it is where Laura will maneuver the skid-steer to bring the clay to its temporary resting place. As we transplant more and more flowers and bushes onto the berm we are receiving more and more comments about how good it looks. Salvaging all that sand and gravel also feels good as we should have enough sand on hand now to imbed the sewer bypass.

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salvaging sand under stones
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south side of house prep

west side of house prep
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Nancy & Larry's latest project!

It was fun to watch Nancy and Larry today,  working away on their latest project of a lovely patio in their back yard. What wonderful neighbours we have them.  They are actually "feeding and watering" us every Wednesday to give us a break from cooking for ourselves.  And what great company they are ... we four have many similar interests - we are all vegetarian and love our homes and gardens! We are so fortunate to have them in our lives.

June 24th
Today we took down another piece of fence. We salvaged calendulas and lupines as well as a few bushes. Mostly we trimmed and pruned and moved rocks - lots of rocks. Most are decorative and we have a special place to keep those. We also salvaged another half dozen wheelbarrow loads of sand from under the paving stones that we lifted. The robin came to visit and picked away at some of the ant eggs that got exposed. The sparrows also enjoyed our activities and took dust baths in the sand just before everything got soaked as we had a noon time thundershower during our lunch break. We decided that the broken paving stones might be handy to place on top of the topsoil or the clay to allow us to walk on it during the rainy season next winter. Then when we are done with them after the old house is gone we can place them into the old foundation as filler and drain rock.

June 25th
How nice it is when planning pays off. A few weeks ago we had the town shut off the water so we could install a shutoff valve that's easily accessible. Today when the sharp end of my pic found the waterline it was fun to just walk over and turn the valve. A quick trip for parts and water was restored in a flash. Then I found the other end of the waterline without incidence. Now we know exactly where we can dig on Thursday.

June 26th
Today was in indoor day. We made some progress on our electrical plan, selecting and positioning all the baseboard and in-floor heating. Selecting the lighting on the other hand is proving to be much less simple. We also made contact with two suppliers to confirm plumbing prices for the in-ground plumbing and rain drainage system. The only physical work we did today was to finish hand digging the sewer trench so we can remove the clay mound when the skid-steer arrives tomorrow. 

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June 27th
We are back at it... after a little hiatus while I took care of  Mom until yesterday after her foot surgery. We had the "Baby Bobcat" (skid-steer) delivered today... perfect size to get between the workshop and the house to deposit the clay on the west side of the house and then under the arbour and down the side and around the back/south of the house to deposit topsoil!  I had a blast working it, while Thomas worked hard ahead of me spreading to make compact "roadways" to maneuver on as well as to protect the patio stones underneath.  We got all the clay moved and cut some topsoil to start on the back so we can save the rest of the topsoil and plant more plants.

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view from Bobcat

team work - Thomas levels my skid marks to reduce the bounce of the machine.

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just enough room... 
to squeeze through

It was a beautiful clear day with lovely cool winds, so we were very comfortable working today. When you spend as much time planning as we do its easy to let your imagination run wild. We ended our workday with a lovely dinner and wine on our make-shift patio! Not quite where it will be on completion but close enough.

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June 28th
Got the excavator back today and Thomas was right at it nice and early clearing the rest of the site of the topsoil piling it high so I can move it in a few days.  We have to finish digging for the sewer line and lay new waterline to connect with the new and old house.  We also have to dig the storm sewer line.  I spent the first half of the day inside finalizing our first purchase order - the initial plumbing order.  Also did more work on correspondence with sources about the Glulam and ceiling decking.  Later in the day I helped Thomas outside... he did a lot of topsoil excavating! WOW it's starting to look like a house site!

We finished moving a Garry oak and two forsythia out to the front berm and dug up numerous Oregon grape, a huge oregano, a huge rosemary, an old sage, and a good size lavender to move to the back of the house in a few days.  The day became overcast and rained later on, but we kept at it as it was still mild enough to be comfortable.  Cali is a little miffed at us - she is finally excited about going out and exploring but now we have changed her whole world by digging it up!

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June 29th
It's neat to have people drop by the site to see how we are coming along!  Judy & Cheryl stopped by today... John stopped by a few days ago.  And of course there is Larry and Nancy poking about in their garden or waving to us from their kitchen window!
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Our first delivery... sewer, plumbing, and storm drain piping... with "Parker Ventures" written on it and everything!

June 30th  A good 12 hour workday! And boy did we get a lot of earth moved!  It feels so good to be saving all this earth and clay and plants!

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coming through the arbour
with a rosemary bush
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building up soil east side
notice the arbour is gone now ;-/
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building up soil south side
We'll plant potatoes here too!
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end of the day, watering and chatting on the phone with Mom

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