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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On Experiencing a Foundation Repair

Have you ever wondered what getting your foundation repaired looks like?

Here's a glimpse at the process. For reference - We had 21 helical piers installed; two inside and 19 outside.

From arrival to departure, the foundation crew was onsite for 6-and-1/2 hours and took a 30 minute lunch break. Most of that time was spent in prep and clean up. The installation of the piers and lifting the house went very quickly - maybe 30 minutes total.

Step One: Move all furniture away from the work area. Side note - realize that you really should clean behind your furniture more often, so quickly clean before the work crew arrives.

Step Two: Wonder if your foundation might go back into alignment naturally from the weight of all of your furniture in a different part of the house. Also: Realize that this is an excellent time to purge the crazy things that you've kept for far too long (like that 1999 hardback edition of Roget's Thesarus).

Step Three: Take a final glance at your landscaping as you once knew it. In our case, wonder how much worse it can look than it already does. (You'll regret that question later.)

Step Four: Goodbye holly bushes. We were going to remove those within the next few months anyway, so we opted to have the foundation crew cut them out rather than dig and replace.

Step Five: Make sure you verify where they should be drilling before they start drilling. Our sales rep forgot to write down that we wanted the porch-side piers installed from the inside of the house rather than through the brick of the porch itself. At least we stopped it before they went further than the two starter drill holes...

Step Six: Protect the tile entryway and pull back the carpet and padding. Fight the temptation to pull the carpet out altogether - even though we're going to do something different with our flooring within the next 12-18 months, the carpet will be nice, even in its old worn-out state, for the interim.

Step Seven: Make sure you put any pets in the house far from the action. Jackhammering sounds like gunfire. In our case, we should have taken Bridget to be boarded. She had a seizure from the stress of everything later that night.

Step Eight: Realize that you shouldn't have worried about cleaning.

You really, really, really shouldn't have worried about cleaning.

Step Nine: Ready for piers.

Step Ten: Meanwhile outside, similar holes are being dug (without the jackhammer and dirt thrown around the interior of the house) along the foundation at points identified by the engineer.


Step Eleven: Piers go in.

Step Twelve: A machine helps drive the piers in.

Step 13: After the piers are installed and the house is lifted (the crew measures as they go to make sure it's being adjusted correctly), the crew cleans up and fills in the holes.

But surprise (or maybe not) - the concrete has to cure for two days before you can replace the padding and carpet. If you're thinking of letting your pets out and about in the house, beware of doing it too soon because you may end up with little pawprints in the concrete. (They are very cute, by the way.) We quickly learned that we had to keep the boys locked up until we could put the carpet back after Jasper jumped onto a carpet tack and left a blood trail throughout the house. Kittens just aren't careful or graceful enough to stay safe.

Part of the final clean up was putting all of our holly bushes in the back yard and stacking them according to our city's guidelines for collection. The work crew carried the bushes to the back, but Kelly took care of stacking everything.

The next steps are to get a plumber to check our water and sewer lines within the next 30 days or our pier warranty is voided.

We've also been given a laundry list of MUST DO's (which we already knew) with prioritization and timelines (which we weren't sure of, so this is helpful). Here's what's in store for the Hayley House in the days to come:

  • Plumbing check | 30 days. Since we just discovered a water spot in a guest room ceiling, we'll have him check if we have an interior pipe leak as well
  • Gutters | 60 days. Thank goodness Kelly works for a gutter/roofing/painting company
  • Drainage | 120 days. We have an irrigation company coming to talk to us in a couple of weeks
  • Landscape plan | This isn't necessary, but it's crazy to put in an irrigation system without thinking through what we're going to do with the yard. We can't afford to do the whole yard at once, but we can do it in stages if we have a plan. The irrigation company we're talking to is also a landscaping company.
  • Tree removal | Six months. We have to remove the two trees in our front yard and our redtips in the back yard because both are killing the foundation. The trees in the front yard have also successfully killed our grass, so it's time to move on (they are nearly 30 years old and too big for the yard size we have - right trees, wrong place).
  • Relandscape the front yard | Six months. Because when those trees go, we can't leave the yard as is. There's only so much public humiliation that we can endure.

What will have to wait?

  • Fixing the broken tile in the entryway (we want to take out the raised entryway so we have a single level throughout)
  • Repairing and repainting drywall cracks
  • Removing worn out carpet and putting down new flooring.

What does the house look like now? The furniture is back in place, many books and other knick-knacks have been packed up to donate and our front yard looks completely different.

It's hard to look much worse than the Yard of Desolation did in the first place, but we've always been overachievers. The good news is that while the yard looks bad, we do think it looks more open without the bushes against the house. That gives us some idea of what to do with our new landscaping.

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