Finally, Foundation Fun!



So for all my complaining about how long this process has taken, things are finally beginning to happen. No one expected anything to happen as fast as I would like (since patience is not my virtue), but in my opinion it’s even slower than I’d expected. I try to be calm, but I can’t wait to move. That said, it is gratifying to drive by and see very visible changes.

First, we saw the lot cleared. The uneven ground was leveled and some of the trees, which needed to be removed, were bulldozed out and left at the back of the lot. I admit, I’d hoped for something truly interesting and historical to be turned up during this process – Dignowity is, after all, the oldest suburb of San Antonio. Nothing, unfortunately, came to light except for a couple rusted old cans and some miscellaneous car parts.

Form 1

Next, the form for the foundation was built – the plywood box, held up by 2×4 framing. This was a quick job, and for the first time really made it possible for us to understand the scale of the house (which is much bigger than I personally expected). We decided at this point to celebrate with beer, since we’re quite prepared to celebrate every step in the process. This felt much bigger than it probably was. After the form was in place, it had to be inspected to make sure that it was the correct distance from the property line on one side and the setback in the front.

Drainage Pipes

When this inspection was complete, the waste water pipes were dug into place. This let us see where the downstairs half-bath and the kitchen sink would eventually be. Like the forms themselves, the pipes also had to be inspected, and we found a green form attached to one indicating the seal of approval. One interesting thing we did see when the pipes were dug into place was a section of the original waste pipes, which were made out of terra cotta.

Inspection TagOld Drain Pipe

Next, they dug out the foundation and filled it with sections of aggregate. The Historic Design and Review Commission required us to include a foundation which matched the height of other pier-and-beam foundations in the neighborhood, so the aggregate was used to add volume and increase the height. There was one trench in the midst of the aggregate sections running the length of the house and several running perpendicular to that one. Another trench ran even deeper all around the perimeter next to the plywood forms. Interestingly, there was a layer of bricks several feet below ground level, which we assumed had been part of the original foundation.

Aggregate and drain pipes

Old Foundation Bricks

Over and around the sections of aggregate, then, went the rebar. This took two days to complete. It filled the trenches and crisscrossed the surface of the aggregate sections. The rebar made it much more difficult to walk around the site, but that didn’t stop us, especially when we felt the need to give someone the “grand tour”.

Since the rebar has been done, we’ve seen a water pipe go in through one of the outside trenches. The temporary electricity is also being put in, and the structural engineer must come out one last time to make sure that everything has been installed according to his plans. The pour should happen sometime in the next week, and the walls should start going up a week or so into September. Again, not as fast as I would wish, but not bad.


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