The foundations were poured today [Friday 20th], and I have managed to convince Stef to press a Canadian penny, minted 2011, into the concrete. He put it just under the front door – a lovely touch, I thought. This should bring us good fortune for years to come, according to my vague memories of Chinese tradition (read: according to something I just made up). It sounds good, anyway.
Foundations, for those who don’t know, are the concrete bits that underlie all the important, load-bearing walls. I had imagined that they would pour a giant slab in the shape of the house, but instead they went around building wooden forms in the exact shape of all the walls, so you end up with a mini concrete model of your house plan, all dug a foot or two into the gravelly ground. I’m not sure if this is done for structural reasons or because it saves on money for concrete… perhaps both.
All has gone well except for two small things. Well, maybe three. Four?
Stef noticed (before the concrete was poured) that some of the walls were a bit out, by a quarter of an inch here, but 3.5 inches over there… He pointed it out and asked Ricardo to change it, which Ricardo very pleasantly did. No harm no foul. But after a few such incidents Ricardo started having second thoughts about the project, saying that maybe he had too much work on after all to take on the framing of our house; maybe he doesn’t want to do it.
But, with builders as with ex-es, never start dishing dirt until you know it’s well and truly over. Come Monday Ricardo was still on site, and he’s now full-throttle towards framing. This is good, because it will get done quickly and cheaply and by someone who comes with great references. But it’s also awkward, because Stef is perhaps more of a perfectionist than him, and rushing doesn’t fit well with that. We’ll see how it all pans out.
Problem number two is a leftover from the naughty excavators – turns out there was a hole in the sewage pipe (eeeeew). It’s not connected to anything yet, obviously, but a leak under the house would have been very bad news. Stef checked it on advice from our next door neighbours, and had them come and fix it. Sorted. Good thing that happened before the next phase, which is filling in the concrete frame with gravel and then pouring a slab of concrete flooring on top. Imagine trying to fix something lying under all that…
Problem three is a ‘big unknown’. On the weekend we went for a hike up to our local, un-named waterfall (we found an even better viewpoint than one we had seen before. It’s astonishing what’s in our backyard), and ran into local Pembertonian and paraglider Sony up there. That’s the second time, coincidentally, that I have run into Sony on a hike. Anyway, we could see the lot from our perch high on the cliff, and Sony mentioned that when he was round at our neighbours’ the other day (for Bible class apparently), his landlord, friend and former building inspector, who was also there, started clucking and sighing and making all manner of noises. “At this point, we should be taking pictures, because they have the makings of a lawsuit on their hands,” he said, apparently. This has us confused, unless he means the shoddy work of the excavators (previously mentioned). So it is a mystery hanging over us till we manage to get him on the phone. It’s probably nothing. Just a fun reminder that everyone loves to gossip about a big build.