Be prepared.

Submitted by Ted on July 22, 2011

Today's lesson: if you can do something today, do it today, because tomorrow your excavation guy may have time to do a bunch of work, and you'd like to fit into his schedule when he has the time. The problem with being your own general contractor is that it's your job to keep track of these issues. But in our case, Eli has been acting a little bit general-contractorly, and so I forgot that I'm still supposed to be keeping track of the schedule. Really, when we decided to build the house ourselves, we weren't planning to pull in a lot of subcontractors, so in theory it was all going to be a lot easier, and we'd just call people when we needed them. When we pulled Eli in, that changed, because we decided to have him do a really substantial amount of work to get us under roof quickly. The problem with accelerated timeframes is that you really need to stay on top of the schedule or you'll wind up in a jam. Today we wound up in a jam. Eli had suggested that I work on sealing the below-grade part of the garage foundation, but it was a little informal, and we were going to do it this week, and then it turned out that our electrical contractor's son, Sachary, had some time and could use a few bucks, so we wound up hiring him to do it. They were going to be on the site to set up the temporary electrical panel, so it sounded like a good plan. The only thing is, Wayne, our excavation guy, was going to be on site to bury the electrical some more once the service was in. And since he was on site, he wanted to do some more work, because burying the electrical was a pretty minor job, and there's a ton of work to get done on the site. Wayne is one of those wise, experienced excavation guys who's dug a lot of foundations and really knows what he's doing, and doesn't mind offering his advice on how to do the earthwork right. As a consequence, he's in high demand, and has had a busy summer, despite the economic situation. But he's tried to do right by us by squeezing us in here and there, and he's succeeded. The only trouble today was that we hadn't really thought about how it was going to make sense for Wayne to do some of the earthwork while he was on the site (actually I think Logan was doing most of the actual earth moving—Wayne was just there to make sure we were all clear on what the plan was). So we hadn't put in the low-voltage carrying pipe, and we hadn't put in the water supply pipe for the garage. We could have done those things any time in the past two and a half weeks—we just didn't think to do it, because I was hammering out a water channel further uphill, and Andrea managed to catch a nasty flu. To add an extra complication, when we'd talked about how many sleeves to put through the garage wall, we had a miscommunication. We needed a 3" sleeve for the electrical, and a 2" sleeve for the low-voltage, and we'd talked about putting in another electrical conduit for the solar grid-tie (which I will explain in a separate post). We'd also talked about putting in a 2" sleeve for a water supply line for a hose bib on the garage, and maybe a utility sink in the garage. But then we figured out that we didn't need the sleeve for the grid-tie, because there was enough room in the 3" sleeve. So we deleted that, and in the process managed to lose track of the 2" water sleeve. (BTW, for those who don't know, a sleeve is just a piece of pipe you run through the foundation wall before you pour the concrete. When the time comes to run services through the concrete, you have a convenient pipe in the concrete wall, and you can either join conduit to it, or just run a smaller pipe through it.) So today, we needed to cut a hole in the concrete using a wet core drill. And we needed to run a 4" sleeve from the house to that hole, and through the hole. Fortunately Eli came by, and he knows everybody in town (I think literally), and his friend Dan, who is a plumber, just happened to be driving down Western Avenue when Eli called him, and Dan came to the rescue. Eli got one of his guys to rent a core drill, bring a bucket of water for the wet part, and a generator to power it. Once the hole was cut, Dan ran the pipe through it and up the hill to the place where it's going to enter the house. Andy, our electrical sub, ran the low-voltage conduit. Anyway, I think that's what happened—by the time I got to the site at 6:30 this afternoon, all the work had been completed, and I didn't see who actually did it. Here's the sleeve sticking through the wall into the garage: I was there to finish cutting a drainage channel through a bit of hard rock up at the top of the foundation. I've been working on this a couple of hours a day, maybe three or four days a week, for the past three weeks. Here's what it looks like: I've actually removed a substantial amount of rock, but it looks pretty unimpressive. It'll be covered up in sand tomorrow. Sigh.