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The foundation project lurches along

Yesterday we entered the trickiest part of the Great Foundation and Screen Porch Project. It went … about as you’d expect.

From the pictures and the headline, you might have thought the first portion we took on was the tricky one. That part certainly made us think. And rethink. And think some more.

But we got that solved. We have that side, the bedroom/screenporch side, on jacks and partly leveled. Now we move along the same back (north) wall to where the rot is only slightly less bad, the ground clearance considerably less, and plumbing is in the way of our plans.

In addition — and I’m sorry, but I can’t say this without speaking ill of the dead — we’re dealing with recent construction by the late Handyman Mike that was botched in so many ways it would be hard to count them all. We have new construction that’s complicating the problems with the old.

In October 2015 when he was remodeling my bathroom, Mike was supposed to repair and level the foundation under it. Instead he faked it poured new pads and built new walls over very bad, rotting underpinning. He also didn’t do any leveling to a floor that visibly slopes. He “compensated,” if you can call it that, by building the new wall at a nice, clean vertical while the rest of the house tilted around it. At its top, Mike’s new bathroom wall is probably 1-1/2 inches out of alignment with the existing walls.

Where was I while all these bad decisions were being committed? I was aware then that things were going wrong, both with the project and with Mike. I just didn’t realize how wrong on either count. Mike seemed muddled and confused, which I chalked up to being preoccupied with chaotic events going on in his life. He was clearly Not With the Program. I questioned certain decisions, but clearly didn’t question enough. I was too focused on the inflexible deadline set by my appointment with the plumber, which had to be made two months in advance.

I should have stopped the project. Hindsight. Sigh.

Only after he dropped dead earlier this year did anybody realize Mike was already in the middle of a serious decline by the time he was doing that work.

Still, I’ve had a pretty, if flawed bathroom for the last year and a half, and that’s something. But Mike’s work is causing us fits now.

Yesterday — not having enough room between the old rotted beam and the plumbing, I bolted together a pair of 2x6s that we slid between and tried to use as a temporary beam. We then planned to jack that up a hair, remove the old beam, and slip in a new 6×6.

Unfortunately, jacking that up didn’t quite work.

The bolted 2x6s did provide enough support that the Wandering Monk was able to pull out the old beam and slip in the new one this morning. And major housejacking is underway.

Haltingly. The Monk’s made excellent progress leveling side-to-side (east-west). The downward grade from south to north could still be used as a bunny slope if we had snow. That will require yet more creativity and at least one, maybe two, more 6x6s. We will, to my surprise, end up using all 12 20-ton jacks that the Monk insisted we have. But we’re getting there!


  1. Comrade X
    Comrade X May 25, 2017 12:44 pm

    Doing it right the first time is more than just a saying methinks.

  2. Claire
    Claire May 25, 2017 1:30 pm

    Oh, you are so right, Comrade X. It’s heartbreaking. Major parts of Mike’s work will have to be redone. Meantime, the bad work is both complicating things and upsetting the Monk’s perfectionist equilibrium. But he’s doing a great job improving the situation — even though he actually did come close to cussing yesterday. And he never, ever cusses.

  3. jed
    jed May 25, 2017 1:54 pm

    I’ll utter a few choice cuss words here and there on is behalf. Maybe he should learn about the benefits of swearing?

  4. larryarnold
    larryarnold May 25, 2017 5:45 pm

    As I tell my license to carry students, during the non-violent conflict resolution portion of the class, profanity, name-calling, and swearing adds nothing to the conversation and is often counter-productive. I’d give it up entirely, but I’m using Windows 10.

  5. MJR
    MJR May 25, 2017 6:37 pm

    Talking about what the late Mike did doesn’t surprise me. One thing that I learned back in 2001 when we built our home, you have to be with and looking over the shoulder of your contractors constantly. Today over a decade and a half later I’m still finding things where my contractors cut corners. I know you think Monk is a great guy but watch him…

  6. Claire
    Claire May 25, 2017 7:17 pm

    Ain’t that the truth, MJR? With the Monk I have a several great advantages. One, he tends to be a perfectionist. If anything, I have to talk him into accepting things that are less than perfect. Two, he explains in detail everything he’s going to do. Three, and perhaps most amazingly, he actually likes having me around, observing and participating.

    And jed — Not to worry. I utter plenty of cuss words on the Monk’s behalf (not to mention my own behalf). I’ve also just requested an inter-library loan on that benefits-of-being-bad book. My first thought upon reading that title was, “Why didn’t I read that decades ago?”

  7. ellendra
    ellendra May 26, 2017 7:35 am

    I have to admit, I enjoy watching Mr. Monk work.

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