Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Here is some footage from work on site this past Monday morning, which culminated in the first turning of earth. Along the way is some interesting chatter by my mason and foundation contractor, including the mason's estimate for the weight of the stone wall: 45 tons. That's 80,000 pounds. No doubt miniature compared to the west walls of ancient churches. But I think it'll do.

I'll back up a step for the shot above, showing the string that was put up to precisely locate the major walls and corners of the house. This gave me my first glimpse of the slight angle at which the house sits in relation to the street - a result of orienting the house to the cardinal directions. The vernal equinox will be upon us in about three weeks, when the sun will set due west for one of only two times out of the year. It's possible the stone wall will be rising out of the ground just as the rays of the setting sun begin to hit it at a perfect right angle.

Above is my foundation contractor in what he called a "mini excavator." I assume this was used in place of a "maxi excavator" in order to maneuver around all my trees.

The results at the end of the day! First is the 6-foot wide, 34-foot long excavation for the stone wall footing, and the second image shows the excavations for the brick wall footings (together these walls will define the Great Room). I was surprised by the fact that the place felt completely different. Space has been opened up in the ground and closed up above.

Above is what the stone wall footing looked like at the end of today. That's a lot of rebar. It's just as my drawing shows, but it's always a bit jolting to see little circles and dashed lines on a piece of paper get translated into three-dimensional webs of steel bars. It also occurred to me that this placement of rebar was the first actual CONstruction of the project. Everything up to this point has been destructive or subtractive - taking out trees, removing dirt. Anticlimactic though it may be, the rebar for the footings is the first element installed for this project that will be part of the finished building.

As mentioned in the video, I rode with my mason to a nearby stone yard to look at the actual stone that will be used for the west wall. This is the "westworks," recall, an element from ancient churches that was a symbolic shield against evil, sin and death. The stone we looked at is granite, but the particular form of this granite goes by the name "rip-rap." You see this material in drainage ditches everywhere. It's the commoner among stone, cheap and abundant, used and abused, a trash rock if there ever was one. So I say, what better material to put to divine use? Commoners with trashy reputations brought together to do something good. Yeah, just like human beings in the hands of God.


  1. awesome!! love that last paragraph.

    this is an amazing thing to watch and be part of. thanks for sharing!! :)

    on a side note - is it 'scary' to give up your drawings/vision to others to do the actual construction!? tell us more about what your feeling/thinking about that. and the trust/faith it is taking :)

  2. Great to have you along!

    It is indeed scary to put this project into the hands of others to get it built. I had a nightmare about this a year or so ago - I showed up on the site for the first time when construction was nearly complete, and just about everything had been done wrong; it was barely a shadow of what I designed. That was my prophetic warning: "This is what will happen if you're not closely involved in every stage of construction." So I've been on site for the start of every major phase of work so far, and everything's perfect. Already I've short-circuited the nightmare.

    Still, I can't be out there 24/7; a couple hours a week is all I get. And that's where prayer comes in (well, where it comes in AGAIN). Mostly I pray for wisdom for the people working on this house - and not even just to do everything as I've drawn it, but the way God wants it. I want them to see past the mistakes in my drawings (shhh.. don't tell) and do what's better. THEN I am at peace - when I know I've done my part, and bathed the rest in prayer.

  3. In Laura's words, " Yayyyyy, Chris!" Ha, we're stoked about what the Lord is using you to do man, we wish we could be there to see it all in real life. I'm so thankful that you're documenting it all on the blog so we can have a visual five and half hours away.

  4. ecclesiastes 3:3 congratulations on NOW being the time to build. (prayers from randi's mom)

  5. Randi's mom: "a time to tear down and a time to build." Good one. Thanks!

    Corey (and Laura): Great to hear from you guys! Glad you're following along online, but you have waaaay too many friends in Wilmington not to visit every now and then.. Besides, I think the site is due for another communion service.. we could sit on concrete this time!

  6. Raynette and KennyMarch 10, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Ken and I are so glad you are sharing this grand event in your life. Looking forward to our next trip north, with an easterly swing to see you and your new accomplishment. Did you get to drive the backhoe or dumptruck?

  7. Thanks Raynette and Ken! I look forward to seeing you guys when you come up. And no, I didn't "get" to drive the big trucks - I refused, hehe.. I want this project to be a success ;)