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.