CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVELING: Completion of Phase I Foundation Work (Week 17-19)

Newly completed slab showing where the entry to the unit will be located

Our ground floor slab has been completed! In the photo above, me (and my shadow) are standing on the ground floor where the living/dining/kitchen space will be located. I am facing the new entry area where I will be greeting you at the door. You will be waiting outside, where the gravel is shown!

We were very relieved to finally see the results of the foundation work after several months of hand wringing. As with all construction projects, you somehow reconcile the realities of time and budget. Expectations always exceed reality, and you are forced to make some hard decisions. You learn a lot about the business of construction, the players, and the many moving parts that come into play. You come to accept and live by those hard choices that had to be made.

Difficult conditions on a small sloping site created challenges for the foundation crew. While most of the pier drilling went smoothly, there were a couple of stubborn piers in the middle that refused to cooperate. These were clearly aggravating the drilling crew, yet they pursued and prevailed. At times, no one wanted to breathe for fear of causing a collapse of the openings.

Aware of their concerns but unable to affect any change to the site conditions, I watched from the dining room window. The crew hacked away at the sandy soil, drilled through and extracted dirt and rock, force-fed the steel casings, lowered the reinforcing cages (some 30′ long), and injected the concrete.

We watched this dramatic choreographed performance unfold each day. The huge drill plowed within inches of our window. At times, I thought it would smash the window or crash into the side of the house! The exposed wall of the kitchen concerned us as a few leaks threatened to derail our comfort, and a few vibrations kept us wondering whether we were going to be shaken into homelessness.

As it stands, the foundation crew knew exactly what they were doing, where to place their equipment, and drill the holes. I was grateful to the care and precision they used. Their expertise is the lynchpin of the project.

The concrete work for the retaining wall went quickly following the pouring of the piers. Before we knew it, the slab was topped out after the layers of gravel, foam insulation, moisture barrier and rebars were set over the backfill. We could revel in the delight of finally “getting out of the ground” and declared the first phase of the ADU completed.

Phase Two Construction of Rough Framing has officially begun, with the deck supports being tied to the retaining wall. The deck framing will provide a work space for the ADU construction when framing work begins. Interior finishing will complete the project during Phase Three.

Recap of Phase I Foundation Work

This video represents a year’s end celebration of our work and efforts toward building the ADU.


We hope you have enjoyed following the journey building the addition to our house. We wish everyone a safe and joyous new year. Let’s look forward to the great new adventures ahead for all of us!

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