move the house, just add concrete

 House Building  Comments Off on move the house, just add concrete
Apr 212007

We’ve moved the entire house structure back about a foot to get as close to the shoring wall as possible. Since the foundation is constructed literally against the shoring wall, and the shoring wall is not square or flat, we’re going to have to use extra shotcrete to fill the gaps. We are also changing the back garage walls (which are just the foundation wall) so that they are not square with the rest of the house. The left garage will be 9” deeper than the one on the right, and the wall will not be straight. Oh, well.

The wing walls are still going to be more than 2 feet away from the shoring wall. We talked about ways to form the wall on both sides, and link it to the soil nails in the shoring wall…and the cheapest solution seems to be simply filling the space with concrete. So the wing walls will be 3 feet thick.


Here is a drawing from the surveyor, showing the house location as designed, and the actual shoring wall. The grid on the left is the front driveway.

The left retaining wall is on the top, and the cross-hatched drawing is the actual shoring wall. It’s easy to see that the wing walls extend far wider than designed, because they were dug deeper into the hillside. The gap between the shoring wall and the actual wing wall at the front of the house is really visible. Also, the shoring wall was only supposed to be 4 inches thick, and it’s clearly 1 to 2 feet thick in nearly all areas. So far, we estimate that the errors in the shoring wall will cost us an additional $40,000, in materials, surveying, design time, and engineering time.

survey says…oops!

 House Building  Comments Off on survey says…oops!
Apr 172007

Our original contractor made a pretty serious error during excavation. In fact, there seem to be many of them. We started measuring the size of the wall, and comparing it to the survey markers…and there are big problems. All these red string lines should be lined up with the actual wall, and our new concrete guy, Brent Harris, is standing in the gap that should not be. No wonder we removed twice as many truckloads of material as we expected to.

(We’ve terminated our contract with the original contractor, who shall go unnamed. In fairness, they did tell us they were moving the house location by “a foot”, but they never told us there was any kind of error. We’re going into mediation and/or binding arbitration with them, to resolve a whole ton of issues. In the mean time, we’ve hired Bob Hartwell to complete our house and Brent to complete the foundation construction. Everything is going incredibly well with Bob and Brent.)

Because measurements seemed off, we got the site resurveyed, and our worst fears were confirmed:

  • the wing walls are excavated 3 feet too far into the hillside
  • the back wall is excavated more than 1 foot too far into the hillside
  • the shelf in the left side is about 6” too high
  • the back wall is not square to the side walls, it’s 9” deeper on the left
  • the shelf in the back wall is not level, it’s about 9” higher on the right

Here are some pix, showing details.



Looking along the back wall in the first photo. See how the pink string is more than 2 feet out from the wall? It should be 10” from the wall, showing the front face of the retaining wall we will build up against the shoring wall.

The string is also more than a foot above the ground, showing the surface of our 1st floor slab. They excavated a bit too far down, too. No wonder we hauled so much extra dirt and rock from the site.

In the next photo, see the pink string across the middle, about 10 feet in the air? This string is level. You can see how the shelf is not level with the string, nor with the fence line or the upper foundation.

The project manager for our original contractor REALLY fucked up. Our architect and engineer are working on moving the house, and changing dimensions to fit. More $$$!!!