Now that the house is down on the new foundation, I decided I was going to go down into the basement to check things out for myself. I hadn’t gotten a chance to get down there to really see what everything looked like since they dropped the house. There are no stairs since our original ones had to be torn out when the foundation was removed. So I had to use a big ladder in the open addition to get down into the new basement.
One of the biggest changes was the grade level south of the house. The day we dropped the house it looked like this:
The grade level came right up to the edge of the old basement foundation and sloped down towards our garden. The black area is still an open trench from digging out the old foundation. It was pretty uneven and had a slope that went down to the garden south of the house. I would imagine it was built up a little bit to accommodate for that cellar entry, which is no longer there.
Cody came out this week and brought the area down to grade so now this is what you see when you look out those south windows:
While it may have been a subtle change, it really has changed the look of the yard.
It has really changed the view of the yard from the basement, as well. I had never really intended to have windows this large in my basement. It all sort of happened by chance. Cody had asked me what size windows I wanted. I knew the north side of the basement needed to have small windows like the originals. Because they were on the north side and knowing how cold those north winds can be during an Iowa winter, I just didn’t want big windows there. I also know that in order for one of my basement rooms to be considered a bedroom, I would need to have egress windows.
Cody happened to have some windows in his shop. They had come out of another client’s house. He asked me if I wanted them. They were the right price (free). The size of those windows then determined the size my windows would be. Sometimes it’s nice to have a decision made for you. And while they are used and they certainly aren’t perfect, they’re a good way to save some money right now. They are huge and will fill this space nicely. I plan on eventually having my craft room in the basement and I find the idea of having so much natural light a real bonus!
A couple of days later, J&C Builders came out and put the flooring system over the open end of the addition.
This was necessary to get done before the concrete floor for the basement was poured. It gives the new basement area a “roof” to protect the newly poured concrete from the elements and it helps to keep the heat in.
For the first time in 57 days (yes, that’s almost two months), we were able to actually walk into our house to check things out. The first thing my kids did was run into their bedrooms to lay on their beds. While Grandma’s house is very nice, being gone from your own house for two months can feel like an eternity. We’ve missed our own beds.
People have asked me if we had to move everything out to prepare for the house lift. The answer is no, we didn’t. We were told we could leave everything where it was. I took out the valuable and irreplaceable items like computers and photos. Pictures could hang on the wall and items could be left on shelves. I did take our TV’s down off the stands they were on just to be safe, but I don’t think that was even necessary.
When we went back into the house, I was amazed that nothing…absolutely nothing…had moved! I noticed in the basement, I had a jar of chalk paint and a smoke detector on top of one of the beams and they didn’t fall off! The canned goods in the pantry never moved, either. I am just stunned by that.
It was dirty and dusty and I couldn’t wait to vacuum. But, unfortunately, we don’t have our electricity back. No electricity means no vacuum. How many times have I wanted that as an excuse?
I noticed there were some pretty significant cracks in the wall that weren’t there before. I suppose the house had been out of shape for so long that when the house came back down onto a straight, “square” spot, everything cracked. Windows have moved out of place, too.
On our new walls that my husband had put up, it’s not a huge deal. Those small cracks can be repaired. The old walls are coming down anyway and the windows will be replaced, as well.
I have these handy new “steps” to get into the house now:
They’re basically the equivalent of a three-step step ladder. It’ll be fine. I’m glad to have them. If nothing else, it’ll help me work on my balance skills. Can you imagine climbing up these steps to bring in arms full of groceries? Yeah, me neither.
The plywood on the floor is covering the hole for the basement stairs.
It looks like we’re just about ready for the basement floor to be poured!
We’re just waiting on the HVAC guys to bring out a temporary furnace to keep the basement warm for the concrete. Before that can happen, the electricians have to get some electricity into the house to power the furnace and the lights. This is just a temporary service as they have to bring in a new electric panel and rewire the entire house. The LP company has to bring a temporary tank out on wheels because the line to our old tank was sheared during the excavation. They can’t repair the line because right now, it’s a soupy, muddy mess back there and it would be impossible to trench in a line.
We are experiencing a lot of temporaries before we can get to something permanent. Kind of a metaphor for living in this world while waiting for heaven, huh?
Lots to do and so little patience! I am trying though!
Salvaging A Farmhouse is a series of blog posts that chronicle my experience of renovating and reclaiming our 1900 farmhouse. This is a project that is over a decade in the making. We were working towards some pretty serious renovations on the house until my husband became sick with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and died 9 weeks after his diagnosis. My kids and I have been left with the task of completing what we started all those years ago. Every house and every family have a story and this is the story of ours.
To view the series from beginning to end please go to this page: Salvaging A Farmhouse.