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Building the Woodshop: Part IV - Groundbreaking!

Part IV 

All right then! Here it was, around the beginning of April, and I had a plan for the new shop (more or less) in hand. It was time to go ahead with the construction... or so I had thought, anyway.

I got a contractor lined up to do the concrete. I had decided that work was simply too much for me to handle on my own, and that it would probably serve me better to have it done by somebody else. I didn't have the equipment, nor did I have the help (or the back) to put down the concrete by myself. I might have mentioned that North Idaho was undergoing an unprecedented building boom at the time. What that meant for me was a wait for the permit. Permits usually take just a couple weeks. Usually, this might not be an issue, but the concrete guy I had lined up had a very tight schedule. Well, it turned out I had a couple of issues that permitting wouldn't allow, mainly the bathroom I had discussed previously. With that, I took the plan home and removed it entirely from the design (which actually helped me out budget-wise), but as it would have it I couldn't take the time off of work to get back to the permit office for two week. When I did finally, it was two more weeks before I got the plan reviewed and approved. I called the concrete guy up, and turns out I was past his window of availability. I would have to find another.

That delay led to a two week long search for another concrete contractor. The only one I could find available was still three weeks out before he could start, but he didn't do excavating - though he knew someone who did. So, I contacted him, and he was three weeks out too. So - what I thought might be a two to three week period of getting the permit reviewed and groundbreaking turned out to be entirely too optimistic. By the time I got the excavator there it was the end of May, a full 5 weeks later than I'd hoped.

Being an architect, I'm familiar with the whole process so didn't let it get me down, and just chalking it up to the way things work. But - when this showed up out front of the house early one morning, I started getting a little excited:


It's not really the machine I would have chosen for the task, but as long as the hole got dug, I wasn't going to worry. I had considered doing it myself... had I done it; I would have rented a loader with a backhoe mounted on the back. A track-hoe (like above) tends to rip up the lawn too much when you turn on it... It's also a very small bucket - which can be a good thing, both for digging utility trenches and when you have a plan with a lot of little corners... But I don't have a great deal of experience in digging foundations, and what little I had done was over 20 years ago... I figured it best to leave it to someone who knew more. Besides, the cost of renting a backhoe for myself would have been 2/3rds of the price of paying someone else to do it, so I figured it was better hired out.

It was finally time to break ground. Here's where the shop was to go shown in the site plan again:

Site plan

Here is a photo of the yard, talen looking north from the end of the patio:

Yard before....

The scarring you see in the center of the yard was from an old willow tree that had to come down a few years prior when a windstorm had knocked the main portion of it's trunk down. The scarring was from the year previously when I finally got the stump out of the ground using a skid-steer I had rented when putting in the pavers for the patio, which you can see in the lower left. Within an hour or two, the trench for the main footings were dug:

Ground Breaking

Finally, something was happening. I was still worried about the excavation, though - I thought it odd that he would only dig the trench and not strip the topsoil within the footprint of the building first. In the end, it turned out I didn't need to worry about it. The fellow was a young guy, for whom renting himself and his track-hoe out was his main method of income in the warmer months. While young, in the end it turned out he was hard working, honest, and truly concerned with doing a good job - and for not really all that much money, either. But I didn't know that yet at this point, so was concerned. Even though it was taken care of later and I was satisfied with his work, I do wish it had been done properly. But with the building environment the way it was, I was just happy to have somebody to do the job.

Up next, the foundation!