So, yesterday we managed to get some good news. Despite a wasted morning as I toured stores asking for things that didn’t exist – spending more of the morning hunting for things to attach the house to the foundation – discussing things with our engineer – realising that we’d missed something important on the diagram – rediscussing things with our engineer… before giving up at lunch time and meeting with Kathryn for the afternoon’s two person works…
…which went pretty well.
We’d finished framing up the back wall on Monday
And I’d then finished off the last bit of flooring yesterday morning before heading out on my (failed) quest. The other thing that had happened yesterday morning is that the inspector popped around (at our request) and okay’d us to wrap the back and the sides of the house. He asked for us to do some rectification work on the work that was done when the house was constructed where they’d not bothered with some of the nails (surprise surprise), but once that was done we were clear to go.
And so on went our combination of UV-protected open-joint cladding specific black wrap and tyvek. Thus making the house look wayyyy more respectable. From the back at least.
And so today I was feeling pretty good.
And then I set to on the bolt issue again. Having got a final answer from our engineer we I headed to the store – who didn’t have some of the stuff but who pointed me to a store that would. 15 minutes later I discovered, again, that our engineer had spec’d something which apparently doesn’t exist – but if I overengineered it (switching from the 1/2 to 5/8ths inch) then I could get a 10 inch long expansion bolt.
So I get the bolts. I have the threaded bar. I have the Simpson HDU2s. I have the tools to drill the holes. I have the epoxy to fix the threaded bar into the holes for the Simpson HDU2 holddowns. I have the impact socket set to allow me to quickly tighten them up.
All is ready.
So off I went and installed three of the epoxy anchor bolts. To do that, I also have to install an extra stud because – and this will astonish you – they didn’t bother with double studs at joints. I know! You didn’t expect our house’s builders to have cut corners like that, but they did. *sigh*.
So, each bolt requires me to cut, glue, screw then nail in an extra stud. Then to drill the hole, clean the hole, fill the hole with epoxy, then place the bolt in the hole, then wait 3 days for the stuff to set before I can actually attach the damn anchor.
Anyhow, after 3 of them my hand was pretty tired from the pump action on the tube, so I figured I’d try doing some wedge anchors. And lo, things went to shit very rapidly. The first one didn’t seem to want to tighten, no matter how far I hammered it in. I thought that perhaps I’d made the hole too deep (despite measuring it).
So I did another one. And that also wouldn’t tighten and disappeared further and further into the hole.
It was at this point I went outside and looked at our foundation and discovered
It turns out our foundation is made of crap mixed with shite, producing a substance with roughly the same integrity as the 45th President of the US.
Now, I can’t say what concrete should be like here. Perhaps it’s meant to be like powdered sand stacked artfully in a heap that if you nudge it too hard falls over. But I suspect not.
My first thought, because I’m hypercritical of myself, was that I’d drilled too near the edge. So I tried once more, attempting to direct the drill more inboard and having ensured that (contrary to the planning statements) it was as near to the front edge of the mud sill as the 3″ plate washer would allow. This, it turned out, had absolutely no fucking effect whatsoever.
Suspecting that the answer to this is “you’ll have to use epoxy everywhere” I called back our engineer for the billionth time. That was the answer, at least – that was his better answer than “well, you could replace the foundation”. Uh hu. Or we could hope that a particularly large ant walks into the foundation and the house collapses when there’s no one in it, and we escape from this fucking albatross of a money pit.
At this point I was so pissed off with the whole house, and the futility of it all, and the process in general, that I was largely hoping that the wood delivery truck might accidentally back into it and cause the whole fucking thing to collapse, so I decided to call it a night.
It’s not that it’s unfixable. We can – and will – do it. It will be expensive, and way more time consuming than it should be, like everything we’ve touched on this house.
It’s not that that bugs me the most. It’s that it feels completely pointless. Why am I strapping it to the foundation? I suspect the only reason it survived the Nisqually earthquake in 2001 was that it flopped around on it’s shitty foundation like a dying fish on the shores of a river. Tying it down will, I suspect, just mean that in the next quake the shitty foundations it’s on will crack and crumble like the substandard-low-grade crap they are. We’ve managed to make the rest of the structure more solid, but there’s very little we can do for the foundations – which to be honest were half the fucking reason we bought the place.
I also, it must be said, am starting to resent having to pour 1000s of dollars into bringing the place up to code, knowing how many shitearse ‘renovations’ we looked at when buying our house, that I’m damn certain were not up to code in any vague respect.
So I’ll try and dig up some positivity tomorrow. I’ll try and find some enthusiasm to care. But I don’t hold out a lot of hope. Instead, like much of this process, I’ll just plough on in the vain hope that at some point, it’ll feel like a house not a disaster.