Wood and Stone

A site to track our progress as we build our FirstDay Cottage Canadian house kit. Come on in, get a cup of coffee, set a spell and follow along on our journey or join in if you like. Check back for the weekly update (usually by Wednesday when things are going right) to see what we are currently up to!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Zero to sixty in one day

Since the last update, we have spent a number of afternoons and weekends cutting trees and moving them in the area where the septic has to go. It is really calming (but slow) work, and I think I may even have dropped a few pounds doing it. I set some stones from our stone wall (which is going to have to be moved for the septic anyway) into a firepit of sorts and we have had some campfires up there After it gets too dark to work. We also got a chance to go camping up there one night with Wendy's mom, and a great time was had by all. It's a shame we didn't start camping sooner - it was great sitting around the fire and being able to think that it is our place. Since then the weather has been less than cooperative for camping.

So we finally got the last of the estimates in on the septic system. They ranged from $17,060 to over $20,000. The lowest estimate was also from the guys recommended by our engineer, so it was an easy sell. Wendy called them up on Thursday to let them know we wanted to have them do the work, and their reply was "Great, we'll start tomorrow. Send us a check for 1/3 of the estimate".

Whoa. We didn't expect them to start so soon, and by time I got home and called them, they told me that the machine was already on our lot and that they would start Friday morning. We went up on Sunday to take a look at what they had done Friday and saw that the area that I had barely started clearing had been finished, the trees had been pushed to the edges and the stone wall had been pushed back as well to create the clearing that they need to work in to create our 101' x 102' septic field.

depressingly fast to clear

Monday I went up in the morning to see if they could clear the area for the house while the equipment was up there. Wendy and I, looking at the area on Sunday thought that it might make more sense to get the house site cleared while they are at it so we aren't dropping trees into the septic field or on the septic tank after they are done. The guy I talked to will have the owner of the company call me and discuss it.

The well hasn't been done yet, because the stumps didn't get pulled until Friday, because Wilson's machine was hosed - he had a busted bucket, and then once he got that replaced a hose burst. But finally he got up there and cleared it out, so Wendy called the well driller, who will take a look and make sure everything is good and let us know when he can get up there.

depressingly fast to clear

Wednesday, August 9, 2006


On Sunday I went up with my father-in-law and we cut down the remainder of the trees. Actually, after the first one, I cut down the trees and he bucked them. His chain was a bit dull and it was taking him longer than it took me to take them down, which gave me a chance to move the bucked wood too.

Our first clearing

There were still a few things left when we left. The stumps were not cut flush. As a matter of fact, as the day went longer, the stumps got higher and higher. Wilson has said he can pull them out if needed with his backhoe. There is one tree hung up, very badly. I misjudged which way it would fall and it got hung way up in the branches of another tree. Wilson will pull it down when he comes with the backhoe. Lastly is the tree next to the road, which Wilson is going to remove for me.

I called the DigSafe folks. They gave me a confirmation number and asked that I wait for positive results from the utilities. The next day they called back to say that there are no underground utilities in that area and that we are clear to dig. I was pretty sure this would be the case, but you have to check, so better safe than sorry.

This weekend we hoped to camp out, but given some special situations at work, it looks like we may just get up there during the day. We need to visit with some neighbors up the road whom we know through mutual friends, and I definitely want to get some of the septic field area cleared or start clearing it at least.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

One chops the wood, the other does the grunting.

That is an old yiddish proverb. Despite any deeper meaning, it pretty well described me using the chainsaw today. The chainsaw did all the chopping and I did the grunting. Wendy and I went to the land while her Mom took the children to Grafton Lake.

We measured out 2 of the stone walls depicted in the picture on the post Come Together. The north/south stone wall on the east is 295 feet (approx), and the east west wall on the south is 136 feet. We still need to measure the north wall and the road frontage/wall.

I think when we remove the portion of the eastern wall for the septic that we should rebuild the roadside walls. We should continue with the rock from where the house is, building up the wall all the way to the existing wall at the south side of the land where the road turns west

After that, I started cutting for the well driller. We decided on the fixed price well driller after getting most of the questions answered.

1) What can they do to guarantee the flow rate?
They will do whatever is necessary to get that flow rate including hydrofracturing. WOW.

2) Can we drill near the driveway to avoid having to get the truck in and out of undeveloped portions of the land, which is what I talked to this driller about when we met at the property?
They felt it would be too close and that we would be better off south of the stone wall, near the road as we had discussed prior. I measured this out and it was very close to the well being at the road for the distance we need.

3) Is the price for the water system fixed once we sign the contract or subject to change based on market prices when it is installed (we would have to pay the 5k when the well is drilled and the 1.5k when the water system is installed).
We didn't get an answer as we forgot to ask them, but even if it goes up, it is still only going to match our other quotes most likely. No big deal.

4) Do they know any dowsers in the area?
The son in this family well drilling operation dowses.

So I signed the contract on Thursday and mailed it. When I finally met the guy who had dug the perc hole on Thursday, he said that he had seen the driller earlier in the week and that they had told him that they were working in Hoosick Falls and once they finished they wanted to get our well done. He was thinking this coming week. They move fast, covering a bunch of jobs in our area. Glad to catch them here, or who knows how long we would have to wait for him to get enough jobs here to come down again.

We had copies made of the septic plan and we have put it out to 4 septic contractors to bid - the guy who did the perc hole, the folks who did the neighbor's field, the guy recommended by Ed and a guy recommended by our engineer. The neighbor's contractor came back to us the next day with an estimate for 17K. Wow, I had heard raised septic systems were costing between 15K and 20K, but I hoped that was somewhere else. So, now it is time to face the music on that. All we can do is wait and see what we get.

We were warned off one of them by the engineer, as he had worked with that contractor in the past and felt that the contractor tried to take advantage of his client and he had to go to bat for them. We didn't get any more than that, but enough to think about as we go over the options.

Where was I again? Ah, cutting trees for the well truck. I got my chainsaw all setup and started cutting the small stuff. Wendy took the bow saw and cut some of the thin ones. We got most all of the small stuff cut today and I see 16 or so medium size trees that need to be felled. My father-in-law and I are going to go up tomorrow while Wendy and the children attend a baby shower; hopefully we will get the remaining trees cut to get the well truck into the property.

There is one tree at the road that needs to be removed, but it is leaning over the road, directly across from the power line on the neighbor's property, and they have an old barbwire fence right across from it too. I'm not sure if they like the fence, but I don't really want to find out. I also This tree will have to have someone better than me take it down, as it is in the middle of the access area for the truck.

This is where the guy who did the perc (let us call him Wilson) comes in. He has worked with our well driller before, and he can get the truck into and out of where you need it to be to drill. This is why they told him that they wanted to get our well drilled after they finish what they are doing in Hoosick Falls and before they head back to Vermont (where they are from). He also told me that he will see what he can do about getting fill from the town to make an incline for the truck to get in off the road.

A couple pictures of us working before I call it a (very late) night. Tomorrow we will get right back to it.

Hauling wood.