Category Archives: Ground Works

Day 41 – Rake n’ Roll from hell!

I would use profanity here, but I won’t for your sake, but JEEPERS is raking and picking stones a horrible horrible job. Thank God for classic oldies blaring from the car radio and frequent water breaks to make the day somewhat enjoyable!

I have to admit working alone all day sunday was rather nice, but I did start talking to myself towards the end… I imagine it’s a bit like the last few miles of the marathon, when all you want to do is collapse on the ground and die. It was sheer determination and images of mowing the perfectly flat, not a stone in sight, velvety green garden on a fancy, ride-on, shiny red mower that kept me going.

Though judging by the last time I looked at our budget we’ll be cutting our perfect grass with our nail clippers.. sigh… one can dream!

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Ground Works


Day 20 and 21 – Raking, picking, lifting, pulling…

Astrid, Rob and I got our first real taste of hard work on the site this weekend, as we spent hours and hours raking the earth to take the top layer of stones off the garden. It’s very hard to picture the place as our garden, but as we sat on the wall of the crawl-space, eating oranges and apple slices, we got a real feel for what it’s going to be like living in ‘the field’! The one thing that struck me most, was how lovely it was to work with the sound of the river in the background! No matter how back breaking it is, it’s just a beautiful place to be!

I didn’t take many pictures, too tired, too dirty, but here are just a few!

Wood arrives tomorrow I think!!

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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Ground Works


Day 8 – 18 check this out!!! This blows me away!

Today was so exciting!! I didn’t know whether to run and hug someone or cry!! I never imaged I’d get so excited about a digger moving dirt and stone around but WOW… our builder uses this system of building a suspended timber floor, which means there is a crawl-space under the house. This system is not commonly used in ireland but it means that all the ground works can be completed at the very beginning of the build, leaving the area around the house in an almost finished state!

The builder also likes to have the site clean and tidy before the starts the timber framing, so today we saw the first glimpses of the finished ground level outside the house and how the shape of the garden will be. It’s still very early days, but it was a huge milestone. The ground can hold a lot of uncertainty, there really is no way of knowing what you’re going to find, till you find it. So to be done with the ground works stage is wonderful!

Take a look at the slideshow of the last two weeks! I can hardly believe the progress… and I am still finding it hard to grasp that this is all happening for real!! Thank you so so much for coming along for the ride!!

Click HERE for a better look at the finished ground works!

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Ground Works


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Day 17 – Catch up post (posted on day 18!)

I really need to keep up to date with this!!!! I was just looking back at the last update and so much has happened… and it’s only been three days!

So last week was all about getting the foundations in, laying the radon barrier, and putting in the septic tank! So far this week the rest of the sewage system was installed which included a pumping chamber, puraflo system and a percolation area.

Three trees came down to brighten up the sight (more on that in a minute), the last of the geothermal collectors were laid and the pipes are now resting in what will be the crawl space under the house, ready for when the house is built and the heating system is installed.

All the remaining electrical cable ducting was put in the ground (about 15 meters of it), as were all the drains around the house for rain water. A new trench and ducting was put in to bring water and electricity to a future garage at the side of the site if we can ever afford one!!

5 new layers of block were laid over the radon barrier and the radon barrier was brought up and over (see pictures) to protect the crawl space from water that could come in from the ground. It looked like a wedding cake! We now have a total of 8 layers of blocks. The suspended timber floor will be laid on top of that.

Today, as all the ducting, trench digging and ground works are FINISHED, the digger moved on to back filling around the house and landscaping. Pictures of that will come later today I hope. So in only three days, lots of work has been done.

This day next week the timber for the frame will be brought to the site. So from now till then, a lot of preparing will happen to get the site ready for the next stage. Lots of clean up, making it look pretty! Hopefully over the weekend we will rake and seed the ground that is now finished to stop weeds from taking over the site!  Most of the landscaping will have to wait till the house is up and the heavy machinery is gone.

Four trees have now been taken down on the eastern side of the site. These trees were old, growing in the centre of the stream and to a large degree blocking its course. I debated for a long time whether I should take them out or leave them in. After much thought, we decided to take them out and to try to restore the stream. Hopefully soon we will plant some new trees in their place, to the side of the steam this time! I didn’t like the idea of cutting down 4 healthy trees, and found it quite emotional seeing the wide empty gap where the trees once stood. But the site is undeniably brighter and the view is beautiful. We now get a lovely view of the river!

I’m going to update the last few days in photos in individual posts, otherwise it gets confusing. Watch this space!!

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Ground Works


Day 12 – I’m learning how to build a house!

One of the builders today said I was taking too many pictures, I figure it’s all part of the journey.. but when I actually thought about it, I realised… ‘I’m learning how to build a house’. The reality of it though, is that if I had to do it myself, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start! These guys make it look easy! I am impressed by their care, attention and hard work and also by the fact that they are all such nice people. It really makes this all such a pleasure. Now in saying that, I also realise we’re only two weeks in and there is a whole lot more house to be built, in fact there IS a WHOLE house to be built!!

In short, the learning curve is steep and constant and I’m glad they’re doing it, not me!

Today was a challenge again for me, it always seems to coincide with the rain. The rain dampens everyone’s mood, but is causes working conditions to be a little or a lot more difficult, depending on the job, and it also causes delays! Another thing that causes delays is waiting for people to do what they are supposed to do, at the time they have said they’ll do it! (I was guilty of this yesterday) I’ve noticed also that having tired, wet, hungry men, all trying to achieve something, can be a soup for stress!

The other thing that made today difficult was that the engineers weren’t fully aware of the builder’s methods and right when the builder was about to start his next piece of work, the engineer questioned it and asked for changes. It’s frustrating… So I rush home, dive into the internet, so that when I’m sitting between the builder and the engineer on monday morning, I know what they’re talking about and how their suggestions could impact the quality of our home..

Today I was almost convinced that the house might actually slide off the foundations if we did what the engineer was saying, or would flood if we did what the builder was saying. Not knowing ALL the details and implications, makes it all a bit of an unknown, and I’m not comfortable with the unknown.

I have to trust that all involved have our best interests at heart… but I also can’t be naive. Can you see my challenge! Some things I decide, other things the engineer decides and other things the builder/heating contractor/ESB man etc! We each must know the implications of our choices and decisions, mostly the financial implications.. We have to get it right NOW!

Anyway, enough rambling!! Today the radon barrier was installed, concrete was poured and smoothed over the barrier (in the pouring rain!!) and the laying of the bricks was started in ernest. The bottom field where the geothermal collectors were laid yesterday was backfilled, fine job it was! And finally the builder did lots of running around trying to get ready for next week, ordering the WINDOWS!! (windows will take about 6 weeks to arrive, the frame will be up in less than 4 (most likely) so there is going to be a big delay… OUCH 😦

My only regret for today though, was that I didn’t stick Josh’s hands into the finished cement. Imagine seeing his tiny hand prints in 20 years time!!

Today in photos!

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Posted by on July 15, 2011 in Ground Works


Day 11 – Geothermal Collectors and Septic Tank!

Today the collectors for the geothermal system were layed. Once in, the tenches were backfilled. I had to leave early, so by now that part of the field should be restored. It was a race against time to fill the two trenches before the rain, which should arrive tomorrow.

The septic tank was dropped into its giant hole today too! I missed that so only saw it when it was in place and most of the hole was backfilled.

The lads also whacked the ground between the foundations to prepare if for sand. A radon barrier will be spread across this sand (sand prevents the barrier being damaged on the stone underneath, which was also the reason for whacking the life out of the ground!).

Yesterday was a bit wordy so I’ll keep today short!

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Ground Works


Day 10 – Ground Works Galore!!

Today it was all about the ground! It’s really incredible how much the ground can be manipulated to accommodate us humans. I have felt so sorry for the field that it had to go through all this and yet this is one of the most eco friendly things we can do! These trenches were actually dug yesterday but here are some images to show you the extent of the work!

Digger Driver had to dig two 150 meter trenches in this field, like two long snakes winding down the length of it. Its an impressive piece of work!! These will house 600 meters worth of piping which will act as collectors for the geothermal heating system, which should give us heating for the whole house, including water, all year round. The more efficiently they work, the less our running costs will be! Though with this kind of system our heating costs will be up to 70% less than the average home. Which I find amazing!

There were two options when it came to collectors! We could lay them horizontally, as we’re doing here, or dig a 150m deep borehole. We are saving about 7000 euro by laying them horizontally, and though its very messy, by this time next year, the field will look as though it’s never been touched. However we do need to plant grass seed and give it some loving attention this summer! I’ve been advised by digger driving to get our neighboring farmer to rotovate it, plant seed and then roll the ground to made sure we don’t get ugly weeds springing up and to make sure the ground it nice and flat again!!! Imagine having a lawn 150 meters long… we’ll have to get a fancy lawn mover!!

Today the ground works for the septic tank, puraflo system and percolation area were also dug. This took an almighty amount of thought, measuring and decisions. We had to make sure we didn’t go near boundary fences, trees, water systems, or the house. So trying to fit such a huge system into the space we had was a challenge but we did it! The percolation area itself will house 96 linear meters of piping!! The hole for the septic tank was big enough to bury my car!! And once it’s all done, you’ll never even know its there!!

Also today the first layer of bricks was layed on the foundations! There will be up to 7 layers in total onto which the suspended floor will be put. I can’t wait for that!! We’ll get a good idea then of our FFL (finished floor level). Then the timber frame will emerge!!

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Ground Works