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Lakefront Log Home Project: Log Home Diary Entry #15, Excavating and Laying the Foundation Pt. 1

One never knows what may lie underneath a given parcel of land. Our log-home bloggers encounter a rock obstruction while excavating their site for the home's foundation.
by George and Marlyn Curnow
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Excavating and Laying the Foundation — Part 1

Log Home Diary Entry #15
Southwestern Virginia log home project | Open Space

Finally, with the permit issues, anxiety and frustrations behind us, we are at long last ready to move some dirt. You may recall that we have a relatively flat piece of land, except near the lakefront where it becomes very sloped. Before any earth could be moved, we needed to clear the building site of trees. Our plan was to place the house where we could maximize the lake view and minimize the tree removal. This wasn’t a budget consideration; rather, it was our appreciation of mature hardwoods.

Nevertheless, a number of beautiful specimens needed to go, which to this day is bothersome. We agonized over the removal of one tree. Was it or was it not too close to the foundation? In the end, it had to go. It’ just not fun watching an 80-foot-tall hardwood come down.

This process was made easier by the excellent excavation subcontractor used by our builder. It is enjoyable to watch a highly skilled machine operator at work. In some respects it a bit like watching a maestro at work. He and his helper toppled trees with great precision — all but one, that is — which proves this is not an exact science. A few immature trees paid the price, but that was the extent of the one “whoops.”

Now, with the trees down, cut and stacked, it was time to park the excavator and start moving some dirt with the dozer. We needed to dig out the side of the hill to a level of about 9 feet deep at what would become the front of the foundation. With the steepness of the slope, the back of the house foundation line did not require much work.

There is a bit of risk involved with any excavation. No one really knows what may lie under the next shovelful of earth. From the beginning, everyone raised the caution flag. The builder had a dollar figure for excavation included in his estimate, but with the caveat that rock and any unforeseen problems would be at the owners’ expense. The excavator also warned of the unknown. We had very little rock; however, when we got down to what would become the basement/garage level floor, we ran into a major rock obstruction.

The operator worked on it diligently with the dozer to no avail. Something more needed to be done. The “something more” would either be blasting with dynamite or renting a rock breaker attachment for the excavator. The neighbor’s house was a bit too close for blasting, as our general contractor would be responsible for any damage. So a breaker was rented, and it made quick work of eliminating the rock issue.

While the excavating equipment was still on-site, we decided to change the direction of the driveway to make it a bit easier in the winter months. We share the main part of the drive as an easement with our neighbors. By making a “Y” in the driveway, it will also give our neighbors a bit more privacy as we enter and exit.

Next, we’ll talk about the exact placement of the foundation.

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