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March 21, 2016 / JustinKays Porter

Starting to Take Shape

They tell me it’s now officially spring. So as I sit down to type, life almost feels normal with dinner simmering away, laundry tumbling around the machines, and the incessant sniffles that come with the season’s allergies. Then I walk outside to my construction zone of a yard to find Justin, only to remember that he is under the house digging footings… and then I realize this is my new normal!

Lots to catch up on. Since our last rendezvous, the slab was demo’d in the backyard.


The crawlspace and foundations were excavated for the addition.


The previously partially abandoned septic tank has been fully abandoned.


The new footings under the house and under the porch have been dug. (Sorry, no photos!)

Formwork and rebar for the footings have gone into the excavation.


Our concrete pour is scheduled for this Friday!!!

Now, if you just wanted a quick update, a handful of pictures, and an awkward anecdote from yours truly, you are free to stop reading and go back to your springtime duties (whatever they may be). If you’d like a few more details and photos, keep scrolling.

We had a crew out to demo the back patio slab in mid-February. With a bobcat and a jack-hammer attachment, a dump truck, and a handful of strong guys, they finished a job I was dreading in two days. Two days! Two days of madness, noise, and dust while I was toiling away at work. Sorry, neighbors… but it was so worth it!


The following week we had a crew out to cut our crawlspace down to grade and excavate the footings. It was more than slightly unnerving to see a giant excavator come through our side yard, but it made reality sink in that the project was under way.


After two and a half days of digging, hauling 40 yards of dirt away from our yard, and covering everything in plastic, it started raining. Literally, about twenty minutes after they finished the job the skies opened and it rained for two weeks. Dry January, dry February, then two weeks of solid downpour. Good for the snowpack and the summer, bad for the project!



When the rains stopped, we pumped the water out of the excavation and uncovered everything to let it all dry out. At this point, we noticed a big, rectangular-shaped soft spot between the interior footings. Justin did some digging around, and we realized that the old septic tank for the house was located at an awkward angle between our newly excavated footings. By some miracle, none of our footings or the excavation for our crawlspace led to this discovery. We couldn’t have positioned our footings better if we tried, and we didn’t know where the septic tank was to begin with!

Finding the tank wasn’t a big surprise. We knew the house had been on septic in the past and the previous owner had connected to the city sewer “under the table”… something we found out (and paid for) during the permitting process. We were fairly sure we would hit the tank at some point, but weren’t sure where it would be, what state it would be in, or what we would have to do about it.

Turns out, we found it roughly where Justin thought it was, partially abandoned (i.e., about a quarter full with a bunch of rubbish thrown in the upper three-quarters). After some phone calls and some hemming and hawing, we know we had to fully abandon the thing (i.e., completely empty it). Justin and my dad did most of the work in a day. And while I can’t speak from personal experience, I can say that shoveling sh*t did not look like a fun experience…


Next, Justin busted out the bottom of the concrete tank with a jackhammer. Another activity that looked not so fun. A few trips to the dump, a city inspection of the busted out tank bottom, and a look of gravel, the tank had been properly abandoned. And all I can say to these two guys is thank you. Because, for lack of a better word, YUCK.


With that behind us, we cleaned up the footing excavations and covered everything back up for another round of rainy weather. After another week of rain, my Uncle Todd’s return from a trip to Hawaii, and my dad’s second retirement, we were off and running to get the forms set and the rebar in. And when I say “we”, I really mean Justin, my dad, and my Uncle Todd. So, yet again, I must say thank you!

Nancy and Dirk, my parents, and Todd all came out on Saturday to help us finish things up. With all the help, we’re gearing up for our pre-pour city inspection on Wednesday. Think happy thoughts, and hopefully our pour on Friday will go smoothly!


Seeing the forms go up has been really fun. I run around the giant hole in our backyard (now bordered by plywood and 2x4s) and imagine myself standing in our new kitchen, in the laundry room, looking out the glass door from the master into the yard. I’m having a great time daydreaming and I’m sure anyone watching me thinks I’ve completely lost my mind. Flo follows me around and seems to have fun imagining with me, but Justin is probably tired of playing my game of “guess where I’m standing now?!” I still enjoy it though 🙂

And for those of you who made it to the end of this long-winded, picture-loaded post, you deserve a prize!! xoxo


Leave a Comment
  1. Michael Porter / Mar 22 2016 11:08 am

    Thanks for sharing the photos and updates, Kaysea! Happy you two could take on the project, and I’m enjoying the blog of it’s progress. Pass on my sympathies to the septic tank shovelers!

  2. nancywporter / Mar 22 2016 10:07 am

    We’re so excited for you to finally get the project underway! You’re making great progress. It’s wonderful that you have so much family help (and I’m not just talking about me managing the level for a half hour on Saturday!)

  3. Chelsey / Mar 22 2016 8:46 am

    Yay! Excellent progress!!!

  4. Auntie and Unc xoxo / Mar 21 2016 11:52 pm

    Unbelievable!!! Fittings bookmakers enough for a ten story building, septic tank dig looked like the old tombs!!! How lucky to have so much family help. Keep the blogs a comin and good luck on the pour!! Xoxo l

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