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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/25/2010

Wow. What a day today was!

We had a truck leaking diesel fuel. We had infill. We had trees knocked over. We had excavation. We had roofing. We had another tile delivery. We had torn roofing paper. We had roofing-paper repairs. We had window-well excavations. We had a deer sighting.

Oh yeah, and we had a bird tragedy.

It was a busy, busy day.

The day started with Colleen heading up early to meet the second tile delivery truck. Turned out that they'd already arrived on site just before she did and had parked their truck to scout out the previous delivery and ensure that the driveway was clear for them to back into it. It's actually a good thing she did come up a few minutes later, because she spotted their truck merrily leaking diesel fuel down the road. She hustled up to let the crew know, and they ran down the hill to see what was going on. Turned out that it wasn't obvious what the problem exactly was; Colleen and the crew think that the truck's very full gas tank (they had filled up just before coming up) combined with it being parked kinda crooked caused a siphon effect of some kind. There wasn't a hole or puncture that they could find, so they moved the truck to a flatter spot and stuck a bucket under the tank to catch any further overflow.  Fortunately there wasn't any and what had spilled evaporated over the course of the morning.

About the time this all got settled, the excavation guys came driving up the road with their large excavator. While there was already a small Bobcat on the site to handle the infill work that has been going on for the last few days, it was far too small for the work that needed to be done behind the house. The hill back there has to be sculpted and leveled a bit so that we can install retaining walls for erosion control, and to do that the excavators needed a much larger machine. They couldn't use the machine already on site because it was wheeled, and in order to move around safely they needed a tracked machine with the kind of torque and overdrive that only a good set of tracks can provide.

Once they got their equipment on site, they went over the plan of action with Colleen. There were three trees that needed to be taken down so the excavator could get up the hill, and they wanted to confirm precisely which trees were to be cut. The idea is that they'll use the excavator to push the trees over in a safe manner (it would suck mightily to have a tree fall over on the house at this point) and then I'll turn them into firewood later--in the near term there are more important things to get done first. They also had to avoid damaging some of the stuff already scattered around the site--Tanglewood's windows being fragile and in the dig area, with Tanglewood's well being probably the most critical "can't touch this" item. Lastly they had to cover the foundation drain that Colleen and I had put into place a few days back (the small Bobcat would be used for this, to avoid crushing the pipe) now that Engineer John has signed off on the work. As one might expect, there was a lot of walking and talking with Colleen as they went over the entire area before getting to work on sculpting the hillside.

They also had several questions about the window-well excavations that needed doing. While we didn't plan on this originally, Tanglewood turns out to need three fairly large window wells along the apartment windows where it's buried into the hillside. This was a side effect of our "rotating" the house two years ago (yea gods!  has it been that long?!?) during planning before construction began.  While I'm not a huge fan of window wells (they catch leaves and junk and have to be tended to occasionally) it was more important to get Tanglewood "positioned" correctly on the lot.  It was a good choice overall; one of the compromises one runs into when building.

This was all good because the roofing crew had discovered yesterday that some of the roofing paper they'd put on had been heavily damaged by the wind in the intervening weeks, and so there was a lot of repair work that needed doing before they could continue their tile installation. Colleen got some shots of the mess as they called her over to point them out, and she spotted a patch they'd missed (it's easy to overlook) between the computer-room roof and the living-room roof.

There was a lot of this kind of thing all day long, with each crew having questions or Colleen picking up trash when she had some time when she wasn't answering questions. Then we  had a bit of a tragedy happen, sadly enough. Late in the afternoon she was upstairs tidying things up when suddenly there was a fairly loud "thump" from downstairs and all of the talking suddenly stopped. She came down the ladder to find a couple of the crew looking at something on the ground outside the large downstairs window. Stepping through the (still not filled) patio-door opening, she found what they were looking at--a small bird, mud-colored, lying dead on the ground. Turns out that he (presumably it's a he for reasons that will be explained momentarily) had flown into the window, breaking his neck in the process. Poor thing.

(After the fact Colleen was able to identify the bird. He's a pointy house wren; they're apparently very common, and the males are very aggressive, dive-bombing other males anytime they're perceived to be in their territory. Undoubtedly he spotted his reflection in the large window and attacked the "intruder", smacking into the window at full speed.)

At the end of the day after crews put up their stuff and packed away their tools, Colleen headed back into town only to spot a mule-deer doe in the field about a mile in. This was a bit unusual since we don't normally see deer in the canyon this time of year; there are easier places for them to find food and the elk/bear/mountain lions tend to scare them out. She didn't care too much for Colleen's presence either, trotting briskly away across the field while checking to see if she was being chased. Colleen thought it was pretty neat.

A very busy day, with too much happening for me to do it all justice here. The initial major excavation got done, the window wells got scooped out, and the foundation drain got properly covered and smoothed. Enjoy the pictures and the movies; they tell a far better tale of how the day went.

Steven in Colorado Springs


The leaky tile truck. The bucket didn't catch much, unfortunately.
The larger excavation machine comes trundling up the road.
The excavator guy heads up the driveway to see where he's going to work.
Roofing-paper damage on the back of the apartment.
Some of the paper blew down into the foundation drain.
Big and little excavators working together behind the house.
Nice shot of one of the roofing-tile bundles.
They're made in the USA, at least.
There are only 16 shingles in a bundle... dang, these things are heavy!
Good shot of the Bobcat creeping around the corner of the apartment.
The Bobcat keeps filling in the foundation drain area.
One of the excavator guys takes a momentary break.
Long shot of the large excavator after he's cleared off the first part of the hill. You can see the still-damaged apartment roof behind him.
The excavator works his way down the back of the house.
Looking down the hill towards the windows. If you look carefully you can see that the ground there has been cut down more; this is for the window wells.
Looking at the large apartment window well from the inside.
A doe meandering across the field.
Poor birdy...
The large excavator sits amid its destruction at the end of its day.
Closeup of the initial excavation section.
Looking down the back of the house at the excavation work. Note the damaged tree--Steve Not Happy.
Looking up the hill at the end of the day. Not bad.
Look! We can park here!


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