Friday, September 29, 2017

Construction: Week 1

Mumma, for why all these changes?
Well, after months of planning, designing, stressing, worrying and lining up contractors and estimates and quotes, the ball finally started rolling last week. 

I had found a contractor to pour the slab for my foundation, but I couldn't find anyone who was available to do the excavation. It feels like the entire south shore of Nova Scotia is madly building, trying to get things done before the snow flies and contractors are busy, busy, busy! I feel lucky to have found the great bunch of contractors who've agreed to work on this project, but I struck out trying to find a excavation contractor who was available, affordable and with whom I felt comfortable. And without the excavation work, nothing could move forward.

Luckily for me, my friend of the amazing chainsaw skills has myriad other skills and offered to do the excavation work I needed to have done. Not that he's not extremely busy, too, but he made the time so that work at my place wouldn't be held up – a tremendous and generous gift to me.

The first task was "scrubbing off" the organic matter, dead and alive.
It was a perfect opportunity to take logs that had been cut over the past year and a half to make way for the driveway and power lines and load them on the trailer to go off to be milled into useful lumber.
One of the limbs had to be removed from old Father Maple so that the big trucks would be able to back right up to the form. He remains a stately, if somewhat less crooked, presence. 
We had to have a couple of loads of shale delivered.
And my friend brought tons of gravel in his truck and trailer, too... 
...much of which we spread by hand using shovels, rakes and buckets.
I got to drive the excavator when the right-rear wheel of the truck went over the edge of the driveway and the truck had to be assisted back onto solid ground.
The awesome slab contractor loaned us his transit level so we could check how level the pad was as we spread the gravel. 
A DEEP trench had to be dug for the well line to go out from the house. You never think how deep 4 feet is, but it's deep enough when you're trying to dig through rocky South Shore Nova Scotian soil! 
I'm not going to lie to you, I melted down more than once last week. I felt so overwhelmed. I wished that I had never had the temerity to think that I could organize having a small cabin built for myself.

Days were spent leveling ground, moving logs and getting gravel in place. Despite being worn out by the work, I did not sleep well, waking up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts like, "What am I doing?" and "Why did I decide to do this?"

There were some shaky, miserable hours. Fortunately, a number of people close to me provided moral support and tangible help, often exactly when it was needed most.

And there were some exiting moments, too. I invested in a chain saw and used it for the first time ever! And I drove the excavator. And I worked: healthy, outdoor, physical labour.

As the work progressed, I started to feel better. Excavation was hard – it felt like we were ripping the land to pieces. Fortunately, after ripping it apart, we started to put it back together again. And for me, as that happened "Why am I doing this?" and "What am I doing?" transformed into "I am doing this."

The definiteness of that is a lot more comfortable than sitting in the unknown of doubts and second guesses.

And since I am doing this, I want to embrace the process. After several wobbly weeks, I've come to understand that if I want this house to be built wholeheartedly, by people who are kind and easy through the process, that means that I have to find kindness and ease in my heart, too.

Otherwise, there is no point.

This construction project requires Salinger to be vigilant and alert. On Friday, when all the machines had gone away for a bit, he had to have some serious naps to recover from all of the excitement.


  1. Oh, Alex! This is so exciting!
    I feel so happy for you although I understand how overwhelming the process must be.
    You rock and you can do it!
    I will be in NS from the 4th to the 18th of October - would love to visit you, Sal and the crocked wood :-)
    xo Else

    1. Oh hooray! It will be lovely to see you, Else! Sal and I look forward to your visit. I hope everything is going well with your project planning, too! xoxo

  2. This is an enormous, but very exciting, undertaking, Alex. I can only imagine how overwhelming it may feel at times, but I am so proud of you for stepping into this project and for being so involved in the step-by-step process of building this home on your land.
    I am glad to know that this week's tremendous progress is giving you a sense of accomplishment and confidence that this *is* really happening.
    Much love and courage for the work ahead,

    1. Thank you, Corey! You totally get it – exciting, overwhelming, progress, accomplishment! Week 2 was much easier than Week 1! Thank you for sending love and courage – very appreciated! xoxo, A.

    I'm so very proud of you. You're going to have the greatest sense of accomplishment and feeling that this house is truly yours after all the work you're doing. xo

    1. Thank you, Momo!!! I am glad you enjoyed the photo update – more to come, of course! Yes, I agree that building from scratch is going to make my home feel very MINE <3! I can hardly wait for you to come visit after it's built! xoxo!