Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dave Sim: Off-White House Bulletin

Work on reconstructing the foundation of the Off-White House began at 0900 hours today!

Started with a "gag photo" of me behind the wheel of the excavator. "Why am I paying Scott all this money? This is actually pretty easy."  Photo by Tom H (a neighbour) (photo will be posted by Funkmaster John at the Kickstarter site as the clock is ticking down on CANT CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO) (end of plug)

It was supposed to be pretty easy: a lot of Big League Scooping of dirt and then down to business.  But the excavator would stop every few minutes and I'd get up from the drawing board to go and see what was going on.  "There's a lot of crap down here," said Scott.  And indeed there was.  Roots, branches, Big stones.  Bricks.  Most of it having to be worked around with a shovel (Scott's right-hand-man, Adam) (and then Scott his own self) (and then Tom H -- an underemployed union guy)

The foundation of the house, which was built in 1882, is fitted stones and, as we were worried about, a lot of those stones are, sort of, moving around.  Which you prefer the stones in the foundation of your house not to do.

And then there was water.  A LOT of water.  So that most of the dirt that was being excavated at the midpoint of the north side of the house was, like, MUD.  "Uh, that's right under where my 'kitchenette' sink is. You think it could be coming from there?"  I volunteered to go inside and put the water on full blast (while changing my shoes to have a 'look-see').  PLEASE, let it not be some broken pipe.

Well, it wasn't.  No sudden Three Stooges gush of water.

Turns out it was a buried water tank from -- no idea how far back in time.  It was framed with wood, though.

That was PART of what was really slowing things down.  The excavator was basically taking the tank apart a bit at a time.

The tank also proved to be the problem with the back left corner of the house -- WHY the foundation was just rotting there but was reasonably solid elsewhere:  it was basically serving as its own water table, holding rain water in stasis.  You have rainwater for a 100 years or so sloshing against fitted stones...

"Well, the water's gone now," said Adam.  He added that you could practically hear it seeping down.

So, the bottom line is increased labour charges for having to a) babysit the back left corner of the Off-White House to an unexpected degree b) put concrete in between and around all of those fitted stones flying in loose formation c) basically build the foundation from scratch (as Scott found with his own place next door, if you dig down to the foundation...there is none.  It's just sitting on sand.  They didn't call this place Sand Hills Creek for nothing).

Anyway, Scott took a couple of shots of me down in the trench taking a hands-on look at part of the Off-White House I'll (hopefully) never see again.

When they rebuilt the REAL White House during the Truman Administration, I figured they should have gotten at least one picture of the President down in the trench with a shovel.

I'm wearing my United States CGA Coast Guard Academy t-shirt sent to me by a CEREBUS fan when he was attending the CGA.  He later wrote and asked that his name be deleted from the Blog & Mail -- which I did.

But, the t-shirt?  No, the t-shirt you'll have to pry out of my cold, dead fingers.

Thanks to all you CEREBUS fans who have made the rebuild possible!


Jeff Seiler said...

You're welcome, Dave. Glad to help out. I'll be ordering CANT (can do!) tonight. I'm trying to picture which corner of the house that is, based on the kitchenette (which wasn't part of the tour I got), and it makes me feel sad for that nice deck out back...

Geez, do I gots to order more copies of CANT or CANTredux to help pay fer a new deck?!?

Birdsong said...


I thought my place was old and it was built in 1977 and my biggest problem this year was spiders all over the place.

Keep things in perspective y'all.