Saturday, August 30, 2014

infrastructure part 2 (tree removal and septic)

Bruce, proudly aged 70, working the spruce.

The day finally arrived for the tree removal to begin- a very large white pine (precariously close to the house), 2 ailing spruces, and 2 other smaller evergreens.  While we were expecting some heavy duty equipment to arrive, Bruce and Earl  (combined age 145 years!) showed up with their pickup, a few chainsaws, and a vintage chipper towed behind a small dump truck.  At that point the three day work estimate made more sense…

They methodically set to work, with Bruce gradually climbing the trees with his chain saw and pole saw, and Earl handling the pieces that were cut from the trunk.  Branches were removed on the climb up, and trunks were segmented on the way down, and then the chipper went to work.  Our exposure to the road and views to the mountains were suddenly opened up, sacrificing some shade on the house but eliminating the fear of crashing trees during our regular raging winds.  We now have a pile of chips composting for future use, and a pile of rather large trunk sections that are gradually being relocated to the woods.  The clump of ash trees was also pruned, which had the added benefit of becoming firewood- unfortunately the evergreens are not useful for indoor burning.
Once the towering white pine was down on the ground, we found rot where the tree trunk forked, and so we felt especially grateful to have it removed before the winter storms start blowing.

The chips and brush were all raked up, and a few dents in the lawn have now been filled in, so we are enjoying the new vistas and moving on to the next project…the septic system.

Our house has a septic system that was installed some time in the early 1980’s, and the former owner had provided a rough description of its location.  Initial efforts to locate it had provided some vigorous exercise but no success- if you ever saw the movie “Holes” you can relate to our efforts! Eventually on hole #6 (dubbed “6th sense”) Peter hit the concrete tank about 18 inches below the surface, and fortunately landed directly on top of one of the covers, marked by 2 rusty handles.  With further exploration, a second cover was located near the first, so we called the local septic company to reschedule a visit to come check it out.

According to the septic service, there should be 3 covers approximately 4 feet apart, and so far we had found 2 covers about 2 feet apart, which was a mystery to the “boss” at the septic service. Perhaps some further digging will be needed, but he will come by to check it out next time he is in the area- “could be a few days or maybe a few weeks”.  Vermont Time is just something you need to work with sometimes!  We hope everything checks out eventually so we can cross off septic concerns from our infrastructure list.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Infrastructure (driveway and drainage)

First things first.  Before beginning any construction, we had to take care of several basic issues that are easier to do up front, and would give us immediate benefits.  The gravel driveway needed more gravel, and grading to eliminate the small pond/ice rink that forms right where we park.  We also needed to improve drainage around the house, hopefully preventing a repeat of the mystery flood in the lower level last year.  Several ailing or overgrown trees needed to be cut down, and our big ash tree pruned. Finally the septic had to be checked- we certainly did not want to have a problem there after rehabbing the house, and potential added bedrooms might require an upgrade.

We started back in June, contacting the driveway guy (our snow plow guy), who also could put in a French drain between the driveway and the house.  The tree guy gave us a quote and agreed to come back in July.  The septic took a bit more work.  We did not know exactly where it was, so we checked with the town clerk to see if any records existed- no luck.  We tried the septic company that had previously serviced the house, but they also had no records.  “We don’t even have a computer!”  said the woman at the septic company, with a hint of pride. We called the former owner and he pointed us in the right direction, so an appointment was made with the septic guy, assuming we could find it and dig to expose the covers.  After extensive poking and digging we could not locate the tank…appointment cancelled.  Then all we could do was wait until the various projects began.

(looking left from the porch, at the garage)
Suddenly one day Kolbey was in the driveway, with a skid steer, Bobcat, and truck full of gravel- the driveway project was underway!  In no time the backhoe had dug a trench along the driveway side of the house, ripping out the remaining bush and fully exposing the window in front of Peter’s office. Gravel and pipe were laid in the trench, which curves around the side if the house to drain into the yard when we get big rains.  The driveway and lawn were regraded, and then a few loads of gravel spread expertly by Kolbey’s associate.  The next day, new grass seed was planted, and a layer of straw spread, and the project was done.  Slightly over budget due to an extra load of gravel, but now the drain is draining, the grass is growing, and a set of local Vermont pavers for the walkway completed the job.
(looking right from the porch, with the new driveway
curving up toward the road)

Check back tomorrow for the tree felling chapter. :-)