The Campsie Project

An account of the renovation of The Neglected House on the Wonderful Street in Wonderful Downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

Friday, March 18, 2005

watch out for that hole

watch out for that hole
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey.
Here then is the absence of the rotten kitchen corner, where a leaking fridge had destroyed the floor. It was cut out and replaced by a new subfloor.

Here are more pictures, if you get turned on by that kind of thing.

The real Basement Jaxx

No jumping, jacks...
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey.
The jack system that has been installed on the side wall of the house. It's holding up... the house! Well, not really. But it is supporting a new beam which is relieving the load on that side.

The Jack Attack!

So, we removed tons of dirt, remember that?

I know you do if you were one of the wonderful people who helped make it happen! Again, Lucy and I thank you so much for the astonishing effort put forth. I shake my head and just cry… cry… cry. No, I don’t– but I do gape some. And mutter “geez,” a lot.

The thing is, I had this moment of concern when I had this thought: What if some of those people who were doing the miner forty-niner bit didn’t even know why it had to be done? For what, already? And I wrung my hands some. My dirt-diggin’ hands.

So, if we didn’t get it straight with you, this is why we needed to dig out seven tons of dirt: To put in a series of jacks to support areas of the house that have suffered from neglect over many decades.

And here’s the very good news: The jacks are in! Which couldn’t have happened without the crazy digging day. But really, even Lucy and I are surprised. Patron Restorer Todd and his rock’em sock’ems flew into action last Thursday, just 4 days after the main digging party and two days after Meridith, Lucy and I dug out another ton. (see previous posts)

And to our astonishment, by end of day Friday, there were concrete platforms, jacks, a new support post, chimney reinforcements, and some sawed-out kitchen floor, just for added destruction. Pretty amazing for three guys!

The upshot: The floors will never be level. Todd keeps reminding us: "This is an old house. Old houses have wavy floors," Spoken in that sort of too loud and too enunciated tone, generally reserved for remedials (kidding!). BUT there is a dramatic difference all over the place. And the kitchen floor no longer has a rotted out hole in the corner, but now a nice strong patched-in section (that will soon be covered with…tile or something—the jury (Lucy) is still out.

Now here’s an invitation: If you were one of the Dirt Brigade, come over and see what you helped us accomplish! Just email me and we’ll figure out when you can stop by.

Don’t worry— the shovels have been put away.

If you're afraid to come over, here are pictures to look at.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Old-Fashioned Amish Basement-Lowering

(this was displaying funny on some computers, so I fiddled with it some. No new content, just easier to read! -- mick)

Well, well, well, we had ourselves a work party. It was just an amazing thing, I tellya.. The turnout! The tons of dirt moved! The incredible grime! And, oh, the friends who helped make it happen. Let's take a look back. In words and pictures! (photo link at the bottom)

Since before we bought the house, Saint Todd was preaching house-jackin, friends, house-jacking! See, we've had these, ah, foundation issues that we've known we were going to have to contend with. These are the kinds of things that led to the popular question You're not gonna BUY that house, are you?

And yes, we did, as you can plainly gather by this point.

But downstairs, all was not right, and we knew it. Or upstairs for that matter. Or outside. But it sure is a nice, um, street, friends!

The bottom line: we needed to excavate major dirt from the basement to get to the foundation walls so that the sill plate could be repaired in several places where terra-mites (as Lucy likes to say) had chewed it down. (Ancient history people! Don't Worry! TJ, the Insect Technologist was here!) Hence, the jacking.

But first, the digging!

This was not something that you particularly look forward to. Todd had two words to ease the pain: Work Party! Now, it's entirely possible that, based on my social history, there was a misunderstanding about what this meant. Traditionally, this would have meant "work," as in, working on making a cocktail or working on a new dance. So I must apologize to those who didn't realize that, this time, it meant "work," as in "hauling dirt." It's a mistake anyone could've made, right?

And so, with some reluctance and recalcitrance, we marked the calendar, and sent out emails to about 30 people. You know the kindóhardworking, guilt-able... your best friends. No, reallyóLucy and I had no idea who would possibly take this kind of bait. We offered food, beverages, shovels, gloves, dust masksÖ who would go for this sort of thing?

All I can say is: We were truly blessed by some fine fine friends on Sunday.

People started showing up at noon sharp, as requested and pretty much just started digging. I kid you not. And this basement of ours was quickly looking like some sort of World War II tunneling operation or Escape From Alcatraz.

Within minutes the air was thick with dust that we could've been on some archaeology expedition. And we were, a bit. Unearthed were many an antique bottle (see pictures), but thankfully no bones or other gruesome stuff. This was a plus as it kept any of our shovelers and bucketeers from running out in a tizz. Did I just mention bucketeers? Have I explained the procedure?

See it's like this, Indiana Jonesó

With the help of many kind and wonderful souls, we bucket-ferried about seven tons of dirt out of our basement. I am not kidding and I'm not lying. I can't think of all the people that get thanked, because I spent a lot of the time up in the dirt, like y'all did, but I'm gonna try: Meridith, Esther, Travis, Jennifer, Dave, Todd, JoAnn, Perrin, Melissa, Kate, Meridith (2 separate days!), Rona and Steve (for food), Loris (for food), Clark, Kenn, Phil, Diane, Double D, TT, Jamie, Josh, Jim, Sonya and if I forgot you and you're reading this, leave a comment and I'll correct that omission, because we're so very grateful!

Now, the pictures!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by mrtoastey.
Kenn's cartooned the basement party at Campsie! It's nice to have a cartoon archivist. We built that into the loan, y'know.. go see Kenn's site!