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Who knew it would be so much work?

This whole "dig out some plumbing trenches and fill it in with concrete when we're done" project has turned out to be a whole lot of work.  Much.  Much. Much more work than I thought!  Can I complain for a minute here?  I'm usually pretty good at realizing the logistics of a project but I guess I concentrated more on the plumbing and less on the floor when I was thinking about this one.  In my head, digging the trenches involved using a jack hammer - which I thought was like jumping on a pogo stick - and then pouring some concrete - which I though was like using a bucket of water to pour a mote around a sand castle.  I have no idea why I thought these activities would be easy/fun.

Let this be a warning to anyone who wants to add a basement bathroom!

What using a jackhammer is really like

It's not like a pogo stick.  The novelty of playing with heavy equipment wore off after about 5 minutes.  Then it turned into just hanging on to a 70 pound machine, letting it drop through the floor, then picking it up to chest height and moving it a few inches over.  Repeat.  600 times.  Thank God for friends (thanks Rob and Brent) or I may have died trying to finish this on my own.

I also forgot to think of what we would do with all the concrete chunks.  I thought they would break into 2 foot sections that weighed 5 pounds each.  Instead, they broke into 2 inch pieces that weighed 5 pounds each!  We carried the debris to the curb in 5 gal buckets that weighed about 60 pounds each and put them into contractor bags.  I then rented a truck and lifted all the bags (about 1800 pounds AGAIN) into the truck bed, then threw them all into our city's recycling center.

What playing in the sand is really like

Digging down two feet to reach the old drains and make room for new drains was no day at the beach.  Katrina's sister, Karla, was a big help and between the two of us I bet we moved 3,000 pounds of sand from under the floor into piles around the basement.

This is about 1/3 the sand we moved, the rest was in another corner of the basement, out of the way so the plumbers could actually get to the trenches!

Once the plumbers were done all the sand had to go BACK into the holes.  We ended up having extra sand from the volume the pipes displaced and also because our old concrete was pretty thin so we wantedt to leave enough depth for thicker concrete.  I used my trusty 5 gal buckets (thanks Peter!) to carry about 1500 pounds of sand to the curb for whomever wants free sand off Craig's List.

What moving concrete is really like

I guess I had no idea how much concrete we really needed because I was really surprised to find out we need 80 bags that weigh 60 pounds each.  Yikes.  I knew my car couldn't carry that much at once but renting a truck and carrying 4800 pounds of concrete in one trip sounded like a nightmare!  I devised a plan, I would go to Home Depot every day for a week and put 10 or 12 bags in my car then load it into the basement each trip.  I figure my little Mazda3 can handle 720 pounds - that's like 4 grown men after all.  So every day I've been loading up my back seat and trunk with concrete and hauling it up the back stairs and down to the basement.  Twelve bags seems to be a good amount, I don't think I'd want to do more than 20 in a day.  Here's what  week in the life of our basement looks like!

Bags of Concrete 1

In the past few weeks I've carried 1800 pounds of concrete, 4000 pounds of sand, and 4800 pounds of concrete mix.  With 4.3 tons of material, who needs a gym membership?

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  1. Hi guys! I feel like we have been off the face of the blog Earth for a month now! But I am glad to get caught up on your basement redo. That looks like a CRAZY amount of manual labor, goodness I can’t imagine a jackhammer in our house! But I am sure you guys are going to make it perfect and all worth it!

    PS- are you guys going to Junk Bonanza this weekend at all? I’d be fun to see you there or meet up elsewhere :)

  2. OMG I feel like I could have wrote this post. Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two totally different things. Tearing open a basement floor is something I hope we never have to do because it looks like a huge undertaking! Good luck with everything.

  3. Thanks guys, I think it will be worth it in the end! It’s been a few days and I don’t really remember the grunt work, just the finished product. Finishing a project always give you a different perspective…

  4. Mike and Katrina, thanks for all the information the last time I commented. I’ll be sure to keep it all in mind. I can totally relate to the concrete/car dance as I’ve done the same thing but with patio blocks:). Glad to see you are making progess though it does sound horrible. It will be SO worth it to have a nice basement. I’m 95% sure mine it isn’t insulated. I think the previous owners just slapped some lipstick on this cute little pig:) but I like anyway.

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