Archive for April, 2008

Locating an Arborist and Menlo Park Job Site

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Any site development activities in the City of Monte Sereno that could affect trees requires a report from a certified arborist.

We have many trees on our property and an arborist will definitely be required.

After some searching, we called Tree Solutions, based in Scotts Valley.

On the way back from the Wheeler house, it was time to check on the progress at the basement in Menlo Park. It is moving forward quickly in the beautiful weather.

East view of the job site.

East view of the job site.

West view of the job site.

West view of the job site.

Back to the Menlo Park Basement

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Stopped by the job site in Menlo Park and took another photo of the progress they are making.

You can see the forms are now in place to pour the foundation walls.

Forms for pouring the foundation walls.

Forms for pouring the foundation walls.

Touring Job Sites with Paul

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Paul arrived in town for a quick visit.  Hertz upgraded Paul’s car and it was a beautiful blue-sky California day for us to go for a drive.
After a hearty breakfast at Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline, we went south along Skyline and down Highway 9 into Saratoga.  Up to Overlook and Littlebrook to the job site from yesterday.

The photos show the spectacular views and the huge residence that is being built there.

New construction with spectacular views.

New construction with spectacular views.

Steel superstructure.

Steel superstructure.

Retaining walls and foundation.

Retaining walls and foundation.

After touring various other sites, we hosted dinner with Suzanne and Peter, and Trixi.  Paul left early to catch is flight from SFO back to Toronto.

Reviewing Job Sites with Bill Brown

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Bill Brown, Jerry Freeman and I met at the job site this morning to review the potential water issues that were identified through the drilling last week.

After discussing the implications for our site, Bill offered to take me to a couple of his job sites in the area.  That sounded like a great idea so I accepted.

First, we went to Saratoga where Bill was putting a basement under an existing house, while the owners were still living there.  Frankly, I didn’t believe this was possible.  Seeing is believing.

We walked through the basement where I was able to take a couple photos.  You can see where the new suspended slab will go in the garage.  This is similar to what we intend to do with our project.

Rebar for suspended slab.

Rebar for suspended slab.

Another feature that we intend to use for our project is to insulate the exterior foundation, on the outside.  By insulating the concrete foundation from the ground, we will create thermal mass that will make the house slower to gain in temperature and slower to fall in temperature (or, at least, that is the theory!).

Insulation over foundation wall.

Insulation over foundation wall.

Next stop was a house just off Highway 9, behind Saratoga.  Then, we stopped in at Bill’s house and he showed me his basement.

Continuing on Highway 9, we drove up El Sereno to a huge project with a full basement and huge open ceilings.  This was much, much more than our tiny Eichler but clearly showed Bill’s expertise and experience with basements and showcase homes.

Making our way along Daves Avenue, Bill turned into another project on the top of a small hill.  This, he explained, was a full basement and that the owner is continuing to develop.

After the tour, Bill gained our complete trust in his capabilities.

Observing Waterproofing in Menlo Park

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

We continued to observe the construction activities of the basement in Menlo Park.

After completing the excavation, they are now working on the waterproofing before the slab is poured.  The white material is ParaSeal, a membrane backed with bentonite.

Overview of the waterproofing.

Overview of the waterproofing.

The stairs going down look like a ‘leading practice’ that could be used on our site.

Waterproofing underway.

Waterproofing underway.

Here is a closeup of the detail around the penetrations in the membrane.

Detailing around penetrations of the ParaSeal membrane.

Detailing around penetrations of the ParaSeal membrane.

Initial Drilling to Verify Soil Conditions

Friday, April 4th, 2008

We were advised to have a soils engineer test our soils and determine the feasibility of putting a basement under our Eichler.

This step seemed ridiculous.

However, we engaged Jerry Freeman (from Saratoga) and he arranged for a drilling company to drill a 20 foot deep hole in our front yard using a truck-mounted drilling rig. Also, the same driller used a hand machine to drill a 12 foot deep hole in our back yard. Jerry would take core samples every fivefeet in the front yard (4 samples) and every three feet in the back yard (four samples).

Truck-Mounted Drilling Rig

Truck-Mounted Drilling Rig

Drilling in the front yard

Drilling in the front yard

During the sampling in the front yard, Jerry showed me the core at 14 feet that ‘glistened’ and indicated a trace of water. This was cool. We moved to the back yard.

Core Sample

Core Sample

Core Sample with a Trace of Water

Core Sample with a Trace of Water

The drillers got the hand rig going and we started drilling.

Hand Drill

Hand Drill

Everything was fine with the coring and then the final sample was being taken at 12 feet. As the drillers were pounding on the core sampler, it sounded like they were hitting bedrock. They pulled up the core and it was water!

Within minutes, the water was 8 feet below grade. Not good.

The driller packed up and we then moved to the front yard. There was water 15 feet down!

Oh no …