The Business of the Subterranean

They've built a swimming pool!

They’ve built a swimming pool!

In all the glory and grunt work that is DIY house building, nothing reigns supreme on the level of the mundane as what you bury in the ground.

I’ve gone on at length about rebar and hammer drilling and foundations. Sure it all holds the house up, which is kind of important, and it amplifies the magnitude of even the most minute error. But in the end all that work, money and resources get buried, hopefully never to be seen again.

Even more devoid of rapt attention is the other stuff you shovel dirt over like something you pulled out of your car in the dark. By this I mean waterproofing and drain pipe and pulse raisers like water lines, power cables and telecom conduit.

So here it is in glorious colour moments before burial, my obsession with dryness in a damp climate. Three coats of liquid rubber and a peel and stick membrane to seal the joint between the form bag and the concrete stem wall. All encased in plastic dimple board screwed to the concrete to protect against backfill and eliminate hydrostatic pressure exerted by water in the soil on the foundation wall. Then ringed by a sloped 100mm perforated drain pipe buried in a filter cloth burrito of drain rock around the outside of the foundation. The inside filled with compacted fractured rock as a capillary break on compacted pit run and sand. A multi-tiered defence against water, dampness and all things mouldy.

Running through it all in a trench from our light clay straw power and pump shed, 45 metres of massive armoured power line, twin 25mm waterlines and a telecom conduit so we can get internet access in the future and post scintillating blog posts on standing seam roof cladding and the relative merits of fibreglass versus PVC window frames.

So there we have it. Three months’ work buried under 100 tonnes of backfill and compacted drain rock only to be appreciated in its full glory by the coveted few invited to future family slide shows where I go through the finer details of foundation waterproofing, waterline installation, filling utility access holes in concrete foundations and the ongoing debate over 3 inch minus fracture versus round drain rock.

Heady stuff indeed.

I promise cool timber post and beam framing soon. Really. Really. I’m working on it tomorrow.





The drain pipe burrito

The drain pipe burrito




Trenching from the utility building

Trenching from the utility building





Mia wonders where it all went

Mia wonders where it all went

3 thoughts on “The Business of the Subterranean

    • I wanted a really large millstone around my neck so I put in an unnecessary curve where a set of glazed double doors will open to the sunny south patio. Every house needs some labour sapping idea born on paper and executed in slow, meticulous detail. It’ll be cool though!

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