Digging the Footing on Sunday

It was a 12-hour day for John yesterday. He arrived at the house at 7am and continued scraping the ground. He then began digging the footing until he got to a depth of 3 feet. A couple of areas needed some shoveling which was the part that wasn’t fun, especially in 90 degree heat with high humidity.


As John dug deeper, there was a lot of clay and shale. One of my followers suggested that I look for colonial coins, I did, but didn’t discover any.


When John woke up this morning, he said, “Now I know why people don’t dig footings.” It was worth renting the Bobcat and John had fun using it, but the footing phase was a little bit technical, and with the compacted clay and rock, the job was actually physically draining–especially after 12 hours behind the Bobcat controls.


The footing needs to be level; by deepening the trench, it provides an undisturbed surface for the foundation.


John was able to accomplish digging the footing because it’s relatively small (18×18), it’s not a footing for an entire house. If it was anything bigger, he would have hired someone. He has a couple of books where he referred to the chapters on footings, he called my cousin, who has an excavating company and asked her for some tips, and his friend, who has worked in construction was a big help too. With all of the above, John was able to pull this job off.


Renting the Bobcat was well worth it for the experience, and we now also know that John can grade the yard himself rather than hiring someone to do it.


Now we have two big piles of dirt.


At this point, I can only deal with this project by taking it one day at a time. I’m always aware of time and how it flies by, but even with all of our prepping, preparing and making a concerted effort with hiring framers to start right about now, they can’t.

In the spring, when I wanted to get the framers lined up to begin framing in late July, or at the latest in August, so many of them didn’t get back to us which resulted in time passing. It’s the nature of the business and it’s frustrating. Just to get the initial call returned can take three weeks and then we were lucky if they would even show up to take a look at the job. Afterwards, we were lucky if we even heard back from them with a proposal–that took weeks as well. Most of them said they’re “busy,” “on vacation,” or “I’m going away.”

Autumn is just around the corner and we’re waiting on a framing contract. It hasn’t arrived yet.

The next step with the footing is adding Rebar for the concrete pour. John will call today for the first inspection, which will hopefully be tomorrow. He’ll then have the concrete poured which will follow with a second inspection.




Saturday’s Bobcat Photos: Step-by-Step


Ready to be driven off the trailer…


Getting behind the controls…


Rolling it off the trailer…


So far, so good…


First, the  bucket needs to be changed to the larger bucket (this definitely requires two people).


Brick House 319 has been waiting a long time for the footing to be dug…


John is testing out the controls…


Getting ready for the first scrape…


Here it goes…


We decided to put the pile of dirt where the shed used to be, away from tree roots, where the pile of dirt–if left long enough–could kill a tree.


The start of the pile of dirt…


The first two scrapes…


The scraping continued all day…


Next: Digging the footing!


Renting a Bobcat: First Phase of Digging the Footing

John picked up the Bobcat rental at 2PM yesterday. By renting on a Saturday afternoon, he got an extra day for free (Sunday) before having to return it at 7AM on Monday morning.

The Bobcat rental is $353.00 per day which includes two buckets. A larger bucket is used for scraping the dirt and a smaller bucket is used for digging the footing.

Right off the bat, we saved money by renting over the weekend. If we had rented on a weekday we would have been charged twice the amount.

John picked up his friend, Jon, who he has known since elementary school and went all through high school with, and the two of them went to pick up the Bobcat.

By the way, we had gotten two quotes from contractors to dig the footing and both were between $1500 and $1700 without the concrete pour.

They arrived at Brick House 319 and drove up on the front lawn. The Bobcat was sitting on a nice, brand new, shiny trailer. It turns out that the man who owns the rental company went to high school with John but he hasn’t seen him since graduating in 1978.


Thankfully, there was just enough room between the tall Japanese maple tree and the house for the Bobcat and trailer. However, thinking about it afterwards, John could have taken the Bobcat off the trailer in the front yard and driven the Bobcat to the backyard.

Okay, it’s the first time he’s ever rented a Bobcat, and all three of us didn’t think of it.


The Bobcat made it through…


Looking good…


John has never driven a Bobcat before but after a little bit of trial and error, he got used to it quickly. It was fun to operate. He began scraping the dirt, picking buckets of it up and placing the dirt in a pile–away from tree roots.


John scraped the dirt until 7Pm…


He got the bucket within a few inches of the house pulling the dirt away…


Today, he’ll finish scraping the dirt, switch to the smaller bucket, and dig the footing.


Update at Brick House 319: Andersen Windows & Bobcat Rental for Footing

I started writing this post last night. For some reason the power went out in our condo at 9:30pm, I lit a few candles and twiddled my thumbs.

Due to getting the runaround with Andersen windows, spraining my ankle and back and forth conversations/emails with framers, I was spent each night–when it was time tap the keys on my lap top.

I was also temporarily burned out, especially with the colossal waste of time with Andersen– a mentally draining experience. (More on this later; keep in mind that when ordering windows from sales reps or sales people, they work on commission so it’s a very similar experience to buying a car. Every line item has to be looked at for sneaky up sales which can add thousands to an order.) My best advice is–if at all possible– place an order with someone who doesn’t work on commission.

Today, John will be renting the Bobcat to dig the footing.  The weather is supposed to be good for the next week. The digging needs to be coordinated with the inspection and concrete pour so we need at least three days of good weather. A friend who John went to high school with plans to come over and help.