-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

digging out rock to put down fake rock (aka why building regulations suck)

So things haven't gone quite to plan in the work at Amherst on the brick wall. I'd had the notion that it would take only a day's work to finish off the trench digging that was started a couple years back. Then a quick visit from a concrete truck or two and voila - ready to lay bricks.

Unfortunately it turned into an epic saga, and not in a good way.

The first bad news was that the old trenches were apparently unusable, as the rainwater they'd caught and held like very long thin dams had apparently worn away the edges and made them too wide. So the guys decided to dig new trenches everywhere.

trench for walled garden foundation

The second bad discovery was that despite having had so much rain recently the ground was as hard as a rock. So hard that digging the trenches was taking forever, and so they had to hire a bigger tractor! (This is after justifying the purchase of our tractor by it saving us from ever having to hire equipment again *sigh* I swear, next time I'm buying a new car and forget the tractor).

Even with the hired tractor and working round the clock under floodlights on shift, it still took them days to get the trenches dug. The ground was so solid and they kept hitting rock.

And then, this is the bit where I think building regulations are UTTERLY MAD... we were only digging out all that rock to replace it with FAKE ROCK aka concrete. Honestly, I don't understand why this was required. Our 2 storey brick house in London has stood with a foundation of about 10cm of rubble on clay soil for over 100 years now with no problems. (I'm serious - we found this out when we dug down to have a look when we put on extension). Yet apparently in the middle of a paddock in rural Australia you can't build a brick wall on rock-solid ground without sinking a deep concrete trench. *sigh*

Oh, and then there's the steel. All this steel mesh and rods and other stuff had to be buried in the concrete. No-one had told me how much steel we'd need - or how pricey it'd be. In the end I reckon the raw materials alone have come in about double the budget, and that's before you factor in the dire exchange rate at the moment.

Still. It had to be built if we wanted to get anywhere near the dream for the garden. I guess I'll just be working in London a while longer than planned to pay for it all. :-(

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