We spent the majority of the week filling the trenches on the inside and outside of the foundation. We were also hit with a record breaking heat wave. The temperature started in the comfortable 90’s and went up from there, staying above 100 for most of the week. Yikes!

We started working on the exterior trenches, mostly because they were easier to access. First, we installed a drainage system around all four sides of the building. We placed drain pipes in the trenches to direct water away from the building, under the driveway, and down the hill. The first step was creating the appropriate slopes for the drain pipe to lay on. This involved removing dirt in some areas and adding dirt in other areas.

Sam shoveled dirt out, while constantly checking the depth and pitch with a laser.

That was the easy part. We had to add material along the long sides of the building. When you add material, you need to compact it to prevent the ground from sagging under the pipes. I delivered dirt (at the optimal moisture content of course), and the boys shoveled it out of the tractor and packed it in.

We rented a jumping jack for compacting these narrow areas. It’s as bad to use as it looks- not a fun activity to be doing in the heat. Sam was still smiling though.

Once we were happy with the slopes, we lined the trenches with a non-woven geotextile (“French drain fabric”). The fabric acts as a filter, preventing the clay soil from entering and clogging the drain pipe.

Then, we placed the drain pipe in the trenches.

Next, we filled the trenches with coarse drain rock. If all goes as planned, water will flow down through the drain rock, into the perforated pipe, and through the pipes downhill. We closed the fabric like a burrito to prevent clay from getting in, and topped it all off with more drain rock.

The days continued to get hotter. Sam switched to shorts once we were into the triple digits. The local cherries ripened early, so we had to stop work to pick 13 lbs of lapins in fear that all the cherries would turn to mush if left on the trees.

Back to work and onto the interior trenches… First, we lined the insides of the walls with 2″ foam as insulation. But, things are never that simple. Metal clips from the concrete were sticking up from the bottom of the wall where the foam sits, so we had to cut the foam boards so they could tuck in behind the clips. We also had to cut all of the top faces at a 45 degree angle. Having the foam come to a point at the top will keep it hidden when we pour the floor.

Sam set up a foam cutter with a hot wire under our shed (the only source of shade).

We had to cut about 50 boards. I stayed cool along with “Mousee,” cutting foam for hours, while Sam and BJ worked in the blazing sun.


“Mousee” was found in a mouse trap in the loader. We put him in the mouse jail with some water and released him a few miles away on our way home.

Next, we installed the foam. It fit perfectly!

The heat is rising. It’s now 110 degrees! Frequent encouragement from the Pink Panther kept us going!

It’s time to move gravel, but first, we had to get some machines inside of the building. We dumped gravel over one of the walls to create a ramp, so we could drive over it without damaging the concrete.

We got a few more loads of gravel delivered and started filling the trenches.

Then Sam packed it down with a hoepack.

And for the final step, we installed the radon pipe. It’s used to direct any radon from the ground to the outside. It’s simply a perforated pipe that goes around the perimeter underneath the floor. Radon from the ground (if there is any), goes into the pipe, up another pipe, and out through the roof. This was an optional step, not a building requirement. We don’t even know if we have radon, but a neighboring county does…

You guessed it- we covered the radon pipe with more gravel. Now we have nice flush surfaces on both sides of the foundation.

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