Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ARC 699 - Advanced Sledgehammering

The west retaining wall in the backroom continues to slowly sag inward. It's unlikely that it would collapse in the next months, but is perhaps the single most problematic thing from keeping the house from getting off the demolition list.

Many of the blocks come out by hand or a few light swings of a hammer - testament to its frailty. What sits behind is a very poorly placed concrete strip footing, about 12" thick and 24" deep. The mass, luckily, is broken in half which puts it into very manageable (.....) 2-ton sections.

After lifting and bracing the ends of the beam that used to sit on the footing, it can be removed. It has an intimidating head start - its mass hanging, leaning toward us held back only by the friction of the soil. It's already been heaved from the expanding and contracting ground - not having been placed below the frost line. After deciding which of us would cut off his limbs to escape for help should it fall, we pick up our sledgehammers and start to get it out.

A day and one bottle of ibuprofen later, the mass is out of the dirt wall and on the basement floor, still in considerably massive pieces. Special thanks to Wade, Tim, Dylan, Greg, and Will for their help in breaking them up and hurling them out.

Each subtraction we make from the structure comes with some uncertainty. We are dumbstruck as to how the house continues to hold itself up as we remove what are supposed to be the main supports. Old, neglected, decrepit; It's far tougher than it seems.

Still, its resilience is only temporary. We need to rebuild the retaining wall and resupport the wooden wall above it. There are few materials that we can use to recreate this; Concrete is unavailable and environmentally damaging. Blocks are possible, but fairly sparse, and would require a number of other materials not readily available: mortar, reinforcement bar, reinforcement grout.

What are available in great abundance are tires. Nearly every abandoned lot carries several and some with mounds of fifty or more. Not only are they available, but they're environmental and visual blight. This is where we're able to act symbiotically, giving new life to otherwise detrimental matter.

So begins the restructuring of our house on waste.

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