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Preparing for a new foundation wall


Teague is my hero. He spent yesterday, his only guaranteed day off of work this week, digging a huge trench for the new foundation wall we’ll be needing when we extend the kitchen out 6 feet. He was out there past sunset – what a hardworking guy!

The neighbors probably think we’re burying bodies out back, because the trench looks quite grave-like:

What cracks me up about watching Teague work is that he is so neat and tidy about things. Check out how his tools are lined up like little soldiers! I’m not nearly as organized when I’m knee deep in dirt.

Unfortunately, he went out this morning and found that the trench had begun to fill up with water – it has become the low point in the lawn. So before we pour any concrete, we have to find a way to divert the water elsewhere. We have clay soil, which expands and contracts and isn’t great for any foundation, so we’ve got to learn to work with that too… this article has some good tips on “Living with Expansive Soil”.

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Beth had this to say on 03.31.05:

You guys are a hardworking team!
I didn’t read your article, so don’t know if this is suggested, but you may want to consider the French drain. (I only know about it as I was a paralegal on a malpractice construction suit YEARS ago, and all the diagrams showed how the French drain should’ve been installed, etc.)

Derek had this to say on 03.31.05:

How deep do you have to dig? I’ve heard some places it’s 48″. Are you pouring yourself? We did an almost 40′ long retaining wall last summer. Careful if you’re doing this on the sly, especially if it’s visible from the street.

Steve had this to say on 04.02.05:

I believe your foundation footings should be 36 to 48in deep, two feet wide, so to be below the frost line for your area. Place in steel rebar to stregthen the footings , to prevent cracking in the clay soil. Don’t forget the key channel made on the top middle of the footing once it is poured. You will need drainage tile on the outside of the footing to divert water away form the foundation before you back fill the foundation.

You could have gone with sonotubes placed at the same depth, with beams and joists fastened to the existing house, similar to a deck for your addition floor , insulated from the bottom.

mindy had this to say on 04.02.05:

Hey guys,

Teague dug 36″ for the bottom of the footing, which will be 8″ thick and 16″ wide. See Teague’s entry for details on the drainage issue – he has rigged up a nice system! He’s definitely planning on using rebar for the footings.

We hadn’t considered sonotubes – thanks for the info though, Steve!


Keri Pettit had this to say on 06.29.06:

I have been reading through your blog and am very impressed with all you have done and that you have stuck with it through thick and thin. Or should I say cracks and peels?

I would like to provide a link to our website, we manufacture EcSS 3000. EcSS 3000 is a chemical that is injected into the expansive soil that will permanently stop the expansion and contraction of the clay soils. It’s so inexpensive compared to the cost of repairing the damage caused by expansive soils. and

Best of luck with your remodeling!
Keri Pettit

Aristotelis had this to say on 01.03.08:


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