Sunday, 18 May 2008

13 - Stumped

I think it is high time that this blog revealed its title track. Here it is.

After a week or so of the house arriving we hadn’t heard anything from the stumpers who were due to work on the stumps. We started to question the assertion from the house movers that they would let the stumpers know of the house’s new found need for permanent stumps. We contacted the stumpers. They didn’t know of the house’s arrival and made arrangements to come out.

We used the time alone with the house to tie ourselves in knots over all sorts of things which we lacked the practical know how of. One of these was a timing issue with the tie downs. These securely attach the roof to the walls and the walls to the floor and the floor to the stumps. On an old house like ours the tie downs were not done and need to be retrofitted before we can receive final approval. We heard that the roof needed to be removed to do the tie down work so the ideal time would be between the roof being temporarily attached and permanently attached. We took this information under our wing and flew off trying to organise someone to do the work. We found this hard. Carpenters and other home improvements people gave us a range of differing impressions into the extent they understood what tie downs were or if we needed to remove all the weatherboards to have them done. We started to melt down a little. Hearing of our growing anguish a friend’s son said he would look at it. We gave him the engineers report only to have him return it to us a few days later suggesting that he would need to drill rods the height of the house down through the struts in the walls all the way around the house at about fifty centimetre intervals. This couldn’t be right. The engineers had told us that it wouldn’t be too hard. In the end our friend’s son politely turned down the job stating it would take too long and be too expensive. Back to square one.

The head stumper was quite a character. When referring to the house’s pending fate, he exclaimed that he’d “get this bitch up on legs”. Strangely from this we knew we were in good hands. We asked him about tie downs, as we knew he was also an engineer. He was great about it all and immediately allayed our fears. He explained that only the top and bottom two weatherboards will have to be removed and a few extra screws and maybe a little bracing be used to fix the internal studs to various things. He also said he would show anyone we got to do the work exactly what was required and he would sign off on the work done ready for approval. This was great news. Now all we had to do was find someone.

The actual stumping didn’t take very long. All the holes were drilled into the ground on the first day. On the second day the concrete was poured and the stumps hung from the house while the concrete dried around them. The next day the stumps were detached from the house and stood strong in their concrete shoes about 50 cm below the house which was still floating above on the temporary stumps. The house movers returned a few days later and lowered the house down onto the steel stumps and joined the house back together again. About a week or so later the stumpers returned and attached some bracing and securely attached each stump to the house. The house movers still have to come back and finish attaching the roof, tidy up the guttering and eaves and remove the makeshift form work propping up the internal ceiling supports.