Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Old (tilted) House

My number one biggest problem I am having with our new home is one of my own making.

Allow me to set the stage for the explanation.

On the day of our departure from the city I woke up at 3am. This provided me with about 3 hours of sleep that night. I drove our U-Haul through mountain passes, winding roads, and over what passes for a road leading up to our new home. I had been driving for about 6 hours before we finely got to the land. I was a bit fatigued once we got there and I knew I still had to at least unload some things for us to sleep that night.

We had a place all picked out where we wanted the cabin to go. The fine gentleman who delivered the cabin was able to drop it right where we wanted.. He even offered to help me level it. I, in my addled and rushed state of mind told him not to worry about it, I would take care of it myself latter. That was my big mistake.

As soon as I started putting stuff in the cabin I knew I had messed up. The cabin sits a good 6 inches lower in the front then in back. Walking and standing in the cabin is a challenge, much less moving furniture about.

After falling a few time in the cabin it didn't take long for me to start trying to do the leveling, note that I said "trying". I have a 12 ton hydraulic jack so I set out to lift the front of the house up. A 12 ton jack would make it easy I thought.

The first obstacle was the jack itself, it wouldn't fit under the house so I had to dig out a spot to put it where I could still move the handle to pump the jack. About that time I discovered I had failed to pack our shovel. Out comes the trusty Bolo knife, the all purpose tool, to dig a small hole. Once I had a hole deep enough I shoved the jack in and gleefully started to jack up the house. Obstacle number 2, a 12 ton jack jack has a lifting surface of about 1.5 in in diameter, trying to lift up the soft wood was just putting a nice round hole in the wood of the cabin floor. Easy fix, put a chunk of wood on the lift point, but first more digging to make the wood fit.

Note for anyone who may try this, make sure your hole is level and your jack fits, not that it will help fix the problem, it just will keep you from having to dig yet some more like I did.

So now I have a level hole to put the jack in and a piece of wood to protect the cabin, easy cheesy I think, boy was I wrong.

Obstacle number 3, was the one that scared the wits out of me and the wife. When one tries to lift a multi-ton object that is on an incline one should not be surprised when the object decides to slide down said incline.. suddenly. Ever seen a 10 x 20 building start sliding down a hill, were you in front of said building? An old man's reflexes work better then expected in this type of situation I discovered. Luckily our home only slid a bit and then stopped itself.

Since that attempt I have pondered a safer way to approach the leveling. I thought maybe if I pushed my truck up against the front of the cabin it would keep it from sliding but I worry about damaging the cabin with that idea. I did try a wooden wedge under the front of the house but the wedge slid just like the house. I have thought of pounding in re-bar to try and brace the cabin, but I'm not to sure about that idea.

A few days ago a friend suggested we try lowering the back of the house instead of lifting the front.

Blink..blink ... dooooh.

So this week I plan on trying that, wish me luck. To paraphrase the immortal Dr. "Bones" McCoy: I'm a geek Jim, not a builder.

The Mad Mountain Geek of Treehaven

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