Ramp to basement

Ramp to basement

I’ve got this great new workout you should try; it’s called “pushing wheelbarrows full of clay up a steep ramp”. In the last two weeks we’ve filled two 10-yard heavy debris dumpsters, emphasis on the heavy. Tomorrow they swap the full dumpster for an empty one and it starts again, so this is basically our day off. We’re getting one per week and I expect that to continue for the next couple weeks.

Second dumpster filled

Second dumpster filled

Our original wheel barrow was old when we got it and was not up to the rigors of this project.  The bucket tore loose from the frame and we set it aside. Sarah’s dad lent us his wheelbarrow, but it’s looking a little crooked these days. Sarah bought two new wheelbarrows, and between the three we’ve been putting them to use. I hauled 30 loads in two hours Saturday evening. I’d guess each dumpster is about 150 loads, since we can only fill the wheelbarrows about half-full and still push them up the basement ramp. The ramps are working well, though the one up from the basement is the tough one, especially when it gets slick from the rain and mud. The ramp I built to get up to the top of the dumpsters is great, though. That was time well spent.

Digger and wheelbarrows

Digger and wheelbarrows

The digger (mini excavator) has proven its worth too. Every time we grab a shovel to manually dig around the footings we’re given a taste of what the task would have been like without it, and it’s just awful. Digging with the backhoe on the other hand is a breeze. Hauling up bucketfuls of heavy clay, the hardest part is dropping clods into the wheelbarrows without knocking them over (especially the crooked one) and not digging too deep. I used my laser level to confirm the footings are pretty consistent in height, so we just need to dig even with the bottom of them, about 14 inches total.

Excavation

Excavation

Looking forward, we’ve gotten about a third of the dirt removed. With the dumpster we get tomorrow we can get most of the next third removed. That means it will be time to move the water heater and the laundry upstairs so we can pull up the last section of concrete floor. I’m taking off some time from work next week to get that done as well as level what we’ve dug so far. Our goal is to finish with the digger by the weekend after Memorial Day, which includes digging out the new back steps. May’s looking pretty busy!

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5 Responses to Basement Dig Out – Part 2

  1. Kevin says:

    It is a lot of work. But, it sure will pay off in the future. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

  2. Eric D says:

    Would you be willing to say how deep you excavated?

  3. Matt says:

    We dug out roughly 16″ total (2″ concrete plus 14″ dirt), but then put in 2″ of gravel, 2″ of rigid foam insulation, and a 4″ concrete slab, so we only gained about 8″ of ceiling height. Still, it was the difference between basement and livable space.

  4. Paul Bannister says:

    Hey, thanks for the blog. I’m thinking about doing something similar…… How deep did you dig down?What kind of digger did you use and where did you hire it from? How did you get it into the basement ?
    Thanks !Paul

  5. Matt says:

    In our case it was about 12-14″ down, after we removed the concrete floor, but you can only go as deep as your footing without underpinning, which is very complicated and expensive. We rented the digger from Home Depot. The trick was finding one that had treads that can slide underneath the body to fit through tight spaces. Ours was a Kubota. We took the door frame off the basement back door and turned the stairs into a ramp, as described in Part 1. Good luck!

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