For the first part of the year, almost the whole first half, we were going like gangbusters on the house. After we returned the mini-excavator and the last dumpster was hauled away, we kind of ran out of steam. We’d go down to the basement and putter about for a little while, digging up the rest of the disconnected sewer pipe to the catch basin, hauling out some of the remaining dirt piles, breaking up the landing outside the back door, but for the most part, a sense of dread and just being overwhelmed took hold. Digging by hand in the clay soil is just terrible and with our dumpsters gone we didn’t really have anywhere to put it. A series of over-tonnage charges came through on the dumpsters that added up to a lot of extra money. We basically got screwed on the dumpsters and should have gone straight to the hauler instead of using a service.

There were some also simple realities of life going on: our son Derek is going to speech therapy twice a week in the evenings, which occupies a decent chunk of our work time. Until she got a new job a few weeks ago, Sarah was working at a temp job that put a lot of uncertainty into our house budget. As for me, I was just sick of the basement. It’s summer, there are all kinds of things to do, and our weekends were more often than not full of fun activities with friends and family. In short, not much got done on the house.

Now that Sarah’s permanently employed, we’re back to hoping we can move into the basement before winter sets in. The only way that’s happening is if we hire out a big chunk of the work: namely finishing the dig out and pouring the new concrete floor, and the sewer plumbing. So over the last month or so we’ve been in contact with a few concrete contractors, a GC, and a couple of plumbers. We got a couple quotes on the dig out and the floor, as well as the new exterior back steps, but getting a plumbing quote has proven elusive. The GC we met with first said he would give us a quote but he never did, plus a lot of what he said really didn’t align with what I understand code to be, even though he said he knows all the inspectors and does it all the time.

Then we met with a plumber that gave us a whole different idea for how to do the sewer plumbing. We were planning on having our sewer pipe run underground, gravity-fed, with a backflow preventer (since Chicago has a combined storm system and high rain can lead to sewer backups). The plumber told us that the city now has additional requirements for backflow preventers that makes them difficult and expensive, and to instead use an overhead sewer line from the main stack to the front of the house. The basement fixtures would drain into an ejector pit that pumps up to the overhead line. The advantage is that it’s unlikely there would ever be a backup because it’s much higher up, and even if it did it would just back up to the ejector pit. Better still, we could run the whole thing in PVC instead of cast iron (which the City requires for below grade sewer). As a result it would be cheaper as well as a performing better. The disadvantage is we would have a bulkhead along the outside wall, but I think we can make that work. Unfortunately, he also said we’d have to have a trench for the new water main, since the city inspectors want to be able to see that it’s one contiguous pipe.

Unfortunately they still haven’t gotten us a quote, and now they want to come back out next week since their “outside guy” missed the last appointment. Needless to say I haven’t gotten a quote yet. We have another plumber coming out on Saturday morning. Hopefully they’ll both get us quotes; after wasting most of the summer, now we need to get moving on this project, but without quotes we can’t plan or budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *