Saturday 23 November 2013

Excavation - Progress and Finish

With the threat of a halt in proceedings being called having been lifted, with the Archaeology Department's approval to continue with the excavation and build, work progressed at a good pace.

The "ballet" continues.
Slowly a large quarry like "football pitch" was being created with checks regarding depth and shape occurring. There were many looks of disbelief on the faces of the excavators regarding the depth into the ground that needed to be dug due to the need to "bury" the house into the hillside.
There was a minor setback to progress when on of the diggers got a puncture in a front tyre. Given that we are in the middle of nowhere this could have posed a serious problem. However with amazing efficiency a repair service from the nearest town was summoned, the wheel fixed and the digger back in business within a couple of hours.

How deep?
The next day a meeting at the site of the Engineers and the excavation boss and his team to review progress concluded, after a lot of discussion, shouting, pointing and measuring, to limit further excavation into the hillside to just the site of the house with the resulting spoil being heaped around the sides to aid access for the construction team.

I was categorically reassured that the many tons of spoil and large rocks that had been pushed down the hillside would, once the house construction was completed would be used to provide the earth sheltering and blending the house back into the hillside.
During these latter stages of the excavation, as the diggers went deeper into the hillside, some very large rocks stated to be uncovered. Luckily these were not so big that explosive was required but were broken into manageable pieces using a "jack hammer" fitted to the big digger.

Large rocks started to be uncovered.
Much measuring and checking of levels continued and, whilst the large digger was on site, it was agreed that an indentation into the emerging cliff face should be made to accommodate a rear courtyard that would allow light and cool mountain air to enter the rear of the building, with only a minor effect on the integrity of the earth sheltering, and would provide a cold sink and cool sitting area early in the day.

Nearly there
In my original design I had a solid wall at the rear of the house but had been persuaded that the extra light and cool ventilation warranted an entrance at the rear of the property. However this option was kept open whilst the excavation progressed. Given the sheer scale of the emerging "cliff face" I was very clear that cutting an "entry way" down to the floor level of the house through the hillside was not something I wanted hence the courtyard option.

Finally, after a total of 2 working days moving the equipment, 2 working days widening the track to access the plot and 8 working days on the site, the whole building area was "smoothed" and the excavation was complete!!