Sunday 24 May 2015

Drives, Drains and Leaks

With the new access to the plot for machinery and concrete lorries made the diggers pressed on steadily up the hill to make a way up to the house. In consultation with the topographer, a route was chosen that attempted to even out the steep sections of the slope  to ensure that it could eventually be made into a route suitable for domestic vehicles.

Route of new driveway up to house.

Unfortunately things did not go to plan. The excessive rain over the winter months had caused what appeared to be a new spring to emerge from the hillside and this had completely saturated the earth to the west of the house. The diggers found it increasingly difficult to work as their wheels kept losing grip. Work was brought to a halt when one of the diggers broke one of its main pneumatic pistons.

Broken digger with water collecting from sodden ground and/or outlet of new spring.

Within a couple of days it was fixed and a drainage trench was dug to hasten the runoff of the excess water. It was decided to leave any further excavation for a couple of weeks to allow the earth to dry now that the warmer weather had arrived.

Deep ditch dug to drain away excess wet from proposed driveway. Note how large sections of earth are falling away down the slope.

Although an additional spring would be most welcome, from my experience of the plot over a number of years, I suspected that the sodden earth could well have been caused by the existing spring and storage tank overflowing. Indeed when I checked the terraces further up the hill they were waterlogged and the storage tank was overflowing.

I believe it is a combination of the tank overflowing and part of the spring source I collect water from going deeper and emerging lower down the hillside.

This prompted a couple of decisions. The first to find an alternative route for the drive that avoids being in direct line with the spring source, in case there is a repeat of this year's winter rainfall, and to overhaul the current water storage system to lead any surplus water away from critical areas. (More regarding this in a later post)

Mopping up in the area of the roof where the leak occured.

The torrential winter rain had also exposed a leak in the roof waterproofing system. Whilst I was disappointed that this had occurred I was grateful that the lack of progress in the build last Autumn had meant that the earth covering still remains to be done. If it had been in place many tons of rock and soil would have had to be moved in order to repair the leak since it was towards the back of the house which will have the greatest depth of soil on it as the design is for the house to be "blended" into the mountainside.

Sealing up repaired waterproofing layer.

Given the volume of earth that will eventually be covering the roof the opportunity was also taken to lengthen and waterproof the "evaporation" pipes that are designed to aid the drying of any large pools of water laying on the roof in the gravel under the earth covering.

Extending and waterproofing "evaporation" pipes.