Trenching the Water, Sewer and Electrical Lines

March 27, 2011 - We tackled a couple of major jobs this past week including the trenching work on the water, sewer and electrical lines to the building. We started trenching by hand, but David Cox (our Construction Manager) had me add up the cost for the 4 guys digging the trench and it quickly became obvious we had to find a less expensive (and easier) way to do this. The world is just too big to move dirt one shovel full at a time.  Since we had over 250 feet to trench, it was time to bring in a piece of equipment better suited for this type of work.

A quick call to a friend at Sunbelt Rentals got us a mini-excavator (with the trailer) for $195 for a 24 hour period. When we arrived at their yard we were told we had the wrong size bumper and ball hitch on our truck.  We needed to get a 2-5/16 inch ball to haul the large construction trailer at Sunbelt. We used Mike Huffine's Suburban which had the 5000 pound load capacity receiver hitch needed to haul the trailer. We began trenching at about 2:00pm, and decided to work until dark. By 7:00pm, we had all the lines dug, and Alan began running the 4 inch PVC schedule 40 pipe. The pipe has to go into the ditch at a specific slope and in a special way as we found out when the MUD Inspector came by to check out our work.

Turns out the slope of the sewer line must be between 2 and 4%, and our line was right at 4%. There were also some "bellies" or low spots in the line that the inspector pointed out.  These low spots are natural places for grease to accumulate which can lead to a sewer line back up. Since the line had not been buried, changing the slope was just a matter of adding some dirt back into the ditch.

The excavator also came in handy for digging the trenches for the power lines to the building.  We will be running 3 individual aluminum lines in 1 inch electrical PVC conduit.  We built and set-up a mounting board for the meter cans, and trenched a ditch to the main utility pole that brings power to the building. Inside the building, we drilled a hole in the concrete in the mechanical room to receive the 8' long copper ground rod we will add in the next week or two.

For those not familiar with the term "Freecycling" it is a beautiful newly coined word for anyone looking to get something done on a tight budget.  If you have an item you no longer want or need, you can sell it or just give it away to someone who can really use it.  The idea is to find a new home for the item so it does not end up in a landfill, but instead, goes on to give continued use to a new person.  A few weeks ago I saw this beautiful kitchen set in a warehouse and asked about it.  I was told it had come out of a house in Florida, and might be for sale.  We talked to the owner - James Larimore - who had visited our building a couple of times. He said "I am not planning to use it - why don't you just take the cabinets for your project?"  Then James said - "come by the warehouse and I will even help you load them in your truck".

Wow! - thousands of dollars worth of cabinets for free.  Freecycling is my new favorite word. There are even sites devoted to freecycling, so check them out before you go and buy something you might be able to get for free.  Or, post some of the things that are too good to throw out, but you know you are never going to sell to a freecycle web site.  You can be sure James will be getting an invitation to our open house party...


Category: Container Building,