Lift off!

[UPDATE MARCH 2016: since this post was written, Leanne and I have entered into a contract dispute with Ridgewater Homes. For more details, click here.]

This is what it looks like to lift your house. If you want to know more about why we’re doing all this, please check out yesterday’s post.

I set up a few devices with time-lapse settings: one iPhone 5, one iPhone 4S and two iPad 2s each running the time-lapse app called iMotion. Then I used my camcorder to rove and get more detail.

The angle that captured the most complete story was from the back: first from the balcony of the kids’ playhouse and then, when the angle was blocked by the Nickel Brothers’s truck, from on top of the overturned septic tank that was removed on Thursday. (Thanks to Catherine for letting me borrow her mini tripod!)

You can see Nickel Brothers building the cribbing in the holes, inserting the two main steel beams and then several cross beams. After I repositioned the camera, you can see the initial lift of a few inches, then two more lifts.

The most picturesque angle was from the roof of Brad’s house across the street. Unfortunately, I set iMotion going taking photos every second instead of every 20 so it used up the memory on the iPhone pretty quick. Then I spent some frustrating time trying to share the resulting video to clear up some memory, but iMotion glitched and I had to erase the whole morning’s footage. As a result, the time-lapse I got from that angle only shows the second lift.

While I was attempting to save the morning’s footage from across the street, I set up the iPads. One from the roof of the little yellow house:

and the other through a hole in the fence showing the diciest part of the whole operation: lifting the (part) chimney:

Finally, I took some roving footage as the process unfolded. What I failed to realize until I saw the time-lapse videos was that the house was rising imperceptibly much of the time I was taping. Whenever you can here the truck running in the background, the hydraulics may have been at work. There was no cracking or visible movement. I would look again a few minutes later and there would be a bigger gap.

The following 10-minute video shows the hydraulic jacks and the air hoses that were connected to them from the Nickel Brothers’ truck. You’ll also see how some of the beams decided to stay attached to the joists above. The chimney cracked a little, but stayed intact. The posts dangled from the ceiling until they were pulled down.

The Maple Ridge Times came out and took a few photos and I heard the News was here, too.

A CTV Vancouver news reporter also visited and put together a story about the cost and difficulty of environmental retrofits like ours. They made it sound like a terribly long and expensive ordeal, but the actual lift is only about $8000 and allows us to replace the foundation very efficiently. The house will be lowered onto its new foundation in a little more than a month (not the five months mentioned in the CTV story!)

Retrofitting existing homes is still too expensive and difficult, however. I’m hoping to get people talking about this problem.

Thanks Ridgewater and Nickel Bros. for a job well done!

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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