Perimeter drains, septic tanks, windows and deck. Lots going on!

Before we can backfill around the foundation there are quite a few things you need to do to keep the basement nice and dry.
The first thing we do is coat the concrete foundation with a dampproofing compound. It is a thick bituminous paste which comes in buckets and gets brushed on with big pasting brushes. We applied two layers, making sure to get a thick coating.
Over this we applied “Delta-Drain” membrane. The membrane is a plastic sheet covered in dimples and clad in a thick filter fabric. The membrane gets installed with the fabric facing the dirt. After the excavation has been backfilled the membrane will act to break the hydrostatic pressure in the ground. The fabric will allow water to seep through, hit the air space behind and safely drain down to the perimeter drains.
Perimeter drains run along the foundation footings and keep the watertable low around the foundation. The drain pipes themselves are perforated to let water in to be led away from the building. These pipes need to be protected from silting and clogging. This is done by embedding the pipes in gravel and wrapping the pipes and gravel in filter fabric. The gravel is standard 3/4″ round drain rock from the nearest gravel pit and the fabric is standard landscaping fabric. The fabric is crucial as it keeps the gravel from filling with fine silt and reducing its capacity to drain water.
The pipes also need cleanouts, which will give us access to inspect and clean the drains in the future should the need arise.
The three lines of defense, dampproofing compound, dimple membrane and perimeter drains all act together to give us a dry and comfortable basement (hopefully).


Perimeter drain junction

The building inspector came out and approved the work we had done and then we could start filling in the excavation.
For this purpose we rented a small Bobcat-like loader. As usual whenever there is equipment being operated around the lot I had Dustin around to drive it. The process went very quickly and our piles of backfill material were shrinking fast.
The West side went very quickly, it was a simple matter of grabbing a bucket full of dirt, and dumping it in the excavation.

Backfilling with "Bobcat"

Shrinking fill-piles

We had brought a plate compactor with the intention of compacting the dirt as we were filling it in, but unfortunately the dirt was just a bit too wet and it only sank into the ground rather than riding on top and compacting down.
As time goes the dirt will settle and we will have to top it off as needed.

On the North side, where our excavation was at its narrowest, we just managed to squeeze the loader in between the house and the trees. We laid some plywood down to protect the tree and we managed to leave in unscathed.

Rear backfilled

Side backfilled

The South side was partially backfilled and then we ran our two sewer and septic field lines.
Some time in the future we might want to put a garden suite in, and for that purpose we have buried an extra sewer line. Next to this we ran a 2″ PVC pipe which will connect to our septic pump tank and out to the field in the backyard. On this side we also have our large washroom window. This will eventually sit in a window well and we left plenty of room open to build it in the summer time.

South-west corner

We used the excavator to move the logs from the cut down Maple tree. We loaded them into our pickups and moved to the mill for future usage.

Unloading logs, like a boss

We have planned from the start to incorporate some kind of garden suite or carriage house in the future. This required us to have a properly sized septic system.
In BC septic systems are regulated by the local health authorities. A few years ago a law was passes which removed the ability of home owners to work on their own septic systems and placed it in the hands of “authorized persons”.
Fortunately for us the law was recently changed in the sense that an “authorized person” still needs to inspect and oversee the system but the home owner can perform the work and source the parts.
We had the machine we rented from JK Industrial around still, so we used it to dig a large, deep hole in the front of the house. This spot was the only place we could place the tanks and have the lower washroom feed into it via gravity. It will require a more powerful pump to move the waste to the field, but we make the indoor plumbing a lot simpler.

No more than a few inches down did we start digging in the shale again. Even with worn teeth the machine had little trouble getting into it.  The only problem was squaring off the corners. For this purpose we rented a 30lb jackhammer from the local tool rental place. It was my first time using a jackhammer and my arms ached for a good while.
As we were nearing our required depth, water started seeping in, indicating how low the water table is on our property. Over 7 feet below the basement floor.
At the bottom we spread some gravel to level it out and provide an even base.

Excavation for septic tanks

The tanks arrived on Mar 2nd and were placed in the holes relatively painlessly.  The large holding tank sat dead level but the pump chamber had a slight lean to it, after some hacking with a pickaxe at the bottom of the hole we minimized it and placed it as close to the holding tank as possible.
The next steps will be to connect the 4″ sewer line coming from the house to the holding tank, and the 2″ line to the pump chamber.

Septic tanks being lowered

Holding tank and pump chamber

With all the rain coming down we ran the risk of the hole filling with water and the tanks floating. To mitigate this we bought a cheap water pump at the local Canadian Tire and partially filled the tanks with the accumulating rain water. Now we don’t have to worry about rain displacing the tanks.

Pumping water into septic tanks

Pacific Building Systems provided the engineering and structural materials for our deck. 3 and 4 ply 2X10 beams and 2X12 joists will make for a very sturdy deck.
The contractor we have been hiring to perform any work we need did a terrific job on the deck.
The deck is attached to a ledger securely bolted to the foundation and is supported on sturdy concrete posts on large footings far below frost depth. It will be sturdy.

Rear deck structure


Our brother/in-law Dustin will be providing us with the cedar boards from the deck. The plan is to use 8″ wide boards and groove them to accept hidden fasteners.

While all this was happening Chris from Apex Plumbing started on our rough plumbing. Our main concerns have been the length of the waste drain from the top floor washroom to the rear of the house to connect to the lower drains. No problems and Chris has been doing a great job.
Our second concern was regarding vent stacks poking through the roof. Because we are going with an expensive metal roof we were hoping to keep any penetrations to a minimum. The local authorities were at first saying that yes, we need to vent through the roof, not through a wall. But apparently on the local ski-resort they are allowed to vent through walls, most likely because of snow cover. So with that precedent the plumber convinced the building authorities to let us poke through the wall, leaving our roof completely free of penetrations.

Earlier we had put in an order for Cedar timbers. Being a family connection we got the pick of the best pieces for a super price. The nature of sourcing old-growth Cedar made the process take slightly longer than usual, but upon seeing the cut beams and posts I knew it was worth the wait.

Cedar timbers


A hurdle we need to clear was to get the wood planed. We were lucky to find that Island Timber Framing offers planing of wood on their 12″X24″ planer, at a reasonable cost too.

Our windows are from Starline Windows. They recently introduced a line of windows they call “Rainshield”. Being specifically designed to be paired with “rainscreen” exterior cladding it was an easy choice.

Rainshield windows

With my connection to Jenesys they also came in at the cheapest price compared to everyone else who provided quotes.
We made the choice to go with mostly awning windows. The main reason is tightness when closed. Awning windows seal up very tight when closed in a way that sliding windows can not hope to approach. However we chose sliding windows in the home office, due to the size, and the lower bedroom also needed a slider as it is an egress window and escaping through an awning window, while technically allowed would be very difficult.
The high window in the living room was also a crank-open awning windows. This window will become motorized and controlled by a switch on the wall
They arrived about two weeks after putting in the order and were mostly installed on the same say as they got delivered.
The scaffolding I borrowed from my boss Carsten at Jenesys has come in very handy.

Installing the high windows

Window detail

All windows and patio doors installed

Our doors arrived! After going back and forth with different suppliers and options he were able to make a decision on the doors. For all three exterior doors we chose textured fiberglass with fir jambs. The front door is a double door with pinreed glass in it and the rear doors is a double and single door, both with full lites. The textured fiberglass can be stained to match the rest of the wood around the house and we chose to pay the extra for the fir jambs as they will be cased in wood on the interior.

Front door

Rear doors

The door hardware has been ordered. We decided to go with the “Stockholm” line from Taymor. We like the look and the price is very good. On the front door it will be paired with a keyless deadbolt.

Lever choice

We had our watermain provided for us as well. Ships Point has a communal water system, providing piped well water to the area. Unfortunately the watermain ran across the road from us, so to get us connected it necessitated drilling under the road.
The “utility trench” we dug is shared between the perimeter and rainleader drain, a 3″ conduit for electrical service, two 2″ orange conduits for telephone and cable-TV respectively and a 1″ water supply pipe.
I handed the task of finishing it to Dustin as I have been swamped with work and unable to get out as much as I want. He quickly finished off the conduits and called the “slinger” truck to get it covered in bedding sand. Again the slinger truck saved a ton of manual labour placing the material. The cost of the truck dwarfs the material cost, but it is worth it and it only took a single truck load. The slinger is accurate, but not perfect.

Covered utility trench

Next steps we take will be to have the carpenter put the timbers up and schedule the roofer. The framed house has been without a roof for longer than we wanted.

We have given our landlords notice that we are moving out during April. We plan on moving a camping trailer out to the lot and live there until we are finished.

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One Response to Perimeter drains, septic tanks, windows and deck. Lots going on!

  1. Chrystal says:

    Great entry! Your doing a wonderful job my love!

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