Beginning of House Construction, Bent Tree

Things began to happen very rapidly after the grading was done. The footings were dug and poured along with the concrete pads for our intended support posts. The septic tank and drain lines were installed, and we had roughed in the drain plumbing that had to go under the basement slab. All this in a few days starting May 11, 1975.

The block laying for the basement walls was finished by June 7.

Friday, June 6. This was a time that took a lot of coordination and communication.

We needed to do gravel fill on the basement, but hadn't been able to get anyone up there to do it. So we rented a Bobcat and Rod hauled it up there on June 6 with Tommy Hardin's pickup, while Brenda drove up with the boys. Rod spent 3 or 4 hours trying to use the Bobcat for filling, but couldn't handle it on the slopes. It tended to tip over backward or sideways and using it was generally a hair-raising experience. This was especially true since it rained intermittently all day and things got slicker and slicker.

We accomplished more when we stopped for lunch! The Wickes truck arrived with the shingles and floor system, the concrete block came and were unloaded, and David showed up with Eugene Forrest. The block truck driver said he had not trouble getting up the hill on Chestnut Cove - he only had to use 2nd gear. Eugene agreed to bring gravel and agreed to do the fill work on Sunday the 8th.

We contracted with Jimmy Cagle to do the block work and he was there to begin. I took one load (10 blocks) up the hill with the Bobcat, but it was slippery and raining and I was unnerved and disgusted with the beast so I loaded it back on the trailer. But Jimmy was able to do it with his 4-wheel-drive pickup, which amazed me. He drove that pickup the driveway and up the slope by the house with a load of block on it. He carried two loads of about 90 block each up the driveway and backed them right up the slope to the wall. We were ready for block laying except that we still had no water. Eugene Forrest delivered a load of gravel and brought his truck up.

We hauled the Bobcat back to the rental place, but it was closed so we had to take it home. Len and Sherry got Herb's travel trailer and worked on it to get it ready to take to Bent Tree

Saturday, June 7

I got up at 6am to discover a flat on the bobcat trailer. Len came over to air it up with his air tank and I headed for the Marietta rental place, stopping at several service stations along the way to check it. It didn't go down at all, indicating that some neighborhood vandal had probably let the air out. Len followed to Marietta with the travel trailer, where we swapped it to Tommy's truck which had trailer mirrors. I pulled it to Bent Tree's campground with Len following with his truck, loaded with his tractor and tools, etc.

Jimmy Cagle and another fellow were laying block. We hauled block up the hill and set them in place inside the wall and otherwise helped the block layers. We hauled the shingles up the hill with Len's tractor and trailer and then borrowed Jimmy's 4-wheel-drive pickup for the last load of shingles, the floor joists and decking ant the other material that had been left at the road on the first Wickes load. We carried the 20 ft 2x10's up the hill by hand. Jimmy and his helper got the entire wall up, finishing about 8pm. Sherry, Len and I spent the night in the travel trailer at the campground.

We were pleased to see the block walls go up so quickly.

Sunday, June 8

Eugene Forrest came about 9am and started grading. Digging out a turn-aroundin the side of the parking pad, he used the dirt to build a ramp to the front of the basement, which was about 2ft above grade. He handled his new tractor like a baby - but used it effectively and we got the necessary dirt inside the wall to level for the slab.

We got the block laid for the basement wall and then had to fill the area for the slab. Len and Sherry work on spreading the dirt after Eugene Forrest brought it in with his front end loader and dumped it inside the wall. It was amazing how much fun it was to work so hard when you had a dream. June 8.

Eugene Forrest

Eugene Forrest was one of our heros in the story of Bent Tree. We engaged him to move some dirt for us and we immediately became friends. He worked hard, was reasonable in cost, and would do almost anything to help us. He got us out of some tight binds with his tractor. He stuck with us throughout the building process as we would call on him to help with various stages of the construction.

Jimmy Cagle came back to finish the back palmister and pull off his tools. He recommended Charles Hammontree for the concrete slab finishing. Brenda took the boys for a swim. I called Hammontree and he said he would come over Monday morning. We all slept in the trailer with the boys on the top bunk.

Monday, June 9. We leveled out the dirt to prepare for the pouring of the concrete slab. After the dirt was level, we added plastic and about four inches of gravel. You could certainly say that Jeff and Mark were involved in this project from the ground up!

I met Charles Hammontree at the lot about 8:30am and he said he thought we could pour the slab about noon. He agreed to set up the screes and get the necessary material for a bulkhead at the front of the slab. Eugene Forrest came and we began a frantic effort to get the gravel on in time to pour the slab. Forrest brought the gravel up the hill in his front end loader and we leveled it out. When Hammontree got his screes we had several high spots and we were still scratching at them when the concrete arrived about 1pm. The tiny driver Norman tried to get the huge truck with 6yds of concrete up the drive but couldn't quite make it - he tried backward and a couple of times forward.

Brenda packs dirt around the drain plumbing in preparation for pouring the basement slab.

Brenda and the boys start the process of spreading gravel in preparation for pouring the concrete slab.

We all joined in the process of spreading the gravel since the concrete was on its way.

Next came the pouring and finishing of the basement slab, which was an exciting process in its own right. The concrete truck couldn't get up the steep gravel driveway with a full load of concrete, so once again Eugene Forrest came to our rescue. June 9.

Eugene came with his front end loader and let them put the concrete in the bucket and he brought several loads up the driveway and dumped it in the slab. He had to build up a ramp before he could do that, and he drove all the way to the back of the slab to dump. We spread the plastic, dumped some concrete and Charles raked while the rest of us worked further on the gravel. After several loads up the driver of the concrete truck decided he could now get up the driveway. Somehow the sight of that concrete truck steaming up that steep gravel driveway remains one of the indelible visions of the whole construction project. I was sitting up high and could watch the truck roaring up that driveway, blowing smoke out its stack and creating an extraordinary vision against the green trees and the blue of the distant mountains.

Sherry and Brenda went to Jasper for supplies while Len and I helped finish the concrete pouring. Sherry went to Luke Johnson's for plastic since it was threatening rain again. The truck went back for 5 more yards of concrete and we used almost all of that. Charles Hammontree worked until about 8pm finishing the concrete and then agreed to come back Tuesday to do the stuccoing for waterproofing. Len and I got some more of the lumber up the driveway.

We were now expecting a delivery of the trusses and other building material from Wickes in South Carolina, but to our surprise they arrived on Chestnut Cove Trail at our driveway on a flatbed eighteen-wheeler. No way he could help us get the materials up the driveway! So what do we do? We call Eugene. He rigged the trusses on his tractor and helped us carry them all to the building site. June 10.

With Eugene's help we had all the building material stacked on the parking pad by the end of the day. But we were all exhausted.

The block wall and slab were now complete, and the outside of the wall had been stuccoed on the parts which were to be below grade. Charles Hammontree did the stuccoing for us. We also planned to add tar, plastic and drain tiling before backfilling the wall.

Charles Hammontree had come back to do the stuccoing for us and Eugene Forrest came to work on the drive. Eugene leveled the parking pad and used the dirt on the driveway. Sherry and Brenda fished a couple of tons of rock out of the dirt and piled them on the side of the driveway. Len and I went to Luke Johnsons for lumber for framing the front of the basement, and then to Northwoods Lumber Co for further lumber and the draintile for waterproofing.

Eugene got a load of gravel for the draintile and the driveway. He brought up three buckets of gravel for the drain tile and smoothed the remainder on the driveway and parking pad.

With Eugene's help we got the roof trusses and wall sections up the hill. We carried 4 trusses crisscrossed over the tractor, with one supported by a chain on the bucket and the other ends supported by the bracing feet for the backhoe raised to full horizontal position. We got them too high the first time and they fell further down onto Eugene as we started up the hill - our most dangerous point so far - but he claimed he wasn't hurt.

Sherry set the rest of the sill plated anchors while we planned the framing for the front. Brenda took the boys fishing and they caught three fish. It rained us out on the framing for that day.

Beginning of the framing process.


Bent Tree
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