Part Six – There We Were, Digging This Hole…………

This sixth entry was published originally on the 10th July 2013 and received 1,360 views on the old forum

I know I’ve missed bits out, but frankly that’s because the plan for this blog seems to have gone for a ball of chalk. Luckily the plan for the build is on schedule, despite the best attempts of a well known utility company to hold us up.

A few hundred cubic metres have now been dug out, leaving us with this partially excavated hole:

The hole - N face

The ground works chaps (that’s Scottie in the photo, BTW) are currently putting the steel in for the retaining wall founds, with luck they should do the pour on Friday. Here’s another view of the North face of the excavation that gives a better idea of the scale of the retaining wall (this time with boss man Ben walking away from the camera):

The north face

I’m dead impressed with the ground works guys, not only have they had to deal with being dicked around by the utility companies (who are seemingly unable to get their act together, despite charging vast amounts of money and being given months of notice), but they’ve also cracked on and done more than I expected at this stage, and, most importantly for us, they’ve done a really good job of keeping the site clean and tidy and keeping the neighbours happy. If anyone in the Salisbury/Andover general area is looking for a good ground works firm, then I’d recommend these guys.

Once the retaining wall is up, probably by around the end of next week with luck, I think we’ll all relax a bit, as that steep cliff at the back of the plot isn’t going to stay like that for ever on its own. I’ve got the borehole rig arriving on site in around three weeks and had a site meeting with the driller last week, As we hit the water table when digging the trenches for the utilities we at least know we have water. In fact, as SWMBO wants a water feature in the garden all I need to do is dig a hole about a metre deep and use it as a well, perhaps with a small solar powered pump, and we can have a water feature and irrigation system if we want, without needing to use the clean water from the borehole.

One ongoing issue is that we’ve had to work around problems caused by the tardiness of the DNO, as they have a big cable running across the plot that they still haven’t sorted. We stuck the new pole in for them (as they couldn’t get a digger to the site), we’ve dug all the trenches and laid new cables for them, all they need to do is get a jointing team in to disconnect the overhead wires and connect up the new underground cables we’ve laid. For that they’ve charged me over £3500, which I had to pay in advance back in April (yes, that’s right, I paid them to do this work just over 2 1/2 months ago!!!). I’m going to be arguing for a refund of part of this money, as we’ve done half the job for them. Luckily I had a brainwave (one that will probably cause the DNO to freak when they see it) and suggested that we just pull the problematic underground cable that was in the way (the one in the last photo of the previous instalment) away from the pole it runs down, to give a couple of metres of extra slack. This has been enough to be able to pull the cable to the side of the plot, allowing the excavation for the retaining wall to be completed. Had this not worked we’d have been twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the DNO to get their act together.

By way of contrast, BT Openreach (who also have overhead cables we need to shift) have been very helpful at the local engineer level. The downside is that, as an organisation, they really couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. An example: The helpful local engineer arranges to drop off a load of free issue duct 56, some hockey stick bends to run up the new poles, a roll of 28 pair cable and a couple of cast iron ground mounted termination boxes for the ends of the ducting. Believe it or not, these items arrived as FOUR separate deliveries, spread over ten days, from the same depot in Basingstoke, around 50 miles away. All told their delivery drivers clocked up around 400 miles delivering this stuff, when with a bit of coordination they could have done it in one run of 50 miles each way. Still, I can’t complain, as they are doing the underground diversion for us free gratis.

I’ve no doubt there will be photos of concrete being poured in the next instalment, but for now this is what the plot looks like (Scottie and Joe on the right aren’t worshipping boss man Ben on the left, they’re manhandling a sheet of steel mesh!):

The plot revealed - 2

 Here are the calcs and drawings for that wall:

Retaining wall drawings


joiner wrote on 20th July 2013 at 01:44 pm


Excellent stuff!

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