Shortly after we moved in, we discovered the land under the house had a unique ability – after a rainfall, it created a lake of red clay soup. Yummy.
A bunch of water ran into the area under the house and saturated just over half of it. The first time it rained, we hadn’t sorted through any of the stuff under there (which didn’t go to the storage shed), so it was a really fun job to go through everything afterwards and see what had been damaged (lengths of chipboard for the wardrobes), and clean up. Red clay is just super fun to work with.
I wish I had taken a photo of it before we raised the area. It was pretty spectacular. Red muddy water up to the ankle.
My car was parked in one quarter space, and it sank. Not disastrously so, but that’s an indication of how much water gathered there, and how sloppy the area becomes.
So we decided it was probably a good idea to get a load of crusher dust (old concrete and granite ground up into a coarse dirt-like substance) to raise the quarter space where my car parks, and a quarter space where we are planning to knock up a few walls of tin to make a storage area, so we can stop paying for the storage shed.
Of course, other things took priority, and because we are in the dry season, we thought we’d be reasonably safe in putting other projects higher on the priority list.
It rained again. A big ol’ rain system passed over and dumped a buttload more water. Which is fantastic for our tanks! – but not so great for all the stuff under the house.
This time around, Mr Hammer and the Hammerlings dug a run-off to drain our Red Clay Soup Lake, and the littlest Hammerlings had a good time stomping through the squishy red clay mud.
But! We’ve put this project up top of our priority list, because:
A) We have to raise the quarter space for storage so things can be stored safely;
B) It’s a pain in the rectum to have to go through everything once it’s been doused with a layer of red clay; and
C) We want to sort through and organise the mess of things under the house, and create a nice space to be able to sit outside (which will be a use for another quarter of under the house).
I did the ring-around to find out how much it would cost to have four cubic metres of crusher dust delivered to the house. The results were all fairly similar – between $250 and $280.
One of the places I rang, rang me back moments after I had spoken to him, to correct his pricing. He sounded like a nice chap, so we went with him.
A couple of hours later, we had a load of crusher dust deposited behind the house, and a wheelbarrow and shovel at the ready.
It probably took just over two hours to do a space that is around 7m x 3.5m.
This is how we did it:
Mr Hammer cut a length of timber to measure the level surface, measuring down from the ceiling for a reading, so no matter where you measure from, the space between the joists and ground is 2.7m.
The most accurate way to make sure everything is perfectly flat and level would be to use a laser level. We don’t have one, so we make do with a spirit level (want to know more about some must-have tools for renos? Read here!).
This length of timber is held against one of the joists under the house. Because the floor of the house is level (well, we hope so!), and the dirt under the house is all uppy-downy, this will give us a reading as to how high we need to lay the crusher dust.
I barrow the crusher dust over (with help!) and dump it, while Mr Hammer stamps it down and levels it out with his length of timber and his spirit level. Right, well, that’s what we did, but this photo shows Mr Hammer riding a bike, because there’s always time to ride a bike.
And the photo above because I asked Mr Hammer to ‘hold your stick and look all manly and stuff’. Vòila. Manly man holding stick.
About halfway through, we hear that joyful noise of, ‘p-tiss!’ from the wheelbarrow. Yep. Wheel flat. That doesn’t really make the process easier.
We start putting less in the barrow so we can still move it, but it ended up being faster for one of us to push/pull and the other to take some of the weight of the other end so we could still move bigger loads.
Anyway, stamping down before levelling will make the surface more hardy. You’re levelling a semi-compressed area. If you don’t stamp or compress it first, you’ll have a nice flat surface right up until you walk on it and it settles into the uneven surface below.
Mr Hammer used his length of timber and made some little flat markers in the stamped-down dust.
Lining his spirit level up with the measured marks, he pushed down and swept backwards with the level, checking the bubble to make sure it all remained level, and adding dust in spots that dipped.
And of course, we needed some expert help from Little Miss Hammer (yes, she did change clothes. That was maybe the fourth outfit for the day – because yard work in a leather jacket is what all the cool kids are doing).
Once the area had been covered, he checked again to make sure his length of timber touched the joists and the crusher dust.
He then jumped in my car and drove it in and out of the space to further compress the dust. The weight of the car didn’t change the compressed state much more than had already been achieved by stamping with our feet and pressure on the spirit level.
So what we have now is a slightly raised area where my car will live. It can still be dug up, or messed up if a heavy object is dragged over it.
Mr Hammer says a bag of cement sprinkled evenly over the surface, then wet down and left to dry, will improve the hardiness. But for now, this has solved our red clay soup issue. No more big, wet red hoofprints on the floor of my car!
You’ll find tools you need in this list.