22. A filthy business

We're shifting muck again, this time to make way for the slab

27th May 2014

The wet bank holiday has turned our building site into the traditional sea of mud. No shirts off today, just gritted teeth and hard labour. Not that digging out muck is ever anything other than a dirty job. When it comes out of the ground, compacted earth expands and spills everywhere. It’s a job to stay clean and dry, though the guys on site are skilled in the art of staying moderately respectable despite the huge quantity of muck they have to shift.

Foreman Greg is in charge of the digger, carefully digging round the tops of the piles. Randal is driving the dumper, taking the spoil the short distance to the front of the site to await the grab lorry. Jordan is in the hole, keeping an eye on the levels and doing a bit of hand-digging where necessary.

It’s a surprisingly deep hole, given that we are not building a basement. This is partly because we want an exceptional level of insulation in the ground floor: there will be 300mm of Kingspan TF70 insulation board under our feet when the job is done, with a 25mm screed and a reclaimed parquet finish on top. The insulation will be installed on top of the reinforced concrete slab, which is also 300mm deep. This in turn is built on 225mm of polystyrene heave protection. It all adds up to a lot of muck to dispose of.

The Arts and Crafts ideas that inform the project all seem rather a long way off at the moment. Or at least they did until I downloaded my photos from the site this morning. Have a close look at the tangled steel of the top of the pile in the photo above. Does it remind you of anything? In the week that the Glasgow School of Art burnt down, a Mackintosh rose is flowering on our site.

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