Roberto and Will just left -- Saturday at noon. It might seem unusual for construction guys to work on Saturdays. This week it's very unusual... because today is a national holiday. But they wanted to finish up a couple of things -- and I would say this week was VERY productive. They dug out 12 truckloads full of tufo, reconstructed four walls, laid the foundation for an elevated area in the wine cellar and installed two iron girders.
I thought I would sketch a small idea of the "before" and "after" of the wine cellar and barn area. At least the project will make a little more sense if you are interested in following it.
Here was the situation when we started with the barn in January of 2008: You can see that the ENTIRE BACK WALL did not exist -- they simply leaned the structure against the hill which was constructed of tufo, an earth - and - sand porus substance which is semi-solid.
And they carved a couple of small storage areas for food directly out of the tufo. You would have never known this, because they bricked up the front of the tufo and it looked like it was real walls! The photo under this "before" is how it looked at the beginning. That whole middle area is simply faced-out tufo.
Finding this fact out was an expensive undertaking and resulted in part of the roof collapsing when we went to dig out the back wall from the hill - - the back wall that did not exist.
But that is ancient history.
So, this is the plan as it will be in a few weeks. This is a result of last year's and this year's work:
We have now almost completely dug out the structure and built the back walls, and will putting in a French drainage system directly behind the building. This involves digging 1.5 meters into the ground around the back and side of the entire building, putting PVC sheeting against the base of the structure, putting in tubes dotted with holes (holes facing up so that they can catch rain water and runoff), filling the ditch with gravel, and then leveling off with top soil. This will protect the wine cellar and back of the house for good from that big hill and all of that moisture-absorbing-and-holding tufo.
After the structural part of the wine cellar has been reinforced, we will divide off a part of it for clean dry storage (I can cry just writing that -- I have been needing this for five and a half years now).
The area above the flat one-story area will be a roof terrace for the room (which is the second floor above the area we are now renovating). You need to have quite a bit of imagination, but we'll get there. Better late than never.
I leave for the states on Tuesday -- my first trip back since November 2005. It is long overdue, and predictably, poorly timed. But I will be very interested to see how far things come in the two weeks I will be gone. This week was has been hugely productive. Micha and Max are the provisional construction managers while I am gone. Max has already asked for a raise, and he has not even started yet.