Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

We cut our teeth doing this work!  When Rick bought A-1 Builders in 1976 our  work almost exclusively involved replacing post and block foundations. Yes, some very raunchy work, asking my field coworkers to spend a lot of time under houses.  Which is why, over a short period of time, we transitioned away from this work back in the late ’70’s, morphing ourselves into today’s full service, design/build company.

That said, we’ll occasionally take on this work, especially if it includes other work on the same structure.

This particular home needed our help… badly!  It was very old and weary… one of the originals in the Squalicum Lake valley.

Let’s first look at three ‘before‘ photos.


The initial reason we visited these clients was to look at adding a mother-in-law suite in their backyard. While walking past their home to the proposed site for the detached structure, Rick’s eyes were captured by the condition of the existing home’s foundation.  It was screaming out “HELP ME, PLEASE, HELP ME!”

After discussing their dream for the mother-in-law suite, Rick brought the conversation back to their home’s foundation… and his concerns.

Why invest in additional space while their existing structure needed a lot of TLC? Wouldn’t it make more sense to stop the substantial, ongoing deterioration sooner rather than later? Why tackle this later when the repair costs would be higher?

It turns out that they had already been in conversation with a few builders, all of whom said they’d need to move out so that they could use house moving equipment to raise the home high above the eventual foundation.

“No”, Rick told them, “this need not occur.”  And, because the home hadn’t settled to the point that bothered our clients, we could simply hold the home almost exactly where it was, thereby preventing a lot of cracked walls and racked cabinetry.

Instead, we used a few dozen pump jacks, held the house in place, and let them live at home, pleasing them to no end.  This was very important to them because they cared for a lot of animals and this daily contact was critical to their world.

Before we started our work one could only crawl approximately five feet beyond the crawlspace door!  Large, ancient duct work, as well as huge peeled trees that were used as foundation beams, prevented anyone of any size from moving around under there. Forgetting the ducts and logs, the average distance from the bottom of the joists to the dirt was about 14″ to 16″.  So digging out the crawlspace by hand, using short shovels and snow sleds for dirt movement, was the major, initial task… just to gain access to set up the foundation jacks! By hand we removed about 30 cubic yards of dirt from their crawlspace — about 3 large dump trucks!

Other work on this home included:

All new duct work
All new floor insulation and pipe insulation
Some electrical and plumbing repairs
Repairing all rot
Replacing the logs with dimensional lumber, as well as adding positive connectors between the pier blocks, posts and beams
New visqueen, vents and three crawlspace access ways
Perimeter drainage that included a tight-line for getting rid of the downspout water, as well as a perforated pipe, surrounded by gravel and landscape fabric

Yes, raunchy work.

That said, it’s hard to imagine greener work… saving a structure that was doomed to become organic detritus without us coming to the rescue!

  • After (4)
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  • After (3)
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