Amid all my moaning and groaning, time for a positive note.
Background: When I bought my little house in 1991, the bank required certain things to be done. One of them was to insure that the ground in the crawl space was at least 14 inches below the wood.
The previous owner (who was a retired realtor / slumlord) paid for this work, but the result was worse than just leaving things alone. The back wing of the house, originally a covered porch, was resting on concrete blocks which were fairly solid at that time. The cheapo contractor hired by the previous owner dug out several inches from this crawl space, which left it below the surrounding ground. After I moved in, I put boards around the area to keep out cats and skunks.
Earlier this year, the Orkin man did his standard procedure of digging a trench around the house, and removed my boards. This revealed the awful condition of the supports for the back wing; the blocks were still there, but years of drainage into the low area had undercut them, and they were sitting at odd angles. I was afraid that the next big rain (without the slight protection offered by my boards) would simply collapse the whole thing.
So I called around and finally found one contractor willing to do the job. He looked at it and bid $1350 for a system using concrete bases and heavy treated wood beams, which is likely to last about 20 years.
Today he showed up at 9:30. He started digging and pounding; Mother Nature interrupted his work with a torrential rain and 2 inches of hail at 11 AM, but he kept going and finished by 2 PM. Since the job was shorter than predicted, he billed only $1100 instead of $1350.
The result is perfect
, better than I hoped. A solid foundation, graded all around, no way for animals or water to enter. If you don't look too closely at the color, it's indistinguishable from a poured concrete foundation. The doorway between two rooms in the back wing, off square for many years, is now square. The floor in the main house, which had been making suspicious creaks because the sagging wing was pulling on that side of the house, is more solid now. Above all, I can rest easy the next time Mother Nature does her thing.
I considered posting a positive review on AngiesList, but that site seems to require a lot of registration and possible payment, so I'll just record the positive rating here, in a way that Google should pick up easily.
The excellent contractor is Terry Hackler, doing business as "Mountain Remodel", based in Spokane.
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Update 7/7/2010: Hackler's great work is holding up perfectly after two years of unusually heavy rain, snow and wind. Still straight, solid and waterproof.