...because home doesn't happen overnight.
05.18.11 / In The Trenches

This past weekend Handy Hubby rented a trencher to dig two 24″ deep trenches.  Once again, I was on kid duty but I took the boys up to see the progress Saturday evening.  I’m amazed by how much they enjoy going to see ‘the new house.’  It reminds me a lot of when I was little watching my dad build/work on our various homes {this home stuff really is in my blood I tell ya} and witnessing a concrete slab evolve into a house.  I think it gave me an appreciation for DIY and home life that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Anyway, I noticed the way the boys were looking up to their Dada on Saturday as he finished up the trenching and it made me smile.

One trench will bury the overhead service line to the house and the other will provide service to a future central air conditioning unit.  {The Underdog has never had central air!}

Upon taking possession of the Underdog, low-hanging wires threatened to fall, be blown down by high winds, or clothesline someone at any moment.  Plus, they didn’t look all that nice either.  {We plan on having the cable line buried as well…whenever we get to watching TV again!}

Handy Hubby had the city come out and mark for all buried utilities before he began digging.  Call before you dig!  However, they missed one sewage pipe.  Handy Hubby did not miss it.

Oops!  Oh, poop.  Literally.  Handy Hubby hit an unmarked copper sewage line with the trencher. Our first mishap.  Luckily, Google has how-to’s for repairing copper pipes.  And even more luckily, my Handy Hubby is very handy.  I don’t just call him that for show, people.

Repairing the copper pipe set us back $20 and one hour.  That’s how good he is.  I don’t even want to guess how much a licensed plumber would have charged us…on a weekend no doubt.  The new section of the sewage line has a clean-out even though we don’t really need it.  That’s just the only piece Handy Hubby could find at the length he needed without driving all over Ohio.  A backyard full of crap thwarted.  Go us. Oh, and the copper pipe itself is a testament to the age of our Underdog.  Most sewage pipes in newer homes are made of PVC, not expensive copper.

Including the copper pipe repair, so far this project has cost us $395:

  • $250 for a permit to bury the service line  {yes, even if you do it yourself}
  • $125 for the trencher rental {which Handy Hubby said was worth every penny}
  • $20 for the sewage pipe repair

Not bad considering electric companies charge upwards of $1,000 to bury it for you depending on how much length of wire has to be buried.  I’m happy to report that Handy Hubby’s trenches passed inspection today!  Yippee!  A small miracle over here.  Hey, every little step towards livability is one step closer to decorating.  Eventually, PVC conduit will be laid into the trenches to house electric lines to the meter box and air conditioning unit.  This means we also have to convert the meter box to one that will receive underground vs. overhead service.  More on that and other electrical updates as we go.  Getting over this electric hurdle should help to get things moving along. With no power to the house right now, Handy Hubby has been relying on a generator loaned to us by a friend.  Once we have power again and get adequate service, we can start using power tools like mad.  Can’t wait!

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



Isn’t it crazy that the difficult work, that’s the most crucial to a house, is hidden from sight? No wonder construction LOOKS like it goes slowly because it looks like they’re just moving a lot of dirt around. Your husband definitely is HANDY! Well done!


You are so cracking me up!! I know you love Interior Design….but I totally think you have another calling…WRITING!! You are so entertaining.


Dana – just found your blog via Apartment Therapy and I have to say, it is my favourite home reno/decor blog! So fun and friendly and non-pretentious :) Really enjoying watching the progress on the Underdog – can’t wait for the next post!


Hi Dana,

It’s so much fun reading about Project Underdog, and I love how you’re getting things done so quickly. Kudos to that Handy Hubby of yours.

Whew — That looks like a lot of work! How blessed you are to have Handy Hubby!

wow… that looks like no joke! No wonder he’s tired. Lucky for us to have amazing handy hubbies!


Already digging trenches and burying electrical lines? You guys don’t waist time getting down to business. You are so lucky to have a handy hubby (and a handy hubby who doesn’t need a fire lit under him to get him moving).


Wow, kudos to you both for getting right in there and getting things done. At the rate you are going you will be living in the Underdog in a matter of weeks! HeHe – hope you are closer to selling your current home. Can’t wait to see more photos!


Olive Cheese Bread looks so good. What do you substitute for the french bread to make it gluten free?


Lisa – Handy Hubby is gluten-free but not me, so I didn’t sub anything for the french bread. Plus, Handy Hubby doesn’t like olives. However, gluten-free bread is available and could replace the french bread. The olive cheese bread was a total selfish indulgence just for me!


Anna – I am pretty lucky!


Where exactly would one find this “handy hubby” you speak of? I have an IT boyfriend, and could really use something on the other end of the spectrum. Imagine, technology and craftmanship. *swoons* (too bad they don’t let you have two….)


Oh, trenches! How I loathe thee!

Kudos to you guys, and especially your HH. I’ve been there first-hand, and I hate trenches. Hate. Hate. Hate. Yes, I know it is a strong word. I’m using it on purpose! :)

My parents built a house from scratch in the mid-to-late 90’s. We had the “privilege” of helping them with the process, and it fell on me to help dig the trenches to our electrical and sewer lines. In the Spring. In mud. In RED CLAY MUD. It stunk to high heaven, since our home site had been plowed and the vegetation, stuck between top soil and red clay, had rotted. I think we even stopped using ditch digging machine we rented because the clay wouldn’t cooperate. It was us and shovels for days. I swore I’d never dig one again.

I’m very impressed that you guys did.