These pages refer to the construction of my previous
home cinema in our house in Birmingham. We sold this house September 2003 to
move to Telford.
My house is split level. At the front is the front
door and garage. Beyond the garage is the living room. Upstairs are the
bedrooms and bathroom. Downstairs is the kitchen and back door. It was clear to
see that the 'space' under the garage was not being used.
I asked around and the neighbours confirmed that in
the 1970s when the council build the houses, they ran out of money and decided
to fill this room with earth rather than develop it. I was told that some
neighbours had discovered their rooms to be empty.
So in the summer of 1997, with the help of a friend in
the construction industry, Gerry Byrne, I decided to drill through the hall
wall into the room to see what was there.
It was hard going. 9 inch reinforced concrete walls!
My room, it seemed, was not empty.
We calculated that if the room was full of subsoil,
we'd have to excavate about 80 tons. When emptied, the room would be about 18
feet by 12 feet. We decided to 'go for it' next summer and take the subsoil
through the kitchen and out of the back door to the garden. It would then be
removed from the back garden in one go.
And so it started in the summer of 1998.
Page 2 of 8
The Red triangle over the plan of the bottom floor
indicates the position and direction of the photo.
I used a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow to move
the subsoil through my kitchen and out the back door into the garden. Needless
to say the kitchen carpet tiles and garden both got totally trashed.
I wasn't quite prepared for the amount of cement
dust in the house when drilling through the wall. Everything in the house was
covered in a layer of grey dust. Including every CD in the rack!
|Some of the rocks were
huge. Way too big for 2 men to carry
|I moved the subsoil
into my garden which would remain trashed for over two years
|Here we are with most
of the subsoil removed from the room. At this point, my garden was completely
full of subsoil up to 6 feet high.
Somewhere along the way I managed to
catch my hand and leg against the sharp metal rods embedded in the concrete and
so I have a couple of small but permanent scars to show for my carelessness.
|Once the room was
nearly empty, I cut down the fence at the bottom of my garden and hired a
bobcat to remove the rubble up the council path round the side of my
neighbour's house (the end terrace) to my neighbour's front lawn, creating a
mound 6 foot high. Unfortunately, despite the fact it was June (1998), it
rained the whole time, and the path outside my back garden, the council path up
to the front of the houses, my garden and the neighbours garden were all
|I think my neighbour
began to regret letting me put the subsoil on her front lawn prior to removal
by a JCB and 20 ton dumper trucks.
|This shot shows the
top of the path leading from the back of my house up to the front. On the left
is my neighbour's garden. Her fence, the path and the grass area to the right
of it can be seen well destroyed.
|Removal of the bulk
of the subsoil
|The rubble was finally
removed with a JCB and 2 loads in large dumper trucks. They did the whole lot
in minutes, and made it look easy.
|Removal of the bulk
of the subsoil
|After the rubble had
gone, the neighbours garden was a complete mess and had to be fixed up with new
topsoil and plenty of grass seeds.
I also had to pay for the council path to
be repaired as several of the paving slabs were broken up.
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