Nuts, Bolts, and Fathers-in-Law


My father-in-law is in town. Ostensibly he's here to spend time with my wife, but when a guy shows up at my door and hands me a DeWalt belt sander, I know that he's really here for some quality tool time. See, that's what happens when you spend too much time alone with your wife: you need to get away and do some manly stuff. Like bolt the house to the foundation. Not much more manly than boring 12" deep holes in concrete and filling them with two-part epoxy.


You see, we're putting a new second story onto our 1920 house, which necessitates a bunch of changes in the rest of the house to bring it up to code. In particular, the house needs to be retrofitted for earthquakes. The international building code requires your house to be bolted to its foundation every which way. I mean, the sill needs to be bolted to the concrete, the floor joists need to be bolted to the tops of the cripple walls, the cripple walls need to be bolted to shear walls, and the cat needs to be bolted to the refrigerator. OK, I'm making up the last part, but the rest of it represents substantial work.


With Phil coming up to visit for a week, I figured it'd be a great opportunity to get some free labor from a skilled set of hands. Bolting a house to its foundation is pretty straightforward: you just run bolts through the sill into the foundation. Simple -- they even have a section at Home Depot where they sell the code-approved fasteners and epoxy. Unfortunately, as my wife and I read through the engineering plans we had, we realized that we had no idea of some basic things. Like how far apart do the bolts go -- 32", 48" or 72"? So Phil's sitting here right now waiting for our engineer to interpret the various symbols on the engineering drawings, drinking coffee, and browsing the web.


So much for manly pursuits.


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