The original part of our house is on a slab, this includes the kitchen. I was not surprised at all when the plumber declared that there was nothing we could do to reconnect the hot water except open up the concrete. The slab had been broken into before and a lovely patch job about a foot wide lay all down the length of the kitchen. This made it easy to see where we needed to open the floor to find the pipes.
That was of course nearly three weeks ago now. In the meantime we have had to stare at a badly done patch all down the length of the kitchen, a concrete patch that was raised above the rest of the floor by at least 1/4", which might as well be a foot when you are laying tile over it. More than one person suggested we just break open the patch all the way down the floor and redo it. Concrete is cheap and patching the piping mess really wasn't that big of a job. We even still had his dad's sledge hammer.
Saturday, we finally decided that's what we would do. I got out the sledge and started the job. Joshua and I got about three feet in when it was time for me to quit and get ready to go photograph a wedding. I handed the concrete breaking reigns over to Steve.
Steve begin breaking up the concrete and all went well for another foot. Then all of the sudden the concrete began to slide downward as he broke it up. It cracked and fell down. Down is not good when there is supposed to be dirt there.
There was no dirt. There was instead a big, big hole under the north end of my kitchen. The main slab was still solid and holding just fine, but we now had a 1' by 3' gap in the kitchen floor with a 7' deep by 4' wide hole under it. Don't ask me how the previous owners managed to lay a concrete patch over thin air. It baffles us to this day. There are no signs of support materials in the hole. No frayed burlap, no wire mesh, no cardboard, no wood, nothing. The last thing we expected when we broke open that concrete patch was there would be nothing supporting it from underneath. It's just simple logic.
Steve called me in to see the hole 30 minutes before I had to leave. He sat there on his knees, completely stunned. He had no clue how to fix this.
I did not cry when I had to downgrade my kitchen vision to cheaper cabinets. I did not cry when I saw how quickly we were running out of money. I did not cry when the cabinet guys mis-measured my cabinets. (although I may yell at them if I don't hear something from them soon.) That big hole in my floor brought me to tears.
Luckily, I ran over to a neighbor's after the wedding to borrow a sewing machine (another long, but more boring story.) Her husband happens to do construction work for a living. When I told her about our lovely hole in the floor, she suggested to her husband that he might want to go help Steve fix the floor. The neighbor had the perfect solution. He pounded in concrete stakes and put a support piece right beneath the slab. The guys screwed concrete mesh into the hole to help support it. It only took two cubic feet of concrete to fill the mess.
I have to say that was the worst moment in our remodeling venture. I'm sure it could have always been worse, but I'm glad I didn't have to see that.