restoring structural integrity to a community with community.



Once the new 2x12 girders where set on the helical pier caps the 2x6 floor joists where set @ 12" O.C. A detail Reminiscent of the framing of the old house (only up to code)



4525_WEEK 3 June 15th – June 19th

Week three has come and gone, leaving Pat and Earnest’s house standing nobly above the land on a fresh foundation. Monday of last week, the Congo crew excavated trenches for water lines, and to provide for a French drain system to combat the horrible drainage issues that have caused damage to the house before. Our first lumber order came in—a set of 2x12’s fashioned together to create the new girders on which the house now sits. Tuesday was long and laborious, and proved to be quite defeating in the heat.
With the exterior walls as the only remaining portion of the house, the goal was to, quite literally, jack up the house to slide the girders on top of the piers while keeping entire structure intact. With little to prevent the walls from shearing besides a few 2x4’s and only three out of four functioning hydraulic platform jacks, the process was initially a disaster. The walls, although quite heavy, were as flimsy as playing cards under the pressure from the jacks, forcing us to reassess and tackle the issue on Wednesday.
Wednesday was a smashing success in comparison to Tuesday. By taking our time and using cleverly placed supports underneath points on the wall, we were successful in placing the remaining three girders onto the piers, and lowered the walls down to bear on the girders. The process of securing the girders continued on Thursday when the team drilled through the galvanized pier caps and the girders to place bolts for additional lateral strength.
The entire week had prepared us for Friday, which always seems to become our day that we utilize to the fullest. Our lumber order for our floor framing arrived, allowing us to install all of our joists on top of our piers. Our progress for the week proved to be promising after all, and the team was excited to begin laying floor decking down by Monday.
Have a great week! Check back with us soon.


Miss Ella and Michi

Miss Ella: always telling us how it is.
Michi: always loud. hard working, but loud.


WEEK 2_the house is ready for some new bones

WEEK 2_drainage issues

WEEK 2_ the calm before the storm

4525_WEEK 2 June 8th – June 12th

At the beginning of week two, the build team met with brent at 7 a.m on Monday along with Helical Concepts for a test pier to be drilled in the earth adjacent to the house. Brent discussed the scheduling with the build crew, addressing certain presentation aspects of the final project and process work. Some additional flooring was removed up until noon, at which time the planning and build team met at Central Dallas Ministries for an Americorp training session.

On Tuesday, the team began the removal of the roof rafters and continued removing flooring. In the bathroom, there was a large, cast-iron, claw-foot tub that was removed from the house, albeit with some hard labor involved, along with the toilet and a few medicine cabinets. The heat was noticeable, and the team lost a significant amount of energy in the waning hours of the afternoon. Remaining work was held off until Wednesday, which proved to be a big work day.

On Wednesday, we removed the large cast-iron vent pipe still standing in the middle of the bathroom, which almost took out the exterior walls. We demolished the porch because the electricity had finally been cut off, removed the windows and tapped the glass into recycle bins, removed the ceiling and ceiling joists, and interior walls, reducing the house to floor joists and the exterior walls. We braced the walls so as to not have them collapse, and cleared the drywall and miscellaneous debris from underneath the house.

There is a change of plans since it rained on Thursday. The team carried out discussions on staircase and porch designs. And took the oppurtunity to look at the drainage requirements for the house and street.

A grid is marked out for the helical piers on Friday. Using a plumb line and string, a level grid is delineated. Steaks are placed to mark out the spot where the piers go.


WEEK 1_saving the old floors for reuse

WEEK 1_more deconstruction & recycling

WEEK 1_getting ready

WEEK 1_pat and earnest get some help moveing into the holding house

WEEK 1_houlding house and the new crew

4525_WEEK 1 June 1st – June 5th

The work continues on the Congo st initiative with the commencement of Pat and Earnests home, our 4th house in a year.
Once again we have engaged UT Arlington’s School of Architecture and are joined by current students, Alex Dahm, Sarah Hamzeh, Brian Mount, Soid Manzano, John Devlin and Dee Roco. Recent graduates Alex Kwong and Mikhail Sooner, along with Congo resident and now Workshop veteran Vivian Garrett round out our team for the summer. Volunteers Chad Ethridge and Parin Ahmadi also join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
On Monday, June 1st, the students met with Brent on Congo Street to become acclimated with the project, site conditions, and overview of the goals for the summer project within the realms of planning and building. Two teams were created to tackle each of these important issues with respect to the project. The build team proceeded to clean and organize materials in a Mobile Mini storage unit while the planning team began their work at bcWORKSHOP’s office in Deep Ellum.

The following day, the build team met at Helical Concepts in Wylie, Texas to discuss the installment and nuances surrounding helical piers. Helical piers are 6-foot long metal screws that anchor the house to the land, resisting vertical movement from rainwater and lateral movement from wind. Pat and Earnest’s house will be the first project on Congo to depart from traditional concrete piers and use the helical system. Afterwards, the team met in Congo to assist in clearing out a workspace around the site and built shelves for the Mobile Mini containing tools. A few members of the team helped Pat and Earnest move a few of their possessions to the Holding House, while the remaining crew departed for the evening.

Wednesday found the build team developing a comprehensive schedule breaking down the timeline of various building milestones such as installing the piers, completion of framing, and completion of interior and exterior finishes. After the lengthy planning process was complete, the team began removing the remaining large appliances save the heaters as gas had yet to be turned off, removed carpeting, and spent the remaining time preparing to remove the hardwood flooring and the roof, which was continued on Thursday. The ceiling was braced with a series of vertical 2x4’s to allow for a group of the build team to begin removing the roof on Friday.

One of the goals of the project is to minimize waste whenever possible, so when it was time to dispose of the roof shingles and carpet, there was a question as to what to do with the material. The only facility to recycle asphalt shingles in Texas is located in Georgetown, Texas, which is a significant drive from Dallas. As for the carpet, samples were taken to Irving to be tested for their ability to be recycled. Unfortunately, the carpet was not able to be processed by that particular facility. Luckily, all of the scrap wood that we are not to reuse in our project in innovative ways is able to be recycled to more than make up for any unfortunate additional waste. By the end of Friday, a significant amount of flooring was removed and the roof was reduced to the rafters on 90%, with one corner of the porch still sheathed due to the exterior electricity connections.

This summer will be challenging as it is our first remodel of one of the century old homes.


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