A Parking Spot for Val

When we had Swifty we parked her in the carport. The airstream was 9’9” and carport was 10’6” at clearance height. Val measures 12’2″ which wouldn’t have worked. We decided instead to park Val in the space between the garage and the neighbor’s, which is delineated by a concrete wall. That space measures just under 10’ wide. Val is 8’3”. So, in preparation, Charlie sawed 12″ off the eaves, removed the gutters, and rewired exterior outlets – all to make sure Val could live there. It would be snug, but he was confident it would work. (You know where this is going right?!)

Well, they say there are two sure ways to test the strength of a marriage. The first is having children. The second is helping your spouse back an RV.

The day we brought Val home, we tried to back her in and after too many failed attempts, lots of throwing and kicking things, and swearing and other manifestations of utter frustration, we came to terms with the fact that there was no way we could make that turn without doing damage to the RV or the garage. We did not account for the overhang of the awning, the length of the rear overhang, the width of the back alley, and the angle we would need to turn a 32ft rig to fit in that spot.

Plan B was… well, there was no Plan B. 

So we parked the behemoth of a vehicle in front of our house, eclipsing the view of the street. (The neighbors didn’t seem to mind, thank goodness!) 

Charlie got to work on Plan B. I got to work on Plan C. Plan C was to find a place to store it – which we really did not want to do. (Quotes we received were about a few hundred dollars a month.)

Charlie’s plan was to increase the height of the carport by approximately 2 ft to accommodate Val’s extra height. We had two options – either we dig down 2 ft, or we raise the roof. Digging a 2-ft deep trench and repaving would be silly as it would be both costly and difficult to park. So we decided to raise the roof. Charlie strated researching what it would take to raise the roof, watching two dozen YouTube videos and contacting two companies that specialize in foundation lifting. We also asked our contractor if he could take a look and give his opinion on what it would take to make this happen. The foundation lifting companies felt it could be done, but required a $7,000 per day minimum, with an estimate of 1-2 days to complete, and our contractor estimated the same cost to lift, approximately $10,000 all-in to lift the roof. With the assumption that home projects cost twice as much and take three times as long to finish, this was not a cost we wanted to assume.

After analyzing the cost to purchase six 20-ton bottle jacks (~$50 each) and the lumber, beams, posts, we decided it would be much more economical – and dangerous – to do it ourselves, rather than spend a minimum of $10,000 by hiring trained professionals. 

We learned many things over the course of the project, importantly: 1. Update your estate plan. 2. Go slow. 3. Listen for cracking sounds. 

With posts on top of bottle jacks and beams on top of posts supporting the trusses, approximately two inches of travel per bottle jack, moving clockwise, and working on each bottle jack two inches at a time, it took about ten hours of lifting, measuring, securing, sweating, without incidental time (getting supplies, cleaning up each day, and so on).

Before too long, the roof was about 2.5 ft above the posts, and it was time to install the stud walls and extending posts for support. That took another day. After adding a little shear, we were ready – the carport now measured 12’10” at clearance in the center.

Then came the real test – see if she fits! 

What a relief!

Post note: after parking under the carport on a rainy day, Charlie decided to extend the carport with an awning he found off Amazon and installed that pretty quickly!

Post post note: with all the leftover lumber used for jacking up the roof, Charlie made some benches for a back porch seating/working/eating area! (We bought the table off Facebook Marketplace for $30.)

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