OK, I went up to my folks' place, and this is what I've learned.
The yellow line is the gas line. The blue dot at the street is where the new B box is located. The blue dot on the house is where the water is hooked up at the moment. The length from the new B box to the house is just over 100 feet. The green dot is where the old B box is located. As you can see, the water currently flows through the pink line to the old B box. The water comes in to the old B box through an old service line to which I can not connect.
Why can't I just connect to the old service line near the new B box? Good question. One would assume the old service line runs out toward the street, which means that it runs pretty close to the new B box. One would assume that we could dig a hole big enough to get into and connect the old service line to the new B box. But, say the water officials and one plumber, it's not that easy.
You see, the service line splits in two, presumably at the old B box, but perhaps even before it. One goes to my house, whereas the other one goes to the neighbor. We can't hook up to the old service line BEFORE this split, because that would cause water to get into that split, causing problems. I asked whether it would not be possible to cut off that split, but a plumber told me that then it's "too much messing around, too many fittings," and that the village won't allow it. In other words, it's a liability. I'm not a plumber, so what can I say?
On the day of the bidding, the first people to arrive were two contractors and one water official. It irked me that the water official got right to work explaining everything to the contractors, and didn't even bother coming to the house to introduce himself or explain anything to me, but I got over it. I went up to them while they were talking and introduced myself. I then started asking questions and writing the answers down. After a few minutes of this, I finally commanded their attention.
The water official recommended to the contractors the following:
Dig a straight trench (in red) along the property line (below, in white). Go past the old B box, and connect to the old service line. This would require probably digging up part of my jerk neighbor's property (believe me, he's anal - more on that later), getting awfully close to the gas line in a place where it connects to the house, and is thus more shallow than anywhere else. This also means working in an area that is completely surrounded by shrubbery. Oh, and take out a few planks of my neighbor's fence. The cost for this would be $2000 and they would not have to get into the house.
After that, a plumber came by and gave me the following idea:
Dig away from the property line and cross the gas line at a place where there is plenty of open space and thus is easy to work. Dig up to the house, then dig underneath the footing (foundation) and push the new water main all the way to the meter inside the house. This would mean that the entire new service line is the required 1" pipe. The first idea required a coupler that connected the new 1" service line to connect to the old 3/4" service line. Since this guy is a licensed plumber, he can legally connect to the pipes at home. The other guy was just a contractor, and legally can not go inside the house, explaining why he proposed what he did. Cost: $5700
The third idea is basically the same as the second, but this plumber recommended drilling a hole through the foundation and using a tool to push the pipe about 10-15 feet out away from the house at a depth of about four feet (remember, the frost line according to the water official is 5 feet - this plumber says that it's ok to be shallower near the house, because the warmth from the house will prevent freezing). Cost: $3400
The fourth guy to come out (the third plumber) basically said the same thing as the first plumber but has not yet gotten back to me with an estimate.
I asked the first and second plumbers whether they would be willing to do the job if I found someone else to dig the trench. The second guy flat-out refused. The first guy said he would dig underneath the footing (per my request) and connect the pipe for $1000 if I dug the trench.
I have also heard from an excavating company that said they would be willing to dig a 100 foot trench 5 feet deep for about $700.
My sister and her husband spoke to the finance director of the village, who said that they might be able to finance this project and set up a payment plan for us. I am waiting to hear back from him, because I want the details straight from his mouth. If this is the case, I will ask whether he will give us the money if we partition the project. I would like to go all the way into the house to avoid trouble with my neighbor. Also, as long as we're doing all this work, it makes sense to have an entirely new service line, instead of hooking up to one that's over thirty years old and located in a tight spot. If I dig up my neighbor's yard, I will surely be stuck with his landscaping bill, not to mention hard feelings. He expressed his displeasure and annoyance directly to me when I had the contractors come out to give me bids. "This is going to be such a fucking mess," he said. "You really should bore it," he said, referring to expensive underground boring which he had done a year ago to avoid digging up his precious landscaping. "Sure, I'll do it," I thought to myself. "When you pay for it, you jerk."
In any case, I am considering partitioning the project out: perhaps I can find someone who has a mini-excavator and experience with trenches, who can do it for less than $700. My neighbor mentioned that he might have a friend with a mini, so I called him and specifically asked him to look into it. If not, I will continue crawling google and craigslist. He also recommended looking at metals warehouses, because I might be able to find the copper pipe for a little less. Surely if I buy it myself it will be less than buying from a contractor, who will try to make a profit on it. Copper isn't cheap. A foot of 1" line will cost me around $5. In any case, I would have the hired excavator dig a trench the way that the plumbers recommended I do it, then hire the plumber to come in and hook it up. I figure if I can find someone to dig the trench for $500, buy the copper for $500 (EDIT: wow, it looks like 100ft of 1 inch type "K" (the thickest type) pipe is nearly a grand
), and have the plumber hook it up for $1000, then I can probably have the job done for about $2000, about the cost of the first contractors' bid and idea, which does not seem to be as solid as the plumbers' idea. If the village can provide the loan (I assume it is essentially a loan), and if they don't mind me partitioning the project, maybe we can make this happen.
My girlfriend is starting a creative project on kickstarter, and I was hoping I could do something similar - find some place to show this idea off in order to hopefully raise some money for it. Kickstarter won't work, however, as that site is dedicated to creative projects only. I have been considering building a very basic website dedicated to this project, explaining my situation, asking for money, and providing a paypal 'donate' button. I have also considered researching any possible grants for this endeavor. I don't really know where to start, but I figure I'll just start googling stuff. I have about six weeks to go until Burning Man, and I'd like to complete this project by then with enough money to pay my own bills and get me to BRC and back. I've already done a considerable amount of work. As you can see, the great big mass of it yet remains to be done. However, doing a little bit every day and having a deadline certainly helps break it all down into manageable pieces.
PS: If you have any ideas and would like to use the overhead shot of my property, here it is:
The best rule for not being devastated by change or loss, is to only bring something you can accept being ruined, and then be happily surprised if it isn't. -- elorrum