Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pouring Concrete At Last...

Shirley asked me to add the commentary to her construction photos on this post.

On Tuesday this week James Robertson, chief building inspector for the Capital Regional District came  for his first inspection so we could pour concrete.  His first words when he got out of his car were, "Who is responsible for the wonderful driveway?"  I told him it was mostly me, as I had brought over 55 loads of gravel from Victoria on my truck and my wife and I shovelled them off by hand.  I told him it was the nicest compliment he could have given me.  He was also very favourably impressed with the foundation preparations and the rebar columns.  He was surprised to learn that we had done all the rebar stirrups ourselves and thought it all looked very professional. I told him we learned how to do rebar in Mexico when we built an orphanage there.  

Within five minutes after the building inspector left we had the cement mixer running.  Shirley and I worked for two hours straight and did the footing concrete in Foundation #3 and then #1... averaging one wheelbarrow of concrete every five minutes.  Notice the size of the pile of gravel.  Before we had supper that whole pile was turned into concrete.

This is foundation #1. It was the first one I did and hence it was smaller than all the others.  It was not until we went to place the rebar column cage into the hole that I realized I could not centre it properly in the 28" wide opening, so I had to cut another 8" of concrete slab away.  This gave me an opportunity to widen the excavation and I added another four foundation rebars.  This brings this foundation now up to an equal standard with the other three foundations for columns.

There was another problem to deal with that didn't show up until I took the plywood off the wall and found there was not enough space between the two overhead door tracks.  It would not be a problem if we were doing a wooden or steel post... but with concrete posts that are designed for seismic stress it takes more space.  So at the top of the post it meant we would have to bend the 5/8" bars and do a little custom work so we could keep both overhead garage doors working as before.  We built this cage on the workshop table and then just slid it directly into the hole... it worked out really well.

First we poured the 12" deep footing and I let it set for a little while.  Shirley went and did the painting on the deck and when she came back said how much easier it was to do painting than mixing concrete.  I used a mix of concrete with half the powder and threw in all the blocks of concrete slab that originally we cut out of the floor... so it filled up pretty quickly.  Once this is set I will drill several holes around the perimeter of the opening and place rebars going both ways before finishing the slab.

That little cement mixer ran non-stop all afternoon.

This most definitely is not 'women's work'... but Shirley helped run the mixer most of the afternoon... taking a break to go and do some painting on the decks!
That afternoon I called down to Home Hardware and inquired if they knew anyone who could help me with mixing concrete on site here.  So the next day with the help of Tyler we filled six feet of concrete 18" x 18".

From this point up the form will be 13" square... leaving about 2-1/2" rock ledge for facing the column to the top.

This was Tyler's first time working with a cement mixer... and for 15 years old, he did really good.  I had another stock pile of navy jack (gravel), which was about the same size as we used up the day before.  In two days we used up 7.5 yards of gravel. (5 pickup loads.)

Today we used the tractor instead of a wheelbarrow... it was easier to get the concrete into the column forms if you don't have to lift it.

We also placed the concrete into Foundation #7... the pantry addition.

This concrete pour worked out really well and we had just enough gravel to finish it all.

I made anchor bolts out of left over ready rod... giving them a little bend.

I then put the anchor bolts at approx. 32" spacing.  Again this foundation has a 3" rock ledge on the outside.

At the last minute I remembered I needed a special post bracket to tie down the support post for one end of the major beam.  Fortunately I had one left over in the workshop... so I welded an extra rebar across the bottom bolt which I then tucked under the foundation wall lateral rebar.  It was a perfect fit.


Check out the join of the foundation to the paved driveway.  When we pulled off the forms we were very pleased.

We took a day off to go to Victoria to get some more gravel.  Then on Friday Tyler came back again for the afternoon and we mixed up some "real mud" which we used to backfill Foundation #3.  I was concerned about getting the hole backfilled so every nook and cranny was full... and just dumping dirt and gravel in didn't seem to me that it would be tight enough.  So we mixed our backfill dirt and gravel with half strength cement powder.  


We made it extra wet so that it flowed easily into the outside corners.


Having grown up on a farm, this reminded me a lot of the cow manure I had to clean out of the dairy barn.  But having made so many adobe blocks, I knew that with the cement added it would dry and harden.  We also threw in a lot of larger rocks with helped to tighten it all up.


The next day when the concrete had set I knew we had done the right thing for backfilling this foundation.  We used three bags of cement in the mud for this cavity.

Footing #2 was another big one... 5-1/2 foot square and 12" deep.  It took 18 wheelbarrows of concrete to fill up the footing. The white 2x2's on each side told us when the concrete was 12 inches deep.

Foundation #4 was four foot square... and as we were running out of gravel we threw in a few smaller stones to help bring us up to the full 12 inch depth.  Again I had a guide stick on the side to tell us when we had enough concrete in the footing.

Shirley here:
This is getting very exciting, it is very thrilling to see it evolve day by day.

"A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable." - Louis Kahn







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