Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Big Pour ... Almost

I took Thursday and Friday off of my "day job" in order to finish up the prep work for the big concrete pour. My Dad and I worked like mad men for two days so the site would be ready for the inspector. The inspector came and we passed even though we weren't quite finished. After he left we still needed to finish up with some of the insulation and most of the rebar. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning of the labor intensive long weekend. I started out by installing a loop of 4" corrugated plastic drain pipe in the event we should need a radon mitigation system.

This is what it looked like all buried. One spot near the masonry heater didn't get as low as it should have, leaving a bit of a speed bump. I don't think it will matter too much, but I probably should have pulled it out and reburied it.

I began Thursday morning by laying down an 8 mil plastic vapor barrier. I had read that if moisture wicks up through a slab on grade, it can cause flooring problems. I figured the plastic was a cheap enough insurance policy. I was joined shortly after I got on site by my Dad who probably regrets he showed up at all. We spent the day sweating and cutting XPS insulation to fit in a life size game of pink tetris.

The temperatures were hot and the humidity was high which makes for miserable working conditions. Nonetheless, we got it all just about done with the help of my Mom and my Wife. And then a storm rolled through.

We waited out the rain and decided we could still get it all cleaned up and the rebar completed before the big pour on Saturday morning. My Mom and my Wife sucked up water with the shop vac for three hours while my Dad and I finished up the steel work.

My Dad cut more that 75 32" pieces of rebar to anchor the wall to the footings. He's become invaluable to the project and we very much appreciate his help.

While all that was going on, I tied all the splices together in the footings. We used three runs of 1/2" rebar (aka #4). We used a 5' piece of pipe as a cheater bar to make the bends. Once they were in place and tied together we chaired them up on old paver bricks.

By ten o'clock Friday night (picture was taken earlier) we were all ready for the pour the following morning, provided it didn't rain again. We received a lot of rain and we don't have paved roads, so there can only be so much moisture in the ground and still allow a concrete truck carrying 10 yards of concrete to drive across our land.

It didn't rain through the night ... but it did rain Saturday morning. My cousin Josh (the foreman of team concrete) and I made the decision that it was too wet. It was a hard pill to swallow, but it was probably the safe bet. We're hoping to get it done one night this week since next weekend is a holiday weekend.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Our First Concrete Pour!

After we dug out the hole for the masonry heater footing, the next step was to insulate it and tie the rebar together. Code required us to use half inch rebar tied together six inches on center. Tying the rebar together took me a lot longer than I thought it would. It was suggested that this would be our new mantra, "well that took longer than I thought it would." The suggester was correct.

Next we had to set the form for the heater at the right level and cut the insulation to fit. The conglomeration of wood surrounding the form was my way of giving us a place to set stakes since the hole got a little wider than it needed to be.

Jenn is eagerly awaiting the use of the new mixer.

We started filling it in, one wheel barrow at a time.

Until it was full! I should leave this next part out, but I think people would know better. I calculated 41 80 pound bags of ready mix. Of course it took 44 and I had to run to the store at the end of the pour. I'll learn my lesson, eventually. By the by, we are considering marketing a new work out DVD. It's called P-lift-80-pound-bags-of-concrete-90X. Your legs and back will scream for mercy after just one session.

After the hole was full, we screeded it and I troweled it smooth.

The forecasters were predicting a storm so we tarped it heavily. It did storm ... hard. But, to my surprise the tarp held in place.

Here's the final product. The smudge is a clump of dirt that I should have removed before taking the picture. I call it focal art.

Now that we had one pour out of the way, it was time to prep for the big pour. I rented a laser transit in order to set the footing forms to the right level. That thing was slick, much easier than the old scope style. Geez, my chicken legs are really pasty! Who took that picture?!

To keep them at the right level, we drove stakes we made out of 2x4s. Thanks are owed to my Dad (for many parts of the project) for making the 24 vampire slayers with the miter saw. I am continually impressed with how much work my Dad and my Wife put into the project even though I can be a relentless task master. Relentless task master is a euphemism for what they usually call me.

Up next, the big pour!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Progress Report

After we finished the site prep and had a base to put our foundation on, we needed a plumber. I thought I had one locked up, but he didn't call me back. After that I started calling many plumbers. I'm not sure why, but at first I couldn't get anyone to call me back. I was an inch away from getting some books from the library and doing it myself when the clouds opened up and a ray of plumberness shone down from above. All of a sudden I had four estimates to look at. There was one clear choice at the end of it all. They happened to be the lowest bid, but more importantly, they asked the most questions and I just had a gut feeling about them. So, to be ready for them we oiled and set the footing forms in order to have our proper measurements in line.

The only bad thing about the perfect plumbers was they couldn't get to it for a week. That was Mr. Murphy and his law punching me in the gut. Then, after I was standing upright again, I calmly told Mr. Murphy that I had plenty of other work to do in the meantime. So, we decided to pick rock. We took the trailer and the pickup to a friend's farm (thank you Allens!) and got a load of rocks.

During the week, the plumbers came followed by the inspectors. During that time, I decided that the foundation pour would go more smoothly if we would pour the masonry heater (did I mention our house would have a masonry heater?) footing prior to the foundation pour. I was worried that our lack of experience would show if we needed to set screed rails in order to cover the distance from one end of the house to the other. The masonry heater footing in the center of the house would give us an edge to screed off of, thus shortening the distance between screed points.

Next, I constructed the heater form, read the code book and calculated the amount of concrete it would take to make the hefty footing for the masonry heater. After we determined the location, we marked it and began digging it out.

We dug it out so that the total depth would be 12 inches. Next we need to get the rebar cut and ready. We'll put the insulation and rebar in place and use our cement mixer to pour the heater footing. After that, we'll pour the rest of the foundation.

By the by, I haven't had time to report on my hybrid poplar cuttings. I will do a full report, but for now I can report that I have approximately 225 mini hybrid poplar trees in grow bags.