What a wall!

We have been working on the foundation for Our Home and it is a big one! Because we have this beautiful, dry sand base our spread footings could go in just as they were planned. Often times we find problems at this stage that require us to dig deeper and pour extra concrete or engineer a solution to poor soils. Not Our Home, we were able to install the spread footings (a concrete pad that is wider than the basement wall we will build and takes the weight of the wall itself and the house we will build on top of it and spreads it over a wider area). These footings took two men about a day to prepare the wood forms and another day to install the reinforcing steel and place the concrete. Footings are so important that the building inspector must come out and inspect and approve them before concrete can be poured in the forms. If he doesn’t like what he sees he can halt the job and demand an engineer evaluate the situation and either certify it is acceptable or design a repair to address the problem the inspector noted. Our men had to wait a couple hours for the inspector to come but he gave his blessing and they were able to place all the concrete so the wall panels could be installed. The next morning the wall panels or “forms” arrive in racks on a boom truck and they are placed in the basement.

The forms for the footings are removed and stacked outside the excavation so they can be loaded up and moved to the next job. Considering the size of the wall and the quantity of forms it is hard to believe that this is a precision operation. If the wall is not set and poured to the exact plan dimensions and not level and square, Our Home will not come out right. There are some things even a good carpenter can’t fix. If we were to build this wall in a straight line it would stretch longer than a football field. It will take about 100 cubic yards (30 feet long by 30 feet wide by three feet deep) of concrete to fill the forms.

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This concrete was delivered in 11 transit mix trucks and they lined up down the street waiting their turn to dump their load. The walls must also be in the correct location on the lot itself. To accomplish this, our surveyors placed several stakes in the ground outside the excavation just for the purpose of giving these guys a reference point. Our excavator was careful not to destroy them or pile dirt on them so the footing and wall crews had no problem getting our foundation in the right place. Later, we will need the surveyor to come out and measure for an accurate “as built” drawing we will need to give to the township with his seal on it to prove it was all done according to the site plan we gave them when we applied for our building permit. Interestingly, the building inspector doesn’t need to look at the wall forms. So, when they are done, checked and double checked by the crew, the concrete is ordered and we start the pour. We have good access to the forms so those 11 trucks come and go dumping their loads of wet concrete and it flows into the forms and starts seeking a level. Once the pour starts we don’t stop because for strength we want a monolithic wall with no seems or joints and no areas where the concrete in the forms sets up and doesn’t bond with the new concrete. The good news is it all went well and the wall as completed in a single pour. The bad news is we ran past our mandated quitting time of 6PM and got at least one neighbor upset. We brought them a big box of Mrs. Fields Cookies and a contrite note apologizing for our faux pas. We will try not to let anything like this happen again!

And tomorrow, the big reveal, the panels come off and we will have one big monolith of a wall….stay tuned.