Foundation pour

The foundation crew put up forms for our poured foundation walls on Tuesday, May 12. Leah and I walked up to look Tuesday evening. Standing inside the basement-to-be, Leah thought the house looked small, but that’s normal. In my experience, a house under construction goes through stages when it looks too small or too large before it finally looks like exactly the size it is.

Late Wednesday afternoon, after the building inspector gave his OK, the concrete was poured. When I walked up to the lot around 2:30, the crew said the first concrete truck was expected around three. The pump truck was already there, idling in the middle of what will one day be our basement.

Three came and went, as did four. A little after four pm, the crew boss arrived and said the first concrete truck had overheated and had to stop at the base of the mountain, and then, after cooling for a while, overheated again about halfway up.

Every hour the pump truck was in transit or on site, even while idle, costed around $135.

It was nearly 5 pm before the first concrete truck finally arrived. The crew didn’t waste any time getting started.

foundation pour 1

In case anyone is not familiar with how these things work, the concrete truck (with the blue stripe), dumps its mix into a hopper (right behind the “TAYLOR-MADE’ logo on the pump truck). A pump then sends the concrete up the long boom and out the heavy flexible hose the worker is holding over the form.

Concrete has to be agitated in these 10-foot-deep forms to make sure there are no voids. The crew used a electric, flexible, vibrating rod powered by a generator. The motor is on the end to the right, and the business end is on the left.

foundation pour 2He dips it deep into the concrete and it does its thing.

foundation pour 3

I took some more documentary pictures, but I was ready to leave after about 45 more minutes. As long as I move, my back is fine, but if I stand around for any length of time, it starts to hurt. Standing for more than two hours was enough, so I told the crew boss I was going home. Besides, Leah had put beer in the freezer so we could have a really cold one, and I was ready for that.

Here’s a shot as I left. The boom operator has the boom controls hanging at his waist so he can stand where he can see what’s going on.

foundation pour 4Pump trucks are a life-saver for concrete pours. Without one, a concrete foundation like ours would be impractical for a typical homeowner.

The third of five trucks was waiting for me at the bottom of our driveway when I left. Leah and I were at home when we saw the last piece of equipment turn around at Wildlife Trail at around 6 pm.

The crew will come back Thursday (today) to remove the forms. Pretty soon after that, I hope, another crew will come to waterproof the foundation. Based on the estimate, the material alone would account for half the cost, and I’m not sure how easily I could get the right materials. So that’s one job I had intended to do, but won’t.

While I was waiting for the pour to start, an engineer from Georgia Power came by to talk about temporary power. I have to get someone to dig a trench for the underground service up to the temporary service post, and I have to get an electrician to get the inspection and provide some of the equipment. We’re setting the date for that around the end of the month, but I hope to get it done sooner.

Concurrent with that, I need to get a plumber to put in the drain pipe that goes below the basement slab and out to the septic system. That has to be done before the basement slab is poured, and the slab has to be poured before framing can start.

Framing is the biggest part of making a house under construction look like an actual house, so we’re looking forward to that.



Snakes on a road

Leah and I saw this snake last week when we took the dogs for a short evening walk.


This is a blurred shot. It was past sunset so the light was bad, and all I had to take the shot was my phone. On top of that, this little snake was really moving. I didn’t recognize it. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever seen one before. I searched online for a black snake with a white ring around its neck and quickly found that it was – surprise! – a ringneck snake.

This link leads to an article about the ringneck snake at the Savannah River Ecology Lab website

According to the SREL site, ringneck snakes are 10 to 15 inches long. The one we saw was less than six inches, so it was almost certainly an immature example, or possibly a hatchling (see the image of a hatchling ringneck in a person’s hand at the SREL site). SREL says that the ringneck snake has one of the largest ranges of any North American snake. Its range spreads from Florida to Canada, across the US Southwest and up along the Pacific coast.

Wikipedia says, “Ring-necked snakes are believed to be fairly abundant throughout most of their range, though no scientific evaluation supports this hypothesis.” However, SREL cites a capture-mark-and-release study by Henry Fitch in 1975 that found densities greater than 700 to 1800 per hectare (2.47 acres) in Kansas. That’s a lot of snakes.

This small, shy snake seldom shows itself during the day, which probably explains why I had never seen one. But then a couple of days later I saw another one when I took the dogs on their morning walk. This one looked like it had been run over at the edge of the road, but when I nudged it with my foot, it raced off into the weeds.

I should have taken a picture before I nudged it, but I didn’t want to take a picture of a dead snake. Dead snakes are not uncommon on the roads around here. Just last week, in addition to the live ringneck snakes, I saw one large black snake and a large copperhead that had been run over. Both had apparently been sunning themselves in the road after a cool night. That was probably what the little ringneck was doing as well. Since they’re small, the ringnecks aren’t as good a target for our local drivers as larger other snakes.

Friday Felines

Chloe and Dusty came up to the front door looking for treats. Then Sylvester showed up.

sly intimidatorHe kept peeking around the corner looking towards the door and the other cats. Chloe was keeping a sharp eye on him. I don’t know whether Sylvester was there to intimidate Dusty or just to get some treats for himself. But it seems like he’s always trying to start something with one of the cats. He’s just a butt.


Concrete progress

We took the first concrete step in our house construction Wednesday – we had the footings poured. This is the first time anything has actually been constructed, as opposed to removed.

I watched the crew putting the forms in place Tuesday. Neighbor John was there part of the time. He said his dozer operator had a close call earlier on the mountainous pile of dirt at the corner of the house site. If you look carefully, you might be able to see where the tracks lead off towards the house site from the path he wore up and down the slope. That’s where he came close to turning the dozer over.


But all turned out OK.

We’re going to have a sound foundation for our house. Often in this part of the country, footings can be formed by simply digging a nice, square trench in the ground. In our case, however, the footing forms had to be built from two-by-fours held in place with stakes and rebar. Getting the rebar into the ground required using a power drill. The surface was too hard to drive a piece of rebar into the ground with a small sledge.


Notice that the guy with the drill is wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a cloth around his neck. This was not because it was cold. The temperature was in the 80s. But this worker, who has been with this crew for about 15 years, knows how to dress for bright, sunny weather. (Once when I was visiting a friend in New Mexico, he told me that in the summer you can tell the tourists from the natives because the tourists are the ones wearing short-sleeved shirts.)

The footing crew finished their forms Tuesday and arranged the footing inspection for Wednesday morning. We passed, so the pour started around 1 pm.

Here’s the overall scene as the pour progressed.


I made this image using our new camera’s panorama function, all done in the camera. I was standing on top of the dirt mountain. This shot shows the entire foundation, including basement and garage.


There is a large step up from the basement level to the garage level in the corner. That’s where the pour started.


The footing guy ordered dry, or stiff mix because the concrete had to stay within the tall form in the corner and not run out at the bottom. That made it a little hard to get out of the mixer at first.

This is the next-to-the-last corner of the footing, leading up to the front of the house.


The crew had just finished the first six yards of concrete and had the second truck pull up to start dumping the next load. I’m guessing that the first six yards did about two thirds of the total footing.

The next step is have the foundation wall forms set up, and then get the next concrete pour. I’m not sure when that will happen, but before that happens I expect to have found all the materials necessary to waterproof the walls. I hope there will be some progress on at least arranging the framing by that time, too.

A hole in the ground

A week ago today, while we were on our way home from Denver, neighbor John began the excavation for our new house. He texted us a video of a backhoe bucket scraping the rock that underlies the entire cleared area. It was not encouraging. But then he included a picture of the excavation they finally managed. He said we got lucky – no blasting required.

This is what I found Tuesday when I went to look at the site.


That big pile is topsoil and broken-up, sandy rock. Some will be used to fill around the foundation walls. We hope to save all the topsoil for use around the site. I think it will be good planting soil

Later, John and his helper were removing topsoil from the garage area.

This is back of the excavation, where the back of the basement will be with the top at about the level of the main floor.


The dark red is topsoil. Everything else is rock. The topsoil can be removed easily, but the rest is more trouble, especially with the dozer John and his helper are using.

As you can see, the rocks are layered fairly uniformly. It surprised me that they uncovered no large boulders like the ones I found everywhere in the area I had excavated for our current house. Everything at the new lot seems to have broken up into sand and small rocks.

Today the entire basement area is excavated. The garage grading behind the house is mostly done, but there is more rock that has to be broken up before it can be removed. John plans to have a large backhoe brought in on Wednesday to finish that part of the excavation.

Once all grading is done, the next step will be pouring footings and foundation walls. I hope that happens within a couple of weeks, but with construction, it’s hard to know for sure.