April 2008

Construction begins! 

7.5" hole is dug!! Digging holes is the worst thing in the world - boring, dirty and really hard. This was by far the most unsatisfying part. 

56 Bags of concrete. I do not know this yet, but this will not be enough. 

Next came the 2" Insulation is put in to protect from frost heave and insulate the slab. I used the pink panther home insulation which should be sufficient to provide decent insulation to the slab and keep it from frost heaving. Alternatively, I could have dug down 4 feet and installed concrete piers for the insulation but that included more digging and I decided against it. On top of the insulation, I built the wooden frame for the base concrete pad, and drilled hoes (not shown) in the sides to accommodate 3/4" rebar for reinforcement. You can see the pile of rebar at the bottom of this picture, getting ready to be installed. 
This frame has to be perfectly level as it be the base of all the upcoming construction. From the moment the insulation went in, I spent a considerable amount of time making sure everything was level and perfectly square. A mistake here can be pretty annoying later on. 

Tying in the rebar. Looks like progress already!! I just used zip-ties to hold everything together. 

The concrete is almost ready to be poured. I weighted down the sides of the form with some large stones so it is exactly level.

I backfilled the frame with some soil so the boards don't bend when I start pouring the cement. 

Mixing cement is hard - really hard. I opened a bag, tried mixing it by hand in a wheel barrel, and immediately went out and rented a mixer for $50/day. 43 bags later, I was more than glad I spent the $50 on the mixer - it took me and my dad just under 4 hours to pour the entire slab! 
The entire effort, from start of digging to pouring the slab took 3 days of doing it by myself, with my dad helping with the pouring of the concrete. 

My Dad helping out.

Putting in the finishing touches... The slab at this point is just poured, and my dad is leveling out imperfections. To much satisfaction, it came in perfectly level. At this point, I spent a the rest of the day keeping the slab wet by spraying water on it, because the concrete strength comes from curing and not drying - if it is allowed to dry, it will be much much weaker. So, it needs to be manually watered, and covered to maintain moisture. 


I gave the concrete base a nice edge as well. 

The slab must be kept covered and wet for a week - the longer it stays wet, the stronger the concrete will be. I cured it by watering it, and covering it with a tarp for a week. At this point, I covered it tightly with a tarp, made sure there was plenty of moisture on the slab, and took the family on a week long spring vacation. 

A week later, we came home and I immediately took the tarp off, and removed the wooden form. Here's what the slab looks like after it has been cured for a week, and the form removed. I didn't worry about the rebar sticking out because the slab was to be covered with soil exposing just the top of it. 

Foundation done!
Now the fun begins, right?