Monthly Archives: February 2016

A poor pour! – But it is complete.

February 25, 2016

Well, I am glad that is over.  This concrete pour turned out to be the one that tried to get away.  I should have know something was up when the Municipal inspector raised concerns last Friday, that it was not going to be smooth sailing.

It started on Monday when the Geotech was too busy to speak with me even though the pour had been scheduled for Tuesday 8:30 AM.

Then at noon on Monday, Lafarge called and cancelled my concrete siting supply shortage, which I take to mean that they had a more important client needing lots of concrete and I was bumped.  I can accept this but it was still a PITA as I had to rebook both the placers and the pumper truck to both of their displeasure. So, we re-booked for 3 PM today as placers were not available yesterday.

Then on Tuesday I still had not heard from Geotech and started to get nervous.  Turns out I was right to be, as they were pretty upset with me that I had parts of my site that were still excavated after a year.  We finally talked on Wednesday and they confirmed that most of the inspectors concerns were not a problem but that they had issues with the fact that the north wall of the excavation supported by the mass concrete blocks had not been back-filled yet.  This was a big surprise as I have seen those mass blocks support retaining walls on a permanent basis.  There was various discussions as to how to expedite backfill, but the pressing issue of the walk-up stair foundation pour was fine and I could proceed.

With an extra day yesterday, I started to work on the remainder of backfill activities at the front of the garage.  This involved sorting through a pile of rocks mixed with some fill by the side of the road.  My original intent was to have this trucked away, but since my Craigslist add for rocks has received a lot of interest, and no new soil has been delivered yet by Diamond, I tackled the pile and was able to extract about 12-16 yards of of usable backfill soil out of it.  This allowed me to raise the partially filled in garage east and south wall an additional 2.5 – 3 ft by noon today.

Then just before 2 PM, I got another call from Lafarge that they were going to be an hour late (at least they did not cancel!).

At 3:45 we started pumping.  At about 4:00 we stopped pumping, not because we were finished, but because of a blow out.

While I had done a great job forming the field of the wall, my support of both outside corners was woefully inadequate, and the NW corner had opened up.  The placers caught it fairly quickly, but not before more than 1/3 of a meter had puked out of the now split open form work.

It is never good to see concrete OUTSIDE of the forms!

It is never good to see concrete OUTSIDE of the forms!

The first waler (horizontal 2×4) you see in the photo above is about 12″ above the bottom footing.  This was a mess!

SO I spent the next 40 minutes re-bracing the two form corners (other side had started to split as well) before the guys could start pumping again.  And then while they finished placing the concrete, I started to bucket the spilled concrete up a ladder back into the forms.  I got about four 5 gal pails worth replaced before we did an inventory of what was left in the pump hopper and estimated that we would have enough to fill all of the wall.

I had ordered an extra .75 Metres, but there is typically 1/2 Metre that is left in bottom of pump truck that cannot be pumped up.  So I only had 1/4 Meter spare and more than that had spilled out.  But somehow we thankfully made it, because it would have killed me to have to bucket all that concrete up a ladder to he top of the 10′ wall.

But I did need to deal with all this spilled concrete.  It would prevent the removal of the forms, would block the drainage path down to the gravel around the perimeter of the wall, and had pinned some ROCKWOOL I had stored in that location to the point I was unsure I was going to be able to extract.  So I did shovel it all away from the foundation and off the footing into a wider area that was just going to get back filled anyway.  This took just over an hour and had me gasping by the end.

But as the placer commented, if a day finishes with the task complete and mistakes rectified, then no harm no foul.

The End Result looks great.

The End Result looks great.

Tomorrow will be a much needed day off.  I am out of soil, cannot strip the forms till Monday, and quite frankly – just do not feel like working.

With the light day I had yesterday, I did manage however to right a blog entry Mould – The Black Scourge (And how to eradicate it) regarding my experiences with mould in the basement and my successful efforts to remove all traces.  Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting.

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
—Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Spanish Artist

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
—George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans] (1819-1880) Novelist, Editor

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Time to Pour – Concrete is coming.

February 21, 2016

Well, I am pleased to say that I actually exceeded my schedule and will be ready to pour my architectural concrete wall on Tuesday, a full week sooner than I planned.  This either means I am getting faster or that I am just padding my schedule too much.  Lets hope it is the former.

The foundation forms for the basement walk-up did present lots of challenges which I will talk about in the near future when I get some time to put all my photos together. But I pushed through and am hoping the end result will be a visually pleasing and true architectural concrete wall.  Will only know when the forms start to come off at the end of next week.

I passed my structural inspection on  the 16th.  I tentatively passed my District inspection last Friday but do need to clear up some concerns the inspector had re my Geotech engineer tomorrow.  I considered my Geotech finished with the project, but the District inspection wants this clarified and confirmed.  The Geotech did not do any of the structural design on my project and only provided the bearing support for the excavation floor and then confirmed I had appropriate prep prior to pouring the footings for the main dwelling.  As that prep (consolidated gravel fill) was done for the walkup foundation footing back in Feb 2015 at the same time as the main house, I did not involve the Geotech to re-inspect the gravel below the footing before we poured in December when we also did the suspended garage slab.  Not sure why the inspector did not bring it up then if there was a concern, as now that the 10″ thick by 5′ wide x 28′ long footing is poured, that ship has sailed.  So hopefully, the Geotech will also agree when we speak tomorrow and we can proceed Tuesday with the pour.

Tomorrow I will polish off the last few tasks to get the forms ready and then hopefully Tuesday at 8:30, the concrete will be flowing.  I have again hired Hi Def Concrete and F&F Concrete Pumping to place my 35 MPa, Small Aggregate Concrete with extra Flow.  This is well above the structural requirements but should result in a much nicer structural concrete (exposed concrete) wall.

Foundation wall forming complete.  Utilizes single waler snap tie and form aligner brackets.

Foundation wall forming complete. Utilizes single waler snap tie and form aligner brackets.

The rest of the week will entail vendor visits, tending building science experiments on site, attending two seminars at the Buildex trade show, and hopefully some backfill if I can get some soil.  I will start stripping forms on Friday.  After that, I will hopefully complete the waterproofing, insulation, and backfill of the north wall foundations.

Always thank-full for Blackberry's continued vigilance over the job site.  Here he is sitting inside Alfie staying dry while he watches over things

Always thank-full for Blackberry’s continued vigilance over the job site. Here he is sitting inside Alfie staying dry while he watches over things

Before signing off for the night and heading home.

Before signing off for the night and heading home.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” —Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)  Athletic Coach

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
—Jim Rohn (1930-2009) Entrepreneur, Author, Motivational Speaker

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” —Mark Twain (1835-1910) [Samuel Clemens] Humorist, Essayist, Novelist

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Forms Away! – Pulled the trigger on the foundation forming design.

February 5, 2016

Just a quick update tonight as not a lot has physically happened at site this week beyond doing wood moisture checks and humidifier maintenance.

A de-humidifier I bought online from Costco arrived today and based on initial testing (4 hours), it stands up really well against the Kompact rental unit I have.  They had similar specs, but at $315 CAD inc shipping and tax I did not have high hopes considering the Kompact retails for a min of $1000 USD + shipping and tax.  I suspected it would be a lightweight that I would have to return, but it was actually quite heavy physically.  I have each dumping into separate bins to compare the water volume stripped from the air in identical conditions.  Best part is it sips power at only 6.9 Amps. Once I confirm total volume in the morning, I will order two more and then return the rental unit.  Two months rental will pay for all three purchased units, and with three units running, I should be able to suck the moisture out of the basement in no time.  I will then have the units I can use again at anytime during construction, especially pre-drywall and during the drywall taping.

The rest of the week has been dedicated to office work and research/planning.  The next task is to form the exterior walk-up stair foundation.  This will be left as exposed concrete, so I will be using ties with cone spacers that allow the tie to break off 3/4″ behind the face of the concrete.  You can then mortar the hole or better yet use pre-made cone fillers that you epoxy in place.  This prevents the embedded ties from rusting and staining your wall.  Of course, this is yet another task I have never tackled before, so lots of research was needed to figure out the right method, the spacing of the components, and then vendors for all the parts.

I started process by sending requests to three form rental companies and learned really quick, they do not deal with cone ties.  They only supply quick strip flat ties (I will right up a technical doc explaining different options near end of forming). First vendor did not even respond (which actually happens way too many times), second one said can’t supply and provided name of places I could at least rent hardware.  Final vendor advised they would quote on providing me brand new paper face ply and then may be willing to buy it back from me when done depending on shape.  At a initial cost of about $3000 and no guarantee of buyout, I was in sticker shock. I was also going to rely on rental vendor to provide the shoring details but had no confidence they were going to give me a suitable plan.

So after wasting close to 2 days on this approach, I changed gears and looked into buying the material myself and renting the clamping hardware off my local form accessories supplier I have been using all along (EMC Form Rentals). So, after hours of web research, driving around to several job sites to observe how others did it, and finally a visit today to EMC to get the final kick in the right direction, I pulled the trigger and rented all of the clamps (single waler snap brackets and form alignment clamps), purchased the 10″ short end snap ties with cone spacers.  I then setup delivery of the Crown 43 Paper Faced 4×8 plywood and the 20′ 2×4’s for delivery first thing Tuesday AM (Monday is stat in BC). Next week will finally see the first serious progress on the build this year. Still planning to have foundations ready for inspection by the last full week of February, and maybe even earlier.

Single Waler Snap Clamp

Single Waler Snap Clamp – used to secure snap ties.

Form alignment clamps

Form alignment clamps – secure vertical alignment studs to the horizontal walers.

Rest of week was occupied with medical appointments, and my new pool regime for my prescribed hot tub shoulder exercises.  I absolutely detest the public swimming pool experience, so am quite proud that I went every day this week since starting the regime on Wednesday.

Now I am just hoping no more setbacks.  While I have been writing this, I have been crossing my fingers as we just had a mini wind storm sweep through (enough to blow out some transformers), and the tarp got a real workout.  But it came through like a champ and based on the webcam views, looks fine.  Speaking of tarp, I also spent half a day or so designing the next iteration of the B.A.T. (Big Ass Tarp).  This will be a heavily modified version of the 60’x80′ tarp I had over the site in the fall of 2014.  This one will rely on a rope grid slid through pockets in the tarp to support the whole assembly.  The last one relied on the tarp itself which puts weigh to much strain on the tarp and also considerably stretches it (last one stretched in the length direction at least 8′ over its 80′ length).  I will post a drawing once complete.

Thanks for continuing to visit my project and sharing ion my struggles. I am thrilled to advise that in 2015, I had a total of 8,715 unique visitors making 19,323 visits to the site. This level of interest has exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations. So once again – THANK YOU!

“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.” —William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Dramatist, Poet

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” —Bill Bradley (born 1943) American Hall Of Fame Basketball Player, Rhodes Scholar


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