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Posted by Mary in PA on 8/8/2010

During excavation, I had been in contact with the mason several times on when he could start as I knew he had a lot of jobs going and I wanted updates on the schedule. Early on the day the excavator was set to do trenching, the mason called me regarding the predicted thunderstorms that night. He asked if I could lay a piece of plastic in the trench to minimize mud problems for tomorrow when they started. On my way to the site I picked up some plastic, now being familiar with every home center, building supply, farm supply and hardware store between home and the building site. When the excavator finished digging the trench, I started to work on my trench-laminating task. The mason had only asked for me to cover the bottom of the trench but the plastic came in sheets much wider than that. However, Mother Nature had other plans, because I had only been working a few minutes when it started to rain at a good clip. So rather than take the time to cut the plastic down, I decided to just lay it in the trench, and up the side walls and weight it to the compacted pad with scrounged-up rocks. When I climbed out of my nicely protected trench, I was probably the dirtiest I had ever been. But the plastic worked well and captured several inches of water in the bottom of the trench.


The next day, the mason lifted the plastic sheeting from one end of the trench to the other to force the water to drain out a side channel. That dry trench meant they could get right to work setting the rebar rather than scraping mud off the bottom first - a good thing, because I had prearranged with the building inspector to stop by at 11:30 to review the rebar prior to the footing pour that afternoon.


That was my first face to face with the inspector. He checked the rebar, talked with the mason for moment, and then we chatted for a few minutes. I also got answers to several questions I had listed for when I met him. All in all, friendly, professional and productive.


When I was first planning the construction of the farm shop, I was very tempted to put the footing pour on our list of To-Dos to save labor costs. But after having had a chance to see the setup and witness the pour, I was very glad we were not doing it. First off, I learned a lot seeing how the mason tied the rebar, did the step-down and put in references for the footer height. And working in the trench to get the concrete at the correct depth and screeded before it set up looked to be very hard physical work. I could see that the concrete-truck driver and mason were experienced and knew their tasks, even though they had never worked together before. It was a great learning experience.

Will we do the footers for the house? Not sure. Have to think it over.


Masons remove/drain plastic cover.
Masons check our 'top of block' reference height.
Detail of step-down in footer
Detail of vertical rebar to guide desired height of concrete during pour
Get ready
Working very hard
Scrub-and-wash TLC for truck after pour.

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