A Post About Posts

The first half of the post installation went very smoothly. We got off to a late-ish start, but it wasn't as if there was any rush. Of course, it does happen to be the hottest day of the year so far today (about 80F), but we never let a little warm weather get in the way of backbreaking heavy labour.

In the morning, Noel went to Home Depot to get concrete. I had gone there last night, but it was a case of shopping while female, because the floor staff refused to bring a pallet of concrete down to the floor level for me, complaining that I would need them to load it on my cart and then into my car and they'd rather not. I'd be outraged, but that sort of thing happens about half the time when I try to buy building materials at Home Depot, which is why I am not a huge fan of the chain. So this morning I sent Noel over to get concrete because presumably they would be willing to sell it to a man. (He had no difficulty.)

Once we had all our stuff assembled, we set up lines to show us the top height of each post, and the front face. We did each post completely, so rather than dig all the holes at once, we went through the entire process for each post, which worked well. It did mean taking down the lines every time we dug a hole, but that was not all that difficult.

The concrete mixer has been totally worth the pain and suffering we underwent trying to figure out how to assemble it. Concrete work is always hard work, so mixing by hand is just adding more hard work to a difficult day. Rent or buy a concrete mixer, folks, and save your backs.

Noel mixing concrete for a post hole

We tried to fig the holes as tightly as possible, but there are limits. In the end, it required more than a single 60-lb sack of concrete for each hole.

Post in the hole

In one of the holes, we encountered a mystery chunk of wood, and had to get out the Sawzall. It turned out to be a felled tree lying on its side.

Digging holes with a Sawzall

I don't think the post-hole digger would have gone through that, even with a lot of muscle throwing it.

Great big chunk of tree

And here they are: six of the seven posts for the back fence. The boards you see there are propping up the fence to keep it out of our way. And the posts are five feet on center so this will be a very sturdy fence. It's going to have to hold itself and the other fence up, after all.

Nice straight fence posts

We have five more posts to install, to make the fence around the chicken yard.

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posted by ayse on 04/12/08


that sort of thing happens about half the time when I try to buy building materials at Home Depot, which is why I am not a huge fan of the chain.

That really sucks. I assume you went to the Home Depot just over the Fruitvale Bridge (in Oakland, next to I-880, between Fruitvale and High St.)... I absolutely hate that store; the staff ranges from lazy to downright incompetent. I've had much better luck with the one a little further down I-880, at Davis St. in San Leandro (near the Costco). Worth the drive, when you need their help for something. I only shop at the first one when I know exactly what I need and where to find it, and won't need their help with it.

Looks great! I do have a very nice guest room and there' lots of things to and see here. I'd only charge you, oh, six post holes? Really much cheaper than the Hyatt.

FYI - I own stock in Home Depot. I just fired off an angry missive to their investor relations people. I'd sure like my stock to hold value and dorky employees are not helping. Grr.

Here's a nifty post setting trick I got from a landscape contractor. Dig the hole 6" to 8" deeper than you need. Use river or pea gravel to get your post to the correct height. Don't mix the concrete, just pour it in and tamp it down as you go. The moisture from the soil will harden the concrete. I tried it and it worked great with 4x and 6x posts. We left our bracing up for 24 hours here in the midwest, that was 7 yrs ago, and it's still fine. I'll bet your happy when you don't have to look at the old fence anymore.

Brent, that's the Home Depot, near Fruitvale. I knew I was going to be filling the car up too much to drive very far (I believe I had obstructed my view enough that it was already a violation of something). I pretty much never go to any Home Depot wanting any kind of real help, anyway. But they always manage to be even more obnoxious than I was expecting. Something about a small woman makes the guys in the building materials lose their minds.

For the record, lots of contractors do the same thing, and it's one way we choose not to hire somebody. It's a good indicator of whether the contractor is likely to be blind to other non-obvious things they encounter.

Kitt, keep trying.

Elaine, this is nothing new. So if they've managed to hold value for this long while not selling concrete to women, they're hardly going anywhere soon.

Jim, I've always been really wary of the dry-concrete trick. Mostly because it requires a lot more bracing than I like to bother with. And yes, I will be overjoyed to not have to look at that mess.

Or try Lowe's -- they're national sponsors of Habitat for Humanity's "Women Build" program. Hopefully that attitude is reflected at the individual store level as well.

Lowe's is MUCH better, in attitude and also in general management. Unfortunately, the nearest store on this side of the Bay is Union City, and that's really far to travel with the car loaded to capacity.

If I'd been sensible, I would have just gone a bit further and gone to Economy Lumber, which is also nearby and is generally good natured about both the concept of women as constructors and also the comical overloading of the compact passenger vehicle. I don't know if they carry concrete, though.

Too bad about the bad attitudes at HD...

Your post brings back memories of last summer, building our fence. We dug them a little big, so we had to use 1.5 bags per hole... sigh!

The High St Home Despot is pretty bad. But I have had super good luck in the electrical isle. Two guys where working it, asking me if I needed help AND they knew what the heck they were talking about!! I know I was shocked!!

Economy Lumber does sell crete. They have a bunch of empty bags in a display and you just point to the one you want and say, '10 bags'. They load it into your car for you also as SOP.

But...why you loading concrete into a passenger car? Don't y'all have a pickup truck? If not feel free to borrow our humoungous truck 'Big Bertha'.

I do like the guys at Economy Lumber. And I like doing business with local businesses. I wish they were open on Sundays, though, because for whatever reason we always want to go get materials on Sunday mornings.

As for us borrowing Big Bertha, we may just take you up on that. As long as we don't have to repay you by helping remove old rats' nests.

I just discovered this weekend that Ashby Lumber, shockingly, is open on Sundays.

I don't discount your interpretation of HD, but my experience is that the staff at every store (I mostly go to Emeryville) is about 40% unhelpful and 60% understaffed. It gets much worse at night.

No, we have no more rats nests!!! None I tell you!!! None!!!
Course we wouldn't be against taking any extra fruit-veggies-eggs off your hands as payment ;)

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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