We're Getting Awfully Good at Foundations

So last night we borrowed a truck from our neighbors, and this morning we drove to Economy Lumber to get concrete. Can I say how much nicer an experience this is than Home Depot? We were talking to the guy behind the counter about concrete ties and he actually treated me like a human being (and seemed to understand right away that I was the one who understood construction, not Noel). And the guys out in the yard were smiling and laughing. We paid more for the concrete than at Home Depot, but we got more than just concrete. Worth it.

Anyway, we came home with this:

Palletload of concrete in the truck

Which is all fine and well in the driveway, but we actually needed to get it to the back of the yard. Fourteen backbreaking barrowloads later, we had a nice big stack of concrete sacks out by the chicken yard. The lawn sprinklers are due to go off at 5am tomorrow, so we turned those off as a safeguard.

Concrete hauled to the back yard

With the concrete moved to the back of the yard (and don't get me wrong: that was half the day's work right there), I moved on to hacking away the sod with the adze. I'd brought the chickens out to play in their yard while we moved the concrete, and in short order they proved themselves to be much better than dogs at getting right underfoot while I was working. The thing is, the adze would turn up bugs and grubs and all kinds of things, so they were darting at it and in and around my feet.

Chickens interfering

That was fun and cute but not terribly helpful, so the chickens went inside, and we looped up the bottom of the chickenwire fence to get access to the sod under there. The sod removal went fairly quickly, because the area is pretty small (about nine feet by six feet).

Noel hacking out sod

Then we built formwork. Because we'd squared up and aligned the posts for the fence when we built it, getting the shed foundation square and level was really fast. We'd measure our diagonals and they'd just be right the first time, which is pretty much unheard-of.

Making formwork

We're building the slab right up to the posts, though we'll make the walls themselves a little in from that in order to accommodate the siding. Because this is a shed with no casework or complicated interior finishes, being perfectly square and level is not really a requirement, but I don't want it to be a total mess. I think we have the formwork nicely squared, and I know it's level, so we'll be good tomorrow when we place the concrete.

We've made some substantial design changes from our first (and second)(and third) design, mostly to make a smaller shed while having a decent-sized and shaped space for the chicken house part. When we laid out the foundation last weekend, it was eight feet by nine, and stuck about three feet into the yard. We shrank it to six by nine, and pulled back to have only one foot of bumpout into the yard. This looks a bit nicer to me, and I'm happier with a smaller shed both for cost and aesthetic reasons. I'd considered taking some of that width off the back and giving the chickens more room in their yard, but decided instead to give them access to the whole yard all the time as a compromise. I can still close them off from one half while working there to keep them out of trouble.

This formwork has been inspected by dog #2

Tomorrow we will be preparing the bottom of the slab site by raking and leveling the surface, spreading gravel for drainage and putting down a plastic layer as a moisture barrier, then reinforcing mesh, and finally placing concrete (which will be the majority of the work). Don't ever let anybody tell you we don't know how to have fun.

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posted by ayse on 05/09/08