I made a trip to the site to watch the excavator break ground. This was April 28. The site was staked and ready to go. Here is the site on the eve of ground breaking.
Posts under ‘2. The Site, Excavation, and Foundation’
Footings are the roughly one-foot thick slabs of concrete on which the foundation walls of the house rest. They are designed to be large enough to distribute the weight of the house onto the excavated soil surface such that the soil does not collapse from the load. As a practical matter they tend to be 20-72 inches wide depending on what part of the house they support. They usually need to be 24-48 inches below the ground surface (depending on region) to be below the frost line.
Placing the footings is a pretty remarkable thing to watch. A crew of 8 (Stone Construction) arrived at 7am and they left around 6pm. With another two hours of work the next morning to strip the forms and pack up, I had completed footings.
This not a fussy construction task. They take a trailer full of lumber and hammer it together in the rough shape they’re after. They pump the forms full of concrete, and then trowel the top surface to a snapped line, which defines the top surface of the footing. The foundation walls are then built on top of these troweled surfaces. The photos tell the story.
This week we got the foundation installed, the damp-proofing and insulation in place, the footing drains installed, and the sub-slab rough plumbing placed. We’re now ready for the lower-level slab to be poured (with the hydronic tubing for heat installed within the slab).
Here are the photos of the foundation and related steps.
The flatwork guy (Gough Concrete) poured the lower-level slab on Thursday and saw-cut the control joints on Friday. I stopped by on Saturday to take a look. We used a 2% mix of Solomon liquid color, which they call “smoke.” It’s just right. The tint is significantly darker than natural concrete, but still comes across as gray, not black. This color in this concentration costs $39 per cubic yard of concrete. Given that the mud itself only costs $110 per yard, that’s pretty significant. However, given that for this I get a finished floor, I consider the tinted concrete a bargain. This floor cost $5.40 per square foot for everything (#4 rebar, pump truck, concrete, tinting, placing the concrete, finishing the concrete, coating with an acrylic sealer, and saw cuts). This did not include the 15 mil vapor barrier and the under-slab insulation, which my plumbing and heating guy did.
Minor detail: the gas supply. This requires a contractor to the gas company installing a line (shown below). Then the gas company installs a meter (in my case by a friendly guy smoking a cigar…really, a smoking gas line guy…wonder how long he’s been doing it?). They made a mess…so I ended up working with a spade and bucket to fix the driveway before the concrete guy comes.
Of course no one has any money at the end of the job…so the landscapers kind of have to make do. My guys (Sierrascape Landscaping) did nice work over 2 – 1/2 days in early November. They built three nice retaining walls, created a rock-lined drainage ditch around the property, installed a 5-foot wide border of river stone on the ground under the roof line, spread top soil over the site, and seeded it with “cabin mix,” a high-altitude meadow grass. We’re hoping that come spring, this seed will germinate and return the landscape back to nature, approximately.