Monday, May 24, 2010

Yay for More Footings

The day finally came when all the new house footings are in and placed! I mean this is just the house, there's still the garage footings. Anyways - we're thrilled! The spouse and son went to the lot today and took photographs. I'm still boycotting the job during work hours so as to not create a distraction. Maybe?

Actually I've been stalking the site in the off hours waiting to see this day come more than anything. I mean it's great and all to see the intermediate steps of the reinforcing bar getting set and such within the formwork and boards - but come on! I like the concrete! And what's even better is getting news that the framer is going to be starting after Memorial Day!

There's still more concrete work to be done: stem walls and then the cantilever deck....

More Footings

It's time for more footings. The concrete contractors are building forms for the east walls. All's good. I've come to the conclusion that the less talk, the better. We're all in a safe zone of doing our jobs...My job is to stay off site and just dare anybody to call me with "issues."

A Retaining Wall

It's been a while since the slurry and soils solution was hatched for the east portion of the foundations. That whole episode basically drained me for excitement. I just wanted the contractors to get on with the work already and stop quibbling about the height of the slopes!

Fortunately, more action was taking place with the west side of the lot. Within a week of the slurry job, the concrete blocks for the retaining were stacked and set. Now we have a permanent wall. And at long last, the project is taking shape upwards - giving us some volume!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Foundation Walls

Well, despite my reservations about the concrete subcontractor's bid, I still like their finished work to date. Here's a sample of their work in photos.

Digging and Filling

So all the excitement over the change order had us back up and re-evaluate the concrete subcontractor's method for building our concrete footings.

The foundation plan at the east walls was to build deepened footings with tall cast in place walls in places. However, the height of the cast concrete wouldn't exactly be known until we had dug down to an area of natural soil called "formational." This formational soil is the base of where the house footings sit per our soils consultant information and recommendations. Granted, we had some idea of the depth of this - but the depth actually exceeded our assumptions by about 36". In the end, we had dug a 36" wide by 60" deep trench along the eastern edge of foundations to get to good dirt, but the cost of those extra three feet far exceeded what we expected.

When we got the change order, the concrete subcontractors gave us a blanket statement that a cost increase was due because of heightened cast concrete and larger footings. Yeah, but how did they get to that cost increase?

It became clear that our concrete subcontractors had overlooked the plans and the soils report which indicated a footing depth that was required to be at least 7' measured horizontally to "daylight" of the existing slope face. In talking with them, they at times said the soils report "didn't matter" or that they anticipated the footing would be typically 18" below grade... a total denial of reality. This kind of talk was mind blowing to me. That basically meant that overlooked not just three feet high of additional concrete - but something more like six feet! In volume, that meant about 200 cubic yards of pure high strength concrete that needed to be accounted for. In the subcontractor's mind, that meant 30% additional cost to their bid.

After settling down and talking with Mr. Builder, we both determined that the change order wasn't going to be agreed to at all. The only problem was finding a cheaper solution to our trench problem.

Fortunately for us, Mr. Builder is resourceful and remembered some earlier discussions about using slurry concrete to "connect" with the solid formational soil that our footings are supposed to rest on. Slurry concrete is cheap, rough and gravely - not pretty or attractive, but it gets the job done of acting like compacted soil which most footings typically sit on. In addition, slurry can excavated in a manner similar to compacted soils. Our soils engineer likes it too.

Within a week of getting hit with show stopping change order, we have poured slurry and are making new progress.