Money Spent So Far:
$39,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far:
680 Hours on Site + Planning
For a few weeks now, the Ram has been saying, "When it comes time to pour the slab at the Momplex, I'm just going to hire someone."
And while I've never said no, the do-it-yourself spirit in me felt like if we can get this far with family helping out, why can't we pour our own slab?
Don't get me wrong, this is no easy task. The slab at the Momplex is 44 feet by 44 feet - quite large for a residential, and certainly a great challenge. Further progressing the challenge is the slab is poured inside the walls. So it's not like you can just work from the inside out, finishing the edges easily and stepping right off the slab. Pouring the slab at the Momplex is certainly an intimidating task.
And then there is the what if you screw it up thoughts. What if the slab comes out so uneven, water pools in the wrong corner every time snow melts off your car? What if doors don't quite shut right because the floor is not level? Or walls need serious shimming to make them work? You don't want to screw up a monolithic slab pour.
Yes, even we, do-it-yourselfers on our fourth major building build, were nervous about this slab pour. And when all of our attempts to hire help fell through, we were especially nervous about mud trucks on their way, and it being just us and family on the hill.
Be comforted to know that we have an amazing family full of very hardworking and talented people who showed up to help with the slab pour. We are very thankful.
When you pour a slab 44 feet wide, you can't just buy a 44 foot long 2x4 and screed the top of your slab after the pour. So in preparation for the pour, screed boards are placed with concrete stakes at the height of the finished slab. The screed boards are checked for level using a laser level. Then when you pour, you use the screed boards to determine level for the mud. Concrete is not like water, it will set up with high and low points if not properly finished.
Doorways and the garage openings are covered with blocking to keep the concrete slab inside the perimeter of the Momplex. We will later pour an apron in front of the garages, but that's a totally different day.
And despite the great expense of a pump truck, we all concluded that it would be very necessary to pouring this slab. Remember, there is 12 feet of walls around the Momplex, and a concrete truck chute would not make it to the back of the Momplex.
The Ram was okay with wheel-barrowing to save some cash, but considering all the things that could go wrong, and that we appreciate our families help (and don't want to break their backs), we decided to spend the $165 an hour. Ouch, I know. But probably not as painful as a disastrous and stressful pour, wheelbarrow full by wheelbarrow full.
The pump truck showed up early in the morning.
Here Comes the Mud!!!
Now don't I know quite a few handsome men? That's my brother-in-law Jared, the Ram's cousin, Justin, and you know Uncle Bill and Grandpa Tim already.
The concrete is on it's way!
Grandpa Tim holds the hose and pours the concrete, Uncle Bill spreads the concrete out, and Justin and Jared are screeding the concrete.
With the screed boards in place, we can work in sections, screeding one third of the slab at a time. Can you imagine trying to screed 44 feet and keep it all level?
Once the concrete is all poured and screeded, a tool called a bull float is immediately used to force down the aggregate and raise the cream. It's made of magnesium and you will want to bull float in the opposite direction of screeding.
The jitterbug or concrete tamper used to further push the aggregate downward and ensures the slab is properly consolidated.
Using the jitterbug and bull float, the concrete is worked until smooth on top. Remember, this is going to be a floor for the garage and bonus room.
We were very thankful for an overcast cool day, giving everyone more time to work on the slab. Around noon, the slab was poured and ready to be finished.
On a normal pour, finishing edges would be as simple as the footers we poured
- where you just walk around the outside edges and finish them. But with the Momplex enclosed inside the ARXX blocks, by hand the Ram finished the edges.
Once the edges are all finished, it's time to finish the inside of the slab. A power screed is basically a giant fan that sits face first on the concrete, always pulling away from you. The more the concrete sets up, the more difficult using the power screed becomes.
The power screed is what sometimes gives finished concrete the huge circular patterns.
The Ram power screeded all day.
He was pretty tired by the end of the day.
And slowly, the finished slab become more, footprints less. And to our great relief, the slab is done, and done well. Special thanks to the help of our family.
While concrete pours are the most stressful and expensive days at the Momplex, they also mean we get a few days off from working afterwards. Because you can't work on the slab when it's still curing. I guess even concrete has a silver - or at least gray - lining.
PS - does anyone else think this photo looks like the Momplex without walls? Just the freshly poured slab?
Not even close.
There's no competing with nature.