Twist and pour

Yes, I wish this post was about drinking beer… May be a beer would have helped!

This was the day of the porch footings concrete pour – a busy day. I started out by lining the form work with a 6 mil polyethylene sheet. It should act like a damp proof, minimizing the potential for soil moisture rising up into the footings and ultimately the foundation wall.

Next I put back the horizontal rebar I had laid out the day before. To tie the future foundation wall to the footing, I had a 48 L-shaped rebar section. I attached the 12 inch horizontal leg (the short leg) to the already placed rebar, with the 18 inch leg (the long leg) rising vertically from the footings.

These vertical legs need to lign up with the center of the future foundation wall. But keeping them in line and vertical proved to be rather challenging, and we ended up constantly adjusting them during and right after the concrete pour.

I had rented a concrete vibrator to make sure the concrete would flow nicely, fill all the nooks and crevices, and to remove air bubbles or air pockets. We screened the top of the footing to make sure it was level and finished the job by troweling a key along the vertical rebar legs. The key will help with the mechanical connection between the foundation wall and footing.

The twist

The process wasn’t nearly as smooth as it may appear in the above narrative or time lapse.

My problems started with the concrete truck arriving slightly early with me not being quite ready. Plus the truck was huge – or to be more precise – very long. We had an excellent driver and he made it into the narrow alley. But swivelling the truck into the back yard eluded us, despite trying for a good 30 minutes.

We finally had to dig out the fence post next to the gate, which gave us an opening large enough for the truck to make it into the yard and back up to the job site. We were ready to pour, when I twisted my ankle – and I twisted it good!

I had to sit down for a minute to contemplate my options, of which there was really only one: A $1,000 mass of concrete sitting in a truck that needed to be poured. So I got back up on my legs and started limping around as best as I could.

Our neighbor William saved the day by taking over the heavy lifting and basically running the show. I would have been in dire straights without him.

Thank God I didn’t untie my boot when I twisted my ankle! Once I did at the end of the job, there wasn’t even any limping around anymore. Cathy hauled me to the emergency room where I learned that it was a bad sprain and that I’d earned at least two weeks of forced vacation.


That footing will be tied to fond memories forever!

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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