It's August 2007 and now comes the job to remove those
STRIPPING: August 1st - 5th - And we thought it would take 2 days... we're on the 5th day of "stripping" the forms away! The main difficulty was removing the 2x6s that were part of the footer forms; partially embedded in concrete and jammed into corners, they needed to be cut and pried with a lot of sweat and might and determination. We're also de-nailing as we go and sorting and stacking lumber to reuse throughout the project.
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5th - We are going to be done stripping today! We get the excavator delivered today which we will use tomorrow to get as much clay dumped back into the foundation as a base to then fill with sand, which we get delivered Thursday. Tuesday through Friday we will rent a compactor to compact it down in between each lift. All this to ready for the slab to be poured on the 17th. We took it easy yesterday to give our hands a rest as they were aching from so much pounding and prying. We went to a few garage sales and found some wonderful old tools from a gentleman down the street. You could tell by his workshop that he took great care and pride in his work. We picked up a bit for a brace we had and after Thomas explained how it worked and I hand-drilled out a hole (how cool was that!) in a 1x4, we thought we should go back to see if the box of bits and another old brace would still be there - so at 6pm we hopped on our bikes (overalls and all) and headed back. Sure enough we missed out as everything had been sold... but we got to meet the gentleman's wife and share with her our appreciation of having the tools that we did purchase. She was gracious and kind and glad that the tools found a good home and will continue to be used and cherished.
August 6th to 8th: We filled in part of the trench and moved the clay from
pile to pile until we had it inside each designated area. Then we had to
spread it by hand with the help of a wheelbarrow. It was a little
disconcerting putting the clay back into the foundation but Laura took
regular samples to insure we were transferring clay and not topsoil. When
they are dry its hard to tell them apart but put water on them and it
becomes obvious. Getting the compactor transferred inside the foundation
walls and from area to area also took a little ingenuity. Since we are
little people in our "prime" of life :-) we need to use brains
instead of brawn wherever possible. The teeter-totter worked wonderfully
and allowed us to drag the 200 pound tamper over the walls easily. We had
to keep the clay dry to compact it and that made for a very dusty job.
August 9th: Before the sand arrived we had to place the P-2000 foil insulation on the inside of all the exterior foundation walls. Since they would later be used by the finishers to level the slab we taped the edges and levelled the panels while holding them in place with a little clay. Then we placed 1x6 boards on top of the foundation walls to protect the panels from the sand to be slung over them. Taping the joints and overlapping the interior walls to reduce the thermal break gave us a good seal all around. At first we were nervous about being able to compact the sand between loads. We would receive 5 truckloads with 14 tons of sand each and only have 45 minutes or so to compact the sand between loads. It was important to compact the sand in layers or "lifts" no more than six to eight inches deep. However by the time the slinger arrived with the first load we were used to the compactor and had lots of practice skidding it over the walls. Compacting the sand turned out to be relatively easy. We had to hustle but it wasn't a problem keeping up as long as we kept the sand good and moist.
We even had some time to play. Laura could not resist the temptation of making a "sand-angel" as we waited for the last load to arrive. Calculating the sand was a little tricky but having put the clay in below made it easier to measure the size of the cavity accurately. It turned out we had a perfect amount left over to help with laying water pipe and other projects later. It also never hurts to mix sand with the left over clay. In fact one of the benefits of keeping all our fill is that in the process of mixing it all up we turn one foot of topsoil on top of hardpan clay into a lush loose mixture of topsoil two feet deep. What a blessing that will be for the garden and the orchard.
August 11 to 13th: No sooner did we have all the sand packed in place when it was time to dig portions of it up again. By keeping the sand moist and using a little trenching shovel I got from my brother-in-law we were able to dig vertical neat trenches to place all the under-slab waste plumbing. We took extra special care to measure and cut precisely since this plumbing will be encased under the slab. Of course we also hydrostatically tested the fittings and had the building inspector sign off on it before we covered it all back up.
August 14th and 15th: After having made such an effort to tamp the sand properly it seemed silly to just dump the loose sand back into the ditches. Besides we wanted to make sure that the plumbing was well supported and would not be under any stress or subject to movement under that slab. So we replaced the sand in 2" lifts and carefully tamped each layer manually. This involved a tamping stick with a little 3" x 3" plate on the bottom and a lot of foot stomping late into the night. Not realizing the toll this was taking on my back I got up early, while Laura was taking care of paperwork and connecting with suppliers, to start leveling and grading the sand. I felt the pressure of the pour day and was keen to get ahead of it. I even skipped my morning Thai-Chi routine.
August 16th and 17th: This turned out to be a bad judgment call. By the afternoon of the 15th my back went into severe spasm and I was totally incapacitated. This left Laura to finish the preparation for the pour by herself. She called the contractor back for some assistance with the heavy lifting but then she worked the whole day and through the night of the 16th to grade the patio slope, lay the poly, place the rebar and tie it with wire. By 2am on the 17th I was able to move enough to provide My Love with some food and sustenance and help in a small way by cutting the wire ties and giving her words of encouragement. As the cement truck rolled up we placed our last block of wood to support the 2x4s we had placed as protection of our aluminium flashing.
There was not even enough time to stand and admire the beautiful job Laura did with her tenacious insurance before the concrete started to pour all over her work. Nevertheless she felt empowered by the experience that she could draw on her inner strength and skill to complete the job on her own and facilitate the successful pour of our new slab. The fact that Laura's mother and sister stopped by to admire the progress just added to her euphoria.
August 17th and 18th: It was done. The slab was poured. The aluminums flashing on the patio was imbedded beautifully where it would provide lasting protection to the bottom plates. We will keep the protective framing around it in place until we start framing. Although the weather threatened rain, the angels held it off until the concrete was cured a bit. Then it poured to help us keep the concrete moist. We hosed it off every couple of hours after the rains stopped to make sure it cured good and hard. In between I did my best to be productive by scraping the green concrete off the foundation walls and around the forms to make for a fine finish.
Then it was time for a break... and the timing was good...
I flew back East to be with my Kindred Spirit Deanna as she went through some surgery in Toronto - so I stayed with her there (in the hotel and hospital) from Monday 20th til Friday the 24th. It was wonderful to "be" with her and also be able to see her "boys" and Don as they came down from Orillia to visit. I then saw family over the weekend, which was great as it had been about three years since I was back East. I flew back home on the Monday. Thomas spent some time over at the cottage taking care of things there - tending the gardens, staining the east wall of the cottage, painting the new entrance fence of the "rose garden" and other puttering jobs and reconnecting with his space there!
The day after we both got home we decided to
head out on the boat for an overnight at Portland Island, one of our
favourite anchorages close by. France and Michele happened to be there as
well, so we met ashore the next morning and had a wonderful hike around
the island. Nice to connect with friends in such a wonderful
We felt refreshed and ready to get back to work on the house!! Looking forward to another exciting month!
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