Day 26 - Pouring the Slab / by eric teran

6:43 a.m. and I get a call from Jose this morning as I was eating a sad breakfast as Daniela calls it. A slice of bread with peanut butter and a half filled glass of water. Some would agree with Daniela. At first I was worried about Jose call and that he would not make it to the pour this morning. However, he just needed me to call the hardware store to buy some materials. Yesterday the inspector requested that chairs be provided for the metal wire. The chairs lift up the wire mesh so that it is not resting on the bottom of the concrete or floats to the top. Wire/rebar has to always be encased with at least 2" by concrete. Remind me to tell you one day about the wire in the slab in our Amazon Jungle House in Ecuador. This is to protect it from water and any unnecessary damage.

Those long looking things are the chairs. The help the wire mesh be a few inches off the ground. The wire mesh is tied to them so they don't float up in the concrete.

I arrived at the site with Pedro a little before 8:00 am and see the team running to get everything ready for the concrete. I ordered 23 cubic yards (CU YDS) of concrete. At least that is what my computer calculations told me to order. Each truck carries 9 CU YDS of concrete so three cement trucks were to arrive. However the third cement truck is special in that the concrete materials (Water/Cement/Aggregates) are mixed on site. This allows for an exact order. For example I might only need 21.4 CU YDS of concrete and would only be charged for that 3.4 used on this truck. The typical cement truck arrives at the site premixed so if I order 6 CU YDS and only use 3.4 CU YDS I will pay for the full 6 CU YDS. Each CU YDS cost about $130. It turns out I only used 16 CU YDS. I didn't even use the last truck and I wasted 2 CU YDS of concrete or $256. I need to do better calculations. 

Jose and the guys got a good back workout spreading the concrete around. The concrete goes on top of a plastic called a vapor barrier which in turn lies on top of 2" of Rigid Insulation providing the slab with even temperature which sits on top of 4"-6" of compacted gravel which helps the underground water stay away from the slab.

Jose leveling the slab. Each stud along the wall is marked with a chalk line and every 5' in each direction they place rebar at the correct slab height.


Pedro and I watched the first truck offload. Very exciting! Jose and his team were in for a work out. We could have used a pump to place the concrete but to rent the pump run about $750 a day! Jose offered to do it the manly way. I will definitely be using Jose on my next project. Pedro loved watching the concrete fall into place. At first he was confused as to why it wasn't white. As we stood on the Superior Wall holding hands to keep our balance Pedro proudly stated, "What a wonderful day to be a construction worker!" Those special moments are priceless or at least the price of a house!

Watching concrete slide down a chute onto your basement floor as we balance on the wall is a lot more fun than watching paint dry or grass grow!

They started the concrete around 8:30 and finish three hours later. Good job for only three guys!