A little progress each day adds up to big results.”

-Author Unknown

Advice:

-Make sure your contractor goes over all plans for the basement walls with the concrete foreman. This would include the location and height of all egress windows, doors, etc. If possible, attend this meeting on-site.

-After the walls have been formed, but prior to the pouring of concrete, double-check the location and height of all windows and doors. This could save you some major headaches later.

Our story…

Once the footer crew finished forming and pouring the footers for the basement walls, it was now time for the concrete company to fill the basement area and the drainage tile with 6” of pea gravel. The purpose of the pea gravel fill is to provide a base for the poured basement floor and more importantly for drainage purposes. Any water that comes up beneath the basement slab or from the ground beside the basement walls will find its way into the gravel and into the perforated drainage tile that leads to the sump pits.

On Thursday, the concrete company ordered the stone for the basement. It was delivered on trucks with “stone slingers.” These are trucks with conveyor belt shoots on the back. Once fired up, trucks were able to shoot the stone from the driveway area to the farthest corner of the basement 80’+ away. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there for this step. These trucks make it a lot easier that having to dump loads of stone in the driveway and then move into the basement with an excavator. With the stone in place, the next step would be for the crews to start forming the basement walls.

Gravel in basement from “stone slinger.”

I contacted Eric (concrete company contact) after the stone installation and requested that he let me know in advance when the crew would be out to form the walls. He thought it would be sometime the following week with the forecast of rain. On Tuesday of the following week, I hadn’t heard anything from Eric so I decided to drive out and check on the site after finishing some appointments. To my surprise, the forms had been delivered and a crew was on site working.


Forms delivered in racks and set into basement. Workers begin installing the forms.

I called Keith to let him know of the progress and Eric to see when he thought they would actually be pouring the walls. He requested that we all meet on site Wednesday morning to discuss the window and door placement. Keith, Eric and I met on-site the next morning at 10:00 to discuss the plans. We looked at the basement print and discussed our desired height and placement for the windows and door. Eric drew a picture of our requests and had us approve. Eric stated it would take the rest of the day for them to finish with the forms and that they would hopefully pour the walls tomorrow. I requested that he let me know what time they would start pouring as I wanted to be there to observe part of the process. Our meeting concluded and Eric took the print to the foreman on site with our instructions.

On Thursday morning, I received a text message from Eric saying that they would be calling for concrete at noon. I headed to the site at noon excited to see some action. I was going to call Michelle once they started so she could see the process also. However, once I arrived, I found all the crews asleep in their trucks. I walked around and took some pictures. It was interesting to look into the forms to see the way the metal rebar was laid on the form ties for support in the walls. I also saw the way they put blocks of wood in certain areas to “block out” specific points for the future installation of garage door tracks.

Rebar resting on wall ties for support in poured wall.
Blocking ind the forms for garage service door.

After killing time for 30 minutes, I went and knocked on the window of a sleeping worker. I attempted to ask what was going on. After being directed to another worker with the required communication skills, I learned that they were waiting for the county inspector to arrive. The inspector had to approve the installation of the rebar in the forms before the concrete could be ordered. I spent the next two hours trying to unclog the water pump in the pit that was continually clogging with pea gravel, sediment, and muck. I had to leave around 2:30 with still no sign of the inspector.

I received a text around 4:00 that the inspector finally arrived and approved the job. I asked if it was too late at this point to pour concrete and was told the concrete order had already been called in. Harrison and I went back around 5:00 to find a flurry of activity.

The pumper truck was getting set up in the driveway. The concrete crew was setting up lights as it would soon be dark and the concrete trucks were starting to form a long line in the street. Within 20 minutes the first truck was shooting his concrete into the back of the pumper. As with the footer pour, the pumper truck operator was standing away from his truck controlling the action with a complex remote control. It took five workers from the concrete company to make it all happen.

Pumper truck operator using his remote control to guide the boom.

The first worker was guiding the flexible end of the shoot from the pumper truck to fill the forms with concrete.

Two workers that were installing vertical pieces of rebar. One worker on the ground was handing it to another worker who was walking the top of the wall. They would shove a 9′ piece of rebar down into the wall approximately every four feet.

Another worker was coming behind them to trial the top of the wall. He would trial off any excess concrete and then smooth it out.

Finally, the final worker, who was waiting a couple minutes until the concrete started to set, was inserting bolts into the top of the wall approximately every three feet. These are the bolts Keith would later be using to fasten the sill plates to the concrete walls.

I had to leave after about an hour at which point they had almost half of the walls poured. It was interesting to see the constant arrival and departure of the concrete trucks. At one point there were 7 of them on site. With the hot water, calcium carbonate, and additional concrete added to the mix (remember those winter costs?!?), the concrete would be set up by the next day and the workers would be “wrecking” the forms.


The next day (Friday) I went back out to check the progress after some morning appointments. They had unfastened all of the form sections and were starting to remove the panels. Everything was looking great until… The removal of the forms allowed us to see that both egress window openings were incorrect. Instead of being in the middle of the wall approximately 36” off of the footers, they had formed them at the very top of the walls. This was now going to be an issue to address and fix in the next few days before anything else could take place. Regardless of the screw-up, it was exciting to see the footprint of our house starting to take shape.

Forms wrecked and back in the racks awaiting pick-up.