Friday, November 16, 2018

Back on some feet

While the foundation dries for the porch dries, I got to prep out some other stuff. First, I got the strongback back on some feet, and rebuilt the sawhorses that fell down over Hurricane Michael.

Hanging in there


Rare photo of the kids being reasonable

with Kelley
After it cured, I got to layout a dry fit of the blocks. This dry fit is very important to get your first course exactly square and to be sure you sized the slab & the vertical rebar properly. Pro's don't need to do it, but first timers like me - I learned a lot from the dry fit that could not have been corrected afterwards.

Got a pretty straight line there but had to pull a string to be sure



First 2 blocks are in!
yes I used the chalk marking paint again to identify EXACTLY where the lines should be to keep the bottom course straight and square. Again this is critical - don't start against the house and work out. This is a freestanding structure to support the porch weight. Start with a corner. Get one corner exactly square, get the line from that corner perpendicular to the house - perfectly perpendicular. And be very exact about this one corner, everything else will fall in line if this is done right.

From there I worked a straight line back towards the house for 4 more blocks (5 and a half total in that side), then down to the other outside corner. After you get the first 2 blocks perfect, all you have to do is stay straight off of those lines and keep the first course level on all sides. The rest is easy.

Made it back to the house

That last vertical was in a bad place - a crooked line

The long side stayed pretty straight

Getting the 2nd course down quick
So after I got the first course down, I can establish the running bond and the rest of the courses can go up with some expediency. The blocks are about 34 lbs each, so I have to mix the mortar pretty stiff to hold that up while it dries. I'm filling in (called grouting, I learned) the cores where the vertical rebar is, and I need to add more verticals so I dropped some 2' long rebar in there too. I started the second course against the house on the high side of the porch with a half block (8x8x8) and the pattern is off to the races. They are too heavy to stack on top, so I'm mixing 2 bags of mortar at a time (60 lbs each from Lowe's - just add water no extra sand or anything needed). this stuff is great - but again I have to keep it thick.

Time is the problem here. If I'm lucky I get 6 bags mixed on a saturday, and that's it. Maybe a couple of bags done after work before the time change when there is still daylight after work. but there is not enough time for me to plow through this masonry! I'm loving it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Time to mix and pour

The digging is done, trench is solid, and it's time for some fun. Kelley and I rented a concrete mixer for this one. I knew the width was right, and I needed to level out a 6" slab 14" wide for the foundation. Finally after all of this demo, digging, and destruction it's time to build something new! I started by marking the lines clearly on both sides of the trench, then mixing and pouring concrete for the foundation. Sink rebar in there and it's not going anywhere.

52 bags of concrete 80lbs each

Mark the lines clearly

on both sides of the trench

be sure everything stays level



all the way around


Here's the mixer we rented

Proof - getting a 6" slab on solid ground

ok, deeper than 6" sometimes. but it's a level line.
With everything clearly marked, we can start mixing. Pro tip: put about half of the water you need before you start adding the concrete. 80 lb bags are hard to lift up that high, and if you don't add water first it takes forever for it to mix. So of course we started with 5 bags of concrete and no water. That took forever.

The pour creeps like lava

Keep it smooth and level, add rebar while it's still wet

The rebar is 4' long and can only be 32" above the level concrete

She has a concrete mustache

with a full mixer



I'm finishing the last bit of the foundation

This rebar ended up in a really wrong place

Can't even see that orange line anymore? mostly



The damn cat found my wet concrete

ready to lay some block

all gone! Time for mortar
In the end, it took 43 bags (80 lbs each) in the mixer to pour that foundation. I threw the other 9 bags into the shed, I'll need them to form a brick shelf after I get the block and floor finished off. This part of the project came out level and smooth. I put in 4' long rebar verticals, but I'm only laying 4 courses of block above this foundation. So only 32" could hang above the finished surface of the concrete. That means those verticals extend all the way through the wet concrete and anchor the foundation into the solid ground. I need to leave the foundation at least 48 hours to cure before I start laying block on top of it.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Hurricane Michael and My Moat

Hurricane Florence was pretty devastating for the NC coast, no doubt. An hour east of Raleigh and those guys were in a world of hurt. But Florence didn't really have any effect on my area of the state. I had some debris, maybe a limb, mostly I just had to rake the yard like I'm going to have to do again when the leaves fall. Hurricane Michael actually had a much bigger impact on us, after it came up from the gulf of Mexico. The winds were really sever, and it dumped a TON of rain.

I finished digging the ditch the day before the hurricane hit. It quickly turned my ditch into a 2' deep moat!

The last part of the ditch

Long side, finally at depth

That's a mighty ditch


Ready to dry fit those blocks


During the hurricane


In other porch supply updates AND hurricane news, we have supplies! Kelley was out at a Habitat for Humanity re-store when she found some brick. I had budgeted $600 for bricks for the porch based on online estimates for quantity (750) but she found 1000 bricks at the store for only $200. This is an amazing deal! They came on 3 pallets, and we stacked them up next to the boat.


It was the easiest place to put them
Then Hurricane Michael came through. The only real casualty was the custom short sawhorses that were holding up the strongback. 2 out of the 3 of them collapsed! Eventually I did pull them out and rebuild, but the wind was that strong. It just blew over the boat in whole.

Dang! Boat down!
One last sweet note. Kelley wanted to know what the porch was going to look like when it was done, she wanted the design that was in my head to exist on paper. Draw it like one of your french girls, she said. So I drew out a few views. Not sure how the picture is going to come out here, but this was pretty neat to see it on paper.

Front view, side view, top down view



So finally I'm ready to start building something back up!! It's taken so long for the prep work, destruction, and digging. That means it is time for some concrete. Foundation, blocks, bricks, bring on the masonry.

Lastly, a funny. Tuesday is election day! Go vote! Do your civic duty and support your candidates. I'm going to vote just so I can complain about whoever wins.

North Carolina is not a penis. Florida, you never know what's going to have a penis.