Today my concrete guys started building the foundation. They are doing the perimeter today and then pouring the middle wall probably tomorrow. What is a foundation? So glad you asked…
Foundations in my part of the country are made up of two parts. The footings and the walls. My footings were 2′ wide pads about 8-10″ deep. The forms for my footings looked like they were held together with chewing gum, horse hair and luck, but none of them blew out, and so they did their job, and probably at a 1/3 the cost of using fresh plywood and 2 by’s. So once they built these popsicle stick trenches, they scraped dirt up against the forms along the bottom to ‘seal’ them. These footings basically had to form out rock, so there were tons of gaps underneath, but this was surprisingly effective at keeping the concrete from leaking out under the forms. It’s worth noting that they strapped the top of the forms together using metal banding and also just regular wood., which seems like it’s saving grace.
Also, in my foundation, I had a lot of elevation changes. I had at least 8 different levels because of the way the rock sloped. So for that, they put in a piece of plywood, sort of like a dam, and then just started the next level down lower. It’s worth noting that this was definitely not an arbitrary distance, it were calculating it based on the height of their wall forms. If they had 8 foot wall forms and 7 foot wall forms, they would have a 12 inch step down, so that the tops of the forms would be the same height. They also calculated how long the steps would be so that it ended on a seam in the form. It’s those two calculations that seem wicked obvious, that I know I wouldn’t have thought of up front, and it’s this information that makes the largest difference between contractor and DIY’er.
Once the footings are poured they cure for a day or so and the forms are stripped. For me, they started building the wall forms right on top of the footings the next day. Read on!