Pouring The Foundation Print
Written by Steve Schwettman   

 At last, it was time to pour the foundation. My wife had taken off of work, it was early morning and we were getting everything prepared for the concrete truck to arrive. We had bought all of the anchors we needed, plus a couple extra just in case.

Basically the anchors are a J-bolt. The hook on the end holds them securely in the concrete. They come with a large washer and nut, which will be used later to secure the wall framing to the foundation. You can buy them in different lengths, I think the ones we used were 10 inches. I cleared it with our inspector before I bought them because I wanted to be sure they were long enough.

I removed the nuts and washers and stored them away for a later date. I then wrapped a piece of black tape around each anchor to mark the depth we needed to install them at. Since our framing lumber is 1.5" thick, I think I placed the tape at 3" so that there would be plenty of room for the washer and nut with a little left over.

Anchor Planning:

It's important to know exactly where the anchors will be placed ahead of time. You don't want to be measuring while your concrete is drying. You can buy large construction crayons at the home improvement stores where chalk line and tape measures are sold. I used the crayons to mark on the top blocks exactly where the anchors were going to be placed. Remember that the framing lumber will be sitting on the outside edge of the foundation walls, and the anchors need to be in the center of the lumber. So basically you measure 1/2 of the width of the wall lumber (either 2x4 or 2x6) and then mark that far in from the outside edge of the foundation walls. I drew a line completely across the top of the wall so that I could clearly see where the anchors needed to be placed. So, for 2x4 lumber, the center of the anchors would be approx 1-3/4" from the outside edge of the foundation walls. I was using 2x6 lumber so my anchors were at 2-3/4" from the outside edge.

Now that I had the distance from the edge marked all the way around, I started marking on the top and sides of the block exactly where each anchor would go. The corner anchors were required to be within 12 inches of the corner. After that, anchors were placed approximately every 3 feet. I quickly realized this was harder than it seemed, because I didn't want to place an anchor where a framing member would be. So, I determined in advance exactly where each vertical framing member would be located, and made sure that no anchors sat directly on that location. I also marked off where the garage doors and people door would be located, so that I didn't put anchors there either.

The Truck Arrives:

The truck arrived and the driver looked at the work site and parked the truck where he could get started unfolding the conveyor. He had a remote control box that he operated it with, and in a couple minutes the belt was extended, and he attached a tube to the end of it that I would use to guide the concrete into place. At first, the concrete was too stiff and wasn't coming out onto the conveyor, so the driver added some more water and let it mix a few minutes. Before long we had something we could work with.

The pouring process was very messy, the concrete does not come out slowly and smoothly, but instead in large and fast moving clumps. I quickly realized that we should have had one more helper on hand, but the driver took up some of the slack by grabbing a shovel and helping to make sure the concrete made it where it needed to go (we gave him a good tip afterwards). So I held onto the tube and guided the concrete where it needed to go, my wife smoothed out the top and shoveled spilled concrete where it needed to go, and the driver helped if my wife got behind.

The pour was finished so fast and we were so busy keeping up with it, that it was over before we even realized it started. We rolled a wheelbarrow up to the truck and the driver dumped the small amount of leftover concrete into it, so we had something to fix mistakes with as we were checking everything. 

Placing the Anchors:

We were exhausted and needed a break, but there was no time. It was a warm and dry day and we had to get the anchors set immediately. The driver cleaned his truck while me and the wife placed anchors. We started at the same spot that we had started pouring from, so that we were working with the hardest concrete first. She placed the anchors while I checked each one with a level to make sure it was perfect. By the time we had finished placing all the anchors, the concrete was getting quite solid. At last we were finished for the day.

Watering and Backfill:

Concrete that is exposed to dry air can be extremely weak and crack, therefore it's important to water the exposed wet concrete regularly as it dries. This allows all of the concrete to dry more evenly, rather than a dry crusty surface with wet concrete underneath. I used a chemical sprayer, one of those spray wands with a tank and a pump handle on the top. I just lightly watered it about once an hour throughout the day. After the sun began to set, I watered less often because the water wasn't drying as quickly. I watered a few more times the next day, but it was clear that it was drying perfectly so I didn't need to do much more than that.

After about 3 days I began to backfill the foundation with the mini-excavator. It was actually very surreal filling in the foundation, because what had been a huge square trench in our yard for over a year was finally being filled in and just looked like a few inches of concrete sticking out of the ground with some bolts in it. The backfill hid the 30 inches deep of concrete foundation underneath, but I still had my memories and nightmares, haha! It was also fun to drive the cars in where I had the door openings marked, and see how well they fit and how much extra storage room I would have.

Inspection Time:

Alas, it was time for my first actual inspection. I called the county and left a message that I was ready for inspection. I also left one of the extra anchors in my inspection card mailbox so that the inspector could see exactly what I used.  I don't know when the inspector came out, I never saw him, but within a couple days my inspection card had it's first signature on it. Woohoo! It was finally time to move on to framing.