Big concrete pour

4th-5th June 2014

By this point it was clear that we needed to get the concrete foundation slab in the excavated area at the bottom of the garden in order to progress further. An area in the front garden (where I keep my motorbike) was also poured in anticipation of building a sturdy toolshed/bike store later. This was quite an epic couple of days.

I dug a wide and deep trench at the base of the vertical wall of earth separating the lower part of the garden from the higher lawn area, then we lined the whole of the bottom area with damp-proofing plastic. 3-metre long re-enforcing rods were then driven nearly a metre into the ground in anticipation of construction of the retaining wall.

The trench served two purposes. Firstly to form a deep ‘lip’ biting into the ground at the end nearest the lawn to anchor the slab, and secondly to act as a foundation for the retaining wall which was to be built later above it. This was about 2 feet deep. The rest of the area was covered in a depth of about 9 inches.

There was approximately 15 tons of concrete involved in the operation, and this of course had to be pumped from the road using a commercial supplier. Two lorries turned up, one the pump and one the mixer. The mixing lorry created the concrete from raw materials just before it was pumped, the idea being that there would be little or no wastage.

The pumping lorry was a very impressive piece of machinery and unfolded like a giant alien insect over the house and down the garden. I was at the receiving end and had to manhandle the hose about as the concrete was pouring. This was hardwork, it was extremely cumbersome and very heavy.

In addition I embedded two sheets of re-enforcing steel grids in those areas I felt it would benefit from. The actual pour took 2 hours but it was about the hardest 2 hours work I’ve ever done!

The last job to complete in this process was to move the slurry created when the pumping lorry was sluiced out, from the road onto the hard standing area for later disposal. As it happened this spoil came in useful at a later date (it would be broken up after setting and used as backfill on the retaining wall at the end of the garden a year later).