Excavating and Laying the Foundation — Part 3
Log Home Diary Entry #17
Now that the position of the house is determined, it’s time to move some more dirt so that the footers and foundation walls can be poured. Digging the footers is a fairly quick process. Fortunately, we encountered no more rock, which of course means no more money — whew! Just prior to this phase starting, a hole was dug for our septic tank and holding tank. A main section of PVC drainpipe was connected to the tanks and under the footers, and it was then capped off. A small crew of two worked for several days to carefully lay and string together the rebar to give firm structural support to the footers.
Being that the land is quite sloped, the footers were constructed at several different levels (a bit like stair steps), as the foundation walls would need to be much higher on the lake side versus the uphill side facing the front of the house. In between each level, a plywood divider was constructed to hold back the wet cement at its proper level. This process is a unique skill in itself, and we came to appreciate the importance of this work. If you think about it, the entire structural integrity of the log home is dependent on the proper construction of these footers.
An inspection was required before the footers could be poured. This is probably one of the more important inspections. Contrary to our earlier experience, this inspection went without a hitch — quick with no surprises. Within a day or so after the inspection, the cement trucks came, and the footers were poured. After this, the cement needed to cure, which took about a week.
The next step is the pouring of the foundation. Contrary to what you might think, this is pretty exciting, as the whole footprint of the house suddenly emerges. This part of the country uses cement foundations poured into steel frames. It has gained popularity over the years, and I think it is likely the most predominant way of doing foundations today versus cement blocks.
The first thing to arrive is the truck with the steel foundation forms, which were off-loaded on numerous pallets. The foundation forms are built like an erector set. Every place a window or door would be located — in our case, two garage doors, five windows and one sliding glass door — required construction of a wood frame inside the steel forms. As the cement is poured, a long, vibrating probe is pushed down through the wet cement to ensure there are no air pockets.
When the process is finished, it is critical that everything is plum, level and square. Laser technology is used to check that is the case. This particular construction craft takes skill, a strong back and desensitization to vertigo. Watching these workers balance themselves and walk along a high, narrow wall, while carrying tools, shows the balance of a gymnast. It’s hard work with high risk.
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