Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Grade that beam!

Here's the job site today -- another day of rain! But I've stripped away the tarps and the forms and you can see the grade beam I cast yesterday using the plywood chute to speed things up. It's within an half-inch of level, which is not bad considering I was half-blinded by the rain, working without my glasses most of the time.

The small missing section in the middle is a spot of remaining bedrock where I need to bring the wheelbarrow into the foundation area, so the beam on that area won't be poured until last thing, once all the rest of the block is done.

In the background you can see the $50 cement mixer. Tomorrow will be its first day of work. We'll use it to mix the mortar for the remaining blockwork, and, I guess, see whether or not it was such a good bargain.

I was discussing this project with a buddy from search and rescue the other day and realized a lot of people don't know the difference between a grade beam and a footing. To my mind a footer is a concrete floor you put in a trench, which may or may not be steel-reinforced. A grade beam is a poured, shaped, concrete beam that brings a job up to a specified grade. It should be steel-reinforced.

Grade beams can also move up or down with the contour of land, as this one does. Footings are usually at a level.

One way to use a grade beam is to cast it on a rubble trench foundation -- that's what we did with the bale house kitchen.

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