A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

So for the past few weeks, I’ve spent countless hours finishing up the blocks, mortaring the joints, waterproofing the foundation (kinda), and playing with concrete. Yes, these are a few of my least favorite things. When you set out to build a “timber frame” cabin, you really don’t plan on spending much time on the foundation. All of the passion is in the timber frame. Alas, a good home must have good feet.

After all of the blocks were in place, I set out with mortar to fill in the gaps between the blocks. Since the blocks were not very accurate in the least bit, there was lots of voids to fill. If you want a really finished look on a foundation, don’t go with these blocks. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up doing a thick stucco on the blocks once it’s all said and done.

As you can see there, I’m not a mason and had a difficult time spreading mortar without making it look like a 5 year old did it. I also tied in the footer drains once the walls were in place. I enjoyed that a good bit more than the mortar.

Next I set out with tar to “waterproof” the walls. Though, I don’t believe a single layer of tar is effective waterproofing, I’m working with 2′ thick concrete and the only places of possible water penetration will be in the joints. For the purpose that this basement will serve, a root cellar, I felt that this was more than sufficient. Of course by the looks of it, I believe it could double as a bomb shelter.

After all of this came the dreaded concrete. Concrete makes me nervous. You have one shot to pour hundreds of pounds of rapidly setting rock that could only be removed with a jackhammer once in place. No sweat. Luckily, I had lots of help with the family and some friends when it came to the task. My uncle has finished concrete plenty a time and volunteered to finish it for me.

However, I was on my own when it came to setting the forms. Here is a disclaimer: The following pictures are most likely the incorrect way to form concrete for a sloped floor to a drain.

I used 2 x 4’s and created a small pitch from the wall to the drain. When we poured the concrete, we would screed off of the 2×4’s and then remove them once the slope was established and fill in the gaps left behind. This made for an awful process and it was so stressful that I was unable to capture any pictures of the process. Long story short, if you attempt to slope a floor to a basement drain, contact me and I’ll explain to you a better way of doing it. I have lived and learned.

In the end, the concrete didn’t turn out half bad.

There was a good bit of rain for the remainder of the day after we poured and the finish didn’t retain it’s original beauty. That’s another lesson learned: Don’t pour concrete in the fall due to the leaves and don’t pour when it’s going to rain within a couple days.

The imperfections bufffed out since the concrete was “green” and the leftover dust was easily swept off.

Next up, the good stuff. I’ll be installing my timber frame subfloor and making a basement door. Stay tuned.

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