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kebwi 09-23-2009 12:03 PM

Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
Here's the breakdown of my individual concrete jobs (see my main thread for diagrams):
  1. Foundation, day one, tightly bounded around the stand: 37 60lb bags
  2. Foundation, day two, chef's slab and odd shape against retaining wall: 18 60lb bags
  3. Filling 12 stand-wall cores: 14 60lb bags
  4. Support hearth: 24 60lb bags

Or an alternate plan:
  1. Foundation: 37 + 18 = 55 60lb bags, one pour, construction joints etched appropriately at the end.
  2. Filling 12 stand-wall cores: 14 60lb bags
  3. Support hearth: 24 60lb bags

First question: how long does it take to mix one 60lb bag in a mixer or a wheelbarrow? I figure 5-10 minutes?

I like the two-day approach specifically so we don't feel pressured to get 55 bags mixed and poured fast enough that the earlier bags aren't setting unevenly w.r.t. the later bags due to the time-delay. Is that silly? Are 55 60 lb bags too much to do at 5-10 minutes per bag without having the earlier concrete start to set before you're done? Secondarily, to break up a large job into two smaller jobs so we don't collapse.

I was chatting with my wife about getting friends to help with the foundation, namely the first day, the biggest single pour. She asked: Well, what would more than two people actually *do*? Thoughts and questions:

Only one person can run the mixer or hoe the wheelbarrow at a time...or am I wrong?

Presumably, we will only dump one bag's worth into the form every 5-10 minutes, so is raking and spreading out one bag's worth every 5-10 minutes a one-person job? Would a second person have anything to contribute?

So, while it's a ton of arduous labor, I'm a little unclear how to spread the work over multiple workers, other than the obvious notion of simply having some people sit out and take breaks. Aside from taking turns, what would the third and fourth people do to help? Is there three or four people's worth of *simultaneous* work to be done, or are more people only used to take breaks and take turns?

Much appreciated, thanks.

kebwi 09-23-2009 02:22 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
Just bumping because I never saw this appear on the New Posts page. Sorry for the trouble.


fxpose 09-23-2009 03:28 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
As far as hoeing the wheelbarrow and handling concrete, just one extra person is very helpful. More than that may not be too helpful except for using them to haul bags of concrete to the site.

RTflorida 09-23-2009 03:48 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
If you have the extra manpower, just buy 1 or 2 (or a few) of the inexpensive "mud pans" which are made for mixing concrete/mortar. They are about 20"x30"x9". If you are not too sloppy you can mix 2 60 lb bags at a time. The extra deep wheel barrows will also handle 2 bags at a time.
I mixed and poured all of my concrete ALONE - I don't recommend it. Not only is it a physical chalenge, but you are working against time/setting concrete...literally balls to the wall for about 2 hrs (foundation slab), 4+ hrs for the core fills, support slab, and vermicrete layer (which I did all in one shot).
I can be a stubborn idiot - didn't want help, thought I didn't need help, and didn't seek advice, take all the help you can get for this stage. Better yet, bring in a concrete truck or one of those small load trailers.


kebwi 09-23-2009 03:59 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
Yeah. I waffled a long time on the mix-at-curb-wheelbarrow-to-site possibility. It would be $300 more than bags though. I have decided (unless I change my mind), I'd rather save the money. I do have at least one other person. My wife promised to help. :-D There are some folks I could consider asking...I dunno, I don't think there's enough beer in the world to compensate working on concrete.

I see your point about the pans though. If I had more things to mix in, I could simply put more people to work mixing and dumping and have just one person raking and spreading. That makes a lot of sense actually. I have one of those nice 6ft steel wheelbarrows and (possibly) an electric mixer, so I can see the utility in having two people mix simultaneously.


ThisOldGarageNJ 09-23-2009 06:14 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
If you can get your hands on a mixer it is the way to go,,, Also to have the help to carry the bags... I bought my cement 12 bags at a time, was all my truck could hold.. When I got home I would back into the driveway, slide the bags to the tailgate and slice them open then dump them into a wheelbarrow, wheel the cement into the backyard and shovel it into my harbor freight mixer that I bought on sale for 119.00 It was still hard work, but it was manageable..

Sananguero 09-24-2009 12:04 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
I also mixed my concrete by hand in a wheelbarrow, mostly by myself, and I dont recommend it! A mixer would be perfect, as mixing is one of the most challenging parts if you do not have a break. I would be happy to have extra help even if it just meant you are rotating. Whether mixing by hand or using a mixer you will still need to shovel everything in, hopefully you position the mixer so you just pour it into the foundation. The foundation hearth you will most likely still need to scoop the concrete in. The vermiculite layer is much lighter and smaller by that point, so it is pretty easy to do by yourself. 55 60lb bags gosh that seems like a lot of cement. Why dont you pick up a truckload of concrete aggregate mix and mix your own with bags of Portland? I did my foundation with 5 94 bags and a ton of aggregate, which was only $20. Good luck let us know how it turns out!


nissanneill 09-24-2009 04:56 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
Its a poor job that can't handle at least ONE SUPERVISOR!. It is always nice to have some extra hands to provide the drinks, snacks and support or encouragement. If they can share the manual tasks, then all the better.
Mixing concrete without a mixer is bloody hard work, especially on the back.
A mixer is also hard work but at least you can go much longer before the pain sets in, and is easier to maintain the evenness and consistency of the mix.
Mixing by hand unless you carefully measure out all the ingredients, produces a wide variety of strengths and slumps (wetness of the mix) than a mixer. It always seems easier to monitor the mix in a powered mixer.
Ready mixed delivered by truck is the best way to do larger jobs, especially if you can buy through a friendly builder, or if close to a batching/mixing plant.
If you know the concrete batching plants, they often look for people who will take the 'over orders' and will give these to people rather than dump it back at their works and then have to dump it. Over here, they pour them into moulds around a half metre cubed and then give them to people who build retaining walls with them.
I know it is more expensive but what price do you put on convenience, time, effort, pain etc. Also it gets the job done in a fraction of the time with less mess and often less waste to remove in the form of plastic or paper bags.
Food for thought!


kebwi 09-24-2009 07:17 PM

Re: Putting friends to work on concrete foundation
Thanks. I'll dwell on it. Haven't decided how to balance money and effort yet. I appreciate the input.

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