Concrete Review and Report:
As many 'green' builders know, concrete is actually a very toxic building material, with the horrible environmental impacts of it's creation at the top of the list. Add the big truck, and the lye/lime chemicals, the dust, and the fact that when people are done with it, they break it up and put it in a landfill... it's not that great. However, it is a very solid substance that is highly recommended for stability in earthquake zones, and to work against moisture issues. Thus, we had to use some. We got one trucks worth (yes, the whole nine yards, where the saying comes from) for the 'bond beam', the bottom rim of our little house. Of course, we're also using masons mortar for the retaining wall (mortaring together chunks of 'used' concrete, "urbanite") and we will mortar in another foot or so of urbanite on top of our bond beam.
Here you can see the bond beam after we took the forms off. We didn't have to worry about the smoothness of the top, as we need to mortar in the next row of urbanite, and a rough surface is better than a smooth one.
You can also see the overlap 'step' going from one level to the next in this photo. We wanted a couple of feet of overlap to help deal with the change in levels.
The one 'not perfect' situation of our concrete pour was there was more concrete in the truck than we needed. We had the pump guy go around and fill up our forms to the level we wanted, and we helped settle that in with plungers, etc. Then he said he had a batch more, and since it was paid for, we told him to add it to the top, to give us more height on the wall... Well, it was coming out of the truck drier than the rest, and we had a hard time keeping up with the pump working the harder mix. Thus, in a lot of places, we got this result:
It's not a big deal, as the entire bond beam will be covered with exterior plaster (along with the rest of the wall, or we may put some decorative stones on the front of the house, and the interior will have insulation and plaster over it... still, it would have been nice to feel that we had a perfect pour.
We got right back to business and started the little 'mini' retaining wall for the steps inside the house. This is the first 'course'. None of these will be seen inside the house either.
We're ready for the vampire wars after pulling out all the stakes that were holding up the forms. These are just some of the sharpened ones.