Excavation, foundation and Sandy

Myryah Irby

October 30, 2012

By: Myryah Irby, Home Renovation Enthusiast

In: General RemodelingContractors

We spent the weekend upstate, and are amazed at the progress that's been made on our house. Just over a week ago our contractor, Joe Rapp, sent us this photo of the beginning of the excavation:house excavation
Soon after that photo was taken they hit some hard shale, which meant they needed to rent a rock hammer to finish digging the hole. The foundation contractor and his team poured the footings late last week, set the foundation forms in place on Saturday, and poured the foundation wall yesterday morning, just hours before Superstorm Sandy stormed through.foundation footings
Foundation footing poured

forms for foundation walls
Foundation forms


view of excavation
Room with a view

foundation forms
Foundation forms in place, ready for the foundation to be poured

We're so impressed that our contractor was able to complete this work while everything was pretty much shut down in NYC. I asked if the rain would affect the integrity of the foundation, our contractor said it wouldn't. Here's why:

Pouring a foundation in the rain

Concrete is not a fickle material. It sets up fairly quickly, in fact it will even set under water. Concrete curing (the setting of concrete through chemical reaction) happens rapidly at first, then slows down as time goes by. Most concrete achieves 40-50% of its strength in the first day or two.

Rain is not a big concern when it comes to pouring concrete. As the concrete sets the water will rise up to the top, so rain won't soak in. The two biggest weather concerns related to pouring concrete are:

  • Hot, dry weather that dries out the water before the concrete has a chance to cure. If concrete loses moisture before it cures it will be compromised.
  • Freezing temperatures before the concrete cures. When this happens hydration slows.

Concrete cures by hydration, not evaporation. The concrete gains strength as it hydrates. The hydration process continues over a long period of time, years and years, but in general, most types of concrete will reach their intended strength by 28 days.

Our contractor emailed at noon yesterday to let us know the foundation had been poured. The storm was underway.

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, school was cancelled, subways were closed, so were my yoga studio and food coop. We hunkered down and prepared for the storm.

pumpkin carving
A place to put all those candles we bought

pumpkin carving
Executing my daughter's design...

pumpkin carving
...while a bride and a ballerina observe

It was a wet and windy night. We had pots of water, flashlights, and candles ready, but didn't need them. This morning I headed out with my camera to see how my neighborhood had fared.

Hurricane Sandy
Not as well as I hoped, but much, much better than many other neighborhoods.

We are safe and sound and grateful. Sending love to all those dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Please be safe and help each other. Looking forward to the Hurricane Sandy baby boom this summer.


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