Prepping the driveway for the pour
Pouring & finishing the driveway
Hay to insulate the concrete

Exterior Concrete Part 2

Due to the effects of the devastating hurricanes of 2005, a shortage cement powder developed in the summer of 2005 that caused some real challenges for us. We needed to pour almost 50 yards of concrete outside for the driveway, the front walk and stairs, the back stairs, and the RV pad.

When we started our project, we were paying about $60 per cubic yard for concrete. Because of the cement powder shortage, by the end of the project we paid as much as $100 per cubic yard of concrete in some loads. OUCH! Not only was the concrete significantly more expensive, it was difficult to get. During the beginning of our project, we could call an order multiple trucks of concrete with a few hours notice. By the end, we had to order it more than a week in advance and there was no guarantee that the concrete would actually come when scheduled. More than once we had a commitment from the ready-mix company to delivery concrete, but no concrete showed up.

Beyond that, during the fall months, the weather was much more unpredictable. It seemed virtually impossible to line up concrete, a flatwork contractor and good, dry weather. Sometimes we would get two of the three, but one of the variables would fail us in the last minute. Frustrating! Week after week after week went by and we never got a single pour done.

Although in this rural area you can occupy a house without a driveway, with winter fast approaching, and a somewhat steep driveway, we knew that if we did not get concrete down, we would have to endure a nasty, muddy winter with our cars parked on the street most of the time. This would have not only been extremely inconvenient, but it would have made it miserable to try to move furniture and boxes in on moving day. We had to figure it out.

We found a couple of guys who worked for a flatwork contractor in the area who were slow on work due to the shortage problem. We worked out an arrangement were we would pay them cash according to the square footage they poured immediately upon completion, and they in turn would be on standby for us to call them whenever we could line up concrete and good weather. At first, this seemed to work - we finally completed a couple of pours (under the deck and the RV pad). I was thrilled with the progress.

However, the flatwork contractors either got busy with their employer, or maybe got in trouble for scabbing, I am not sure - all of the sudden, they told us that they would be unable to do additional pours for us. No reason was given. Uggh.

We were starting to get very concerned as winter was fast approaching with its wet, cold weather. Nothing can ruin a concrete pour faster than water, and the colder it gets, the bigger the risk that the concrete will not cure properly (later causing it to flake & break apart).

We found a different concrete contractor who came in and said that he could line up the concrete and could have the job done in less than a week. Even though his bid was high, I felt desperate, so we hired him. True to his word, he came in and knocked out all the entire job right on schedule. Literally the day after they finished, a snow storm moved in. Had they not been able to finish the pour the day they did, we probably would not have been able to pour the concrete till the spring. The wet weather continued for two months.

However, in their haste to get the pour done on time, our concrete contractor had the cement truck drive through the neighbors property to access the back yard (initially they planned to hit the back stairs with a pump, but they could not schedule the pump the day they needed it). This created a big problem for the neighbors as the truck hit a couple of sprinkler boxes and left major ruts through the yard.

Even worse, the truck drove over a part of the neighbors septic drain field, which may have damaged it. Obviously, the neighbors were not too happy - I can't blame them. It has led to a lot of bickering between the neighbors and the contractor regarding the best method to make sure that the problems should be fixed. Three months later, common ground has still not been found, and the potential for a lawsuit looms. Sigh...

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