Laying Foundation – Footings for Big Awning

 Ground Breaking!  (Footing Laying)

The project has officially begun!  We’ve done all our prep steps (Scroll down past this entry to see that post.) and we are finally ready to start.  First, Russell decided what points to measure off the house and which other structures it was important for the legs to align to.  We marked spots for each leg with rocks and did a preliminary look over.  Once we felt good about the placement, Russell got to digging.  (I’ve got an ongoing neck issue so thankfully Rus doesn’t make me use the post hole diggers!)

1. Determine hole placement, size & dig holes.

We dug the holes 3′ deep and appropriately 30″ in diameter. A few of our leg locations landed on pre-existing concrete.  While this was a bit of an inconvenience, nothing a little sawing and picking couldn’t handle. 

After the holes were dug, we tamped the bottom of them down flat.  One of our holes was smack dab over a pre-existing electrical line we installed.  This was an easy fix, we bolstered the cable with some foam insulation so the concrete pour would not destroy the electrical line. 

After the holes were dug, we tamped the bottom of them down flat.  We measured most of the times but for best results you probably want to measure a lot more than we did.

2. Fabricate footing pieces.

Next came fabrication of the footing pieces.   Rus picked up this massive hunk of sheet metal to make the custom plates.  This was cut into smaller chunks and then bored out with a mag drill.  The mag drill was an expensive tool, but since we are gearing up to do large scale metal fabrication, we thought of it as an important investment.  Boring and cutting metal this thick is not for the faint of muscle, so if you don’t have special tools we recommend finding a local metal fabricator to help you out with this step. 

We then took the final squares and finished off the edges on our bench sander.
We decided to install four 17″ anchors  in each hole that connect to custom plates for mounting the legs.

3. Place anchors.

  Choosing the existing concrete as the reference point, we positioned temporary scaffolding for the anchoring hardware to float in the wet cement solution

4. Mix & pour concrete.

We then mixed concrete at a 1:4 ratio with aggregate in our cement mixer.  It took about four big loads to fill the holes.  Russell went to our local metal supply, “Neds” and found some big sonotube (heavy duty cardboard tube) that we could use to make the last four holes perfectly round. (the ones that were not adjacent to concrete)  This process took us about 4-5 days.


5. Finish & clean work space!

Make sure to go back and give each footing a finishing touch after the concrete has had a bit to set up.  This gives your concrete a smoother look and feel.  We ended up covering each foot with tarp for the first couple of days.  Concrete takes lots of time to cure and keeping moisture in and near fresh concrete helps in the curing process.  If you want to learn more about concrete curing and why it’s important to maintain moisture levels check out this PDF I found!

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