So we thought that the pouring of the ground floor slab was exciting… ummm… think again! The pouring of the top storey slab was yet another moment of monumental excellence and excitement. Another milestone and another major and significant part of the project ticked off.

 

Seriously exciting.

 

We discussed in a blog post or two ago, Formwork and steel makes for a top storey, about what went in to getting the house ready for the slab – it involved a huge amount of steel and different trades to get everything into place.

 

The moment had come to permanently freeze it all in time. When you actually think about it, you wonder what the heck you would do if one of the pipes broke or were damaged at some point prior to the cement slab being poured without your noticing. Well, we checked them as best we could, no visible breaks, all pipes connected as they should be and so on. Probably not much else you can do but hope for the best!

 

With a super early start to prepare the site for the onslaught of concrete delivery trucks, the grano workers arrive and get their collection of contraptions ready to go – we again see the massive fan-like machine that helps to smooth out the concrete along with the vibrating nozzle to help eliminate any air pockets, as well as the concrete pumping truck to help get the concrete up onto the top storey slab through a massive hose.

At the crack of dawn with blue skies and the concrete pump on-site and ready to go

At the crack of dawn with blue skies and the concrete pump on-site and ready to go

 

Tools of the trade to the left... the rotary bald machine that helps smooth things out, trowels and square edge profiles

Tools of the trade to the left… the rotary blade machine that helps smooth things out, along with trowels and square edge profiles

 

The arrival of the first concrete truck

The arrival of the first concrete truck

 

Preparation continues

Preparation continues…

 

With everything in place, and quite the team of people on-site, the first truck of concrete arrives and within minutes we have concrete pouring out into the front north-west corner of the slab. From there, the team then worked their way across the slab, slowly and carefully making their way to the staircase, forming that up, then moving to the rear of the house.

 

It’s quite the process to watch unfold. Trucks line up (we had four in a row on the street at one point), concrete gets poured into the pump truck, which then, via a remote control system harnessed onto one of the operators on the top slab, gets turned on and off as required. As soon as the concrete hits the slab, each person has their job to do. Whether it’s keeping the steel work in place, or helping spread the concrete by holding the pump hose (which is very heavy due to the sheer pressure and weight of the concrete coming through it), using the vibrating nozzle to get rid of any air pockets in the poured concrete, to those who then follow up and smooth out the concrete to ensure it’s dead level – it’s precision work that requires a well-oiled machine indeed.

 

The pour on the top storey slab officially begins

The pour on the top storey slab officially begins

 

A little closer up - you can see the orange control box that the operator has harnessed to him - this helps control the flow of the pump and its movement also

A little closer up – you can see the orange control box that the operator has harnessed to him – this helps control the flow of the pump and its movement also

 

Here you can see the vibrating nozzle that's inserted into the poured concrete to help eliminate any air pockets

Here you can see the vibrating nozzle that’s inserted into the poured concrete to help eliminate any air pockets

 

And the trucks start to roll in... four of them in fact!

And the trucks start to roll in… four of them in fact!

 

The truck roll in and line up to feed  their concrete into the concrete pump

The trucks get in line to feed their concrete into the concrete pump truck

 

Here's where you can see the concrete being fed into the pump truck

Here’s where you can see the concrete being fed into the pump truck

 

Working their way around the slab

Working their way around the slab

 

A heck of a lot of back-breaking work goes into this process - have you tried walking through calf-deep wet concrete before?

A heck of a lot of back-breaking work goes into this process – have you tried walking through calf-deep wet concrete before?

 

Spreading out the poured concrete

Spreading out the poured concrete

 

You can see some finished sections on the far right as the team work across the slab

You can see some silky smooth finished sections on the far right as the team work across the slab

 

Just a little reminder of what's holding it up underneath... the little prop forest!

Just a little reminder of what’s holding it up underneath… the little prop forest!

 

Working the concrete into to the formed staircase

Working the concrete into to the formed staircase

 

Another look at the vibration machine that helps remove any air pockets that might form and spread the concrete evenly through the steel network below

Another look at the vibration machine that helps remove any air pockets that might form and spread the concrete evenly through the steel network below

 

The staircase is done!

The staircase is done!

 

Here's a look at how the formwork keeps it all in check

Here’s a look at how the formwork keeps it all in check

 

Of course, pouring a concrete slab is quite the task, and moreso when you have to contend with weather conditions. Too hot, and it’s not ideal to pour concrete because it dries too quickly and can develop significant cracking. Too wet and then, well, it’s a slop fest. The morning started off perfectly fine but with some ominous clouds rolling over, we were a little concerned about the threat of a downpour. We kept a close eye on the weather apps and were pleased to make it right through without a spot of rain. You can see in the photos how the weather changed throughout the pour actually – it got continually more grey as the day moved on. We hadn’t noted the weather down in our initial diary notes, but looking back at the photos we took, we were reminded of this little moment.

 

It made us think of Grand Designs Australia, where they make such a big deal of the impending weather, and whether they’d “get it in on time”… we’re certain that the often pessimistic Peter Maddison would have been relieved with our outcome!

 

Anyway, the crisis never came and in just over six hours of work, it was all done and dusted! Slab poured, flattened, smoothed out and looking a treat. With cooler weather setting in and some rain on the way, we didn’t need to worry too much about the slab drying out too quickly or anything like that. Nature was on hand to do its thing and all we had to do now was wait for it to cure so we could get cracking on the next stage of brickup.

 

Pouring, vibrating, smoothing... it continues on...

Pouring, vibrating, smoothing… it continues on…

 

Progress continues downward towards the back of the house. You can see a rough patch on the middle left hand side of the image - this is a wet area and it remains this way on the slab

Progress continues downward towards the back of the house. You can see a rough patch on the middle left hand side of the image – this is a wet area and it remains this way on the slab until the screeding is done by the tiler

 

Getting to the end...

Getting to the end…

 

Access to the top storey via the rather long ladder will no longer be required... good riddance shakey legs

Access to the top storey via the rather long ladder will no longer be required… good riddance shakey legs

 

A view from the where the garage will be looking up to the top storey slab being completed

A view from the where the garage will be looking up to the top storey slab being completed (and the rather dull skies)

 

Smooth moves... it's actually quite amazing at how quickly the concrete sets - the guys have their work cut out for them!

Smooth moves… it’s actually quite amazing at how quickly the concrete sets – the guys have their work cut out for them!

 

We now have a new-found love for concrete, so much so, that we almmmooooossst decided to ditch the idea of having timber floors and polishing up the lovely slab. But then it would have been back to the drawing board with regards to design aesthetics and frankly, that was not an option! So we’ve come up with some ideas on how we’ll use touches of concrete finishes in other areas of the home. *

 

HANDY TIPS

Let the slab cure for as long as can without throwing your project schedule out. It’s generally best to wait at least four to five weeks before you start loading it up with a tonne of bricks and steel and timbers.

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