Australia to Texas and Building the Homestead – Pour the Slab and Start the Barndominium

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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We have Concrete! Here’s what it must have looked like at 0530 when the first truck full of concrete showed up: Nice and dark, wasn’t it?  

And I ran this picture through Photoshop to lighten it a bit.  The original was even darker but you couldn’t see much of anything.  Check out the size of the pump equipment.  They could get the nozzle to every location on the 120′ slab with that nozzle.  Even with all that equipment, it still took a few hours to get the slab poured and then another few hours to get everything finished.  I got the last picture from Erik Cortina, owner of XTreme Concrete about 2:30 in the afternoon, so they had 9 solid hours of work, much of it at 100+ F.  Much credit goes to Erik and his team on this effort.  It is a real challenge keeping track of this type of operation from 10,000 miles away.  Erik used technology (internet and his iPhone) to keep my well informed of the progress on many of the working days.  It took the better part of 3 weeks in the preparation to get to the point of pouring, so getting the “ground phase” done is not trivial.  Lots of hard work went into this slab.  But look at the pictures

So now we have a slab curing. This needs a few days – two weeks ideally. During that period, lots of steel and other materials will show up on the property and we’ll start seeing the steel building part of the barndominium take shape.

Now the real excitement begins.  So far, everything that’s been done (and a lot has been done) is at or below ground level. And while that work is vitally important to the success of the project, it has been hard to see progress. Pouring concrete was pretty exciting, but now that the building is going up, it’s really exciting. Before the work could be done, though, the steel had to be delivered and that wasn’t without problems.  Check out these pictures:

Seems the truck took out the mailboxes on the other side of the road and finally had to remove our mailbox to have room to swing the very long trailer into our relatively narrow gate. But that wasn’t the end of their problems. Once through the gate, the managed to get the truck stuck in the very soft sand around the building.  We’ve had a lot of dry weather during the past few years and to say the ground is dry would be an understatement. Even when there’s a relatively normal rain, the soil on the property is as sandy and soft as any you’ll see anywhere. No one seems to believe you when you warn them either:

But they got the steel unloaded, truck out of the sand and then got to work in a hurry.  Lots of activity in just one day and here’s the pictures:

They have a pretty neat way of putting the trusses on the poles. The pictures above somewhat show how they use a hoist rig in the back of a pickup truck to hoist the trusses up onto the poles where they connect via slots to the poles. Simple but effective and eliminates the need to bring a crane down to the site.

The only problems with the first day of the build were those associated with having a new crew at the site. They knocked a neighbor’s mailbox over, got their truck stuck and left the gate open so that our daughter’s horse got out and was difficult to persuade to come back in given all the noise and activity.  The horse is back in, the gate shut and hopefully the neighbor’s mailbox repaired.  All in all, a lot of work done in one day!

It’s pretty exciting to see all this work going on.  I excited to see the progress tomorrow and days following.  And then I’ll be heading out a week from Australia to start the framing build.  I ordered a bunch of wood and materials this morning from Lowe’s.  That’ll all be delivered and waiting when we get there.