19. Setting out

I don't mean going for a walk

14th May 2014

The guys from Premier Piling and Foundations are finally on site, shifting muck and pouring concrete. The site is littered with the familiar clutter of construction: diggers and bulk bags of sand and piles of bagged cement and empty bottles of Lucozade. I'm delighted.

Of course carbon-intensive cement is very far from being an environmentally-delightful product. I had high hopes of using a new low carbon product, Cemfree, as a replacement for Portland cement but, despite an impressive showing at Ecobuild, it's still not available off the back of a lorry. My fingers are crossed - we may yet be able to use it for the main event (the slab).

This first pour is not even for us. We are obliged to underpin our neighbour's garage before we plant our house next to it, which involves digging bays beneath it and filling them with concrete, one by one. As this won't take long, the setting out has also begun. Wayne was here today with his theodolite (that's a laser guided tripod, not a bargain price icon), planting stakes where the piles will go. Once the piles are in, he will be back to set out the boundaries of the slab and the drainage channels that will run under it.

Groundworks are a famously messy business. Randal and Jordan are mixing and pouring the concrete and foreman Greg is making little concrete test cubes. So there's plenty of water and muck sloshing around. But happily the sun is shining and the site is dry. It might even stay that way for a bit - apparently there's a heatwave on the way, which will hopefully last for the next four months. Once the house is sealed, the heavens can open.

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