Sunday, November 22, 2009

We have a Concrete Patio out front!

Another week has passed us by and we do have a major milestone to report. The contractor finished the patio for our lot here in Casa Grande today. (I know it is Sunday, but he does his moonlight work on the weekend.) It looks great, if I must say so myself.

Two years ago, we bought a lot in a park in Florida and that fall went there to put a patio in. Actually, we paved the entire lot. The red-tape necessary was minor, as few people were in the park and our Iowa friends were good friends with the park president who was also the chief approval authority while everyone was gone. So we verbally presented out plan to him and his response was (referring to our helpers Denny and Chuck), "you guys know what the rules are." So we did it. Of course, he zoomed by almost daily on his mini-bike as he kept the park running.

In the Florida park, it was a self help job done by residents of the park. We had very able helpers from Iowa that we've known for years helping us during the preparation which seemed to take forever. When it came time to pour the cement, there must have been 10 to 15 fellows there with all kinds of tools. It was apparent that they had done this before, as they all seemed to know where they were to fit in. In one case, a fellow showed up when it was nearly done with the finishing tools. His self appointed job was to trowel the wet/damp/drying cement to make sure it had the right finish on it. And just as quick as they had all shown up, they all seemed to disappear. Our cost was for the concrete, and the skid steer loader we rented for one day.

Here at our lot in Casa Grande, all of the effort was by the contractor, his 13 year old son and a very skilled helper.. Of course, we haven't really gotten too well acquainted with the local residents, so I'd also not expect too much neighborly help had we tried to do it ourself. So our arrangements were with a local contractor that has done other work in the park. His workmanship is great. Probably our biggest complaint is that he kind of kept us in the dark until the day before he was going to do it. It was really no problem, other than when you order something, you want it right away. (We had no deadline or personal schedule to keep relative to the patio, so it was only a minor inconvenience.)

As it was, he called us Thursday night and said that he'd be here Friday or Saturday to form it up and then back on Sunday to pour the cement.. He showed up Saturday afternoon and finished the forming by 5 pm. Then he was here at 6:30 AM on Sunday morning to do the last minute form checks and the Cement truck (local on site mixing) showed up at 8 AM. They started pouring by 8:15 and finished by about 9:30, with only the contractor and a helper working the cement. (The driver started and stopped the mixer.) Sandy and I both commented that while in Florida, we had about a dozen fellows shoveling, raking, leveling, and toweling the cement, in this case, there were only two workers. The contractor directed the truck operator where to dump the slurry and then he leveled it some with a medium sized long handled scoop shovel. His helper did the final leveling with a long 2 by 4 and a shovel. They didn't do any troweling of the leveled cement. until it was entirely poured.

For the next 5 hours, they continuously troweled with both a hand trowel and some long handled push pull trowels. The final finish was to pull a push broom across the nearly set cement to give it a textured non-skid finish. (There are no trowel marks in the finish. Also, there is no need to saw the slab, as they have laid in deep cuts to mark each break line. After 6 hours, they pulled the forms and were gone shortly thereafter. I'm to lightly water it after sundown and again before sunup for 2 or 3 days. They used one tool that we didn't have in Florida. It was a metal mesh, about 1 foot by 4 feet that they had a stand up handle on. After the entire slab was poured and leveled, they used this mesh to pat down the surface. It seems to press the gravel down and allowed the surface to be fine cement. My gut feeling was the the cement here was slightly more moist than what we had in Florida. (Especially after they did the pat-down operation.)

Okay, so you've read the differences. The big difference for us was that we ended up paying probably about double for the local project for about a third of the amount of concrete. But we're happy with what we have and it is done. With the few people that we know in the park now, we didn't feel comfortable asking them to join a heavy work crew. Besides, we learned a little bit.

While the work was going on, we moved the motorhome off to a vacant lot nearby. We thought we had made good plans to the extent that we have buried in the cement an electrical conduit for a light to the front of the lot. Plus we buried a sewer pipe for an eventual stool in the storage shed plus another sewer pipe for a washer drain line. We also installed an underground electrical service pipe. All of the "future addition provisions are just below the surface" with good dimensions on a paper and hidden away in Sandy's files. When we were all done, it dawned on me that one item we forgot was a water service line. Okay, so it is no big deal if we never install a washer. (The park commercial laundry is a 150 feet north of our lot in the Activity building.)

Tonight we're back on our lot and feeling much more relaxed now that it is done. Perhaps we could say that it is all over but the shouting. Actually, one little task remains, that is to install a shed on the base that we poured adjacent to the patio. We weren't going to do it this season, but we decided that the lot would rent out much easier if there was a shed, so we're doing it. Tomorrow we head to Home Depot to see what is available and if they'll give us the "Black Friday" discount now.

Then it will be time to relax and think of Turkey day. As always, we will miss the old fashioned family gathering with parents, siblings and daughters. Thankfully, there is the telephone and it gets well used on the weekend. We will join our park family here for a big Thanksgiving dinner in the club house Thursday noon. Then we'll relax and watch a bit of football.

Have a great day.


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