Foundations & Slabs!

slab before and after

In my last post, I shared with you all the progress on our property – from grading to forming the foundation.  And as of today, we have slabs!

This process is ridiculously exciting to me, it’s just silly.  I am asking all the annoying questions (“why are you doing this and that?”) and learning so much.


As a reminder, we are doing 3 separate buildings, as shown above: the main house, the barn, and the loft/garage.


Before this, I thought foundation and slab were the same thing.  I was wrong!  The foundation, formed above, is the edges of the building and the slab is the whole surface.


Here is the foundation forms getting filled and smoothed out.


Once the forms were filled and smoothed, rebar was placed vertically in the wet cement, which would be later bent down to tie in with the slab.


Next came the rocks and sand – piles of it!


The rocks and sand were spread out.


Then the moisture barrier.  I never realized how many layers went into the foundation and slab!


For the main house, we are doing radiant heat in the flooring, so we added an extra layer in the mix – a special foam that prevents heat loss below the slab.


We chose the color aggregate for our concrete.  Since we are having polished concrete on the first floor of the main house, I want very little aggregate to show.  But if it does, I want it to be in the grey family so it’s not so noticeable against the concrete.  I chose the top rocks, but later had to go with the bottom instead because the radiant heating guy was afraid of the sharper edges of the grey rocks and the possibility of them puncturing the lines.


After the foam, they added more sand, then bent the rebar and tied it in with more rebar, forming a grid over the entire surface.



Next came the radiant heat tubing (the red tubes).


It was tied down everywhere that would be exposed, so not under cabinetry or walls.


Lots of early morning excitement meant no sleeping in for the teenager!


Getting ready for the slab to be poured.


It was such a satisfying process to watch!


once the whole things was done and dry enough to walk on (by the evening), Sean sprayed a sealer on it that will help slow down the drying process in hopes to prevent any cracking.  We aren’t making any saw cuts in the slab because we don’t want to accidentally cut a radiant heat line, so most likely we will get some cracking – it’s just the nature of the concrete.  But we are doing what we can to hopefully prevent them!


Lines were made in the garage since we’re not polishing in there (Sean’s company will do epoxy in there later).



The slabs were almost too dry for me to get a little etching in!



And more exciting news:  the framing starts on Monday!  Things will move so quickly from here!

I am hoping to keep updates coming more regularly since the kids will be back in school starting Monday.  I’ll have those precious 2 days a week to myself – well, to work, make house decisions, run errands, etc. – but it’s more than i’ve had all summer!

house build update


Goodness, its been a long time since I blogged!  I’ll actually let you in on an embarrassing little secret:  it had been so long since I logged on to my blog that I forgot how!  I forgot my link and password and it was all quite laughable, until it wasn’t anymore and it was just frustrating.  But then I remembered this happening before and I remembered I had emailed myself links and passwords if I were to get in this situation again!  Genius (kind of, not really).


The biggest news I have to share is that after over 3 years (putting our old house up for sale, finding property, waiting for it to split to purchase, designing the house and waiting for permits) we finally BROKE GROUND on June 7th!!!  That was a crazy time for us because the kids were finishing school, our oldest promoted to high school, Sean & I went to China & Japan, we celebrated my 40th birthday, we celebrated Sean’s birthday/father’s day with a trip to Mexico with friends, and oh yeah, we also moved.  Phew!


Here is what our property looked like while we waited for our permits and loan to final.  Its 2.5 acres of land in San Luis Obispo county, but still less than 2 miles to downtown SLO.  We really wanted somewhere to spread out and not worry about bothering our neighbors and let the kids run loose and have loud gatherings.  This is going to be that place!


Day 1 of groundbreaking and what a big difference!  Just moving down all the weeds helped us to see the contours of the land.


Within a couple days all the weeds were cleared, the main “ridge” of the property was scraped down, and things were flattening out.


Then came more digging and moving of dirt, scraping and digging out the areas for the 3 buildings, then recompacting them.


It turns out that dirt is not very photogenic, especially not flat dirt.  But this has all been so exciting to us already!  We have never built a house fully from the ground up (our last build was from the subfloor up) so learning all about the process here is actually really interesting to me.  I’m pretty sure the contractor and subs are getting a little tired of my questions ;)

Before I go on about what else has happened besides dirt moving, I’ll share a bird’s eye view of the property through our plans.

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So this may be kind of confusing to you if you’re not used to looking at plans like this!  All of the pictures I just showed were from the driveway entrance, at the bottom of the plan picture above.  So we were looking down the driveway, past the pool (that may or most likely will not happen), towards the 3 structures.  3 structures? Yep, I’ll explain…


The middle structure is the main house, where we’ll live.  Attached to that via a 2nd story bridge/hallway (on the right) is the loft and garage.  At our last house, my parents built a loft above our garage and live with us about 1 week a month.  We’ll be doing that again here!  The 3rd structure is a barn, to house a workshop, some storage, a bathroom, store our RV, and have space for things like ping pong, foosball, darts, etc.  Sean has big plans for this space, and most of them have me thinking it will turn out something like this – yikes!  The center section of the barn will have a second story, and we will eventually have an apartment up there that we can rent out.


This is a picture of Sean, standing in what will be the courtyard area.  We designed the 3 structures to create a sort of U-shaped space in the front yard to be protected from any wind and hopefully create a little hot pocket!


Once all the dirt was level to where we wanted it and compacted, they painted lines for the foundation.  This view is from the back right corner of the main house, looking toward the barn (the barn is going to back up to the fence, with a driveway in between).  Seeing the lines was super exciting!  I remember from our last house that this stage made me freak out a little, seeing the whole space laid out without any walls oddly seems smaller than what I was expecting.  Knowing that once the walls go up it will all start to feel bigger helped me not worry this time.


Next came more digging, but this time it was trenches for the foundation.  Those trenches are deep, about 3+ feet!


This view is looking at the whole property from the far right side, first you see the loft/garage, then the main house, then the barn is way out by the white truck.


Foundation prep takes a lot of work!  The forms are mostly built, about half of the rebar is in, and it looks like the plumbing is all set to go.  This view is from the front left corner of the porch of the main house, looking toward the loft/garage.


The foundation is supposed to be poured at th eend of this week!  I am super excited about it, but am almost hoping they put it off until early next week because the kids are at camp and will miss it!  We stop by the property almost every day and see what’s new and exciting.

So is this stuff interesting at all to you?  I have always been fascinated by all the steps of a house build, but maybe I’m alone in this!