A blog to record my experience in getting a new garage built in Chicago by the company Garage King.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Concrete update

An update: On Wednesday, I received a call from Garage King to find out if it would be okay for the construction crew to come by the following Wednesday (May 30). That would give the slab/foundation another week to cure. They also asked about payment #2 -- had I given it to the concrete guy? No, I didn't see him when he left, and he hadn't said anything about it. I offered to drop a check in the mail, but the person I spoke with said they could send someone by to get the check, or I could pay by credit card. After a tussle with the accounting person, who somehow had first reached my wife's celphone and then seemed quick to assume some evasion was going on our part, payment info was successfully transmitted.

Evidently, for concrete to set properly, it needs to be wetted down periodically, after being poured. See these Guidelines for Curing and Sealing Concrete for a straightforward description of what is going on during the curing process, and what you can do to help it along. The concrete guy told us to water the slab, as if we were watering a lawn, the next day (after he laid the slab). Done. And I did it again on Wednesday too, since it wasn't clear to me if that was necessary or not, and I figured it couldn't hurt. I noticed on Wednesday that water was puddling in one corner, meaning that there were some low spots on the slab.

I asked the concrete guy about it when he came to remove the forms, on Friday (this would be the Friday after laying the slab on Monday). He insisted it wouldn't be a problem, or he could make a channel in the floor to ensure that it drained out to the alley. But that would mar the floor, and he didn't feel it was necessary.

And so here is a dilemma -- pouring concrete seems to be one of those things that you get one chance to do right. Or like cutting wood -- you cut it too short and you are SOL. Writing computer code is much more forgiving, although once the code starts working on large amounts of data, making corrections to the data can be very tedious and expensive if not impossible. Which is why one gets an expert, to make sure it gets done right the first time. Again, I have practically zero zilch experience with garage floors. The previous garage sat below the alley, and frequently got water in it with no easy way for it to get out, except to seep through the cracks in the floor, or evaporate. That won't be a general problem with this garage, as it sits a few more inches above the alley. But if water ever does get in the garage -- e.g. I hose down the floor for some reason, a puddle will remain in one corner, and need to be squeegeed out. So the question is -- are such indentations normal or sign of poor craftsmanship? Another indication of the information imbalance between garage buyer and garage builder.

Here is a link on raising or leveling concrete slabs.

With the garage gone, I can now see how much lower than the alley my yard sits. Chicago was once pretty much a big swamp, and sometimes, especially after a big rain, I feel like Chicago still is a big swamp. The concrete guy recommended raising the area around the garage with dirt. This would cover the exposed side of the slab. He offered to bring some dirt by on Saturday, but never showed (though it rained most of the day). Being Memorial Day weekend, maybe on Tuesday?