Pouring the Slab
No part of a building will last longer than its foundation. So we'd better get it right.
We'd worked hard in the Fall of 2018 to get a new home on Ames Hill designed before the snow started in Marlboro, VT. In conjunction with HELM Construction Solutions and Mathes Hulme Builders, studioWEBSTER was engaged by a family to create a new high performance home, and the clock was ticking.
Racing against weather
We'd started in August, knowing we were up against a pretty strict weather deadline. We knew the project wouldn't be weather-tight that Fall, but our goal was clear: lock down a building shape we could use and get the foundation poured before the snow and ice made the roads outside of Brattleboro impassable.
A word to the wise:
Marlboro, VT is not Amherst, Mass.
In Western Mass, Winter comes in December. Some concrete plants stop delivering in November, but we usually have until Thanksgiving to get concrete in the ground down here in the Tropics.
In Marlboro, in southern Vermont, it was not the concrete plant but the roads that would be our bottleneck. Though we scrambled through Schematic Design and into early Design Development to describe the 4BR home we wanted to build, and we MADE OUR DEADLINE of October 19, we were too late, this time, to pour before it started.
Winter came the last week of October. The concrete trucks would not make the journey up Ames Hill in 2018.
We used the winter of 2018-2019 to finish the details of the design - engaging Chris Miksic of Montpelier Construction to run our WUFI model for PHIUS Passive certification, working through the layouts of the first floor and the upper bedrooms, testing out notions of high performance mechanical systems. By the time Spring came, we were ready.
Spring, of course, is also relative, and in Marlboro = May.
The whole team was relieved, I think, anxious to get the slab finally in the ground. The building is a slab-on-grade with frostwall - no basement to be found on this rocky site. For a design, this also means no easy place to stash a bunch of pipes, wires, ducts, and equipment. All of those components have to be run and located before the concrete which will become the finished floor is poured.
The slab was poured the last week of May, and the photo above taken on June 5. The color you see was pigment added to the pour to give the slab tone and texture. The yellow membrane visible at the edges runs continuously below the slab (airtight, watertight) to keep moisture and soil gas (radon) OUT of the building, and the warm tempered air INSIDE the building.
And now we wait. Framing began the day of that photo, but it will be weeks before we find out just how close we got. Between drawing and piping and insulating and pouring, we all hoped to come out perfect. Until all the walls are up, however, we won't quite know if everything landed in the right place, if that shower drain is located just so, or that power line to the island sits just right.
Wish us solid foundations.