With everything square and laid out after Day 1, it was time to get to more serious work: pouring concrete for the footings, and setting down all the support posts.
The day started with an unpleasant discovery: excess lumber had been laid across one of the drip irrigation lines in the yard, which caused a pressure build-up and an emitter blowout. The resulting blowout created a geyser that soaked one side of the yard, along with a lot of the old lumber.
Despite this minor blowout, we set to work early. A big first step was trying to remove a large amount of DG on the South side of the deck. This was to be the only portion of the main area not covered by the deck, but I wanted the infernal pebbles removed. So, time to start digging. The question then became, where do we put it all without going to the trouble and expense of hauling it away? Thus began my personal version of Stalag 17: where to hide the dirt.
The answer came in multiple forms (or places, as it were). I wanted to maintain adequate ventilation under the deck, so moving the DG under it was not a real option. The landing offered one nice spot, given that it was elevated, and could support DG without running into air flow issues. Unfortunately, that meant shoveling a lot of dirt from under the landing, moving it around the yard, then filling the remaining space with DG. There was also a small section of edging covered in mulch that would be underneath the deck; this offered another easy spot to dump a bunch of granite. After that, things got a bit more difficult…
One of the great challenges I had not anticipated with the project, which became apparent on Day 2, was that our dog Charlie was not interested in behaving calmly while I was outside working. He whined, he scratched at the doors, he chewed whatever was within sight, he jumped up on the counters and sofas. You name it, he did it. As a result, I tried to take some measures to minimize the damage, while still allowing him to oversee construction (which ultimately proved useless).
Bit I digress. On Day 1, locations were marked for all footings, based on the guide lines and measurements. Day 2 saw the excavation of all of the holes for the piers: 14 inches deep, and probably 16 inches wide. At the end of the day, 16 holes were dug for the 16 piers that would support the deck. Not only was it a lot of work, but it just generated another problem: more dirt and DG looking for a home. The need to dispose of all this stuff became an ongoing theme…14-inch holes generate a lot of dirt, believe it or not.
Once all of the holes were excavated, Anderson set about cutting the forms for the concrete, all from a single tube cut into equal lengths:
Once the forms were cut, it was time to mix the concrete, pour into the molds, and then flatten to the desired height. Each form was poured and then measured to make sure the height was correct, relative to the grade of the yard (which was small, but made a difference). The cement in the forms was then leveled. It was all a very precise operation; a failure in laying the concrete could result in serious downstream problems.
At this point, things needed to be more precise. The brackets for the footings all had to be laid square, and in such a way that the 4×4 posts mounted in them would be as close to level across the entire deck as possible. Anderson used a plumb line to ensure proper placement.
All of the footings were laid in similar fashion. It was hours of detailed work for Anderson, and he kept laser focus throughout. All of his diligence set the stage for the next phase: framing.