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Crazy Social Distancing Concrete Party

We found ourselves with a dilemma. Cindy’s time to move to The Container House Project has come sooner than expected. As you know, her private space, the north side, is not yet ready for habitation. Therefore, it’s full steam ahead on the work for her section. But, we are in the middle of a pandemic so what is the best way to go about getting some of the work done? Some out-the-box thinking was required and we had the idea to have a crazy social distancing concrete party.

You may remember that the south side container had approximately three extra square meters added to the side for the bedroom area. We are doing the same in the north side, and therefore needed to pour the concrete as soon as possible, so that we can build out this section and begin with the interior cladding.

Throwing concrete is hard work. The more people you have working on pouring a slab, the easier and quicker it is for everyone. Ideally you’ll need several teams:

  • At least one person to run the concrete mixer itself
  • A team to shovel in stone, cement, sand and water
  • Several people on wheelbarrow duty to cart mixed concrete to the correct place
  • A person or two to level out the fresh concrete

Covid-19 Pandemic Issues

I’m sure you can understand our reluctance to get such a large workforce on site. As much as we would love to be able to help out a few of the many individuals who are in dire need of work, we also have to consider our own safety. We are very aware of our own need to keep our living area as safe as possible.

preparing to throw concrete during our covid-19 social distancing party
This steel beam will keep the concrete in its place. Steel pins keep the beam in place. Red tubs keep us from tripping over the pins!

After a bit of brainstorming, we decided to ask a group of friends to help us for a day. We sent the call out to individuals we knew had the same feelings as ourselves in regards to keeping everyone as safe as possible in regards to Covid-19. The response was fantastic. We have the most amazing group of friends who were willing and happy to help us out for a day. We cannot thank them enough for the time they sacrificed to help us.

Prep Work

Now that we had a team together for casting concrete, Kevin could get on with the prep work.

Although the inside area of the container house was well compacted during the early stages of the project, foot traffic had loosened the top layer. That all had to be levelled and compacted once again. Kevin also had to spend time demarcating the area for casting. Stone and sand had to be moved closer to the mixer.

Preparations also had to be made to keep our work force fed and watered. Thought also had to be given to keeping our friends safe from any possible infections we may have picked up but are yet unaware of.

compacting soil before concrete pouring
Action shot of Kevin using a compactor to compact the loose dirt. Lots of cement bags stacked up behind him.

Our Social Distancing Concrete Party

Our wonderful friends arrived bright and early on Saturday morning. The majority of the work was outdoors which helped with social distancing. It was also a nice sunny day so the UV light helped with sterilization. With face masks on, despite very physical labour, the guys got stuck in without complaint.

We had also managed to save up a fair bit of rain water beforehand. We managed to cast roughly 70% of the concrete using only rain water. Bonus!

Cindy and I were also busy that Saturday. We spent our day keeping everyone well hydrated with fresh water, and energy levels up with snacks and lunch. Between every round, we washed the dishes in hot, soapy water, ready for the next round. We did our best to keep everyone safe under the rather unusual circumstances.

It ran smoothly with no mishaps. By the end of the day, we had roughly eighteen square meters of concrete poured; two sections measuring about 3m by 3m. Our friendly work force were tired but happy after a day of satisfying work. We all enjoyed lots of laughter and the (rather missed) joys of friendship.

Ground prepared for throwing concrete
Almost ready and waiting for our social distancing concrete party

Finishing Off

The day, although sunny, was not that hot. The concrete was curing slowly. Therefore, the floating could not take place that afternoon. Concrete has a short window in which the floating can take place. It needs to be hard enough to stand on, but still soft enough to give during the floating process.

Kevin didn’t have much choice but to get up at 3:30am the next morning and start floating. By that time it was a little harder than he would have liked, but still within the window. He put on some music at a low volume so as to not wake the neighbours and for the next few hours he floated the two slabs, stopping only for coffee and an early breakfast.

Yes, Kevin was exhausted by the time he was finished, but he got it done.

Curing concrete floor slab
One of the slabs we completed; the most crucial one!

End Results

  • These events have reminded us, once again, that we have some awesome friends. We are truly grateful for their generosity in their time, as well as donations of material and use of their equipment
  • We have some happy memories from our crazy social distancing concrete party
  • Work can continue on the interior of the north container
  • Confirmation that our concrete mixer can withstand an entire day of running

6 thoughts on “Crazy Social Distancing Concrete Party

  1. Wow ! I am so impressed.Thanks to all who helped.I am sure Cindy is even more thankful.Great job.👍🙌😁

    1. Yes, we are indeed all extremely grateful for the help.

  2. Excellent work, most ingenious and gratifying/satisfying. Well done to all the volunteers!

    1. It was a satisfying day 🙂

  3. So glad you managed to make progress on the floor for the north container – and how wonderful to turn it into a covid-proof social occasion! What great friends you have!

    1. Don’t we know it! 😁😁😁

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