You don’t need to feel intimidated by cement work. You can get the same results that home foundation contractors do and avoid needing foundation repair by simply following the steps below.
Time to get dirty, doing the foundation
You want to mark off the land and stake it out. You’ll need to have an idea where to start digging. Make the measurements of the actual foundation and mark them.
You can use wooden stakes and plastic ribbon or even kite string. Then plan for a buffer area about 2 feet all the way around the foundation for convenience of setting up forms and for backfill when the house is completed.
You can choose the method for which you want to dig out your foundation. I used a pick and shovel. (Mostly a pick) That way can get really tiresome, so I suggest you rent or hire a backhoe. This also depends on the type of soil you have and the depth you need to reach to get below the frost line. If you live in tropical conditions with rich, not too rocky soil, heck, use a shovel and a wheelbarrow.
Most likely though, you probably live in an area where the rocks grow faster than the weeds do.
Your Building Inspector will help you determine the depth of the frost line. That tells you how deep to dig the footings and what dimensions they need to be. Most local home foundation contractors know the exact depth requirements.
Usually, the footings will need to be 12 inches below the frost line. Inside the footings, you’ll need to have some rebar reinforcements. 5/8” rebar is plenty strong. You will use two or three rods inside the footings and the rods need to be no closer than 3” from the outside of the footings wall.
This gives a good idea about the dimensions and how to put the rebar in so it gets completely covered. You can also use “rebar chairs which is a little wire frame to hold the rebar in place.
The forms for the footings will need to be in square. If you don’t get this part perfect or really close, you’ll be cussing yourself throughout the entire project. There are a few ways to make sure everything is square.
If you have a huge carpenters square, then that will do, but if you don’t, like the rest of us, then a real good way is to do a diagonal measurement from corner to corner.
Make sure the diagonal measurement is the same to the exact fraction of an inch.Another way to ensure that the forms are in square is by using 90° angles. Learning to use 90° angles is a good idea anyway because it helps with other areas of construction.
After you get a good square measurement on the outside of the footings form, start the inside and measure the width of the footing.