Construction: The Concrete Driveway Apron

The last important part of my building to be finished this year.

On May 20, 2014, I began blogging about the construction of my new home in Malaga, WA. You can read all of these posts — and see the time-lapse movies that go with them — by clicking the new home construction tag.

Back in September, I hired my favorite earth-moving guy, Jeff, to level a space in front of my building’s big garage door. As part of that job, he also dug and later buried the trenches for conduit that brought power, water, fiber optic cable, and telephone lines to my building and water and power to my garden shed. I blogged about that three-day project here.

Although I don’t expect to live in my building this year, it was vital that the ground work be done before winter so that I could get a concrete apron laid in front of the door. The apron was necessary for me to park my helicopter’s landing cart so I could land out front and pull the helicopter into the building. I didn’t want it outdoors any longer than necessary and certainly not over the winter.

I got the concrete work done at September month-end. Bill, whose company had laid the concrete inside my building, came by on Monday at around midday to lay out the forms. The apron would be 22 feet wide (in front of my 20 foot wide door) and about 30 feet deep. He made quick work of laying out the area with strings and stakes, triangulating or whatever it is these guys do to get things square.

There was some confusion, at first, about the slope to the concrete. He expected a constant angle slope while I expected it to be nearly level close to the building with a steeper slope on the half farther away. I don’t think Bill liked the idea, but that’s the way I had Jeff prep it. Still, we had to go at the gravel substrate with a rake and shovel in one area to ensure that the concrete was at least 4 inches deep. When he was finished, we confirmed our order for 14 yards of 6 sack concrete and got a delivery time of 9 AM the next day. I drove a pair of t-posts and put ribbon on them to keep the workers off my just-planted grass seed.

Concrete Prepped
The apron framed out and ready to be poured.

Bill and a helper showed up the next day a little after 8 AM. The did a bit more framing and got out a bunch of tools. Then they waited. No one else showed up. It was going to be just two of them.

The first concrete truck showed up at about 9:45. It backed into position and the driver got out to assemble the chute. And then they started pouring.

Pouring Concrete
They began pouring concrete at about 9:45 AM.

Smoothing Concrete
Bill’s helper spread the concrete at the edge of my garage.

The work went quickly. I stayed out of the way. Penny stayed inside. The first truck delivered about 2/3 of the concrete we needed.

From the first truck
The first truck poured most of the concrete we needed.

The second truck arrived just as the first one was ready to pull out. They poured the rest of the concrete. Bill and his helper worked it.

Finishing the Concrete
Finishing concrete properly takes a lot of work and expertise. Bill and his helper definitely know what they’re doing.

Concrete Blocks
A closeup of the concrete “blocks” I made with extra concrete and a mold I’d bought. This was an experiment; I expect to do a better job when I need to.

I got a wheelbarrow full of concrete and used it to experiment with the concrete block mold I’d bought. Within about a half hour, I had a 2 x 6 “block” pad in front of my shed. It wasn’t pretty, but by the third 2 x 2 section, I had the hang of it. With the right concrete — without big rocks in it — it might actually look nice.

Intials in Concrete
The last time I carved my initials into concrete at a home was in 1997. Although that was a milestone in my life, this one was much more meaningful and rewarding.

When the guys were done — but before they left — I brought Penny outside on a leash. I carved my initials and the year into the wet concrete and pressed one of Penny’s paws into it.

The concrete work was done by noon on Tuesday, September 30. According to Bill, I’d have to wait until Sunday, October 5 to drive on it.

Coincidentally, I had a flight scheduled for that day. I realized that if I got everything set up properly in advance, I’d be able to put the helicopter inside my building before nightfall on Sunday.

One thought on “Construction: The Concrete Driveway Apron

  1. Maria, your driveway looks like it turned out awesome! It is amazing how smooth Bill and his team were able to get the concrete. I wonder how they do that. Anyways, my husband and I want to get our concrete driveway resurfaced. I will have to watch the process so I can learn more about it.

What do you think?