When pouring-cement-steps it is one time you absolutely have to be on site. You also need to inspect the forms before pouring to make sure everything is correct before pouring.
In pouring-cement-steps, it is the General Contractor's responsibility, (that is YOU, the owner-contractor), to make sure your sub knows the procedures you want followed, so your steps are prepared and poured correctly. Do not rely on your subs to do it the "RIGHT WAY", unless you are there watching and overseeing the process.
We had a terrible fiasco with both our front steps and garage steps, partly due to our inexperience, and partly due to the cement contractor's negligence. We depended upon the sub to do what needed to be done, figuring that he knew what he was doing and that we shouldn't tell him how to do his job. He not only did not prepare the ground properly, but also in pouring the steps he did not create a lightweight step, but instead poured a huge 5x7x4 foot high rock. In both cases, it was done wrong.
On the front steps,he failed to tamp down the ground with a good bed of gravel using a thumper. He also did not use anything to fill in the huge space, and consequently poured a heavy rock that would ultimately sink if the ground became saturated with moisture.
On the garage steps, his boss told him he could use 1x4 wood to frame it up, and the frame-work "blew out" while pouring the steps because of the weight of the cement. You always use 2x4 construction, plus you brace it besides. We should have had him redo the garage steps but we didn't for fear of us having to pay for them twice. Again, our lack of experience left us with twisted looking steps. They aren't too bad, but....
Suffice it to be that we paid a dear price (over $3,100) for our lack of experience in pouring-cement-steps and our unfortunate choice of sub-contractor to do the work. If you want the details go to
HERE...Scroll down to "The porch was sinking"
You can close that window and it will bring you back here.
After reading about our pouring-cement-steps experience, you now know more than we did about your role as the GC in building your home.
To restate it briefly, what you need to do is to make sure the soil under the steps is properly prepared by first wetting the soil thoroughly. If you don't have water to your property yet, then I've been told some GC's will use the water from a fire hydrant nearby. Check with the city in this case.
Our daughter's soil around their new construction was so saturated that they would sink to their ankles for days. That's a lot of water. You can't get too much water on the backfill area.
Give plenty of time (several weeks) for it to dry completely.
You can place pieces of narrow plywood out to walk on to get into your home.
After the ground has dried, a good bed of road base gravel needs to be put down and "tamped" down with a thumper. Then the forms can be put up and prepared for pouring of the cement.
NOTE: If you have a big step, lighten the amount of cement by putting bales of straw or hay in the bottom of the forms, so it will take less cement and the cement will form a shell around the filler. Make sure adequate reinforcing rod is place in the cement to insure a solid step.
Some people make a cold storage under the front step. Then they pour cement over that and on the sides. That is a perfect way of cutting down on the weight of the step. Don't forget a doorway from the basement into that cold storage room if the cement forms a room under the step.
One more thing about pouring-cement-steps: Be sure some reinforcing rod is place at an upward angle in the cement wall of the foundation with plenty extending for your step to be poured around so that your step will not pull away from the house if the ground settles around your house.
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