Q.: I'm a remodeling contractor who builds a lot of additions, usually at the rear of an existing house. We pour our own footings, foundations, and flatwork, but often the 10-cubic-yard ready mixed concrete trucks are too heavy or too big to get to the home's backyard without damaging the lawn and landscaping. Placing concrete by wheelbarrow is slow and labor-intensive. What's the most economical way to solve this problem?
A.: Some concrete producers have smaller trucks that carry 5- cubic-yard loads and are more maneuverable, so they are better able to fit between trees and shrubs. Putting plywood sheets in a truck's wheel path also reduces lawn damage.
Walk-behind or ride-on power buggies are another option. Most have capacities from 9 to 16 cubic feet, but larger units are also available. If you own a skid-steer loader, consider using a concrete placing attachment. (See Concrete Construction, May 1997, page 436-442 for descriptions of several of these units.)
Small-line concrete pumps can also be used successfully for pours where access is a problem. If you do a lot of this kind of work, buying a small-line pump may be more economical than using a pumping service. Boom pumps--with the boom extended over the house and into the backyard--have been used to place concrete made with 3/4- or 1-inch maximum-size aggregate. Higher pumping costs are the major disadvantage of using the larger boom pumps.