Waiting for Cement to Dry in France

Level Concrete
Pool Pad

Beton is the word for concrete in French, at least in the south of France.

We learned this word all too well after waiting for weeks for the cement truck, a truck or any truck to arrive with the right equipment to reach the site, with the right consistency of mix to work over the dirt pad efficiently.

The first truck arrived without a pouring arm and the delivery guy wanted to dump it right in front of our gate. The mixture arrived later in the day, 2 and a half hours late and the plastic mixture was chemically reacting and transforming to stone far too quickly, and the heat would have made it impossible or back breaking to get it down to the area and laid before nightfall. We turned them away. They were not pleased and tried everything possible for us to sign for the load.

Alfonz made phone calls trying to have the company come back with a pump and a pouring arm to reach the far side of the yard, 10 meters from our gate. The new prices seemed outrageous, going from 600Euros for the original beton quote up to 2000Euros for the second. They ended up negotiating, and a compromise was met, just over the 1000Euros mark, making a good deal for us and finishing the concrete slab job.

The guys created their own screed or straightening edge to level the sections they created. The remote controlled operated arm was run by the delivery man that poured directly into one sections at a time, as Alfonz and Adrian fitted in rubber boots and junky clothes, manually leveled it off.

With two plastic levers on wire as their guide, they pulled their screed to straighten the load. A perfect pour, without much fuss, the whole job took about an hour. Well 2 days of digging, 1 day to lay the wire and gravel down, 2 weeks of waiting, and then 1 hour to pour.

Monday the truck came while I was away at choir practice and I came home to a perfectly level concrete pad, quickly drying under the hot afternoon sun.

Alfonz taught Daniel the job of watering the concrete to stop it from drying too quickly. He was happy with the grown-up task and helped his daddy eagerly.

The two men were covered in concrete from head to toe. I worried about the mixture on their skin. I read if it stays on your skin too long it can actually cause a second-degree burn in the summer heat. No burns thank god, but both men ended up with very dry skin from it.

Now we wait for it to set. They say about 1 week to be swimming pool ready. Monday would be the fastest we can assemble, so Alfonz will call Stephan, our pool salesman, to arrange delivery.

In the mean time the guys are doing odd end jobs. Adrian tackled the main fan in the living room today, and Alfonz organized his entire garage with a place for everything.

For two days before, Steve, our contractor, came by to concrete the new door to the street creating walls, and the guys used the leftover concrete to build 2 steps up from the road, and they rearranged the area to create a new BBQ space for our rental gite. I was so impressed how it turned out. They redirected a drainpipe, and places beautiful stones from the front yard into the concrete and it matched the rest of the stone work paths throughout the grounds. Truly it looked like we hired someone for the task.

The two men work so well together and are becoming familiar with the French version of Home Depot called Bricomarche. I am sure if they don’t show up for a day or two the young ladies working there think something must have happened to them! They are good looking guys, and no matter where we go they cause quite a stir.

They assembles the new BBQ for the rental, they fixed light fixtures outside, they hung lights, pretty much anything they come across they find the time and fix it.

They wake up and work all day, only stop for the lunch and the dinner I force them to stop for. Honestly both guys are so productive and we couldn’t come this far without the two of them together doing this renovation. It is awesome to watch!



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