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From commercial pilot to general contractor (3): Half-load restrictions, Half-speed construction

Retired pilot John Bleasby gives us his third of a series of blogs about the home he is building north of Toronto. In this blog, he talks about the delays he experienced this spring waiting for building materials to arrive in trucks hampered by half-load restrictions on township roads.


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June 13, 2014 by John Bleasby

EDITOR’S NOTE: Meet John Bleasby. John is a retired commercial pilot attempting to transition to life as a general contractor. There was obviously a time when he had to do his first solo, as a pilot. Evidently he took off and landed safely. And did it thousands of times, thereafter. Now, as he attempts to do his first solo as a general contractor, building his family home north of Toronto, he has kindly offered to share his experiences with us, weekly, in Canadian Contractor online. Veteran contractors, go easy on him – but all comments are most welcome.

If you missed John’s first post, it’s here. If you missed his second post, it’s here.

The excruciatingly long winter of 2013-2014 not only delayed my project’s start time by two weeks; it also resulted in an extension of the half-load trucking restrictions on the Township roads in my area. That meant, in essence, that transportation costs doubled for given loads materials like cement, stone, fill or anything else that moved by heavy vehicles, potentially hitting the bottom line hard.  Since we were at the stage of having the footings forms already in place, and ICF block assembly underway, I had one of two choices to make:

The footings are poured and ICF block assembly continues. The 3/4" clear stone inside the footings makes things manageable for the crew.

The footings are poured and ICF block assembly continues. The 3/4″ clear stone inside the footings makes things manageable for the crew.

1. Do I stop the project completely for two weeks until the half-loads come off in order to keep on budget (but risk losing my crew to another project)? Or…

2. Do we slow things down on site and order transport for only the absolute minimum required during this extended period, despite the additional costs, in order to keep the ball rolling forward?

Obviously, I chose the latter. I bit the bullet on smaller concrete deliveries for the footings and for enough clear stone inside the footings to make the site workable… the mud was gooey and difficult underfoot. However, in the interim while the clock ticked away, a skeleton crew was able to continue the ICF block assembly. When the half-load restrictions came off, we had our township inspections for footings and rebar behind us, and thanks to some pressure applied on our concrete supplier, poured the foundation wall that very day!

With the wall assembled with a skeleton crew and all inspections passed, the foundation wall pour goes ahead on the first day that full loads are permitted.

With the wall assembled with a skeleton crew and all inspections passed, the foundation wall pour goes ahead on the first day that full loads are permitted.

It’s important to put this particular situation in perspective and look at some positives; I was one of several dozen local projects similarly affected and delayed, and was in fact very fortunate to receive a large concrete delivery the first day after the restrictions were lifted. That being a Friday, the concrete had a full weekend to set, and work was able to resume at full speed with a full crew on Monday the following week.

Whether I had chosen a traditional concrete foundation wall for my house or an ICF block assembly, the delays suffered would have been exactly the same. However, I had many good reasons to choose ICF, which I will summarise briefly next time; plus I will point out some unique ICF factors that require planning and foresight.