A reader's Concrete and Concreting question: Concrete footings wet season?

James Mc.   from   Jubail, Saudi Arabia   had this Concrete footings wet season question.

Hello Bill, Wife and I have a contract with a Thai builder for a home in Hua Hin, Thailand. Progress forward is at a halt over the issue of placing (pouring) concrete footings while the excavations are full of water - water is unavoidable during the wet season there.

Builder insists building the footings in the wet is OK. We are adamant about doing the work in the dry season.

Would you advise as to whether or not we will be buying long term problems if we let him build in the wet?
P. S. Saudi is not home, merely locale of employment.

Bill's answer

Hi James, I live in Darwin and I would guess that we get just as much rain in our wet season as anywhere in Southern Thailand. We never stop building during the wet season!
The whole industry just doesn't shut down for the wet.
At the same time we never actually knowingly pour concrete if it is raining, or lit looks like it is going to rain.
Sometimes we get rained on during the pour, but usually the concrete doesn't suffer too much.

So the builder is right in saying that building in the wet is OK.

  • Of course he has to make sure that he does it correctly.
  • You may be imagining the worst and thinking that he will be pouring concrete into trenches with 300mm of water in the bottom.
  • If we get a case like this say after a severe storm, we may have to pump out (very rare) and sometimes I've excavated sump alongside a low point to let the water drain into.
  • Then we may have to leave it a couple of days to dry out.
  • In cases where we can't wait I have had to lift out all the rebar to clean mud out of the bottom of excavation. But this is fairly rare.
  • If we know that conditions will not be ideal, we may up the quality of the concrete on a particular job.

I guess it depends on the builder and if you trust him to do the right thing. What the inspection process is over there etc. It would obviously be ideal if the job could be delayed until the dry, or if you had someone that you trust to supervise the work.

At the end of the day, you are the client, and if you want him to adjust his schedule then he should do so. Of course all this should have been discussed before signing the contract or any deposits paid, etc.

Best of luck with it.
Cheers Bill.

Thank you for your informative, and prompt, reply. The problem is that I do not trust the builder. The previous times I have visited the site, I see problems with their work on other homes; things like placing footing concrete with 30cm to 50cm of water standing in the excavation, rock or stone pockets in structural columns from failure to vibrate the concrete, and more.

I have asked an attorney in Hua Hin to send a letter to the managing director of the builder to inform him that he must commit, in writing, to minimum quality methods, like those you pointed out, before we will agree with the work proceeding. I will also arrange for our agent to be notified in advance of any important steps in the work to all for a modicum of inspection and approval before proceeding.

Stuff like bailing water out of excavations before concrete pours, vibrating concrete, etc. really do not cost those people any extra money. They are just too lazy and stubborn to do the work right. I constantly encounter the same problems in dealing with the local contractors here in Saudi.
Again, thanks for your information.

Best regards,
James McCullough

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