In recent PDB articles about concrete deck foundations, it seems that piers are always dug by hand, and that concrete is mixed from bags. What’s up with that? Isn’t time (or a better result) worth anything? If I needed piers dug below the frostline (no frost here in California), I’d hire a Bobcat-mounted drill. If I needed to cross a lawn, I’d lay down sheets of OSB and plastic sheeting for protection. Any job that requires anything approaching a yard of concrete gets ordered from a batch plant with a pump. That yard of concrete might be costly, but the job goes quickly without a lot of help, the foundations aren’t full of cold joints, and a good pumper will clean his hose into the truck, leaving no mess.

While we’re on the subject of concrete, this publication recently ran a two-part article on piers (“Better Deck Piers,” February/March and April 2015). Besides all the above labor-intensive issues, the author suggests setting anchor bolts in wet concrete and “jiggling and turning” them for secure embedment. But if a concrete pour is being inspected in my area, the anchor bolts must be placed in anchor-bolt holders and attached to a form board, with the concrete poured around them. This is to prevent some knucklehead from forgetting the bolts until the concrete is mostly set up and then beating them in with a hammer. By the way, why anchor bolts and bases? Simpson makes a full range of post and column bases.

(from online comments)