Concrete Block Delivery

Today we had three big deliveries. It started at 7 am with 12 cubic yards of sand for mortar. This was followed by Brent with his regular delivery of organic goats milk whey for our pigs and then the truck load of concrete block units (CMUs) from Griswold ST. This is the same ready-mix plant that delivered the concrete to us on Monday. While there were some problems with this order of block I was impressed with the delivery guy, Mark, and the quality of their concrete block looks excellent.

The photo above shows Mark taking the first load off of the truck. He arrived with a little specialized fork lift hugging the back of the truck for dear life. I have seen these rigs out on the highway but this was the first time I got to see one in action. It was fascinating to watch it climb down off the truck. There is a specialized slot in the back of the truck where the forks of the lift go. Mark had the fork lift push up to release the weight on the chains, disconnected the chains and then the fork lift lowered itself down to the ground and drove back away from the truck, once again a free agent.

Using the fork lift Mark was able to deliver all the cubes, that is to say pallet loads, of CMUs up to our house site and put them exactly where I wanted them to minimize my later hauling of blocks. Having things in the right place makes a big difference when you’re moving around tons of stone and concrete by hand. The fewer times, the fewer steps, the better.

These are Standard 8″x8″x16″ concrete Block Units at $1.22 each from ST Griswold in Williston, Vermont. A pallet contains 98 blocks and is called a cube. Delivery ($135) and pallet deposits ($18 each = $162) add 28.34¢ to the cost of each block over the order of 1,048 blocks. Including the cost of delivery and sales tax (6%) each of these standard blocks costs $1.59. The average block cost for the order was $1.59 including all costs. Interesting that a standard block costs the average amount – a coincidence, not a conspiracy I suspect… I include this as it may be an interesting reference both for planning and future comparisons. The blocks actually measure 7.625″x7.625″x15.625″ and not 8″x8″x16″. This is not much like 2×4’s really being 1.5″x3.5″ – The reason 2×4’s are small is the planing to smooth the board. The reason CMU’s are smaller is to leave room for the standard 3/8″ (0.375″) of mortar between blocks. Once mortared the block effectively becomes 8″x8″x16″. If you’re dry stacking you’ll need to take this into account.

Something that is not readily visible in the small photo is that some of the blocks are end blocks that have a flat end and some are stretcher blocks that have sort of two tails at the end. The end blocks also have a extra core down the middle between the two main cores or voids – that allows you to split them. It is fairly easy to do but takes time so I also ordered a cube of half blocks so we can go faster when laying block – more on that later.

These are Channel Blocks, also known as Bon Beam Blocks, 90 to a pallet, which you put at the top of a wall with a piece of rebar and then fill them with concrete to create a ring beam around the building for stability. If you are in earthquake prone areas then it is a good idea to have additional beams lower down the wall as well. I over build – you never know when the big one will hit here in Vermont. Channel blocks cost $1.95 each plus delivery, pallets and sales tax bringing their price to $2.36 each.

Most of this stack, the lower blocks, are 4″x8″x16″ Standard Partition Blocks. The core does not run all the way through although it does look like it can be punched out with a lengthy of rod for rebar. These thinner blocks are useful for building interior walls where we don’t need the extra strength of the standard 8″x8″x16″ blocks. This saves a little space in the rooms – a key consideration in such a tiny cottage. These come 144 to a pallet. Standard partition blocks cost $1.02 each plus delivery, pallets and sales tax bringing their price to $1.38 each.

Oddly, there were 20 extra blocks on each of the two pallets of partition blocks. I asked the driver about that and he wasn’t sure what it was about. The other pallets seemed to account for all my other blocks – I had purposefully ordered in full cubes to optimize my pricing. A mystery.

These are a mistake. They are 8″x4″x16″ Half Height Blocks and 180 per pallet. I had ordered 8″x8″x8″ Half Blocks. I went back and checked my email and that was indeed what I had gotten pricing on. Unfortunately during the ordering I got passed to someone else and he misunderstood and sent half height blocks instead of 8x8x8 half blocks. The dispatcher looked back over the records, saw that my original pricing was for the half blocks and was very good about fixing the mistake. Mark took back these blocks and on Monday they’re delivering a cube of the 8″x8″x8″ Half Blocks that I want. Beware that Half Block and Half Height Block can be potentially confused. I can see where the error happened. Interestingly, Mark, the delivery guy, had never seen these before so evidently they’re not ordered very frequently. Half Height blocks cost $1.14 each plus delivery, pallets and sales tax bringing their price to $1.51 each. What we actually ordered and need, Half blocks, cost the same.

Delivery costs $135 in our zone which is the furthest they go – about 1 hour’s drive and 60 miles or so from the block plant. Note when ordering block that you likely also pay for pallets ($18 each in this case – ouch). I noted on the invoice that they charge a sales tax on the pallets even though the $18 is only a deposit – you get it back when you return the pallets. I wonder if they also credit the sales tax?

After Mark was all done the fork lift approached the rear of the truck, inserted its proboscis, the forks, into the receptacle, mounted the truck and hung on for dear life as it headed back up to Williston. Actually, it’s not that bad, after the fork lift does a push up, Mark chained it to the truck, lowered the front wheels of the lift down onto the steel shelves, set the locks, hooked the green signal cable to the lift and it just hung out until it’s needed again. A life of ease with short stints of hard labor, the wind in its hair and shear terror on the highway – Don’t tailgate!

46°F/31°F Partially Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Concrete Block Delivery

  1. pablo says:

    Well, I’m impressed. Are those really cement blocks or are they actually concrete blocks?

  2. Pablo, you are right. I used the wrong word. STGriswold, the company who makes them calls them “Concrete Block” which makes sense since they do have small aggregate in them in addition to the cement which binds the material together. Fixed! Thanks!

  3. Jacqueline Shakir says:

    I’m planning on building my home, but before that I wanted to start buying the concrete blocks, is there a place in New York, where I could get prices, including delivery.

  4. Drew Carrie says:

    Ifyou had it to do over would you still use the blocks?

    • Maybe. They are easy to work with. For the cottage we actually did some walls with block and some with forms to test both method. For the long term I like the poured concrete walls better than the blocks but the blocks go up faster. So it depends a bit on how much time you have. For our butcher shop and the south field shed we did poured walls in forms.

  5. Peter Karpouzas says:

    The wife and I were just discussing building our bush cabin out of something that is a bit different to the norm of around town. This may just be what we are looking for. Good post and thanks for sharing

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