How fit do you have to be to barrow 3 cubes of setting concrete 35m?

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 boydat 18 Sep 2022

I need a slab pouring for footings for a workshop, and my mate is adamant that the two of us are going to have a very bad time barrowing readymix the 35 metres from the truck to the back garden. I put the measurements into one of those concrete calculators ( and apparently we're looking at just under 3 cubes of product, which doesn't seem like that much to me.

He wants to hire a mixer but that sounds like even more work.

Anyone got any experience doing either, or preferably both?

 Dave Todd 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

UKC = UKConcrete?

 Billhook 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Mixing cement/sand/gravel by hand is slow work.  If you are talking about mixing 3 cubic metres then that will take an awful lot of time and effort to mix.  

A normal sized mixer will mix about one decent sized wheelbarrow in 5 or 10 minutes (I've never timed myself!!)  To do that by hand  would take, much, much longer.

Are you  going to have the ready mix dropped into the front garden and you shovel it into a wheelbarrow then take it around the back garden?  

I'm sure someone on here will know how many 'average',  wheelbarrow journeys you'll need to do.   If you're not used to it, barrowing wet cement is harder on the body than you might think. (its also hard on wheelbarrows too).

 elsewhere 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

3m**3 -> 7200kg

Try pushing your mate (72kg) in the wheelbarrow for 3.5km. Then lift him into the wheelbarrow and tip him out a hundred times. That should give you an idea even if just ready-mix.

72kg is the official UKC standardised mate.

 Myfyr Tomos 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Can be very hard work. You need somebody really slick on the chute to avoid overloaded barrows or a huge dump to be shoveled once the lorry is empty. A sympathetic driver also helps. Does your readymix supplier have, or have details for a concrete pump or conveyor? Best things since sliced bread.

Post edited at 18:28
 Hooo 18 Sep 2022
In reply to elsewhere:

I just did the maths and came up with something similar. To the OP, you'd need to be hardcore 🙂

OP boydat 18 Sep 2022

Yeah the access isn't great so the plan is to barrow it round the back of the house. The workshop is right at the other end of the garden unfortunately. I was going to drop a tarp round the front in case we weren't fast enough and they needed to offload what was left.

This whole thing sounds a bloody nightmare to be honest. I'm tempted to pay the extra and just get it pumped, wouldn't think twice if concrete prices hadn't gone through the roof the past few months.

My mate only weighs about 60kg so we'll have to add some extra ballast for the trial run.

OP boydat 18 Sep 2022
In reply to Myfyr Tomos:

They can bring a pump and run pipes round the back. Very tempted but it's quite a bit more money. I told the wife this whole project would cost about £400 less than where it's headed.

 daWalt 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

the capacity of a barrow is about 85l - you could usefully use a max of about 50 before it becomes totally unwieldy; that's 0.05 cube, and that'll weigh 120 kg (2400 kg/m3)

you run that 30 times (two people, 60 loads total) realistically you'll probably run at least about 40 loads each just because 120kg is a hell of a load to shift even on perfectly flat and smooth ground.

at the end of the job you and your former mate will be totally F ucked, you'll have pissed off the wagon driver because batching out such small volumes from the chute is a total arse, you'll have waste conc slopped everywhere, your slab will be riddled with cold-joints, and you'll be billed a small fortune for waiting time (you only get 30 min to unload before you get charged time)

let me know how you get on

Post edited at 18:59
In reply to boydat:

> I was going to drop a tarp round the front in case we weren't fast enough and they needed to offload what was left.

It won't stay in a nice pile like sand or gravel will...

 daWalt 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

> I was going to drop a tarp round the front in case we weren't fast enough and they needed to offload what was left.

it'll be too runny to stay on a tarp - wet conc doesn't mound up like a pile of sand or gravel; it'll flow right off the tarp and go everywhere (you can get "dry-mix" but even that is not really "dry" in the normal sense of the word.

it might be (it often is) easier to make temporary vehicle access to allow the wagon to back right up to the pour. Or, make "vehicle" access for a hire dumper. (this also helps with "washout" - the wagon chute needs to be rinsed down after delivery and it'll need to be done somewhere where the small amount of waste conc and water can go (just make sure you rinse down your hire dumper on the spot)

alternatively - consider the need for concrete.

if you don't have vehicle access to the site; do you have, or intend to have, vehicle access to the intended end product? if not, can you consider smaller and lighter footings and a hand-laid slab floor?

Post edited at 18:58
 J101 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

No chance you can get a dumper through the access?

Hiring a 1 ton dumper for the day would be cheaper than hiring the pump. Need turning space for it as well though.

3 of us barrowed 2m³ in half an hour on a 12m run (most concrete companies start to charge you extra after this). I wouldn't fancy shifting 3m³ over 35m with just 2 people 

To mix yourself even with a hired mixer will be a serious undertaking. That's just over 7 tonnes to shovel and to be honest it'll probably cost more in materials than it will to buy it ready mixed.

Final point, watch out for the guy on the mixer truck trying to turn up the water content all the time! Not saying everyone does this but I've seen it happen quite a bit, water being quite a lot cheaper than ballast and cement.

Post edited at 19:03
 ExiledScot 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Unless you're prepared for them to dump it on the ground and you shovel it in, you'll be paying extra for them being on site two+ hours extra. 

Post edited at 19:24
 J101 18 Sep 2022
In reply to ExiledScot:

Last time I got a reasonable load (6m³):they wanted something like £3/minute for anything over half an hour

 J101 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Your best bet here if you can't improve the access is to find a few more friends with wheelbarrows so you've 5 or 6 of you. Buy everyone a takeaway and beers afterwards and it'll still be cheaper than hiring a pump.

In reply to boydat:

I’ve shifted a fair bit of concrete when younger and I would say it’s not feasible for a normal person. Unless your a labourer by trade or do a huge amount of physical work daily, don’t do it. 

Remember, firstly you can’t hold the barrow when it’s being filled by the lorry, secondly, depending on consistency, it will move a little or a lot in the barrow and you have to continuously fight with the arms when moving of rolling effect of the barrow whilst still trying to walk. I’ve broken a barrow as the arms of the barrow could cope with the torque effect when loaded with wet concrete. Thirdly, going around a corner, if needed, is hard work as you can’t tilt the barrow to help cornering, and don’t even think about holding back a full barrow if it runs away downhill, or trying to push uphill. Finally, don’t under estimate the effort after 35m pushing of trying to upend the barrow (unless you just let it fall sideways in exhaustion).

Even if you pay to keep the lorry long enough, or shovel the remainder from a tarp, you will not be in any fit state to level and tamper it, which by that time it will be going off to make it even harder. Then you will need time to clean up all the mess you have made over the 35m and the tools/equipment/yourself….. 😉

 jkarran 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Powered barrow/dumper?

It's too much to sensibly move witg a mate. 


In reply to boydat:

Also, a serious point if you have never handled wet concrete, some people’s skin reacts badly (irritation, chemical burns, dermatitis), to handling wet concrete and that could take weeks or months (or more) to recover from. Shouldn’t forget you can easily tear the skin off your fingers and hands from friction of the barrow alone and it’s worsened by having concrete water on them. 

In reply to boydat:

Put out a call for some stout youthes!

 Uncle Derek 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Will there be a conveyor belt involved?

 jiminy483 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

I put 6m in on Monday, me and another fella barrowed it in while one guy was flattening it off. It was a slab, I think two of you would be fine, too much mix I'd say.

 MarkAstley 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Maybe consider one of the 'we mix you lay' companies which have the truck with a small mixer on the back and goes straight to barrow. 

The one we use in Leeds has 2 crew, one mixes and one barrows, that'll be 3 of you to move the mix.

Could be done by hand with a stand mixer and dumpy bag(s) of ballast, you'll be very very tired at the end.....

Crackers to do it from the back of big lorry with a chute, be very messy.


 steveriley 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Fair chance of lassitude I think. I had a good bit less than that delivered last year, for a shed base. Drove me insane barrowing it the length of the house couple of corners, sets of steps, top of the garden. Mixing, spreading, sighing.

 henwardian 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Your mate is right, this will not work.

I had, hmm, I think 6 guys with 5 wheelbarrows to barrow 5.5 cubes between 10 metres and 40 metres (different bits of foundation) and I think it took us about 2 to 3 hours of nonstop very hard work. We also had the advantage that the truck we were using carried the powder, gravel and water separately and mixed it as it fell out of the back of the truck, so it was ok to have the truck sitting there for a few hours. More conventional trucks where the stuff is made up at the quarry and then driven to you will give you a _lot_ less time to get it out and into the foundations before it starts going off. And you will be paying maybe £60-£100 per hour while the truck sits there.

All of this assumes that you don't have anything awkward like uneven ground or a steep bit where you are barrowing, which will make it take even longer.

Don't be tempted to ask the driver to try and get closer unless you have a seriously, seriously engineered and compacted surface to move onto because a 40-50 tonne truck will sink instantly into a "road" that you can drive a transit or other LGV along without issue.

My 2 cents: Get 6 mates who are strong and motivated and as many wheelbarrows and make sure the path from truck to foundation site is prepared to be as smooth and straight as possible before hand and you should be ok.

 freeflyer 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Find an alternative to using a concrete slab?

 Enty 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

I built a plunge pool in the back garden. The slab for the base was approximately 1.2m3 of concrete.

I bought 1 tonne of melange beton (ready mixed sand and small river pebbles) and 14 bags of cement. I drove that up to the house in my trailer and mixed it and poured it in just over two hours.

I admit I didn't have to barrow it to the slab and could pour it straight in when mixed but I did have to shovel and pour 28 mixes individually.

2 of you should do 3 cube easy. Even better get a third person to fill the barrows and rotate the work.


 ian caton 18 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Depends on the terrain, depends how goid the barrows are. Big strong barrows are easier than b&q barrows.Depends how hot the day is. 

Agree with concrete company before purchase that the driver will put it in barrows. if driver disagrees sign the note refused to put in barrows and send him back. Be ready for the driver, have a place for him to park. 

In a long run have one more barrow than people, so no waiting for barrow to be filled.

Have a good path to barriw down and run with barrow. Momentum makes it easier.

For 2 beginners 3m cubed for 35m is too much. I would go for 3 people on barrows, 4 barrows and aim for 20 mins. Plus one person raking concrete into right place. For 3m cubed i woukd aim to have it laid and done before driver had finished washing truck down. 

If the concrete is stiff, low slump, it will be a pain to move around once out of barrow. But low slump is strong. It needs to be rakeable. Water can be added by driver, make sure he mixes it in well, 20 drum turns. 

Concrete drivers are masters of grumpiness, don't let them get to you. 

Don't under any circumstances have a pile of concrete that you have to shovel into barrows. It will go off on you. Back breaking.

Best to order for first delivery if the day. If will be on time and the water used will be cold si will go off more slowly. Air temp cool as well. You want first drop in winter too because it will take all day to go off. 

Order concrete on provisional to be confirmed at 7.30am on day of delivery that way if something, anything, goes wrong it doesn't turn up. 

Etc, etc, etc. 

I would get someone else to do it. Ask a pattern imprinted concrete company to do it. They barrow concrete all the time. 

Even with a pump you need to kniw what you are doing. One person holding the pipe and 2 people raking. Plus clean up fcailities for pump and concrete truck. 

Enough. Have fun. 

Post edited at 22:10
 ian caton 18 Sep 2022
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

I had a lad working for me who got some, concrete down his welly. His skin dissolved blood everywhere.

Anither time passing the chute from one to another a lad didn't see it coming and the hinge pin went in his eye. 

 David Alcock 19 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Last month my 18 year old and his mate - both big, very fit strapping lads, took 6 hours to barrow one cube of sharp sand (850kg) 700m, and they flogged themselves doing it. I think they did it in eight trips, so 5.6 km barrowing, and the same back up. You have a 20th of the distance, but 9-10x the weight, and crucially 9-10x the filling and emptying of barrows. I'd take my hat off if two of you managed it sub 5 hours. And that's just shifting the stuff, never mind laying it. Personally, I'd advise against unless you're a pair of Hercules.

So, echoing earlier posts, you'd have to be crazy - it would be a nightmare. I'm sorry to be so negative. 

In reply to boydat:

When we get about 5 tonnes of manure delivered to our allotment site it is an enormous pile that takes a few of us 2-3 hours to distribute around the site in more than 100 barrow loads. It is hard work, especially where any part of the ground is uneven or has even the slightest rise, or if any of the barrows is at all ropey, and by the end we are all knackered. For the reasons described by others, shifting wet concrete must be even harder work.

 mike123 19 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat: having done several slabs I would say Ian above knows what he’s talking about . I ve done a couple by hand ( mixing everything in a mixer ) as access was difficult and as others above say , its proper graft .  Last thing I mixed by hand was the plinth for my pizza oven which I had to shovel out of the barrow and up on to the stand . Ffs . About half way through I considered sacking it off as it was so knachering . Never again .  Get it delivered . Agree with the company that they will wait . Get as many barrows as you can lay your hands on and plenty of help . You plus three or four mates or possibly 5 so anybody who gets knackered can have a rest or go home . 
edit ; just remembered that I paid a friend of a friend to do the for the big shed at the bottom of my garden . He’s a farm labourer and a total machine . So that’s the top tip . Pay somebody who is used to doing to mix it by hand and skulk off saying you have some“ paper work “ to do .

Post edited at 07:53
 JimmAwelon 19 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

As Mark says use an outfit like this:

In reply to boydat:

35 years ago myself & three mates barrowed 7 cubic metres of readymix from the pavement in front of a cottage up a ginnel, up a 1 in 4 ramp and then up a garden path to tip it - it must have been about 50 metres up hill. The wagons stayed while we barrowed. Took us about 5 hours. It is the hardest day's work I've ever done of any kind. We were all extremely fit and strong. All it cost me was the ready mix, cake & tea, the builder who was raking & levelling and an ocean of beer! The blisters were epic...

I never did it again! I've poured 2 rafts since - once the wagons could access the site and the other time we hired a dumper.

What you suggest is possible. You probably need more people. Shuttering has to be all in place before 1st wagon arrives. You need someone in charge of levelling - so not barrowing. Make sure you "graduate" any steps you are going to be barrowing over. You need plenty of tea & cake and a substantial beer fund.

 ian caton 19 Sep 2022
In reply to mike123:

To my embarrassment i have done north of a thousand such jobs from 3m cube to 8 truck full. 

In reply to boydat:

Just remember that getting the concrete round there is only half the battle. 
You’d really need at least one person levelling and floating before the concrete goes off, or at least becomes unworkable. That is unless you’re putting a screed on top and you can get away with a rougher finish. 
You’re up against the clock with this. 
I’d pay out for the pump and get as many bodies on it as possible. 


 ExiledScot 19 Sep 2022
In reply to Mick B:

Depending what the job is they should hire a vibrator too.

In reply to ExiledScot:

> Depending what the job is they should hire a vibrator too.

To give the driver some entertainment while they wait?

In reply to Mick B: 

> I’d pay out for the pump and get as many bodies on it as possible. 

Put the bodies in it and you'll need less concrete.
After they've done all the hard work obviously... 

 ExiledScot 19 Sep 2022
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> To give the driver some entertainment while they wait?

It might in more ways than one, I've seen weak woodwork give out once inserted.

Post edited at 19:34
In reply to FactorXXX:

Yes, but they leave voids behind. This was a problem with the legs of Bow flyover, back in the day...

In reply to CantClimbTom:

> Yes, but they leave voids behind. This was a problem with the legs of Bow flyover, back in the day...

Couldn't you tamp them down first?

 Ffati1 19 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

I did a similar job last year, 3.5 cube with a similar distance.

We had 3 of us 2 of us on barrows 1 tamping/leveling. To be honest its not that bad. We had a hour for free and did it in that time,both of us on the barrows work in industry (pipe fitter and rigger) so not work shy but was ok.

Put your head down and its soon over

In reply to boydat:

Consider your barrow access - can empty barrows get back to the mixer without getting in the way of full ones? Barrow traffic jams are going to upset everyone.

Get a load of mates in and make a party of it. That's what I did when digging the footings for the garage at my old house. Everyone got 1/2 an hour on the minidigger .

 kmsands 20 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

I ended up doing my workshop base on rubble, sand + a little cement dry mix, then council paving slabs on top, hiring a vacuum slab lifter. A hard weekend's work (after a lot of work digging out a base in the first place) - and it was pretty faffy to get each slab level. But it's a good solid base and I think was easier than a pour would have been, at least for a non-expert like myself.

 Cobra_Head 20 Sep 2022
In reply to boydat:

Not read the whole thread and I'm sure someone has already said the following, but just in case ..

Delivery drivers get paid by the load, they won't want to hang around putting a barrowful at a time into your barrow(s). If they dump it in one pile that means loading it yourselves into barrows, hard work!!

Good luck.

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