How much does it cost to purchase and install a new heavy duty tower? That is a question many radio amateurs ask when considering a support structure for their antennas. Therefore, I am documenting my tower purchase (US Tower HDX-572) and installation to show my out of pocket expenses and experience. I am performing the tower installation myself, therefore I will save some on labor. The tower will require a building permit, I will include those costs too. So far I have my plans in hand, cost $600.00.
Next stop,the Warren County, Va building department.
Today, August 6th, I dropped off my plans and building permit application. The application cost $61.00, so far so good, the permit technician was quite helpful. A pleasant change from my prior experience with another permit technician who was a little rude.
Good news, the county approved my tower as proposed, so it is on with the show. It's Friday August 27th, 2010. I visited a local concrete tool dealer who also works with rebar. I asked for a quote to build the rebar cage that is required for the tower. I provided a copy of the plans and the phone number to U.S. Tower, just in case they may have any questions, no price on that yet.
It is also time to get started digging the 5x5x8 hole. At eight feet deep, digging through Virginia clay and rocks by hand is out of the question. Therefore, tomorrow a rented backhoe is being delivered to handle the digging chores. The cost for delivery, pickup, fuel, and rental for two days came to $541.50. I also needed wood for the form and marking paint, cost on that was $24.37.
Mother Earth Intervenes:
We attempted to dig a 5 foot square hole as required for the tower. However, we ran into a large shale deposit which required additional digging. The hole has now grown to 5 X 8 X 8. The unfortunate thing about shale, it has a domino effect when disturbed, so it basically caved in on one side, causing a void when we attempted to dig out the hole. Now, I have to go back to the engineer to see what needs to be done, if anything to compensate for the additional size hole.
September 1, I inquired with U.S. Tower about the over excavation. I was informed that I could either frame up the one side, pour the concrete, wait a week, and then carefully back fill/pack the excessive void, or I could just fill the void with concrete. I have opted for the later. I hope the county inspector agrees after reading the email from the P.E. at U.S. Tower. In regard to the rebar cage, the subcontractor (Action Concrete of Winchester, VA) has quoted a price of $380.00 plus tax ($19) to complete the cage.
September 10, Today, I order the tower and associated hardware, with shipping the total came to $15178.00. I also picked up the rebar cage, they did an excellent job, better than I could have ever done. Next step will be the drainage gravel, framing the foundation, and concrete.
This weekend, September 18-19, I spent most of the time trying to get the rebar cage set into the foundation, and constructing the concrete form. U.S. Tower mailed the base and foundation bolts to me in advanced. I needed additional lumber to make the form, and some drainage rock. The lumber came to $23.52 and 30 bags of drainage rock was $116.87.
After installing the drainage rock, I discovered that the rebar cage was not sitting deep enough in the hole. To remedy this issue, I had to hand dig out several inches of rock to square up/deepen the hole. I spent several hours working at this with little progress, so I decided that an electric jack hammer would be required to complete this task within a reasonable amount of time, rental price was $69.30.
Total to date: $17013.56
10/1/2010: Today, the project was inspected and approved by a county building inspector. Next, comes the concrete and delivery of the tower.
10/11/2010: The concrete arrived today, it took approximately 11 yards of concrete to fill the void in the ground for the tower base, I used 3500 psi concrete with fiber reinforcement. Myself, my wife, and my sister-in-law, served as the concrete crew for this stage of the project. Both have been very supportive and helpful throughout all stages of the project. I could not have done it without their assistance. The cost of the concrete came to $1184.40, and rental for a concrete vibrator for one day was $43.00.
10/17/2010: Not much new to report on the tower project, except that we removed the concrete form from the base. As a word of advice, always put thought into how the concrete form will be removed after the pour. I had a very difficult time removing the wood form from the base. I literally had to split the wood along its grain in bits and pieces to remove it from the base. It took several hours to remove two sides of the form from the base because it had become entrenched with concrete on both sides of the board.
I was informed by U.S. Tower and the trucking company that my tower should be delivered on Tuesday, November 2. In anticipation, today I mounted the T-Base plate onto the foundation base. The base fit without any issues. As another word of advice, make the holes in the wood frame for the threaded rod somewhat larger than the rod, I had a lot of trouble removing the frame from the rods after the pour because the wood had swelled from the moisture.
The tower arrived today, without any issues getting it off the truck. I was not sure if I could move the tower with my Kubota tractor, but I managed to get it into position. The bill of lading shows the shipped tower with the raising fixture weighed 1848 pounds.
11/24/2010, The tower is now mounted on the base, leveling the tower was easy using the leveling nuts, and the T-base has been grouted. Except for grounding and wiring the remote, the tower project is mostly complete. Next, I will be considering which antenna(s) to purchase.
Except for grounding, the project is at a standstill until next spring. The tower project was a lot of work, but it gave a sense of accomplishment too by doing the work myself, and I learned a few things too along the way. I had to purchase a couple of bags of concrete grout to complete the base, cost was $16.78
The cumulative tower project total was $18257.74
Here are some photos of the tower installation project:
My Brother-In-Law running the Backhoe...
The finished excavation...
The Rebar Cage...
The base plate and concrete form...
Excavation formed, inspected and approved...
My Sister-In-Law helping with the finish...
Completed Foundation and T-Base Installed...
Tower on the completed base...
The Tower, US Tower HDX-572...