Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cabin Building - Day Zero

After almost a year of clearing and surviving, and many months of abnormal summer rain, we finally have all the groundwork done for our cabin and are ready to pour our concrete piers. Yippee!

First we cut a 50 ft x 50 ft clearing out of the forest. Our cabin will be 16x24, with porches on either side, for a total footprint of 24x24. Firewise rules state to clear all trees 30 feet from the house, so we have a few more feet to go, but this should be good enough to get started building.  We left one tree standing in the clearing to serve as our center marker for surveying, the rope on the ground is our due north bearing line since we're building passive solar.

Then we ran the chipper for several days to mulch down the 50x10x10 brush pile that came out of this tiny little clearing. This mulched area will be our tool and storage zone while we're building since it's level now. We're planning to put our two metal sheds at either end and then spread a mega-tarp between them to create dry storage for our building materials.

Anything too big for the chipper got limbed out and will become firewood. We have several of these piles up and down the driveway, probably 3 cords worth. None of it is particularly big, so all we need to do is buck it up into stove lengths - no splitting, yay!

Once the clearing was cleaned up and all the mulching done, we cut down our center tree, drove a nail in the stump and used that as our center marker for surveying. We got the corner stakes in and measured out about as square as you can get without a laser or being able to grade. We tried the batter boards, but they were just not working for us. In the end we settled for running string lines right on the ground against the stakes... good enough for government work ;)

Then we hauled gravel down to the site and built up bases for our pads and piers. The ground is pretty level, but not LEVEL... so we gave up any pretense of leveling the pads to each other and just settled for leveling the pad to itself.  Since we can't dig or grade because of the permafrost issues, and we couldn't get a dump truck back because of the muddy trail issues, we decided that each pier could be an independent height as long as they were all level at 20" above grade to accept the beam. We do have some wiggle room since there will be a ginormous acme screw leveling jack on top of each between the pier and the sill beam.

Here's all eight of the bases with their 32" x 32" plywood frames and 5/8" rebar for pouring the 2" concrete pads. All our bags of local concrete are tucked up safely under the tarp just in case it rains again. Once the pads are poured, screed and green-cured we'll score the top and set our 10" quickcrete tube forms up and pour the piers with vertical rebar. Once that has green-cured, we can embed the bolts for the leveling jacks.

Here's a view of the footprint with our truck for comparison:

Standing on top of the truck cab, I'm just about the same height as the loft floor, so here's what our bedroom view should look like (south):

And our view out the back from the landing (north):

No side views since we've got the gambrel roof and I'm so not a good enough carpenter to build dormers!!  Once we clear some more of those trees (particularly the aspens) for pastures and whatnot, we'll have pretty good views of the hills on both sides.


Anonymous said...

Nice...glad to see you get started. Leveling the posts with each other is quite a bit easier than making the pads level. Especially, when your site is difficult to access. Looking forward to seeing the system you use for permafrost and how it works over the weather changes.

Anonymous said...

Good progress.

I hope you have good knowledge that a 2" pad is adequate. I'd be 4" minimum, and 5" better.

Plickety Cat said...

There's at least 6" of hardpacked gravel and clay beneath the concrete... I think we're good since the cabin is actually fairly light :)