Almost out of the Ground
About one month ago now, the family and I broke ground on our new barn. The space, which will be a combination workshop and artist’s studio measures 24 ft. x 30 ft. With help from good friend and former Fine Homebuilding Editor Andy Engel, and his compact loader/backhoe, we dug the 17 piers that make up the building’s foundation and placed and compacted the 18 in. of base material and 4 in. of gravel that elevates the slab above the surrounding grade.
This past weekend, we all worked together digging the trench and running conduit and wire for the electric. I passed the town’s utility inspection this morning. I hope to start backfiling tonight. The next step is forming the slab.
You can read more about my barn here.
Here's the site before the base material and capillary break are finished. In all, it took three tri-axle loads of "process" which is a mix of crushed stone ranging from dust to 3/4-in. The process was placed in 3-in. lifts and compacted with a vibrating plate. Then a 4-in. gravel layer is placed on top.
There are always surprises in construction. The biggest snafu here was a long-buried oak stump straddling the building's perimeter. It would have been a much bigger problem had it not been for my backhoe operator's good-natured tenacity. After a little over an hour of digging, it popped free, much to my relief.
The barn is supported by seventeen 12-in. piers with spread bases. I had never used a front-discharge mixer before and I'll never go back to one with a rear chute. The driver was a real pro too. He was done and gone within 30 minutes.
This weekend's project was digging the utility trench and running the conduit for the 100-amp sub-panel. You might ask why I didn't have my buddy dig the trench while he was on site with the machine. I wish I would have thought of that. It took me and my wife 6 non-stop hours of digging to make it the whole way. Fortunately, my sandy soil is easy to dig by Connecticut standards.
My wife and I met on a Habitat for Humanity Construction site in the mid 90's. She's still just as tough and hard-working as she was then. Here she's breaking up roots with our steel post bar, my absolute favorite digging tool.