Almost out of the Ground - Fine Homebuilding

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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad


Almost out of the Ground

comments (6) May 23rd, 2011 in Blogs
patrick_mccombe Patrick McCombe, Associate editor

Heres 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 buildings perimeter. It would have been a much bigger problem had it not been for my backhoe operators 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 Ill 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 weekends project was digging the utility trench and running the conduit for the 100-amp sub-panel. You might ask why I didnt 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 90s. Shes still just as tough and hard-working as she was then. Here shes breaking up roots with our steel post bar, my absolute favorite digging tool.
Heres 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. Click To Enlarge

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. 


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

Further Resources:

From Cardboard and Cutter Design to Click and Drag: Studio/Workshop Design in the Digital Age

A Firm Foundation for a Backyard Shed



posted in: Blogs, patrick's barn, foundations, workshop

Comments (6)

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Thanks for your interest Pete577. I'll give a rundown of the specs and budget as part of the next post. I should have it up in a day or two.

I've been traveling for the magazine, so I have a little catching up to do first.
Posted: 10:47 am on June 3rd

pete577 pete577 writes: It would be great if you could give us a brief overview of your building and the reasons for choosing the options that you chose such as the style of building, stick built or pre-fab trusses for roof structure, slab or gravel floor, open or enclosed sides, over-all budget, etc. Looking forward to watching your project unfold.
Posted: 11:05 am on June 1st

DebSilber DebSilber writes: Nice to see your wife getting in on the fun. That's what this whole project has been so far, right?
Posted: 3:45 pm on May 23rd

ChuckB ChuckB writes: Look, if your yard was sand for 20 ft. down, and you could dig anywhere without hitting a rock, you'd probably save that money too. (Remember, this is New England, the birthplace of rocks.)
Posted: 3:28 pm on May 23rd

Andy_Engel Andy_Engel writes: I'm pretty sure Mike Mulligan could have had that trench in and backfilled before coffee break...

Looking good, Patrick.
Posted: 3:05 pm on May 23rd

KellyJDunton KellyJDunton writes: Yeah, I do ask why you didn't use the machine to dig the trench while it was on site? It sure would have been better for your backs...
It's looking good... When's the barn raising happening?
KD




Posted: 3:02 pm on May 23rd

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