Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Cabin building Seminar

I've had the pleasure of working with a number readers of this blog on their own projects via email and phone calls.  I'm discovering a few areas in the construction process that seem to universally trip up those building for the first time.  A suggestion was made that I do a seminar - supposing there would be enough interest, to demonstrate some of the more advanced techniques.

We're in the early stages but the plan is to find a little house project and work with the owner/builder with the attendees present and chipping in where possible. Ideally it would be in an area convenient to the most participants, good access, nearby lodging/camping, be small enough to be completed in 2-3 days.

Topics we are considering covering
-Tools for remote building and their safe use
-Post and Pier foundations
-Framing Layout and assembly techniques
-Roof framing (this is where most stumble)
-Door and Window installation

If you have a project that you would like some free skilled and apprentice help with send me a note and we'll explore the possibility. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yonderosa Outpost Update

Progress was made on our last visit to the Outpost.

The Interior finish is showing real promise.

The exterior too!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bear Camp Update

Last year I had the pleasure of working with CM to modify a version of the 'Outpost' into something that better suited his needs.  Now that the snow has retreated he's underway and off to a good start.
The 'Bear Camp' is structurally based on the 'Outpost' but encloses the porch and will add a full length covered porch on one side. 

I'm excited to see this one (and the others) progress.  I'll post pictures when I get them with the permission of the owners.  The 'Outpost' and its variations have licensed owners in a half dozen states now (FL, WA, OR, CA, TX and AZ) and so far the feedback has been good and the modifications give each one its own individual flavor.

Thanks to everyone for their interest.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Ain't as good as I once was...."

"... but I'm as good once as I ever was."

It's been a while since I framed anything this size.  This economy has got me back "wearing the tools" during more phases of the project than usual.  It's been enjoyable,  I surprised how much heavier everything feels compared to way back when I did this regularly.  Body held up OK but it did complain some.

It's taking shape, here's a long overdue update;

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Soft Cut Saw - Crack mitigation

It is pretty much impossible to make a slab completely crack free, the bigger it is the more likely it will crack.  Even loading it with steel won't prevent it.  Finding the real world balance, good fill, steel, good mud and some kind of joint seems to mitigate the bad ones.  At minimum I use tool joints but that isn't compatible with a power troweler.  With a slab this big (2100 sf) we opted for cut joints.

Slab Day

Concrete finishing is more of an art than a science.  There are a lot of guys that can do it and only a few that can do it well.  The extra $0.50 a foot for the good ones is WELL worth it.

Underslab Prep

Next stage is code compliance - thermal break, slab insulation, Plumbing ground work and steel. 

Tip: ALWAYS double check your plumbers work!  I checked his locations but didn't check his flange heights.  I don't know what it is about plumbers but NEVER seem to get the flange height right.  I even gave him a grade stake then falsely assumed (Assume = make an ASS out of U and ME) he knew how to use it...  He ended up being 3" LOW!!!  Should have babysat him - more work and expense.


This site is about as perfect as they come.  Easy to move the machines around, great local material and generally flat.

Backfill required more than 200 yards of compactible fill.  We had plenty, it was nearby it only cost machine time!  Typically the old building Dirt axiom is You pay (a lot) when you need it and you pay (a lot) when you have too much to get rid of it."  That seems to be true most of the time in my experience.
We backfilled in 8" lifts compacting with three passes (minimum) as we went.  Makes for a long day but in the end you can drive your truck on it and it doesn't even leave a track.

We ran out of light on the first day and finished up by lunch the next.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breaking Ground, finally

Garage-Shop with 980 sf residence above

The day we break ground on a new project is one of my favorites.  When things go well its even better.  This project is one of those that feels especially nice to be underway.

Finally off the drawing board and through the permit process - this county added a whole new layer of bureaucracy that I haven't had to deal with before here...  These days it doesn't matter if how good your land is, if your neighbor has a well or wetlands or has designated habitat or septic system or any kind or County recognized designation requiring a buffer, that buffer extends onto your property too.  Essentially, you need to consider not only the building conditions of your own property you must also consider all of the surrounding properties.  If during any part of the permit process anyone finds a Bigfoot (Sasquatch) track in the vicinity that whole area can be considered habitat or a corridor and the bureaucrats can proclaim your property to be unusable (worthless) and  still tax you as if you could build on it.  I can understand the purpose but giving one person that much control to make black and white decisions in gray areas is going to make a rocky road rougher.  Unless you have money to fight it (yes money talks loudly to government - I see it over and over), you are saddled with whatever that bureaucrat says you can do.

Anyway, we can finally put the spurs to it!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Baltic Birch Plywood makes a pretty nice drawer.  Only about 20 more to build...  Good problem.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mini Project - 36" vanity

This is one stout little cabinet.