The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perimeter block wall footer excavation

Last evening I moved some of the top soil piled near the end of the house (it’s been piled there for six years already). I didn’t move it far – just a few feet. This was so that I would have enough room to maneuver the backhoe to the rear corner of the house and start excavating the trenches for the footer upon which I’ll build a short block wall to enclose the crawlspace. The wall will also help support the porch floor and straw bale wall.

I continued the excavation from the other corners this morning, trying to dig the bottom of the trench level. That’s easier said that done. However, it came out within a few inches over any given length.

After finishing what I could with the backhoe, I threw some dirt out of the trench with a shovel and knocked down a few high spots. After that, I stretched and leveled a string from one corner of the root cellar walls all the way around the house to another corner of the root cellar. This allowed me to get an accurate measure of my depth in order to figure how much more excavation or filling in is needed.

I plan on working on constructing forms for the footer tomorrow. It will be 14 inches wide and 8 inches in depth. After the forms are in place, I will raise or lower the bottom of the trench to ensure the thickness of the footer will be as intended. If I get this done tomorrow, I hope to have the concrete delivered Friday (I’ve got to bale hay on Thursday).

The blocks around the perimeter of the house will be dry stacked like the cellar walls. I may only surface bond the outside because there won’t be any real lateral forces on this wall. I’ll decide for sure later.

Here are some photos taken this evening of the work that’s been accomplished so far:


back corner  back corner toward cellar  front of houseunder mudroom

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