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, June 2, 2009

Perimeter footer

With enough rain-free weather, I was able to complete the forms for the perimeter footer on Tuesday of last week. There are four levels for the footer because of the slope of the house site. I didn’t want to excavate the trench for the footer the same depth all the way around the house.

footerOn Wednesday morning, I called the local ready mix concrete company to order four yards of concrete. They were able to bring it out right away. It didn’t take long to pour the concrete. Dad and I screeded it which also didn’t take long. The footer is 14 inches wide, 8 inches thick, and has two 5/8” rebar pieces in the middle.

About an hour after we finished, a small rain storm came through. It didn’t dump much rain, but what rain that did fall fell hard. The concrete hadn’t had enough time to set up hard enough not to be affected by the rain. exposed aggregate because of rainThe main effect was that some of the cement and sand on the surface was washed away, leaving the courser aggregate exposed and loose on top. This occurred most dramatically to the footer at the front of the house because the runoff from the roof on that side hit directly on the outside quarter of the footer. You can see in the photo to the right the effect it had. It won’t really matter, though. The first course of blocks will be set onto the footer with mortar, and, once the walls are finished, the footer will be covered with dirt, never to be seen again.


I will begin laying the blocks this week as time allows. There are a lot of other jobs to be done around our homestead and we’ll be having some visitors for part of the week and next weekend (one of Anne’s sisters and her family).

Looking ahead to the order of construction, once the blocks are laid, it will be time to start framing the porch. I’ll have to pour footers for under the porch posts, lay blocks for the piers, and frame the porch deck. At that point I will put down the first floor subfloor, including under where the straw bales will go. I will need to lay down some porch floor boards, whether or not I complete that floor now or later, also. Then, there’s more to be done so that the porch roof can be put on. And, there’s a whole lot more work after that. I’ll keep plugging away, and it’ll get done.

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