The first step in any building project is of course the site work. I've picked the old parking slab beside the power pole as the site for our cabin for a number of reasons:
- It's centrally located and close to power.
- It's high and dry and gets blasted with sun throughout most of the day (no wood rot, good indoor air quality, passive solar orientation).
- It will be visible from the road and establish some presence here, at the same time shielding us from the road.
- There will be a wonderful view out the back of the cabin of the garden and barn and surrounding hillside.
- The parking slab is not usable structurally (it's thin and cracked and not level), but will shed water quickly and keep humidity down, thereby keeping the underneath of the cabin dry if we decide to go with a raised framed floor.
- But most of all it just feels like the right place to build.
But once the general location's decided, the real work begins. The exact position of the building needs laid out precisely. For this I use batterboards and line. I have a spool of masonry line, and for the boards, I'm going to use scraps from the wood pile. Here's a shot of them:
A book I have on building barns and outbuildings recommends using 2x4's for stakes to pound in to the ground to support the horizontal crossmember. I don't know what kind of soil they've got, but there was no way I was pounding an old 2x4 deep into the ground, even with cutting a point on the end and using my 2lb sledge. The boards split to pieces. I found a slim 1x2 stake works best. And if the stake isn't totally rigid once you've pounded it down, pound in another stake diagonally and screw it to it for a brace. It's important the batterboard never moves or it could throw off a line.
Here's a shot of Rachael and I methodically working away. She was critical for a lot of the measurements and checking level: