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Building a Shouse | Column Layout + Piers | Part 1

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

60 x 80 foot building/shouse

This is a build for a 60 by 80 building that is going to have living quarters in it. We aren't doing the living quarters; we are just building the structure for the client and getting him started. So, it's 60 by 80, and our diagonal is 100 feet. We got it laid out with our batter boards at each corner. We used our laser level to find the highest point. It was already pretty close to grade, so we found the highest point and set that to the pier right at the ground level. The rest adjusted accordingly.

The first step was to get our batter boards put up and pull the building string lines. We set our batter boards, and we started with the front wall. So, we marked the corner, pulled 80 feet, made another dot for a footing, and then we put our other batter board down there, for our starting point. The rest, we used the Pythagorean theorem to set the layout up. We went ahead and held it right up against it at the bottom.

Layout for building, making sure all corners are equal in height

Now that we got the front done, we went ahead and got our string line set right across those points that we marked, and then our front starting point was set. Before we pulled that string line, I wanted to find the highest point, which I could pretty much tell just from looking around. So, I zeroed it out in that corner and then checked each four spots and then zeroed it on the highest point. That way, that footing could be right at the ground level. The highest corner was about six to eight inches above the lowest corner.

So, the reason we zeroed all the corners was so that all of our string lines ran level. That way we didn't get any discrepancies in our tape measure when we were doing our footings. You could measure off the lines if you need to. It just makes things a little bit more accurate. We went ahead and put a screw in because we were over the center. So typically, I would have used a purlin nail and driven it into the ground. The purlin nail is usually strong enough to hook my tape measure to it and pull, but we had so much rain that there was no way that a purlin nail would work. We hooked our tape measure on the batter board and did all our necessary measurements.

Measuring on string lines to format the building

So, as you do this, the first side should obviously be pretty easy because it is your common line. Then you just have to get these batter boards up, and before you start drilling, you need to fine-tune this. I am always really picky about this part because this will determine how the rest of your build goes. To prepare for brackets, we put stakes in all four corners, and then we started pulling our post locations. We marked the outside edge of the building, which is also the outside edge of that girt. You want your footing to go right in the center of the mark you made so I usually make a mark or divot about half a foot from the outside and that should be the center of my footing. For more information on the layout, watch the video below.

Drilling holes for piers

Once we got all of our footings laid out we were able to drill them. You then can install the pier forms. Make sure they are level and then I like to go back and add some rock back in so they are sturdy. After the forms are in, we went back in and put up all the string lines again before the concrete truck arrived. We made sure those string lines were perfect before we started pouring concrete.

Placing wet-set bracket in concrete

So we marked a line for our bracket, an inch and a half off of our string line. That is the distance of a girt. It just gives you a good bearing point. Because of the wind, our string lines didn't work all that well but it still gave us a good idea on where our bracket needed to be. When I get my brackets in I check and make sure they are plumb on the front but the sides don’t matter because they are bent, they flare out toward the top.

This wrapped up the layout and footings for the 60 by 80 "Shouse". A spacious shop with a small living quarters in it.

Thank you,

MR Post Frame

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