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The Dog House | 24' x 48' Building | Part 1

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Preparing land for the Building

Today, we are on our own property, and we will be building a new shop space. Our business has grown so fast that we've outgrown our current space. With the expansion of our business, we desperately need a place to store the extra building materials and tools. The building will measure 28 x 48 feet and have three sides. A building like this is not cheap to construct, so I'm always looking for ways to save money. For this project, I am repurposing the trusses and some 6 x 6 posts from an old building I tore down. In this first part, we will focus on the preparation of the building pad.

I have all the materials I need, except for the steel required to build the woodshed. It's going to be a post-frame building with three open sides, designed for storing wood. I plan to place it near the woods since we have a lot of timber rattlesnakes on our property. I want to avoid attracting snakes, so I'll keep this building off-limits for the kids to ensure their safety.

leveling the ground and removing debris to prepare for pier installation.

To start, I have a pile of cut and split firewood that's in the way of where I want to build the storage shed. I need to move and stack it along the woods. Additionally, I need to remove a tree that's obstructing the construction area. Once that's done, I'll think about creating a driveway that connects to my circle drive, carving out a 2-foot ledge, and using retaining wall blocks to hold it. I can then use the excavated dirt to level the building pad. It will drop down by 2 feet, and I can fill it back in to achieve a level surface for the building.

When I used the rotary laser to measure the elevation differences from corner to corner, I noticed that my far corner was about a foot and a half lower. I still need to remove 6-8 inches of soil from the retaining wall side and add it to the shorter side to achieve better balance. After leveling the area, I can install stakes to mark the maximum building size. My trusses are 24 feet long, so that will determine the depth of the building. However, I have some flexibility with the length. I aim for a 48-foot length but want to keep the back of the building 8 to 10 feet away from the edge of the fill.

A drilling machine in action

I'd like to mention that if I were planning to use concrete for this project right away, I would have hired a grading professional to ensure proper soil compaction. However, since I'm going for a rock floor, I'm less concerned. I've been compacting the soil with the skid steer as best I can, and I'll let it settle before adding the rock. I'll install piers that go below the fill, use them to build the structure, and allow everything to settle over the winter.

The entire process of moving dirt, leveling it, and creating the drive took me approximately four to five hours. I know my approach needs some refining, but I'll wait until after the building is done to decide on the final look. I have a pile of dirt that I can use later to create a smoother transition around the edges. The next step will be to lay out the building, drill the piers, and pour them.

Drilling and Setting Piers for the Building

Now, let's focus on the piers. In a situation like this, I prefer to dig out the soil instead of bringing in fill. The only downside is that due to the hilly terrain, I lose about three to four feet of elevation from the front to the back of the building. The front piers will go into undisturbed soil, but at the back, there's about three to four feet of fill. To ensure the piers reach solid ground, I plan to dig them six feet deep, which should be manageable with my two-foot auger extension.

creating deep holes in the ground to support pier foundations

The area where the back of the building will be situated slopes steeply. After constructing the building and allowing some settling, I will grade the area to create an even slope. I have additional dirt available to feather the slope gently. For now, the critical aspect is ensuring the piers go below the fill to provide a stable foundation.

I put four stakes at the general location of where corners are going to be and I wanted to test how high each corner was. One corner of my building was about six inches higher than the other three corners. To help even those out, I will set that pier pretty much down to the ground on that side but with the others I will set them much higher. I don’t mind this because that'll give me room to bring in my gravel. The reason I didn't put my gravel down yet is because I'm expecting this to settle a few inches. I’m waiting to have some rain so it can settle into place.

Installing pier forms

When laying out and squaring a building by myself, I use two pieces of batter board to form a 90-degree angle. To measure, I attach small boards with screws to hold my tape measure, allowing me to measure on my own. To measure the diagonals, I place screws further along the 90-degree boards, allowing me to run my tape across and ensure that the strings intersect. After adjusting for any differences, I make sure everything is square before marking out all the piers and starting the drilling process.

Ensure metal brackets are perfectly level

Before the concrete arrives, I need to complete all the drilling and set up the forms. Once the concrete is poured, I secure the brackets. Using the red line on the string as a guide, I aim to position the brackets within a quarter inch of the line. I also use a level to ensure they are even. After that, I'll wait for the concrete to dry. The next steps will involve excavating the trusses and the 6 x 6 posts from the previous building that I'm repurposing. I hope for some rain in the next few weeks to help settle the ground before adding the rock surface. These steps will come in the future.

Thank you,

MR Post Frame

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