Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Breaking Ground

In the Fall of 07 it was time to get started building a structure off the back of the camper. My plan was to spend two weeks in Maine. The first week my parents were to arrive two days after my arrival. When I first showed up I had a momentary episode of panic. My plan throughout the summer was to attach a small house to the camper where I had parked it the previous spring. When I arrived at the land and looked around, there where so many excellent sites to build upon I didn't know what to do. This was a big decision! I spent one day second guessing myself, weighing pros and cons of each location and decided to build where I had originally planned.
By hand, I dug out 3ft. square sections of of loam and vegetation until I hit compatible soil or bedrock which meant digging down only about 6-12 inches for every 8ft. (Eventually I shortened the span to every 4ft.) . In each dug out section I placed two 8"X16" cement blocks (to form a 16"X16"sq.) and filled them with concrete. I placed metal pipe strapping in the wet cement. By the time I was halfway through this step, my parents showed up. They had flown all the way from Oregon to help me out. And it was a good thing too, because I was feeling pretty doubtful about this sort of foundation. But they gave me just to boost of encouragement I needed. They got right to work with no hesitation as to my design or the fact that they had just driven three hours from a motel in New Hampshire!
So this is what we did: The foundation consisted of cement blocks every 8 feet. On top of these we placed chainsaw cut cedar and hemlock posts ranging in diameter from 10"-16" and anchored them with the pipe straps. Their lengths were all different so as to accommodate for the different elevations of the blocks and end up with a level floor. The house was to perch on a moderate incline. On top of the posts we set 4"X6"X8' pieces of hemlock and atop those we attached 2"X8"X8' stringers to form a 16'X16' sub-floor of rough cut 1" hemlock of varied widths. In addition we built a 4'X8' step up to attach the camper. At the NE side corner we built a pillar of cement blocks to stand flush with the floor. This was to support a future wood stove. There was no electricity so all of our cuts were made by chainsaw or handsaw.

Towards the end of my parent's visit we began to frame up some of the walls with 2"X6"s. We got most of the western walls framed where the camper was attached before my parents had to climb into their rental car and make the 4 hour drive back to Boston to catch an 8 hour flight to Portland OR to get into their car and drive another 3 hours to finally make it home to Roseburg. What a trip to take! On top of that they bought me dinner for every night of their stay. That's love. I broke into tears as they drove away. I could scarcely believe that they would go to so much expense and trouble just to help me build a shack in the woods on the other side of the country! But that is not the first time I have underestimated their love for me...

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