Hobbit House: Foundation layout…Now the Journey really begins. And so does the Unexpected.

I really don’t know where this weekend has gone. It’s always amazing how fast time goes by when you’re really getting into something.

I had my wife laminate my building permit and I nailed it onto the garage over my temporary mailbox.  There always has to be some sort of twist to everything  that goes on. I was figuring to get started digging the foundation next weekend but as I looked at the list of scheduled inspections number one was inspection of the house stake out/ silt fencing. I hope they’re not looking for a surveyor to come up and lay this house out. That could wind up setting me back another week or so. As I look at the balance of the inspections I see “Slab Inspection: All under slab plumbing must be service weight cast iron.”  That’s great…Another thing I wasn’t expecting. I’ve never really worked with cast iron before . That should be interesting. Hopefully the plumbing foreman at my day-job is a nice guy and can give me some pointers. Maybe he’s a fan of The Hobbit.

For the uninitiated,it all starts with laying out the outer walls of the structure you are building. I don’t know if it’s me or what  but I always have a tough time with the batter boards and setting them up parallel and square. What? You don’t know what batter boards are? Are you serious? How long have you been in this business Moe?Apparently not that long. OK Moe this is what it’s all about . I mean even the Egyptians used batter boards to build the pyramids. It doesn’t sound like we’ve progressed that much. It’s a tried and true system though. I watched an episode of “This Old House ” once and Norm had the batter boards plumb, square ,level and parallel before the first commerical break. I was thinking Norm really knows his stuff.

I seem to be digressing. Oh yeah, the batter boards. Batter boards are for all intents and purposes a horizontal two by four nailed to two vertical wooden or steel stakes driven into the soil.  A nail is driven into the horizontal 2X4 and a string line pulled from the nail on one batter board to another at the other side of the foundation. The batter boards are placed far enough away from the house so they will not be disturbed during the excavation. This way when you are done with the excavation you just have to restring the lines and you have your rough layout. There are a million different ways of setting up batter boards here’s a bit of what I did.

Batter board layout of critical wall. This wall layout could not be one inch closer than the original structure was to the adjacent stream.
Batter board layout of critical wall. This wall layout could not be one inch closer than the original structure was to the adjacent stream.

Northeast corner. I transfered the stringline up to a batter board on a tree above using a laser level. The x marks the corner of the house. I have to chop out the rock here.

 I should have asked for help from the men of Bree. It took me a couple of hours to do the layout.It was my first real day back working on the site in a long while and it was really nice out so I didn’t mind. I had a lot of thinking to do. Sometimes, at least for me, it’s better if no one is distracting me.

I don’t know what I was thinking but for some reason I thought that leaving the existing slab on the site wouldn’t be a problem. But after being there for the day I realized it’s gonna be a problem. There really is not much room around the site at all. I thought I would be able to bury the slab after taking it out but the more I thought about it I realized  that that would be just another hassle. So the next unexpected thing was that I would need another container for the slab and a hydraulic hammer to break it up with. The silver lining here is that it turns out I need a hydraulic hammer anyway. The layout in the Northeast corner hits rock ledge. It definitely needs to come out. I need a certain amount of clearance to get what I want for the passive house aspect of the slab. It’s more than I had originally anticipated but I want to get it right.

 I have to cut this post short because I have some other stuff to do and it’s getting late. There were a couple of other things I wanted to talk about but we’ll get to that next week.

It’s nice to hear from other people interested in passive Hobbit houses. For those of you who might be interested ,Lynn Dean from Texas has a kindle book that has just come out about Hobbit house designs. It looks very interesting and if you’re into Hobbit homes  you will definitely want to take a look. It’s called “Home Sweet Hole” and can be found on Amazon. Feasible fantasy floor plans in the Hobbit tradition. Enjoy!

I would love to come up with some words of wisdom right now that would finish this post off. I guess I have a bit of writer’s block. Let’s just end with this: No one ever said building this Hobbit house was going to be a snap but it sure is going to be interesting…

Have a nice week!

Jim

8 thoughts on “Hobbit House: Foundation layout…Now the Journey really begins. And so does the Unexpected.

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    • Hi Lorna! I don’t know if I can help you. I found Jason from J and B Web and Photo and he took care of everything. Look him up on the web.

      Thanks for calling this an established blog. I think of it more as a diary.

      Good luck and thanks for writing!
      Jim

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