My first order of business, before moving up towards the roof and other VERY important aspects of any dwelling, was to reinforce the foundation. I must admit, bracing my underlying posts is something I should have done prior to working on my first floor, let alone the first floor walls, second floor walls, second floor, etc. Although my foundation posts were locked in place and fastened tight to the beams and floor, without some sort of cross-members between the posts, the entire structure was able to flex and shimmy when I moved around quickly. I had, in my defense, installed a few temporary supports underneath to strengthen the structure while I worked. It was only a matter of time before I was able to haul out the proper materials to construct permanent cross-members.

So, hauling I did! In previous days lumber was brought to a crossroads in the trail about thirty minutes away from the cabin site. I picked up a manageable load and hauled it the remainder of the distance with little difficulty. The trail was dry and the sun was shining bright. It was a perfect day to get work done.

Cabin Foundation Cross-membersBack at the cabin I spent a short time analyzing my situation and developing a strategy to install the cross-members, treated 2″x6″x8′ boards with galvanized brackets and screws. The process was rather simple, and the biggest hassle was simply holding the boards in place against the posts while I drew marks for cutting. Fortunately, each one board between two posts could be used as a template for the second bolard, thus speeding up the process. In a short while two full sides of the cabin had cross members installed and the place was feeling quite rigid — no more shimmy! I also had a break between sides when I cleaned up and tested the solar shower. It worked perfectly well despite lack of water pressure.

That was the bulk of all I did that day. In the evening I made some macaroni for dinner and put my classic Coleman stove to use. It was a good feeling to sit in a chair with the stove in front of me while I ate dinner and looked out the window. It was the first of many times I expect to do that very same thing; although, the Coleman will likely be replaced by a warm, wood stove.

Spruce grouse chick watching my every moveThe next morning, after doing a bit of web design work and emailing, I was startled by a loud flutter in the cabin. I was standing still, looking around at what might have caused the noise, perhaps something I brushed against or dropped, and there to my side were two spruce grouse chicks sitting in my windows and looking at me intently. Their little heads moved from side to side, turning back and forth and up and down as birds do, trying to second guess my next move. I moved slowly toward my camera, away from the yellow and brown striped chicks, then picked it up and started to film one of the little guys. The other was in a separate window. They remained for what seemed like a long period, then fluttered down to the ground where I could hear the mother walking beneath the cabin making a quiet clucking noise, I assume to let all the chicks know where she is at all times.

It was easy to estimate where she was exactly, and I was able to stealthily peer out one of the windows and record her taking a dust bath with the chicks.

That July 22 and 23, after the grouse distraction, a bulk of my building time was spent installing two additional posts beneath the cabin. Until then there were six posts running the length of the cabin on apposing sides, directly below the walls that would support the roof rafters to come. Six posts and Sonotubes with concrete were holding the entire structure. It may have been sturdy enough, but not enough for me. The taller the cabin became, and the more lumber and weight I built into it, the more I questioned the dispersal of weight on the six posts. Also, the other ends of the cabin that did not have a center post sit below the ends of the roof ridge beam to come, with the beam sitting on posts which are on the walls and so on.

Basically, I knew the weight of the beam and some of the weight of snow in the coming winter would eventually transfer to the wall and floor over those two ends of the cabin. That thought and recommendations from Big Wayne at Big Waynes Roofing was all the encourage I needed to double up my rim joists for the lower floor on those ends and install posts below. These posts would be different, however. Unlike all others, these would use adjustable brackets. I originally planned to use the same for the others, but when the time came, and for whatever reason, I purchased solid, standard post brackets or post ends as they are called. With adjustable brackets on the new center posts, I would be able to compensate for any sinking the other six posts might do, as they are carrying most the weight of the cabin.

Cutting the Sonotubes to the proper height/lengthSo I went about digging holes, filling Sonotubes with concrete, placing pipe in the Sonotubes, etc.

The entire process to include making some sort of pot holder with leftover concrete and hauling in more supplies and a grill was all recorded. I began to put more effort into documenting my work for prosperity sake. Sonotube with adjustable post end ready for postAlthough I often figure out things on the fly, and my way of doing things is not always the norm, I assume someone might be able to learn something from both my successes and failures.

Having cut, bracketed and installed the two new posts, with temporary blocks on top, I was then able to install cross-members between them and the original posts. That said, one space between  a new post and an older post was left with supports at the top corners only. That would allow for me to drive under the cabin with the ATV and access storage space there. One space was also left open on the other side so that I had easy access to lumber and things under the cabin. Eventually I plan to install cross-members there as well.

June 21 – Hauling Foundation Lumber


June 21 – Reinforcing the Foundation


June 21 – Testing the Classic Coleman Stove


June 22 – Unexpected Guests (spruce grouse and chicks)


June 22-23 – “Post-it Notes” (installing two additional posts with concrete, adjustable brackets, posts and cross-members)