When we decide to build a cabin, I foolishly thought to myself "great! no digging!" Unlike the sun lodge, which is dug into the hill, I presumed the cabin would be made with more log and less shovel. Think again. This fall we worked on preparing our building site. This involved:
1. Clearing the site. The cabin will be 20' x 20', so we cleared a 40' x 40' area in the forest. We cut down trees and stacked them into future firewood piles, used our new toy- a portable winch to pull out the tree stumps, then chopped the rest of the roots out by hand. We removed the top layer of sod and stacked it on the side for the future green roof. Then, we removed even more soil, digging down to firm loess along the perimeter where the logs will rest.
But David the level master was not satisfied with the silt we dug to. We decided to dig our root cellar in the center of the cabin and use the really nice silt and shale that we removed in making the cellar hole to create a level area for the cabin.
Once we got a few feet deep we set up a tripod and pulley system to get the buckets of silt up. As we dug down 8 feet we encountered different layers of silt and even some rock (quartz and shale). We spread and tamped this material to create a level foundation.
The final step in the root cellar was to reinforce the walls. We used pressure-treated plywood to make a reinforced "box" to line the root cellar and stapled spare tarps to make a vapor barrier. No pics were taken of this as we were racing the snow! The root cellar is 6' x 6' and 8' deep.