Leveling the Building Site, Digging the Footers and Footer Inspection: Small Modular Cabin

Leveling the Building Site, Digging the Footers and Footer Inspection: Small Modular Cabin
Level building site

As soon as we got the permit, they started cutting into the bank to make a level building site.

I thought this was for the house, but it is actually behind the house.

This will be the back of the house.  The site seemed pretty level already, but now it is really level.

Graded so rain will drain away from the house

He cut the top of the lot and pushed the topsoil into a pile for the final grade.

They used the self-leveling rotary laser to make sure that any rain wouldn’t puddle or flood the home site.

The house site and the built up area where a carport will eventually be

It is left high at the top, so there will not have to be a lot of steps to get into the cabin.

Below, a level area is prepared, where the cabin will be.

Leveling the site for the footers

That white pole the guy on the far left is holding is a laser detector on a rod. When they are level it beeps.

Laser Detectors typically mount to level rods and work to detect the laser beam when you’re working outside. Most always, a laser detector is required if you’re working outside with a laser level since a laser line is difficult to see during the daytime hours. Most detectors produce sound, a short beep when you’re close to being on level, and then a steady, solid beep tone when you’re at level.

Engineer Supply: Construction Laser Levels Explained

Surveyor marking the footer location

Saturday the surveyor and his wife showed up to mark exactly where the footers will be. They are building a Blue Ridge Log Cabin. She gave me some photos of the process to share.

Surveyor marking the footer location

The surveyor marked the location for the footers.

Spray painting exact marks to dig the footers

Taylor spray painted exactly where the footers will be dug.

They hit water

And… they hit water.

When we build the house we are in now, we hit a spring and the footers turned into a moat. The bottom of the footer was quicksand. The sides kept caving in and we ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars for engineered footers.

Taylor cut the area where the water was coming in a little wider and kept going. The rest of the trench was fine. No more water.

Self-leveling rotary laser and the smaller excavator

They continued and dug the rest of the footers.

Footings have to be a minimum of 12” deep, but he had to go down a little deeper in one area to get to soil that isn’t soft.

Hopefully the water is just ground water from all of the rain. We have had WAY more rain than typical and the ground is saturated. The forecast was clear and we hope that if we wait, the water will drain away.

Footer with level pegs

The footers are finished with metal pegs to mark what will be the top of the cement.

Water in the footers

I got up early the next morning and there was even more water in the footers.

Cliff vacuumed the water out of the footers

Cliff pulled out the shop vac to get as much water as he could out of the footers. He pulled out 60 gallons of water and the trenches filled back up.

We rescheduled the footer inspection because there is no way they will approve this.

Cliff kept vacuuming the footers and eventually less water came out each time. By Wednesday, Taylor was hopeful we could move forward with the inspection. The footers don’t have to be completely dry, they just have to be able to support 1500(psf).

Footing Inspection

This is a footing inspection. It looks more art than science. The inspector walks around with a pole pushing it into the bottom of the trench to see if he thinks it will support 1500(psf).

That morning it was really cold. There was no water in the trench, which I suspect is because the water was too frozen to move.

But by the time the inspector got there, the worrisome corner has a sheet of water over it.

He started at the other side, so he was nearly finished by the time he got to that point. We held our breath while he spent a LOT of time poking and poking there, but finally he told us we passed!


Drone view of the footers

Cliff got out his drone to get some photos of the footers.

Drove view of the footers

Taylor with Fowler Excavating scheduled the cement. By the morning they showed up, the footers were dry.

Drove view of the footers

Did the shop vac do any good? Would the water have drained away on it’s own? We don’t know. But it certainly couldn’t have hurt.