Building the Foundation for an Off Grid Home
Beautiful houses aren’t built in a day.
That’s what I have to keep reminding myself anyways. Seriously though things are going really well. We just got a third wall up *excited squeals*.
I do want to share all those steps we took to get there though. So far I got around to writing about how we chose our off grid homesite. Now it’s about time a I told you about our foundation which seems to be a highly underrated part to the house building proccess.
Unless you plan to have your home on a trailer (which could be cool too) what we did is probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get your house stable and up off the ground.
Essentially we’re just building our home up on pillars. This worked best for us for four key reasons.
- It was within our very limited budget.
- It’s fast and though we’re not going to suffer and freeze to death without our finished home like real pioneers we are pretty damn excited to get in there.
- It didn’t take too many materials. This was super important as our build site is a little off the beaten path. Alright, it’s a lot off the beaten path. Most of our foundation was done in the pre-ATV days of our adventure and therefore we carried loads of block up a steep and winding foot path.
- Lastly using pillars means you can build a level house without leveling the ground. No heavy machinery needed!
So how do you build a house just on some pillars? Well let me start buy saying are house ain’t no mcmansion. It’s 2 stories with a footprint of 24×24 feet not counting porches we hope to add later. Don’t get me wrong it’s mansion enough for the two of us but if you’re looking to build your dream castle you came to the wrong place.
Given our foot print we used 9 pillars to hold it up (3 rows of 3).
To place your piers you’ll need to dig down below your frost line. This ensures that they won’t be moved in the freeze and thaw of the ground each winter. If you don’t have a frost line, Scott recommends you dig down at least 1 foot and get to undisturbed soil.
Once you have your hole dug you’ll need to create a level surface in the hole to work from. We did this by leveling and packing the soil as much as possible and then poured a 4 inch thick pad of concrete in the bottom of our holes. This gave us a level and solid surface to work from.
Then all you have to do is start building up! Our house is about 16 inches off the ground on the low end and 5 feet on the high end.
To achieve a level house obviously you’ll need to build your pillars to different heights (unless you’re working on a totally level area of course). As we’re building on a slope we have different height pillars but Scott placed the pillars and ensured the tops would be level using just a measuring tape, level, and some string.
To build our pillars we simple stacked cinderblocks. We alternated the way they were facing for each level. This creates a more solid pillar. If you’re like me and know nothing about construction, you want the blocks so that the holes are facing up. Those holes are then filled with concrete giving you one sturdy pillar.
That’s it, literally all you need to do to get your off grid home started!
Also it is still possible to dig in a root cellar/crawl space/basement after you use this type of foundation should you run into more time or money which if you’re a homesteader is probably laughable huh?