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Foundations for the Little Roofs

September 23, 2011 |

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We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$39,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
680 Hours on Site + Planning

When we poured the slab for the Momplex, we saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. 

Or more appropriately, build two roof support foundation systems with one concrete slab pour.
Foundations for the Little Roofs

The Momplex is just one gigantic box. This is intentional - building square saves time, money and frustration. But to make up for the Momplex's lack of character, we are doing some overframing on the trusses over the garages.  This not only sheds water from the garages, but will prevent ice building up in front of the garage doors.

But then that just means the water/ice problem is getting transferred to the doorways.  So we added some little roofs over the garage entry doors.  And they are also kindof cute and add character to the front of the Momplex.
The little roofs require concrete posts below the frost barrier to keep the roof from heaving.  When the ground freezes, the moisture in it can freeze and expand.  This can cause the roof systems to get pushed upward if the foundation for the roof system is not below the frost barrier (like the Momplex is).  We will also use a similar system to support the decks and porches.
We decided now is as good a time as any to put the support systems in to build the roofs.  Who knows, the next time we pour concrete, there could be a foot of snow, making this task exponentially more difficult.  And if we are already paying for a concrete truck and pump truck, might as well get our money's worth out of the pour.  
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Magic Show

Before we get to how we put posts in the ground, we've got three giant tops. One has a surprise under it. Take your guess.

Foundations for the Little Roofs

Did you pick one?

Foundations for the Little Roofs

If you guessed 2, you guessed right!!!

Foundations for the Little Roofs

Bigfoots

Children just know how to make everything more fun, don't they?

These giant tops are called "bigfoots". They go on the end of sonotubes (sonotubes are basically big cardboard tubes that you fill with concrete) to act as a poured in place footer. Even though we are below the frost barrier, when the ground freezes, it squeezes the sonotubes, and can push them upward, heaving the roof upward. So we spent the extra twenty five bucks per bigfoot to avoid uneven roofs in the future.

Foundations for the Little Roofs

More Holes

This process starts with a big hole being dug in the ground in the general area of the posts.
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Wait for the Beep

The laser level is used to figure the correct depth of the holes. If you are building a house, buy a laser level. We use it constantly - for everything!

Foundations for the Little Roofs

Lined Up

Once the holes are dug, guide boards are attached to the outsides of the Momplex, level with each other. From the guide boards, a string line is run the correct distance off the Momplex so we will know where to place the Sono Tubes.
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Tube Shoes 

The bigfoots are connected to the sono tubes and placed in the holes, so the sono tubes are in line with the string line. Rebar is placed in the bigfoots and the bigfoot is buried to keep it in place.
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Find a Buddy

To keep the posts in the correct position as the concrete is poured, cross supports are added to the empty sono tubes.  Everything is easier with a buddy.  
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Cut to Size

Then the sonotubes are marked using the laser level to the desired height in relation to the footers.  And now it's just a matter of cutting the tops off to this mark.  And the sonotubes are ready for mud!
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Waiting Patiently

The tubes sat their patiently, holding hands with their buddies, watching and waiting for their turn.  Would there be enough concrete leftover?  Would they get forgotten?
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Last but not Least

And finally, the slab is poured and the last bit of concrete in the truck is saved for the sonotubes.
Foundations for the Little Roofs

Once filled, the tops are scraped off, much like you would scrape the top off a overscooped cup of flour.  

And they cure, happy to have a buddy.
I hope they like each other.  They will be best buds for a long time to come!

So cute!

That refers to both Grace and your story. I love how you turned a basic task involving a boring substance like concrete and made it into a sweet little story! Thanks again for sharing this journey and teaching all of us how intense and involved it is to build a solid house.

What's the weather like in your part of Alaska right now? Is it already very chilly? I live in Virginia Beach, so although we're rainy, we're still in the low 80s!

posted by Sheela (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-09-23 08:24
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claydowling's picture

Attachment hardware

Are you casting in any kind of attachment hardware, such as J bolts or 4x4 brackets, to attach your posts to?

posted by claydowling | on Fri, 2011-09-23 10:44

Another Great Post (Groan - bad pun LOL)

Another great post, Ana!

We're taking notes over here in Indiana. It'll be a few years before we build, but I'm definitely paying attention.

Thanks for another interesting and informative update on the momplex build!

posted by Cindy from Indiana (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-09-23 11:48

Just a quick note from the

Just a quick note from the state of Michigan.......to let you know how much I enjoy watching the progress you are making on the momplex, what a great feeling it must be to do this for your Moms. I was blessed with a mom-in-law that got along wonderfully with my Mom, and I know not everyone can say that. Thanks for sharing!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-09-23 21:01

I learn something new from you EVERY Day!

I work at the orange and we have done several rehabs and built the home we live in. But I have never seen bigfoots. At least not any like that. They look like giant horse boots. Thanks Ana

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-09-23 21:42

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