Deck Foundations

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You all are just awesome.

I feel especially thankful and appreciative today because I won't be calling these sono tubes "sauna tubes" today (thank you!) and because you have helped us solve the Great Gable Debate! Thank you all for you so very helpful comments, you have shown us solutions that we would never have even considered!

It has taken us longer than we thought to put siding up on the Momplex, and although we are feeling confident about getting the Momplex completely sealed before winter comes in Alaska, we have made a list of the absolute most important must-dos to get the heat turned on.

Bring utilities inside Momplex (water/electrical/fuel tank)
Install electrical lighting boxes in upstairs ceiling
Insulate and vapor barrier upstairs ceiling
Hang drywall on upstairs ceiling
Have garage doors installed
Foam/seal any cracks around windows and doors etc

This is the short list, the must-do list to have the Mompex fully sealed in.

But we do have a few more things we'd love to see get done:

Landscaping/Lawn seeding
Sidewalks/Garage Apron
Gable Trusses (shhhh! it's a secret still!)

But thinking realistically, many of these wish list items are just going to have to wait until spring. You see, even though we do have a good couple of months of decent work outside weather, this fall, my first book is releasing, (I cannot believe it!) and I will be going on book tour for a few weeks to meet you! I am so so so excited. I SO hope I get to meet you!

So we've decided to wait until spring (yes, Mom can still move in this winter!) to take care of a few of the wish list exterior projects, including the decks. Some times you just got to be reasonable, you know?

But we did want to take a few days and put the deck foundations in. In Alaska, the ground can be frozen well into June, but if we have the deck foundation already in place, we could build the decks in March or April, and Mom could be enjoying the decks come next summer.

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Your remember the long process of<a href="" target="_blank"> putting anchor bolts into the ARXX blocks</a> right?
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Well, now we have to transfer the bolt locations to the ledger board. The Ram has all sorts of tricks. He screws a board up and measures off the board for the horizontal location of bolt holes.
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And then chalks a string line and measures down from the string line for the vertical bolt hole locations.
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Then the ledger boards are drilled out for bolts to match the bolts on the exterior Momplex walls.
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A special protecting sticker wrap is placed over the exposed concrete.
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And then the moment of truth .... is the ledger board going to fit?
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The entire front of the Momplex is a deck, so ledger boards go all the way down. One down, two to go! <img src=""> And then when we <a href="" target="_blank">sided the Momplex,</a> we just sided around all of the ledger boards.
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Then we rented a backhoe and dig a big hole. You could get away with a post hole digger here, but we also needed the backhoe for trenching in the well and electrical (will get to that in another post) so this was the most cost effective way to do both.
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Remember the <a href="" target="_blank">bigfoots?</a>
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Those are placed in the hole, with the sono tubes on top.
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Grandpa Tim checks for level.
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And then the sono tubes get buried carefully, perfectly aligned with a string line. But the sono tubes might be in the right spots, but there's only one way to make sure they are exactly the right height. You have to trim the tops to all match. <img src=" deck foundation15.jpg"> First we use the laser level to mark all the sono tubes to the same height. We choose the height of the shortest sono tube, a foot above finished grade.
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Now the Ram has another trick. On the longest sono tube, he cuts a little bit off the top - well above the mark made with the laser level.
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I resist the urge to say, that cut is not level and it's not on the line. Tsk tsk. Then he takes the scrap piece and cuts it open. <img src=" deck foundation18.jpg"> And uses the factory edge to mark a level line on our laser level marks all the way around the sono tube. <img src=" deck foundation19.jpg"> And then we have this handy dandy tool that's basically a mini saws-all to cut on the line. A small handsaw would do the trick too. <img src=" deck foundation20.jpg"> Now that's something I'm not going to forget! The sono tubes are all cut to the same height, level all the way around the Momplex. <img src=" deck foundation21.jpg"> We cut rebar to fit inside the sono tubes, preparing for concrete pour. <img src=" deck foundation22.jpg"> And the concrete truck arrives at 10 minutes after I put Grace on the school bus the next morning. <img src=" deck foundation23.jpg"> A hole in the bottom of a bucket works just fine to funnel the concrete into the sono tubes. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. <img src=" deck foundation24.jpg"> Then I screed the tops of the sono tubes. <img src=" deck foundation30.jpg"> The pre-cut rebar is pushed into the wet concrete. <img src=" deck foundation25.jpg"> All poured! For the side decks, where we only have to match up two posts, we'll add J bolts. <img src=" deck foundation31.jpg"> We just measure and put the J bolts in. <img src=""> And sometime next spring, we'll come back and build decks off these posts!


You guys have done such a great job with planning and pre-planning! The Ram has some really good ideas too to make things easier. He makes you say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Keep it up, you're accomplishing so much!

Thank you!!!

Tracie, Brooke, Whitney - thank you I cannot wait to meet you FINALLY (and see you again Tracie!) - I don't have a definite schedule just yet, will be posting as soon as I know!

Jessica, I'm so with you - my husband is the real brains of it all!!! I learn so much from him!

Thanks everyone for following along - sorry I haven't been keeping up with comments - been reading, but been traveling, so been pressed for time! Really appreciate you!


If I could list all the attributes of Superwoman, I am pretty darn sure you would have every last one of them! :) I love reading about your progress on the momplex, all the new plans you get posted, and all your work in general. And now a new book and book tour?!?!? Oye! And I haven't met you (or your super adorable daughter) but I'm pretty sure you are raising her right and she will certainly grow up to be a real go-getter like her momma :) You are so kind-hearted, funny, and flat out down to earth! Love your site!

P.S. Did I mention you always look ridiculously beautiful? You sure do make down look good ;)

Hi Angela, my husband read your comment to me out loud and I'm still blushing! Thank you for reading the Momplex posts - behind the scenes, it's far from glamorous - our kitchen is never clean, I'm afraid to look under the couches because the dust bunnies might be alive, and oh my you should see the weeds in my garden! I think we all just have so much time, and we put ours into the Momplex, the book and this blog and keep secret the rest! Ask our UPS guy - he'll tell you! Thank you for the beautiful comment! You made my day! Ana

The RAM really knows what he's doing! It's almost like he has done this before... wait a minute...

I'm thrilled for you and your book release, Ana! What a cool thing to see come to fruition. I hope you sell a million copies! If Idaho is on your tour list, I am so there!

I found your site and the Momplex blog a couple of weeks after you started construction last summer/fall and have been an avid read ever since (partially because owner-building is really interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing the final project and partially because I'm from Alaska, born in anchorage, raised in Palmer and spent many a summer up in your neck of the woods hanging out with my aunt who lives in Fairbanks.) Anyways....enough about me...there's been one question that's rolled around my head since I started reading...will your moms be living alone in the Momplex or will your dads be living there too? I only ask because you've mentioned grandpa helping to build but only ever mention your moms living there. Sorry if it's too personal a question.

My lord, what a view! I know nothing about construction and will probably never build a house, but I love reading these posts about the Momplex. For one, I am curious about how things are made, and also I love to see the amazing vistas of Alaska that you enjoy every day! It is so special to read how you are so devoted to this job because of love for your mothers. If I were giving my mom a view like that for the rest of her days I would work like a mad person, too!

I had to laugh (and comment) about the kitty litter pail.
We are using the same buckets right now in the garage They are holding up boards that we are painting. Our buckets are probably almost a decade old. They were at my parents house and now at our house because they hauled rock from their place to ours. My parents haven't had cats in a very long time.
Way to repurpose!

You both plan things out and prioritize so well! You have made such extraordinary progress in what is really a short time given your climate and I know planning/prioritizing well has been a large part of addition to your combined know-how.

If your tour brings you to Connecticut, Rhode Island or maybe eastern Massachusetts, I hope to get to meet you! And if your book arrives in time, I'll bring it for an autograph! Expecting it in October! (Happy Dancing!)




I love this blog!! I'm nearly done with my farmhouse bed!! I always feel great about my 'little' projects then I read your blog and think 'i'm not even close'. :) Oh well. I wish I had a house to build-that would be cool.

I also wanted to add-if Pittsburgh is on that list of city tours-I will so be there to meet you. This is exciting. Congrats on the book and congrats on how far you have come on your home!! This is so exciting to watch and see. I'm sure you have your moments where you want to pull your hair out-BUT keep going. You are so inspiring!!

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