The Tool Barn

Installing a Foundation for Post & Beam construction

Post & Beam construction is very popular for decks and out-buildings.  Along the shoreline it has also been used extensively to support houses, in place of a "traditional" foundation in order to keep the house up off the ground.  One of the most important parts of this type of construction is the foundation.  One thing to note:  always check with your local building department for regulations regarding this type of arrangement.

Items needed:
Post-hole digger
Axe or Mattock to cut roots
Tube Form(optional but may be required)
Concrete mix
Mudpan or wheelbarrow to mix cement
Safety Suggestions and Tips
Wear Safety glasses
Wear gloves when working with cement
Avoid breathing cement dust (see warnings on package)
Level of difficulty

Time Required:
 1 hour


Layout holes carefully

Step 1:

The first step is to carefully layout the position of your holes. A tape and Plumb bob are very helpful. Accuracy in this step is crucial. If you layout your holes wrong, you could have to re-dig them. Place a stake of a dot of spray-paint at the center of each hole.

Start digging!

Step 2:

After you have the holes positioned, it is time to start digging. The width and depth of your holes should be in accordance with your local building codes. The holes pictured here are 2 feet deep and 6 inches in diameter. If you are building a heavier structure, your holes may be wider. If you live farther to the north, your holes may be deeper. The key is to get the foundation below the frost line.

Cutting roots

Step 3:

If the holes are fairly small in diameter and the dirt clean, a post-hole digger may work. There are, however, many elements that may conspire to make a post-hole digger useless. The primary culprits are rocks and tree roots. If you encounter thick roots while digging, an axe (or mattock) is very useful in removing them.

Don't wait too long to pour!

Step 4:

Check your progress with an accurate rule. Do Not cheat on this measurement. Frost Heave does exist and it will bite you. Make sure that the hole goes to the depth that is required by local ordinance. In addition, if the water table is high in your area, do not wait too long to pour your concrete or the holes will fill with water.

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