Getting Started

We bought this property in the summer of 1992. The idea was to build a recreational cabin so we have been in no great hurry to get things done. We put a trailer on it in 1993 and built a shed roof to keep the snow load from crushing the trailer. The next few years we spent putting in the septic system, leveling the building site and developing a water supply. During the winter of 1996-97 I worked with an architect named Tom Veith on the design of the cabin. We submitted the plans to the Kittitas County Building Dept in January 1997 and got them approved by March 1997.

This photo was taken in late May 1997 when the snow had finally melted away and we could actually begin construction. The first step in actual construction involves the use of batter boards to establish the exact location of the foundation. This method has been used as far back as ancient Egypt in exactly the manner I show here. A few feet outside the expected foundation square, three posts are driven in at each corner. A horizontal member is screwed to the posts (use a portable drill and self tapping screws). These horizontal boards or "laterals" are all level to each other. You can use a simple eye level to get them true to each other (the Egyptians used a pan of water) or a transit, if you can get one.

Once the laterals are in place, you tie four strings between each opposing lateral to form a square. The strings should be tight but slideable along the laterals. Measure diagonally from the places where the strings cross. Adjust the strings until the sides are the length you want and the two diagonals are equal. Then mark the places on the laterals where the strings are tied so you can take the strings down while you're working and put them back up later when you need to measure.

This should give you four corner points level and square. Use a plumb bob to measure down from the strings to the ground.
Return to Start Next Photo

This page was created by Paul Kahle 19-Mar-1998

This page was last updated on 13-Jan-2001