# Site Preparation Instructions

Preparation of staging areas and building sites gets your project moving smoothly.

## STEPS FOR PREPARING TO BUILD

### Laying out the building site

We ran short of time and hired a professional to come and do the excavation including leveling the site, digging the pad foundation holes, and spreading the stone foundation material. However, we had to stake out the excavation site and locate the holes to dig out. Here's a quick way to get the first staking done and be sure that it is square.

#### Workshop

Collect equipment and supplies needed

• Blueprint of site plan
• (2) 100’ Measuring tapes
• 4 3-4’ stakes
• Hammer
• Bright spray paint
1. Choose a spot approximately 5 feet to the North and 5 feet to the West of the area to be excavated.
2. Pound in a stake and spray paint the top foot or two of it.
3. Measure due East a distance 10’ longer than the foundation width (total 67’).
4. Place and paint another stake.
5. Calculate a distance 10’ longer than the foundation length (total 83’).
6. Calculate the diagonal measurement of the excavation site [Length(squared) x Width(squared) = Diagonal(squared)] (106'8").
7. Measure due South from the Northwest stake the distance calculated in step 5.
8. Set the second tape measure on the Northeast stake and measure the diagonal calculated in step 6 going Southwest.
9. Set your third stake where the two measured lengths meet each other.
10. Paint the stake.
11. Measure due South from the Northeast stake the distance calculated in step 5.
12. Set the second tape measure on the Northeast stake and measure the diagonal calculated in step 6 going Southwest.
13. Set your fouth stake where the two measured lengths meet each other.
14. Paint the stake.

Here is a drawing with dimensions for laying out site for excavation of the column pad holes. The green lines indicate where the storm drainage ditch is planned to run.

#### Additional delivery area and storage/equipment shed

(We set this area to the south of the workshop and lined it up with the first row of columns in from the West wall.)

Collect equipment and supplies needed

• Blueprint of site plan
• (2) 100’ Measuring tapes
• 4 3-4’ stakes
• Hammer
• Bright spray paint
1. Measure 21’ to the West from the Southeast stake along the South excavation line.
2. Set a stake there and paint it.
3. Measure 11’ to the East from the Southwest stake along the South Excavation line.
4. Set a stake there and paint it.[The distance between the stakes should be 10’ greater than the width of the storage shed foundation. (total 35’)]
5. Calculate the combined distance of the delivery area and the storage shed foundation (total 45’).
6. Calculate the diagonal measurement of this part of the site [Length(squared) x Width(squared) = Diagonal(squared)] (57').
7. Measure the distance calculated in step 5 due South from the stake set in step 2.
8. Set the second tape measure on the stake set in step 4 and measure the diagonal calculated in step 6 towards the Southwest.
9. Set your third stake where the two measured lengths meet each other.
10. Paint the stake.
11. Measure the distance calculated in step 5 due South from the stake set in step 4.
12. Set the second tape measure on the stake set in step 2 and measure the diagonal calculated in step 6 towards the Southeast.
13. Set your fourth stake where the two measured lengths meet each other.
14. Paint the stake.

#### Area for Drainage ditches around the workshop

We had pre-existing drainage channels to the West of the site and to the South of the site. Still, we considered it important to plan for grassy waterways to the North and West of our low-lying site to keep storm water drainage under control at the Factor E Farm site. Working from theory, we developed some possible plans. In consultation with the excavator, we changed some of them.

Layout

Collect equipment and supplies needed

• Blueprint of site plan
• (2) 100’ Measuring tapes
• 4 3-4’ stakes
• Hammer

Steps:

• Extend the South (East/West) Supply Shed foundation excavation line an additional 5’ to the East.
• Move the painted Southeast Supply Shed stake to this mark.
• Extend the South (East/West) workshop foundation excavation line an additional 5’ to the East.
• Move the painted Southeast workshop stake to this mark.
• Extend the West (North/South) workshop foundation excavation line an additional 5’ to the North.
• Move the painted Northwest stake to this mark.
• Extend the East (North/South) workshop foundation excavation line an additional 5’ to the North.
• Extend the North (East/West) workshop foundation excavation lines an additional 5’ to the East.
• Move the painted Northeast stake to a point close to where the last two extensions would meet.

#### Setting the level for the workshop

(We designed our floor to be level on the East/West axis and slope slightly on the North/South axis).

Collect equipment and supplies needed

• Levels Blueprint of site plan
• Water level
• 1 Measuring tape
• 1 Permanent marker
1. Use the Water level to determine the relative level difference between the Southeast stake and the Northeast stake.
2. Write 'at grade' on the lower stake.
3. Mark on the higher stake the difference from level for excavation.
4. Use the Water level to determine the difference in level between the Northwest stake and the Northeast stake.
5. Calculate the excavation level to be 6" lower than the grade level at the Northwest stake.
6. Mark the stake.
7. Use the Water level to determine the difference in level between the Southwest stake and the Southeast stake.
8. Calculate the excavation level to be 6" lower than the grade level at the Southwest stake.
9. Use the Water level to check that the excavation markings on the Northwest and Southwest stakes indicate they are on level.

### Preparing footings for Column Pads

We designed footings for the concrete pads supporting our CEB columns to be 4'x4' wide and 3' deep. There are 20 columns in our workshop design and 4 columns in the storage/equipment shed. Locations for each of these footings have to be marked out - and then excavated - and then filled and compacted.

#### Laying out the column pad hole sites

Collect equipment and supplies needed

• Blueprint of site plan
• (1) 100’ Measuring tape
• 40 stakes
• Hammer
• 800-1500 ft. (500 m.) string
• 1 pre-built column pad form
• 1 can marking paint (it will paint when it's turned up-side-down)
• Workshop Stake and string steps:
1. Run a line from the NorthWest excavation stake to the NorthEast excavation stake.
2. Choose a point along the line about 6' East of the NorthWest stake and place a stake.(This will be the North end of the North/South origin line.)
3. Run a line from the SouthWest workshop excavation stake to the SouthEast workshop excavation stake.
4. Set a stake along this line to match the one on the North side of the site.
5. Set stakes along each line at intervals of 3', 13', 3', 13', 3', 18', and 3'. (Starting at the stakes set in steps 2 and 4, the distances will be 3', 16', 19', 32', 35', 53', and 56')
6. Run a line from the NorthWest excavation stake to the SouthWest excavation stake.
7. Choose a point along the line about 11' South of the NorthWest stake and place a stake.
8. Run a line from the NorthEast excavation stake to the SouthEast excavation stake.
9. Set a stake along this line to match the one on the West side of the site.
10. Set stakes along each line at intervals of 3', 18', 3', 13', 3', 13', 3', 13' and 3'. (Starting at the stakes set in steps 6 and 8, the distances will be 3', 21', 24', 37', 40', 53', 56', 69' and 72')
11. Run a string between the two stakes set in steps 7 and 9.
12. Run East/West string lines from each stake set along the West line in step #10 to the corresponding stake set on the East line in that step.
13. Run a string between the two stakes set in steps 2 and 4.
14. Run North/South string lines from each stake set along the North line in step #5 to the corresponding stake set on the South lines in that step.
• Storage/Equipment Shed Stake and string steps:
1. Run a line from the SouthWest Shed excavation stake to the SouthEast Shed excavation stake.
2. Identify the two North/South lines that form the North/South row of shop columns 21' West of the East side of the shop.
3. Extend those two lines to intersect with the line run just run in step 1.
4. Place stakes at the intersection points. (These stakes should be 3' apart.)
5. Measure 2l' and 24' along the South shed excavation line from the Eastern stake and place two stakes.
6. Measure along the more Easterly of these two lines 20' from the South workshop pad string line.
7. Place a stake here.
8. Place three more stakes at intervals of 3', 18', and 3' to the South.
9. Measure along the South foundation line to a point 14' East of the North/South origin line (set in steps 2 and 4 above) and set a stake.
10. Run a line from this stake to the stake set 24' along the South shed excavation line in step 6.
11. Place three more stakes at intervals of 3', 18', and 3' to the North of this stake. (The most northerly of these should be 20' South of the South workshop foundation line.
12. Run lines between corresponding stakes to create a 24' square grid showing (4) 3'x3' column pad locations.
13. Extend the East/West lines about 5' in each direction and move the outside stakes there - so they don't get lost during the excavation and stone laying. You will need them to set the pad forms in place.
• Painting steps:
1. Lay the pre-built column pad form under one of the 3'x3' squares marked by the grid of strings.
2. Use the marking paint to mark a square on the ground outside the wooden form.
3. Repeat for each of the (20) 3'x3' squares on the workshop foundation and each of the (4)3'x3' squares on the Storage/Equipment shed foundation.

#### Excavating the column pad holes

Once the hole locations were marked, we needed to get the strings we had used to locate them out of the way of the excavator. But we also were going to need them marking the same locations when we placed the forms for the column pads on top of the foundation stone - which would completely hide them from view! So here is our solution.

Save the location markers

equipment needed

• 24 pieces of wooden scrap
• hammer

What to do

1. Make sure that all the location-marking string stakes are firmly planted at least 5' outside the foundation's footprint.
2. Untie the East end of an East/West marking string.
3. Wind the string up on a piece of wooden scrap, following it across the excavation site, and set it next to the stake outside the foundation at the West end.
4. Wind up all the East/West strings in the same manner.
5. Untie the South end of the North/South marking strings that only mark the workshop foundation lines.
6. Wind these strings up and set the ball next to the stakes outside the foundation at the North end.
7. Untie the North ends and the East ends of the storage/equipment shed marking strings.
8. Wind them up and set them by the stakes at the outside of the shed foundation on the South and the West.

Dig the holes We had a professional come in at this point and dig the marked hole sites.

We hope to do our own excavating on another project. I'll put in some thoughts about that, but first, let's look at some of the things we learned working (as amateurs) with a professional dirt moving contractor. It seems that an experienced back-hoe operator can do a pretty good job of digging our 4'x4'x3' holes!

• We laid out and marked 4'x4' squares, but many of the dug holes came out 6" or more wider in length and width than planned.
• And the first holes were dug the full 36" deep since we didn't communicate well that we only needed 32" of hole depth. (Since we put 6" of foundation gravel on the graded level and set the pad foundations 2" down into that layer, we only really needed 32" deep holes.)

The result was that it took more foundation stone than we originally planned for.

• We were able to limit the (financial) damage by catching the depth problem less than half-way through the digging.
• We rewrote the lay-out instructions to mark the holes with a smaller footprint - it's pretty easy to widen a hole that's too small to start with - but pretty near impossible to do the opposite!
• Now - about doing our own excavating:
• You could use a backhoe bucket on your Life-Trac -
• practice somewhere else first to get the hang of it!
• As mentioned, it's pretty easy to widen a hole that's too small to start with - but pretty near impossible to do the opposite!
• And you have to be careful when moving around the site to stay away from the edges of holes aready dug.
• You could use an auger on your Life-Trac to start the corners, loosen the soil, and get some of it up. Then finish with manual labor.
• If you don't have power equipment, digging foundations for a building this size would be a lengthy - and very labor intensive - project!

I'll put up a possible step-by-step for that.

Dispose of the excavated dirt Our professionals pushed the excess dirt off the foundation area to the North and the South where the ground could use some filling and it was out of the way of the project.

My step-by-step has you moving it as it is excavated.

However you do it, you can't move on to laying your foundation stone until the building site is level again!

#### Laying stone foundation

This part of our project was, again, completed by our friends with the heavy equipment (and a laser level)- which made short work of pushing around and compacting a large amount of stone. We learned more by observation than by doing it ourselves this time.

Supplies and equipment needed

• (20) 2"x2"x12" leveling stakes
• 300 ft. (100 m.) string
• hammer(s)
• tamper
• Water level

Steps to follow

1. Start at one corner of the foundation area and locate a leveling stake a few inches outside the corner of the excavated pad hole.
2. Drive it into the ground until its top is 6" above the graded level.
3. Tie the string around the post as close as possible to the top.
4. Locate a stake in the same way outside each foundation hole and at each corner of the building footprint.
5. Run the string around the entire foundation site, wrapping it around each post so that it is pulled tight.
6. As the gravel truck delivers it, push gravel into the holes and around them to the height of the string.
7. Use the tamper to compact the gravel every 12" as you fill the holes if you are doing this manually.
8. -Or- Drive the heavy truck over the gravel fill when it has been spread to compact it.
9. Continue to fill holes and spread gravel over the site until the foundation stone is evenly spread and compacted to the height of the leveling stakes.
10. Use the water level to check that the gravel is spread evenly over the site, dropping about 1/2" every 5' from East to West.

GOOD WORK! NOW YOU'RE READY TO SET THE COLUMN PAD FORMS AND PREPARE THEM FOR A CONCRETE POUR!