Friday, March 30, 2012

Our Biggest DIY Project to Date: Building a Vintage Log Cabin

Now that we are finished building our vintage log cabin, circa 1860s, I wanted to take the time to chronicle the construction of it. Mostly for my benefit to always remind me that I CAN and to hopefully inspire you to tackle that dream that you think is a little too big. I hope you'll follow along through this journey with me. I plan to post a "chronicle" weekly leading up to the completion of the cabin and then continue with the fun part, our current decorating projects on the inside!

It all started with a dream. My husband's dream to build a vintage log cabin from the ground up, all by himself. We began dating shortly after he had purchased land in South Carolina and started envisioning a log cabin there. His construction plans quickly included me as we proceeded to get married and move our lives from the beaches of South Florida to a different world state. This beach girl was now newly married at 33, living in the middle of nowhere, away from family, friends and anything I had always considered home. I jumped on board half-heartedly with this plan to build a cabin. I can't see it, my dreams of it were more like nightmares, I don't know a thing about construction or tools and definitely had never spent my free-time working harder than I did at work. Well, unless you count working on your tan on a boat in the ocean hard work:). I wanted to be a "good wife" and support my new husband in his endeavors, so he handed me a tool belt and we began. It was during the winter of 2007, six months after we were married, we were taking a drive through the mountains of beautiful Cashiers, NC and stumbled on a log structure that was for sale. By March 2008, we had ourselves a set of logs, from the 1860s, delivered to our address.

Once the logs were neatly set in piles on our ground and the delivery guys had left, we were there, all alone with these HEAVY logs. Even my little dog, Madison, wasn't so sure of this.

Each log was tagged with a wall side A,B,C or D and a row number 1, 2, 3 - 9. Now what? I can kindof see how this is going to work, but not really. With a lot of arm twisting encouragement from my husband and his "you can do anything you set your mind to" attitude we began. Foundation first, made sense to me, but how? He did most of the research and studied a lot before each part of the construction process to gain an understanding of how to and our states building code requirements. He had decided to build the cabin foundation on 9 concrete cinder block pillars that were reinforced with steel rods. In order to determine the placement of these pillars, we had to lay the first row of logs out and raise them up on blocks to level them. It was time to grow some serious muscles and quick. Bring on the spinach.

We dug shallow squares into the ground, built wood frames to fit the squares so that we could pour concrete into them to make pads for each pillar. We decided that if we filled the bottoms of the holes with the small rocks that had been dug up it would take less concrete to fill each form for the pads.

With that done, we poured the concrete, stacked the first row of cinder blocks, reinforced them with steel rods, stacked the remaining rows of blocks needed to make things level and filled them with concrete. Now we had 9 pillars! We've actually started this and not without mistakes on the first weekend either. You'll probably notice that some of the pads were put in the wrong place the first time and had to be redug, reframed and more concrete poured to fix them.

The next step was to add the top block to each pillar and secure it with concrete. We put additional threaded rods through this block in order to have a way to attach the wood foundation frame to the pillars.

Well, there you have it. The foundation! Yay! I can start to see it now, maybe!?!? If only I knew then how many more weekends would be spent like this. It was exactly how I had always pictured my life as a newlywed. Note the sarcasm there:)

                                        I'm so glad you stopped by and I pray you have a blessed day,

                                                                  to be continued next week...


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  4. Wow! My girlfriend just showed me photos of her dream cabin she is going to build. She wants to have land for her horse instead of paying for boarding, and she's always wanted a cabin. I <3 them too. You did a great job of photographing the project! It's gorgeous! Pinned to share:) Happy Holidays

  5. This is so amazing to me, I am almost in shock. So often I think, but I don't know how. You've shown me it can be done. What a glorious piece of land and homey and wonderful log cabin, You two are to be congratulated!

    1. Thank you! It was a lot of work and there were many days that I thought we'd never finish it. Now looking back it didn't seem so bad, but at the time it seemed to take FOREVER. I would dream of rocking on the porch or curling up in front of the fireplace while we were building and now we can!

  6. Nice work you guys this is the way I'm going with my foundation also,thanks for sharing .