Once the ground had thawed and a build site for the tiny cabin was selected, two major obstacles stood between us and starting construction: large trees and a steep hill. The 10 ft x 20 ft rectangle that we selected for our cabin’s footprint was flanked by some really large (over 100 ft tall) and scary (leaning and twisted) trees that would be a danger to have near the cabin (especially during the winter months!) and would need to be removed. After inspecting them, it became clear that we would not be able to remove the 13 trees ourselves and that this would require the assistance of a professional. The second challenge was that of access; our chosen site was atop a steep hill, 50 feet above the road. To address the access issue, we briefly considered putting in a road/driveway with switchbacks, but quickly realized that such a monumental task was well out of our budget and would cost us valuable time as well.
We found a local forester to help us with the tree removal and, in the spirit of getting two birds with one stone, we decided to ask him to fell two of the trees directly down the hill to the road so that we could use them as runners for a staircase. When felling day came, everything went perfectly to plan (even the weather!) and by the end of the day we were left with a clear, albeit messy build site. We spent the next three days moving logs, burning branches, and setting to work on those all-important stairs.
We soon discovered that using tree trunks for our staircase would indeed save us money on lumber, but we had no idea how much time it would cost us. We put three long days of hard work into aligning, leveling, notching, and putting the treads on those stairs, but once we were able to easily walk to the build site (vs. scrambling up an eroding hill side) we realized that it was well worth the effort.
So now that we have easy (ish) access to our cleared pad, the next step will be digging holes and pouring concrete pilings. Here is a sneak peek of Mark staking out the corners and squaring the site via the use of batter boards. What are batter boards, you ask? Well stay tuned!