Clearing and Accessing the Build Site

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.

The build site at the very beginning
Burning the slash from the fallen trees
A huge shout out to Austin and A+ Chainsaw Works for doing such a great job felling the trees and for teaching us so much in the process!
Build site after. Looks different, eh?

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. Much. Chainsawing.
We had to do a custom fit to make sure each step was level. Also, look at how tiny our Suburban looks from up here!
48 steps in total. You can barely see the top in this pic!
From the top looking down

Finishing touches = planting flowers along the sides for general happiness and erosion mitigation
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!


2 thoughts on “Clearing and Accessing the Build Site

  1. Just a heads up… Though I do not know where in Alaska you are building I would find a way to roughen those steps. I lived for 14 years in a remote cabin and found that in the fall and spring when the weather goes from freezing to warm ice will build up on every step witch for me it was hard not to fall but for you a fall may cause severe injury.


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