Experimental Foundation With Author’s Recommendation Pending.

Foundations. There are at least several ways to go about making one. If your tiny house is going onto a trailer, then that’s your foundation. For people with land-tied tiny houses, you need something sturdy to build on. I chose the most convoluted method I could think of to save money.

A good option for a foundation would be to dig two trenches below the frost line, fill the pits with gravel, and then build the house on pressure treated wooden 6×6 or 4×6 skids which sit right on the gravel. That’s the best method I’ve seen for a compatible building site, but probably requires a truck to deliver gravel, and really a backhoe if you’re awesome enough. My method, however, cost $27.

My house will be sitting on cement deck blocks, yes – but the ground is soft at the building site, and I have concerns about the weight of the house pushing the blocks down into the soil. In a drier climate with harder soil, I would probably put the blocks on the ground and call it a day. For my soft-soil situation, I tried another approach.

There is a stream in the woods behind the building site. I took a shovel and six 5-gallon buckets and dug a whole lot of gravel out of the stream bed. Now we’re cooking. I used a hand-truck to get the ass-heavy buckets back to the site. Then a wheel fell off the hand-truck and I acted like a provoked rhinoceros and heaved the rest of the buckets the old fashioned asshole way. Kristin was helping, and she politely didn’t point out what an idiot I must look like when I get frustrated.


Next step: dig some holes. I dug six holes about the depth of a bucket, and then put gravel into the bottom of the holes for drainage. My plan was to bury the buckets up to about the brim and sit the deck blocks on top of the buckets – and for this to make sense, I would have to fill the buckets with something heavy and solid to turn them into a pillar of sorts. Cement.

I’m so cheap, I only bought three bags of cement. An 80lb bag is only $3 something, but I will not be oversold. I’m cheap… right up to the brink of being a fault.

I filled the buckets with gravel and rocks to take up space around the cement. I finished the buckets off with a flat and even layer of cement so the deck blocks would have something flat and solid to sit on. Boom. Concrete-ish pillars.

Trying to get the holes to an even depth was a real clownfest. I had to lift the heavy buckets in and out of the holes about a thousand times while checking for level by placing the blocks and skids on and off the buckets. Finally, I had both skids level, parallel, and at an even height. For $27.

If my bucket method doesn’t work perfectly, then I can lift a sinking corner of the house and add a shim over the top of the bucket’s concrete and under the deck block. A floor tile, a square of pressure treated plywood, or a concrete square ($1.92) would all work. So no big deal – just check for level once in awhile and shim up anything silly until it all settles.

Here’s the building site from a few steps back. This is somewhere I can definitely imagine living:

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