New Footing

Three contractors and two totally stressed-out homeowners later, my husband and I decided to take matters into our own hands—literally.

by Stephanie Staton

Three contractors and two totally stressed-out homeowners later, my husband and I decided to take matters into our own hands—literally. Working as our own general contractors, designers and architects, we plotted out our goals for our new farmhouse, its functionality and the available budget.

To the dismay of some individuals involved in the project thus far, my husband changed the plans, expanding out the house 10 feet on three sides. From our experience with the newly exposed rafters and failing roof, as well as some research into options for expanding the roofline, the best roofing option appeared to be prefabricated trusses. My husband worked with the truss manufacturer to allow fully functional upstairs space with flat 8-foot ceilings that could later be made into spare bedrooms or whatever we required. As always, we wanted to avoid delays in the project, so we ordered the trusses, made the down payment and moved ahead with pouring the footers for the expanded house structure

Footers are the concrete piers that the wooden structure of the house rests upon. My husband, equipment-operator extraordinaire, dug out the footing, as well as the crawl space around the existing foundation—which, by the way, is the farmhouse’s original stacked-stone footer that measures approximately 22 inches thick. (Cool, huh?)

Hobby Farms editor Stephanie Staton's newly purchased farmhouse contained the structure's original footing.
Photo by Stephanie Staton
Our farmhouse contains the structure’s original footing (pictured), which we expanded 10 feet on three sides.

To encourage water to flow away from the house, one corner of the crawlspace/footer was deeper than the rest. In this corner, he installed a weeping drain that draws moisture away from the house and down toward the pasture. We then ordered a concrete truck to pour the footer, while hubby and one of his friends worked frantically to tap out air pockets and smooth the top before the concrete began to set—a pretty quick process from what I observed—all while racing the clock to beat the rain clouds forming overhead. (Check out the video above to get in on the action.)

We lucked out and the storm passed with fairly little fuss. Work pressed on inside the house as we waited for the concrete to cure, and later in the week, a two-man crew came out to install the block foundation. With the help of my husband and his friend, the men pounded out the foundation in less than two days—a feat worth marveling at, if you ask me—and we were back to waiting as the foundation and its concrete mortar set.

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Over the weekend, we began installing the new rim joists along the outer foundation and linked them to the old rim joists with new floor joists—a process that would stretch across several weekends.

In between holding joists, shooting the nail gun and doing other little tasks to help out with the installation of the joists, I shoveled gravel into the crawlspace and spread it with a rake. My mother also helped me spread and pin down a ground barrier to further alleviate issues with moisture, digging rodents and ground-dwelling insects, which turned into a mighty difficult task with the seemingly gale-force winds that felt nice blowing in your hair but drove you bonkers when it whipped the barrier back into your face. (My poor dad almost got blown over when a gusting wind caught him as he was carrying a piece of subfloor!)

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