Brew Hut rebuild/Foundation

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Claimed by Rueben Schulz

What I get to do

  • Prepare list of materials to buy, with costs, prepare a schedule for making foundations.
  • Bug the people I know for information about how to do this.
  • Look over the book JP has about building with stone.

Preliminary Plans

  • Reconnaissance once snow gone (before we fly up supplies):
    • Survey site
    • Dig hole(s) to bedrock (need pick, shovel, bar)
    • Practice stacking rocks
    • Maybe practice sticking rocks together with mortar
  • Decide on specific foundation design
  • Get needed matierials on helicopter
  • Get volunteers (unsuspecting slaves) to do lots of manual work (dig 6 holes, transport and wash rocks, mix mortar)

Preliminary Design

We have three options for the materials used to build the foundations: rock, concrete, or concrete/wood. But any final designs will need to wait for the recon, since the depth and height of the foundations depends on how deep the bedrock is and how level the site is.

For either option the foundations will be:

  • 6 piers (circular, 8" diameter if concrete)
  • piers rest on a footing that is about 2*2' by 6" thick. Footing should be 18" below ground for frost protection (bed rock might not be that deep though).
  • Piers topped with level saddle.
    • Beams fit into saddles. Beams are 20'-0" long.
    • Beams are 4.5" wide. Outside faces of beams are 11'-10.5"apart.

Roland suggested that we can attach the saddles to the beams, level the beams (support them at either end with temporary structures), and then build the piers. This way, we will be assured everything lines up.

Also, loose rocks can be placed on the footings and around the piers to add some more weight to the foundations.

Option 1 - Rocks

The original plan was to construct the foundations from the plentiful stone at the site. The rocks would be held together with mortar (and maybe chicken wire). Mortar can be used to level the saddles.

Stone foundations were very common 100 years ago.


  • Greatly reduces the weight needed to be transported to the site.


  • Easy to mess up and build foundations that fall over.
  • Time consuming (need to find and wash rocks, CAREFULLY stack rocks...)
  • Harder to level the saddles.
  • Ideally need a stone mason (or brick layer) to help.

Option 2 - Readymix cement

This would use concrete instead of rocks. Round cardboard forms can be used for the piers and rebar can be added for some more strength. Clean rocks could be added (no more that 1/3rd volume) to reduce the amount of cement needed.


  • Lots of people know how to do this.
  • Easy to level the saddles.
  • Quicker construction.


  • Lots of weight needs to be flown in by helicopter (2000 lb (less if gravel available))
  • Lots of cement mixing by hand.

Option 3 - Wood posts on cement

Another option is to place wood posts (6x6") on top of the footings. These would replace the piers in option 2. This requires that the top of the footings are above ground and would likely need some braces to ensure things don't tip over.


  • May be less weight.
  • Structure is leveled with wood (easier to cut and change than concrete)


  • Wood rots

Miscelaneous Options

  • Rebar connecting foundation to bedrock (assuming not too deep). Requires a hilti drill to dig holes into the bedrock.

Materials and Tools needed

Eventually add these to the Tools list.

Both options

  • pick (digging in rock)
  • shovels
  • hoe (mix cement)
  • rock transport (build from old brew material)
  • brush to wash rocks
  • buckets to transport water
  • pen to mix cement or mortar on (plywood with some 2*6 sides, again use old brew material).
  • 6 saddles

Option 1 - Rocks

  • mortar (how much/ pier)

Option 2 - Readymix cement

  • lots of cement - one bag of readymix is 55lb (25kg) and gives 0.4 cubic feet of volume.
  • footings are 2 cubic feet each = 5 bags/footing (~4 if some rock added) = 6 footings * 5 bags * 55lb = 1650lb for footings alone (1300lb if some rock added).
  • pier volume depends on how level the site is (the pier at the high corner of the hut may be zero).
  • need some forms for the footings (old brew material) and piers (cardboard tubes)

Note: If there is gravel at the site, we can use concrete instead of readymix. This will drastically reduce the weight of material needed (1/3 rd or less of the above weights)

Option 3 - Wood posts on cement

  • less cement than option 2
  • forms for footings
  • 6*6" wood posts
  • wood to brace the posts (2*4")
  • tar (or something) to paint the posts with

What we did

We got six boulders as large as we could move and buried them where the piers were to go, then drilled three holes atop each. Rebar was cemented into these holes, then using round cardboard forms, short piers were poured over the rebar, and saddles were cemented into the tops of the piers. A couple of pieces of plywood were used to level the tops of the saddles.

This all took a surprisingly long time, with trips up there on several weekends to shovel snow and drill holes with hand steel and a hammer, until we got wise and rented a Makita hammer drill and finished the hob in one weekend with only two batteries for the Makita.

We flew in 700 lbs of ready-mix and it was stored up there for a couple of months before we could pour the piers. There were times when the stuff could have been ruined by rain (the day we flew it all in was not good that way), but in fact the ready-mix survived well, and was sufficient.