We Built A Shop And Learned So Much

When we bought our property in early 2018 it came with no garage nor shop. Well, we had it all planned out. We’d build a shop. I mean, how hard could that be? (Start laughing now….) We figured it would take time, but we didn’t expect it would take 17 months and 4 days from moving to using our shop. Lesson learned. Building small sheds is easy enough….but when working with raw land it will take time. What took the most time? First we had to decide on how we wanted the shop to like like. Then who to build it. We signed a contract end of summer of 2018 with a builder. Then we had to find local help to do the clearing, grading and getting the site ready. This took considerable time – and we got to experience “island time” first hand. The land shaping company we were recommended to use by the builder ghosted us. Twice. We found a different company that did the job – and showed up on time. But at that point we were 2 months behind schedule. They did a great job taking a site that was an overgrown forest full of dig pits, and shaping it into a usable slab.

So, with many photos to show how the land was shaped and built on, walk through with us on our adventure. Starting in April of 2019 to its completion in August of 2019.

The shop was built in an area that had been cleared long ago, then an ill managed forest regrew. It was mostly thin, tall Hemlocks in poor shape. The forest was choked, dim, and unhealthy.

One of the big issues we faced when we bought the land was finding “dig pits” in this area. Our only guess is they were taking top soil for jobs, as he was a contractor. At some point when the land was first developed he had planned to build a shop but never did. After that, he dig up holes making it nearly impossible to access the upper land. By this picture in April we had filled in the main hole in the “driveway” to the upper part. We had cut back the forest so we could get the tractor around it. There were multiple holes 6 feet deep and 20 to 40 feet long.

This was the access road from the other side (hole is in the distance). Typical over grown forest.

When our land shapers showed up, we had them clear 100 feet of land length wise.

This was drudgery work and involved many thin, and dead, trees coming down, and many, many root balls being dug up.

Clearing and root ball piles starting to show.

Nearly done with phase 1. We gave away a lot of the Hemlocks to people needing firewood.

We paid to have them run the slash fire, coming in as the most likely last commercial fire permit issued for the season before the burn ban started for the summer.

For a commercial slash fire there must be an excavator on site to tend to it. It’s the only feasible way to get rid of that many tree stumps. And while they had the fire going……

They cleared the flat area across the way. And they even let Walker drive the ancient bulldozer. He was over the moon about that!

We think this is where the previous owner wanted to have his shop built. It was mostly flat and had been cleared. However, he had left a massive burn pile in the center of old rotting trees. It was so old there was a 40 foot Alder tree growing in it! It didn’t add much to have this section cleared and flattened more, and we know we will either farm it, or do building on it.

The fire was left for a month to burn out. Yes. A month. This is how building takes so long. We knew it would eat up time though. Burning on the build site was the best choice, as it wasn’t near property lines, where we might have had neighbors complaining to the fire department.

Pano of the build site, with the fire in the center. The road up to the site was also rebuilt.

While all that was happening they created a decent driveway down by the house. When we moved in, the driveway was a tight lollypop loop that was hard to navigate. You couldn’t see through it, and UPS and similar had to often back and fill to make it around. This was after we had cut down all the trees and the crew was getting ready to haul out the extra soil. (They were also building the driveway to the upper then.)

The difference was huge. Suddenly you could park. You could drive. No tree stumps to hit. No scratching of paint….

Back to work, they were digging the fire pit open, a month later it was still burning inside.

Shaping, moving and more shaping.

Slowly you could see the building pad take shape.

Ecology blocks to finish the corner. But flat. Flat finally.

Pano of the road up to the building site.

Then it just sat. Done and waiting. Waiting on the builders. And it felt like it would never happen but in June supplies started showing up.

Then it started.

Day one. Poles in.

Day 2. Framing went up.

Day 3. Roof was built.

Day 4 the roof started going on.

From the woods.

Day 5 the sidewalls and insulation started going up, as did the siding.

Starting to take shape.

Side view.

Looking at the sides.

Concrete day.

The stoop and the boys.

Walker wrote his big.

Alistaire used a stick.

Concrete done. Then….to let it sit and cure, and dry out.

The view of the back. Not long after this, the gutters were installed. The back wall ones are tied in for later connecting to water tanks behind.

Then we had a lean to installed at the end. This allows for vehicle storage.

Finally the floors were dry…and the doors were installed at the end of August.

And then….17 months later, we had a shop. That is like nearly instant, no?

The road still needs to be finished, and the lean to needs gutters, and electric needs to be run…..but it’s close enough, and we can use it finally.

But I can’t say I want to build a house anytime soon after this…..