Hidden Secrets To A Perfect Cabin Foundation Every Time!

The Secret To A Perfect Cabin Foundation

The SECRET to building the PERFECTLY LEVEL foundation for a cabin or house is…

Actually there are several things you must do in order to give yourself the best chance at constructing a perfectly level and square cabin. And it all starts with the foundation.

BUILDERS-TIP: We cannot emphasize how critical the foundation is. Taking the time here will save you heartache days, months and years down the road.

#1 Make sure it’s level and square all the way around BEFORE you do ANY framing!

Mike Holmes

Do it right the first time. – Mike Holmes

The fact is… if the foundation of your cabin/home is out as much as 1/8th of an inch at the bottom, by the time you get to the top of a framed wall that slight error will compound ten fold. The end result may be that the top of your framed walls may never line up. No matter how hard you pound on them with a sledge hammer, tug on them with ratchet straps or pry on them with a crowbar. I’ve seen it all.

Why is the alignment of these walls (which stem from your foundation) so critical?

Depending on the truss construction you may very well be exurting tens of thousands of pounds of pressure OUTWARD on those walls and if that load bearing wall is anything other than plumb you risk a catastrophic failure of your entire build. usually AFTER you’ve finished building it as that’s when the most weight, stress and weather affects your build.

Also, skewed construction means windows, doors, flooring, cabinets, and drywall almost never line up properly. We’ll teach you every trick we know as we build our cabin to help you prevent this from happening.

Everything must begin with a perfectly square and level foundation and stay that way until the last nail/screw is driven into the roof.

Want a complete cost breakdown of our off grid home including the building materials list?


5 Steps: Starting A Foundation Right

1. The first secret in building a proper foundation is choose the right ground. Make sure your building on undisturbed soil (earth). Know ahead of time what type of ground your working with (i.e.  clay, sand, gravel, rocks, boulders, soil etc.) Also know if there is the potential for any standing water/freezing. Ensure you also have clearance around the building to work is your in a forested area like us. Remember, putting an exterior finish on your cabin requires more elbow room that the foot print your foundation will take.

2. Never rush this phase of the build. Take twice as much time as you think you need.

When building the foundation remember that this is NOT where to cut corners. The more time you take to ensure your foundation is rock solid, plumb and level the less time the rest of the build will take.

Taking your time now will speed up the rest of the build and that means you enjoying your cabin sooner rather than later.

3. Measure everything 3Xs at several stages of this phase. Even after you’ve got every pad, block, post, beam, or joist in place… check it all again. For plumb, square and level. I know your excited to see those walls go up. And I know the foundation isn’t where you see the biggest results for a hard days work but it is where you’ll get the best return for time well spent.

4. Use the right tools for the job (we share them below) and know how to use them properly to save time, money and frustration.

5. Lastly, don’t be afraid to adapt to the situation. Planning is essential but sticking to the plan isn’t always an option. Sometimes the type of foundation you initially settle on may not be feasible for your type of ground. Adapt and over come but remember to take you time.

Clearing The Land


Below you can see the excavator clearing the overburden in our build site.

We had already cut down most of the brush by hand inside this 60ft X 40ft area when we were trail blazing.

Below is the cleared area where we’ll cabin will be built.

The Building Materials Are Delivered

Yesterday all the building materials for the cabin (from Home Depot) arrived and were dropped off at the top of the hill.


We had already brought most of the smaller building materials down using our ATV and a small utility trailer so that we could get a head start.

Transporting all the building material to The Off Grid Cabin buildsite (1)

Thankfully the excavator operator who was concurrently building our access road was able to sling down some of the heavier materials for us.

We slung the 3 concrete footings, 36 bags of crusher dust (2,376lbs in total) as a large portion of the lumber.

Home Depot did however slightly dropped the ball.

They forgot to load our steel roof onto the delivery truck which had been stored for us on one of the top shelves inside Home Depot.

The roof was ordered through Home Depot and came shipped from the roofing company in Ontario earlier than expected. Hence why it was waiting at the store for a few days.

They also forgot 36 additional 8″ cinder blocks and the 12 24″ x 24″ concrete pads.

However… they did deliver us 10 1/2″ 4ft X 8ft OSB instead of 10 3/4″ T&G OSB and a good portion of the dimensional lumber is actually longer than we had ordered.

Finally they delivered us 3 extra 10ft 6″ X 6″ pressure treated posts. SCORE!

BUILDERS-TIP: Often times if the length of lumber you ordered isn’t available the store may provide you with longer (never shorter) lumber for for the same price as your quote. They want your business and will often take a hit on the cost of lumber in order to keep you happy and keep your business.

Want A Complete List Of The Building Materials?


The Concrete Pads and Layout