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Hello all! I'm super excited to discover this website. My family is getting ready to build a bunk house/cabin on our 40 acres in southern Missouri (next phase will be several tiny homes for family members). We have some construction experience between us but there will be a big learning curve for certain parts of the project!

First, we are deciding between a pier and beam vs a cement block foundation for the bunk house (we looked into having a slab built but it is cost prohibitive in our area at this time). The bunk house is going to be in the neighborhood of 1000 sqft... possibly a bit more. We are going to be doing it ourselves. I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories about building (or living with) pier and beam vs cement block! Here in Missouri, we deal with hot, humid summers and mild-to-very-cold winters.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Cement block foundation would require much more digging. On the plus side, depending on how deep your frostline is, it can give you a crawlspace or basement with room to house water heaters or miscellaneous storage.

If the ground is rocky, piers might give you more flexibility in placement. I think it would go in quicker and cheaper.

If it was for seasonal use, I would probably go piers. For a year-round use, I would go with a full foundation.
 

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I hate piers under a building and every one always wants me to slip a foundation under the building after the fact .
You just need to figure out the frost line I think your footings need to be 36” .
1000sf 24x40 is a good size .
So you would need 18 piers and your holes would be 30x30 36” deep
you could dig them by hand but a excavator would be better .
If you hand dig a foundation 24x40 it would take 13 man days buy hand .
Or a few hours with a mini excavator with 16” wide bucket .
Dig a trench 36” deep nice and square , bang in rebar every 6 ‘ to mark the footing hight.
I allways pour about 18” of concrete in the trench then lay up 4 courses of block on top
soooo 11 yards of 3500psi ready mix 350 8x8x18 concrete block 20 bags of type s mortar
2 yards of sand .
You will need one day excavator rental and half day loader rental for back fill .
I built my cabin with my son it’s taken 6 years of weekends 😜
we built a road up a Mountain , cut all the trees , dug the footing .
Cut most of the lumber from hemlock logs and framed it up .
I’m almost done we dropped the well pump before thanks giving .
I need a kitchen a couple of bath vanities and a 28x30 shop Built
a couple pics for motivation🤗
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Property Wood Building House Mammal
 

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Here is a Missouri frost depth map.


I thought 36 inches was a bit deep. We are at 32 in central Ohio but we ran our line from the well deeper than 36. It never hurts to go deeper than the frost line.

Having lived at various times in all 3 styles, I think you'll find the cement block is the easiest to insulate and work with. My choice would be to have a full, or at least partial, basement for a storm shelter but those are more expensive than a slab foundation.
 

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Monolithic slab is nice , but not really easy to pull off with out experience .
But they could just pour footing lay block and put a shoe block on top .
I built my cabin like that it went easy even with adding 3” poly styrene 6x6 wire and 5 runs of radiant heat in the floor before we Poured the concrete .
I ended up with 3 pours one for the garage and 2 for the house .
the garage was built in the fall and the house was built in July the next year .
It was hot so we poured 2 slabs 19x 36 my son helped me .
10 years earlier I could of poured the hole thing by my self 😊
I think the cabin took 60 yards of concrete.
 

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I'm not a fan of piers either.
Something as simple as a bunk house would be very economical and easy to do on a slab. Hire it out if you don't have the expertise to do it yourself.

Could even consider a post frame building.
 

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Are you SW, S Central, or SE?

We're South Central, and the frost line is not deep at all.

We just had a basement dug for our new place here in the 'zarks, but when we were up in SW WI, we used piers. It was easy and convenient.
 

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31 years ago, we decided to put a double wide on our 2 acres.
It has 40 piers under it. Think concrete ice cream cones in ground
Then concrete blocks under the metal frame. House has NOT moved.

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I'm not a fan of piers either.
Something as simple as a bunk house would be very economical and easy to do on a slab. Hire it out if you don't have the expertise to do it yourself.

Could even consider a post frame building.
I like post and beam allso but I would put a foundation under it .
Here is one we did last fall
we dug it in a day
inspected it and poured 2 trucks fulls of concrete in a day .
Blocked and plastered the out side in 2 days .
Hand troweled the floor and set anchor bolts and back filled in a day
Then started framing .
I think total was 6 days buy my self with my daughter .
Our footing are 48” deep here 🤷‍♂️ Not a big deal
if I wasn’t so old I could of been dun in 4 days ☹
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Hello all! I'm super excited to discover this website. My family is getting ready to build a bunk house/cabin on our 40 acres in southern Missouri (next phase will be several tiny homes for family members). We have some construction experience between us but there will be a big learning curve for certain parts of the project!

First, we are deciding between a pier and beam vs a cement block foundation for the bunk house (we looked into having a slab built but it is cost prohibitive in our area at this time). The bunk house is going to be in the neighborhood of 1000 sqft... possibly a bit more. We are going to be doing it ourselves. I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories about building (or living with) pier and beam vs cement block! Here in Missouri, we deal with hot, humid summers and mild-to-very-cold winters.

Thanks in advance!
My partner and I just finished installing concrete piers. Either way, it will require a bit of digging. Our cabin was already on cinderblocks, but the company and the guy who owned it before us didn't do very well. There was not enough gravel and the site was wet with water runoff from the uphill side of the cabin. It was in our best interest to build piers under the existing cabin without moving it. We just used a bunch of bottle jacks and lifted the entire cabin little bits at a time while keeping it level. We dug holes with an auger along the sides of the cabin and used concrete form tubes to meet our desired dimensions of footers. Our frostline is 2 feet below ground level and the cabin was lifted off the ground. We ended up using 4 foot concrete forms and cut them shorter as needed to fit the wood beams and hardware in. We used post bases and post caps for 4x4 beams. Removed form tubes and backfilled the holes when the concrete cured. Then added the beams and secured the hardware using carriage bolts. Now our cabin will not heave due to frost in the winter as well as not blow away in a heavy storm as it is secured to the foundation.

Concrete footers need to be a certain thickness and depth depending on your area. Regardless of what you choose to do, this is the most important part. When my partner and I got estimates for concrete footings and an enclosed crawl space, we did not like the price. Our building was half the size of yours. It was probably going to cost us around $7500 to do that and the building still would need to be anchored to the earth. In our experience, doing it ourselves was a great learning experience and drastic money saver. The downside to doing pier and beam foundation is that it will need more maintenance over time and you will need to control the rainwater runoff to the best of your ability. Another downside to not doing the concrete enclosed crawlspace is that we now have more weatherproofing to do on the underside of the cabin. Nothing will be completely rodent proof! This is a big concern doing pier and beam plus skirting as opposed to an enclosed crawlspace. It really comes down to your budget and how built up you want it. If you don't want to have to worry about it for years and years, I would recommend hiring it out and spending the extra money for someone with more experience to do the job how you want it done. Sometimes the money is worth all the backache and headache to come in the future.

Another thing to consider... while you're at this stage... maybe install a root cellar or bunker before building the house. Easier to do now than later. Happy constructioning! Good luck.
 
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