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using tree stumps as a foundation  RSS feed

 
Rob Viglas
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So I'm driving down the road today and I see in someone's yard a kid's fort built on top of a tree stump that is six feet high or so and it got me thinking...

The one part of building that I am constantly struggling with is the foundation. I don't like to use concrete if I can avoid it. So, I see this awesome fort and think, "Why not?" I am trying to think of any drawbacks to using the stumps, from some hard maple and black birch I am in the process of clearing, as the foundation for a small outbuilding. Other than the typical drawbacks to building on piers what else is there? Will they rot out too fast? Large stumps seem to be solid for quite some time and these would be protected from direct exposure. The idea of building off of them at 4 or 5 feet above ground and using the trees placement to guide the design of the building seems intriguing and fun to me!

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Rob
 
Amedean Messan
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Better to keep the tree alive. Wood does rot naturally so this may be good enough for a tree house but unless you want a home to last roughly a decade than you need to have strong foundations.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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My wife lived with a guy for nine years in SC in an old cabin that was built on stumps. My sense of it was the cabin was very old. I would think if the stumps were of a rot-resistant species, like cedar, locust, or cypress, they'd stand a good chance of lasting as long as the rest of the structure. Remember there won't be nearly as much moisture up under there once a building is in place....
 
Peter DeJay
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Sounds pretty ideal actually, but rare to find a perfect situation. Maybe if there was a grove of old trees or someone had planted a row of trees in a line, then you could have 4 in more or less a square. That would be pretty epic. A home build on 4 perfect stumps, made from the wood of those trees. In reality though it would be better to leave the trees growing and either build around them if you wanted to incorporate them, or build so you have a great view of them. I hear you on the concrete/foundation thing, its the one area that it's hard to get away from.
 
jay william
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Location: Stokes County, NC
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Interesting. We just looked at an old farmhouse in NC built in 1920 that has 2 locust stumps in the crawlspace, as part of the foundation holding up the 2 story house.

They seem in fine shape to me, but it does give me pause for a number of reasons... I was wondering if anybody had seen this sort of thing before, and whether or not we should look into updating them. Im leaning toward yes.
 
Rob Viglas
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Thanks for the replies and the interesting thoughts!

The concept would definitely make the most sense with rot resistant species but I've got to work with what I have. The trees have to come down anyways to allow more southern exposure for growing more food and will be replaced with fruit trees planted nearby. So I may just build a funky chicken coop a few feet off the ground and see what happens!

This did get me thinking more about foundation alternatives though and I am thinking what if I just use rot resistant timbers on a compacted gravel bed ( taking into account the normal precautions regarding drainage, etc.) and build off them. I could design it so the timbers could be replaced with relative ease. Just thinking out loud...
 
Rob Viglas
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jay william wrote:Interesting. We just looked at an old farmhouse in NC built in 1920 that has 2 locust stumps in the crawlspace, as part of the foundation holding up the 2 story house.

They seem in fine shape to me, but it does give me pause for a number of reasons... I was wondering if anybody had seen this sort of thing before, and whether or not we should look into updating them. Im leaning toward yes.


Isn't it amazing how ideas and solutions people used to build with, that may seem a bit crazy, can withstand the test of time? I love the barns here in VT that are standing on dry stacked stone piers that seem way too small to be holding up such a large structure!

If they still look good, you could always leave them and add other supports. Just a thought!
 
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