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Paul once again sits down with Kyle from bootcamp to talk about identifying and replacing rotten wood in wofatis.

If you think you see a bit of wood going rotten, the easiest way to see if it is to take a hard, sharpish object like a pocket knife or screwdriver and stab it.  If the stabby thing only goes in 1/8th of an inch, it’s probably good there, but if it goes in 1/4 or more, then chances are it’s either rotten or on the way to being rotten.  

For replacing beams, they have a set of monstrous house jacks that each should be capable of holding the roof up while the beam is replaced, but for safety’s sake they prefer to use 6 (considering the consequence of them failing, that’s not a bad bet).  To get the new beam in, they raise the roof an inch or so and dig the hole out wider and at a 45 degree angle so that the new beam can be slid in at an angle.  They also use larger beams just to make sure, and boost the gravel padding from 1 inch to about 6 inches.  Unlike some builders, they don’t char the bottoms of the posts – it does improve the lifespan of the posts, but at the cost of strength and a great deal of time and effort in doing it properly.  Mike Oehler’s original design called for the base of each beam to be wrapped in ten layers of bin bags, to which Kyle raises an eyebrow, but the $50 house uses this technique and it’s been around for 45 years, so it’s kinda hard to argue with success.  Even with this apparent success, Paul doesn’t want to use plastic in his projects at all if he can avoid it at all.

Relevant Threads

The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download

Wofati and Earth Berm forum

Roundwood and Timber Framing forum

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This podcast was made possible thanks to:

Dr. Hugh Gill Kultur
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