Foundations – Rubble Trench Natural Building Foundations

 In Blog, Student Post

What does the beginning of a natural, hobbit house style, building in Scotland look like? Here is a glimpse of our first week where we were focused on foundations.

Health, Safety & Organizing

Monday and a part of Tuesday were spent on H&S (health and safety) induction. Nothing is more important than the workers’ safety and you cannot be thorough enough when it comes to it. Some of the interns already have hands on experience with different tools, but some are first timers; refreshing knowledge and learning anew combined.

The interns were split in two groups: one group was doing earthworks (foundation) with Jeffrey and Joe, while the other was making tools with Jodie for woodworking and plastering which will come later. The following day the interns switched so everyone could get in on a bit of everything.


Jodie teaching tool making

Jodie teaching tool making

Tool Making for Hobbit House Building

We need proper tools to build! Jodie taught us how to make sawhorses because we’ll need those for woodworking come framing time; we also made Japanese style wooden hawks for working with plaster quickly and easily and wooden floats to make sure we apply the plaster neatly.

Natural Building Foundations – Using a Rubble Trench Instead of Concrete

Foundation – need we stress the importance of making a good foundation?

Trenching tools: square-bladed spades, mattocks and long-bladed trenching spade

Trenching tools: square-bladed spades, mattocks and long-bladed trenching spade

First we measured where every wall and post should go, then we checked and marked it properly. Then with the help of Davie, our ground worker, and Joe we dug out holes for the posts and trenches for the traditional stone stem walls. We also had to line the trench with geotextile to prevent our rubble foundation from clogging up with clay.

We spent Thursday and Friday filling the trenches with hard core (concrete rubble) – 100mm at a time we rammed the rubble until we got to ground level. What’s so great about that? Well, we recycled local rubble that would otherwise go to waste and we also made a strong and resistant foundation by patiently ramming 100mm at a time. In this way the sides of the foundation won’t spread and the foundation will stay firmly where we want it to be.

rubble foundations

Digger and rubble

Hobbit House Foundations

Hobbit House Foundations

Finally, we leave you with our thought of the week:

You don’t have to be ashamed of bringing in your ideas!

Until next week,

The Hartwyn team

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