The photo here does not directly relate to what this post is about but is more of just an example to make my point about something. Now, I don't want this post to come off as pissy or elitist or some other such; it's just my thoughts on some stuff that has bothered me for a while. Of course, I know I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, on this subject because all of my readers are smart and savvy enough to know what I'm fixin' to tell you but just in case....
Over the years of blogging I have come across a number of other blogs on building, as you would expect. Mostly it's regular people building their own home or barns or such. And that is great. Ya'll know that I try to encourage everyone to try their hand at building, especially women, for a variety on reasons. And in the course of reading some of these blogs I have noticed some of them have quite a few readers. Unfortunately, it seems that the blogs of people who are least qualified to be showing other people how to build something are sometimes the most heavily read. Let me just say, just because someone is being adventuresome in their construction; say, building in some exotic location, does NOT mean they know what they are doing. Now, some of these are fun to read regardless and I am not promoting myself as some all-time expert; I make mistakes too, which I will also show you. That said, I do have almost 20 years of construction and safety training and with that I say please, PLEASE, be very careful who you take construction advise from and what their qualifications are. I don't care how much experience they say they have in concrete, if they don't know what a snap-tie or a johnny clamp is, you run from them, quickly. They are an idiot and have never worked in the industry. In fact, we used to have a game we played when I worked construction. We often had fellows drop by our jobs looking for work and they often claimed to be form carpenters or whatever. This is common in commercial construction. Now, they wouldn't have a resume or anything but would just tell the super what their experience etc. Now, if they promoted themselves as super-carpenter, one who had done all and been all, and even if he uttered the famous words of one guy, "when it gets too rough for everybody else, it's just right for me", we, the crew, would immediately start taking bets on how fast this guy was going to drag up. Not, IF he was going to drag up but just how fast, because when people start talking like that they are full of shit. We never were wrong about a one. Keep that in mind when reading these blogs.
I have also noticed that many of the self-sufficiency types and all really like to get out of the city limits where there are fewer, if any, restrictions on building. Now, I don't have a problem with this. I'm only in the county and didn't have inspections on my house BUT, it is still built to code. Now, I agree that many times the building codes are stupid about some things and the city just wants the revenue. However, for the most part these building codes are for your protection. They are there so that JimBob doesn't put your rafters on 3 foot centers and have the ceiling or roof collapse on you. It's there so your neighbor isn't shitting in a 55-gallon drum and having it overflow onto your property. It's there so your well-meaning cousin doesn't burn your house down because he really didn't know how to wire that junction box anyway.
I have seen some of the stupidest things done, by way of building, on some of these blogs. I have seen people frame a two story house and not put the first header over a door or window. That's fine until about 2 years down the road when things have sagged so bad they can't open any of the doors or windows. I have seen a lot of unsupported spans on outer floor bands and rafters; no piers but in the corners. Code will tell you how far you can span according to the size lumber. I actually saw a couple install rafters with the wide side down. Now, I don't know how anyone can look at that, no matter their experience or lack thereof, and think,' yeah, that's the way those go'.
Granted it was just a chicken coop (a big one) but, holy hell! how do you do something like that.?? I have seen people install roofing in about every bad way imaginable. Granted now, roofing can be difficult and you really need to have help if you don't know what you are doing.
And Lord O' mercy, don't get me started about people pouring concrete. Concrete is a wonderful and versatile medium. It is astounding in it's strength and beauty. Under the right circumstances, it will kill you deader'n a hammer in seconds if you make one mistake. Concrete is not something to screw with and you especially need to watch who you get your advice from. Now, it's hard to make a deadly mistake pouring a slab for a patio or such but you can mess up and waste an enormous amount of money if nothing else. The photo above is of some formwork from one of my old jobs. We were pouring foundation piers and footings that were 2-3 feet deep. You can see some of the massive amount of rebar that went in those footings and the steel sticking up was just part of what was stubbed up for the walls that would pour on top. And, in all honesty, these were kinda wimpy footings for commercial work. I've seen one guy, on a blog, pour walls where he only put a stick of rebar every 4 or 5 feet and then claimed that was overdoing it. And NO, fiber in the mix does not help on walls. Fiber is to help keep slabs and walkways from cracking. It is NOT structural. Nothing over his doorways, windows etc. Please, please, please, consult with an actual concrete professional if you are going to pour walls, even some retaining walls. Walls must be tied into the footings correctly and with sufficient steel and the footings themselves must be sufficient to hold the wall up. Now, I know footings for a house are nowhere near what commercial construction calls for but, as I have actually seen, a 2-inch thick little spread footing is NOT going to hold up a two story house, especially when it was poured right on top of the topsoil! They didn't even dig down past the frost line or to substantial enough earth to meet resistance from a probe. You can get into a lot of trouble with concrete in a hurry if it is done incorrectly. The form itself can fail, which I have seen, and that can hurt or kill someone. Concrete (reinforced) weighs around 140 lbs. per cubic FOOT. That means one yard is way over 3,000 pounds. Concrete is expensive nowadays and hard to get back out once it has set! If you screw it up it can be costly to repair.
It just pains me to no end to watch people install such piss-poor foundations for their houses and such and you know, come a year or two or 5, everything is going to be so damn outta whack the walls are going to be cracking and all kinds of hell. The foundations, however they are done, must be done correctly or the rest of the house will suffer for it. And you too, I might add.
So, this is my rant. Just please, take most of what you see online with a grain of salt. Even me. For one thing, I have come to realize that something that is code down here might not be advisable in another climate and some stuff I've seen done up north (because it was code) I would never do here. MUCH depends on your climate, the geology of your region and the building materials you are using. Please, please be aware of these things, research your ideas for your region and know and go by the building codes, even if you don't have to.