Best way to level lot for pole barn

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I am wanting to build a small pole barn garage myself. The area is near my blacktop turn around. I want to extend this turnaround with gravel. My idea is to "box in" a 24 x 24 area with stakes and 2x6's. To put the gravel in this for the pole barn floor. Then start building as I have time and money. (I will not have a 2x6 in the front so I can put gravel from my turnaround to the pole barn and use it for parking.
I worked the ground with a tiller last year and scraped with a tractor bucket. It is more level than it was but not perfect.
Any idea on how I can get this good and level before I start without buying expensive tools or spending a lot of money? (We just had a baby born two months ago).
Is this a doable project by myself?
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Build the pole barn first. Get it square and plumb, and make the collar beams level. True the collar with a water level (below).
Then box in the bottom of the barn with pressure treated (ground contact) batter boards -- say, 2x8's, if they're wide enough to make up any uneveness on the ground. Just adjust the box to level all-round, ditching where necessary to keep the top at or below your desired finished level.
Back-fill around the outsides of the batter boards, then fill the box with gravel (or pre-fill with some compacted earth to a slightly higher "level" mark than the original grade, then finish up with 4" to 6" of gravel) and plate compact the whole mass.
Leveling can be done with a simple water level. In its basic incarnation, it's just a transparent plastic hose with a large bottle of water at one end, and you at the other. The volume of water in the bottle should be twenty or more times the total volume of the hose, if you want the level to be both accurate and easy to use. Make sure there are NO bubbles in the line; they'll disrupt the accuracy.
Don't worry about heaving the affair up a ladder to use it. Just set the bottle on the ground at a convenient "home" location right up against your "first" pole, and use the bottle's water level as the basis mark for everything else. Mark that water level on the "first" pole. Run the hose around to all the poles, and mark a reference line on each pole at the water level in the hose. (let it stablilize a few moments at each point -- the water forms a slow pendulum in the hose)
Then you're done with the level. Just drive a nail at each reference mark, and measure up or down from those marks with a tape to establish other higher or lower level points.
Yeah... you can do it.
LLoyd
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The most precise tool in the world, for leveling, is a transparent vinyl hose villed with water. Visualize holding this hose, shaped like letter U, the level of water in both vertical sides of the U would be same (provided that openings on both sides are unobstructed and there is no air in the line). Hold one end of the U on one side of what you want to level, and another end to another side. Mason's line is a string that is not stretching and that can be tightened to form a nearly straight line. Sounds like you may benefit from buying some carpenting book, I have a book like that at home and can give a reference if you are interested.
Congrats on the baby.
i

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Ignoramus21682 wrote:

And when you need a long one, a regular hose with transparent tubing spliced onto the ends! - GWE
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yep...
to fill it with water properly, put one end in a bucket with clean water, and suck on another end...
i
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You can do a nice job with one of the el-cheapo laser levels. This one is $10 at Harbor Freight. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber725 Just set it up somewhere convienient (inside or outside the building footprint) and start in. Best way to do things is to use a "story stick" (any old stick with a big black mark on the side that matches the laser level line) Dig a series of hole about 4' on center that are the exact depth of your finished excavation. Use some stakes to mark the top of the excavation on the areas you want to fill.
One note: As much as possible, try not to do any building on "disturbed earth" that has not been compacted with a tamper. Your building will tend to tilt after a while if you don't tamp it. Just dig down to the grade you want and leave it alone.
It's good practice to add at least 6" (12" is better) of good gravel between your excavated area and the bottom of the concrete.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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Problem with a laser level, is you get a nice straight line, but your level is only as good as that bubble on that tiny level. For a few feet, you're probably right on. But, how much error in that bubble would it take to be off by an inch, at 50 feet? Not a hell of a lot. Water is much more dependable, can't be mis-calibrated, and has been in use as a level for laying out buildings, since the pyramids were built.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Other suggestions have been pretty reasonable. However, if you'd like to get it level before the building goes up, here's the low tech, hard work, no particularly expensive tools to buy method. With slight modification this method can also be used to make precise slopes (around the building, usually, sloping away to carry water away).
Get a bunch of stakes. Pound them into the ground on a grid. Use some form of level to mark them all at a convenient height (perhaps 2-3 feet above your desired grade). A water level is cheap, a laser level is probably sitting aound some friend or relation's house not doing anything, though some of those are not that good, so the water level (dscussed in greater detail in other replies) may be the method of choice.
Now, run strings on the mark from post to post. Mark the handle of a steel landscape rake at the distance your string is above your desired grade. Set the rake on the ground, bend down, and look from the rake across the strings. With multiple strings, they form a plane, which you can reference your eye to and figure out if a particular spot (which need not be right next to a string) is low, high, or correct. Rake until all are correct.
--
Cats, Coffee, Chocolate...vices to live by

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On 10 Mar 2005 05:44:06 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

=========================== If it is even remotely close to level your done...
NO REASON to play with Gravel before the poles are installed and plumb and after the Bottom Batten boards are installed to box in the bottom
Normally I would finish the entire building...shingled roof and all before I would bring in the gravel or the concrete...
As other have said a 50 foot lenght of 1/4 inch plastic tubing and a quart of water will give you an accurate water level to work from...
Yes... My wife could build a pole barn IF she had the desire to get dirty lol... not hard at all...
Congradulations on the Baby.... My 3 children are all approching the ripe old age of 40 ...and they are still costing me money...LOL
Bob Griffiths.
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whatever you do, don't depend on a box made of 2 X 6's to hold in your fill material. It won't. You don't say how much of a slope you are dealing with. If it's a foot or less, I'd agree with the post that says "build the building first". If it's 3 feet or more, you are probably going to have to fill and compact first. In my non-expert but somewhat experienced opinion (having done it both ways) I'd fill to level (after compacting) at least 26 X 26 for a 24 X 24 building (more if possible) with the ground sloping away at a 45 degree angle or less.
Pete Stanaitis --------------------------
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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Please read the suggestion again. I never said to count on lumber to hold the fill. I suggested using lumber as a form, and using compacted back-fill for support. That works well, except on extreme slopes. In such a case, only a revettement or bulkhead anchored into the higher earth will serve.
LLoyd
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I really hate to rain on the water hose level peoples parade, but there are some factors that need to be addressed. I once took a 30' piece of plastic hose to use as a level. I filled it full with no air whatsoever in it. I held both ends next to each other and was amazed to see the level was over an inch different. The problem was the temperature of the water was changing as I was filling the clear hose. I used a garden hose that was in the sun so the first water was warm followed by cooler water. It is very important the water is the same temp throughout the hose. This would even be something to be aware of if part of the hose level was in the sun and part in the shade. Dixon
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I kinda wondered about this. So I did some googling...
The total expansion from freezing to boiling is about 4.3%.
So you'd get about 15 inches difference with such a difference of temperature.
But you didn't have such a range.
If one half of a 30 foot tube was at 20 centigrade and the other at 40 centigrade you'd get about 1 inch difference.
If one half was (just above) freezing and the other was 20 degrees you'd get about 1/3rd of an inch.
The above is only approximate back-of-envelope-type maths...
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What should I use to hold in the fill material then?
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Bugs wrote:

all
What do you mean? I want the floor level so I can make sure the gravel is level, then build my pole bar around it.
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I would have figured that my now... you should have read all the posts that told you that you do not Build a Pole barn around a level finished floor.....
build the barn... then use gravel to fill the floor area so that it is level... may require
Bob Griffiths
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On 10 Mar 2005 05:44:06 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com vaguely proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email

Be careful here. It is easy to try to level with existing ground and end up below level. Your shed then becomes a shallow swimming pool at the wrong times. Your gravel being brought in is the better idea. Work from just (150mm) above natural ground and go out flat from there. That way you have a consistent floor material, and your inlet comes up to it. You _will_ be amazed at how much gravel you need though! :-<
10 m * 10 m , starting at one corner at 150mm and having a max fall of 0.5 metres is mmmmm.... 20 m^3 with 45 degree fall on the batters? You may get away with "local dirt" for a bottom layer or two, but be careful, and check first if you are every going to concrete the floor, or the authorities are ever going to delve around.
Compact your worked "natural" ground very thoroughly before you start adding.
What do you call "gravel"? I am concerned that it will _look_ compacted, if it's true gravel, but have no binding agent. This will not compact well. There is usually a requirements for "fines" to bind the the material. Here we use "yellow sand" a coarse sand with some clay content for 99% of floors.
My FIL was a granno worker (cement floors) now retired, and a bloody good one. His way (and mine when I had to do floors for him when he did stuff for me <G>) to final level a floor was to create levels all through it with rebar hammered in, then get in there with a shovel and shuffle the gravel around to the levels. Work in maybe 1.5 - 2 metres squares. Compact, then level again. Compact. It's up to you and the local authorities as to how much of that you do! It's hard work, but that final level with a machine is a real art that not many have mastered. You can also work at your own pace.
Someone suggested using 2x around the edges and fill on the batter sides. Sounds good to me. 2x6 with hammered in rebar every few feet will hold. If you kept adding levels, and also supporting the down side, you could go quite a height like that. But basically, build the pad a lot larger than the shed (a metre all round is good, with 45 degrees max on the batter sides). Then level the bit you want.
He used a dumpy level. You could probably hire one with a staff. You have read all the stuff about water levels and laser levels. They all have their ups and downs. Laser leverl are useless outside unless you have a sensor. But tye would be OK in a pre-built shed.

Yes.
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I agree with those comments. If you ever plan to install concrete, then the subgrade needs to be compacted to 95% of Standard Proctor, the fill material should be Base Course, as we call the graded material on this side of the pond, also at 95% Proctor. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should hire an engineering firm to set the grades and inspect the work. Expensive, yes, but cheaper than doing it all over when everything fails in a few years. Bugs
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proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
I think that for most backyard sheds, you are being a bit harsh. I have never had a compaction test done for shed soil, although I did for a house.
Maybe we are lucky. This particular sand we use sets almost like sandstone even without compaction if you wet it well and let it dry. Compacting it while damp really settles it down, and unless you have a critical application hardness testing is not done.

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On Sat, 12 Mar 2005 10:04:11 +0800, OldNick
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
Bum! More like 35m3. sorry.

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