I am looking at building a stone house and guest house which will
require some 25,000 cubic feet of stone. I would be interested in
getting the stone off the land the house is built upon if I could do it
and SAVE money. What are my options here? What equipment do I need?
What are the pitfalls? How long will this take me (after all, I could
just have the stone delivered). I am willing to go the extra mile on
this. If I need to purchase and later sell a $40,000 piece of
equipment that is no problem so long as the total cost is markedly less
than just purchasing the stone. Any advice you can give me would be
helpful (other than use stone veneer).
Thank you very much for your time and energy,
Thank you Henslee, I never could figure out why you dedicate so much
time to following me around posting little nastygrams wherever I go. I
know you post them for lots of other people as well but you seem to
have an affinity for me. I always figured it was because I sometimes
stuck up for others who you flame instead of just ignoring you 100% of
the time. Carry on. I can just imagine you with a book of 10,000 one
line insults diligently crossing them off as you make your way through
You see the strangest things when you look hard at people,
You think way too highly of yourself there super hero. As it is you're
a pompous, jabbering fool. Shut up when you really can't help someone.
Your "just my $.02" and aswering posts when it's obvious you offer
mere speculation is useless when someone requires decent advice.
Get a clue and shut your trap when you really can't help someone. Or
buy yourself a flame retardant suit.
Your Daddy, G.
Maybe you ought to start by reviewing your plans and calculations. That's an
awful lot of stone. I think you might have misplaced a decimal point.
Take, for example, a two-story house, say 60x40' - that's a pretty decent
sized house, 4800 sq ft. Since it's two stories, the walls might be 20' high.
Suppose they're one foot thick. So you have a 200' perimeter x 20' high x 1'
thick... that's 4000 cu ft.
You could build *six* houses that size out of 25K cu ft, and still have enough
left over to build the guest house.
Are you really sure you need that much?
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I am sure. The first floor walls of the main house need to be 2.5 ft
thick except for the garage which are 1.5 ft thick. They will drop off
6 inches each story (three story house - attic wall is 1 ft thick).
The house will also have a single interior stone load bearing partition
allowing it to act as a duplex and high ceilings (12 ft total story
It adds up quickly,
OK, suppose it's a three-car garage (you didn't specify). 10' wall x 90'
perimeter x 1.5' thick = 1350 cu ft, leaving 23,650 cu ft for the house.
Three stories x 12' per story x 2' average thickness = 72 sq ft vertical cross
section. 72 sq ft divided into 23,650 cu ft gives a perimeter of 328'. That's
enough to make a square 82 feet on a side, or 6724 sq ft _per_story_. Times
three stories, that's somewhat over twenty thousand square feet.
Yes, it adds up quickly -- but not as quickly as you think. I repeat, you need
to recheck your calculations.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I was very happy to hear about this misplaced decimal meaning I would
need significantly less stone. I just did a quick "back of the napkin"
recheck with the "square" of the main house and came up with 18K ft^3
(about right). Unless I am still doing something wrong it looks like
the decimal stays. Please let me know if you and Ed concur after
looking at the calculations below.
I am also sure someone is just waiting in the wings to blast me for
wanting a stone foundation. Don't. I own plenty of homes with stone
foundations which have functioned properly for over 100 years. I am
really trying hard here to get my original questions about stone
answered, not to get into a fight over stone foundations, the plans for
the house, etc. If I had wanted that I would have posted the plans for
everyone to throw eggs at. (and I might someday -- but only after they
are so firm that I wouldn't run the risk of having to ask for comment
on them twice)
Please see calculations below,
"Square" of Main House
floor ft thick height ft^3
basement 3.5 9 31.5
1 2.5 12 30
2 2 12 24
3 1.5 12 18
Cubic Feet of Stone Per Linear Wall Foot 103.5
40 width of house
32 length of house
1280 area per story
3840 total gross area (not including attic or basement)
176 linear feet of wall (remember, there is a partition)
103.5 ft^3 per linear wall ft
18216 cubic feet of stone used
Good luck with your house! I have lived in a few stone houses over the
years (not stone facades but stone from basement to roof). If you are
building the foundation out of stone, why not the entire house? I really
enjoy a stone house. In the current heat wave the house remains
comfortable even without AC on. In the winter, it is not too bad to heat
although radiant heat (especially with a woodstove) seems to be the best
Below are some pics of stone houses in my region of the country.
Good exercise... 25,000x150 = 3.75 million pounds. Remember those two
New England brothers who built a house with 3 million pounds of rocks,
including a rock roof? :-) Described in Mother Earth News 20 years ago.
With 3" of foam on the outside, it would have a 1 year time constant.
No need for heating and cooling. Just open and close the windows. More
open in summer for heat, and more open in winter for cooling :-)
Think pyramid. V = L^3/3 = 25K makes L = 42 feet.
Or a 40' main pyramid and a 25' guest pyramid.
I'd start with the guest pyramid.
I doubt that 40k is going to touch what you need for equipment. Excavate,
sift, grade size, haul. What is the ratio of stone to earth in the land?
If the wall is 1 foot thick and 25 feet high, you can make 1000 feet of
wall. One hell of a large house. How deep is the moat going to be?
I have someone trying to sell me the side of a mountain. There are all
sorts of problems with it but that is why the price is right. The one
thing there isn't a problem with is stone. At that site there is a lot
of stone but not much earth. Ideally I would remove the stone during
grading and use it to build the home. If I cannot make it work or it
is just going to be too much trouble I will have to start looking
again. I haven't purchased it yet so I am free to change my mind and
get whatever is most suited.
I'm not an expert or mason, but I know that the old fieldstone houses
like those in this region had to have every singe stone (both in the
foundation and in the walls) faced with hand tools. Unless the stone you
are using is already squared off, you will need it faced so that it can
be properly built into a wall. A weight bearing wall is not generally
(ever?) made with rounded stones.
I would try locating a Norman lord with an engineering background.
Those guys built lots of stone houses, without the expensive equipment.
Of course you will have to spend that money on hiring a few hundred
That is very funny but if you run some numbers a few hundred local
serfs won't be necessary. (Although I freely admit it is a big job).
According to adds for the Bricky, 250 bricks can be laid in one hour at
0.074074074 cubic feet each. This means 37037 cubic feet of bricks per
2000 hour bricklaying man-year. You can scale this up or down for
stone, materials handling, etc. but it won't take 100's of surfs. For
instance, the basement walls will probably be created by building
forms, puring a layer of mortar over the footer, plopping down stones,
pouring another thin layer over these stones, plopping down more
stones, repeat. For the square of the main house the basement walls
are over 5500 cubic feet (more than 20 percent of the total stone for
the project). I imagine they will go quite quickly with some unskilled
laborers. Exposed stone is handled by keeping the mortar layer back
from the edge of the form. Once the form is removed the exposed stone
is grouted. The square of the first floor will use over 5000 cubic
feet of stone but since it is 2.5 ft thick most of it can simply be
plopped into place as well. You get the idea.
Most people dedicate a significant amount of their income to purchasing
their home or even paying for their apartment. It also accounts for a
significant portion of their debt. I don't see why I cannot take
couple years out of my life and build a house while simultaneously
accumulating sweat equity. I have roofed (starting with the plywood),
plumbed (staring with the water main), wired (starting with the service
entrance cable), and sheet rocked many houses. I purchase condemned
shells and renovate them for a living. Why can't I build a stone shell
using as much unskilled laborer as possible and then "renovate" it?
Furthermore if I want to put on a slate roof, put on real shutters
instead of fake ones, etc, etc who is going to stop me? I'm not
building the house to maximize resale value and minimize effort. I am
building the house I want to live in.
PS: and I certainly don't need to take the time to construct a website
so that every week you can review it to make sure I am not doing
something which doesn't meet with your approval Henslee
Wether you could get enough stone to do the job off of your land would
depend on a lot of things. How much stone is there? How big is the lot? We
cant tell from here. A lot of land in areas of PA is almost 100% large
granite rocks on surface. Other areas will be just sandstone below the
topsoil. Given you are spending a pretty penny to build this house you may
want to consider hiring a geologist to survey the land to determine how much
usable rock you may have. They may need to excavate sections count rocks
then extrapolate from there.
If it were me, I would buy the rocks. You can then pick what you want.
Cheapest will be what is available locally. My local stone distributor has a
huge selection and mocked up walls shocasing stone from all around the
country. Pretty impresinve actually. Some can get pricy.
See http://www.rollrock.com/ and pay them a visit if you are close enough.
Thank you very much. That is a great site if only for the photos. I
will certainly stop by if I am ever in the area. I will also consider
hiring a geologist to survey the land. The land in consideration has a
lot of stone but it is in larger pieces than is immediately usable and
would need to be somehow broken up as it is mountainside (about 20
acres). I have not purchased the land yet so I am free to purchase
more suitable land if there is a geological problem.
I have seen a certain amount of "roughly square" stone which I feel
is attractive. Do you know how they quarry the "roughly square"
stone? Do they start with rubble and square it off or do they somehow
generate the squares from larger stones? It is my guess that
"roughly square" stone would be much more expensive than random
rubble but I really have no clue. I think I am going to start calling
stone yards to ask these questions even though I know their only intent
is to convenience me to purchase their stone. It can't hurt. I am
sure they will be glad to tell me what the problems are.
I've seen where they blast off slices of rock in large flat sheets a foot or
two thick. It may vary depending on the type of stone though. I guess a lot
depends on whre you live. In parts of New England it is common to have
randm sized rounded stoves, but in some areas, there are boulders the size
of a big pickup truck. My neighbor had an excavating business and decided
to remove a rock in the back yard, He dug down 8' and did not reach the
bottom of it and gave up. I'm sure it could have been blasted.
With all the stone in the area, people still buy stone from hundreds of
miles away because they like a particular color or type. As you can
imagine, shipping is very expensive fro crates of stones.
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