Building a Tiny House: Concrete Pier Foundation

An account of our journey to becoming off grid homesteaders.  Our path will be long as we are only paying in cash and our funds are very limited.  Mike and I have no idea what we're doing so we'll be learning as we go.  I know we'll make mistakes and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  

We would love to read about your homesteading experiences, so if you'd like to share your favorite resources, tips, funny stories, recipes, books, website or even just a photo from the week, please leave a link in the comments.

Six people, two days, and nine holes is what it took to build a foundation for our tiny house.  This was by far the most rewarding weekend since we bought the land last year.  

I just have to say that our boys rocked it out!  I had no expectations what so ever of them helping out as much as they did.  We took lots of breaks and had lots of laughs, but the little guys did almost as much work as the adults.  In fact, we rented a hotel room with a pool, because we thought that our attention away from them on top of all the driving would just be too much.  It turned out to be a bonus for all of us!  We were able to soak our sore muscles in the hot tub, have some fun, and get a good night sleep.  Not having to drive an hour and a half home and then back again in the morning was worth the extra expense from our budget. 

We were also grateful to have Mike's step dad join us during the day.  He not only brought along his tools to share, but also his years of experience. 

Here's what we did...

* First, we researched anything and everything we could get our hands on about foundations for tiny homes and sheds.  We chose a concrete pier foundation, because it seemed like the easiest and best for our budget.  

*Next, we ordered our supplies.  I felt so silly having that tiny palate delivered on a giant semi trailer, but I've been assured by lots of folks that the weight of concrete and gravel would have required many, many trips back and forth to the hardware store.  Since the closest shop was 30 miles away, having it delivered just made sense.

* Then, we measured off the corners and squared them up using the the 3-4-5 rule.  We measured and marked, and measured again for our holes.  Mike's step dad brought along his transit level, and we all took a turn trying it out!

* Next, we set to digging.  First with the shovel and then with a post hole digger.  We needed nine holes, 48" deep by 14" wide (our frost line is 42").  My arms have never hurt so much in all my life.  

* After the holes were to the right depth, Mike packed down the bottom with a 4x4 post and put in a 10" Sonotube.  Luke made sure everything was level, and back filled around the tubes.

* Next, we added 5" of gravel and packed that down.

* Then came the fun part, mixing concrete.  Because of the colder temperatures right now (highs of about 45 degrees fahrenheit) we chose to use 80lb Quickrete 5000.  We mixed it according to the directions and shoveled it into each form.  Cole had great fun removing the air bubbles, and Luke liked cleaning the concrete off the shovels.  I almost forgot... we don't have water on our land yet, so our neighbor across the field offered to let us fill up 5 gallon pails from his outside faucet.  Fortunately, we had a truck to use and didn't have to haul it by hand.

* After each hole was poured with concrete, we ran a string and lined up each row, inserting post brackets in just the right spot.  When all the tubes were finished and brackets sunk, we measured our corners for square one last time.   We had just enough mixed concrete left to make a brick in front of the house.  Each of the boys put their hand print in the wet concrete and I wrote in the date.  I got a little ahead of myself and wrote 2014!  The cement was so wet, it was an easy fix, but everyone thought it was pretty funny!

*Finally, we put plastic buckets/bags on top of each pier.  Mostly, to keep us from accidentally disturbing a pier, but also to protect it from the elements until the cement is fully set.  The directions say it should be ready to build on if we have 3 consecutive days of above freezing daytime temperatures.  It's going to be nice all week, so in two weeks when we go back up, the concrete should be ready to go!


  1. The lessons that your children are experiencing will last with them longer than anything they can read on books. As a homeschooling mother of three, I find that allowing them to live life fully has helped to ground them. Given them each an opportunity to just be themselves. Structure will naturally happen without any rigidity in my part. Thank you for sharing...

  2. How exciting for you! Which county are you building in? I grew up in Buffalo Co.

    1. Thank you! We're in Rusk Co., almost straight north of Buffalo Co. :)

  3. Looking forward to your build! We started building our home with a 1 1/2 year old, now he's a 6 year old with twin 2 1/2 year old sisters! We had to adjust our expectations building with a young family, but we're almost done and our oldest especially has learned a lot!

  4. Good luck in that venture. And it seems like a fun family activity too. This is a good practical instruction for, well, building a house. People tend to take this process for granted, with so many home builders around. But it pays to get the fundamentals embedded into them, like working as a team and such. Just make sure that you can see what their doing at all times, so they won't get hurt in the process.


  5. That’s a good start! And the thought of your kids helping you out building the foundation of your home is amazing. And it seems like you are actually teaching them about working together and sharing the joy of building their own house. This is really nice! Cheers!

    Kendra Tran @ Leco Concrete Forms