A setback

the distance between a building and a property line can be called a setback. I, however, am talking about the kind that delays a project. I bought a new spade shovel on Saturday, plus survey stakes and some ribbon. I marked out the rough dimensions of the new shop, with seven feet of setback to the side, and over six to the rear. I started by digging up the tree stump that I had cut inside the shop footprint. That went well.

Everything else did not.

Every other thrust of the shovel found rock. Not huge slabs or boulders, but those that are about five inches in diameter and not very heavy. I quickly realized that my plan to manually dig out the footprint in preparation of stone would be an exercise in frustration. I gave up after about an hour.

It’s a good spot as it relates to my property. It’s fairly level, it’s shady, it’s not any further from the house than the current shop. I’m sure any place else would be just as rocky below the surface. So, what are the options going forward? I could keep digging. It’s possible that there is just one layer of these rocks and the rest would go well. It’s also possible that there’s a huge granite outcropping. I could wait for the skid steer. Saves on labor, but there would be a small cost involved. I’d pay a couple hundred dollars not to dig. However if I hit slab or boulders, it’s game over.

Another option is that I dig down a few inches outside the perimeter and build up a small retaining wall. On the low side, it wouldn’t be more than a couple feet. I would dig down, use stone and concrete to secure the first layer. Then just build up enough where I can put down landscape fabric and a few inches of rough stone. The walls serve as a retainer for the stone, so that it is stable to support the shop. I would probably use three sleepers of 4×4 pt to start the floor joists. This is a bit more expensive, but it seems to be the smartest way to go. I shouldn’t have to compact the existing ground, although I’ll need to verify that. I also need to go back and reeducate myself as to wall construction.

So, it’s a setback. It’s a delay. It’s not an end.

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