Rob Viglas

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since Jun 03, 2011
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Recent posts by Rob Viglas

We've been off grid for nine years now and started off with the most efficient "regular" refrigerator we could afford at the time. Due the constant cycling of the auto defrost, especially at night, it put a strain on our system. We finally made the switch to a converted chest freezer and boy has that made a difference! I no longer cringe when I hear the fridge kick on! We've discovered we need to be more creative with organizing the space and there's some condensation that needs to be taken care of now and then but our veggies do seem to last a lot longer in there!

cheers! rob
1 year ago
Wow, what a great discussion. Thank you Jay and Bill for sharing all your knowledge.

Here's where I'm at. I am not a builder by trade so I tend to mull ideas over for quite some time before executing and wanting to build with minimal impact on the land is always foremost in my thoughts which makes the mulling that much longer. I am planning on putting up a shop/pottery studio soon and have been contemplating foundation choices for sometime now and it seems the raised earth foundation or a variation of it may be just what I've been looking for. I will be building on what is now my parking area which is built up runs of stone and bank run gravel that is compacted. What I'd like to do is add layers of compacted stone directly on top of the existing stone/gravel and then place some plinth stones and build from there. I have a couple of questions and was hoping for some thoughts/suggestions.

First, what size stone and how deep of a run before compacting and should the size of stone get smaller for the final run to help with drainage? How deep total would I need to go? (I have a feeling that last one will be answered with something beginning with "It depends..." )

The second is similar to what John is asking regarding tying the building to the ground. Does the weight of a timber framed building alone negate the need for securing it to the ground?

Finally, a bit off topic but in relation to it, with regards to insulating the floor of a building that sits on this type of foundation. What are the most effective options?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
5 years ago
Man, those are some beautiful stacks!

A couple of things I've learned, from those who've been stacking a lot longer than me, here in Vermont, are to run your stack north to south so that both ends get sun and if you don't have a woodshed or old metal roofing to cover it, stack the last layer bark side up to help keep some of the rain/snow from getting deeper into the stack. They've both worked well for me for the last 13 yrs.

I love splitting and stacking wood so much that there are times that I wish I needed more than 2 cords to heat my house for the winter!
5 years ago
Thank you for the last few posts Paul and Heidi, after reading some of the other posts, I am happier now.

By the way, I am taking the course and so far have found that Geoff's passion for the information shines through in the videos and I can't wait to see the rest!
Rob Roy has used one for years. Here's his website: I don't think you'll find info on the pump but you'll find contact info there and I'm fairly certain he does consulting as well. Good luck!
8 years ago
I am almost afraid to ask this but.... does anyone know of the legality of creating dams on a seasonal creek? My son and I have been messing with small dams in our creek for the past few years and are looking to go bigger but I don't really want to ask any gov't sources and don't know where to find the answer otherwise. It also sounds you all are doing what we intend to do.

I have also found that the debris dam works well, whether it be logs or stones. And i've often thought, as I sit and watch the water flow, about all the leaves that are being steeped in the water hole behind our little dam. I sit and wonder if those leaves are collecting all sorts of minerals and nutrients from the water and if so, I should be harvesting them for use elsewhere. Any thoughts?
8 years ago

jay william wrote:Interesting. We just looked at an old farmhouse in NC built in 1920 that has 2 locust stumps in the crawlspace, as part of the foundation holding up the 2 story house.

They seem in fine shape to me, but it does give me pause for a number of reasons... I was wondering if anybody had seen this sort of thing before, and whether or not we should look into updating them. Im leaning toward yes.

Isn't it amazing how ideas and solutions people used to build with, that may seem a bit crazy, can withstand the test of time? I love the barns here in VT that are standing on dry stacked stone piers that seem way too small to be holding up such a large structure!

If they still look good, you could always leave them and add other supports. Just a thought!
8 years ago
Thanks for the replies and the interesting thoughts!

The concept would definitely make the most sense with rot resistant species but I've got to work with what I have. The trees have to come down anyways to allow more southern exposure for growing more food and will be replaced with fruit trees planted nearby. So I may just build a funky chicken coop a few feet off the ground and see what happens!

This did get me thinking more about foundation alternatives though and I am thinking what if I just use rot resistant timbers on a compacted gravel bed ( taking into account the normal precautions regarding drainage, etc.) and build off them. I could design it so the timbers could be replaced with relative ease. Just thinking out loud...
8 years ago
So I'm driving down the road today and I see in someone's yard a kid's fort built on top of a tree stump that is six feet high or so and it got me thinking...

The one part of building that I am constantly struggling with is the foundation. I don't like to use concrete if I can avoid it. So, I see this awesome fort and think, "Why not?" I am trying to think of any drawbacks to using the stumps, from some hard maple and black birch I am in the process of clearing, as the foundation for a small outbuilding. Other than the typical drawbacks to building on piers what else is there? Will they rot out too fast? Large stumps seem to be solid for quite some time and these would be protected from direct exposure. The idea of building off of them at 4 or 5 feet above ground and using the trees placement to guide the design of the building seems intriguing and fun to me!

Any thoughts?


8 years ago
"I found some vegan road kill (downed tree branch) " - that is awesome! I'm going to have to use that sometime if you don't mind!

I use straight up canola oil and have for five years now with no problems. A friend who is a logger suggested it because he had heard that they were using it in Europe with success. Of course, I got a lot of funny looks from the guys who run the saw supply shops and now they sell overpriced bio bar oils...
8 years ago