Batter Boards with a Water Level

When planning our tiny bunkhouse, we considered purchasing a laser level. Many of the YouTubers we watched use them, and it sounded like it would make the process of building our foundation downright easy. Then we saw the price tags. A decent laser level for outdoor use of the magnitude we needed would be several hundred dollars. Ouch.

Instead, we opted to purchase a Mayes Water Level kit for about $20, and a new garden hose which we needed anyway.

We used nail stakes and pallet boards to make our batter boards. We had planned to use wood stakes, but after breaking several on the copious amount of rocks around our build site, we ordered some nail stakes from Home Depot. The nails stakes were spendy, and we had to wait on our boards, but it was very worth it. Since we are building on a hill, we purchased two sizes: 42-inch and 24-inch. The stakes went in nice and straight — and they didn’t break. Since our dad and brothers were off work for this part of the project, they did the heavy hitting.

We put up our first batter board at the highest part of the build site. We used 24 inch nail stakes on this side of our build. On this side of the build, our crawlspace will be about 17 inches deep.

We used the water level to hang the rest of the boards. We put the Mayes kit onto the hose and filled it with water from our spring. We added food coloring to make the water easier to see.

There is a learning curve to using the water level. You have to get it close to level, or the water rushes out as soon as you open the lid. It takes a minute for the water settle, but once it does, it works great.

Hanging the boards went pretty quickly after we got started. On the lowest end of our build, we had to attach wood extensions to the nail stakes because they weren’t tall enough.

We checked the corners with a board and a level to make sure the water level was working. When we finished, we ran a string line to double check our work.

We were pretty happy with that.

The next step was hanging up our string line.

Unfortunately, we completed this step on a very windy day. I don’t recommend. We needed to have them up so we could take some measurements for the next steps, but we couldn’t get them perfectly square. We will be adjusting the strings in the near future!

It feels good to have this part of the project done. The next step will be building forms for our footings, but we are taking a small break to work on our winter camp.

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