This is not your ordinary igloo or hole in a snowbank. Phase I:
I hate shoveling off my deck, so last year as I was cursing another wet, heavy snowstorm, I thought, I’ll just pile it up in the corner for the kids! It’s not lazy, it’s... for the kids! I then had the innovative idea to use corrugated metal roofing instead of carving out all the inside volume the Old Fashioned Way, which is also prone to collapse. Phase I used an 8' long section of roofing.
The kids like to climb on top (obviously) and it’s big enough to even go sledding from the top (when you’re under 6 years old, anyway):
My technique: pile up the snow in a giant kind of rectangle and let it sinter (settle, harden) overnight. Once it’s firm enough to cut vertical walls into it, I shovel out the middle about 30-34" wide - our roofing is 38" wide. I put 2x4's across the opening, then the roofing, then pile snow on top of that so it doesn’t go anywhere. This is the same basic system I used last year, but with a number of improvements. For one, I started supporting those roof joists, if you want to call them that, from underneath. So now I have very little concern for kids, dogs, and additional snow weight on top of the existing space. Last year every time we had a warm couple of days, I’d lose enough structure that I’d have to take the metal roofing off and store it until the next snowstorm so we could rebuild.
While we do want snow on top, I also won’t allow it to get too deep; 6-12" is ideal. The roof sections are pitched so that when it rains or melts, the water filters down and drains off the end - which it did last week quite successfully. This helps keep down the weight also. Another improvement from last year is making the walls MUCH thicker, like a minimum 18" and up to 36" in places so there’s less chance of a wall collapse in a thaw (or a foot going through while climbing).
We’ve gotten more snow since Phase I , so here’s Phase II - I added an “L” with another 12' long section of roofing.
Doggo at the entrance:
And finally, INTERIOR PICS (sorry for the quality, it’s a tough thing to capture):
Above left is Phase I, about 8' long and to the right is Phase II about 10' after allowing the 12' long roof a good bit of support on each end. Below you can see the entrance tunnel from the inside. That particular section was made from especially wet snow and is VERY solid.
With more snow in the forecast, Phase III will see expansion outward to make the space in Phase II wider. I want to be able to get the whole family in there comfortably, and not just lined up in the narrow hallway we currently have.
Even though this is a ton of work, it’s so much fun, and is yet another reason why I love winter. Stay tuned for Phase III.