Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer Cottage Construction

summer cottage 1

One of my readers asked me to share some more info on our summer cottage. We built this cottage 4 summers ago, before I knew what a blog was, so the pictures have gaps in the sequence but I think you can get the idea. After much thought and prayer, we purchased a lot on a small lake 45 minutes from our home. My husband’s office and our church are located between our two houses so commute time is the same from either house, allowing us to spend a considerable amount of time in both locations without missing work or church. The lot we bought did not have a dwelling but had previously had a mobile home so it had a well, a septic tank, a deck, and a boat dock. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it saved us more than $25,000 initially by not having to purchase or install those items immediately. The well and the dock have since been replaced but we did not have those expenses during initial construction. Since both of our children were in college at the time, we needed to be budget conscious. We hired a contractor to build a 1200 square foot cottage with a basement and we finished the basement ourselves after the contractor finished the main floor. Because the lot was only 50 feet wide and I wanted room for a driveway on one side, the cottage needed to be 30 feet wide by 40 feet deep. I searched high and low for a houseplan of those dimensions but to no avail. The contractor allowed me to design the house on graph paper and he built it from that. I had previously designed our main home and had an architect do the professional drawings but the contractor for this cottage did not think that was necessary. He told us that his bank would give us a loan based on the drawings that I had done. Believe it or not, they did! I’ll share more about the floor plan and interior in another post.

summer cottage 2

Here you can see the deck, sitting up on concrete blocks. It was suggested that we burn it! I insisted we keep it. It is a great size and was structurally sound.  I had it moved to the shade, lowered to the ground, covered the underpinning with bamboo fencing, and gave it a good pressure washing. It’s now good to go and we have enjoyed using it.

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As soon as we closed on the property, construction began and was complete in 90 days. Grading began immediately and the concrete walls were poured for the basement.

summer cottage 3 b

The pipes sticking up are drainage pipes for the plumbing so that everything was ready to go when we finished the basement.

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Framing of the basement walls went very quickly.

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The framing crew then moved on to frame the upstairs.

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Since we did not have detailed professional drawings, I thought that it was important to go to the sight every day to make sure that my vision was coming to fruition. I was there most days with my trusty tape measure in hand.

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Soon it was ready for the siding to go on.

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I chose a shingle style for the siding on the gable ends of the house to add some architectural interest.

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Small details go a long way on a tiny house.

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The painting crew was in and out in no time at all.

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When I arrived one day, the screened porch had been completely framed. However, I did not like it. I thought that it was too closed in and all of the framing obstructed the view.  To me, it looked like a framed wall with no sheetrock. So, I had them go back and cut out every other post. Later, after the inspection, I removed the bottom rails to open up the view more. The rails must be there for code so that had to be done after the inspection. We do not have very small children in our family at this time. Should that ever change, adjustments will need to be made for safety.

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Hopefully, you can see from here how the view is much more open now.

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You can see from the photo above how steep the front yard was and from the photo below how steep the driveway was.

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We took possession of the cottage on June 1 but the concrete crew could not get there until mid August so we had a muddy mess for the first summer!

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A friend of my son suggested that we build a “bridge” for the front walkway to avoid steps. The concrete guy thought that it was a great idea.

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We had to use cardboard for a walkway until the concrete was poured.

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It is amazing what a big difference concrete, sod, and a few shrubs make!

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I was able to find someone to do the custom iron railing for the walkway. Thankfully, I got two bids. The craftsman that I used gave me a bid that was one third of the previous bid I had received!  He too was able to work from my rough drawings.

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The old deck doesn’t look too shabby in its new home!

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We enjoy taking a boat ride in the evening and watching the sun go down behind the mountains. Or sometimes, we just sit on the porch and enjoy the reflection of sunset on the lake.

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This project involved a lot of work on our part and some financial discipline and sacrifice but has certainly been well worth it. I’ll be posting more on the interior and some of my hands on projects.

I’ll be linking to Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style  and to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch.

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