Shangri La

Shangri La

Thursday, February 26, 2009

March Madness

The LSW was surfing the web the other day and discovered that the Saxton’s River Inn was having a ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ offer on bookings through the end of March. We hadn’t planned to go back up until late April, but this was too good to pass up. A quick call later we were booked into a 2nd floor suite with private porch for 2 nights for $160. Nice!

Now I dare not believe the snow will be gone by then, so spending the day walking the property is probably out. Instead, we’re going to drive 2 hours East to pay a visit to Shelter-Kit (see Options, Options).

Back in November, we had visions of a very small camp – a kit house less than 500 square feet that we could add on to later. As the months wore on, however, 500 square feet became 600, then 800, and then the kit house morphed into a small cape that I would build myself with help from foolish willing friends. My desire for a small getaway, well, got away from me as concerns about resale crowded my thoughts. All the while the LSW was becoming increasingly concerned that I was getting in over my head, setting us up for endless headaches and cost overruns.

And then a few days ago I suddenly – and unexpectedly – found that I agreed with her. I woke up on a Sunday morning and immediately thought “I’d rather have 250 square feet completed in a month than 1,000 square feet that we’ll be working on for 2-3 years and continually feel broke because of.”

So I’ve come full circle to my original plan: A Shelter-Kit Unit One with one enclosed and one open porch, built on piers by me and the LSW. I’ve been assured the basic structure will go up in about 7 days, and it’s modular, so we can expand it in $5 – 10k increments as the spirit moves.

Downside: It will be tight and we won’t be able to have guests until we expand. Also, at $16k it’s about 60% more expensive than stick-framing an equivalent-sized structure ourselves.

Upside: It will go quickly with minimal hassle, no power tools, no construction waste and minimal land clearing. It will also – and this is important – be a simple structure that will require minimal maintenance vis-à-vis “a real house”.

So we’re going up to the factory to take a first-hand look, and I’m sure a number of discussions will follow about how we could (or perhaps won’t) enjoy such a small space. Essentially, we’re talking a 9x5 bath, 9x6 kitchen, 12x12 common space (living AND sleeping), and a 9x12 covered porch. Small, but better than your average hotel room, so there’s that.

But I’ve changed my mind before, and both my annual bonus (or lack thereof in this economy) and the stock market will strongly impact the final decision. Still, it should be a fun weekend.

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