Shangri La

Shangri La

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Impending Construction

Driving to the Home Depot yesterday, I thought I had a revelation: Build the floor, cover it in plastic, and put in the well, and bank the remainder for the septic system after the 'supplemental' test next April. My thinking: The well and septic are the 'big ticket' items; the cabin can be built as money allows. And a site with well, septic and foundation would maximize my resale should I have to sell before being able to build the cabin. On the way home, however, I realized the that what I was really looking to do was find a way to escape the occasionally overwhelming logistics and anxieties that come with building a house, even if it is only a 'cabin'.

Here's the thing: I'm down to about $13,000, and I still have structure, well and cabin to go. The well will likely cost about $5,000, the septic about $6,000, the cabin shell about $10,000, and finishing about $10,000. My usual annual bonus, though modest, would have been a big help, but the recession/depression has ensured that I'm unlikely to see it again until - what? - 2011?

Installing well and septic with the money might ensure the best resale, but we can't envision a scenario in which we'd sell, so who cares? And is it really feasible to build the cabin 'as money allows'? What good is a floor and two walls, or even 4 walls and a loft? And so we come back to the original plan: Build a simple, lockable shell this year, and bank anything left over for septic next year. At least with a shell we have a place to 'camp', even if we're carting in our own water and using a mulching toilet. We've got a place we can use, if only for weekends. And a place we can stay while we're working on the rest.

The LSW has already reported on the foundation sealing work last weekend. (And how she got lost and found herself with a speeding warning while I paced the streets of Saxton's River wondering where the Dickens she was. With no cell service around Shangri-La, I couldn't just call her and ask.) I'm currently waiting for the excavator to let me know that backfilling is complete and the path to the nearest CVPS pole is cleared so I can get temporary power installed. Our hope is to do an overnight on June 13th to both install the sills and attend the meetinghouse fundraiser that Saturday. My sister and her family are planning on camping with us on June 27 to begin the construction proper, so things are going to start moving quick.

To do:

1) Finalize the plans and place an order with the local lumberyard
2) Install the sills
3) Contact the electrician to get temporary power service installed
4) Contact CVPS to let them know the pole can be replaced and temporary power hooked up
5) Make reservations at the local campground for June 27th and July 4th
6) Dig out the camping equipment and see what we're missing (its been a long time since we camped!)

For those of you keeping score, the foundation sealant was a petroleum-based, fibered foundation/roofing tar that came in 5 gallon containers from my local Lowe's for about $35 each. We went to Shangri-La with 20 gallons, but only needed 10 for two coats. Each coat took about 4 hours, and it was a mess despite our best attempts to be careful. Here's a few more pics from the foundation sealing weekend:

PS: The change in management at the Saxton's River Inn has had generally positive results: I felt that the food was just as good, while the LSW thought that it had gone just slightly down-hill. The breakfast offerings - though still limited - were about 50% better, however, so overall we were satisfied that it would remain one of our favorite New England Inns.


Debbie said...

Have you considered a composting toilet? That's what we've done until we can "afford" the septic system. Also we felt very good about the environmental aspects of the composting toilet and actually found a used one at a great price and it beats the outhouse at 3 a.m. hands down!

CabinFever said...

We did consider it, and almost went for it. Here's the thing, though: We want a place for year-round, and that means we need to have heated, running water. And that means somewhere to dispose of it, and the one thing the town requires is adherence to a St of VT septic plan. We would have gone with a mulching toilet anyway, if VT would (like some states) allow you to reduce the size of the tank and leach field. They don't, so we didn't.