Shangri La

Shangri La

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Checking In - March Edition

The snow is melting, the mercury is rising, and I'm slowly recovering my enthusiasm to get back to work. Looking at everything to be done, however, is a little overwhelming: Well, Septic, Landscaping, Electrical, Plumbing, Flooring, Wallboard, Cabinetry, appliances, fittings and fixtures, the remainder of the siding, front porch, back porch, deck, etc., etc. Easy enough if you're either made of money or willing to take out a loan. I'm not and I'm not, respectively, so I'm being forced to to scale back last year's end-of-season dream of hiring a contractor to do the rest for me. So what to tackle next, and how?

Mulling this over for the last month, I've decided on three priorities for this year:

1) Finish last year's work. This includes completing the interior wall framing (furnace room, bathroom and closet), completing the loft catwalk and installing stairs, and finishing the exterior siding. All of this can be done for less than $1,000 as I have half the materials on hand.

2) Get power to the cabin. I've been in full research mode on wiring, and I've concluded that 80% of it is work I can do myself. I'll hire an electrician to inspect the work, wire the load panel, and hook up to CVPS. Including materials, about $1,500.

3) Drill a well. Once we have water available on the property, the prospect of staying there won't be so daunting, even if the 'real' plumbing isn't yet in place. I also want to know for a fact that I have water before I invest in septic. So what's involved?

There seem to be 3 well drillers in the area, and I drove up today to meet with the one who's name I've heard most frequently. 'Ed' from Green Mountain Well Drilling met me promptly at 11 am, confirmed that he could get to the well site with his drilling rig, and then settled onto a stack of wood in the cabin to fill me in on the process. My notes:

  • Most drillers will drill the well, line it from the surface to the bedrock, test the water, install the pump, run the water and power lines to the house, install the pressure tank, and tie into power and plumbing if needed. Excavating for the power and water lines can be done for an extra fee.
  • Ed has done a number of wells in the area, including the one across the street. He expects that the lining will need to be about 40', and that we should hit adequate water at about 250'.
  • The worst case scenario is that we miss the water entirely and find we've got 400 feet and nothing to show for it. If that happens, I can do 'hydrofracking' (breaking new fissures in the bedrock by injecting pressurized water). It's expensive at $2,200, but he guarantees we'll get water.
  • All said an done, the job will be somewhere between $3,500 and $10,000, although he expects my job will probably work out to about $5,000.
  • Shangri-La's heavy equipment prohibition means we can't do the work until May 15th, although Ed noted that the lack of snow means the roads will likely be passable by late April. The work should take about 2 days in total.
  • He also noted that we may find that my water is high in minerals - particularly magnesium. If so, we may need to add a filter to the system.
It was a nice conversation, ranging from the business at hand to solar energy, the state of American manufacturing, local agriculture, and cooking. It occurred to me that it was the first time I had had the opportunity to invite someone inside the cabin to talk, and so - even though it was a professional call - you could argue that we've had our first house guest.

"This place is way overbuilt," he said, looking around. "It ain't gonna fall down, that's for sure."

"That's the nice thing about building it yourself," I replied. "You can do it the way you want to."

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