Author Topic: Best Design for a Single Builder  (Read 19182 times)

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Offline offthegridcortland

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Best Design for a Single Builder
« on: July 14, 2012, 05:57:31 AM »
The basic question:  I am looking at three designs, The 16' Victoria, the 20' 1-1/2 story, and the 20' 2 story; which would be the most achievable by a builder working alone?

Obviously the scope of the Victoria Cottage is smaller.  Additionally, the walls are smaller and would be easier to lift.  So why even ask?  Well, my experience with building leads me to believe that the six major costs in building are 1. land, 2. site prep, 3. well, 4. septic, 5. foundation, and 6. roof.  Those expenses don't change much between the different designs, so in effect, you are getting more for your money and effort.  And while I have no plans to sell the house, my experience with real estate is that you should always be thinking about resale.  The bigger designs will be easier to sell and worth more down the road.

I have been away from the forum for quite a while.  Years ago, I was a regular lurker and posted a little bit.  I built a very small cabin (120 sq. ft. main floor and 80 sq. ft. sleeping loft) in upstate New York by myself, drying in the structure over 10 days.  I always said that with another set of hands I could have built four times the structure in the same time.  Six times if I had had a framing nailer.  This time I'll have a framing nailer at least. ;) 

This project will be in the Shenandoah mountains and the house/ cottage is for three people- a couple and my son- mostly for use in the summer and Christmas and Spring breaks.  Having said that, I'd still like it to be appropriate for a year or longer stay should that opportunity arise.  The 120 sq. ft. place was fun and a great exercise in what could be done in a limited amount of time, with limited resources, but it did get small fast.

I'll purchase the property, get the site work done, and have the foundation set before the summer, with the rest of the work starting next summer.

Thanks for your feedback,  Aaron

Offline offthegridcortland

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 06:40:09 AM »
I should have noted that I have no disillusions that the cottage will be done in a summer, though my goal is to have it completely dried in, roof on, and secure in that time.

Offline rick91351

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 06:47:30 AM »
Lifting walls is not really a problem by yourself with jacks either rented or homemade.  The VC is my favorite by a long ways but to me it is also harder to build.  A 20' foot one and one half story to me would be the easiest.  The two story is a lot more physical labor yet has more room of course and would come in second.

When selecting a building spot keep in mind you set your septic first.  It can be the hardest to locate properly then fit the cabin or cottage to the lot.  (Or you might locate it no problem.)  Everything has to be measured back so it seems from your septic and drain-field.  Well and foundation both.  Remember just because you think well the septic can go there does not mean the septic can go there until a perk test is done.  I have a ranch where it is dry with sage brush and dry grass there in the summer time.  You dig down three feet and it is like a river or a lake, in the spring time it is really worse yet.  We had to set the septic tank a long ways away and changed our building plans completely.

Dried in in a summer is pretty doable if it is a short commute or you have huge blocks of time to give.  The weather gods and other things are not as kind sometimes as we all wish.           



       
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline Don_P

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 10:24:20 AM »
8 or 9' walls and attic trusses frames a lot of space fast.  Easy to pop a couple of dormers out of. It starts to work well at 24' and wider IMO. My crane guy will bring a helper (one of his boys) if I ask ahead of time when setting trusses.

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 12:58:10 PM »
The Victoria is a more complex design than either of the 20' wide plans. It also has quite a few big beams to get into the air.

The Universal 2-story has a lot of space in an easy to build structure. You might want to consider the single story 20' wide as well. With a centerline beam supporting the floor joists it could be 24' wide with an attic truss as Don mentions.
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Offline CjAl

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 01:06:43 PM »
i would think the one story would be easiest to build alone. shorter walls and no need for the 12/12 pitch. i dont think i would want to build a 12/12 pitch alone with nobody there to call the paramedics to scrape up my remains when i take a swan dive off it

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2012, 01:10:13 PM »
You may have seen it already but the Working Alone book is a great resource. See our booklist:  http://countryplans.com/books.html
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Offline offthegridcortland

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2012, 01:56:57 PM »
Thanks all!  I do indeed have Working Alone and used it as a resource for my tiny cabin.  I built that cabin with a 12/12 roof and recall that I got the rafters and sheathing up on my own, then opted to put a tarp over the whole thing and bring my wife up the next weekend to hang around while I put up the felt and metal roof- just in case.  ;)  Every single time I climbed up to work on that roof, I said to myself, "Don't catch it," referring to the impulse to try and grab a falling tool- a stupid reason and easy way to fall.

Any other opinions would be welcomed and appreciated.  Having not previously built anything two stories high, do you think it would be of similar/ greater/ lesser difficulty than the 1 1/2? 

Thanks again!  Aaron

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2012, 05:29:55 PM »
The 2-story Universal is much simpler construction than any 1-1/2 story. It has a full-sized stair connecting two platform framed floors with holes that line up (over a basement if desired). On top of the upper floor walls (all the same height) a simple frame roof or manufactured trusses are built. A 1-1/2 story is perhaps a more interesting space but it has more complexities.
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Offline ColchesterCabin

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2012, 06:05:08 PM »
Personally the 1.5 story works for me, a lot has been done so far with my father who is disabled and not supposed to lift anything and the odd bit of help in raising a few walls so far so good. I went with a 10' wall with an approx 2' knee wall in the loft, parallel chord open rafters to free up a bunch of space. Simple design, lots of room and fairly simple to do (so to speak, and don't get me wrong)!

I wish I had the time and resources to dry in 10 days even a month, but looking back a whole lot can be done in a little over a month now. Looking forward to following your build from here.
Visit my thread would love to have your input http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=12139.0
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Offline Squirl

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2012, 06:33:56 PM »
Great to see you back.  A few times over the years I have recommended the ladder design you built for installing your roofing on a 12:12 pitch.

I'd think the two story would be a little easier building alone.  The roofing pitch would be one reason.  The fact that you would need trusses or a structural ridge beam would be another.  Not as easy to do completely alone.  I am currently building a one story.  Last week I tilted up a 30 ft long 2x10 wall with the sheathing on.  I used a high lift jack, but they make special jacks just for the job.  I have not had a chance to post the pictures yet. 

Offline rick91351

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2012, 07:15:06 PM »
I think the two story is harder to build just because of the physical labor of packing things to that second story.  However that said whether it be a second story or a loft in one and a half story.  No matter what you do - what you need is nine chances out of ten either forgotten above you or below you.  So back up the stairs you go, or back down the stairs you go to climb back up......However I also agree with John Raabe as far as the framing and dry in.....the two story would be the easiest.  And heck you can build some real leg muscles .... :D   
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline offthegridcortland

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 08:48:56 PM »
Thanks all for the feedback.  I certainly welcome any more ideas should anyone care to offer them.  I really do think the Victoria Cottage is as lovely as I've seen- perfect in so many ways, but I can see the difficulties one might encounter trying to frame her alone and so I am thinking long and hard about the two story and one and a half story cottages.  I like the openness of the one and the flexibility/ real-house feel of the other.  I have more questions, but think I'll post them on separate threads so others with similar questions can more easily benefit from the collective wisdom here.  Thanks again to all,  Aaron

Offline NitePagan

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2013, 11:01:29 AM »
I have just been reading this forum. Since I am single, I was greatly interested in the 20 x 30 1 1/2 story cottage. I was looking for something on a single level, but need 2 bedrooms, so have been looking at the 20 x 30 plan with 10 foot studs. First floor ceiling height 7 ft. rather than 7 1/2 ft. I am also thinking about a gambrel roof to give extra room for the loft bedroom.

Offline rick91351

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2013, 11:21:07 AM »
Welcome from Idaho - NitePagan.  If you were looking for a single level two bed room did you happen notice http://www.countryplans.com/volks.html

Seven foot ceiling height  ???  I was wanting to go higher than ten......  Different stokes.....
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2013, 11:56:40 AM »
The Volks could be a good choice. Easy and relatively inexpensive to build.

For what it's worth - Most code areas have a minimum ceiling height of 7'-6" for habitable rooms.
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Offline Erin

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2013, 06:03:51 AM »
And that always feel a little small to me.  I'm 5'6", but anything less than 8' makes me feel like I'm in a cave. 
(Though maybe that's because I grew up in a house with 10-12' ceilings)
The wise woman builds her own house... Proverbs 14:1

Offline NitePagan

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2014, 08:10:54 AM »
Up here in Maine where I am, the only code is life and safety code, no real building code. I am currently living in  trailer that has 7 foot ceilings. I would want to adhere to building code, if possible. I want to put in a post and pier foundation and I want to maintain a fairly low building profile. The garden will be behind the house so don't want to obstruct the Sun too much. The ridge on the house will be  N to S. I had also seen a 24 ft wide building with shed type roof going in both directions, which really interests me. I have not looked at the details yet. I also need two large bedrooms, so think the Volks cottage won't be for me. I am thinking about the 20 x 30 single story or the shed building, which I need to look at. Could extend the length to accommodate the extra bedroom. I will also need a utility room to accommodate the water tank, etc. I have an artesian well and septic already in place. Want to use inline water heater rather than a hot water tank. Just a few of my thoughts. Money will be a big issue, I will need to do most of the work myself to save costs and am looking at which home will be the cheapest and easiest to build.

Offline Dream

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2014, 07:30:01 AM »
I don't know how to get on this forum, maybe I should not be trying to build a home if I can't figure this out.I am interested in the 16x20 with a 2nd floor design. Could you please direct me to starting my own forum.  ??? Thanks

Offline rick91351

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2014, 08:29:36 AM »
If you are referring to your own thread - I would go to general forum - hit the new topic button.  Give it a title like Dream's Dream in the subject box - Then in field below explain what you wish to do.......

Or if you are really ready to start I mean like got the land, money and time use Owner Builder Projects....  Simple as pie...
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Best Design for a Single Builder
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2014, 08:40:32 AM »
You have made your first post, so you have already started. Rick has given you a good suggestion.

Go here http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?action=forum and see the overall structure of this board. You could start a new thread in either the general or owner/builder forum where you could introduce yourself and your envisioned project.

You can learn about posting photos and such in Forum News.

For getting to know your land, books to consider, web resources and preplanning ideas see my articles here: http://countryplans.com/tools.html
None of us are as smart as all of us.