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