Long run to Okanogan 20X34

Started by Runnerdave, October 11, 2012, 05:14:00 AM

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Finally decided to quit lurking around the cold water and just jump in (to the forum that is).  I've enjoyed reading the other great stories and lessons here for over a year now and decided it was time. We bought our 20-acre lot in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington in 2005. The original idea was to diversify our savings but have since fell in love with the place and the "savings" concept is now gone. My son has appropriately named our little piece of nature as "Hawk Hill" as the property is about half level and then slopes gently down hill and has a large population of hawks, owl, blue birds, nighthawks.  We are one of several lots gathered into an association with mild CCRs and surrounded by state and national forest lands. We're at about 4,500 feet elevation with an abundance of deer and wild turkey (the CCRs don't allow hunting on the lots).  Last winter we found the tracks of the cougar we've read about by others on this forum in our area. The land is heavy with primarily Tamaracks with a few scattered fir and pine. The second year of ownership we had a forester develop a forest plan for us and we are now designated timberland, at the time primarily for tax purposes.

We've been trying to make some improvements to the property each year and this winter intend to  purchase plans from Country Plans for a 1 1/2 story 20X30 cottage and modify it to a 20X34.  The intention is to keep it small and doable yet large enough to provide some resale value if need be.

On buying the property, our first challenge was getting into the lot as the trees are so thick we couldn't get the truck (4x4) very far off the access road.

This is the spot we decided to begin developing as it provided the best naturally flat spot, was far enough off the access road, and had a decent view.

The first winter of our ownership we went up on New Year's eve of 2005 and snowshoed under a full moon.  It was 5 degrees!  I've never met 5 degrees before but it was beautiful!  The next spring we  had a local contractor bring in his dozer to make a driveway half way into the lot and several dump truck loads of crushed rock.

It was a beautiful thing.  We now had somewhere to camp.  While my wife is no longer big on camping, she enjoyed the quiet, spring wildflowers, and the bird watching.  We've since bought a small travel trailer (with shower and toilet!) so she's happy.  Our commute from home to the property is near 5 hours so progress is slow. One of my work buddies has one of the other lots here and we often commute and it makes it a bit easier and provides a helping hand.

In the few years that followed we put in a well (300 feet) that is providing 1.5 gallons/minute and with the depth and size of pipe provides an ample water supply.  It is 220V and until recently was powered by generator.  This seemed to be the natural next step as knowing the availability of water would determine further progress.  The well now provides us the ability to replenish the water supply in our trailer during summer vacations.

Preparing the well for the pitless adapter.

This is the controller box, on/off switch, and the hydrant hiding in the snow.  You can see the heavy cord for plugging in the generator.  In the background is the old outhouse structure but I'll get to that in a minute.

The next summer we decided the longer summer work parties were getting a little hard on the trailer facilities so we dug a "deep" hole and built a pretty awesome outhouse complete with vent pipe and shelving.  Heck, even my wife liked it. It got used about 5 times before I received a nice letter from Public Health telling me because I had a well I could not have the outhouse. It actually was a nice letter - very polite.  Even though the well was over 150' away I dragged the outhouse structure off its platform with my truck and converted it to a tool shed and filled in the hole. Now use the structure for our "luggable Lou" when my son and I come up in the winter or without the trailer.  Not sure how PH came upon it but I'm all for playing by the rules. They even sent me a thank you later a week after I moved it! Amazing!  Some of my neighbors are building so they may have just been out for a walk-about.

Our new storage shed.

So that we could get into the winter mode as well we needed a bit of shelter for when we go snow shoeing or sledding so my work buddy helped us build our "shabin".  It is 8x14 and works well for us but I wish I would have put more thought into it.  It is good thought stimulation for the actual cabin building. It has a 6x8' loft, small "baby bear" wood stove with metalbestos pipe found on Craig's list. It is quite functional and works well for 2-3 people.

The "Shabin".  This is also the spot where we plan to build our actual cabin.

In the winter we park just off the (usually) plowed access road and snowshoe/sled our stuff in.  The wood stove makes things pretty cozy.


Welcome Runnerdave, wow what a view you have, love the "shabin" too :)


Hmmm....I'd look more closely at that PH request.  Seems I recall them saying you could have an outhouse (or it was county or state law) as long as it was 150' or more from the water source.

But then they told me I'd have to destroy my well if I put in a composting toilet.....

Not much sense really.


RunnerDave, nice property.

IMO, you should fully investigate what the rules on outhouses are. If an outhouse is allowed at all there will be very clear, very definite regulations written. Those may require a little searching but with any luck at all you should be able to find them online. It is not unheard of for officials at any government level to be misinformed for some reason. It is impossible to argue a point in any permit process if you yourself do not know the rules. There may be a perfectly legal way to have an outhouse on the property, and then there may not. I respect the rules but also like to see and understand what is actually written. Not all officials will volunteer information that could be pertinent and there definitly are some who either don't know all the retails about the rules or choose to see and enforce things the way they would like to. If the first ruling made against something is incorrect and that can be shown by reference to the written rules it may require a step up the ladder to get it resolved.

It may just be that you never paid them their fee?  ??? 

I dfon't know exactly where you are, but a quick WA state search found that at least one county does have permits for privies. $185
http://www.okanogancounty.org/ochd/ossapp.pdf   section 1 A

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


That would be Okanogan - where's he's at (at least going by the info given) ... however, I think it depends on who you talk to, and what sort of mood they are in that day at the county office... I was told that they haven't approved a privy/outhouse in a long time.  But that was 2 or three years ago.  And they definitely wouldn't approve a holding tank... which I thought was strange.


Beautiful spot you have there Dave.
Looking forward to seeing more progress.
Can't get enough of the Okanogan.
Good luck.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln


Quotehowever, I think it depends on who you talk to, and what sort of mood they are in that day at the county office...

That should not be! If there is a written rule, and if all the intems required are followed there should only be one outcome possible. If that's not the case what the heck is the sense in having written rules?  If it was me and I ran into a refusal that did not seem right to me I would go up a level. maybe talk to an elected official, not somebody who is a salaried employee.

Here in NM the state environment department had not issued a privy permit in years, but one of the members here, hpinson, just through all the hoops and paid the fee and has a legal privy. So just because the dept there has not issued a permit in years, that should not translate into it being impossible. It may just mean that people have not made proper applications or followed the rules correctly.

The first step is ontaining the correct set of rules and those should be available at the office that issues the permit. That part should be very straightforward. Understanding the rules is the place to start. And being polite in any ensuing discussions is important as well.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Thank you for your input and comments so far.  The outhouse seems to be a pretty hot issue.  Although it doesn't seem right, I hate to get off on the wrong foot with the permitting folks so early in the development process. I reviewed the regs on the county website and found this -

U:\Environmental Health Other\Regulations\2008 OSS .doc
Discharging pit privies and vault privies are not allowed where water is available under pressure (including
from a gravity tank), where plumbing fixtures are installed in the development, or where the parcel size is
less than five acres."

I suppose having a well with a pump in it is considered "water available under pressure". On a positive note, it has forced me to move along with the process.


Quote from: mogie01 on October 11, 2012, 10:19:29 AM
Welcome Runnerdave, wow what a view you have, love the "shabin" too :)

Mogie01 - thank you. It is beautiful country, trees, animals, stars, quiet. A lot like what you have. I've enjoyed viewing your posts and will be hitting you up with lots of questions when I get a bit further along as you have built a similar floor plan. Interested in your roof pitch, transition from roof trusses to porch roof.
BTW way, we have a Crystal Mountain ski resort as well  in Washington state, not far from Seattle.


QuoteDischarging pit privies and vault privies are not allowed where water is available under pressure...

Well, there ya' go. I believe that is why a privy may be denied. At least now, knowing the wording of the actuakl regukatiuonl I'd feel better about being denied. It would seem they wrote the regs that way to really discourage privy use. And to be honest, if the population density were to get to dense and everyone had a privy then there can be problems.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


A couple years ago we shared the cost of running power part way up our property line from the utility easement at the bottom of our lot. Then last year we decided to buck up and pay the additional ($3K I think) to run the power onto our lot and to near our building site (about 60 feet from our well) and added a single outlet to the pole. As the well pump runs on 240V we continued to use our generator when we needed to use the well. So this last spring, while I had the use of a neighbor's backhoe, we trenched from the well to the power pole and moved our controller boxes (see photo) to the power pole and added a switch box so we can run direct power or, in case of a power outage, we can still run the well off the generator. (Thinking power outage by fire and still being able to water things down). The best part is no generator noise when getting water!

A few weeks ago we finally got the approval for our septic, took out a few trees, and laid in a septic system. A slick plastic tank that I could actually move around by myself and the plastic drainfield system that snapped together easily. A few days later we had approval and got it all back filled.  Now we just need a bathroom! But for now, at least in the summer, we have somewhere to dump our trailer tank with out driving the 30 miles into town.  The downside is all the excavating sure tears up the land.

Now that it is covered up it doesn't look too bad. Next time I get up there I'll get some more photos. I was up there last weekend and the ground was frozen already. Next spring I'll get some grass seed down to help mitigate things a bit.

While I was up there last weekend I attended a class in town put on by DNR about tree health. It was a very informative and worthwhile class with in depth info on the kinds of bugs and rot that are attacking the trees in the region, dwarf mistletoe, selecting which trees to cut down, and counting and estimating the size of trees. When I got back to the property I looked around and then felt a bit overwhelmed.