Help where to start?

Started by AndyL, September 12, 2006, 09:24:31 PM

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Hello everyone,

My name is andy, and I would like to build a cabin. ;D  Well more like a cottage.  We purchased an acre of land, and we found out that we need to build at least a 1000sq/ft "dwelling"/cottage.  Origianlly we wanted to put down a couple of cabins, but then learned that there are all kinds of by-laws. opps.  we are very new at this.
So our plan now is to make a clear the land of trees and make a building site, and driveway.  Then we will install a septic tank and a well.  I think we can make it up to this point ok, now comes the building.
We are on a small budget and I don't have much building experience.  I can read blueprints, electrical and pneumatic drawings, use precise levels and gauges, but I never even built a shed.  I think so far the best thing for us is a prefab home/cottage kit.  We were looking at some for like 30k that were a 988sq/ft. Has anyone every put one of these together?  I would do this with a couple of firends. I'm not sure how to make a foundation, that seems like the hardest part.  Other then permits, foundation and the kit are there any other cost we sould expect?




If, and there are the stories in the main part of John's website, a legally blind man and a 17-year-old girl can build a cabin, then maybe you shouldn't sell yourself short by saying--"we have to build a kit house."

My guess is that kit houses are not going to take as many trips to the big box store as a non-kit house, but some of the emergency ones may be weirder.

These aren't kits, exactly, but they are packages made with good materials,  a couple of people here are building First Day Cottages.   They seem very happy with the planning and building support, and especially with the materials that they've gotten.

John's plans on the main part of the site are fine.  Easy to modify (as long as you're not talking about making them w-i-d-e-r), especially as far as what goes where.  I'm not sure if anyone has built them "as is."   Quite inexpensive.  and then you've got us  ;D  

(Why would wider be a problem?  because that involves recalculating the loads, etc., maybe some serious structural changes.  Actually putting on a third or fourth story would too.  Longer's not a really big deal, it's just more of the same.)

"Need 1000sf"

Because y'all think you need it, or because you've got regulations to deal with?  Big difference.  You do need room for your own projects, to have "space."   But Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans (the cob gurus) are apparently living in their sub-200sf "Heart House" quite happily after some years (they do have another building, but AFAIK, it's not what anyone would call anything but small).  Their kitchen is small enough, intentionally so, that you can reach everything just by turning around.  It looks as though it might have all the comforts of home, though--if not great for two people to cook together.

I don't think I could live in sub-200 sf happily (I whine about 200 sf).  At least not with places to put all my books.  

But I'm getting an 80sf studio this fall.  Yay!  Might even (after three years) get it closed in and with heat.

One place to start is just spending time--lots of it--on your land.  All over your land.

And somewhere in there, with your place in mind, going here.

I got a couple of new books on small house thinking yesterday.  but I'm not going to fish them out of the book pile right now--got to get up really early tomorrow morning.

glenn kangiser

If you are really on a tight budget, Andy it may help to study a bit more here for free- get some of John's plans and make your own instead of a kit.  Generally kits are overpriced for what you get - someone doing things for you that you will still likely have to learn to put the kit together - and they cost you a lot more money.  You can do additions or place 2 at right angles - extend etc. to get the square footage you want - and it won't look like a cookie cutter house when you are done.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

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You can definitely do things on your own.....if you are willing to take it slow and learn as you go!

Take a look at all of the galleries and Owner-Builder Projects on this site.  Most show step by step photos of different phases.  Here is my project:

You could also sub-contract out some of the basic things like the foundation (that is what I did) and do everything else yourself.  It would help to find some friends who are handy as well.  

I would say get some a lot.....plan a lot.....and you can get it done.  Don't rush it though! is short...enjoy the ride!!

Chateau Prideaux

The "not rushing" is key... enjoy the experience!

The largest project I've built ia a 12x16 workshop and it was quite a learning experience. However, I didn't have all these folks here to bounce ideas around with.

Until I found this site, I doubted that I would be successful building a small cabin. But this forum has definately raised my hopes. Here's a bunch of people who are going through the same process and youve got access to the people who designed the plans. What more could you ask for? :)

I'd recommend that you sort out which permits you need and where you septic will go. Sorting out the septic, well and house location is an important for step. Then decide what type of foundation you're going to use. Some are easier to build yourself, so might require you to sub-out.
Quidquius Operat