Lair Of The Bear, Incline Village Lake Tahoe

Started by Savvy, May 20, 2015, 03:31:13 PM

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Greetings y'all.
This is a great site....with great resources and fabulous projects that I just fell upon.
I hope you enjoy my tale and project.

The Back Story:
My good friends bought a 3 year old 3 bedroom, 2 bath  A-frame 3 season cabin at Incline Village, NV , on .5 acres in 1977, that had an unobstructed view of the lake.
Escrow and title insurance were held by Title Insurance and Trust Company.
Part of the sale provision was to continue paying on the existing mortgage as if they were the original owners.
This mortgage had a term that would end in 2004.
For many summers we enjoyed the cabin.
In 1989, there was a small fire which caused more smoke damage than fire damage.
The cabin was brought to a state of repair and unoccupiable (comfortably).
The owners started to do the repair, but stopped due to family issues.
I offered to help with the repair but they declined.
I offered to lease the property and fix it or buy it.
Again, I was declined.
The mortgage was paid off and the property was reconveyed.....back to the original owner.
My friends finally decided to sell the property....but for one problem....they were not the "deeded" owners of record.
The title company had been acquired twice and there were no documents available.
The original owner had died.
My friends were stuck in a legal mess, which they chose to ignore.
Until I offered to buy it "as-is" in the fall of 2012.
I had no idea what "as-is" was, other than the legal issues, as I hadn't seen it in many years.
My friend, my daughter and I took a day trip up to check it out.
Below is how it looked, untouched since 1990, when visited in Sept 2012...

Indoor/outdoor carpet and mustard appliances and counter tops.

Notice the nice simulated walnut paneling and blue/orange shag carpet

Imitation brick and cobwebs.....lots and lots of cobwebs.


Notice Lazy Boy chair located in Bedroom #1

Notice position of green chair, relatively empty closet and....hiding in the left floor of the closet....a crawl space access that went unnoticed today.

Bathroom #1

Bathroom #2...complete with petrified #2 and toiletpaper, left behind by 1990 workman!!

Somewhere out in the distance, on this cloudy fall day, is Lake Tahoe.

After viewing, I confirmed my willingness to purchase.
I wouldn't hear back for sometime............


One morning in May 2013, I received a call from the mother of the family that owned the cabin.
She asked if I was still interested in buying and I confirmed.
2 hours later my wife and I, and the mother and son, met at a local copy shop that provided notary services.
We consummated the deal, and I sent the papers off for recording.
2 weeks later, a letter arrived from Washoe County stating that the property had been redflagged due to "sale by undeeded owner".
August 2013 I began Quiet Title action in the county court.
Interesting enough, 2 dead parties needed to be serviced at grave site.
This process would take about 18 months.
I would not visit the property until January 2014.


Quote2 dead parties needed to be serviced at grave site.

Sometimes the law works in mysterious ways...   ;D
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


January 2014, 1 week prior to the Super Bowl, another friend of mine said he was making a trip to Reno to put money on the game.
He asked if I wanted to join him in the trip...afterwards we could stop off at the cabin.
As luck would have it....
Things weren't exactly the same as things have been.
Here is how the cabin looked in January 2014.....

Missing siding and access grate

More damaged siding.....and missing drapes????

Something came to visit.....and removed the curtains

And looking for a beer

Remember the Lazy Boy in Bedroom #1?
What the heck is it doing in Bedroom #2?

It's in the once empty closet...

And halfway under the house!
Something wanted my Lazy Boy!
And that Something might still be down there!

What's done is done.
I'm outta here, back in spring time.....


I returned May 2014, one year after purchase.
Made sure no large critter or critters were home.
Pulled the Lazy Boy from the hole.
Put on a head lamp and went caving.....

Something has been using the copper pipes for a jungle gym

Used the romex as a rope swing

And used the drapes, pillows and curtains FOR A BED!!

Some misguided human connected the upstairs waste to the main line.....backwards
On the other hand....
Some misguided inspector signed off on it back in "73.

I can fix that in due time....

First things first....
We need power and water, so I repaired the romex and replaced the broken pipes with PEX.
While that was taking place, the craiglist hires were emptying out the cabin for the next home....The Dump.

Now we can see, cook, most importantly, keep beer cold and flush the toilet


Next trip up in June '14, I came with a new refrigerator.
It's now a bit more comfortable than camping.

It cleaned up good.

Sleeping quarters....satisfactory


And most importantly....
A clean and functional Toilet!

Now time to take a break and enjoy the view.......which after 40 years is now "filtered." Cheers!!!

Adam Roby

That is a spectacular view...  thanks for sharing.
The structure seems to be very well build from what I can see.  Hopefully all the damage from fire/smoke/critters/time are mostly cosmetic.


You and me both  ;)

Since the title was clouded, the county wouldn't issue any permits, nor would Southwest Gas install a line so...
Since the lead supervisor has a disdain for simulated wood paneling....
I began to remove it......which left glue or torn wallboard behind.
The solution....
Cover with 1/4" wallboard.

I found a gas fireplace 4 passes south and 4 hours away in Sonora, CA.
It is a Fireplace Xtrordinair 36DVL......I bought it for $250.
Brought it back and built a platform such that I can use the existing chimney chase.
This summer I hope to pull the permit, and get it installed after SWG, hopefully. lays the service line.

This is how the cabin sits prior to my next visits beginning in June.

In March, after 18 months, the judge granted my Quiet Title request and now we have a clear, clean title.
Full steam ahead!!

The goal is to have a comfortable and enjoyable place to hang out in 4 seasons.
I am fully aware that it is a 70's A-Frame cabin, and I intend to merely bring it somewhat up to date.

Ambitious Goals for Summer 2015:
- Have gas service installed
- Install gas line under house servicing fireplace, stove, water heater, extra ports for possible future dryer, furnace, and bbq.
- Remove 3' from the house of deck boards, support joists from underneath with blocking, remove existing ledger boards.
- Remove all exterior battens, repair damaged siding, bury existing siding under 1/2 OSB, install new ledger boards, bump out window frames 2.5 inches, cover with 2"Rmax rigid foam board
- Replace all windows and sliding doors with same size Milgard Tuscanny, flash and tape.
- Place top siding (likely with pre-stained red cedar shingle panels)
- Finish framing and cement board cover fireplace.
- Continue to replace interior wall paneling with 1/4 wallboard, tape and paint as time allows.

Thank you for viewing.
I welcome any and all comments.
Progress will be updated as it moves along.



Tahoe is such a Gem! Love the area and its beauty.  However love the history more.  From the Incline and the whole area clear from the top of Donner clear over to Virginia City. That said WOW what a find...

I am so surprised that the pack rats, mice did not totally destroy the place up over the years. Or the squatters burn the place down. Looks like you have you hands full of remodel and honey do's for a week or two.... 

I am with the lead supervisor the dark has to go. The huge windows in the common area face the north?  I might loose the carpet as well.  ;)     
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.


"I am so surprised that the pack rats, mice did not totally destroy the place up over the years"

I'm taking a guess that the big furry guy living in the basement had a regular snack time....

but I can only imagine it must have been buttoned up real tight through the early years , that nothing got in.

My trailler got infested somehow in just a year, even though I foamed every hole in the full underneath cover, they seemed to have got in Via the generator exhaust hole, and then via the wiring ducts.

Looks to be a fun project with what will be an awsome view, got to admire your perserverance.....I presume the 2 dead owners didnt complain then . 8)


Awesome place... congrats.  Doesn't look like a ton of work, you should have it looking good as new in no time.

When I was married I spent some time in and around Tahoe & I LOVE that place.  Seeing that cabin takes me back to a wonderful time in my life... when I was still married, my kids were younger (I was too), and things in life just seemed to come easy.

Fastfwd 20 years and a divorce later... things are still peaches and cream... I have more fun now than i did then but I still miss those times around Tahoe and I don't think a day goes by that I don't look back on them.  There's something special about the Sierras that I never could put my finger on... everytime i'm there it's like the first time all over again. 


A few weeks ago I was backpacking in the Desolation Wilderness (starting at the Glen Alpine Trail Head) and passed numerous places that looked like this, now you've got me wondering how many of them have been left for dead and possibly for sale.

Looks like an excellent project and you're off to a great start.


Quote from: rick91351 on May 21, 2015, 06:01:46 AM
The huge windows in the common area face the north?  I might loose the carpet as well.  ;)     

I'm on the northeast side of the lake. Those windows face southwest.
The carpet is going....
Plan to replace with handscraped stranded bamboo.



Quote from: pmichelsen on May 21, 2015, 11:03:47 AM
A few weeks ago I was backpacking in the Desolation Wilderness (starting at the Glen Alpine Trail Head) and passed numerous places that looked like this, now you've got me wondering how many of them have been left for dead and possibly for sale.

Looks like an excellent project and you're off to a great start.

BTW....I have a best bud in Covelo....on the river.....behind M&M Feed.



Excellent, can't wait to see more photos and details of your progress.
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time


Wow that's a gem in the rough, but as stated in an early post...the basic structure (except decking) looks sound!  Should make an excellent retreat for many years to come...and give you plenty to do in your spare time.

This was one of my projects:

Took interior from this:

To this:

So for those who just have to start from scratch...remember there are those gems to be found that can say a ton of work on the front end!!!  Hang in there.



It's hard to tell, but seems your original builder had sense enough to at least "try" and keep snow away from the front door by using a small gable.
During "normal" winters, my door is completely buried, but since the existing sliders can only be opened from the inside, that was another reason winter occupancy was avoided in the early years.
Gonna change that, for sure.


Danfish all means doors in snow country need some protection.  On my project house the original gable became victim to snow shedding.  This is the replacement and it does the trick...

I did not put a gable on the garage man-door of my current project and regret it every time I stand there in dripping water trying to unlock door!


Had to have an unscheduled/planned hiatus due to elderly family issues.
I'm way behind my own schedule of work I wanted to complete by Oct 1.
This last weekend I placed new 1/2" OSB 2/3 around the cabin.leaving the south facing window filled side and the top half of the north A for later this month.

I currently have a utility closet on the east side where the existing 40gal electric water heater is located.
My first thought was to replace it with a gas on demand and install it on the inside of the exterior wall.
However, the gas service will be along the west wall.
The kitchen, washing machine and one bathroom are all on this west wall.
There is no space in the structure interior to mount an on-demand heater.
The existing water heater is at least 30' away.
My new thought is to mount the new gas on-demand heater to the exterior of the west wall, and enclosing it in it's own 2x4 framed and insulated cabinet......possibly accessed from inside the kitchen, but definitely accessible from outside.
The gas run would be 7'.
The run from heater to farthest fixture would be less than 12'.

How does this sound?
Anybody done this?
How about pics?



I am hugely in favor of keeping the hot water pipe runs as short as possible. The length of the gas line doesn't matter so much as we just have to make sure it is large enough for the volume of gas that it needs to pass. But I dislike long hot pipe runs as it means wasting water as we wait for the hot water to arrive.

However there are some solutions to long pipe runs. We have a typical 40 gallon water heater / storage tank. We have long runs to the bedroom baths. All the pipes are insulated with foam sleeves and further wrapped with batt insulation in a chase that is just above the ceiling. We also have a small recirculating pump. These can run a a timer set for the times of day when you commonly use hot water. Or the pump can be actuated on demand by a push button at the point of use. That lets you use a standard tank type unit. Using a tank also lets you get into using solar energy for heating the water. Tankless is not always the best option IMO.

Pardon me for having to ask, but is this, or will this be a part time or full time residence? A tank is easy to drain if the place has to be winterized for prolonged winter absences unless the place will be heated all winter. Some tankless heaters can be difficult to drain completely.

Oljarhead (member here) has done something similar with a on demand water heater on his exterior wall. He boxed it in. Maybe he will see this and comment.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Also, I removed the existing 8' wide redwood deck that collapsed due to rotten post base.
It was 2x12 framing, with the ledger board NAILED to the rim joist.
The concrete beam piers look fine, as does the 4x12 24' beam.
The 4X4 posts between the concrete piers and beam rotted collapsing the deck and pulling the ledger from the rim.
The deck is less than 30" off the ground at highest part.
The deck is 24 feet long (width of house) by 8' wide (deep).

Looking at the 2009/13 deck building code, it states that the ledger board should be of equal to but not greater than the house rim joist.
My rim joist is 8" sitting on a 2"sill, with 1.25 subfloor panel on top.

I planned to space the ledger from the rim joist using 2 sandwiched 2x4 blocks every 16" to compensate for the 2' rigid foam, 3/4" furring and 3/4" siding.

Washoe County Snow load requirement at 8000' is 280psf. (actual cabin elevation 7780')

How do I get that using 2x8 framing with 8' joists on a 4x12 beam?
(Joist spacing).



Thanks for reply MountainDon....

vacation home.



I don't have to deal with the temps you do, but I have my water heater (38 gallon) sitting in the crawl space directly under my kitchen and bathroom (they share a wall) and my W/D are a short distance from there. We find the amount of hot water it supplies to be more than enough, just a thought.


Quote from: Savvy on August 17, 2015, 05:29:09 PM

vacation home.

I'd be more willing to accept compromise then. Like maybe retain a storage tank type heater in the original space.  Cheaper solution.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Wow, I can't believe how well that cabin held up after being abandoned for 25 years. Good luck on fixing everything up.. it looks like you've got a good starting point.