Grandfather build step 0

Started by zpbruno, February 26, 2019, 12:11:46 AM

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I just pushed go on a set of plans for the Grandfather cabin for a piece of property we bought in Northern Wisconsin. In the picture below, the cabin will sit in the clearing to meet modern setback rules from the road. The T-shaped building on the lower right was a tavern dating back to the 40's that burned down a decade ago. The liquor store was torn down last summer by the previous owner. There are two little sheds to the right of the clearing that served as sleeping quarters for the tavern staff. If we get a new principal structure put up we think the local zoning board might let us use them as guest houses. Hopefully we can save the garage/barn hiding behind the big tree in the middle- it is structurally a little wimpy.

The plan is to do as much of the work myself as possible, which is a big reason we picked the one story with a comfortably pitched roof. I've spent a lot of time poring over Wisconsin UDC codes in the last few months as we have researched different floor plans and construction techniques. In the end it seems worth it to go fairly conventional to avoid inspection slowdowns. We hope to have the shell all sealed up before the end of summer.


I've built several times in WI, their code and enforcement are "unique" to say the least. Do sit down with the building official beforehand with the plan and make sure everyone is on the same page. The log structure you posted on the other thread, I'd say pass on it. Structurally it would take an engineer to review it and beef up those thin walls, their R value at that thickness, well drop the 10 from that claim  ::). Good luck, looks like a beautiful spot.


Good luck, you can't go wrong with a stick frame. Keep posting and don't be afraid to ask questions.

I agree with Don, a log cabin kit is a not a good choice. Expensive, drafty, and low insulation value.

Migraine Craftsman

Welcome to the forum!
Stick build is the way to go, cheap and simple compared to log kits.
Go with 2x6 walls since you are in the cheese state  ;D more room for insulation. Get good windows too, I know menards in the midwest sells triple pane.
And of course post pictures or videos we all would like to see the build.

/cheers  c*


Here are what I'm looking at for a few mods on the Grandfather Cottage floorplan. I've shrunk the Master bedroom and modified the closets a bit, then shifted the dining room and kitchen over to occupy the space that is opened. This leaves more room to leave a comfortable bathroom, laundry, and a mechanical room while still maintaining the open access single floor living that is a feature of the base design. I've also added in our pellet stove and a first cut at a decorative mantel of some sort. Original floor plan is also attached, as well as a few renders from Sweet Home 3D.



overhead views


For what it's worth (not much, eh?), I've always liked the looks (outside) of that plan, but have also always felt that the bathroom was way too far away from the bedrooms.  Must be the old man in me.


Gary- I agree with you in principle on the bathroom location, but one other optimization we are throwing at this is to see if we can create a heat bubble with all the plumbing in a secondary envelope that we can keep above freezing. Grandfather helps a lot with that.

We spent a little more time on the floorplan and came up with I think a better flow in the living room and a nice look for the pellet stove. There is a faux-mantel in place. I think we will draw fresh air intake through the pantry, and put the exhaust pipe up through the roof.

Here's the floor plan and some renders of the building, now with more warm cozy glow.

Plans came today and we spent some quality time Window shopping. (and Truss shopping too.)

Modified Floor plan

Exterior at night (roof pitch needs fixing)

Living Room at dawn

View from Dining Room down the hall

Migraine Craftsman

I actually really like your layout. I can tell you from a builders perspective keeping the plumbing cetralized like that will save you money with your plumber.

I also like the fact that you put in a lot of windows.

And speaking of windows if I was gonna build that plan, I would get rid of the wall for the water heater and keep it open. Also think about putting the cabinets over your washer dryer and put a window next to the water heater if you get rid of that wall.

What kind of foundation will this sit on?

Where did you host your pics at by the way? just curious. I'll tweak your plan and post my rendering in a day or two.


Had to modify my post forgot my coffee mug.


Migraine Craftsman-

At the moment my plan is to do a permanent wood foundation crawlspace. Local soil conditions seem to support the ability to create good drainage that requires and prescriptive design is explicitly allowed by Wisconsin code. Plans are to make the crawlspace pretty shallow under the living room. I'm thinking of making the height fairly deep under the wing area with a wooden floor and a big hatch located near the water heater. Losing the wall would make it easier to fit in the big hatch so I just might lose that wall and brighten it up with another window.

My pictures are through From my photos I right-click>open link in new tab, then on the resulting image I right-click>open image in new tab. I grab the url from this last right-click and enclose it in img tags. Another little thing I've done is add a width=400 parameter to the opening img tag. This keeps the images nice and small but allows the user to click to enlarge.

Migraine Craftsman

Here is what I slapped together need a bit of refining/tweaking but at least you get an idea.

I opened the kitchen and I put a 6by3 island, you also have 2 pantries on each side of the kitchen.

I also opened up the living room (erased your little wall) and I put a 2 sided fireplace so dining room and living room can enjoy the fire.

Also changed a framing a bit so it's easier (referring to the bedrooms)

Bathroom has room for another window if you wish for a nice cross breeze.


We took our first opportunity to walk the land yesterday clear of snow, as owners. (Today it is covered again under 6+ inches- thanks mother nature!)

We have two choices on where to put the cabin. One is up front in an already existing clearing and the other is tucked back about 100 feet into the woods.

1) The clearing would obviously be easier for excavating and I think we can put it far enough back to blend in to the woods a little while still meeting setback requirements. The ground was in a strange state of thawing yesterday though. Even though the soil is very sandy and well drained there was a small lake with it's shores defined by frozen soil. I suspect that if I had been there a week or two either side I wouldn't have known about this. That will cost a little extra in grading.

2) About 100 feet back in the woods is a nice proto-clearing where we could remove 20-40 smallish trees (2-5 inches in diameter) leaving a very nicely isolated clearing in which to place the cabin. That will cost more in site prep, more to bring in plumbing, electric, etc. and would just more in general to get materials back there. Trying to figure out what kind of a upcharged value we would personally place on this cabin in the woods and whether the extra costs would merit the difficulty.


I would be curious about the septic system. It would be a good idea to have the engineer out to see where he thinks the leach field would go for either house location. 2-5" diameter trees can likely just be pushed over by the exacavator, so it may not be that big of a deal.

When you are getting quotes for site work you could also for a quote for each location.

We had a more private location to put our house, but wound up not doing it for a combination of: 50% larger leach field, driveway twice as long, more complicated/expensive electric run, wetter area, and somewhat north facing slope. I think it easily could have been an extra $10-15k. That was just too much extra money for us at the time.