CountryPlans Design/Build Forum

General => Owner-Builder Projects => Topic started by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 08:56:09 PM

Title: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 08:56:09 PM
[NOTE that the cabin sizes have changed and are likely to change again as we find out the best use for the spot.  Update July 2011 - You will see discussion initially on buying one lot.  We closed in June on TWO lots instead so some of the plot layout on the first two pages is outdated but still may be of interest to you.]

To make sure everyone can find what they are looking for in this thread, whether reading from front to back or looking for something in particular, I'm going to turn this first post into a table of contents.

The build will be done in stages due to money and time.  We want to do as much of the work ourselves as possible, and we want to start small to prove that we can actually do the work. 

Get the land and plan.  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=10025.msg128196#msg128196 (http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=10025.msg128196#msg128196)

That starts immediately below and takes up about 2 pages worth of posts.  Closing on the property took about 6 months due to the fact it is not a typical deed purchase.  Long story.  Note that all the early posts talk about buying one lot.  We later changed it to two lots to give us more land to work with.

Phase 0:  Utilities and Site Planning.  Go here - http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=10025.msg138682#msg138682 (http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=10025.msg138682#msg138682)

We have closed on the property, have access, water, and electricity onsite, and we have just finished mapping it out to plan out where to put the first structure.

Phase 1:  8x14 Shed.  (Coming up next)

We are planning on an 8x14 shed in the style of a small cabin in one corner of the property.  This will be used as a staging area for the next steps, and to give me time to remember my carpentry skills.

Phase 2:  Septic system. 

Because of the land and proximity to the lake, we will have to install an aerobic septic system.

Phase 3:  16x20 Cabin.

Probably in late 2011/early 2012, will build a small 16x20 or 16x24 cabin with loft.  We want it to be as small as we can stand.  The goal is to get a structure onsite so we can really enjoy the property and again to test the limits of my skills.

Phase 4:  Dock. 

Probably in late 2012, we will build a dock for easier lake access.

Phase 5:  ~20x34 Cabin. 

Probably in 2013 or 2014 we will build the final cabin.  Probably about 20x34 and 2-stories.
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: MountainDon on December 26, 2010, 09:01:28 PM
 [cool]
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 09:22:21 PM
Thanks Don!

Part 1:  What we were looking for.

I grew up in the foothills of Arkansas.  Four acres of sandy, rocky, hilly bliss surrounded by undeveloped land with a creek running across it.  It was pure heaven.  I remember spending summers grubbing in the creek, building little mini damns, climbing and falling out of trees.

Now I've got kids of my own, and I've spent the last 20 years living on the coastal flood plains of Louisiana and Texas.  I live 70 feet above sea level and that's considered high ground.  I want hills and water that isn't brown.  I want dirt with rocks in it!  And even more, I want my kids to have a place where they can grub in the water and climb (and fall out of) trees.

So I went out searching for land, preferably within 3 hours drive, preferably on a lake, that I could afford to buy now instead of saving up for 10 years.  I started out looking at all the "big name" lakes near Houston and worked my way outward.

Lake Houston was out.  Too flat, too muddy, too expensive.

Lake Conroe was way out.  The lots are all "developed" into real subdivisions, and the cheapest started at $60-80k for less than an acre.

Lake Livingston was out.  I could find lots on the extreme north end (2 hours away) but they were really Trinity River bottoms at the upper end, not quite lake, and IMO mostly reclaimed mud flat.  And that was for $40-50k for less than an acre.

All of the Corp of Engineer lakes are pretty much out.  Either too far, or you can't develop the lakefront and can't build a dock, or too expensive.  

So I started digging into smaller lakes.  Some were resort-quality and even worse.  One place wanted $160,000 for a one acre unimproved lot... :P

Finally I found two places.  One was a set of lakes near Woodville, TX.  The other was a small private lake near Palestine, TX.  More on that next post.
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 09:31:37 PM
Part 2:  Picking the Spot

As I mentioned previous post, I found two spots in my price range that were:

-On a lake
-With some slope nearby
-Not in a manicured subdivision

One was a set of lakes near Woodville, TX.  The other was a small private lake near Palestine, TX (pronounced "Pal-uh-steen").

The Woodville land had pros and cons.  On the pros it was closer, and a plain land purchase.  And it wasn't overly manicured.  On the cons it was big...like 2000 landowners and 5 small lakes.  There were lots behind lots behind lots.  A bit too crowded for my taste and not quite as hilly or rocky as I wanted.

The Palestine land had pros and cons too.  The price was right, $25k for a half acre on the lake.  Paved road, 118' of lakefront you can build a dock on, no ski boats or jet skis allowed, electricity available at the road, private water system at the road, no building requirements other than septic permits, a swim area for the kids, and no public access to the lake or the properties.  On the cons side, it was not an outright purchase.  It was a fishing club that owned the property in common as a corporation.  By buying the property, you became a member of the club and a part owner of the club with the right to use and develop the lot you 'purchased'.  I've spoken with others here who have had property like this, and am satisfied that if done right it can be a good thing.  But if done wrong it can be a big mess.

What it comes down to is, you get what you pay for.  You want lakefront property within 3 hours of Houston?  Be prepared to make some concessions unless you are willing to pay $50-70k or more for a half acre.  So we are in the process of buying the Palestine lot.  We're keeping our fingers crossed, but if it craters we'll go back and find something else even if it means spending a bit more.
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 10:16:28 PM
Part 3:  The lay of the land

So here's what we're buying.  This is a panoramic view of the lot.  

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FLakeIoniLot94Panorama.jpg&hash=58c0bace70b6e08b97beccd7df2cf44f59377ca9)

It's about 120' of lakefront and roadfront on the short ends, and about 220' bordering the lots on either side.  There are no lots on the other side of the road.  This view is a patched-together panoramic taken from the middle of the lot about 30' from the road.  It gives you about a 300 degree view.  The car is parked at my back left corner, and the shot pans to the other corner to my back right.  You can see the lot has some slope (about 50' drop over 220') and has mature white oak and post oak, along with a bit of cedar and dogwood.  It's also been underbrushed already.

A few more pics, to get a feel for the lay of the lot.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-26at105612PM.png&hash=4a8c95bb3f349e099e7d51340eefd0ba2fd94150)

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FLakeIoni9.jpg&hash=92b1b8cedbb16259f1aed48d7c90fe46e9c07d24)



Next post will have some sketchup drawings of the landscape.
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 26, 2010, 10:48:26 PM
Part 3:  The Lay of the Land

I used Google Sketchup 8 (which is a FREE 3D modeling program) to create this diagram.

This is a reasonably accurate model of the landscape.  If you know what you are doing you can do something like this in minutes.  It's a very user-friendly and powerful software.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-27at14433AM.png&hash=9979e23fcac4330399bebb419599d9b90f4ba999)

I took a topo map of the area and made it a background (you can see it as a dark patch under the model) then traced the contour lines which created a flat image of each contour.  Then I grabbed each one and raised it 10' to make a stacked, then I hit a button that turned it into a landscape.  The trees were imported from their 3D library, and the cabin is to see scale, not a finished mode and not necessarily going in that spot.

Here's another view.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-27at14148AM.png&hash=be9ba7749312ac5c6b29f55db1d93f03c200a1db)

As you can see from the sketch and from the photos, the land has a "shelf" up at the road level, then drops off about 10-15' steeply, then gradually slopes down to the water.  Right now, looks like we'll build about halfway down the slope.
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: Redoverfarm on December 27, 2010, 03:59:20 AM
Dave there is a lot to digest in your post.  Even with a good explanation it is hard to determine the best possible solution.  Once you have determine which lot is best suited to your needs the cabin/house placement is your next step.  I generally would pick the levelist portion for the cabin.  I would try to avoid steep sloped areas.   But I am from a snow region and my reasoning is different for ease of access in the winter.  I am not a big fan of Post/peir construction and would choose a blocked foundation.  Depending on your finances if you did choose a slightly sloped area I would probably block the foundation to utilize the same footprint for a storage area or basement living space.  That would provide a walk out to the ground level.  An accompaning deck on the lake side would be a plus over the entrance/exit to the basement.  In one of your photos it depicts your car in an area that looks ideal.  It is good that you have a established road for building material access unlike some who have to build and develope their own.  

By building your house closer to the lake it would provide an easier access to it but complicate access to your cabin.  In the real world of lot developement/constuction there is a give-an-take.  For me I would choose to have easy access to the cabin on a daily basis and a longer walk to the lake on occassion. High level  ground also gives me more piece of mind with a foundation being dryer and less possibility of things shifting due to spring water or run off.

Well I don't think I have really helped but it is my $.02 worth.  Good Luck.
  
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 27, 2010, 10:04:47 AM
Thanks Red.  Much appreciated.

I've gotten various opinions on location.  Some things to consider:

I don't have a sturdy dirt-road vehicle.  Both vehicles are low to the ground 'city cars'.  That means that to access the cabin I would either have to:
-build it at the top level spot so walking is easy from top parking
-build at the start of the downslope so walking is easy from top parking
-build it downslope and build extensive stairs down to it
-build a high-quality (expensive) graded drive downslope to it

The view in the winter is going to be great regardless, and top of slope gives a good lookout, but in the spring and summer the foliage will block most of the view of the lake if I build up top.  I don't want to cut trees to get a better view!

The top spot will require ZERO tree removal.  The downslope spots will require a few smaller ones to be removed.

The top spot is closer to the property line.  If I move downslope, I can move farther away from the neighbor's property line.  He hasn't built yet and I don't know what his plans are.  I need to contact him and coordinate location most likely so we are both happy with the result.

Most websites recommend that for "atmosphere" you want to not build at the very top or very bottom, but at the start of the slope near the top or bottom.  Folks here have also given a variety of suggestions, which I really appreciate.  The more info I have on pros and cons, the more comfortable I'll feel with my final decision. 


Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 27, 2010, 10:15:04 AM
Part 4:  Soil Composition

This is not based on a site soil survey, but on a general composition for the area.  I'll need to get a real survey done or crib off a neighbor's. 
Anyone know how to interpret this??  ???

Area Soil Information:

TkF—Trawick fine sandy loam, 8 to 20 percent slopes

Map Unit Setting
•   Elevation: 350 to 650 feet
•   Mean annual precipitation: 42 to 52 inches
•   Mean annual air temperature: 64 to 68 degrees F
•   Frost-free period: 235 to 250 days

Map Unit Composition
•   Trawick and similar soils: 80 percent
•   Minor components: 20 percent

Description of Trawick

Setting
•   Landform: Interfluves
•   Landform position (two-dimensional): Backslope
•   Landform position (three-dimensional): Side slope
•   Down-slope shape: Linear
•   Across-slope shape: Linear
•   Parent material: Clayey residuum weathered from glauconitic sandstone

Properties and qualities
•   Slope: 8 to 20 percent
•   Depth to restrictive feature: 20 to 51 inches to paralithic bedrock
•   Drainage class: Well drained
•   Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Moderately high (0.20 to 0.57 in/hr)
•   Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
•   Frequency of flooding: None
•   Frequency of ponding: None
•   Available water capacity: Moderate (about 7.1 inches)

Interpretive groups
•   Land capability (nonirrigated): 6e

Typical profile
•   0 to 5 inches: Fine sandy loam
•   5 to 51 inches: Clay
•   51 to 59 inches: Bedrock

Minor Components
Unnamed, minor components

Map unit symbol: TkF
Map unit name: Trawick fine sandy loam, 8 to 20 percent slopes
Rating:  Somewhat limited
Component name (percent)  Trawick (80%)
Rating reasons (numeric values)    High Slope (0.96) and Shrink-Swell (0.50)

Clay Content:  39.6%
Plasticity Index 22.3
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: Redoverfarm on December 27, 2010, 10:34:34 AM
Well it looks like you have a lot of decisions to make Dave.  That is what I was talking about as far as the "give an take" issues.  If you have a buffer zone between the lots It wouldn't bother me to build at one corner of the lot.  Even if there was not one in place it could be developed within a few years with the proper placement of fast growing species of trees.  

IMO the first two options would seem most appealing.  Maintenance on the downward stairs and road could be a daunting task over the years.  Not to mention later in life when age might effect your ability to to gain access to your cabin where the first two options could be made to accomidate easy access.  

Another couple of factors to consider is water, septic and power.  If you do not have city water and sewage this might determine the the location due to building a septic field and well in accordance with local codes to give the applicable distances from the cabin.

It is a balancing act to consider all the aspects of your build that you will be comfortable with not only asthetics but functionality as well as financial ability.

Look forward to your decisions and your work as it progresses.

John
Title: Re: 16x24 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 27, 2010, 01:30:51 PM
Yep. 

BTW, here is the site where I pulled up the soil data.

http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/ (http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/)
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 29, 2010, 07:07:08 AM
Part 5: Cabin Placement Preplanning

Keep in mind that a lot of factors can cause this to change.  First of all, there is the septic system placement requirements, which could impact it significantly.  Second is location of trees.  I threw some into the model based on memory, but the actual amount is easily 10x those shown and locations are approximate.  The slope is pretty accurate as shown, but I haven't done a detailed profile yet.

Right now we are looking at a two phase build.

Phase 1:  A 12x18 Cabin based on CountryPlans 12x18 small house plan at the top of the property close to the road.  Originally we had thought to do a 16x24 and then expand, but we've decided that is too ambitious for our time and driving distance.  The intent now is to build the SMALLEST cabin we could see ourselves using as simply and quickly as possible on the easiest part of the lot.  This will allow us to immediately begin using the property, and will give us a base of operations when we start the bigger building.

Phase 2:  A 20x30 Cabin based on CountryPlans 20x30 1.5 story and taking inspiration from the work Larry and Nevada Mike have done.  Both of their cabins are gorgeous and the porches and dormers really expand the living space and meld them with the land.  The intent here is to take our time to get to know the land and then to build the larger cabin "just so".  We can't do that if we feel like we are rushed to get "something" up.

You can find info on Nevada Mike's here:
http://www.countryplans.com/cowan.html (http://www.countryplans.com/cowan.html)

And Larry's can be accessed through a link on this page:
http://www.countryplans.com/20w_loft.html (http://www.countryplans.com/20w_loft.html)

and here:
http://my.att.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=16&groupid=253999&ck= (http://my.att.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=16&groupid=253999&ck=)

The series of Google Sketchup drawings below are to help us see what we have to work with, and how the locations will work.

PHASE 1:

Phase 1 is a modified 12x18 with taller walls and a porch added onto the front.  (The roof slope shown is not accurate.)  We want it as close to the road and the flat area at the top as possible, but tucked in a corner so it doesn't interfere with wherever we might end up putting the larger structure.  The people and car are to scale and are shown to give perspective.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at93123AM.png&hash=0f9e8d1d3eddb07355d4c288b2960a0ade333ced)
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at93314AM.png&hash=b695aae8bad08b244144f8f19b11ce9163267511)
http://i1221.photobucket.com/albums/dd464/HoustonDave/Screenshot2010-12-29at93703AM.png

Next post will show where both cabins are likely to end up on the lot.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 29, 2010, 07:43:13 AM
Following are two sets of Google Sketchup drawings showing two possible placements for the 20x30 1.5 story.  Note that right now it has about 10' wraparound porch shown (props to Larry and Nevada Mike).  We might have to adjust that based on lot limitations.  Of course, we could always buy more land!  ;)

OPTION A:  Right at the edge of the upper shelf.  

This one is easier, cheaper, and avoids some tricky work with tall posts or excavation / retaining wall.  Cons are, the view will not be as nice in the spring because foliage will block off most of the lake view, and the walk down to the water will involve 150 feet out and 50 feet down.

Overhead view.  North is toward the top of the picture.  The fence does not (and will not) exist, but was put into the drawing to better see property lines.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at92131AM.png&hash=8f0cb2beb7c2788de01df6679dc34e81d3595840)

View from the water looking upslope.  The cabin is about 24" off the ground, but the porch overhangs the slop and some of those posts are 15' tall.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at91237AM.png&hash=33e3a6d9b49d345477ec3945d98a7d63b743f826)

View from the road.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at92330AM.png&hash=f6ab72fa801febb0badcd5aa9ff01593979c850e)





OPTION B:  Halfway downslope.  

Better views of the water.  The walk from is split.  75' from the road and 75' from the water.  Cons are some godawful tall posts under the cabin (up to 15' tall) OR some serious excavation and retaining wall on the upslope side .   :o

Overhead view
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at92600AM.png&hash=e0a475e9f02628661cfd5ee0725c4c882a2a2fb4)

View from the water
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at92718AM.png&hash=75c917db61bcb7a67a700836ecb8e1c215d80b73)

View from the road
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2010-12-29at92649AM.png&hash=6a59731e5d4cc4a83a04f9b493a70b69001262d0)

Comments and suggestions welcome.  That's why I'm posting all this.   ;D
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on December 29, 2010, 12:28:00 PM


   15 foot posts . . .    I would reconsider that.

   While a deck overlooking the lake would be nice . . .    Consider the deck on the side of the cabin or a separate deck that would be at a lower elevation.

/.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: MountainDon on December 29, 2010, 12:34:03 PM
I echo bayview on those stilts. I would not want to do them without an engineers okay and stamp on the plan. I imagine you would need a mess of bracing to make it work at all and that would detract from the appearance. It boggles my mind.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 29, 2010, 12:47:45 PM
Loud and clear.

Another option is moving the house backward further onto the shelf until the deck post lengths get reasonable, eh?  You two aren't the only one looking at that and thinking "brick perched on toothpicks".

I believe it was Glenn that suggested shifting from post and pier to footing and concrete, and I know Bayview suggested the uphill wall be concrete.  Once I have a detailed contour of the lot done, I'll have a better feel for the drop.  There may be a portion of the slope that is less dramatic.

This is one reason for the 2-phase approach.  I'm really going to need time to get a feel for the land and what I can do with it, and the best way to do that is to build something small on it first.

Anything can be made to work with enough $$$ of course.  I know someone with a "camp" on Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana whose house is 30' in the air on (what looks like) 24"x24" posts driven wayyyy underground to bedrock.  The 'camp' is probably over 1500 SF.

I don't have that kind of money.  ;)

So how big of posts, and how high, would you guys feel comfortable doing for a post-pier foundation?  What if it was just the deck?
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: MountainDon on December 29, 2010, 01:32:59 PM
Question. Are you allowed to move earth? We moved earth to level out the spot where our cabin rests. If we had not done that one corner would have been 5 feet or maybe a tad more off the ground.

That was more height than I wanted. The way it sits I have about 12 inches of post between beam and ground level. 6x6 posts, 6 inch wide beam (true measurements).

I have bunk house plans that I may build if we can sell the old RV in spring. The position for it will need some ground leveling or piers on one side with approximately three feet above ground. If I do that they will have 4 feet or a tad more in the ground and lots of through bolted bracing in both the x and y directions.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 29, 2010, 02:46:27 PM
Thanks for the examples on your posts and heights.  That gives me a feel for it.  I'm going to end up running my plans past an engineer (promise) but I want to have it as far from stupid beforehand.

We are allowed to move earth, but I don't look forward to it (grin).

Part of my motivation is the same reason I am spending extra money on an aerobic septic.  The lot has some real nice tall oaks on it.  Building a leach field on that slope would be a bear and involve damaging a lot of trees.  An aerobic system would allow me to do away with the leach field and use spray-heads instead. 

Likewise doing a lot of earth moving would risk smothering root systems nearby.  I'm trying to do minimal impact if possible cause I sure like them trees. :)

Only rule I've seen on lot landscaping is:

#1 Once you clear a lot of underbrush, you have to keep it clear.  If you leave it natural, you don't have to maintain it.
#2 You can cut up to 25% of trees on your lot without asking anyone.

Also, I just spoke with the seller.  He says that "if you stay 50+ feet from the shore, the soil is a mix of iron ore rock, sand, and clay" and he says they have not had significant issues with clay swell/contraction settling even on shallow (12-16") piers over at least 10 year period.  So that is promising.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: MountainDon on December 29, 2010, 07:00:23 PM

#1 Once you clear a lot of underbrush, you have to keep it clear.  If you leave it natural, you don't have to maintain it.

I look at underbrush as a fire waiting to happen. We've cleared virtually all of ours for that reason. We have a patch of gambrel oak (sometimes known as gambel oak) that we have made a bit of an exception for, but even that we are judiciously thinning in order to promote the health of the larger trees.  It is the only native hardwood we have in NM as far as I know.

Just something to think about when considering the natural look. Underbrush also competes for water with the trees, which is perhaps more of an issue for us than you and many others.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 29, 2010, 07:11:19 PM
I'm all for the "cleared underbrush" look as well.  The seller already cleared it, so it has to stay that way now.  Smallest stuff is the dogwood.  I can't wait to see that in springtime.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F_jUxDyCVJ7HE%2FS4-LIWeJ0SI%2FAAAAAAAABSs%2Fki0iQzZDcVM%2Fs640%2FDogwood_tree.jpg&hash=9366b355c66e774be6c72320534230b67f588992)
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: poppy on December 30, 2010, 01:33:06 PM
I haven't digested the whole thread, but here's a couple comments:

Since the lot slope is north facing, I question both the location down the slope and the porch on the south side.

The further down the slope you go the more winter sun light you will lose.

Also why put a porch at all on the upper/south side?  The porch roof will shade a bunch of winter sun and reduce light into the cabin as well as solar gain.  I would think that you will be spending most time outside on the lake side or on the ends to either avoid or take advantage of the sun.

If outside space is desired on the south/road side, maybe a deck would be better?

One more comment:  I don't share the concern about the height of the porch pier posts; they would be pretty easy to brace.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 30, 2010, 09:54:58 PM
Thanks Poppy.  Talked your suggestion over (hard to argue with your reasoning) and we will omit the porch from the South side and probably scale it back on the East and West as well.  This will reduce the overall footprint and give us more flexibility on the site, and will shorten the post height.

One other item, the 3D model you saw in this thread is a little misleading.   I limited it to the area around the property lines.  While there is a nice level spot at road level that extends out a good 50', that is not the top of the slope.  The top of the hill is another 100 feet higher up the slope from the road.

Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on December 31, 2010, 02:59:10 AM

   Have you closed on the property?   Is it yours?

/.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on December 31, 2010, 08:24:53 AM
Still in process!  I spect it will take a while to line everything out.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 02, 2011, 08:19:56 AM
Headed to the site today to do a rough site survey for tree location and a better slope profile analysis. Got a homemade inclinometer, string level, story stick, homemade horizontal angle scale, tape reel, and sundry.   Plan is to start at high corner and roughly plot tree positions based on angle from property line and distance, then measure drop to grade at each tree to get a better slope profile than USGS gives me.

Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 04, 2011, 11:25:35 AM
Managed to get a pretty good map of the slope done for the top 50' and estimated the rest.  Drew it up in Google Sketchup and rendered it into 3D.  The trees on the upper 1/4 are accurately placed.  The others are just thrown in there guesswork.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-01-04at94356AM.png&hash=b973de95e4f8fef009580cc752e50b8cebf460ca)

In the picture, you can see a distorted 2D Flat image at the bottom where I made the initial sketch.  The 3D image is "extruded" from that image to show accurate height.  The lake level and property line are at about 352' elevation.  The upper left is at 410' elevation (rise of about 58' over 220' distance) and the upper right is at 403' elevation (rise of about 51' over 198').

The two gray distorted rectangles at upper left and upper right are potential spots for 20x30 and 12x18 cabins.  The upper right spot (where you see the blue person) has ZERO trees and drops about 1' in the first 40', so no clearing at all.  The upper left area has small trees that would have to be cleared, but misses all the larger oaks in that area.  My goal is to not have to cut anything bigger than 4-6" diameter.

Here's a "view from above".  Note that the contour lines are marking off one foot drop per line for the upper slope, and 10' per contour on the lower part of the slope.  I spent most of my time marking out the steep part to get a feel for what I had to work with.

Also, the line you see running inside the lot boundary is a "no build" line.  We can't build structures or septic closer than 10' from our property line (though we can use that area for road/driveway.  Since the lot is about 120' wide, that leaves about 100' across for structure.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-01-04at22553PM.png&hash=696dc19c3c926f7304cd9b6a8dae563c01beee07)

If you are wondering how I made that map, I did it the Arkansas Engineering way.  I made a homemade guide showing angle horizontally, pegged it to the corner marker and tied masons string to it.  I hung a line level on it and started marking off level on surrounding trees, noting the angle from the property line to each tree.  Then I measured off the distance from corner to mark and distance from the mark to the base of the tree.  This gave me about 20 points where I had known drop in elevation and known location of big trees.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2Fphoto.jpg&hash=9f37095d25022a2c3291d38ca1a5df07c8653b1f)

Of course, renting a transit or buying a laser level would have worked too...but this was quick and dirty and kinda fun.  I was not looking for a nitnoid result, just a better elevation map than I had already and the location of the bigger trees.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on January 04, 2011, 12:18:21 PM
   You are spending a lot of time on the lots elevation.

   Consider using Johns construction methods but using the elevation to an advantage . . .

   What about a split level?

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi38.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fe149%2Fbayviewps%2FSplitLevel.jpg&hash=4f562b2afe09567e7c543f047766468632814326)
/.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on January 04, 2011, 12:32:34 PM


   Or, a Tri-Level . . .    Obviously not to scale!    ;D

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi38.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fe149%2Fbayviewps%2FTriLevel.jpg&hash=6eedb3a46c0c07c621de9e4e05237a7b720b28be)

/.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 04, 2011, 12:59:56 PM
Ooooo. Those are good ideas!  I hadn't considered split level...
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: Redoverfarm on January 04, 2011, 01:24:11 PM
Ooooo. Those are good ideas!  I hadn't considered split level...

Yes appealing now but WHAT IF at a later date something would happend requiring that yourself or someone in your family ( God forbid) be confined to a wheel chair or walker either short or long term.  Not to mention the natural aging process in which climbing even a short step could be a problem.  Myself I like a one story with an easy entry or one that can be easily adapted later to accomidate lifes little obsticles.   At least this thought has already materialized with an aging father and a ramp into my house and at the cabin.  That is at least one less worry that I will not be strapped with.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on January 04, 2011, 01:51:50 PM
Ooooo. Those are good ideas!  I hadn't considered split level...

Yes appealing now but WHAT IF at a later date something would happend requiring that yourself or someone in your family ( God forbid) be confined to a wheel chair or walker either short or long term.  Not to mention the natural aging process in which climbing even a short step could be a problem.  Myself I like a one story with an easy entry or one that can be easily adapted later to accomidate lifes little obsticles.   At least this thought has already materialized with an aging father and a ramp into my house and at the cabin.  That is at least one less worry that I will not be strapped with.

   I agree with you Redoverfarm. . .   But he is still young and strong!   ;D

  Earlier in this thread-post he was willing to walk 150 feet up and downhill if he built at the lakes level . . .

/.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 04, 2011, 01:56:08 PM
Lol :D
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 04, 2011, 02:59:25 PM
BTW, the property two lots over is for sale.  It's actually 3 lots together with a house, small cabin, 2 car garage, boathouse, and dock.  If you've got $300k plus handy it's YOURS!   :o (don't look at me!  cough cough cough.....)
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: bayview on January 04, 2011, 03:32:20 PM


   My head is starting to spin. . .     Contours, elevations, altitudes, etc . . .

   You are well documenting your lot-build.   Lets get started!   

/.   
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 04, 2011, 05:00:04 PM
LOL.  Thanks!  Right now, until I get through all the paperwork, I can't start building.  So it's plan plan and overplan!

Next step, get all the paperwork finished.
Then get septic evaluation done (this will have an impact on where exactly I can and can't build) and get electric and water meters put in.
Then put in a temporary panel.
THEN I can put shovel to dirt.    ;D
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: duncanshannon on January 04, 2011, 05:55:26 PM
Hey HoustonDave -

Thanks for walking us thru your process. i'm new to the site and in the concept/dreaming phase... so i'm really looking forward to following this thread!

duncan
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: muldoon on January 08, 2011, 09:42:36 AM
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F_jUxDyCVJ7HE%2FS4-LIWeJ0SI%2FAAAAAAAABSs%2Fki0iQzZDcVM%2Fs640%2FDogwood_tree.jpg&hash=9366b355c66e774be6c72320534230b67f588992)

Pretty dogwood Dave.  Since your lakefront I thought I would add something I heard as a kid and have found it to be true.  Every year crappie spawn in the spring and move from the lake proper into the channels where creeks flow into the lakes.  They stack up in areas where the depth changes.   Specifically they hang in whats called the thermocline where the water temp changes with the depth like the mouths of creeks as they flow into the lake where the creek has 10' depth not far from 3' depth.  As for the perfect time to catch them - it's exactly the same week the dogwoods go into bloom.  It varies year to year, but the relationship is solid. 

Anyway, I really like the look of your place, looking forward to seeing the progress. 
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: IronPatriotTN on January 08, 2011, 11:31:45 AM
Here is a design that looks really nice. Thought I'd post the pic for you.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F_-l2C8nYmCV0%2FS_1EMC_eU0I%2FAAAAAAAAFig%2FH30YvkdyXG8%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B2.png&hash=1cf27e5d4e1f25cbd10cfe8cc2c1d9599cae070f)
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on January 09, 2011, 02:40:10 PM
Thanks IP. That's real purdy.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on February 14, 2011, 02:54:57 PM
Just an update.  Went and got greedy and decided to buy two lots instead of just the one.  That means we have no money this year to actually start the cabin.  Reading the forum, that's a common dilemma!   d*

That also means we need a couple more months to save up and cover the upfront costs.

The sellers, being the excellent folks that they are, decided they'd rather have us as neighbors than sell quickly, so they have taken both properties off the market until we can finalize the purchase this summer. 

So now instead of 0.6 acres, we are going to have closer to 1.5 acres with about 240 feet of lakefront on one end and 240 feet of road frontage on the other.  The other neighbors around the lake have welcomed us with open arms and already offered to loan us kayaks and such for the kids to use when we come visit.  Looks like its tents and campfires this summer!
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: MountainDon on February 14, 2011, 03:41:32 PM
 [cool] Dave.

More land now and the cabin later is usually easier than cabin now and more land later.
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: HoustonDave on July 05, 2011, 07:03:15 AM
Howdy all!  It's been about 5 months since my last post.  Just wanted to do a quick update.

We finally were able to close on the property last week (long story).  So we are now the proud owners of about 1.5 acres with about 240' of lakefront.  We plan on starting with a storage shed sometime this month, probably about 8x12, in one corner.  Right now, I am mapping out the rest of the property including trees I want to save, slopes, etc.

We are in the middle of a drought in East Texas right now, so the lake levels are down about 2 feet and the shallow water is bathtub warm.  Took the family up there last weekend and had a nice swim but I bet the fishing is lousy at the moment.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3059.jpg&hash=720430a9e41960c513ddc8aa54c195e7d054a193)
Title: East Texas Lakefront Cabin - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 19, 2011, 12:14:36 PM
Update, photo, and map overlay.

Set up to have temporary power pole put in, probably later this week.  Also arranged for water hookup.  I don't know if I'll get the utility company to install the meter and power it up before the weekend, but it sure would be nice!  Finally feel like I'm putting some roots in!

Went down last Sunday and marked the boundaries, setbacks, and marked out a grid.  Since this is a pretty small lot (1.6 acres including some lake bottom), I am physically able to map out the whole thing.  And I want to plan carefully to cut minimum trees and don't want to have to do much landscaping.  I'm going to try to keep it as natural as possible and work with the lay of the land when locating buildings.

Here is a stitched together view of a portion of the lot.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3311-3319small.jpg&hash=1b02ad8268d986838e7e7c17f1b91ac91ed4a20c)

And here is me playing around with matching the lot boundaries with a satellite photo.  I managed to identify enough landmarks on the ground to accurately place the corner markers, which was nice.  The colored rectangles and such are just me playing around with potential cabin sizes and locations.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FLakeIoniBoundaries.png&hash=ddf11c5935396d6c326e14b7ff0005a1cbdfa9bb)

Next trip, will probably finish mapping out the landscape and tuning up where I'll be putting stuff.  Should start Phase 1 building the shed in August, after which the REAL fun begins!
Title: Re: 12x18 and 20x30 Lakefront Cabin Project in East Texas
Post by: Sassy on July 19, 2011, 10:46:15 PM
Howdy all!  It's been about 5 months since my last post.  Just wanted to do a quick update.

We finally were able to close on the property last week (long story).  So we are now the proud owners of about 1.5 acres with about 240' of lakefront.  We plan on starting with a storage shed sometime this month, probably about 8x12, in one corner.  Right now, I am mapping out the rest of the property including trees I want to save, slopes, etc.

We are in the middle of a drought in East Texas right now, so the lake levels are down about 2 feet and the shallow water is bathtub warm.  Took the family up there last weekend and had a nice swim but I bet the fishing is lousy at the moment.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3059.jpg&hash=720430a9e41960c513ddc8aa54c195e7d054a193)

That looks refreshing!  How nice to have lake front property  :)  Lots of nice trees.   
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: Freeholdfarm on July 20, 2011, 05:28:46 AM
Dave, since you are in Texas, I imagine one of your big energy users in the summer is cooling.  Since you've got the two lots and have more space to play with, you might want to consider widening your east and west porches again for the shade they'll provide to keep the house from overheating.  If it was my place, I'd make the west porch, especially, extra wide.  If it was screened, it could also serve as a sleeping porch for those hot nights (and to give the youngsters a sense of adventure!).

Kathleen
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 20, 2011, 07:56:04 AM
Quote
Dave, since you are in Texas, I imagine one of your big energy users in the summer is cooling.  Since you've got the two lots and have more space to play with, you might want to consider widening your east and west porches again for the shade they'll provide to keep the house from overheating.  If it was my place, I'd make the west porch, especially, extra wide.  If it was screened, it could also serve as a sleeping porch for those hot nights (and to give the youngsters a sense of adventure!).

Thank you, that's a great idea.
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 23, 2011, 05:46:36 PM
Took the family and some friends to the. Lake today. While the wives and kids splashed and swam, my buddy Chris, his son, and I traipsed around the property and finished mapping out the trees and terrain. Also very glad to see the temporary meter pole was in and the utility company had even managed to get it hooked up and meter installed.  And to my pleasant surprise the water meter was installed and the old water line already onsite was actually working!  So we have electricity and drinking water available onsite.

After I get pics transferred I'll post them.

Next step is getting the elevations nailed down a little better and choosing the spot for the shed so I can break ground.
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 23, 2011, 08:43:12 PM
Here's some pics.

The temporary meter pole is in and power is on!
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3331.jpg&hash=2bf37872dcbd66bb34876fb693fa0ed011520536)

And so is the water!
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3337.jpg&hash=42dbe6d8335147c573b6147d301741a74aed4287)

We made good use of that electricity.  The heat index was over 104F today with 50% humidity.  We took it really slow working around the property, stayed in the shade, and took lots of breaks in front of that fan.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3332.jpg&hash=b72f5bd83e6a69d15971bdb2fb1ca5344c82ff94)

We finished mapping all the trees and large rocks, and the general lay of the land.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3339.jpg&hash=d3febc0c786bf74f62cdc8d4a9020901afef40bd)

There's a nice big pine I want to make sure I don't disturb, over 2' in diameter.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3343.jpg&hash=b09a10f38c85d43b85984e0536a2d05484fed76b)

And some nice moss rock to use.
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FIMG_3344.jpg&hash=fbe24a97b4f9bba3f0abf684c56d225acebee293)
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 24, 2011, 06:39:40 PM
Finished putting all the information in.  Next weekend I'll finish confirming elevation for the property and stake out the location for the shed.

First picture here shows locations of trees (green circles/dots), rocks (red chunks), logs (brown, some used for erosion control), access road (shaded), and probable structure locations.  The dashed lines are ridges or spots where the land drops away.  The dot-dash-dot-dash shows gullies.  The solid red lines are the lot boundaries.

Note that the property only drains itself.  No water to the left or right drains onto it, and any water from up the hill drains off to the right along the other side of the road to a gully on our neighbor's land.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-07-24at103036PM.png&hash=00d02fb8949147d99755579f020c277131bf5bbf)


The below picture shows the same area, with some estimated contour lines shown (each line is 5' drop).  As you can see, there is about a 45-50' drop from the upper left corner of the property down to the water and about a 25-30' drop from the upper right corner to the water.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-07-24at102854PM.png&hash=72e14523911191364df634d733b2c4b58a5bd7d0)

We plan on putting most of the structures at the upper levels of the lot closer to the road, based on feedback from folks here and a lot of discussion.  This will make construction easier as the ground there is more level.  Also when we get older and creakier we can get to the cabins easier.  If it come to that, we can get something with a motor down that access drive to the water.
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 29, 2011, 06:47:59 AM
Due to Tropical Storm Don we probably won't be heading up to the property this weekend to break ground.  So I spent some more time playing around with Google Sketchup and building placement.

I posted a mockup of cabin placement.  This took the contour lines and made 'em 3D.  I added some of the trees in (in actual locations) and some placeholders for the buildings (generally right size but design may change).

This is what the view from the water would be.  There are more small trees than shown, but the view is about right.  There is not much foliage the first 20' of most of the trees.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-07-29at104202AM.png&hash=c7cdaeb7dc68c257aa155ee4feeeeaf670657102)

And this would be the view from the road looking down.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2FScreenshot2011-07-29at104750AM.png&hash=9a401401461930d4bfb3d51286df5135bd7498f3)
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: Sassy on July 29, 2011, 02:16:49 PM
Like the way you did that HoustonDave.  Looks really pretty.  Being on higher ground is probably better, what w/all the flooding this year around the country. 

Know what you mean about the "creakier" state...  I'm there already but still get around our property pretty good.  We hardly have any flat land - it's all hills & our house is lots of stairs for lots of levels.  Keeps me in somewhat of good shape  d*
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: duncanshannon on July 30, 2011, 04:55:59 AM
can you tell us (me?) about how you mapped your property?  Id like to do the same thing for my land... or perhaps part of it.  I have 9 acres and i want to better lay out where the parts that i 'see' are relative to the aerial maps.  Putting some of the elvetation changes on there would be sweet too.

id like to be able to step back and look at the elevation, features etc. to help create a site plan.

thanks
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 30, 2011, 06:50:17 AM
Duncan,

The easiest and most expensive way is to hire someone, which I did not do.  I'm not sure I would attempt my method (at least not to that level of detail) for anything much bigger than 2 acres.  Any professional surveyor will laugh his a** off at me, so be forewarned.   :D

This took me two full days with two people for 1.5 acres to do the ground work, and another 8-16 hours at the computer.  I would not try this for 9 acres at the detail level I did.

1)  Mark off the corners of your property with solid stakes/posts/pegs.  If you actually have 90 degree corners, then you are golden otherwise it adds additional fun.  In my case, it was not square but ONE corner had a 90 degree angle.

2)  At your property pick a corner that is closest to a 90 degree angle.  Using a compass and (depending on distance and desired accuracy) either pace out or measure out the distance and direction to all your corner markers.   (If you have an accurate survey of the bounds, this step is already done for you.)  If you have a clear line of sight and some sort of laser rangefinder, better for you.  I went low-tech. I used a 300' tape measure and calculated angles.  I should have used a compass...would have been easier. So now you should have something like From P1 walk 511' at 273 degrees to P2, then walk 629' at 221 degrees to P3 etc.... If your property is small enough, you can measure across from opposing corners to confirm accuracy too.

3) Decide how accurate you want this.  For me, because I only have 1.5 acres and there are setbacks, gullies, big trees to keep, and limits on septic system placement I wanted it pretty accurate.  So I set my grid at 20' squares.  I started out trying 10' squares and then decided I was nuts.  

4)  Set one of your property lines as your baseline and measure off distances and set a marker flag at each increment.  Again, we used 20' increments so from one corner we had flags at 20', 40', 60', 80', etc.  For speed, one person held the tape and the other set the flags.  

5)  If you have an actual 90 degree corner here you are in luck, otherwise, measure out a 90 degree corner.  Set flags out at increments along this line as well.  Again, we did it every 20'.

6)  Square off the far corner of whatever size area you are going to map.  Now you have a square marked out on the ground that corresponds to the lines on your graph paper.  Start laying down a grid on the ground.  To minimize error, I would half it, then half that, etc.  For instance, I had a 300' x 300' square.  I had marked the southern and eastern boundaries first.  Then I marked the northwest corner.  I went 140' down and set flags to cut that 300'x300' square about in half.  Then I went to the 60' mark and did it again.  When you get through with this, you will end up with a grid of flags on the ground (mine was 20' squares).

7)  Take a piece of graph paper.  Take that starting corner as your reference mark and mark off the grid on the paper.  Draw out the property boundaries on the graph paper.  I used about 1"=40' for mine, but you will pick your scale based on how large an area you are doing. At this point, you aren't as concerned about where due north is, you are just looking for relative angles and distances.

8 )  To keep from losing track of "where you are" I actually took a sharpie and numbered the flags (for example 20' over and 20' down was 20,20...20 feet over and 80 feet down was 20, 80 etc)

9)  Now go to the first square on the ground.  Take that graph paper and eyeball what major features are in there and sketch them on that square on the graph paper.  By that I mean big rocks, big trees, ridges, gully bottoms, creeks, big holes, ledges, etc.  When you are done with this, you will have a sketch that looks something like this:

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1221.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fdd464%2FHoustonDave%2F2011_07_23_23_16_57.jpg&hash=84a07b253609621d1f8357dfcb3d4a62b3e4c9bd)

10) Now find a landmark either on your property or as nearby as you can get that is VISIBLE on Google Maps or similar satellite imagery.  I used both Google Maps and USGS maps (links below).  In my case, it was a concrete driveway down the road that was visible.

11) Measure the distance and direction (somehow) from that landmark to one or more (more is better) corners of your property.

12)  Now you have both a map of your property, and a reference point on a satellite photo.  I prefer to use the USGS maps because they show both satellite imagery and rough contour lines.

You can do the next steps in different ways, but here's how I did it:

13)  Take that sketch you did on graph paper and draw it out in some sort of graphics program like Visio or Sketchup that will allow you to do accurate distances and right angles.  Both Sketchup and Visio let you do layers that you can hide and lock.  I drew mine out first in Visio because it lets me set a scale and a grid to snap to.

14)  Once you get your sketch into the software, LOCK it.  

15)  Now do a screenshot/screen capture of USGS satellite photo, MAKING SURE the screenshot includes the scale bare (1" = 300', though trying to get same scale as your sketch is helpful.

16)  Turn on the CONTOURS layer in the USGS photo on and do another screen capture (don't zoom in or out, you want the same size and area)

17)  Put the image WITH contours in a graphics editor like Paint, Photoshop, Gimp, or similar and using the direction of north and your measurements, plot out that reference marker and your property boundaries on that screen capture of the satellite photo.

18)  So now copy and paste that image into the program where you did your sketch.  You will then put it BEHIND your locked sketch.  You now have two items there, your sketch with boundaries shown, and a photo capture showing landscape
paste and move it BEHIND your sketch in the software.

19)  Resize and rotate the photo until the property boundaries on the photo match the ones you sketched from your grid.  Now you have your sketch overlayed on the photo image that shows rough contour lines.  Typically those contours are only about 10' increments and are approximations.

Now you can start adding contour details of your own.  I usually draw my own contour lines matching the one in the photo first, then adjust some of the points based on what I actually saw on the ground.  This is because those USGS maps won't record a 5' deep gully at all since they are doing 10' increments.

Clear as mud?  Maybe I should make a thread on this and do step by step example images if anyone is crazy as me and wants to do it.

Here is the link to the USGS site.

http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/b2c/start/%28xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd%29/.do (http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/b2c/start/%28xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd%29/.do)

They have maps where you can turn PDF layers on and off to show or hide contours.
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 30, 2011, 08:39:48 AM
Almost forgot. The steps for importing the final map into Google sketchup and creating a 3D version is a bit complicated. I'll have to put that in later. But you can search "Google Sketchup" sandbox contour and find some tutorials.
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: glenn kangiser on July 30, 2011, 06:38:26 PM
Crimoney, Dave .... that made my head hurt just reading it.  [ouch]

Nice job and thanks for the explanation. :)
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: HoustonDave on July 30, 2011, 06:51:26 PM
Heheh...I think it needs more visuals.

If anyone really wants the detail, please let me know and I'll make some graphics so you can actually understand what I wrote above.  But don't ask the question less'n you really want the answer (grin).
Title: Re: 20x34 East Texas Lakefront - Phase 1 8x14 Shed
Post by: CjAl on November 06, 2011, 02:08:32 PM
Hope you make it back soon.

Were the lots in woodville over in ivanhoe? Thats where im building. The drought has everything shut down up here
Templates: 3: Ads (default), Portal (default), Printpage (default).
Sub templates: 4: init, print_above, main, print_below.
Language files: 3: SPortal.english (default), index+Modifications.english (default), Ads.english (default).
Style sheets: 1: portal (default).
Files included: 31 - 904KB. (show)
Cache hits: 8: 0.00134s for 35,270 bytes (show)
Queries used: 16.

[Show Queries]