24x40 in Northern Wisconsin

Started by MWAndrus, July 12, 2013, 10:45:45 AM

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Well, it's been a while since I have posted here and a lot has happened. Our original intent was to build a house with just cash on our own. The first plan was to build on a post and pier foundation to reduce cost and to reduce the amount of skill and work needed to build the foundation. Shortly after we finished digging the foundation holes, the parcel of land directly to the south of us came up for sale. We did not want to see the land go to another group of people who would abuse it, so we decided to use our house money to buy the land. Because of this, I decided to take a position working overseas for a year or two. Of course, I can't build a house while I am working overseas, so we decided to get a loan and hire a contractor. This drove a change in our house plans for a more conventional design. I modified the plan to accommodate a set of stairs going down to a full basement. I think we will enjoy the extra space. This is where we stand today:

We spent about five weekends digging twelve of these four foot deep holes. Our land sits on top of a limestone shelf, so we had to deal with some good sized rocks. The new basement dig was done in two hours.

We had a late start this year because of a long winter, and some medical issues with the contractor. I was impressed how fast he gets things done now that he has started though. He had the hole dug in two hours. The next day, he had all the footing forms in, gravel and drain tile placed, and concrete poured.

After a day and a half, all of the forms were up and filled.

This is where we stand today. One of the things that threw me off when I started marking things off was how much the site sloped. Standing at the house site with nothing there, everything looks pretty level. But once you run a level string out 40 feet, you realize that the whole area slopes three or four feet down. We will be dead in the water for a few days until the concrete sets up and the forms can come off. But once the wood starts going on, it is supposed to go pretty quick. The contractor estimates six weeks to dry in.


Designing this house has been a three or four year project. We started out with a tiny 28x18 cabin but decided it was a bit too small. So then we designed a larger 20x40 two story house. We found our plans getting bigger and bigger, so we decided to scale back again. We settled on a 24x36 house built on piers.

I think this house would have worked well for us, but we had to go to a more conventional foundation due to bank requirements. In order to put in a set of stairs for the basement, we had to stretch the house out to 24x40. With a steep roof pitch and a basement we should have lots of storage.

John Raabe

Coming along nicely. You have a nice spacious floor plan layout. Will you be supporting the floors with full span I-joists? (I didn't see any post footings in the basement.)
None of us are as smart as all of us.


Yes, the builder is planning on using full length ijoists. I originally drew the plan with a beam down the center, but he recommended that we use the ijoist to save cost. Do you think it is going to be an issue with the weight of the wood stove?

John Raabe

No, that shouldn't be an issue. You can double the joists in that area if you want (like you would under a tub).
None of us are as smart as all of us.


The forms are finally off. There was a miss-communication with the plumbers, so the slab was stalled for a few days. That's OK, because it has been pretty rainy and I don't think that they would have been able to do much anyway. The good news is that after all of that rain, their is no standing water around the basement. It looks like we have pretty good drainage.

My wife also picked up another load of firewood. She estimates that she has at least three more full loads of wood to pickup.

We set up a game camera to keep an eye on the build site to make sure nobody is poking around after hours. It also catches all of the build progress when we aren't around. I think we are going to put together a time-lapse video off of all of the pictures that we have.


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.


We had a little confusion between the builder and the plumber that set us back a few days. We finally got the plumber in to install the plumbing for a future bathroom in the basement. He finished his thing friday morning, and by friday afternoon our contractor had his team up there pouring the basement floor. He already has the wood staged at the site, so first thing Monday morning they are going to get started with the wood work. It is exciting to see things finally going vertical.

One of the workers showed up before the others and saw my wife stacking the firewood. He was nice enough to help.


The builder has been having some mechanical issues with one of his pieces of equipment, so it has been slow going again. He was able to get some of the back fill around the basement done before his dozer went down though. The sill plates are installed and the half wall for the future basement windows is finished. He has most of the floor joists set now. I'm curious to see how he is going to do the stairs. He should be able to start laying sub floor on Monday.


Wow that was fast! After months of the builder dragging his feet, it seems we now have his full attention.

Since the basement windows are still open, we thought that it would be a good idea to get some of the big items down there so that we won't have to try to fight them around the bend in the stairs. My wife went up to grab the trailer and found this:

My boy was so excited, that he ran right over to where his bedroom will be:

After she loaded up the trailer, she came back to find this:

It's exciting to see the extra space upstairs above the bedrooms and bathrooms. We aren't sure what we are going to use this space for yet, because access to this area is going to have to be by ladder.
And the new freezer in the basement. A gunsafe will be joining it soon.


When we built our house, I bought a gun safe and left it on the pallet in its card board box. I put it in the deepest corner of the basement and had a 10 x 16 storm room built with solid concrete top. It has a steel fire door with an opening that is smaller than the least dimension of the gun safe, it is in this room forever, can't be removed. Just a thought.
"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


Another day, and more good progress. They started early and were able to get the roof trusses up. It's nice to see the open space in the living area. Hopefully this will help the house not feel so small.

It's nice to start seeing the sheathing getting finished. It really starts to make it look like a house.

And a view of the roof from inside the living room:

My wife did a great job of finishing the doors on the chicken coop while they were working on the roof: