24 x 30 1 1/2 story cabin in Monroe Maine

Started by Don & Ginger Lundgren, September 15, 2009, 09:46:48 AM

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Don & Ginger Lundgren

Well, we have now embarked on the biggest project of our lives. For many years my wife Ginger and I have dreamed of someday having our own land and building our own home. We really are excited about this new opportunity and the challenges it will bring. We have been kind of watching this board for quite some time as the information being shared by everyone is great. It seems like this is actually a worthwhile board. So with that in mind we figured we would share our project with all of you. Feel free to comment as much as you want as I will take anything anyone has to say. We are always open to ideas [cool].

We had sketched out a few plans over the year and found it interesting that one of the plans on this site was so similar to what we wanted to do. So no we have not purchased any plan from the site but rather are working from one we designed ourselves. Now this plan has changed and will probably continue to change as we build ???.

We have finally purchased a piece of land in Monroe Maine and have begun building our home. We plan on doing almost all of the work ourselves. About the only things we will have hired out are the well and septic system. I grew up on a farm here in Maine where we had to do all our own construction work so we feel we can do this. It is a huge undertaking but we feel that the hard work we put into it will make us appreciate it all the more when we are done. However... who is ever really done with a cabin in the woods?

We are becoming empty nesters as our son has just finished up his first year of college(1200 miles away) and our daughter is graduating high school in January and plans on movign out. Our goal in that case is simple really, we want to build a simple home that will be large enough for us to be comfortable but small enough to be economical to build and maintain. The plan is for a 24x30 cabin with a half loft. The half loft will become the master bedroom and master bath. Downstairs will be a 2nd bedroom and a full bath. The open great room will contain the kitchen, dining and living room. Our plan is to someday add a 4 seasons use porch on two sides of the house but that is down the road sometime.

Our home will be located on a 4 1/2 acre fully wooded lot on a 4 seasons dirt road in Monroe Maine. We picked this lot because it had not been cut in probably 40 years or more so the property is fully covered in fairly mature hardwoods(mostly oak & maple) with a few pines and fir for good measure. It is fairly secluded and quiet. Our driveway is about 300 feet long and puts our home about 325 feet back from the road which we feel is perfect. Here is a picture looking into the lot from the road. You can barely see a car way in there which is where the house will be. This picture was taken before we had done anything. The driveway appears wider than it really is. We will have to clear trees for the power company to run lines but that is ok. It will allow us to put back in things we want to have there.

Here is a shot that shows the concrete piers for our foundation in place and all of our back fill has been done. In the background you can see the nice green grass that has already started to come in our our septic system. We have decided upon a post/pier foundation as we do not really like basements(except walk out ones) and had rented a home once that used this system and had no issues what so ever with it. The concrete piers are sunk some 5 feet into the ground and are on 18" x 18" concrete footings that are about 12" thick. The whole property we are on is well drained gravel. We had dug a couple of test holes early in the process down 5-6 feet and kept track of them during all of the extremely wet weather we had in June & July and never had any water accumulate so ground movement due to frost or water should never be an issue.

We have been working the last few days on the first floor beams and deck. We have all of the support posts in with bracing and half of the floor joists in place. We plan on finishing the first floor deck this weekend.

Well, that is enough for now. We will try to update this every few days or so. If you want you can see even more information and pictures on our website http://donlundgren.com. We have the whole process broken down by section and update it often.

Thanks and have a wonderful day!
Don & Ginger Lundgren


 w* and thanks for the kind words. I had a look at your website... loads of photos. Very nice.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.

John Raabe

Don & Ginger:

Good start to an interesting project. Keep us in the loop. w*

None of us are as smart as all of us.


Again  w*.

Nice for you to keep CP in mind and taking the time to become involved.  I was just wondering why you decided to put the master on the 2nd (loft) floor.  I am sure that it probably hasn't hit home yet that as we grow older the ability to climb and decend stairs becomes more difficult.  As for my cabin I wanted the master on the first floor and left the loft for younger folks.   My primary house is set up much the same.  Even now I am not that old but often find climbing the stairs to the childrens rooms (2nd floor) is somewhat inconvient. 

Nice progress and yes keep us posted on the progress and the pics. Everyone loves pics.  ;D


"We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us" -- Winston Churchill


Wow, nice sites(web and home), looking forward to seeing more updates

Don & Ginger Lundgren

Thank you all for the kind words so far. As for why we put the master bedroom and bath on the 2nd floor that serves 2 purposes. One, we are still fairly young(45 me and 40 my wife) and as such can handle the stairs for some time to come. 2nd, I believe that going up and down stairs may be good for us in the long run. We even had a doctor tell us once that stairs are good exercise as we get older. Something about done carefully it is good for strength of joints and such.


That was really meant for the faraway future. Just looking down the road so to speak.   ;) 


 w* to our little world.

Nice property and great work on the foundation.

I know it would cost more, but have you considered running electric underground?  It would save trees and surely look better.  :P


Don and Ginger,

Since my initial response, I reviewed your web site; well done.  [cool]

I have a couple of questions about the foundation.

What ties the footing to the pier?  I didn't see any rebar sticking up out of the footing.

What ties the posts to the piers?  Again, I didn't see anything sticking up out of the piers.

What prevents a strong wind from sliding the whole structure off the piers?

Hopefully, I missed something in my review.

Don & Ginger Lundgren

Good questions.

The piers are free standing on the footings. This was based on that fact the footings are really meant to spread the compression load out to the underlying ground. Given the very well drained soil(entirely gravel down to bedrock except for the top 4-5" of topsoil) the threat of upheaval is rather remote. As a point of reference we met with a gentleman who built a similar sized and shaped home on property not that far away from us. His soil conditions are almost identical as ours. He built the cabin some 3-4 years ago just sitting on 24" round concrete pads placed on grade. The home has not moved one bit. We have actually checked out a few homes built in similar fashion in the area. Many did not even have the extra footings and still never moved.

The posts will be tied to the piers by heavy galv. straps bolted to the piers and to the posts. We plan on putting them in place once we are 100% sure nothing needs to be tweaked a bit during the first floor deck construction.


Glad to hear that you are going to tie the posts to the piers.  :D

There's probably no problem down at the footings, unless you have a very major earthquake.


Welcome, Don! We're going to enjoy watching your progress at least as much as you are. My wife and I are in a very similar situation, although we're a bit older. Our son is nearly done with college (December), so we plan to get started on our place next year. We have 7 acres in rural SC, and like you, are planning something fairly small and  simple to keep the costs down. I'll probably build on a walk-out basement, due to the slope of our land. Keep the pictures coming!

I'm not poor- I'm financially underpowered.


Don, your picture of your floor frame prompted me to start another thread asking advice on my structure.  Your measurements are almost identical to mine;  24x30 compared to my 24x32.  (See 24x32 Lake Cabin in Oklahoma)

My plan has always been to build my frame atop the beams in order to get the frame exactly square.  But after seeing you have dropped your joists down between your frame, I started the thread asking for advice.  If my beam structure had came out perfectly square;  (the diagonals need to be exactly 40 feet and zero inches), I had considered simply doing as you have done, drop the floor joists inside the beams. 

My question to you is;  how square did you get your beams to the diagonal?  I haven't figured 24x30 but I am sure you have and know the perfect measurement for the diagonal.  If its off some, do you plan on adjusting the positions of your bottom plates on the deck to get your square? 

In my case, I can do this by simply letting the bottom plate overhand the edge of the deck since it is only one inch off square.

What are your concerns with using only joist hangers to keep the joist in place over time.  Your beams are actually thicker than mine and you can't nail into the ends of the joists.

Your place is going to be absolutely beautiful in that setting and I hope you and your wife spend many years enjoying your new home.
Rule #1: "Don't sweat the small stuff"
Rule #2: "It's all small stuff"

Arizona Highlander

Great piece of land you got there. Beautiful.
Can't wait to watch the progress.
Nice website too.
Gathering info here on Country Plans while in awe of other members skills.
Goal is to start a small 15x15 in the Spring of 2015.

Don & Ginger Lundgren

RE: TexstarJim

More good questions... I like it...

As for setting my joists inside the frame, we measured and measured and measured again and again and after only having to tweak it a bit we were within 1/8". We plan on tweaking it again just a bit after all of the joists are in. At this point we have not anchored the joist hangers to the joists yet. We only have them anchored to the beams. This will allow for us to more easily tweak the whole frame structure that little bit.

The proper diagonal for the frame we created is 38 feet 5 1/64 inch and currently we are sitting at just under 38 feet 5 on one diagonal and just a bit over 38 feet 5 on the other. To me when we get done we may or may not even bother to tweak it any more. An 1/8" of an inch out over 24 feet or 30 feet would really not be noticable at all I think. It will be more of a game time sort of descision so to speak.

Now on the portion about keeping the joists from pulling out from the beams. We have the joists hangers nailed properly(all holes used per spec) to both the beam and the joists. Then the subfloor will be glued and nailed on top providing almost a gusset to each of those joints. We will also be using 7/16" OSB under the bottom side(painted to prevent rot). This will create a sandwich sort of effect and I do not believe that there is any way the joists will pull out at all.

Again thanks for all the good comments and questions.


Foundation and deck looks great so far

Thanks for joining the forum looks like well have a great new cabin to watch go up.

Don & Ginger Lundgren

We got a wonderful surprise last night. We went to the site to put up joist hangers for the other side and CMP had been there and installed our power :) No more having to run off the generator. Might actually be able to hear myself think while working...

glenn kangiser

Nice project.  Thanks for posting it and w* to the forum.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Don & Ginger Lundgren

Good morning,

Well, thanks to a wonderful weekend and a lot of hard work we have our first floor deck done. All the joists are in place and all joist hanger holes used per spec (what a pain :-\). After putting the joists in we did check them all before we nailed the joist hangers to the joists just to make sure we did have a nice flat floor. We found about 4 or 5 joists that did have to be trimmed down a bit keep the floor flat. Once that was done to my liking ;) then we nailed, and nailed some more. We then installed a row of solid blocking(cut from the extra 2x10 we culled from joists material). These were both glued and nailed as well.

Then it was time to do the floor decking. Now we used 3/4" T&G OSB underlayment for the subfloor. That was put down using both construction adhesive as well 8d galv ring shank nails. Yes we used a air nailer as I had no desire to even try to do all of that by hand. That process took a fair amount of time to do as you have to line the layout up, cut pieces as needed then glue and nail it all. By the time we were done yesterday my hands were telling me I am no longer 25... ???

My wife Ginger was excited as now she could actually wrap her hands around what this was really going to be. We then spent the next couple of hours laying out with marking tape(easy to staple and move if needed) all the rooms, stairs and cabinets and such. We altered our plan a bit based on that and what you see in the pictures(orange tape) is the layout we have decided upon.

Well next on our plan is to start building some walls. We hope to have at least a couple of walls build and ready to put up for this next weekend. As long as out weather and such holds we should be good to go.

Again, thank you all for the wonderful comments and suggestions.  I hope to have out regular website updated with many more photos later today.


That is a great idea with the tape. Kind of wish I did that for my wife, she has a hard time seeing what is in my minds eye :)

Don & Ginger Lundgren

I hear ya on the minds eye thing. We were originally going to use duct tape but then I was thinking wait... I have almost a full roll of marking tape left. That stuff is really cheap. Then just using a staple gun(electric to save my hands) we could have at it and change anything in a snap. The high contrasting color also made it really easy to see what we were doing and how the layout worked.

We even marked out where the outside walls were as many times when you look at it on paper you forget you lose a foot of space due to the thickness of your outside walls. I even made sure we had our plumbing walls accounted for and such. She then would walk from room to room using the doorways and such to see how the flow would go. We probably made half a dozen slight changes and such to what we originally planed. All in all it was about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of work that we feel well worth the effort.

Don & Ginger Lundgren

Well good morning everyone!

It was a very productive weekend indeed. We had not originally had much more hope than to get a couple of walls framed and such. The weather called for a fairly nice day on Saturday but for the heavy rain to be in by early Sunday morning.

So to start off the weekend, on Saturday we got a bit of a later start as it was really cold out and we went out to breakfast instead of working. Got to work by probably noon or so. My sister and brother-in-law both offered to come give us a hand so with them and my my mom and dad for support we got started. My wife and sister took on the task of apining th panels that would serve as the skirting to close in the crawl space. We plan on doing something different with that part later but for now it will keep out any critters so to speak.

By late afternoon we had all of our wall design narrowed down and had put together the first 2 sections of wall for one of the 30' walls. I was not going to put them up at first as I will not be able to be back to the jobsite for about 2 weeks as I have other commitments over the next 2 weeks. But after prodding we decided to go for it.  By a little later that night we had the first full 30' wall up and secured and the first section of its intersecting 24' wall up for added support. We called it a night after that as it was getting late and we really did not want to upset any of the neighbors. We are not really close in distance but given how quiet the area normally is the noise really carries at night.

Now normally my wife and I have been working pretty much alone on the house. My daughter bless her heart said to me on Thursday "DAD! you need to ask for help..." Well, this is something "I AM NOT GOOD AT". So she took it upon herself to contact some freinds and put together a work party for Sunday(most everyone worked on Saturday so Sunday would have to do). She bribed them by offering to make them a great pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs breakfast Sunday if they came. She got about half dozen or so of our freinds and family(any more would have been bad) to come.

Come Sunday morning sure enough everyone that my daughter contacted showed up. My wife, daughter, sister and neice all got going on the breakfast part while the rest of us got to work. We knew we did not have long as a heavy rain was due in a couple of hours. We had a mist already going by 9 am. Well by the time they had breakfast ready we had the other walls all framed up. After breakfast we got them all stood up and braced. Now we had left out all of the headers and cripples and such until we got the walls up. Figured it would be alot easier to lift without them in place.

As we were finishing up bracing the walls the rain started to come in more heavily. We decided to try and use a tarp to cover the area so we could work on door and window framing and such. The tarp I got turned out to be really cheap  but we figured it would maybe work long enough. We got it all put up (that was a chore) and bam... we could stay dry. It worked fine for the day but did not last the heavy rain we had last night. Oh well, not the end of the world.

By mid afternoon we had all of the window and door framing done. We then decided to put in place the 3 entry doors(could not wait...) and the 8' picture window for the living room. What do you know... they fit. We called it a day after that as we were all quite wet and had gotten an amazing amount of work done.

The cast of characters who had a part in this weekends activities are my mom and dad, my sister Linda and her husband Duane, her daughter Diana and her boyfriend Keith, my daughter Britni and her boyfreind Shane and one of his friends Trundy. This type of working together to help others in need is what makes worth family all worth it.g to make them a great pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs breakfast Sunday if they came. She got about half dozen or so of our freinds and family(any more would have been bad) to come.

Ginger and I want to send a big thank you out to all who had a part in some way with our progress this weekend.


     Nice start to the cabin.  I like pancake breakfasts too.  How are you going to trim around your doors on the outside walls?  I want to use the same doors you are using. What will you do at the door sill?

Don & Ginger Lundgren

Good day, thanks for the comments.

As for trim around the doors that is actually still up for debate as we have not come to a final decision about siding yet. I know it WILL NOT be vinyl siding! We are bouncing back and forth on a few different ideas each would require a bit different trim option.

Because the doors I got are actually standard jambs I will need to extend them for my 2x6 walls and for whatever siding we use. For the sills I am actually going to use a custom bent piece of stainless steel or aluminum. When it has been caulked into place and the doors caulked to it we will not have to worry about it leaking and such.