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Author Topic: land and cabin  (Read 2102 times)

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Offline george99

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land and cabin
« on: October 20, 2018, 02:12:08 AM »
Hey guys I'm an infrequent lurker looking for some general advice with buying land and starting to plan a cabin build.

Destination: central maine.

Some of the land parcels I've seen online have been cut down to nothing, some just thinned, but this seems rarer. My ideal plot would be a mix of cleared and good amounts of sustainable trees for fuel  and building. I originally discounted the idea of these overcut parcels but I'm land greedy and wondered if I could plant some sort of fast growing trees. Part of the land purchase would be to develop tree growth, do some planting and have the option to make some money harvesting when or if it's sold down the line.

Any comments on the above are appreciated, especially setting me straight about these overcut bargain parcels.

As far as the build, it's going to be just one person so I have to be creative and use proper tools and jigs for hauling and lifting.  It's narrowed down to log cabin or some sort of pole structure skinned with board and batten. I like the idea of green wood building. I'd like to do as much of it as possible without help and call in contractors/helpers as needed. For either type of build it's going to just be a rectangle ~1000 s.f. +/-300 , single level, and high ceilings. Pole building affords easy high ceiling, not so sure about log cabin though, maybe a gambrel roof?

I just started trying to get a very rough budget going after reading 'how to build a log cabin' by rob winters. He had an estimate of 61 logs for an 800s.f. log cabin. Raw pine are 300-400$ in maine?
I guess that means I have to look seriously at felling these myself.  No idea about what time frame is involved with a noob felling 80 trees.


I'll have a decent 4x4 for hauling logs on the property, probably will purchase a portable mill for planks, and a tractor/lift. No idea about prices on tractors.

Don't want to reinvent the wheel, so if I see any decent pole barns that could be rehabbed without major surgery I'd jump on one. I would love to timber frame but it would take too long to learn.




Offline samandothers

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2018, 10:03:27 AM »
Welcome george99!  You were up late!  I can not help much with land questions.  I do prefer land with some wood on it for firewood and projects, not to mention animal habitats.

Not much of a log fan.  I did a pole barn using utility poles.  I cut the framing lumber and the boards and battens.  I did purchase trusses and roofing.  The savings on the lumber made me feel better about purchasing the mill.  I am sure others will chime in with opinions.

Offline D L Bahler

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2018, 11:21:24 AM »
I built a cabin back several years ago from white pine logs, which I imagine is what you have access to. I squared them and stacked them tight.
If you're going to purchase a mill anyway, you can make yourself a very comfortable building with squared log construction.

Even if you're not going to buy a mill, me and my brothers  hewed out all of our timbers by hand.

I'm personally not a fan of pole buildings. Never seemed right to me that modern man should abandon thousands of years of progress and revert to stone age building methods.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2018, 09:06:15 AM »
Cordwood construction fits you to a T.  Look it up.  Youll be in small pine and working alone where big timber isnt manageable.   Cordwood can be load bearing or used as infill for walling a timber frame and has as much R value as you want based on thickness of walls you construct.  Also has very good fire resistance vs stick frame and excellent thermal mass to keep that cool interior during summer dog days.  


I highly suggest you also strip bark off straight small stems and incorporate them into your build as posts, handrails and so forth.  It saves some money and really gives a down home rustic character to any dwelling.  Only takes a few. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline TimFromNB

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2018, 08:25:46 AM »
In regards to the land, keep in mind the time for the trees to reach maturity and your age :D. You may never get to see your trees grow to maturity, depending on the species. You might enjoy "Restoring the Acadian Forest" by Jamie Simpson. It talks about wood lot planning and restoration planting, with timeline examples and a half dozen case examples throughout the Canadian Maritimes. The Acadian forest spills over into most of Maine and Northern New England so it would apply to your case as well. 

I would probably be happy with a partially cut over lot as long as there is some forest left around the cabin site. The cut over part could be a fun restoration project.

Offline TimFromNB

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2018, 08:30:05 AM »
Cordwood construction fits you to a T.  Look it up.  Youll be in small pine and working alone where big timber isnt manageable.   Cordwood can be load bearing or used as infill for walling a timber frame and has as much R value as you want based on thickness of walls you construct.  Also has very good fire resistance vs stick frame and excellent thermal mass to keep that cool interior during summer dog days.  


I highly suggest you also strip bark off straight small stems and incorporate them into your build as posts, handrails and so forth.  It saves some money and really gives a down home rustic character to any dwelling.  Only takes a few.
Mike, interesting, I had never seen that. Could be a cool way to infill the frame I am working on now. Would there not be a concern with all the exposed end grain absorbing moisture? I guess you could put a decent water sealant over the whole wall.

Online red

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2018, 11:48:01 AM »
Check out Cabin Porn
Building a remote cabin is on my Bucket List
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

Offline george99

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 10:46:23 AM »
Cordwood was high on my list up until recently. Can't remember where or who wrote it but they built a cordwood cabin and said it was torture on the back and a ton of work.

In the case that I wind up on land with no good timber, which will not happen ever, cordwood could be back in the loop.


Land will dictate what I build, so I have to focus on where and what's on it and how much $. Timber frame and whole logs are my top choices but I'm too impatient to learn timber framing for a first build. Maybe for a 2nd or 3rd build if I'm alive and able I can get into timber frames.

Offline Brian_Weekley

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 11:33:00 AM »
Destination: central maine.
Do you currently live in Maine, or planning to buy/build/move there?  The reason I'm asking is because I currently live out of state, but have property in mid-coast Maine.  The advantage of a timber frame is that you can work on it where you currently live, then transport the timbers to the site and erect the frame relatively quickly.  For me, it makes my time there much more efficient.  Just a suggestion if you currently live far from where you want to build this cabin.
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Offline BradMarks

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2018, 12:19:27 PM »
A 1000 square foot cabin (say 25x40) by yourself could quite possibly be a monumental task. I am in the process of a one room small cabin in a very remote area, stick built on pier blocks, from the floor up all work done by myself. It is dried in at this point (thank goodness -it snowed this past weekend) and will be covered with board and bat. Everything done working by yourself becomes harder than it should be, and often takes more than twice as long if you would have had a helper. Roofing that far off the ground causes gray hairs and a fast heartbeat. And of course is not safe, working alone, I know.  But good luck, first on finding the right parcel, deciding on your layout, and doing the build.

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2018, 05:34:27 PM »
It helps to put your location in your profile so it shows up in your posts.  It helps other give give better answers.  If you live in Ohio for example and are planning to move to maine, it make sense to source some material locally and start pre-building where you are and haul it up there.

With regards to land the only good advice I can think of is to make sure there is a proper survey of the land by a land surveyor company.  Have the survey in hand at the time of the purchase/sale.  With the survey, the lane should be mark with stakes by the surveyor and you MUST walk all the property lines to make sure you understand exactly what you are buying.  You should also be using a title company.  A title company protects you in case of any dispute of title.  This can happen.  It happened to me.  The family that owned a property split it into two parcels and had a proper survey done. They sold the first parcel.  A month later I bought the second parcel using the same survey.  Both buyers had the same survey at the time of sale.  I walked all of the property lines before I finalized the sale.  Several months later the owner of parcel one started piling construction debris  on my parcel.  Approached him and informed him that he was dumping on my property.  He claimed it was his property.  I showed him the survey and he looked at it and realized that according to the survey it was not his.  (He had never reviewed his survey or his property lines at time of sale).  He did not do his due diligence.   He then, realizing his mistake and not having any ethics, over the next several months he sends messages asking to buy 2 of my acres.  I don't want to sell any of my parcel as I already have plans for it.  When that doesn't work, he starts threatening to sue and take the land.  He finds a shady lawyer and then files suit against the original seller and the real estate agent claiming the agent verbally misinformed him as to the property lines.  They were asking the judge in the suit to reform my deed to give them the land.  This drags me into the lawsuit.  I had title insurance though and the title company provided a good lawyer.  I also had my own attorney assisting.  Fortunately the law was on my side, after a long time they finally dropped the suite.  It costs me a good penny for my own lawyer.  That was extra insurance for me.  It would have cost a lot more if not for the title insurance company lawyer.  

I take it the 1000 sq ft is for a home?  Plus you want a pole barn too?  If I understand you correctly?  for your home, don't necessarily discount a timberframe.  You haven't stated that you have a time frame, and you haven't even bought a property yet.  If you're getting logs and milling yourself...that cuts your cost.  Learning timberframing may not be as hard as you think.  Take a timberframing workshop if you can and see.  Even if you don't end up building one, it will build skills for you for any type of building and educate you on how to use hand and power tools.  I came out of my first workshop with whole new view on wood, how to get precision and cut wood accurately, and a whole new set of skills that apply to all areas of working with wood.  I suddenly became far better at using a circ saw, marking and laying out on wood, and understanding how to work with crown, bow, grade wood etc.  I highly recommend taking a TF workshop.  I first took a 5 day course that used both hand and power tools, and a second 5 day course that used only hand tools.  Both were highly valuable.   
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Offline Southside

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2018, 07:34:02 PM »
Brad -

Surveys and Warrantee deeds are not all that popular in Maine unless it's a developed parcel of land. Most all of them are Quit claim deeds with "meets and bounds" descriptions citing of all things stone walls, witness posts, witness trees, even had a wire fence in one once.  There may even be a description of "where Jones barn was before the fire" out there somewhere.  Your advice is very sound, but might not always be possible without major additional expense in many areas of the state.   
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Offline GAB

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2018, 07:55:15 PM »
The extra expense of a survey complete with GPS coordinates of all pins may be well worth the expense in the short run.
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Offline george99

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2018, 03:47:47 AM »
Currently on a different continent so assembly and delivery from off site might not be economical. But it's a good point to keep in mind. A thought popped into my head of two separate parcels, maybe a timber lot and a living lot. Possibly timber lot somewhere in Canada. I try to keep things as simple as possible though.

I do plan on being thorough with site survey and will get title insurance and a good lawyer.

Not ruling out timber framing but it seems not well-suited to single person builds. As much as I like the whole hand tools only work ethic, that is not for me.

Vertical logs is something I looked into years ago. Having another refresher look now. Could be very good for building a quick shelter.

Another possibility is there are a fair amount of run down houses with large land parcels. It's not ideal but a lot of these houses come with well, septic, and electricity. I can't ignore the cost saving of not having to install septic and well. If the foundation and frames are in decent shape I need to consider rebuilding one. But this is too far ahead to really put much thought into.

The structure I'd like to wind up in is ~800-1200s.f., simple rectangle wood something, high ceilings. Could be one room, actually prefer this. Small bathroom in a corner.





Online red

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2018, 09:10:11 AM »
It's all about Time and Money.  First choosing a site to build on from a small lot to a huge piece of property. Any local permits or Rules on water and septic. Then building a structure. Maybe living in a camper while doing construction. Plus you are trying to build as a one man crew? Lots of options but it is all possible with Time and Money. 
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

Online red

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2018, 09:16:21 AM »
Look into Timberlinx 
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2018, 12:56:35 PM »
Land in need of cleanup is always cheapest.  No one wants to buy an extra project but honestly it isnt hard to knock down and burn a few shack or trailer structures to save 20 or 50k.  As was said, free well, utility hookup, septic.  Those are nice features to walk into.   I did this and live in a camper while building the homestead.

Buddy up with the ladies at the registrars office in your land buying efforts.  A seller may not have a mortgage but may well have 5 liens that prevent a clear title conveyance.   Doesnt hurt to shmooze with the code enforcer/inspector either to find out what you cant get away with.


As for cordwood, its actually a construction method known for favoring those who werent able bodied enough for whole log construction.  A 60yr old woman who can stack a wood pile can build a cordwood structure with a few rotary club friends. Hippy chicks seem to be the ones who build them most actually.

Infill should be dry pine or cedar.. Oak will work for the frame but not for the infill.  It swells too much with moisture and will break the mortar and even the frame its in.  

No need to seal the ends of cordwood. Just put on a big enough roof overhang and be sure not to do anything that traps or pools constant moisture.  Window AC units dripping on the cordwood is a major no no.  Fungal rot will occur but so would it on any other construction.  Im replacing a pretty young powdered sill plate now over roof backsplash.  If it cant dry itll die. Drafty isnt all bad.  I bet farmhouses outlive super tight modular homes in years to come.
Revelation 3:20

Offline Grizzly

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2018, 01:15:53 PM »
Possibly timber lot somewhere in Canada.


A very large area to choose from. BC has mountains, trees, and flowing water; AB much of the same on the western side, SK has trees, many lakes, no mountains; I remember some fantastic looking sites in Labrador on the way up to Goose Bay; Ontario and Quebec both have some fantastic scenery. So........... I got lost for a bit. My question was where abouts in Canada might you be thinking of?
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Offline KirkD

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2018, 03:14:43 PM »
Check out Cabin Porn
Building a remote cabin is on my Bucket List
Red,
Thank you for sharing that. there are some great pictures in there.
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Offline Greyman

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Re: land and cabin
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2018, 06:04:00 PM »
Do you plan on moving there and building at the same time, or periodic trips to build before you move?  
In case it's any help, I'm doing pretty much the same thing in central Idaho.  I've struggled coming up with the logistics, because everything needs to be done first...  We have a family cabin nearby so I do have a place to live, but I don't want to create problems by taking it over.  So my overall plan is: 
a) first summer get equipment moved, a road put in, building areas leveled, and build a pole barn with part of it walled-in so I can stay there and have a place to store equipment and tools over the winter.  Hopefully cut/stack trees in the fall.
b) second summer I would be there full time and mill lumber and build cabin, but that could slide to the third summer.  At that point I won't be in a hurry.

I'm planning on a ~1000+ sf D-log cabin on piers, and doing most of it myself (with teenagers helping as they can).  It won't be fancy, but it will be mine!  :D    I have a tractor with hay forks to handle logs and lumber around the mill, and a Unimog 406 with a 35' boom crane (as well as backhoe and snowplow, and also use it as my skidder) to help with building.  I had looked into an off-road forklift but those things are expensive.  I lucked out finding the Mog.


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