Photo date: December 4, 2022. See header image archive.

lot



Second Sitework Bid

At this rate, the MVC will ship in 2025.

We've now got two sitework bids, and I've added the second one to the table below. The numbers are pretty close for the most part, except Contractor B is coming in way below on the backfill price. I need to find out if we're all talking about the same thing.

Also, I am going into the stump-grinding business.


Item Contractor A Contractor B
Remove stumps for septic, driveway, and cottage site 4,000.00 5,700.00
Strip topsoil for cottage and driveway 400.00 750.00
Excavate for frost-wall foundation 860.00 included above
Install driveway 4,389.00
(approx. 3850 SF)
2,970.00
(approx. 2200 SF)
Backfill foundation with excavated material and imported fill 5,790.00 825.00
Supply and place screened stone inside foundation 3,360.00 4,285.00
Install a 3 bedroom mound system including design and permit fees 25,700.00 bid forthcoming
Final grade after construction (re-lay topsoil) 800.00 not included

First Sitework Bid

The housing market can be hot, and it can be slow. Rates can be high, and they can be low. But one constant remains: most contractors aren't great at answering calls and emails, returning calls and emails, providing estimates, and in general doing what they say they will do. And we haven't even started construction yet.

When the sun dies in 5 billion years, this will still be the typical behavior.

It's been over two weeks since five different contractors looked at our project, and I have only one estimate back. I wanted to post it here to give readers an idea of what we're looking at in order to do all the sitework. As more bids come in🤞I'll add their numbers to the table in the most normalized, apples-apples way I can.


Item Contractor A
Remove stumps for septic, driveway, and cottage site 4,000.00
Strip topsoil for cottage and driveway 400.00
Excavate for frost-wall foundation 860.00
Install driveway (approx. 3850 SF) 4,389.00
Backfill foundation with excavated material and imported fill (estimated 350 yds) 5,790.00
Supply and place screened stone inside foundation 3,360.00
Install a 3 bedroom mound system including design and permit fees 25,700.00
Final grade after construction (re-lay topsoil) 800.00
TOTAL 45,299.00

Ski Run Preview

This video turned out not quite as I imagined, but it's passable to post here as a preview to Door County's only ski run, coming sometime in 2024.

It was recorded on December 5, 2022.

Yes, it's a tree run. Note the ancient eastern white cedars in the last 1/3 of the video.

The last 15% is a doozy; definitely a black diamond, with the possibility of Warren Miller-worthy air. But unlike almost any other part of the escarpment, where it's a cliff, skiing on our lot is a possibility.

I'll have more on Door County's downhill skiing history in a future post.

'Driveway' & 'Parking'

One of the objectives of the 8-day Door County stay was to create a "driveway" and "parking" on the lot so I didn't have to keep parking on the side of the road. And on the 8th day, mission accomplished. It felt great to actually drive onto the building site. It suddenly somehow felt more "owned" than before, getting a truck in the space where one of the bedrooms will go. It certainly was much handier accessing gear, and beer.

See full-size image

Before heading back to Minneapolis I put all the timber I plan on milling on makeshift stickers so they're not rotted by direct contact with the earth. Even using wood-moving techniques taught in The Bible, and with the help of a cant hook, it was a lot of work. I also destroyed all evidence of any laughably amateurish felling cuts. There were a few decent ones (but nothing great yet). I kept those visible for any stump readers who might stop by.

I can't wait to get back and start exposing part of the view (hopefully in October). I'm also excited about the possibility of placing the structure between a giant white pine and a giant red oak, where the oak would be the centerpiece of a circular driveway, while the pine would ideally sit between two windows on the western elevation. I need to bring the measurements and compass readings into SketchUp to see if it will work out. The results will be posted here.

50-yard field goal attempt. Photo taken to the northeast, from the far south end of the lot. See full-size image

'And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper'

As you might imagine, clearing a wooded lot has generated mountains of brush. In my case, three 8'-9' tall stacks, along with several dozen 3"-6" "trunks" of underbrush and small trees. On Saturday I rented the Bandit 75XP and fed everything into it.

On its face it seems pretty low-effort: grab some pre-stacked brush, stick it in the chipper, and repeat a few hundred times. But at the end of the day it was the most wiped I'd been all week. It's also extremely loud, even with good ear protection. I'd be fine not ever doing this again.

See full-size image

My new neighbor John stopped by to help for a couple of hours, and his wife Gretchen even sent along some homemade cookies. They are setting the High Bluff Road neighbor expectations bar, way, way too high. (John and Gretchen, I hope you read this.)

Here's a video of my kind of chipping: insert a long piece into the chipper. Stand around for a few seconds and have time to shoot a video.

Wide-Plank Oak Flooring

Our wide-plank oak flooring has landed. I'm not gonna lie. I should've popped a couple of Valium or Xanax — or maybe both — before taking this oak down. While I have been prepping for it all week, reviewing my previous experience in my mind, and re-reading key verses of the tree-felling Bible, there is no getting around the anxiety of felling a 20" diameter tree. Unless you do this for a living, it's big and scary. Anyone who says otherwise is full of shit.

Also, I am out here on my own. 😬

See full-size image

It all went pretty well. I didn't die. I did make a rookie mistake by not making a relief cut before lopping off the first 8' 6" section once it was on the ground, which caused the split you see. I can't imagine making that mistake again.

Later this year it's all headed to Henschel Sawmill, just a few miles away on Townline Rd. It's famous for being the only female-operated sawmill in Wisconsin. Jamie Henschel is awesome and I look forward to having her mill all our timber.

Our 5

For anyone following along, it's going to be important to see the plot of land on the high bluff where the cottage will be built.

It's 785' from east to west, and 355' from north-ish to south-ish, for a grand total of 5.05 acres.

The lot is on the Niagara escarpment, which runs from about Fond du Lac, WI to, you guessed it, Niagara Falls, NY.

Below is a parcel map from the Door County site, with 2-foot elevations. The highest point on our lot is 798' above sea level, and the lowest is 644', for a 154' vertical drop. Niagara Falls' vertical drop is 160'. All we're really lacking is the Niagara River.

(I can't mention vertical drop without dropping a long-range property goal: Door County's only ⛷️ run. It's a blue-black with a big steep at the end, where the red lines are really close together.)

The yellow dot indicates the spot where the header photos are taken from, aiming straight west. See full-size image

As you can probably tell from the image, the best buildable area is in the southeast corner of the lot. That's the spot where the header picture will repeatedly be taken from, aiming straight west. Right now it's just trees, but at some point in the next few months a pretty killer view of Green Bay will be revealed. Stay tuned.