Photo date: February 11, 2024. See header image archive.


Update: Foundation Assembly

Back in the fall of 2022 we thought we'd settled on a slab-on-grade foundation. It seemed like the easiest and most inline with MVC principles.

After some more research and back-and-forth with our builder, we've pivoted and decided to go with a crawlspace foundation. There are several reasons:

  • Mistakes will be made. It will be a lot easier to fix them with a chase under the MVC than with things cast in concrete. This I am sure of.
  • We are getting old. An appeal of the slab-on-grade was the notion of simply using the slab as our floor. But standing on concrete sucks, especially as cartilage has become thinner (or non-existent). A forgiving wood floor on top of a forgiving wooden floor truss — combined with Hush Puppies and Dr. Scholl's inserts — will make everyone happier and healthier.
  • We can put some mechanicals down there. We're not sure what, exactly, quite yet. But given the MVC's petite 24x36 figure, even an additional square foot is precious.

Here's the drawing for the crawlspace subslab. Once this is in place, 3" of rigid insulation goes on the interior of the foundation walls, and then a 4" slab is poured on top of the 10mm poly (the yellow part).

See full-size image

First Look: Topographic With Volumes

Here's the first look at the parcel, with the property lines and dead-end road draped on the topographic, and the three volumes placed about where I think they'll go.

The first build, which we are trying to get started in summer 2023, is the 36'x24' structure on the far left of the image (the northernmost volume). This is an "expandable house plan," where we will add on the larger 72'x24' house and the 30'x24' garage later, and everything will be connected via conditioned breezeways.

We just need to get a place up there ASAP, and a MVC — Minimum Viable Cottage — is the fastest, most direct route. Plus, we'll (hopefully) make all of our biggest mistakes on a very small house.

The long property lines (~800 feet) run exactly east to west. This is a view to the northeast. See full-size image

In order to make this drawing, I had to painstakingly trace elevation lines from the Door County map, elevate each of them, and then in SketchUp choose Draw > Sandbox > From Contours. Then I placed the three volumes.

It took hours but was totally worth it. Having spent a fair amount of time on the parcel, the satellite elevations are incredibly accurate. I completely trust that what's on this drawing is what's in real life.

Please note the vintage Ford pickup that's in my future.

Also please note, this plot not only provides a pretty awesome view of Green Bay, but a challenging ⛷️ run as well.

Here is another view of the drawing, with the view. This is aiming due west, and the SketchUp horizon (the blue part) is the bay.

See full-size image

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.

Welcome to Cottage on High Bluff Road

Hey. Thanks for checking out this cottage build blog.

On August 5, 2022 my wife and I closed on a 5-acre lot in Door County, Wisconsin. We're building a cottage on it. This site will document our progress.

This journal is going to be super casual, and sometimes veer off on weird tangents, but here, broadly, is the rationale for the site, and the type of content to expect.

  • Selfishly, is primarily for me, Dack, as a place to document our cottage build progress. But even more important than documenting it as it happens is documenting the information I'll gather along the way *before* the build, so I can refer to it when we're actually in the middle of having to make decisions. The web is a great medium for this. Additionally, by writing about it, upon review it will either validate or challenge my current thinking, and I like that.
  • A close second is that sharing our experience can hopefully help a fellow owner-builder on their journey. We're sure to make 1000 mistakes. With the benefit of reading this blog, perhaps someone can make just 900. That alone is worth me publishing this site.
  • It would be great if the forthcoming posts opened a conversation with some of the folks I'll cite, and the manufacturers of products we'll use, to add to the depth of content. Links get people's attention. I've spent enough time on the web to know not to invest effort on moderating comments, so that is not a feature here. But I would love to hear from you the old fashioned way: Please don't hesitate to drop me a line.
  • Finally, I get to create a logo. (More on this in a future post.)

I imagine the list of topics essentially following the build process. At the beginning there will be a lot of lot clearing, lumberdacking (not a typo), milling, site planning, terrain drawings, and architecture.

Then we'll get into the actual build and cover foundations, wells, septic, timber framing, SIPs, WRBs, stonework, roofs, windows, doors, and PV.

As the structure gets enclosed it will shift to framing, electrical, plumbing, cladding, flooring, furniture, cabinets, fireplaces, and interior design.

I am surely missing a bunch of things — not to mention the weird tangents — but this is roughly what you can expect along the way.

Thanks again for coming. I hope you find it sometimes useful, and sometimes entertaining.