Photo date: October 21, 2022. See header image archive.

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First Look: Floor Plan

The best space in our current Minneapolis house is this den. We spend countless hours here in front of a fire watching Dateline, 48 Hours, and 20/20. On network.

The 🐕 🐕 love it, too.

The coziest room in all of Edina. See full-size image

A key objective of the MVC (Minimum Viable Cottage) is to recreate this space, except with a view of Lake Michigan. On paper it's somewhat of a success. Our current den is 12' x 13' with an 8"6" ceiling. The den on this floor plan is 12"4" x 11' with an 8"6" ceiling (once the loft is built).

See full-size image

Taking two feet from such a small room turns out to be a 15% reduction, but it's not a "hard" 11 feet because there isn't a rear wall. At least this is the rationalization I am going with.

The rest of the floor plan needs a lot of work, but it's pretty simple: 1 bedroom, 2 baths, 2 lofts (not shown yet), galley kitchen, laundry/mechanical room, puzzle table, and 3 garage doors to the western (view) elevation. Much more to come.

Everyone has an opinion on floor plans. Lay them on me: dack@dack.com

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

'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.

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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 white 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.

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.