- Building in water access locations means that the materials will likely be handled 2-4 times- less is more. In our case we brought in our lumber with our own boat (see lesson 2) so each post, beam, 2×4, nail etc was dropped off at our marina at the head of the ramp, carried down and loaded on the boat, driven 20 miles by boat, unloaded on the beach, carried up to the site, and eventually put in place. The over ordered wood and roofing were eventually used up. Be sure to make a careful inventory of what you need. It’s a long way out if you forget something.
- Carrying building materials in your own recreational boat is not recommended. During the construction of our cabin we went through 2 boats an 2 rebuilt engines. We had 2×6 posts literally bounce through the hull of our boat, we lost Styrofoam insulation off the back of our boat in a wind storm, hauling timbers and materials could easily be blamed for our 2 rebuilt motors. Hauling building materials in your own boat is neither time efficient nor financially efficient. Despite the remote location we could have hired numerous barges to carry materials given what we spent on boat repairs.
- Start with the dock and finish with the cabin. In our case we made shelter the first priority- and started with the cabin. If you start with the dock you have a place to tie up and unload materials. This goes back to point 1 & 2, making life easier. The next step should be the outhouse. Things get a little raunchy when you have work parties working on the cabin and there are no facilities. A water hook up is key to making concrete- great next step. Finally you might be ready to break ground on the cabin.
- My last point is a mistake we made and one that is common on water access cabins- water access
cabins tend to be dumping grounds for junk. Every trip made into the cabin usually involves hauling stuff in- whether it is another flashlight, a Jerry can or some future building material or simply an item that you feel will make your life more comfortable. Thousands of items are brought to the site that never leave. It is a one way trip. Our cabin is a case in point- while the outhouse is somewhat charming- I spy an old mirror, stained glass window and lamp that were left when we sold the cabin. The new owner has put these items to use but what you don’t see is the pile behind the woodpile that inlcudes a broken wheelbarrow, old plant containers, a broken faucet and a dozen Jerry cans.
March 10, 2010
Our first water access cabin was the perfect trial run. We were young with little or no money, the investment was low so we could experiment, and we had little or no experience in building. While James was at the time a professional landscape architect his actual construction experience consisted of a deck. I sometimes joke that our first cabin was deck construction but really it very simple construction and an evolutionary process during which we learned some important lessons:
March 9, 2010
Roughly 20 years ago my husband I took our first post university vacation. We stayed in a little cabin on Pender Island for one week during which time we explored a few of the surrounding islands by bike and boat. At the conclusion of this week we had a grand scheme to buy “WATERFRONT”. We had a small wish list. It need to be oceanfront, it needed to be acerage, it need to have a waterfall- oh and it needed to be under $20,000 because that was all the bank would give us. At the time there was no MLS.ca to search for our “dream” property. We walked into a Realtors office and asked to see their mulitiple listing book. Our dream property was not hard to find, it was piece of waterfront for sale under $20,000 within 3 hours of the lower mainland. There were 3 parcels of land together- all roughly 5 acres. One was listed at $19,000 and the other lots were just over our budget of $20,000. The fact that they were so cheap was explained by the fact that they were in Narrows Inlet 20 miles by boat to the nearest marina at Popose Bay in Sechelt and had recently been logged so there was no timber value. After a couple of harrowing trips and some serious negotiation we bought our choice lot for $19,500 in October 1991. We spent the winter buying a boat and dreaming about camping for the next 10 years. When the spring rolled around the next year and we made our maiden voyage out as land owners two things happened to change our plans from camping to building. The first was an extra ordinary population of bears. During the early years at Narrows Inlet it was not uncommon to see 15-20 bears on our way up the inlet. The second was that a neighbor had already started building a 10×10 cabin- if they could build a 10×10 cabin why couldn’t we? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some shelter. This was the segue to the next 10 years of building, phase 1 of the cabin, phase 2, the dock the ramp the outhouse (yes this came well into the building process the first time). Our final product was a 24×20 cabin with a 60 foot boardwalk and ramp.