Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Clearing the Site

Weekend One: Last year's diversion was our decision to build something practical so that we can use the camp prior to completing the primary structure. Dee and I decided that a guest cottage would provide shelter now and be useful for guests in the future. We also thought that we would take advantage of the camp’s view of Elephant Mountain to the East – something we will not have from the main building.

We had been inspired by a small cabin pictured in a magazine, as well as one we saw in Cornwall Bridge, CT. The cottage will be three rooms: a 12’ x 14’ living area, a 12’ x 6’ screened porch, and an 8’ x 8’ kitchen with attached 8’ x 8’ deck.

Living will be primitive, with an outdoor privy. Running water will be supplied by a shallow well pump pulling water from Wilson Pond. Waste will be grey-water only. We may add a solar water heater. The stove will be a repurposed RV cook top which we are currently using down by the tent. Windows and doors are either surplus units or recycled from old construction. Electricity will be solar with generator back-up. Walls and roof will be insulated, and a wood stove will provide heat for the cooler months.

The site was chosen for its view and its required distance from the shore. Towering over the site was a 75 foot spruce that would eventually come down – so we dropped it and cleared the lumber. It will become part of the base structure for the main house.

As we cleared, an otter scampered across the site. A good omen, we predicted.

Once we cleared the site, we began construction on the base. The building construction is Post and Beam, with 7 primary “Bents” each with posts, a cross beam and rafters. The base, however, is a standard pressure-treated frame with four 4x8 beams running the length of the structure, and joists hung with joist hangers between the beams. The entire base structure is resting on pressure treated 6x6 posts sitting atop stones to minimize settling. Flooring will be hickory (milled from a tree on Dee’s Ridgefield property) and tile, all resting on ¾ inch sub-floor.

We were able to complete the base during the first weekend, thanks largely to the convenience of joist hangers and our decision to use the chain saw for all cuts. With a bit of practice, and freshly sharpened chains, we are able to get cuts sufficiently accurate. The joist hangers also offset some of the variations among cuts.

The bents (primary posts and beams) were all harvested from Swamp Maples on Dee’s Ridgefield property. They dried in a stack for over two years, and were starting to show signs of “aging”.

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