Cabin Is Complete

Quote of the Day

The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Figure 1: View of My Cabin as I Walk From My Garage.

Figure 1: View of My Cabin as I Walk From My Garage.

My cabin construction project is now complete. My wife and I are now beginning to furnish our new home, which will take some time. I continue to work on the garage construction myself, which will take until sometime in May to finish. Overall, our planning was good and there were no major surprises. The one area of difficulty that I did not fully appreciate is the remoteness of the site. Before you go to the site, you need to plan out every possible tool or part that you will need while there.

This is a huge, multi-year project that I am relieved to say the house portion is complete – the garage still needs a bit of work. My plan is to retire at this site in 5 to 10 years and spend my time designing hardware, writing software, and building furniture. I hope that my granddaughter will get to spend quite a bit of time here with her grandparents.

Some basic home details:

  • 2100 square feet
  • 2 floors
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • no basement, concrete slab on ground with in-floor heating
  • insulated with closed-cell foam
  • heated with propane (the only form of fuel that I could get locally)
  • designed for handicapped access (I want to live there when I am old)
    My wife and I can live on the ground floor and have our guests stay on the upper floor.

Some additional photos.

Figure 2: House View From Driveway.
Figure 3: Kitchen View.
Figure 4: Living Room View.
Figure 5: Master Bedroom (2nd Floor).
Figure 6: View of Stairway and 2nd Floor Hall (Bedroom on Left).
Figure 7: Handicap Access Shower (1st floor).
Figure 8: Living Room Fireplace.
Figure 9: Second View of Master Bedroom (2nd floor).


This entry was posted in Construction, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cabin Is Complete

  1. Ronan Mandra says:

    Nice pictures, thanks for sharing

    • mathscinotes says:

      I am pretty proud of the job my wife did on the design. She has always wanted to design a house and she put an enormous amount of time into this. I downloaded a copy of Chief Architect (3D home design program) and captured an initial draft of home plan she liked. She quickly learned how to use the program (not trivial) and came up with a design of her own. During the design phase, we were able to walk through the design and make sure everything was the way she wanted. It was a very successful effort. I also need to shout out to our contractor Mark Utecht and his wife Jennifer. Mark was a superb carpenter and Jen really provided some excellent design advice.


  2. Gene Mirro says:

    It's beautiful. I live in a little house out in the country with a great view. But even though I am well into retirement age, I find that I must have intellectual challenges, after a lifetime spent in the engineering world. So I do engineering consulting. I suspect you may be the same way. I hope the remoteness of your site does not become a problem for you. I am about an hour's commute from my clients, so it's not too bad. If my schedule is very tight, or if the weather is bad, I always have the option of staying in a motel in town overnight.

    • mathscinotes says:

      Hi Gene,

      I really appreciate your comment. I am thinking about doing some consulting myself. I am definitely in a time of transition after laying myself off. I have signed up to be an adjunct instructor at a local college, and I am looking at several other opportunities. I could continue to work as a corporate employee, but the idea of consulting/contracting is attractive since my wife is handling my benefits. I am glad to hear that it has worked out for you, and it is something that I will be researching very thoroughly over the next couple of months.


  3. Malcolm Frame says:

    It looks beautiful, although to call a three bedroom house a cabin is something of a misnomer - you and your wife must feel a tremendous sense of achievement to complete the build. With so many windows, the house must be wonderfully light and airy in the summer, although I can imagine your winter heating bill won't be small. I understand that in Scandinavian countries it's obligatory to have a basement in new-build houses to reduce heat loss - did you consider this option?
    Your picture number 5 seems to show a vaulted ceiling and the pitch of exposed rafters doesn't match that of the window mullions. I'm sure there is a beam at eaves level to distribute the vertical force, but does it also react the lateral forces of the rafters? The reason I'm asking is that I've just completed a design of a small extension with a pitched roof and a vaulted ceiling. I had to submit calculations to the local authority for approval and the only way I could demonstrate that the lateral rafter forces at eaves level wouldn't deform the supporting wall was to land the rafters on a steel channel section and transfer the forces to the gable ends and then tie the channels together across the width of the room. The total lateral force over a 3.0 m long room was only about 2.0 kN, but there was no way I could show that a brick cavity wall could resist this force.
    Anyway, well done again and I hope you will be as happy in your "cabin" as Henry Thoreau was in his.

    • mathscinotes says:

      I have to laugh because I have told my wife this is not a cabin. I initially asked her to keep the design to 1000 square feet, but it kept growing. She insists that I call it a cabin. You are correct that the windows do not help the heating bill. During retirement, my wife and I plan on living in the southern US, and we will either drain out all the water or heat the building at a minimal level. We certainly did consider putting in a basement, but we decided not to put one in because (1) we do not plan on being there much in the winter, (2) basement steps may be difficult for us as we age, and (3) a basement was expensive compared to a slab, and (4) I have a 30'x60' garage on the site, so we have plenty of storage space separate from the house. The beams in the bedroom are totally decorative. The roof was built with trusses.

      Excellent questions. Thanks for response.


  4. Becky Hart says:

    Northern Minnesota has a lot of granite bedrock which also often precludes digging basements!

    Lovely home, Mark and Dawn. It looks like it has always belonged there.

    • mathscinotes says:

      Hi Becky,

      You are right about the granite – look up Canadian Shield. I did not want to go into the local geography, but my property sits on a granite spur. Most of the lakeshore is sand, but not my place. The excavator said that I should be able to get in a basement, but there were issues. The real problem came with digging a well in solid granite. That was very expensive and the water was not very good. The whole water system ended up costing 5x normal.


      P.S. Becky is an engineer on my team.

    • mathscinotes wife (Dawn) says:

      Thanks, Becky! We hope you can come up for a personal tour and as Mark mentioned earlier, we have 2 extra bedrooms for guests which we hope to fill with family and friends. Maybe a weekend of gazing at the sky? The stars are so beautiful at the "cabin". What a joy to be able to spend time up there during the winter for the first time since we bought the old cabin 20 years ago. Running water and heat are such luxeries.

      • mathscinotes says:

        Becky (and her dogs), her husband (and his telescopes), and their "new" van are always welcome. I know you occasionally venture into northern Minnesota looking for dark skies. My skies may not be the darkest possible, but they are pretty darn dark to me. I hope to have a telescope setup by the end of summer.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *