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Thread: Vacation Home

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    2,087

    Default Vacation Home

    Anyone willing to share his experience and insigths about building a vacation home?

    In a search for perfect water, I am close to buying a lot on a private lake in northwest Illinois.

    Staying within budget means keeping a vacation home on this lot to not more than 1,500 square feet and making it pretty much a do-it-yourself project.

    With respect to experience, I gutted and rebuilt the kitchen and first floor bathroom of my primary residence, hiring a licensed electrician to provide direction and check on my work, and put a new roof on a larger home. I have three sons (ages 22, 20, and 14) who are pretty good with tools. I have the basic power tools (table saw, compund miter saw, drills, etc).

    I'm inclined to hire a contrctor to excavate and put in a full basement. Am debating buying a prepackaged home kit vs. buying materials from a building supply center such as Lowes and working from a set of blue prints.

    Ranch style is an easier build, but for a few more bucks on the same size foundation a cape cod offers second floor space where my kids' friends can drop their sleeping bags for the weekend.

    This will be the biggest project I've undertaken. Not wanting to end up over my head, I need to know what should be consider during the planning phase and the common mistakes to avoid during the build phase.

    Many thanks. - Deerfield

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Naperville, IL
    Posts
    315

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    My wife and I did just what you are describing after buying our lot in a private lake community in northwest IL about four years ago. We chose to build a log home and purchased a package from Northeastern Log Homes (ME, KY). We hired locals to do excavation, foundation, septic, etc. and hired a crew to set the logs. We did everything else other than rough plumbing, electric and HVAC. A friend of mine at the same community went further and did everything after the foundation, including setting logs himself. Stick built house would be easier and maybe faster. It's a big undertaking that took me most every weekend and vacation for a year and a half to get an occupancy permit and flip my financing to a mortgage. On the other hand, we immediately had $150k in equity based on the work we did ourselves. In addition, my wife did all the general contracting work up front to save another big chunk of change. Set your budget and then add 30%. I would be happy to share experiences if you like.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cinci-Dayton
    Posts
    1,014

    Default

    I did not build my lake home, but I have had one for 7 years and can give you a couple suggestions.

    Rather than a basement, I would look at the price of a large metal building, if I had the real estate. I've got a fair amount of rental property and basements leak. I bought a metal building, about 10 miles from the lake house for the boats and other lake stuff. It has gone up in value faster than the boat has gone down in value. I am seriously considering selling it and building an equivalent building next door. You will fill whatever size building you build.

    If I could build a split-level I'd be more interested in a basement. A set of cellar doors for hauling stuff in and out of the basement will come in really handy. If you don't know I'm talking about, It's a straight shot stairway to the basement from outside the house, usually the side.

    My lake house is a four-bedroom, two bath, doublewide. It kept the price low enough so that if I don't go out for a couple months, I don't choke on the payments. Water, TAXES, heat, insurance, phone, grass cutting, security system and ongoing improvements all add to the monthly burn rate. Don't get so much in the house that the payments hurt.

    I have a covered patio in the back outfitted with air mattresses during the summer. It is usually a very nice place to sleep.

    I would not build a house myself, it is not a hobby for me. I don't have enough free weekends, with good weather, to spend them sling a hammer. There are some pre-fabricated houses that don't look like trailers that are built very well and very competitively priced. You may want to look into those as well.

    If I had the money I'd build a log home with two stories and a basement with a giant log barn. I love that Idea, I even have a lot on Norris waiting for the day. Until then, I like my little doublewide and the little payments that go with it.

    When we furnished our lake house, we rented a U-Haul truck midsummer and spent the weekend hitting garage sales. We furnished the place for about $500, not including mattresses, which we bought new.

    I suggest putting the air-conditioning unit in the front yard, so that you do not have to listen to it lakeside. Install a water shut off with easy access. The kitchen should be lakeside. You'll spend way more time cooking and eating outside, than you will sitting in the living room, gazing out at the lake.

    You'll also find that if you have a lake house, you do not need a boat. Boat owners will find you.

    Good luck, have fun, I consider it the best investment I've ever made.

    SD2

    P.S. Dragon Naturally Speaking is the beans.

  4. #4
    Sled491 Guest

    Default

    Deerfield,

    My wife and I are in the middle of such a project right now. Couple of differnces. Our property is on an Island with no bridge, and we are contractors by trade.

    A full basement on the lake if at all possible means instant equity and extra storage. Like suggested before outside access to the basement is key, we put in a set of bilko doors at the rear of the basement for just such a reason. I also like the idea of the prefab set on your foundation. You can buy these with the set for around 80k for the size you want. That leaves the sewer, water, foundation(whatever that may be), permits and a few other misc items.

    If you want to go the stick built route figure a lot more time, and do yourself a favour and don't under estimate the magnitude of the project or for that matter don't over estimate your time, willingness or ability. Any one of these three can take the wind out of your sails ASAP.

    We met this summer at the get together, feel free to get ahold of me if you want. We happen to be doing a store in Glenview right now so I'm in the area.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    2,087

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    Wayne, smokedog, and sled - Thanks guys. To update you, we have selected a lot at a private lake community in northwest Illinois called Apple Canyon Lake. Measures approxiamtely 100' X 200', has a gentle slope running north to south, and backs to a forested area on the south edge of the lot. The lot purhase will happen in November. It will be at least six months after the purchase date before anything significant happens. We are inclined to hire a foundation contractor for a walkout basement, deck footers, and garage pad. Preferred house is a modular cape cod. This would give us instant living space. We would finish out the second floor and basement, and build a deck (on east side of house protected from hot summer sun setting in the west) and garage as budget and time permit. Logs are a bit expensive for us, so will go with more traditional, but still nice, finish inside and out. Might take a couple of years to get it all done. I really appreciated your suggestions. If you have more thoughts/concerns/questions, please let me know. - Deerfield

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Naperville, IL
    Posts
    315

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    Deerfield - Small world as that's where we built our place. Don't expect to find that perfect water on weekends, but if you start early or go late, you can find some clean water and have some fun. We built our place with the intention of retiring there someday. I can provide info on contractors, building inspector, etc. I can also provide information specific to ACL, such as dock space, etc. Feel free to send me a PM and I can answer questions or provide information.

  7. #7
    Sled491 Guest

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    Congratulations, I hope it works out for you. We just started roughing ours last weekend, we are very excited. Just remember what they say, if you don't think you have any friends just start spreading the word that you bought a lake property, ha ha.

    PS the modular idea makes a lot of sense I think it will work out for you, just make sure to shop around

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Panama City Florida
    Posts
    1,798

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    While living in Atlanta my wife and I searched for a cabin or lot on a lake near Atlanta. We couldn't find anything reasonable so we just moved to Panama City Florida and bought a house on the lake for a price that was .....well shockling low for what we saw in Georgia. Now 5 years later and we love it here! If you can find work here come on down! The boat is still in the water! Water temp was low 70's last week! I remember growing up in Glenview not wanting to swim in the pool in the summer the water was so cold!

  9. #9
    Sled491 Guest

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    Tell me about it, expecting snow flurries tonight. I spent 5 months last year in florida working. I skied every wednesday night and went diving on the weekends, how could it get any better. You made the right move, I'm envious

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Panama City Florida
    Posts
    1,798

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    I grew up as a military brat, we would live in Glenview IL and then move to Atlanta and then back to Glenview back to Atlanta. I don't know how my father arranged that. But I would come to Panama City for vacations and decided if I ever had the chance I would move here. It was the MOST difficult decision we ever made but the BEST one. OK what I am not telling you is that my wife is the water skier and I am the fisherman. We brought our old MC down here with us but I also went out and bought a 25ft Proline walk. So it is one weekend in the Gulf and 2 on the lake. Then 2 winters ago we bought Kayaks. There is something about a place where you can enjoy the water year around! This Jan. we will go to the Atlanta Boat show and order a new Moomba Outback V. And I hope to have some pictures like yours with the kids in the coats as we cruise around the lake!!!! OK they will be lightweight jackets!

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