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696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How much should you spend on a 'River Cabin', that might be a 'Retirement Home' for yourself and spouse?

I bought a (once grand for it's time) house that was about to fall in on it's self, and I've been SLOWLY remodeling it for a 'River Cabin'...

I'm doing most of the work myself, so it's being done VERY cheap, but I'm still getting a LOT of money in it...

I'd like to hear about/see what you all are doing for 'Get Away' & 'Vacation' cabins for compairson....

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90 Posts
How much should you spend on a 'River Cabin', that might be a 'Retirement Home' for yourself and spouse?

I bought a (once grand for it's time) house that was about to fall in on it's self, and I've been SLOWLY remodeling it for a 'River Cabin'...

I'm doing most of the work myself, so it's being done VERY cheap, but I'm still getting a LOT of money in it...

I'd like to hear about/see what you all are doing for 'Get Away' & 'Vacation' cabins for compairson....
About 300-500k USD to set it up right.

I guess a lot of money is a matter of perspective. Building materials are rather inexepensive the hire out labor is what costs.

I wouldn't think a basic river cabin would cost much more then 20-40k for material being as your doing the labor.

Every situation is different.
I put together a place in TX. in the late 80's for about 14k, that included the land, structure (700sq), well, septic, and electric.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have a few pictures, but I'm having a hard time uploading to my server right now...

Anyway, I have about $25K in my place, and the only things I haven't done myself are the Copper metal roofing and I ordered the concrete mixed.

I did NOT do the septic system. MUCH EASIER to have that done since the township, county, state all have to get in their inspections before you can close things up.
The contractor knew all of the inspectors, and it only took three days to get inspected & Approved.
Well worth the $3,500 he charged to dig the holes, set the tank, build the field, insert the rock and cover it over!

Mixing small batches in a cheap mixer for sidewalks and stuff is one thing, but when you are pouring foundations you want to be there 200 years from now... That's another thing!
Since the river gets up here under the house once in a while (REALLY BIG FLOODS! This year was the first time since 1935 or so) I wanted a foundation that would still be there and still be true when the river receded, so I ordered some real strong concrete and over built the footers...

I wanted a home with a basement, but since it floods here, I didn't want an indoor river water pool!

The first thing we did once we determined this place was salvageable was to jack up the house and level it.
It was built on 'Foundation Stones', which was common in the 1880's to about 1930's, and this place was built somewhere around 1900, but no one is quite for sure.

It first appears on the country records in 1916, but it's referred to in the news papers of the day as far back as 1906...

The guy that built/owned it was a local business man, and he made the paper a couple of times back when...
Owned a river ferry and saw mill on the river not far (walking distance) from the house.

Anyway, the foundation stones were sinking, and one was sand stone, and that had crumbled, so about none of the doors worked, one interior wall shifted, and the floor was quite un-level and the roof was coming apart.

Jacked it up, replaced a few floor joists, most of the outside plate, and found a 'Root Cellar' under the house!
WAY not usable, but interesting some of the stuff that came out of there when we dug it out and back filled the hole!

Poured concrete foundation/walls and interior support pillars, and set it back down about 2' higher than it was...
(So now the river might not get it in again!)

Once the foundation and floors were straight, it was time for rafter repair and a new roof.

I wanted a metal roof, since the orignal house had a metal roof, and while looking for one of the old timers that could tell me more than I wanted to know about metal roofs, I ran onto a long retired tinsmith that had a roll of COPPER in his storage building.
Left there long ago by some business that has long been gone, and it sold it to me for a great price (Less that aluminum, more than steel is all I'm going to say!)

Hired the 'Amish' (Mennonites actually) to roll form the copper and install it! They did a GREAT JOB!
I just wish there was enough to do all the soffits and stuff too!
I'll never have to worry about a roof again! Copper lives almost forever!

We've tackled the walls, floors, ceilings in most rooms.
Walls in all but one room were Wanescotting up to a chair rail, then lathe & plaster that MUST be concrete mix about 2.5" thick!

What I believe was the 'Den' or 'Office' is the most clear white pine tongue & groove I've ever seen!
Not one knot hole, twist, or discoloration in the orignal wood,
Some idiots in years past must have put 40 coats of paint on everything, and then wallpapered over it!
It's been a nightmare getting it clean again, and the 400 or so staple, nail, screw and what looks like bullet holes haven't added any comfort to my mind either... :mad:

Floors are all old growth white oak that seem to have survived the flooding quite well everywhere but in the kitchen and 'Water Closet'...
We will eventually tile or something in those rooms since we will NEVER find wood that matches this!

Found stamped copper ceiling panels above the drop tile ceiling in the three main rooms!
I'm trying to salvage and restore enough for the living room and dining room that attach... That will be cool!

Yanking out all the plaster (have the outside walls done, but still have a couple of inside rooms to go) and replacing with fire resistant drywall.
Needed to see what the studs/structure looked like anyway, and I wanted to do wiring/plumbing and that is difficult enough in this old Oak brick bat, but when the wiring/plumbing was done, we sprayed everything with bug killer and sprayed in expanding foam to seal it up...
(Outside contractor for the spray insulation, another $3,500 well spent!)

Spent over a month hanging the drywall for the outside walls! There isn't a straight stud in this place!
I shimmed everything and straightened/sized the window casing holes for replacment windows, but that took FOREVER!

The wall studs are all old growth white oak and hard as a rock! We have to drill pilot holes and use screws! YOU CAN NOT drive a nail into these things!
Thats why it took over a month to hang drywall on JUST the outside walls!

New energy efficient doors, windows, expanding foam insulation in the floors, walls, and blown in insulation in the attic... Sealed that old wind tunnel right up!

We first got the property in late in the fall, and while I was working on it the first winter, little wisps of show kept blowing across the floors and all the doors and windows were shut or boarded over!
I was working between two kerosene heaters and I about froze to death!
THATS when I decided that we were going to get the best insulation I could afford! :D

Anyway, we are into our 6th year with it, now the crapper, tub and kitchen sink work, the lights work, and you can heat the place with a small space heater.

I don't have an AC yet, not in the budget just yet...
Just lots of nails, sandpaper and finger band-aids! :eek:

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No offense intended, but I'm going to say this again.
Dang, you are a windy old bag.:)
Sounds like you got it going on there.
Try setting in a traction chair for 10 hours a day and see how and what you entertain your self with...

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I built my one room home for less than $5000.00. We still need to put the siding on the outside and complete the inside walls, but other than that, it is ready for winter and we are doing just fine in it. It has a large front porch, small back porch and we have started the root cellar. This money also includes the outhouse and woodshed.

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we built a very basic cabin that could have a small kitchenette in it if we chose for 1500 .Granted there is an out house n out door kitchen. Price really has to be considered on an individual basis. My cabin is my dream home and i live on my very simple homestead but for others it may be too simplistic.
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