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Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / Cabins with a loft
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Princelake
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 17:06
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HI guys, I'm from northern Ontario and I just leased a beautiful waterfront property on an inland lake. I plan on building a small cabin on it and have been creeping the site. I've also been searching the net for cabin plans and idea. Most plans I see always seem to have a loft. Aren't lofts hot in the summer, hot in the winter when the wood stove is going and sketchy once you start getting older? Am I missing something? Why do all plans include lofts?

Just
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 18:24
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A bit more info please
number of fokes to be using the cabin ?
bylaws in the area .?
summer or year round use?
Budget ?
I like lofts but they have there downside .

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 18:37 - Edited by: Steve_S
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Lofts are used for many things, from sleeping areas, storage and more. Temp management is not that hard but you really have to think out what the right answer is depending on application. They also do not count as "square feet" when being considered in building applications etc. But... If the walls are over 4' (which counts as half storey) then sq ft rules apply. As for sketchy for older folks, if you need a ladder yes, a good staircase not so much (unless there are medical issues). With good air circulation, windows and good design temp management can be done, especially if you intend it as a sleeping area, then windows are essential.

I have a loft (storage use) and a bedroom on main floor. Standard 8' walls so no wall space in loft as such. A "Should've" on my project should have used 10' high walls and gained the 2' in loft area making it more useable in general.

BTW: I am in North Eastern Ontario reasonable distance to CFB Petawawa.

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 18:47
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I've come to a similar conclusion, that for MY case, I'm choosing to avoid a loft for the same reasons: Temperature, stair/ladder complexity avoided, as well as older age access. Downside is I'll end up with a bit more square footage I have to pay for up front. A tradeoff I can deal with.

naturelover66
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 19:00 - Edited by: naturelover66
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My cabin is a 16x24. No loft. I had a garage built on the property for storage. I hate ladders...and im 51. I dont want to navigate a ladder when im half asleep. And how would my dogs get up there?! Lol


Lisa

frankpaige
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 19:24
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I wanted a small cabin, 12x18. In a more perfect world I would have done 10 foot walls for the extra room. Temps are controlled by windows. Consider your access to the loft. I did a wide stair, 3 feet, that folds and pulleys out of the way during the day.
But, this cabin is usually used by me or the wife and I.
It is the little things, but Boy how we enjoy it

Jebediah
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 19:34
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Lofts are out for me, anytime I slept somewhere that had a loft it was hellish to say the least.....cook in the summer and roast in the winter....I understand why people build with lofts, lack of floor space, looks nice having a second level etc. Seems kids are more tolerant of the heat and don't mind sleeping in lofts....but no thanks.

Princelake
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 19:35
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I'm thinking of around 20x20 possibly a bit larger with front screened in porch. I will be using it all year round. It's basically in lawless county lol. Unorganized area and no inspection or building permit needed. Although I do have to keep in mind regs when building so it doesn't cave in or if someone gets hurt I am still liable. I plan on building it 2 bedroom with open great room. Budget is pretty open within reason. It'll mostly be used for myself, wife and dogs and possible guests. I've been to other bush camps and I'm always the poor loser that gets the upper bunk and it's always hotter. I can't image up in a loft with a wood stove going.

Jebediah
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 19:40
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At out hunt camp it was the same thing, big fight to get the bottom bunks lol....you had ice forming on the logs but nothing a 4 star bag couldn't handle....you had to sleep stripped down on the top bunks....

Whiskey Jack
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 20:28
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I'm in Northwest Ontario, and we're just finishing up our bunkie. It's 8x13.5 with a loft for the kids. I'll be adding an additional window in the spring to help with heat up there. Location also plays a big role. Ours is under a thick pine and red maple canopy so it's well shaded in the summer.
Our main cabin will lofts at each end, but both will have stairs to access them.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 21:59
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Can't stand lofts myself. As you have observed it is always hotter up there. Proper stairs take up too much floor space when done right. Ladders suck as a means of access for even part time use.

Having a loft makes it more difficult to insulate the ceiling or roof; harder to get sufficient R-value in that section. Add to that the touted method of increasing headroom by using 10 foot tall walls with the loft floor at the 8 foot height is not approved by any building codes; at least not the usual way many cabin builders do it.

Gary O
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2017 22:21
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Quoting: ICC
Can't stand lofts myself. As you have observed it is always hotter up there. Proper stairs take up too much floor space when done right. Ladders suck as a means of access for even part time use. Having a loft makes it more difficult to insulate the ceiling or roof; harder to get sufficient R-value in that section. Add to that the touted method of increasing headroom by using 10 foot tall walls with the loft floor at the 8 foot height is not approved by any building codes; at least not the usual way many cabin builders do it.

consider this my post
couldn't say it better
especially the 'ladders suck' part

deercula
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 08:16
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I use a pull down ladder. Would be lost without that storage space.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 08:46
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Quoting: ICC
Add to that the touted method of increasing headroom by using 10 foot tall walls with the loft floor at the 8 foot height is not approved by any building codes; at least not the usual way many cabin builders do it.


Funny, it was my Building Inspector who suggested using 10' studs and ledger boards when I was planning, I decided to stick with std, 8' walls.

Summer temp is only 4C warmer than at floor level and I credit my roof design for that and that I have my HRV up there that pushes hot out. This past summer @ 35C outside it was 21C inside and highest I saw was 23C inside with all windows open. Warm air in winter is pushed out through HRV, warming incoming air and also installing an air circulator such as a Heat-stick puts heat back to ground from cathedral ceiling.

To be habitable windows are a must, for storage not so much BUT good to keep air moving out on hot days and daylight to come in.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 10:53 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: Steve_S
Funny, it was my Building Inspector who suggested using 10' studs and ledger boards when I was planning, I decided to stick with std, 8' walls.

Not really funny, it just shows that some jurisdictions do not follow the practices that have been engineered and written into a prescriptive code that provides methods to build strong and safe structures. The more rural the more often they wander.

States adopt a code version (codes are re-issued every 3 years) and may exempt certain sections. However the basic structural rules are seldom exempted.

Anyways, on to the nearly ubiquitous 10 foot or taller walls with loft floors inset about the 8 foot height. Have a look at the IRC, used by 49 of the 50 states (WI uses their own that is much like the IRC). All 50 states use the IBC. IBC is for commercial building, IRC is for 1 & 2 family residential. Canada has written their own rules however they are sinilar. After all the laws of physics don't change when borders are crossed.

The US IRC is available online. I don't know if the Canadian codes are. Walls are covered in Chapter 6 of the IRC. There are various tables that list fastener sizes for different applications as well as much more. There are line drawings illustrating the rules and methods. Building codes are just lists of rules, not instruction manuals so they are short on explanations of why things are set down as they are.

FYI, Table R602.3(5) illustrates walls. The section needs to be considered as a whole as one part can be influenced by another. That table does show wall studs can be a max of 10 feet tall. However other sections show that stud wall tops must have lateral supports. Lateral supports being things like floor joists and rafter ties. So those 2 foot wall stubs sticking out above the loft floor are not only against the rules in the IRC, they go against engineering principles. You will not find a licensed professional engineer who will okay such a wall and loft.

EDIT.. there are illustrations in that chapter that show different wall structures. They are all drawn with a floor, a joist or a rafter tie at the top of the wall studs. Nothing like stub walls with angles rafters on top, w/o a tie. Big subject to cover in a single comment.

Mike 870
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 16:29
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If you don’t like or think you will use a loft, then don’t build one. Cabins and cabin building are all personal preference. You’re fulfilling your dream, no one else’s.
Me, I have a loft, with 10 foot walls, and a let in ledger supporting the loft! The main bedroom is a bumpout on the first floor and the loft is overflow sleeping space.
Have fun building your cabin, enjoy the journey.

cspot
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 16:40
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It is cheaper per sf of living space to build vertical with a loft. However you are correct with what you said. I went for a single floor and am glad I did.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 17:38
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I agree with ICC. A loft structure attached to the side of load bearing wall studs increases the load upon the wall which is not accounted for in the engineering specifications of building codes. Placing such loads upon structural elements may cause you exposure to personal liability.

Every approved Loft I have seen was built as a second story element. One side being open to the floor below.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2017 17:44 - Edited by: DaveBell
Reply 


That said, nothing beats a try but a failure. If the local jurisdiction approves it, then... so be it.

Else,
Could one design jack studs into the wall to support a first floor loft?
If loads are accounted for, may be they would approve it.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 27 Nov 2017 21:55
Reply 


The potential problem has a few facets. The stud strength is compromised by making a notch deeper than 25% of the stud depth. Especially so when every stud is notched on the inside face. Add to that a lot of the notches I have seen made by DIY'ers have a saw cut that goes deeper, overcut. That makes it weaker still.

If the wall studs extend above the loft floor notch by a couple of feet the roof loads then create further stress on those studs. Studs are meant to hold vertical loads, not bending loads. That is the reason we have stud grade lumber and then #2, #1 and select. Stud is the weakest in bending strength. OK, utility grade is weaker but most folks don't use that for anything. There are no load tables for bending strength for studs such as the ones for floor joists, rafters, etc.

Notched in loft floor supports with stubby wall extensions are bad, bad engineering. If more headroom in the upstairs is wanted build proper walls with a full second story or a story and a half with the floor joists on the wall top plates.

Wilbour
Member
# Posted: 27 Nov 2017 22:23
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Quoting: DaveBell
Else,
Could one design jack studs into the wall to support a first floor loft?
If loads are accounted for, may be they would approve it.

I had a similar question a few years back and found the best answer for me was to put jack studs under each rafter. I dropped the ceiling on the first floor to 7 ft. Paired up each rafter to a jack stud which I paired to the wall studs. Not one stud was cut into and the weight of the small sleeping/storage loft is carried down to the floor.

I have two windows in the loft at either gable and we almost always have a breeze here. You should insulate the roof or you will cook in the summer. The added bonus is in the fall the heat has another floor to go through before it rises out the roof

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 28 Nov 2017 07:31
Reply 


Mid-Rise, Wood-Framed, Type III Construction – How to Frame the Floor to Wall Intersection at Exterior Walls
http://blog.weyerhaeuser.com/mid-rise-wood-framed-type-iii-construction-how-to-frame- the-floor-to-wall-intersection-at-exterior-walls/

The Swedish Platform Frame http://blog.lamidesign.com/p/swedish-platform-framing-info.html

Cabin: Windows, Door, and Second Floor Framing
http://blog.flgator.com/2010-08-17-cabin-windows-door-and-second-floor-framing.html

Quick clean example

You would never use this method if framing with 2x4 BTW, 2x6 minimum, 2x8 better.

Something for the reader to ponder upon, many ways to skin the cat and to be aware of the different methods which work and have been proven over decades / centuries even in some cases is to your benefit.

Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 28 Nov 2017 19:21
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We have property at 5,200 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada with no structures, I’m researching what we might build. I found this thread very interesting. I think we will do a loft, if for nothing else then for storage. Floor space will be at a premium, at least in the beginning. As we get more built, then not so bad.

millyferry
Member
# Posted: 30 Nov 2017 00:39
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Loft is a best option for cabin.

Ontario lakeside
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2017 02:24
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We have two lofts. One for each kid. The ceiling in each is about 4 feet. when the stove is really going you need to crack a window up there but its not crazy hot. The lower level is 500sf.

creeky
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2017 15:01
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I've seen Ontario's lofts. Man those are super nice for a couple of teenagers. each on the opposite side of the cabin! And the kids love them.

Lofts give a lot of extra space for not much extra cost. Jeez. Houses have lofts. they're called second floors. Look how many folks cut part of that floor out and have double height ceilings in the living room.

wilbour. I think Milly was posting spam. so that might have been "her" "allowed to post a link/photo" post.

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2017 17:05
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I've got two lofts, each with full headroom + for about 14' of the 16' width. Our master loft is bigger than our bedroom at home. Windows, ceiling fan and lots of insulation have kept them comfortable in summer (can't comment on winter - don't use it). Alternating tread ladder is easy to get up and down (perhaps harder in 20 yrs when I'm 80). So, although not for everyone, lofts can be a great use of space and leave so much more flexibility in a small main floor. If we have a few really hot nights I'll just sleep on the covered/screened deck. If I'm still there at 80 and can't handle the ladder, I'll sleep on the pull out sofa bed. Would I feel different if I lived at the cabin? possibly - then again I would likely not build a 16x16 main floor. Each situation is different.

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