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Small Cabin Forum / Member's Projects and Photos / New Cabin Build - Semi Remote AK
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 28 Jul 2021 17:14
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Howdy all -

Been a lurker on the forums for awhile sourcing ideas, so thanks for being a resource. Now that I have broke ground I figured I might as well join in the fun. Having a few photos to finally contribute makes it feel worthwhile.

Anyways, for the project I'm looking at building a large-ish cabin in semi remote AK. There is a cabin community so in a pinch I can source a neighbor or friend.

Current plan is a double decker 20'x28' footprint with a 10'x10' entry. We bought the land in '18 and are just getting started on it now. I got a deal on a bobcat from a friend in the fall of '20, which is proving to be invaluable for this project.

Goal for 2021 is to have everything up the the floor built, leave it for winter, and then go floor to roof next summer.

Thus far in '21 I've managed to clear a pathway for a driveway 160' of an extension from the neighbors driveway and parking pad (50'*60'). I pre built an outhouse/shed combo at home and trailered it up there, which as of last weekend is now set up and ready to use.

This weekend I'll be looking to drill the holes for my piers, which will be 4.5" drill pipe with 10” feet. Once in I'll brace those up and move on the beams and floor. Plan is to have the floor sit about 6' off the ground to compensate for snow level and it will eventually be skirted for toy storage.

Feel free to chime in with any friendly advice, I'm open to ideas as this will be my first project of this size.

Hopefully I'll be diligent about regular updates but for now here are a view photos of progress this far.

Cheers ~

Photos:
Putting down driveway.
Moving shed/outhouse.
Shed/outhouse pad extension and in place.
Future cabin site from parking pad.
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 28 Jul 2021 18:10
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For some more context I figured I would add some material photos.

Piers will be 4.5" oilfield drill pipe (unused), with 10" feet. I plan to drop 3 sacks of concrete in each hole to create a larger base 'foot', then backfill with gravel. Ideally I punch these down 6+ feet in the ground, rocks permitting.

On top of the piers I will have some absurd 2.75" jack bolts sleeved inside of the drill pipe (sleeves yet to be built). These were donated to the project, and rust has been removed.

Piers will then be cross braced to each other with 1" "sucker pipe" in an X formation. If you couldn't tell frost is a real issue here, and I'm doing my best to only do my foundation once.

All of that will support some ridiculous 8" x 12" x 23' I-beams I also scored for free. Overkill? Absolutely. But hard to beat the price point.

We'll see how it all comes together. Drilling my holes for the piers this weekend, and will likely have an update soon.
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jsahara24
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 09:35
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Looking good...keep us updated!

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 09:48
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That’s a heavy duty foundation. Looks like your off to a great start

Thanks for sharing

Aklogcabin
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 10:50
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Hey good luck man. Having the cabin up higher will hopefully keep the bears from getting in the windows also.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 15:36
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That's some serious steel! How are you planning to install the piers with 10" feet already welded to them? Having a drill rig come out?

Our cabin is in the upper Susitna Valley. Whereabouts are you?

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 16:36
Reply 


Quoting: NorthRick
That's some serious steel! How are you planning to install the piers with 10" feet already welded to them? Having a drill rig come out?

Our cabin is in the upper Susitna Valley. Whereabouts are you?


Well the Bobcat came in a lot with a few attachments, all of which are coming in handy - Tiller, Land Rake, Bucket, Forks, Stinger, Grapple, 9' Excavator, and Auger with 8" and 12" bit. So in this case I will be using the 12" auger with an extension to drill down - hopefully to 6' of depth (it gets a bit rocky) I also recently bought a brush cutter attachment to add to the fun as well.

I definitely considered getting someone to piledrive the pipe in, but I could not find anyone in my neck of the woods to come out. I've also seen a few driven piles heave, so it doesn't appear to be a foolproof plan against the almighty mother nature either.

And I am a few hours south of you, which should be a decent enough clue..

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 16:43
Reply 


Quoting: NorthRick
How are you planning to install the piers with 10" feet already welded to them? Having a drill rig come out?


I punch a hole last weekend for my outhouse. I had a 12" culvert laying around which I figured would work for the next few years while I build anyways. Ideally I'll come back and punch an 18" HDEP culvert in next time, but this will work for the time being. I got to about 6' and then backfilled about a foot of pit run as a pad for the outhouse to sit on (seen in photos).
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View from the throne
View from the throne


NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 17:10 - Edited by: NorthRick
Reply 


Sounds like that bobcat is the bomb. I'm several miles off the road west of the Parks and only accessible by ATV or snowmachine. While walking in a piece of equipment is doable at the right time of year, the wife hasn't allowed one in the budget. My construction has been by hand with some ropes, pulleys, and ATV winches.

Slow going but coming along.
Cabin construction
Cabin construction


BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 17:13
Reply 


Quoting: NorthRick
My construction has been by hand with some ropes, pulleys, and ATV winches.

Dang - you're a better man than me!

Got my spine fused a few years ago, so the Bobcat is now an extension of my body. Hoping to use it for every aspect I can in this venture.

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 2 Aug 2021 01:46
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Well it was a pretty solid weekend of work at the cabin. Got the layout down with the help of Mrs. B and marked the locations of the piers.

Then spent nearly the entirety of the next day drilling holes. Learned that the first 4 feet comes easy, but 4 to 7 feet is work. Regardless, 19 holes were finished and ready for piers.

A buddy came by for the next day and we made quick work of setting the piers in each holes. After that we threw in a few bags of concrete and set them level. By the time we were done, posts had already firmed up.

After checking this morning, the posts barely wiggled in their 24hour set of concrete. I was running out of time before I had to return to real life, but I was able to backfill 6 of the holes while tamping them and they are now rock solid.

In the coming weeks, I'll backfill the rest of the holes, bring in some pit run to level between and around the cabin footprint, add cross braces and beams. Then I'll be done with dirt and metal work 🙌🏻
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Alaskajohn
Member
# Posted: 2 Aug 2021 09:55
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Great pics and discussion! Life doesn’t get any better!

And I am jealous of your bobcat! Those things are awesome. Keep up the progress reports!

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 3 Aug 2021 03:27
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Ran up after work to finish backfilling the holes before it rains. Tried to get rid of the dirt and rocks from drilling and flatten it out too.

Not a major update but happy with the product. Feels like I can never get enough time up here. If only I could future out a way to get paid to live up here...

For the observant ones, there is a sneaking glimpse of my mountain view in the background of photo 1.
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 3 Aug 2021 03:51
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Lest anyone think I'm a slacker, this weekend I also knocked down the brush at the cabin we stay at while building as it was becoming a little unruly. Luckily it goes a bit quicker when you can mow it 6ft at a time 😆
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 16 Aug 2021 13:02 - Edited by: BRADISH
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Another productive weekend at the cabin. Dirt isn't very exciting, but being done with dirt work is extremely exciting! 100 loads, and ~500,000lbs of dirt later we have a driveway, parking pad, and gravel around the foundation. I put in a grey water drain for summer use - we'll see how it works - 1st photo. I also managed to cut the foundation piers to their final height - 3rd photo. (The ground slope makes them look a little weird, but they are in fact level, with the exception of one I drilled too deep. This will need to have a small extension added - no big deal. The short ones in front will be for a deck.) Next week we're out of the dirt and on to metal!

My mountain view finally made a nice appearance as well for some motivation 🗻 (4th photo)
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Shadyacres
Member
# Posted: 16 Aug 2021 13:16
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Beautiful view. I say Alaska is one place I want to go someday to visit. Being from PA I have a long way to go.

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 16 Aug 2021 13:24
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Quoting: Shadyacres
Beautiful view. I say Alaska is one place I want to go someday to visit. Being from PA I have a long way to go.

Thanks Shady - the view has been the driver for the lot choice and build direction since the beginning. Nothing quite like it.

And I recommend everyone come to visit Alaska at least once!

But then make sure you return home 😆

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 16 Aug 2021 20:35
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Looking good! You are moving along way faster then I am.

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 17 Aug 2021 02:54
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Quoting: NorthRick
Looking good! You are moving along way faster then I am.

Well I've got the nip of fall in the air motivating me to work quick, and my little girl is about to turn 1. I don't want to waste anymore time than I need to building so we can get to making some memories at the cabin 😀

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 17 Aug 2021 03:53 - Edited by: BRADISH
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Lumber prices have been dropping about as quick as they rose, so I finally bit the bullet and bought the majority of the cabin package. Good thing Ol Blue lives to tow 😆

With quantity discount I actually got most of the lumber about ~15% cheaper than it was pre-covid. (Comparing receipts from a shed I built early in 2020.)

I had previously purchased all lumber needed for my floor as that was the end goal for the year, but wanting to have everything on site for an early spring start without battling soft roads and driveways I decided to purchase the package for my walls.

Photo #1 will be walls & siding for the 1st and 2nd floor. Out the door for $5K - which I don't feel too bad about with things being what they are these days.

Photo #2 is a bit of dumb luck I stumbled on last week, finding a just-posted classified ad for pine T&G, BCI's, pressure treated lumber, and whatever scraps I wanted from a recent house build. The builder was from out of state and way overshot his figures for the T&G, which was the real prize of the lot. I drove away with about 1200 linear feet of the T&G, ten 18-20' BCI's and a lot of great pressure treat that will end up in my deck in some form or another. $700 for the whole kit had me feeling pretty good.

Photo #3 is a pallet worth of 2.5" heavy angle iron I ended up getting from a friend who won about 7 times that much in a junk auction. Paid him $150, and I think I now have a lifetime supply of angle iron. Planning on making many brackets and such things for the foundation with this, and it will probably have a role to play when I skirt the piers in eventually too. If you look closely you'll see each row is stacked ~20 pieces high 👀 Lots of material there!

Unfortunately my shop has turned into a bit of a lumber warehouse for the time being. I'll work on clearing out some other covered spaces to rathole things so I can park inside again before winter sets in.

More to come this weekend, all of which should be metal work. Until next time, take er easy..
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RKaji
Member
# Posted: 17 Aug 2021 09:34
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I like that place a lot, the sunsets should be amazing from there!

Alaskajohn
Member
# Posted: 17 Aug 2021 10:31
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Great score on that lumber and metal! Are you hoping to get things framed up with a roof before snowfall?

I am up to my elbows on my projects, and with yesterday morning’s temperature at 36 degrees, time is fast running out on this summer’s work! I always get the sense of impending doom once the leaves start turning yellow on being able to get everything done before winter.

Curly
Member
# Posted: 17 Aug 2021 22:27
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Quoting: BRADISH
hoto #2 is a bit of dumb luck I stumbled on last week,


Don't think of it as "dumb luck". Think of it as "strategic sourcing". The funny thing about luck is that the harder you work, the "luckier" you are.
Good for you for working all the angles and using all available resources.

jsahara24
Member
# Posted: 18 Aug 2021 08:50
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Looking great!

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity"

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 18 Aug 2021 12:19
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Quoting: Alaskajohn
Great score on that lumber and metal! Are you hoping to get things framed up with a roof before snowfall?

I am up to my elbows on my projects, and with yesterday morning’s temperature at 36 degrees, time is fast running out on this summer’s work! I always get the sense of impending doom once the leaves start turning yellow on being able to get everything done before winter.


Unfortunately no - as much as I would love to get busy framing, I will only be building up to the floor this year. My goal is to have all the material on site by the time the snow flys in order to set myself for an early spring start next year though. Icy, then soft roads make for a sketchy drive up here until about June, and I'm hoping to hit the ground running in early May. I've tried to be very realistic about my time and capabilities going into this project to set my expectations correctly. I am trying very hard not to burn out, or overcommit myself too early in the project - especially as I am working mostly alone thus far.

And I hear you on projects. The other aspect of tying this up (hopefully in early Sept.) is that I've got a list of things to tidy up around the house that I've been putting off for the cabin-sake before winter sets in. I've got at least a day's worth just of hauling equipment back to the house before freeze up.

Quoting: Curly
Don't think of it as "dumb luck". Think of it as "strategic sourcing". The funny thing about luck is that the harder you work, the "luckier" you are.
Good for you for working all the angles and using all available resources.

It is true. Fortunately I have a very understanding and supportive wife who understands the goal and when opportunities present themselves - like when I have to cancel dinner plans last minute to drive an hour and a half to pick up a random lot of wood!

Quoting: jsahara24
“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity"

This entire project has been an exercise in preparation, as every week I need to source materials and supplies for the upcoming weekend worth of projects up there. Many, many lists and plans have been made thus far!

Thank you everyone for the kind remarks and encouragement thus far. It's been fun sharing with a like-minded community!

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 22 Aug 2021 03:09 - Edited by: BRADISH
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As the adage goes - Many hands make light work.

All of my in-laws (brothers, father, etc wives and children) came up for a cabin weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect - my fear was having to play tour guide. Fortunately they came ready to work and the men knocked out a full weekend of projects in a few hours.

In addition to that, my friend from work stopped by (he has a neighboring cabin) who happens to be a certified pipe welder. Luckily he came ready to burn some rod and I was happy to oblige.

I was hot stepping to prep work for the welder, and keep everyone else outlined in work, but we got 90% of the cabin pier supports in, electric line buried, steel beam cut in half, all steel beams drilled for lag bolts, the deck beam set, and almost a winters worth of firewood split. I also pulled up most of my lumber package to stash for next spring which we got tucked away, and we reset the propane tank on new skids for the cabin we're staying at.

To top it off we had some amazing weather and still time to get a few four wheeler rides in. Pretty great weekend all in all. Picture posts to follow.
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 22 Aug 2021 03:12
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And the more fun photos 😀
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toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 22 Aug 2021 11:37 - Edited by: toyota_mdt_tech
Reply 


Quoting: Curly
The funny thing about luck is that the harder you work, the "luckier" you are


You sound just like my dad. He said: "You ever notice hard workers seem to have all the luck"?

We both know its not luck, its just a result of hard work.

BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 23 Aug 2021 02:40
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A few more photos for fun, since that's what we're all here for, right?

Got rained out today, and had some trouble with the welder Soo I didn't get everything finished that I had hoped to but it was still a very productive and fun weekend.

Going to take a breaker for a weekend to celebrate my daughter's first birthday, but then we'll be back at it for a 10-day long marathon of progress. Expect lots more photos and maybe a story or two from that..

Cheers all
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BRADISH
Member
# Posted: 30 Aug 2021 12:13
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Well for anyone still following along, we took the weekend off to celebrate my daughter's first birthday with family and had a great time. The weather did not disappoint, although there was certainly the fall nip in the air to remind me winter is on it's way..

It wasn't all fun and games this weekend though, I still managed to get some work done in the shop. As you may remember from an early post, I was given some very large nuts/bolts that I intended to use as jack bolts for the cabin body. These have proven to be one of the biggest headaches of the entire project thus far, however decisions were made up to this point that have now forced my hand to include them in the project regardless.

The bolts came to me with a not immaterial amount of rust on them. Fortunately I found a great product called EvapoRust, that is very safe to use and produces great results. I recommend it to anyone needing to get rid of rust off nearly any metal part. I found a tub large enough to fit the bolts an immersed them in the solution for 1-3 days, 3 at a time. This produced nearly like new results on the body of the bolts, however the next challenge was that the nuts were still rusted on.

I found a very large wrench someone had made out of a piece of 3/4" metal in the dumpster at work and knew it would come in handy one day. Sure enough, after adding some flat bar to the mouth it fits my needs perfectly. Unfortunately, even with a 5' pipe on the end as a cheater I still could not get the nuts to turn.

After devising a way to hold the things down, I did what any reasonable person who is on their last hope would do - I bashed them with my favorite 2.5lb hammer, and *presto* - they spun off by hand.

I sure wish I would have thought of it earlier, but regardless I have arrived where I needed to be. Now I have all the nuts loose, positioned where I want, and the top nuts welded to the stud so they don't spin in place. (Studs in photo are upside down from their final orientation).

I had a local metal shop cut me 5"x5" feet with a 3" hole that these will sit on/in. If time provides, I will weld up a small bit of 3" pipe to the feet to keep the stud centralized as well.

I included a regular pop sized can to provide some scale. These guys are massive - I'm guessing 60-70lbs each. Everything about them has been cumbersome so far. Once in place I will coat them in an anti-seeze product that will also protect them from surface rust and hopefully keep them functional for many years to come.

This is one bit of the project I can confidently say that I will be very happy to have behind me!

More work and photos to come this weekend, as I start my marathon 10-day trip to finish welding the frame, jack bolts, beams, floor and deck. Ideally this will wrap up my efforts this year before winter sets in for the duration. Hoping for nice weather although the forecast is a little concerning.
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