After clearing the land with a Bobcat and building our outhouse it’s time to choose the perfect cabin plans. Having never built anything before I figured around ten feet by sixteen feet would be perfect. Large enough to be comfortable but not too large for us to build without special equipment or a large group of helpers. I showed several plans to Sharon who took one look and said…no!
She said I can build it any size I want as long as it has a spare bedroom, a dining room, bathroom and a loft with regular stair, no ladder! Clearly this was going to be harder than I thought.
After reading many books and searching tons of websites I finally found a 1.5 Story Cottage on CountryPlans.com A twenty by thirty foot floor plan with an additional fifteen by twenty foot loft. All of the rooms Sharon requested for, plus large enough for regular stairs instead of a ladder. The only problem would be the vaulted ceilings on ten foot walls. How can Sharon and I get the trusses up there without a crane? That’s a problem for another day.
The Perfect Cabin Plans
After looking at the plan the only changes Sharon asked for were dormers in the loft and a different roof line on the porch, this would be the perfect cabin plan. So I ordered the plans and started trying to figure out what comes next.
When the cabin plans arrived, I needed to decide on the type of foundation and changed the roof line to include dormers on the loft. Using Photoshop I redrew the front elevation to include the dormers.
Selecting the foundation type was a much harder task. The building inspectors would accept the plans, however the foundation needs an engineer stamp. I called around but could not find any engineering group that would work with an individual. I’m sure they are out there but where? I did get a quote on helical screw piles which came with the engineer stamp, but that was over $5,000!
After speaking to the inspectors, it turns out for some reason, you do not need a engineer stamp if you use spread bottom piers. This is the only foundation type that did not require a stamp, so that’s the way to go.
Applying for the Building Permit
Our last obstacle now was a new rule in Alberta that ALL new homes need to have builders insurance. Makes sense if you hire a builder, but we were building ourselves. I spoke to a few insurance providers. Most of them would happily sell me the insurance but if anything went wrong they would not pay out as I am also the builder. I then called and spoke to the government department in regards to this new Alberta rule. I found out that the only option I now had was to pay $700 to the government for the privilege of not getting insurance. We would also not be able to sell the property for a minimum of ten years. Not happy about paying the fee for nothing, but without any other options we paid and applied for the building permit.