Friday, December 21, 2012

What We Envision

So what do Pam and I envision for our little place on Bleecker Mountain in upstate New York's Adirondack Park?

This is the most fun part of a dream, the part where you envision a utopia, a place of perfect peace and harmony.  Yeah, I know.  It never usually works out that way, but there's always hope.

For the house, we both want something small.   We've been living on a boat for the past three years, a 46 foot trawler.  While that's a pretty good size as boats go, as living space, it's pretty tight.  Especially with three dogs.  Our main saloon measures 10 by 15, and that includes the galley.

While in Savannah, we went to Home Depot to buy paneling for the boat.  We passed by a row of storage sheds.  One of them had the doors open, a 10 by 20 two story with a gambrel roof.  We walked in, jaws dropped.  "We could live in this!"

It's funny how your perspectives can change.

The little house we intend to build will be small, but not quite that small.  Pam found one called "Granny's Cottage" in a borrowed book (thanks Kim!) titled Small Log Homes.  It's 1,064 square feet on the first floor, with one bedroom, one bathroom, and a pantry.  My grandma's farm house in West Charlton had a pantry, and they make perfect sense to me.  Lots of storage, and easy to get to everything.  There's a loft area on the second floor that can be a work area, or a bedroom for visitors.

Granny's Cottage was designed by Beaver Creek Log Homes in Oneida, who also sell log home kits.  I'm not sold on the energy efficiency of logs and plan to stick build.

Our main source of heat will be a wood stove.  I'll look for an old Vermont Castings Vigilant like the one I heated my house with in Saratoga Springs.  For backup, I'll install a propane furnace.  That will only be used for those times when we're away.  I'll set the thermostat on that to 50 degrees, just so the pipes won't freeze.

The place will be totally off the grid. Our main source of electricity will be solar, which will feed a bank of batteries.  I'll also add a D400 wind generator, and possibly a water turbine which will be powered by the small creek that runs in the spring and fall.  While we'll use mainly 110 volt appliances, which means we need an inverter, most of the lighting will be 12 volt LEDs.

The water will come from a well.  I'm going to look into a windmill to pump water into a storage tank in the basement of the house.  Our 400 gallons of water on the boat lasts us for almost a month, so a 400 gallon water tank should be plenty for the house as well.  I'll install a marine water pump and pressure tank to feed the water lines.

Hot water will be solar, augmented by propane.   Cooking stove will be propane as well.

Half the land is being cleared as I write this.  This spring, we'll plant several varieties of apple trees.  We also want bee hives for honey, chickens for eggs, a horse or two for riding, and perhaps milking goats.  I'll need to build a small barn and a chicken coop.

We want a large garden, which means either a rototiller or a plow horse.   We're leaning towards a plow horse which can also be used to drag logs out of our woodlot.

Dreaming is fun.


  1. Do you know how to handle horses ?

    Bill Kelleher

    1. I don't have a clue, Bill, but Pamela does. She grew up with horses.

  2. Grannys house is nice. Check out contemporary designs too. I think you could get a much better passive solar design working that would cut heat/lighting, costs and be much brighter inside, and cheaper and easier to build(I've built a few log homes, lived in one 20 yrs, they're great!).

    You need light for your head in winter(grannys has porch roofs that block the sun).

    Remember how air quality diminished in Driftaway once you had to go AC? The same thing happens in winter here, you need air to stay healthy(I think 1000sq.ft/couple is enough).

    Any house that heats well with a woodstove will be nice and open and not too far from one outside wall to the other. (we heat our old house;3 floors-small footprint, with one pellet stove only)

    Space above is (almost)free to build and heat!(but avoid ladders like grannys loft, any staircase, if it is safe, will keep you young).

    The only appreciable factor in keeping the cost of a building down, is size.