Category: Cabin Life

Restoration of a northwoods boathouse – when not to DIY

Renovation of a northwoods boathouse located in Oneida County, WI

When we purchased our vacation home we knew the first project we had to tackle was stabilizing the boathouse.   The cabin was build in the mid-1950’s and the boathouse was constructed not long after that.  The boathouse was definitely a major bonus on our list of desired cabin features and certainly something we weren’t expecting.  The state of Wisconsin no longer allows the construction of over-the-water boathouses.  Even renovation of the existing structure was tricky.  Super clubs and boat houses….you know you are in Wisconsin.

Sometimes you can DIY, but sometimes professional help and skill is required.  Our boathouse renovation definitely required expert help to manage the permitting with the city, county, and Department of Natural Resources.  It is nearly impossible to tackle or coordinate these efforts when you work full-time and live in a different state.  Money well spent, as our contractor did a fantastic job negotiating to get the permits required for the project to commence.  We had no idea of how to tackle this structural project and clearly special skills and tools were going to be required to prevent this delicate structure from ending up at the bottom of the lake.

Freeze-thaw cycles had really done a number on the poor old boathouse.  It was so off-level and looked so unstable, we were afraid to let anyone walk on the roof deck.  The contractor had to basically detach the back wall, which was anchored on-shore while everything else was in the lake bed.  Once this was completed, the sand around the pilings was jetted to sink the boathouse until everything was level.  During the process, the boathouse was tied off to trees for support.  After leveling, braces were installed to minimize movement and shifting of the structure.

The scary before. This was a great time to be in another state. I would have held my breath for hours on end.

 

Strengthened back wall and braces and side wall.,

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3 critical points to consider when purchasing a second home

Shortly after Pat and I married, we purchased our first home.  Once we settled in, we began to travel and developed our dream of owning a vacation home.  We knew we wanted a waterfront home and since we live nowhere close to an ocean, we focused our search on lakefront property and implemented a serious savings plan .  In the process, we enjoyed many mini-vacations and viewed countless cabins in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  With each viewing we learned more about what we liked and wanted.  We made several offers.  Some were not accepted based on price;  one could not be formalized due to zoning restrictions that prevented the lot from being subdivided; and another we had to walk away from due to severe mold issues uncovered during the inspection and sellers who were not willing to negotiate.

In the process of our search, we developed a very specific wishlist.  The overall goal was a cabin that we could enjoy now, when we started a family, and in the future when we retired.  Our desire was a lakefront cabin with a price tag that would not require us to rent it out to help cover expenses.   Another requirement was a home located on a lake large enough for a boat to enjoy cocktail cruises and tubing or water-skiing.  A home that required serious elbow grease, renovation, and imagination was no problem.  The cabin had to be large enough to enjoy time with family and friends, but small enough to minimize cleaning time.  It is vacation after all!

When we moved to Southern California, we had to take a break from our vacation home dreams.  However, we couldn’t escape our longing for open space, forest, and a lakefront paradise.  When the opportunity to move back to the mid-west arose, we jumped on it and rekindled our search effort to finally make our cabin dream a reality. Because of our efforts in identifying the type of vacation home situation that would work for us, we have had absolutely no regrets and love every minute we spend in our peaceful oasis.  If  you are considering the purchase of a second home, here are some critical points you must consider before taking the plunge .  We have watched others rush at the opportunity to purchase vacation homes, only to create unnecessary stress and financial uncertainty into their lives.  I hope this information helps you fulfill your vacation dreams.  Owning a second home is not for everyone.  It can limit the opportunity to visit new destinations.

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Bird Feeder Pulley System

It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I have been busy with many projects.  Now I have lots of blogging to catch up on.

We are fortunate to have a little cabin up in the north woods.  We enjoy relaxing at our little place in the woods and watching all of the wildlife.  Patrick decided to hang bird feeders not long after we purchased the cabin.  We started with basic bird seed and were delighted with visits from squirrels (gray, red, black, small and large), chipmunks, raccoons,  a variety of birds (chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays,  and a variety of woodpeckers).  So fun to watch all the action.

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A few years ago during a Thanksgiving weekend visit, Patrick splurged on bird food with dried fruit and nuts.  I thought it was overkill as it looked like trail mix I would eat myself and the price was pretty steep.  Later that evening we couldn’t figure out what was eating the nut-fruit mix  at the feeder.  Definitely something we had not seen before.  It looked like squirrels, but they were moving too fast.  Could it be some kind of bird?  It looked like they were flying to the feeder from another tree.  After some seriously patient watching, we finally figured out it was a bit of both…..flying squirrels.  I never knew these were native to the north woods.  So fun to watch!  So cute!  They are nocturnal, so they have very large eyes relative to rest of their body.  Needless to say, we always buy the fruit-nut mix now for our furry, flying friends.

This fall, we decided to add another feeder.  We had to get it higher into the tree, but still needed access for filling.  We developed a pretty simple pulley system.  The supply list is pretty simple and can be seen below.  I used a planter hook, rope, a pulley, two carabiners, an eye hook, a pulley, a screwdriver and drill.  My feeder is heavy when filled, so I might need to replace the planter hook with a stronger hook that has a cross bar for added support.  It is already starting to bend with the weight.

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We drilled holes into the tree and screwed the hardware in for the planter hook.  These screws came with the planter hook.  I hung the pulley from the hook and passed the rope through.  I tied a carabiner to the end of the rope for easy connection and release to the rope on the feeder.  I made sure the rope was long enough to lower the feeder to ground and tied the other carabiner to this end of the rope.   Getting the rope right is definitely the trickiest part of this project.  The carabiner at the end of the rope reaches to the pulley when the feeder is lowered.  It doesn’t lower all the way to the ground, so the quick release on the feeder is helpful to detach the feeder for filling.   I screwed an eye hook into the tree and use this to secure the carabiner on the rope so the feeder is secure in its elevated position.  A quick weekend project and our feathered and furry friends enjoy their new feeding station.

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Hope you are having a great fall.  I look forward to your comments.  Please find the link at the top of this post.

Laura