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We close on Monday. Where do we possibly start?  RSS feed

 
Lisa Gergets
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Location: Grand Marais, MN
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It's really happening! We close on our five-acre parcel in Grand Marais, Minnesota on Monday at 9:30am!

But...but...but NOW WHAT?

The first thing we need to do is walk the land to find and mark the property lines (visually, so that we can see them with perspective), and then begin to decide upon a house site and driveway. The parcel is located "behind" another five-acre parcel that abuts the road, but already has a 660' driveway along the west side of the property in front of ours. We'll need to decide how to extend that driveway to our build site.

And then, we start clearing the land.

We're doing everything ourselves, up until we need to have stumps pulled. Your sage, experienced advice sure is appreciated right now!  
 
Jim Fry
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Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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If you are really a permaculture person, think where is the best place for the trees you want to plant, and where the gardens should be. House location may be secondary. Also think about getting a dowser in to locate the best place for the well. It may effect where the house and other buildings go.
 
Deb Rebel
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Location: Zone 6b
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Grand Marais? You lucky person. I stayed there at a campsite ON the lake shore in the late 80's. Lovely lovely lovely. 

I'd say your #1 is your well, #2 is the lay of your property so you can decide where the various features need to go (which way is south? Towards the neighbor and the road? Some other way? Which way is the slope of land for water movement?  (does your lot face NORTH because of slope) and is there anything on the property you wish to keep (nut trees, wild grapes, etc)

Then you can sort out where your house will go.

What sort of house are you building, or are you going to do a temporary cabin/shelter then build better? 

Congratulations, by the way....
 
Lisa Gergets
Posts: 48
Location: Grand Marais, MN
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books tiny house trees
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We are lucky - we've lived here for 2.5 years now and love it here. We spent June at the same rec park you stayed at in the 80s!

We'll be doing cordwood construction beginning next spring. It's too late in our short building season to start construction now, so we're concentrating on clearing our land. I'm not sure if we'll put in a well yet this year, or next year after thaw. We're hoping there's enough time left this year to run electric, but again, our window of opportunity here is so short.

The lay of the property is darn near perfect for our plans. We'll have a 24x32 two story home with the "front" situated due south to take advantage of the solar gain. Our yard and gardens will be to the south, as our lot is 330 feet wide (east-west) by 690 feet deep (north-south). Parking and wood shed will be north, with wood shed open on one side to the south.

Our proposed build site is on a slight rise, with the land sloping away both to the north and south. The slope is very slight, but it's definitely there, so we're taking advantage of the rise.

After we close on Monday, we'll go take a look at the place, mark the trees we want to keep (there's a lot of old growth pine and birch we'll be keeping), and dig in!
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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Lisa Gergets wrote:We are lucky - we've lived here for 2.5 years now and love it here.


Lisa, have you gotten a feel for how the lake will impact growing/gardening options?  Are you far enough away for that effect to be minimal?  Have you talked to immediate neighbors regarding what they are able to grow or have had problems with?  Sounds nice....have friends and relatives either permanently or time-sharing in Grand Marais.  North shore is a wonderful, dramatic change from the rest of the state.  Good luck!
 
Bernie Farmer
Posts: 20
Location: On a Farm
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Congrats on your new land!!

We began this road last year with about the same amount of land as you and felt so overwhelmed with what to do and when. We made plenty of mistakes. Haven't gotten nearly as far as we need to. So here's my advice for what's it worth:
1. water is your first priority whether that's a well or a catchment system or ponds or whatever
2. decide where you want the house and go from there - trees can be planted or moved
3. observe your land - it will change so much over the seasons and new things will make your old plans seem ... not so good any more - for example: We were going to build a road into the south side of our property to have better access (a creek splits our land in two) but we realized with seasonal rains anything we build on that side will wash out at the road and would have to go over a significant ditch 100 feet back in, plus strangers seem to have a fascination with coming on our land anywhere there's easy access so we would have had to build more gates and fences, etc. What's turned out better for us is that we built a bridge across the creek that can handle a 4 wheeler to haul whatever we need.
4. remember this is a work in progress, have fun but build some spreadsheets so you don't get overwhelmed in projects and burn-out
5. you will want a toilet and electricity in some form pretty soon ... plus a table and chairs - we drag our chairs all over the place and just sit and watch and listen
 
Lisa Gergets
Posts: 48
Location: Grand Marais, MN
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books tiny house trees
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John Weiland wrote:

Lisa, have you gotten a feel for how the lake will impact growing/gardening options?  Are you far enough away for that effect to be minimal?  Have you talked to immediate neighbors regarding what they are able to grow or have had problems with?  Sounds nice....have friends and relatives either permanently or time-sharing in Grand Marais.  North shore is a wonderful, dramatic change from the rest of the state.  Good luck!


Yes, we sure have. We have plenty of friends and neighbors - both closer to the Lake (in town), and up the Gunflint - who garden. Of course, away from the Lake is better for gardening because it's so much warmer. We'll be on the south side of Devil's Track Lake, so we'll have plenty of sun and warmth in the summer for a garden.
 
Lisa Gergets
Posts: 48
Location: Grand Marais, MN
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Bernie Farmer wrote:Congrats on your new land!!

We began this road last year with about the same amount of land as you and felt so overwhelmed with what to do and when. We made plenty of mistakes. Haven't gotten nearly as far as we need to. So here's my advice for what's it worth:
1. water is your first priority whether that's a well or a catchment system or ponds or whatever
2. decide where you want the house and go from there - trees can be planted or moved
3. observe your land - it will change so much over the seasons and new things will make your old plans seem ... not so good any more - for example: We were going to build a road into the south side of our property to have better access (a creek splits our land in two) but we realized with seasonal rains anything we build on that side will wash out at the road and would have to go over a significant ditch 100 feet back in, plus strangers seem to have a fascination with coming on our land anywhere there's easy access so we would have had to build more gates and fences, etc. What's turned out better for us is that we built a bridge across the creek that can handle a 4 wheeler to haul whatever we need.
4. remember this is a work in progress, have fun but build some spreadsheets so you don't get overwhelmed in projects and burn-out
5. you will want a toilet and electricity in some form pretty soon ... plus a table and chairs - we drag our chairs all over the place and just sit and watch and listen


Electricity is first on our list, because there's only one place to get it, and who knows how long it'll take. We'll be hauling water in but are considering renting a port-a-potty for the rest of the building season. I was thinking that a screenhouse with a picnic table inside would be a good idea...there's bound to be times we want to get out of the sun and the bugs and just take a load off for a few minutes.

My husband and I were just talking this morning about how excited we are to meet our trees and get to know them. <3
 
John Weiland
Posts: 950
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Lisa Gergets wrote: I was thinking that a screenhouse with a picnic table inside would be a good idea...there's bound to be times we want to get out of the sun and the bugs and just take a load off for a few minutes.

My husband and I were just talking this morning about how excited we are to meet our trees and get to know them. <3


Congrats!.....Sounds like a nice location.  Yes, if it can be done quickly, some sort of shelter that allows for breaks from the bugs and roof overhead may be good.  I've heard of some just purchasing an inexpensive camping (hardshell) trailer to live in while doing construction tasks, but a screen house allows for breezes and a comfortable place to relax and eat.  I built a free standing one (12 X 12 ft floor) away from our house using 2X4 lumber....and built it onto "skids", so that it could be dragged to different locations on the property with a tractor if need be.  Hope the electrical and water are installed for you soon.....nice to have these available irrespective of the housing situation.
 
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