• Christina Blanchard

2 Years of Building our Cabin

May 13th marks exactly 2 years since we "broke ground" and started working on the road to our off grid cabin. I thought this would be a good time to highlight the work we've completed over the last two years. Building a road to access our land, developing our land, building the cabin exterior, and picking away at the interior.

Its been a steep learning curve doing everything ourselves, and a lot of work, but we wouldn't trade the last two years for anything.

Building a Road

It started 2 years ago on Mike's birthday when we started cutting down trees and clearing brush. After our grant was approved for our acre of land, we needed access to the land for our surveyor, septic designer, and for ourselves.

You can learn all about how we purchased our crown land here.

When we first found our land we hiked in on an old ATV trail. The trail was by no means a road, but you could manage on a quad if you took your time. Our goal the first year was to be able to drive our truck into our land, and have it surveyed for purchase.

May 13th 2018- A Long Road Ahead

To gain access to our land in our truck we had to improve, expand, and add-on to the existing trail. The trail was about 1 mile long and connected the harbors' main access road to the top of our block of land.

Part of the trail was narrow and rocky, other parts were overgrown with brush. A large portion of the trail traveled over a bog which made it difficult for even an ATV to cross.

The Bog Portion of the ATV Trail to our Land

To get the road up to scratch we had to secure wood cutting permits, cut and clear trees, and use the excavator to level the road and build ditches for drainage.

During the summer we slept in a tent on the beach and had some awesome meals cooked over the fire.

Lasagna Cooked in a Dutch Oven Over the Fire

Clearing our Land

Once we had the official title to our land and could access it, we started clearing and developing our land. The photo below shows what it looked like around the time the land was surveyed. Plenty of trees and brush, beautiful- but hard to move around.

The Land Before we Developed it (Summer 2018)

We started by clearing the brush and trees. The trees were cut and stacked for firewood and lumber. In the fall, when the fire ban was over, we burned the brush, which really tidied up the area.

Burning Brush- Best Performed on a Rainy Day

In the fall we were lucky enough to borrow a 1960's camper! The road was rough but we managed to bring the camper into the land. That fall and winter we bundled up in the camper, while we cut wood and burned brush.

Our Sweet Digs for the Winter

After a winter of wood cutting and waiting for the snow to melt, we were eager to get to work by the Spring of 2019.

We started by renting a mini-excavator with a rock buster. There was a large rock (small cliff) positioned exactly where we planned to build the cabin.

About 1 Year Ago We Were Busting "The Rock"

After the rock was busted, we brought back the larger excavator to finish preparing the land for the foundation. By July of 2019 the land had dried up and we were ready to start building.

The Land is Ready for our Cabin (July 2019)

Building the Cabin

Once the land was ready we went into another gear. We would work our 8-5 jobs, drive an hour to the land, then work until it was dark. We did this at least a couple nights a week, and we spent every weekend at the cabin working. We were racing against the clock to get the roof up and weather-proofed before the snow came (sometimes as early as October here).

We started by building our foundation and floor for the cabin. You can check out the entire process of building our foundation here.

A Rare "Double Rainbow" Poses with our First Walls

Once our floor was built we started erecting the walls. A lot of our build materials were recycled from an old building, I go into more detail on that here.

We had 8' and 12' wall sections that we towed down on our trailer, lifted in to place, and nailed to the floor.

Once half of our walls were in place, we started installing our recycled trusses. This was probably the most physically demanding part of the whole building process. Recycled materials don't fit together perfectly, and making sure everything was square, flush, and level proved to be very challenging.

Installing Recycled Walls and Trusses- A Labor of Love

After the walls and trusses were up, Mike built two gables and installed a ridge beam for our vaulted ceilings.

Gable Ends and Ridge Beam

Next we installed our rafter beams and tied everything together in preparation for the roof!

The Cabin Roof Before Plywood was Installed

We built our arm muscles up on the next part for sure! I passed the sheets of OSB up the ladder, and Mike hammered them in place.

Celebrating After a Hard Day Working on the Roof

With October approaching and the temperature quickly dropping we were rushing to get our roof finished and shingles installed.

We connected the trusses to the middle section of the roof, installed plywood on the rest of the roof, installed ice & water shield, and finally roofing felt.

A Beautiful Evening While Installing Ice & Water Shield

By the last weekend of October we were ready to shingle so we enlisted the help of our friends and family. Many hands make light work- and finally we had a weather proofed shell of a cabin!

The Shingle Installation Crew at Work

A Winter of Interior Projects

The cabin structure was up, but there was still a ton of work needed to make the cabin livable. Installing our fire place, exterior foam sheeting, and insulating the roof and walls were critical for the winter. The first few months we were freezing and uncomfortable, but little by little the cabin got cozier.

Enjoying a Fire After We Installed our Woodstove

Since the new year we have continued to work on interior projects. We've installed our pine walls, built a loft, kitchen and bathroom, and installed some windows and doors.

The Cabin as of May 2020

It has been 2 years since we started work on this cabin, and it's been the best 2 years of my life! Its far from finished, but its comfortable and cozy and surrounded by nature.

This summer is going to be slower than the last. We are planning to enjoy ourselves on the water and take it easy... that is after we finishing building a deck!

I am going to keep working on detailed posts outlining each step of the way, and in the meantime I will regularly post a Cabin Update.

Stay tuned by subscribing and drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you!

About Christina

I'm Christina and I live in the beautiful Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador. We are building a cabin by the ocean in rural Notre Dame Bay. Come along with Mike, Duke and I as we pursue our version of the Islanders dream!

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Disclaimer: The information given on this website is for reference and inspiration only. When starting a building project always consult professionals and follow local laws and regulations. 

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