A Simple Plan for Lakeside Living
A low-budget vacation house proves that simple doesn't have to mean shortchanged.
Synopsis: This vacation house is more than just a rectangle with a shed roof. For only $125 a square foot, Gene and Sharon DeSmidt built this 825-sq. ft. home away from home using plywood siding and two-foot spacing tricks to cut down on lumber costs. One peek through the ten foot wide accordion entry way, however, proves that style was no sacrifice. Additionally, after a steady influx of weekend guests, the couple decided to add two stylized 8-ft. by 12-ft. cabanas on a concrete bulkhead overlooking the lake.
In the summer of 2000, my wife, Sharon, and I were driving back to our home in the Bay Area from a remote piece of property that we own in northern California. We were exhausted from the dusty, unpaved roads, the dry heat, and the dogs drooling in back. This was no way to unwind. We decided to look for a vacation retreat that was closer to home and preferably on some water.
After looking at nearly a dozen houses, we found a piece of land that once had a resort hotel on it. Long ago, it burned to the ground, and now the site had two overgrown building sites less than 50 ft. from a small lake. We bought it on the spot.
Big bites reduce small budget
After buying the land, we had $150,000 to complete the project. Right away we found out that a good chunk of it was going into the ground. Because we wanted to build close to the water, we couldn’t install a traditional septic tank and leach field. Instead, we would have to install a sewage-treatment system complete with a pump to convey effluent to a leach field 1000 ft. behind the house. That lightened the checkbook by $30,000.
Next, we learned that getting electricity to the site would cost…