Episode #1, We Bought Cabin
And so it begins. It’s late summer of 2016 and we have become cabin owners. We are also the owners of a 5 year project list to overhaul, renovate, update, and change every square inch of the property, from the lake shore, to the yard, to every surface and fixture inside the cabin. We think we are reasonably handy, semi-crafty, and quite resourceful. We shall see how the project list goes. I’m hoping to chronicle some of the experience here. In the event you find it interesting, while I’m glad to have entertained. In the event you find it helpful, well I’m glad to have provided the value of my experiences. In the event we never see you again past this point in the first episode, well, thanks for sticking it out for almost a paragraph.
Why Episode #1?
I’m a marketer by trade so to follow the format of today’s popular streaming services, Season x, Episode Y just seemed to be a natural fit with how people are now consuming content. The word episode also captures what I anticipate to be a series of successes and a few failures. The 5 year project list seems to be guaranteed to deliver a few minor injury reports, a few marital disagreements, and a great deal of good times that far outweigh the pain, sweat, and dollars it’s going to cost. By the way, when we got serious about this particular property, my project list had about 16 items on it. The official list, including my 16 items, has grown to about 50 items. I still contend the original 16 were enough. Oh yes, 5 of those items were definitely to take off the months of June through August and enjoy our progress, 1 for each year of our 5 year project.
The Back Story
I’ll save you most of the details of our personal lives leading up to the cabin purchase, most of them. Even though I’m sure you would find them fascinating (we consider ourselves the world’s most interesting people based on a sample of 2). By the way, I’m incredibly humorous and my wife agrees, seldom, but often enough to keep me trying.
For many years my wife and I had talked about the mutual desire to own a cabin. She grew up with a cabin in the family. I grew up with family camping trips in a tent trailer. My in-laws sold the cabin, the year before we were married. I only had the opportunity to experience it as a visitor, not as a semi-resident. We did both the tent trailer camper experience and the cabin rental/borrow experience enough times to know we enjoyed both. The cabin experience was far above the camping experience for us. Busy jobs and busy kids, with sports activities that kept us driving to every hockey rink, baseball field, basketball court, wrestling meet, volleyball court, and football field in all of the land, made it obvious to us that we did not have the time to fully immerse ourselves in the Life at the Cabin lifestyle. Instead we bought a sport boat and made day trips to the north, south, east and west to spend time on the water when we could. Often we would brings friends with us, or meet up with family and burn through a tank of gas, or more, and return home at the end, exhausted and happy.
The planets started to align when we had the first two kids in university and our third (and last) in grade 11, with the end of high school and minor sports over the horizon and around the bend, it was close enough. We started to get serious in our talks about about cabin ownership. Also aligning was our financial ability to afford a cabin. The house mortgage was on it’s last few months, money we could redirect into retirement savings, or into life enjoyment now. We choose a real estate investment with the potential to be both.
Back to Today, Buying that Cabin
We knew our criteria, we had a budget, we had a list of properties to explore. I suppose everyone has their own list of criteria for a cabin property. We certainly had ours:
- * lake front
- * 4 season
- * within 1 hour drive
- * 3 bedrooms
- * no stairs
- big deck
- wide open yard
- move in ready
- dock and boat lift included
‘*’ the must have list
Our search began. We soon found out that our “enormous budget” didn’t put us in the category of walking in, no worries, and just relaxing. We saw cabins that were best renovated with a Wylie Coyote bundle of dynamite, cabins with endless stairways from cabin to water, cabins that were nearly perfect, minus a must have from the list, an
d cabins that were perfectly suited for other families. On about cabin inspection tour #3 we had a couple properties lined up that had possibilities and we stumbled across a for sale by owner cabin that was not listed online anywhere. With no one home, we took a walk about and overgrown yard told us a couple things. The owners didn’t there very often and we had to get our real estate agent on this one.
It had that “cabiny” feel to it, the “cabiny” look, and the potential to be the one. A brand new two level deck also had our interest. After all, you don’t buy a cabin to spend your time inside. I can do that at home quite nicely.
A week late and our real estate agent had the keys we had our inside look at the property we eventually bought. It was during that inside tour that the project list grew, grew some more, and extended past cutting the lawn to a 5 year list of renovations and overhauls.
In Episode #2, The Clearout, our discoveries begin.