Tag Archives: houses

A is for Abode

Remember how I went on and on about those little A-frame houses and how quirky and neat we thought they were?

Be careful what you wish for.

We’re moving to downtown Saranac Lake. A small A-frame apartment has become available to us, and it’s a very generous, kind offer.

We adore the apartment, it’s in the village, walking distance to the library, grocery, shops, friends, restaurants. And even with all that, it’s still a bit hidden – off the main road, and overlooking trees. If you’re familiar with the backyards and alleys of downtown Saranac Lake, you might recognize it. (And no doubt, a few readers are very, very familiar with the steeple in the far distance of the photo.)

We will be keeping the Gabriels property. It will become our Summer putter project, much like our neighbor. Perhaps we’ll sell the RV next Spring. Maybe. However, the little cabin will be staying put, and our names will stay firmly printed at the top of our deed. (And tax bill!)

The thing is, the RV is hard. We like it, but it’s hard and it’s expensive. As you know, we take a well-cover off and fill a cistern every day, even when it’s twenty below zero. Every day. We heat an uninsulated RV with propane. It’s a gigantic bill, which takes the rest of the year to pay off.

The pipes freeze a few times a year and have to be thawed and/or repaired. The RV has to be insulated in the Winter, but the insulation can’t stay there for the Summer.¬†We had to have an RV tech in to fix the furnace a month ago. Now the thermostat is now broken … again. I put in a new pump last year – hanging out of the hatch outside on a 20-below day. We carry around a blowdryer because the RV door freezes shut twice a day. I have to defrost the condensation off the windows and mop it up with a towel each day or we get a one-inch-thick window sill made of ice. And of course, we live in about 260 square feet. (Plus 130 sf in the cabin, if you’re willing to go out to start a fire in the stove.)

Compare that to, as I mentioned, a very generous offer.

Little A is four rooms – a bedroom in front, a living room 12×18′ in the middle, a small-but-not-too-small kitchen, and an oddly large bathroom (which I love). There’s a 10′ wide wall of deep closets, and most of the “corner” parts of the bottom of the A-as-in-A-frame have built-ins. The living room has a fireplace and mantel, and although we won’t be using the fireplace, it’s pretty nifty. I want me one of those fakey woodstove electric heater things for it. And our “stuff” will look terrific in there.

That’s right. No more storage unit bills. There will probably be overflow (remember we once had a 1700 sf house full of bric-a-brac, wall things, hundreds and hundreds of books, and general stuff, other than the furniture we got rid of), but the overflow can go into the cabin, because most of the cabin furniture and whatnots will come with us.

Further reason that I love it? It was once the home of Isabel Smith, a tuberculosis curing patient, who became rather famous when Eisenstadt photographed her in Saranac Lake for Life magazine. Isabel was also a memoirist, who wrote about her time in Saranac Lake. Elise Chapin, who ran The Pot Shop on Main Street in the 1950s (and who was also a cure patient and author) also made Little A her home.

Sweet place. There will be plenty of the outdoorsy work stuff I like so much, lots of opportunity for my obsessive snow shoveling habit, and plenty of chances to get in my messing around with plants and fanatical grass mowing.

In sadder news, we had a weasel (or something) attack earlier in the week. Three of the hens were killed (but not eaten). Another had no marks, but seemed very listless and strange. We ran to the store for some StressEez, gave her some extra feed and corn, and we warmed her up. She rallied a little, but she didn’t make it. My favorite yellow Gwen (my Orpington) is still alive and doing perfectly well. Although she seemed sick, she’s now fine. She will be adopted by one-or-another friends when we move.

Good news and bad news. But life is good, and that’s how it comes, right?

You all give me a holler when you see me hop-skip-and-a-jumping the to the library, or down to the Left Bank for a bite. But don’t bother coming up the hill for a visit and knocking on the door … when not playing my piano indoors, I plan to spend most of my time soaking in that big clawfoot tub.

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Little Houses I Have Known

As you know, friends, we’re on the tiny-house-hunt. Next Spring? Maybe. We hope so. We still have a model to go see at a local modular company, and I need to speak to a builder friend about the cost of a small frame house; but in the time being, I thought I would turn in my report on the other possibility, an Amish-built tiny house.

I really would like something that fits the character of the area. Woodsy. It’s become a bit of an “if it’s at all possible” priority. Funny thing being, we’d be the only woodsy ones in the neighborhood.

Below are some photos I took while visiting the builders. These are all a bit smaller than we would likely go with, but you get the idea. They’re completely custom, which I like. You can add, take-away, or change whatever you like. They are built to code, fully insulated, wired, and come with thermal windows and doors. (Those are all options, but of course, options we’d want.)

Pretty neat though. They can be put down on gravel, a slab, a raised wall foundation, whatever. I’ll be talking to our local codes guy in the next few months. A local friend had a slab poured (plumbing and all) and sited hers that way. We’ll see what Code Man has to say.

Take a look!

Above is the Side porch version – I think I like this layout better. The end porch style bugs me a little. Also, this version would be nice with the porch backwards – facing the yard. That is, the back of the house would be on the road. This one looks a little small. Looks like about 10′ wide by maybe 22′ long. Ours would likely be closer to 14′ x 36′.

End porch style. Still, nice. But I’d have to do away with those wavy corner pieces and the fake shutters. Faux touches drive me nuts.

Inside the door of the model above. Cedar walls and ceiling, electrical fixtures included. I’d have to do away with that standard-issue ceiling lamp though. I figure, if I get to choose, might as well be picky. Right?

Looking back toward the front door, same model.

Side porch model from a different builder. Built on-site with a taller roof, there would be space for a loft. However, with limited living room space, I don’t know if I would want a ladder coming down in the middle of it. Don’t really need it for sleeping because there would be a bedroom, but nice storage or guest space.

The next report will involve small modular/manufactured homes. My neat friend in the ‘Burgh told us that they now have a few pretty affordable versions with half-log siding and metal roofs. Hmmm.

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