We’ve all had to “downsize” our plans and expectations during the last few years but you can still build a great lake home on a reduced budget. By eliminating wasted space and maximizing the areas you really need, you can build a smaller home that lives LARGE at the lake.
When designing an efficient lake home, start out by identifying those areas of the house that are critical. You’ll need spaces to sleep, adequate bathrooms, space to cook and eat, one large area to gather, lake storage, and of course lots of outdoor space. Everything else is wasted.
For the last several years my family has enjoyed a wonderful small lake house at Possum Trot that we’ve nicknamed Le Possu’m (I think that’s French for “The Possum”). I often say that I have the smallest cabin and the largest family of anyone on Lake Wedowee in Alabama. Sherrie and I have six kids who are wonderful most of the time. Ours is a one bedroom cabin with a bunk room loft that sleeps 6 plus. There are two baths, a laundry, and one big room for cooking, dining, and hanging out. We do a lot of living in a little over 1,000 square feet. We have a covered porch, a deck, a picnic table outside, a firepit, and a great view of the lake. What else do you really need? Plus it doesn’t take long to clean. Just ask Sherrie.
Another great way to keep building cost down while not sacrificing comfort is to make great use of basement space. This space is typically less expensive to finish and it’s closer to the lake. The Cheaha Mountain Cottage featured on my website is a good example of this type of design. As you enter the house, the foyer has an overlook into the family room below. A two story wall of windows gives a great view of the lake and reminds you why you came. The family room, kitchen and dining, along with two bedrooms and a bath are all located on the lake level. The master is located on the main level and features two private porches, a fireplace, and great views. The house has 1720 square feet and everything you really need at the lake.
Another way to keep cost under control is to design in phases. For example, I have plans to add two bedrooms and a bath to our cabin someday. The addition will be a completely separate structure joined to the main house by a screened sleeping porch which is called a dogtrot house plan. Build only what you must have right now and design a well thought out addition for the future. Connecting the two phases with an enclosed bridge is another cool idea.
A sluggish economy forces us to be creative to achieve our goals. By eliminating wasted space, maximizing the basement and outdoor space, and designing in phases, you may be closer to that dream lake home than you think.
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