Playback speed
Share post
Share post at current time

Four: Process & Partners

As gravel cyclists we know that there are many challenges on the road ahead (technical sections, difficult climbs, sand pits, and sometimes hoards of mosquitos and deer flies ~ to name a few).  We also know that there is no better feeling of reward than facing a difficult climb or technical section, silencing the voice in your head that tells you you won’t make it, but fighting through the physical and mental challenges, and making it through!  Sometimes you might have to walk a little, sometimes you might fall over in a sand pit, but regardless ~ finishing the ride is a great feeling of accomplishment!  Each challenge teaches you something about yourself, and you are thankful for the rest and reward phase afterward.

This is exactly where we are at with the Crash Pad on August 19, 2023.  One year ago this month (August 1, 2022 to be exact), we broke ground on the Crash Pad.  Today we have a standing and functional building!  It hasn’t quite been the journey we expected, nor are we at the finish line.  And despite a very long, hard winter that started when the building went up in mid-October 2022, and did not end until late April 2023, WE.DID.IT!  The building survived, and much to our amazement, so did we.

Our big goal at the end of the Winter was to be in a position to start staying in the Crash Pad in Mid-May of 2023 so we could start to actually enjoy it, get to biking, and have more than a 3 hour afternoon to work on it (which was the case with day trips all Winter).  This meant we needed to line up ‘The Big 6 Week Push”.  

From the end of April to mid-May 2023 we had 6 weeks to get the Crash Pad in a livable state.  Many contractors later, we made our deadline!  Now when we look back, we are both amazed that we got to the finish line.  Somehow we found the strength to push through, but looking back it seems pretty amazing that not only we did it ~ but we did it successfully.  

In working on the video edit for this story, it is easy to see so many moments when this project could have completely fallen off the rails.  It is actually quite terrifying when you allow yourself to think about it.  But, thanks to our partners, everything went well.  Pretty amazing really considering all the nightmare stories that you hear about building projects.  And the biggest reason we do not have a nightmare tale to tell is our amazing partners.

We would not be here if it was not for the team of tradespeople we had as our partners on this project.  In this story we are discussing all the steps it took to get to May 2023, and recognizing our partners with gratitude and thanks [The full list of steps and partners is listed at the end of this Story].

Although we are far from done, it is an immense feeling of satisfaction to look back at what we have accomplished in one year.  ONE.YEAR!  We challenged ourselves, we pushed ourselves, we worked hard, our goals were met, and here we find ourselves at the beginning of August getting our second wind.  A new push begins.  Thanks to a ‘break’ the last 3 months, we are starting to visualize the next phase of the Crash Pad, and how our lives flow with it.  It includes much more regular exercise, hopefully much less stress, hopefully losing the weight we gained over the last year, ENJOYING our time at the Crash Pad, and making a significant leap in the interior progress now that the exterior (except landscaping) is 95% complete (we have the front porch and the screen porch left to finish).

We are sharing our specific experience not as an instructional how to, but as one example of what it was like for us to take a piece of forested property and turn ‘a dream’ into a reality.  Because we did not have the luxury of having a general contractor or builder, we have intimate knowledge of each step of the process.  Even if you do have the luxuries of having someone make your dream come true for you, you should still be actively engaged in the process and understand all the steps along the way.

Stages to get from December 2021 to May 2023:

  • Land Purchase - December 2021 [McKinney Realty.  Cable, WI]

Having camped at ROAM Adventure Basecamp a number of times, we had a criteria for the land we were looking for.  (Refer to Story Two:  The Plan for more on this).

  • Choosing the type of build and working with an Architect. [Loon Architects.  Minneapolis, MN]

The next phase after the land purchase was to decide on what type of build.  (Refer to Story Three:  Why An Architect for more on this)

  • Permitting Process.  [Town of Spider Lake, WI and Sawyer County, WI]

After we had our design in place, it was time to start working with our Excavation team and get permits approved.  If you have a builder, they will go through this process for you, but since we are our own GC’s, we had to do 98% of the permitting process.

  • Conditional Use Permit.  Approved June 2022.  Submitted so we can have a permit to build on land zoned as forestry.  It is legal to build on our land, we just had to go through the formal process to be approved to do so.

“No structure can be built, moved or structurally altered and no land use can be substantially altered until a Land Use Permit has been issued.”

  • Driveway Permit.  Submitted with Conditional Use Permit, but rejected at meeting because of a small measurement issue on the hand drawings.  Approved at July 2022 meeting (luckily this month delay did not set us back!).

  • Sanitary Permit.  We worked with our excavator and Sawyer County on this permit.  Submitted July 18, 2022.  Approved July 19, 2022.

*Excavation Begins August 1, 2022 [JD Excavating, Stone Lake, WI].

After all of the above permits were approved, we were able to begin excavation work!

Meanwhile, we kept working on permitting…

  • Building Permits.  

    • 1.  LUP (Land Use Permit) Town of Spider Lake.  This permit insures we can build.  Submitted July 25, 2022 for Spider Lake PRC (Planning Review Committee) Meeting.  Approved August 3, 2022.      

    • 2.  UDC (Universal Dwelling Code) State of Wisconsin permit to build.  Had to have the LUP approved in order to submit.  Submitted August 10, 2022.  Does not go through a committee meeting, we worked with the building inspector.  Approved shortly after submission.

  • Perc Test/Excavation/Septic/Driveway [JD Excavating.  Stone Lake, WI]

    • The Perc Test was done with the Excavator and Sawyer County.  This was done before excavation.  Three pits were dug to see if we could have a drainfield; unfortunately the water drained too slowly in all three pits.  It was determined the clay content of the soil would require a mound or a holding tank.  Due to cost, Kurt did some math on how often we planned to be here and what would be the most cost effective option, and chose a holding tank which was cheaper than a mound system.  We plan to have to empty the tank twice a year currently.

  • The Septic tank was installed by day 2 of the excavation (August 2, 2022).  After the plumbing lines were installed and the footings for the foundation were poured, the excavator then came back and hooked up the septic tank to the plumbing lines.

  • The Driveway was installed August 2, 2022.

  • Foundation

    • After the excavation was complete, the cement footings were poured and completed by August 12, 2022

    • The forms for the foundation walls were put in place by August 15.

    • The foundation walls were poured and the excavator came back to fill in around the foundation.  This work was completed by August 28, 2022.

  • Solar Panel Discussion with.  August 15, 2022.  

  • Well Drilling was done on September 1, 2022 and the well trench to the Crash Pad was dug on September 2, 2022

  • Electrical On Site discussions with neighbor and September 1, 2022.

  • Plumbing lines were in by September 10, 2022.

  • Well completed by September 10, 2022.

  • Electrical lines went in September 12, 2022.

  • Foam base and Radiant Floor Tubing installed by September 18, 2022.

  • Electrical Pedestal built by Kurt September 18-19, 2022.

  • Foundation poured by October 2, 2022.

  • Electrical box installed by October 2, 2022.

  • SIP’s arrived October 11, 2022.

  • SIP Panel Installation October 11-18.  *Future Episode:  SIP Panels.

  • First Roof Attempt October 19-22.  *Future Episode:  The Roof.

Second Roof installation Part 1.  Fascia, Membrane, Half of Metal Roof, Winter Membrane all installed by November 13, 2022.  *Future Episode:  The Roof

  • Winter Work (Us)

    • Install Porch Wall

    • Complete exterior Tyvek coverings

    • Electrical Room Wall for Electrical Box

    • Front Closet Framing

    • Multiple framing attempts for other walls (which we Kurt has redone).

  • Electrician on-site for run through.  December 29, 2022.

  • Electrical wiring (majority of work completed but not finished) and electrical fuse box in.  3 working outlets!  March 10, 2023.

  • Plumber:  Wall between kitchen and mechanical room in.  Navien On-Demand Water Heater in.  On-site discussion of next steps with Kevin.  March 19, 2023.

  • Plumbing 90% completed.  

  • Temporary Propane Tank installed.  Well Pump Wired.  Hot water and heating test completed and successful.  April 29, 2023.

  • Siding work May 10, 2023.

  • Floor Finishing done.  May 4, 2023

  • Wood Stove installation.  May 22, 2023

  • Roof completed. May 28, 2023

  • Toilet installed.  May 26, 2023.

  • Dumpster. May 31, 2023.

  • Porta Potty - ongoing until Summer when we got a working toilet!


  • McKinney Realty, Cable, WI

  • Loon Architects, Minneapolis, MN

  • Town of Spider Lake, WI - Permitting

  • JD Excavating, Stone Lake, WI - Excavation, Septic, Driveway, Final Grading

  • Hayward Concrete.  Hayward, WI - Footings, Foundation, Slab

  • Butterfield, Hayward, WI - Well

  • Andry Rasmussen, Cable, WI - Plumbing

  • Carlson Electric, Hayward, WI - Electrical

  • Jump River Electrical Coop, Hayward, WI - Electrical lines to property

  • Extreme Panel Technologies, Cottonwood, MN - SIP Panel Builder

  • Carlson Building Supply, Ashland, WI + Anderson Windows - Windows & Doors

  • Paszek Construction Services, Rhinelander, WI - SIP Panel Install, Window & Doors Install

  • Paul’ Sheet Metal, Rice Lake, WI - Metal Roof with snowbars, Fascia Membrane Roof with metal cap, Scuppers and Downspouts

  • Como Propane, Cable, WI

  • Elite Crete, Drummon, WI - Concrete Floor Polishing

  • Stove Works, Hayward, WI

  • Rick Obremski & Son, Drummond, WI - Siding & Soffits

  • Cable Lumber, Cable, WI

  • Ron’s Septic, Hayward, WI - Porta Potty

  • Woodland Rolloff’s, Hayward, WI

Cabin Stories
These are our stories about building our cabin in Northern Wisconsin.