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Discussion Starter #1
We are planning to build a guest house, hopefully in 2015, and I need ideas from those of you who've BTDT. I've been perusing books and floorplans, but just can't find "the one." So, here's the facts:

  • Location: Deep in the woods, about a 200 foot walk from the main house, down an easy trail into a ravine of sorts. The building site is a natural flat area that sits a few yards higher than a small, seasonal creek bed (most of the county would have to flood before the guest house would due our location up on a bluff).
  • Building: We are thinking between 200-500 sq. ft. Most likely a concrete block foundation or skids, depending on what our regulations wind up being (we are looking through those now), and all wood otherwise.
  • Wood is ungraded, rough-cut, hardwood lumber, cut from our own woodlands, and milled on our personal lumber mill.
  • Roofing will be metal, for rain collection.
  • Grid: Totally off-grid. We're thinking composting toilet, outdoor shower (usable only in summer, obviously), small wood stove for heat in winter, no electricity or running water. We may consider adding some type of water, solar, or wind power in the future, but that will be way off in the future, and most likely won't happen due to location.
  • Features: Fairly basic, but comfortable. I have been thinking loft set up with ladder, just for smaller footprint and easier winter heating, a sitting area, and at least one bedroom. Otherwise, some storage shelves for some books, linens, flashlights, lanterns, and guest posessions. Furnishings would include maybe a queen bed, bunk beds, futon or hide-a-bed couch in sitting area. I keep debating a gravity-fed rain water wash sink beside the sitting area or bathroom, for general tidying, hand washing, teeth brushing, etc.
  • Guests: Guests will vary significantly, which is why I am trying to cover most bases. We have total "city-folk" guests that I'm trying to make comfortable. They think anything less than luxury RV is roughing it. We have many friends with larger families and young children, which makes me lean toward the single bedroom for the parents, hide-a-bed in the sitting area for the younger kiddos, and loft for the older kiddos. Then, we have WWOOF'ers (temporary farm helpers that may stay a day or a month for the experience) and longer-term interns that may stay the entire growing season.
  • Other: I'm debating going all out and building several bunkhouse-style bedrooms adjoining a main porch and shared sitting area/bathroom for larger families or WWOOF'ers who want a little privacy. I'm also thinking about a porch, or at the least, an outdoor firepit for evening marshmallow roasts.
  • Future: Eventually, we hope to build a summer kitchen addition to our house, which guests could use as their own kitchen area. Offering a rustic, off-grid, farm vacation service isn't out of the question, either, as a side income. Definitely trying to think ahead and go multi-purpose here. If I'm gonna build it, it'd be nice to have people in it on a regular basis!

So many decisions. It is possible I could build a couple of cabins for added privacy, but not sure our zoning inspectors would be too thrilled with that. We may have to get a special-use permit like a B&B. I need some more ideas to roll around in my head.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Just howling at the moon
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Since this is going to be a commercial operation (B&B) then it's a different set of rules to follow then residential. You need to contact the county/state to find out what rules you'll need to follow.

WWW
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, we aren't offering a B&B, I guess I chose a poor example. We just might be interested in offering something like other farms I've seen where they give a "farm working vacation" experience, and the visitors stay in the rustic, off-grid cabins. Just a thought. That's why I wrote here. I'm not sure where the "line" is that changes things. Is it number of guests? Nights used as a dwelling? Paid vs. not paid? Not sure how that works.
 

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Born city, love country
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Typically, if you accept compensation, the obligations and liability changes. The amount of obligation and liability you have can be determined by the number of people. Check your county ordinances and state laws.

When you charge for putting a head in a bed, you become a hotelier.

We have a second cabin on our place for guests. It hardly gets used now. I hope yours doesn't end up like that. So make sure what ever you do, it will make you happy and forget about trying to make everybody else happy. If they like the same things you do, then making yourself happy will make them happy as well.

Our country place is 130 miles from our home. It is close enough that we don't mind the drive every weekend and far enough that nobody else wants to come........even for free.
 

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Still an :censored:
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I saw a camp ground in MD that had bought several portable sheds for use as small cabins. There was a fire ring outside for cooking. The owner had built a nice pavilion which contained restrooms and showers.
 

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Trainer of kids, dogs and horses...fears nothing
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If you're paid/compensated, it's commercial.

You can probably do most of what you're wanting, you just need to make sure you meet all the requirements of commercial hospitality.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OK, so clearly I'm going to have to go through all the regs. ICK. So, moving on, based on the other info I gave, the needs, types of guests, cabin location, etc, what are your thoughts on amenities, features, how to build, etc. I'd like to hear any suggestions. I love brainstorming, and some of our best ideas originate with some of the craziest!!
 

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I am assuming your target audience will be people who appreciate a more humble experience, so I would keep things minimal, compact fixtures and systems (kitchenette, wood burning stove, etc.), and an open floor plan: a loft or bunk - think vertically to maximize space efficiency. I would also suggest using tough, durable low-maintenance materials.

If you want to commercialize the project, going compact will allow you to splurge on individual items to make for a more memorable experience, if that is the direction you might want to consider.

Perhaps look through issues of Dwell Magazine for inspiration at a local used book store - they often publish issues that focus on cabins, or compact, or rural projects. Some good architects to look at who specialize in projects like that would be Miller Hull Partnership, Lake Flato, and Olson Kundig.

If you're on Pinterest, run a search for cabins, and browse through it for ideas.

One of my favorite projects that came to mind:
http://www.millerhull.com/html/residential/marquand.htm

If you're interested in more extensive help, let me know
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tyler, thanks! I read your post on both my threads. Although those particular styles are a little contemporary for me, they are exactly the type of ideas I'm looking for. If you have any others, I'm listening. I want to do this right the first time. I'm also think trying to build on skids is the way go, so, as you said, it's portable if necessary.
 

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Style is subjective, so I would suggest you analyze the projects I linked to more for their use of space and material.

If you are now leaning more toward portable housing, this will obviously rule out use of masonry, concrete, etc. - In this case, I would suggest metal finishing system and SIPS panels. If this thing is going to be moving, it will be twisting and torquing and bouncing over bumps, so the fewer connections you have, the better.

Also I would go with an axle and tires instead of skids - skids will greatly minimize your mobility, if mobility is truly important. You can always put detachable skirts to hide the wheel wells, like fender skirts on some old hot rod
 

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Discussion Starter #11
True, and I'm not sure how much it will actually be moving. Based on the location we currently have chosen, it won't be moving much at all! It just sounds like regulations are a bit easier on non-permanent foundations. We still have to work through that with our local offices though before we make final decisions. We are totally in the brainstorming stages now, and hoping to get the area and the trail leading to it mostly cleared out over the winter. We do it by hand, and you can't even walk into the area during the growing season it is soon thick! But, that's part of what makes it so gorgeous, rustic, natural, and gives it such an isolated feel down there. The great thing is that it is totally protected from wind. We don't have to worry about anything blowing away, which is nice.
 
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I'm just going to suggest a screenporch... That makes more room for sleeping people, too! ;)
 

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I really like the durability of Tyler's cinder block building. You could paint/stucco both sides and give it a plywood facade and a few large beams and it would look "old west". Add a pot bellied stove for heat/boiling water and a few inside cowboy details and perhaps an outdoor fire pit for marshmallow roasting and you have a themed rental. Change the inside movable decorations and you have a rustic place for farm interns. Add down comforters on the bed in the loft, Indian blankets on the walls and perhaps a portable hot tub inside a wooden water trough and you could sell it as a guest house for the RV group. OK, you might need a coffee maker hidden by a fabric cover with the pic of a percolator. I think making the overhang go the entire length of the house would go a long way towards a sleeping porch perhaps adding a hammock just for fun.
 
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