Before & After Modern Ashford cabin | HEATHER MADDOX HOMES

Erika and Tye Chapman purchased a vacant lot in Paradise Estates in Ashford, Wash. nearly three years ago, and recently completed building a 460 sq. ft. cabin on the property. We sat down with the Chapmans to learn about their experience building the cabin, a project they did mostly themselves, with the help of a few tradespeople. Here is their Before & After story:

Q: Wow. This cabin is incredible! Can you walk us through the building process?

E: Tye works for International Mountain Guides which is based in Ashford, Wash., near Mt. Rainier. It's too far to commute daily back and forth to Seattle. After a few years of sleeping in the guide lounge we decided we wanted a place for him to stay while he worked. We were looking for something that was in Ashford, but also really accessible to anybody wanting to rent a cabin that's close to Mt. Rainier National Park. The Paradise Estates community checks both of those boxes.

We opted to build vs. wait for a cabin to come up on the market. We bought a piece of property we liked then started researching cabin designs.

During our research we came across a photo of a cabin we liked the looks of, so we met with an architect friend and sketched some things out...a few weeks later we had blueprints!
First step was digging holes for the foundation footings.

Q: How long did the project take from raw land to cabin completion?

T: After we submitted the blueprints to Lewis County...a short time later we were approved! It was time to build. We know a journeyman carpenter in the area and contracted him do the majority of the building. He was flexible with our timeline. With no bank involved we built it in phases as we had the time and money. We had to learn how to be general contractors. Having never built anything before, there was a steep learning curve!

E: Start to finish it took us 3 years which seems like a long time but we bought the property then saved up for a year before we broke ground so it only took 2 years to build.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges of building a cabin yourselves?

T: We had some bumps along the way but truthfully the toughest part about the build was getting contractors to do work in Ashford (plumbers, electricians, counter tops, etc.). It amazed us how many times we were told "we don't service that area."

For the projects we did ourselves we learned very quickly that if we needed one of something— we should buy two or three! We refer to this as the "Ashford Rule." The nearest hardware store is an hour away so anytime we forgot something or didn't get enough of an item we'd end up losing a week because we did most of the work on weekends!

Q: What would you do differently next time? Would you do it again?

E: We talk about building another cabin— it's hard not to. We would be so much more efficient! The best advice we give to people is to just roll with the punches. You can't hold your spouse accountable for a mistake they made doing something they've never done before!

Recognize the learning curve and that mistakes will happen and they will cost money— that's just part of the process, if it was easy everybody would do it!

Q: What is your favorite part of the space?

E: Tough question. Since it a small space we put a lot of thought into everything— from the design to the decor.

T: The beetle-kill blue pine ceiling is pretty awesome but what is probably the cabin's signature is the antique Rainier Beer neon sign that's hardwired to a light switch. The wraparound deck is pretty amazing too!

E: It was just fun to build it from the ground up, knowing that we would have a nice place to share the finds from our travels like the papyrus from Egypt, a plate from our honeymoon in Peru or the National Park posters from Patagonia.

Q: Any plans for future upgrades or improvements?

T: We hope to have a hot tub installed by the end of the summer! We'll make some landscaping improvements and upgrade the firepit as well. No big plans for the cabin— we've got our next project lined up for this fall...Erika is pregnant!

Q: You have turned it into a vacation rental, do you also use it for your own enjoyment? If someone was interested in renting it out, how would they find it?

T: Using it as a vacation rental was always part of the larger plan, as well as giving me a base camp while I'm working. While we were building it, we bough another cabin that we fixed up, and we are listing both on VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) & AirBnB.

E: Now that they're both up and running, we have made sure to block out specific dates so that we can have our friends & family out to enjoy Mt. Rainier and all it has to offer with us.

Q: Has it been a successful vacation rental?

We've had some great feedback so far and are already booking repeat customers! It's a lot different than all of the other cabins in Ashford so it's been very well received though a few of the neighbors say it's "a little too fancy for Ashford!"

© 2016 Heather Maddox Homes | Windermere Real Estate | 206-330-9185

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