Indian Rock Cabin


Technically, this “cabin” is a fairly simple rancher with a large attached garage. It was an interesting project for a couple of reasons; one, I had never met the owner and two…it was definitely the most complex site I have encountered. The contractor showed up at my office one day and said ” I have a client who saw a house on your website he really liked. He wants his house to be similar and has to be under 1200 sq.ft with a large garage. The rest is up to you. The site is complex. We need it done right AND fast”. Of course I was up for the challenge !

Thankfully they had a very detailed topographical survey completed which meant I had all the pieces of the puzzle, I just had to put them together.

The gallery below contains the plan images and progress photos starting March 22/13 to present.


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The siting of the building was very interesting. There is an existing house over 30 ft below on the rear of the property, a steep driveway on the right and a hillside on the left. I really didn’t see how a house was going to fit until I sat there long enough muttering to myself and scratching my head.From the driveway the house looks like a fairly typical rancher; double garage, side entry and simple rooflines. Here you can see the steepness of the lot. You really have to be there to get a grasp on the driveway but it’s not one that I’d be taking too fast. Once you’re near the bottom there’s nowhere to go but into the lake.This elevation will look great from the lake and of course provide great views. There are three levels below the main (top) floor; a bedroom level, storage level, and parking area with stairs down to the house below. Here you can see the parking area at the bottom left for the house below, along with stairs to the lowest level of the house. Since the house is cut into the hillside, there are multiple, stepped retaining walls allowing passage from the lower area up to the front yard. The main floor is compact but open with everything you need to function on one level. The garage is extra large for storage of ATV’s along with vehicles. Decks are accessible from both the great room and master bedroom.The middle level is setup nicely for guests with two bedrooms, a shared bath and large rec room overlooking the lake.The lowest level is mainly here due to the steepness of the lot. With approximately 30ft of grade drop from the garage to the lower floor, it only made sense to add a second 'basement' use the space. Stairs are provided to the house below and up the hillside to the front yard.I just really liked this shot of the entrance signage. Something about the name and the lake behind is so inviting.This is what I started from. A double garage and the front entry porch is supposed to go right where the truck is parked. The house will be two storeys below this and the driveway on the right……it goes all the way down to the last tree at the end and hangs a sharp left. I really was scratching my head as to how this could fit. Here’s the contractor helping me get some heights on the driveway. Sometimes the simplest ways are the best. This is the view from the bottom of the existing driveway. The house I am designing will go on the right. My first thought is to raise this driveway up closer to eye level (where my tape is strung) and create a pedestrian ramp where the planters are which leads to where I’m standing. It ended up working and took a lot of concrete but we got the desired result. Not really the most interesting shot but I spent a lot of time just staring at this. I had to get a walkout basement to come out of the hill on the left. I needed to raise the driveway 5ft and create a new set of stairs & ramp down to the entry door. Seems simple enough but there’s no going back on something like this if it’s wrong. It has to function properly. It’s easy to second guess on something like this but it’s better to just go with your gut. Seems like an odd picture but I was trying to be innovative since it was only me here trying to measure some grades. I tied my long tape to the tree and took heights down to the driveway from it. I wasn’t so sure at the time but it actually worked. The hardest part was getting it untied from the tree. Work has started on forming the lowest level. This is at the end of March 2013I mostly took this to give some perspective on the view from the road above.This is the lowest level of the basement with the formwork just being stripped off.This is lowest level from the opposite side. There will be two more levels framed above this. You can see the rebar is left long for the next pour.Lower level retaining wallWalkout level viewed from belowThis is finally starting to come together. The pile of lumber on the right is where the ramp down to the house will go. To the left of it will be filled for the new parking area, to the left is the walkout basement and off at the end is the stepped retaining wall for the stairs. This is the end of May 2013Here’s some better perspective on things from above. I’m standing on the middle level floor deck looking down. I really have to give the guys credit for forming all this so carefully. I guess I could give myself credit for designing it too but they had to make it work. It was no small task.You can see on the far right side that the second pour is complete. The rebar is left long for the garage slab tie in, the middle level floor deck is sheeted and the retaining walls at the bottom are complete. Things will be cleaner and easier from here on. This is looking at the lowest level of framing. Take note…the driveway comes down from the left side and turns across the front of the house about where the formwork is piled. There is significant regrading to come. Here’s a shot looking up the side of the retaining walls where the steps will be poured. Also note the large footing pads under each portion of step. The existing block retaining wall had to tie into this as well; lots happening here. Eventually the steps will go all the way up the hillside.I just liked this perspective and all the angles in the concrete. It’s so exciting seeing something like this go from sketches (and endless thought) into reality. Not your average pour.This is where I left off; standing down in the hole looking up the driveway May 26 2013. The next round of photos should have much more of the framing complete.8 weeks later on July 27, 2013 all the walls are framed and trusses are being installedDriveway grading is complete and the amount of retaining wall is much more visible now.The driveway heads down to the trees and hangs a left to the house belowOnce the decks are installed, this is going to be amazing. Bedrooms are on the left and living spaces on the right, all accessible from the decksI'm standing at the house below and the wall directly in front of me is the new parking area. I've walked down to the lowest deck by the water to give you an idea of the steepness of the grade I was working with.Fairly standard picture of framing but the lake in the background is what I was trying to show. It's really going to be a great place to hang out on the weekends. (or anytime !)Looking down on the new parking area and ramp to the house below. Much different than the original setup.You can't see it in the photo but waaaaay down the lake are the Lakeshore Towers in Penticton. Doesn't take too long to get to this site but when you look back it seems a long way away.The garage trusses will be installed next along with the roof sheathing which will really make the roof take shape.Sept 29/13 A bit more progress since my last visit. Roof is now complete.With the sheathing on, it's much easier to visualize the roof shape. Looking down towards the great room and dining room bump out.I's still anxious for the decks to be installed. Shouldn't be long now as winter is approaching.This is an odd photo but I found it interesting. Looking up from the basement through the stair openings to the main floor. Stairs are yet to be installed.