We’ve been asked by a few people to share our planning process, so here it is! However, we want to include a disclaimer that we are not architects but we don’t want to pay someone to do it for us, so we’re going to do it ourselves. Prepare for amateur hour!
The entire goal of our cabin is to be completely off-grid and as self-sufficient as possible. To accomplish this we are going to need to build a tiny home first, with hopes of expansion as quickly as we can muster it. Luckily, right on our property, we have a dilapidated old log cabin built by Vietnam war draft dodgers that was abandoned many years ago (click here for the story) to ransack for reclaimed materials. It was a beautiful cabin, but has completely fallen into disrepair and is not salvageable: The base logs have rotted beyond help, rats have infested the entire house, and the building site is no longer situated near any water source as the river has completely dried up. So, instead of using this cabin, we will reclaim as many materials as we can!
The first step in designing was deciding how big we want the cabin to be. We’re thinking small, because it’s easy to build, quick, and cheap. But we want to leave the possibility of expansion in the future in case we decide it’s too small. Our inspiration for this entire project was actually a post we found on the Google. You know the ones, the “Build this Cabin for Under $6,000” type posts (you can find the article here). The image which started this whole ball rolling is below: a blueprint of a 20’x14′ cabin.
However, we wanted to make a few modifications to increase interior space. Since we’re going to use 16′ long lumber (instead of 14′) we want to build a 20’x16′ cabin. We are also going to remove the covered porch from the blueprints and build a separate porch later as an add-on. We wanted the long side of the house as the front, so we are moving the front door.
The second step was drawing out the blueprints and figuring out how we want to layout the cabin. This was tough but luckily James loves mapping things out! To start with, we know we want a kitchen with a fridge, stove, and sink and we love the idea of an island. Both of us prefer booth-style tables over stools, so we’ve drawn up a little breakfast nook by the front window. In the “living room” we only had room for a loveseat and a coffee table (we already own one we think will be perfect for our cabin – it’s a burl wood table craigslist find from years ago). There is a wood burning stove in the center-middle of the cabin which we already have (it’s a donated item from some family friends).
We’re a bit confused about the stairs; we’re thinking they will go along the back wall to get to the loft bedroom. That might not work, so the backup plan would be a ladder. Upstairs we will have some closet space and a bed.
Finally, we have decisions to make regarding the structure of the cabin. This part may get a little technical, but I’ll explain it as simply as possible in one paragraph. The ridge beam (the peak of the roof) in those original plans seem very weak: the roof seems to be holding up the beam instead of the other way around. We are in a heavy snowfall area and our roof needs to be able to hold a lot of snow weight. Since we will have a few logs to use from an old cabin, we want to put two vertical logs up the walls and put the ridge beam on that. This way the entire roof will be supported by the logs. Also, we’re considering putting up a “pony wall“, a 4′ second floor wall to raise the roof and expand the loft which will make more useable space in the bedroom. It will add more to the budget, but it might just be worth it. We’re also planning on putting in a dormer in the centre of the cabin (above the door) which can be used as a cozy little reading nook. In the future, we’re planning on building a porch out front with a roof covering it.
You may have noticed that our blueprints don’t have a bathroom. Well, our plans are to build an outhouse for now. We know it’s not ideal with the winters we have up here, but we just can’t fit the bathroom in yet. Maybe one day…
We have future dreams of a greenhouse, a chicken coop and some other farming ideas.
And that’s pretty much it! Our plans for the cabin. We’re very excited to start building and want to get started! We’d love to hear your thoughts on these plans, as always! Let us know what you think.